Archive for September, 2006

Torture (and Irony)

September 29, 2006

Interesting — and one more reason to love the internet (nothing really disappears).

Today, on the United Nations International Day in Support of Victims of Torture, the United States declares its strong solidarity with torture victims across the world. Torture anywhere is an affront to human dignity everywhere. We are committed to building a world where human rights are respected and protected by the rule of law.

Freedom from torture is an inalienable human right. The Convention Against Torture and Other Cruel, Inhuman or Degrading Treatment, ratified by the United States and more than 130 other countries since 1984, forbids governments from deliberately inflicting severe physical or mental pain or suffering on those within their custody or control. Yet torture continues to be practiced around the world by rogue regimes whose cruel methods match their determination to crush the human spirit. Beating, burning, rape, and electric shock are some of the grisly tools such regimes use to terrorize their own citizens. These despicable crimes cannot be tolerated by a world committed to justice.

Notorious human rights abusers, including, among others, Burma, Cuba, North Korea, Iran, and Zimbabwe, have long sought to shield their abuses from the eyes of the world by staging elaborate deceptions and denying access to international human rights monitors. Until recently, Saddam Hussein used similar means to hide the crimes of his regime. With Iraq’s liberation, the world is only now learning the enormity of the dictator’s three decades of victimization of the Iraqi people. Across the country, evidence of Baathist atrocities is mounting, including scores of mass graves containing the remains of thousands of men, women, and children and torture chambers hidden inside palaces and ministries. The most compelling evidence of all lies in the stories told by torture survivors, who are recounting a vast array of sadistic acts perpetrated against the innocent. Their testimony reminds us of their great courage in outlasting one of history’s most brutal regimes, and it reminds us that similar cruelties are taking place behind the closed doors of other prison states.

The United States is committed to the world-wide elimination of torture and we are leading this fight by example. I call on all governments to join with the United States and the community of law-abiding nations in prohibiting, investigating, and prosecuting all acts of torture and in undertaking to prevent other cruel and unusual punishment. I call on all nations to speak out against torture in all its forms and to make ending torture an essential part of their diplomacy. I further urge governments to join America and others in supporting torture victims’ treatment centers, contributing to the UN Fund for the Victims of Torture, and supporting the efforts of non-governmental organizations to end torture and assist its victims.

No people, no matter where they reside, should have to live in fear of their own government. Nowhere should the midnight knock foreshadow a nightmare of state-commissioned crime. The suffering of torture victims must end, and the United States calls on all governments to assume this great mission.

George W. Bush(‘s Speechwriters), June 26, 2003  


Christian Morality?

September 29, 2006

OK. I think religion is full of crap. I grew up in the church, but at some point after getting a bit of distance the hypocrisy in organized religion became so evident. Here is just another example:


One more reason.

Pictures OF the Lens – Sigma 30mm f1.4 for Four Thirds

September 28, 2006

So, when I was looking at purchasing this lens (which I love), I couldn’t find any pictures of it on camera.

Here you go. She’s a fatty.


Another view:


Olympus is Dropping the (Pro SLR) Ball

September 26, 2006

Olympus released the arguably professional E-1 in 2003 to much curiosity, interest, and some sales. It was widely understood that due to certain limitations (low-light focusing capabilities and 5 megapixels at a time when the pro SLRs were touting 6), this wasn’t a camera designed for the serious sports photo journalists and may have limitations for other pro photo applications. On the other hand, as it was built from the ground up as digital-only — the all-new 4/3 format — many people wanted it to work out. Competition is always a good thing.

Olympus E-1

The E-1.

The solid build quality added to the allure. Olympus released it and then things got quiet.

The competition continued to push forward with new professional and consumer models and finally, a year later Olympus released the consumer-focused E-300. An odd-looking SLR for the time, but a solid performer with a higher megapixel count and the same low-light (and high-ISO) failings. It was time for an updated E-1. Another year passed and Olympus released a slightly more conventional-looking consumer dSLR — the E-500. Another small step up, but still with the same issues as its predecessors. Two years had now passed and still no new pro version.

At this point it would still have been enough to update to the E-500’s 8 Megapixels and maybe update the back layout to accomodate a 2.5″ LCD. But still — *cricket* *cricket*.
Here we are 3-years later and we are finally seeing some early mockups for the next generation for something Olympus is calling the E-P1 (likely to be renamed the E-3 when it is finally — I’ll believe it when I see it — released next year).


The E-3?

People who use the E-1 love the ergonomics. Is it perfect? Nope, but it’s a solid shooter that, updated, could hold its own with the Nikons and Canons. Olympus seems to spend an inordinant amount of time coming up with odd-ball SLR designs and integrating things like “Live View” (which is a very nice idea). They need to release a new Pro SLR for chrissakes — it’s been over three years!

Olympus wants us to think they remain optimistic for the system with press releases and such, but the trickle of lenses and slow adoption rate of the standard by other manufacturers leaves me thinking of the OM. What’s to stop Olympus from hanging it’s loyal customers out to dry again?

All that said, I’m in love with my E-500, apart from the lack of lens options, and look forward to moving up to the Pro version in a year or two (if it’s out by then). If it isn’t or has the same issues, I’ll have to grudgingly drink the Kool-Aid and move in another direction.

Journalism is killing U.S. is killing Journalism

September 25, 2006
It should come as no surprise to any of us that this is NOT the golden age of journalism — especially in the United States. This is just a small example of what is wrong with the world we find ourselves captive in.

What IS surprising is the candor in which Newsweek represents this. They don’t try to hide the fact that internationally, they highlight actual news. In the United States, the only way to sell your magazine is to make it as much like “People” as can be.

I’m not sure what makes me more depressed, as this is a bit of a “chicken or the egg” scenario — that Newsweek is doing this to the U.S. or that the U.S. is forcing Newsweek to do this to us.

Either way it depresses me to no end what a bunch of star-f*ckers we’ve become in our society. How undeniably sad. We are now a society that cares more for the latest Hollywood waif spending the night at Jack Nicholson’s house than for the issues that are killing us — more quickly than we know.

Spend five minutes in the parking lot, much less near the checkout magazine racks , of your nearest Wal*Mart and you’ll be in a pretty similar place to my fleeting feelings of respect for this country. You will indeed, if you look at the situation honestly.