This was the scene recently (near closing time-- usually it's bustling with people) at the Milwaukee Public Market, a magnet location in the city's historic Third Ward. We have one of the most successful farmers' markets in the country in Madison, but that only operates on the Capitol Square in the warmer months (the winter indoor market is held in two different locations, neither perfect). Proposals for an indoor facility have been kicking around for years without getting off the ground. Madison's (Former) Mayor Dave is a fan and makes the case in Why Madison needs a year-round public market in this week's Isthmus.
(10-exposure panorama made with iPhone4 and Autostitch.)
Friday, June 29, 2012
Looked like rain for sure this morning -- relief for the drought that has parched lawns and canceled most Fourth of July fireworks in the area, though not Rhythm & Booms and Elver Park. But it didn't rain. Not a drop.
Thursday, June 28, 2012
"Prediction is difficult, especially about the future." -- Niels Bohr. Wow.
Seriously, it's amazing how quickly the headlines stopped talking about "Obamacare" and started talking about Affordable Care Act (ACA) instead. It's as if, in the eyes of the media, the Supreme Court didn't just uphold the constitutionality of the law, but they also legitimized it -- "Oh, so it's not just Obama after all? Who knew?"
Wednesday, June 27, 2012
When shooting digital landscape photographs, color is the default option -- and a tempting one. It seems to capture the "real" look of nature. It's eye-catching and often inherently pleasing to the eye. Who doesn't like a pretty color image?
But not everything is as it seems with the apparent naturalism of color images. Color vision is a complex process, less an optical phenomenon than a psychological one. Our brains construct the color we see, providing us with a more or less stable visual environment in wildly different lighting conditions, all of which photograph differently. In addition, film doesn't have nearly the dynamic range of the human ey (neither does a digital sensor), so there were always tradeoffs. Professional film shooters required considerable technical finesse to match what their eye saw on slide film, juggling many variables, including the choice of film itself --each had its own characteristics that determined the final image. Hobbyists usually settled for what the processor gave them. It was a hit and miss proposition, often pleasing -- but rarely matching the original scene very accurately. And at least there was an analog slide image that more or less correlated to the original scene visually, suggesting some degree of authenticity.
Things got even more subjective with digital photography. There is no physical reference copy, no one "real" rendition of a scene in color. How it turns out depends on the processing algorithms built into the camera, and those are all different. Most serious photographers do additional post processing in an image editor like Photoshop. They are trying to recreate the color palette they saw on a computer screen -- or deliberately distort it for creative purposes -- but in either case, it's a very subjective process. (In fields like technical photography and advertising product photography, enormous technical effort is expended in trying to create a more or less accurate color match -- but this still just reduces the subjectivity; it doesn't eliminate it.)
For all these reasons, color photographs -- including my own -- always seem to me to say more about color itself, and the photographer's preferred way of seeing color, than the actual subject. This photograph records the way I saw Frederick's Hill in Middleton'sPheasant Branch Conservancy when I processed the file, based on my memory of the scene and how I thought it would look best in color. A hundred different photographers could have shot from the same spot with different cameras and processing techniques, and there would be subtle -- and not so subtle -- differences between all their photos.
"Realism" in photography remains an illusion, often a beautifully crafted illusion, but an illusion nevertheless.
Tuesday, June 26, 2012
One more brain-dead move by the Democrats. The issue isn't "Obamacare." It's affordable healthcare for all.
The Democrats seem to have a genius for reinforcing Republican memes even while campaigning against them. This poster and action link were placed by the Democratic Congressional Campaign Committee (DCCC) on Facebook and who knows where else, in an apparent attempt to start a viral groundswell of support for "Obamacare" on the eve of the Supreme Court's decision. Only one problem. It's not "Obamacare." It's the Affordable Healthcare Act.
The call to action shouldn't be "Do it for Obama!" It should be "Support Affordable Healthcare for yourself and your family and everyone you know.!"
"Obamacare" is a Republican meme that suggests the Affordable healthcare Act is a plot to take away our freedom, foisted on the American people by a black Kenyan socialist. Personalizing the issue demonizes it. Would Medicare have survived if the label "LBJcare" had been attached to it? Social Security if it had become known as "FDR Security"? The Republicans know what they're doing, and all too many Democrats keep inadvertently helping them. (Or maybe "vertently" -- now that the individual mandate has become demonized by the very Republicans whose idea it was in the first place, calling it "Obamacare" probably helps provide political cover for Congressional Democrats, who simultaneously seem to be "supporting" the president while distancing themselves from him.)
If the Supreme Court overturns all or part of the Affordable healthcare Act, Democrats and independents need to fight back -- and fight back hard. Single-payer should be back on the table, since Republican political cynicism and opportunism and a partisan Supreme Court seem to have made any other kind of reform impossible. Calls to support Obama and his "Obamacare" won't do it. You don't fight a determined political opposition by accepting their framing of the issues. You create your own.
Monday, June 25, 2012
The Supreme Court had a chance to reconsider their Citizens United decision in a Montana case about a century-old law limiting campaign spending by business. Did they? Of course not. Today they struck down the Montana law. So much for state's rights. And so much for the Roberts Court's credibility. Which James Fallows addressed this way in the Atlantic:
"Liberal democracies like ours depend on rules but also on norms -- on the assumption that you'll go so far, but no further, to advance your political ends. The norms imply some loyalty to the system as a whole that outweighs your immediate partisan interest. Not red states, nor blue states, but the United States of America. It was out of loyalty to the system that Al Gore stepped aside after Bush v. Gore. Norms have given the Supreme Court its unquestioned legitimacy. The Roberts majority is barreling ahead without regard for the norms, and it is taking the court's legitimacy with it."It's time to get behind Bernie Sanders' constitutional amendment. Until something changes, the sentiment on the sign has more to do with wishful thinking than reality.
The Roberts Court did more than kill a century-old state law, one that survived every other Supreme Court during that period, whether it had a liberal or conservative majority. This cynical and radical decision pretty much killed any last remaining vestige of respect for the Court itself
Because we can't both read the same story in the print edition at the same time.
The exhaustively reported New York Times story is about how the Apple Stores generate more revenue per square foot than any major retail operation anywhere in the world, nearly double that of Tiffany. Apple Store "specialists" these days sell primarily iPhones and iPads yet make less per hour than AT&T and Verizon employees selling the same products, and unlike the latter, they get no commission. It's a high-stress, multitasking job filled mostly by young people. Most are happy to be working there at first, but for many disillusionment sets in once they realize their coveted, prestigious jobs provides virtually no career path within the company, and most don't stay much longer than two years. Some feel exploited, while others think it's not a bad job for awhile after college, one that definitely looks good on a resume.
Sunday, June 24, 2012
In Anderson's films, there is a sort of resignation to the underlying melancholy of the world; he is the only American director I can think of whose work reflects the Japanese concept mono no aware, which describes a wistfulness about the transience of things. -- Roger EbertWe waited with anticipation -- but also a certain amount of trepidation about what we were about to see. Many critics loved "Moonrise Kingdom," but others loathed it. Would it just be a whimsical, beautifully crafted but ultimately empty mess? A colorful jumble like "The Life Aquatic With Steve Zissou"? Would it be one of those movies about childhood that leave you squirming in your seat at the unbearable preciousness of it all? No, no, and no. The negative reviews probably said more about the critics than the film. It's wonderful.
I haven't enjoyed a movie as much for a long time. It's wry, enchanting, wistful and tinged with a bittersweet melancholy and a life-affirming sense of compassion toward all the characters. The story is very much a fantasy, but the sort of fantasy that nourishes the soul at a time when most film fantasies are lame pseudo-stories that deaden the spirit and just make you want to give up movies altogether. This is one of those films that makes you fall in love with movies all over again.