Saturday, April 07, 2012
Hoodie Rally in Memory of Trayvon Martin and Bo Morrison at the Capitol this afternoon.
Speakers spoke out against ALEC and the NRA for sponsoring concealed carry, castle doctrine and "stand your ground" gun laws. Will Williams of Vets Against the War was an especially powerful speaker, and I posted a video of his remarks on YouTube. I loved what he had to say about "stand your ground."
"I'm almost 70 years old, and I've stood my ground every damn day. We don't need a law to stand our ground."More broadly, speakers talked about the impact of a discriminatory justice system on young black men and their families, and about the way the plutocracy uses racism to divide working people against each other.
Not really what I wanted -- a near miss, a matter of timing: Thursday when the moon rose, the sky was quite a bit lighter, and the moon would not have blown out so much. And the moon would have been much closer to the Capitol. But I wasn't there Thursday. I was waiting for the full moon last night, but Thursday really would have been close enough. Besides, why does it have to be full? Live and learn -- I'll get it down one of these days. Checking my chart of moonrise times and azimuth coordinates, mapping out camera angles.
Or maybe I'll become a morning person. Then I could have been there with Johnny Lang when he went the other way and photographed the moon setting over the Capitol at dawn today from Olbrich Park. Perfect!
Friday, April 06, 2012
Reince Priebus, the RNC Chairman from Wisconsin who is close enough to Scott Walker for his name to have come up in the John Doe investigation, tried yesterday to dismiss charges that the GOP is waging war on women. It wasn't entirely clear whether he was comparing women to caterpillars or simply trying to ridicule the charges, but he only ended up making people aware that the GOP really is waging war on caterpillars, as well. Apparently putting his foot in his mouth is a Wisconsin GOP habit he took with him to his position at the RNC.
"If the Democrats said we had a war on caterpillars and every mainstream media outlet talked about the fact that Republicans have a war on caterpillars, then we'd have problems with caterpillars," Reince Priebus told Bloomberg Television, in response to a question about the party's supposed "war on women." "It's a fiction."Writing about this in The Atlantic online, Molly Ball noted it's not fiction. House Republicans are attacking EPA efforts to regulate pesticides. Other conservatives are attacking Rachel Carson and trying to bring back DDT.
It shouldn't come as any surprise -- the modern GOP is waging war on women, caterpillars and just about anybody who's not rich and anything else that gets in the way of the 1%.
Thursday, April 05, 2012
Interactive art installation in Waukesha by conceptual artist Kathy Nickolaus celebrates indeterminacy
Pretty cool little interactive performance art installation in Waukesha, WI Tuesday night. The artist hung a long row of white streamers from the walls of the gallery. Each streamer consisted of paper tape from a machine that imprinted it with lots of cryptic numbers. It was the task of the participants to take down the numbers on the streamers and try to add them up. The title of the work was "The Indeterminacy of Numbers in Waukesha County." Observers noted this was a reference to the fact that no matter how often the numbers were added up, the total never came out the same.
The work was created by the controversial conceptual artist, Kathy Nickolaus, whose provocative previous works-- always timed to coincide with the election cycle -- have also stirred heated debate. Here's the Milwaukee Journal Sentinel review.
Wednesday, April 04, 2012
The reason I took photos of Venus and the Pleiades the last two nights was in case it was cloudy tonight, when they were supposed to have their closest encounter. It started out cloudy and Venus wasn't visible at all. Then the clouds thinned, and Venus became visible, glowing in the clouds, but the Pleiades weren't visible at all, overwhelmed by the clouds and the brightness of both Venus and the ambient moonlight, brighter than last night, and far brighter than the night before. But the clouds seemed to be thinning, so I set up the tripod and hoped the wispy bits of cloud would part enough to reveal the Seven Sisters. Eventually they did.
Back to the long lens again, 200mm -- f/11, 2 sec., -1EV, aperture priority. High ISO Noise reduction turned up. Also turned Active D Lighting to High, in hopes it would keep the very bright Venus from totally overwhelming the dimmer stars. Slight tweaking in Photoshop. It is what it is.
Tuesday, April 03, 2012
Another clear sky last night, so I made another stab at photographing Venus with the Pleiades, the Seven Sisters of Greek myth. Quite a bit closer last night than Sunday night. The moon was brighter last night, tending to wash out some of the dimmer stars in the cluster. On the other hand, the exposure did emphasize the brightest, the Seven Sisters of legend.
Changed tactics last night -- went with a shorter focal length and lower ISO -- f/2.0, 0.8, ISO 400, EV-4 with 50mm lens, which provided a nice starburst effect around Venus.
It will take more than an Etch-A-Sketch to make Romney's problems with women voters go away by November
This was the scene in Fitchburg, WI Saturday when Mitt Romney came to town to campaign with Rep. Paul Ryan. But Romney's problems with women extend far beyond the liberal enclave of the Madison area.
Who would ever have thought that funding Planned Parenthood would become such a controversial issue in 2012. And now somebody set off an explosive device that set a fire at the Planned Parenthood clinic in Grand Chute, WI. Thank you, Republican presidential candidates, for lowering the level of discourse -- especially Mitt Romney, who should know better. Nothing like getting the crazies really worked up. (Has anyone heard Romney, the other GOP candidates, Gov. Walker or Atty. Gen. J.B. Van Hollen speak up against this act of domestic terrorism? Me neither.)
Since the war on women has heated up, Romney's 48% to 46% lead over Pres. Obama in the Gallup Poll of 12 swing states has evaporated. The President now leads Romney, 51% to 42%, among all registered voters. Among women, Obama has opened up a 54% to 36% lead.
Monday, April 02, 2012
Venus is on a rendezvous course toward the Pleiades, the Three Sisters of Greek myth. Twenty days ago, Venus was about 3 degrees from the Pleiades. When I took the photo last night, the gap was closed to only 1 degree. Tuesday night (election night here in Wisconsin) they will be even closer, separated by only 0.5 degree. But it's likely to be cloudy the next two nights -- though, who knows, there might be a break in the clouds. But I took my insurance shot last night.
Nikon D90 DSLR -- aperture priority, f/5.6, 1.6 sec., ISO 3200. Had to shoot at a high ISO since I was shooting with a 200mm lens on a tripod at pretty small aperture.. (I couldn't use a longer shutter speed to lower the ISo because, at that focal length, had to keep my exposure under about 2 sec. to keep the stars as point light sources rather than star trails). And, yes, I used the Exposure Delay Mode to hold the mirror upbriefly and minimize camera shake from the mirror.
Note: Rule of thumb to avoid star trails shooting with different lenses -- divide 600 by the focal length of the lens to get the maximum shutter speed. No wonder so many star photos are taken with superwide lenses. They not only give you great sky-to-horizon coverage, but also make posible possible much longer shutter speeds, picking up fainter stars.
Sunday, April 01, 2012
Mitt Romney comes to WI to see what democracy looks like -- and to spend some quality time with Paul Ryan
Mitt Romney and Paul Ryan stopped by Scott Walker's Fitchburg "Victory Center" phonebank Saturday to get a lesson in democracy -- oh, and to make some phone calls for Scott Walker.
Some of Scott Walker's closest associates have been charged in connection with the Milwaukee County John Doe grand jury corruption probe, and Walker himself is rumored to be a target of investigators. This prompted signs such as "Romney ♥ John Doe" and "Making Calls for John Doe? Not Presidential." Walker was not at the Romney event, and phonebanking for Walker might be Romney's way of supporting him indirectly while keeping him at arm's length. Still, it seems an odd way to run for President to me -- but, hey, I'm not a Republican.
Mitt Romney is a busy man and did not have a lot of time to spend with his grassroots welcoming committee. In fact, I clocked him at 1.2 seconds from the door of the call center to the door of his black Chevy Suburban SUV. (Ryan's exit before him was even faster.) He did, however, manage to squeeze in a fixed grin and robotic hand wave.
Wonder what he and Ryan talked about in the motorcade? Were visions of VP or Cabinet-level sugar plums dangled before Ryan? If so, will they be dashed later like those of so many small state hopefuls before him, once the primary is over? Did he and Romney trade ideas about how to best dismantle Social Security and Medicare and anything else that resembles one of those notorious "entitlements"? Did they have a good heart-to-heart about how the wealthy are having a hard time making ends meet and need the tax system to meet them (more than) halfway?