October 27, 2008

An impeccable conduct and record in public relations  

1. This is from a couple weeks ago, but Ezra Klein has an interesting piece on that mythical creature, the undecided voter.

2. David Pogue reviews a new digital camera concept, a compact-sized camera with interchangeable lenses and an electronic viewfinder. I predict this type of camera will largely supplant DSLRs except at the high end; however, I'll wait for the next iteration (probably from Olympus) before buying one for myself.

3. Circulation is declining for newspapers, but that's no surprise. The real question is what their web stats look like, and whether local papers can make any money by going to an online audience.

4. Chirstopher Bangert has some The Big Picture and WSJ.com's Photo Journal. The former is probably better designed because it clusters photos on one topic, but today the Journal had a shot of the Kramnik-Anand match (go Anand!).

6. Here's an interview with one of the writers working on translating The Wire into German for overdubbing.

October 22, 2008

Raiding the commons   {Comments: 1}

Today for the first time I ran into one of my photos being used illegally. Jason Kottke linked to this piece about celebrities who have been homeless at one time or another in their lives, and the blog he linked to has one of my photos as its banner. What really makes it obnoxious is that the photo in question is actually listed under a creative commons license that only requires attribution for a non-commercial use. It's not like he had to steal it to use it.

I'm going to fire off a friendly email to him now asking him to either take it down or put the attribution in there somewhere. But it sure does make me wonder what else of mine is floating around the web unattributed.

UPDATE: The owner of Homeless Tales writes back to say it was properly attributed in the past but that the attribution was lost in a recent server move, and I take him at his word. He's added the attribution information to the sidebar on the main page.

Economic indicators  

This doesn't sound good:

And, in a "disturbing" trend, Castro-Wright said Wal-Mart for the first time is seeing a paycheck-related spike in sales of baby formula, suggesting consumers are rushing to buy such necessities as soon as they have the cash.
Playing catch-up  

A bunch of links I've been meaning to post:

1. A "veteran banker at a major Wall Street investment firm" is interviewed on the financial crisis in the back seat of a cab.

2. Ryan Brenizer, one of my flickr contacts who has turned into one of the best wedding photographers around, was the only photographer allowed into the Al Smith dinner last week.

3. Ezra Klein on John McCain's anger problem after the last debate.

4. Peggy Noonan calls the Palin candidacy "a symptom and expression of a new vulgarization in American politics."

5. Apparently some houses in Detroit cost almost nothing.

6. And here is an interview with Dave Jordano, a Chicago photographer who has been photographing the interiors of small African American churches here.

October 21, 2008

Back from voting  

Miriam and I voted today at the Oak Park village hall. I won't take it as an indication of anything, since Oak Park is kind of weird, but the place was packed on a Tuesday morning at 10am in a state where the presidential race doesn't matter at all. In fact we had to wait so long that I wish we'd just waited until election day. But it's nice to be done with it.

I'm not going to say who I voted for, but here are some cool pictures of Obama by Time photographer Callie Shell. Her pictures of John Kerry are here.

October 15, 2008

Thank you and good night  

Thank God the debates are over. I for one have had a hard time sitting through them, just because the stakes seem so high and I'm so committed in one direction. Friends have said, "It will be fun to see the debates," and I've had to respond that the suspense of it has taken all the fun out of it for me. I've even felt that there was something a little odd about it when a friend invited me over for a debate party, because this kind of stomach churning torture just doesn't seem like an occasion for a party.

Maybe I need to lighten up, and I certainly can now that the debates are over. As it turns out Obama, while he may not have had a reputation as a great debater before now, was able to approach all three debates with a strategy and an approach that have taken him from being an unknowable other to being both the comfortable choice and a far less risky alternative than his opponent. The strategy was masterful and the execution was pitch perfect throughout, and by all appearances he's going to run away with this thing now, with the only outstanding question being whether or not his coattails will get the Democrats to 60 seats in the senate -- unlikely if you look at current polling, but that may well change after tonight.

As usual Andrew Sullivan rounds up the debate reactions, and picks a very cool photo for the top of the post. I wish I had access to Getty to illustrate my posts.

October 13, 2008

A gigantic nuclear furnace  

1. You can see some beautiful pictures of the sun here; consider that a million earths can fit inside the sun and then look at the size of that extrusion in the first shot.

2. Nate Silver discusses the Bradley effect and what might have happened to it.

3. Paul Krugman seems to be the best source on Paul Krugman. I've never become a huge fan of his columns -- though I will say I've read him religiously during the financial crisis -- but I learned a lot about trade from a couple of his books when I was in school.

October 12, 2008

I got a little red bullet  

Lawrence Lessig has a great statement essay up on digital rights and creativity. Here's a bit about the amateur creator:

The work of these remix creators is valuable in ways that we have forgotten. It returns us to a culture that, ironically, artists a century ago feared the new technology of that day would destroy. In 1906, for example, perhaps America's then most famous musician, John Phillip Sousa, warned Congress about the inevitable loss that the spread of these "infernal machines" -- the record player -- would cause. As he described it:

"When I was a boy...in front of every house in the summer evenings you would find young people together singing the songs of the day or the old songs. Today you hear these infernal machines going night and day. We will not have a vocal chord left. The vocal chords will be eliminated by a process of evolution, as was the tail of man when he came from the ape."

A professional fearful that new technology would destroy the amateur. "The tide of amateurism cannot but recede," he predicted. A recession that he believed would only weaken culture.

A new generation of "infernal machines" has now reversed this trend. New technology is restoring the "vocal chords" of millions. Wikipedia is a text version of this amateur creativity. Much of YouTube is the video version. A new generation has been inspired to create in a way our generation could not imagine. And tens of thousands, maybe millions, of "young people" again get together to sing "the songs of the day or the old songs" using this technology. Not on corner streets, or in parks near their homes. But on platforms like YouTube, or MySpace, with others spread across the world, whom they never met, or never even spoke to, but whose creativity has inspired them to create in return.

October 11, 2008

One of those unforeseeable external events   {Comments: 2}

We've really been overwhelmed with graphs over the past month, both graphs of the market's performance and graphs of the candidates' performance, but this is the first one I've seen that puts the two together. The correlation between McCain's polling numbers and the S&P 500 index is pretty striking. Arjun Modi (a high school senior inspired by the West Wing!) puts it at .77 and calls the financial crisis a black swan.

October 10, 2008

Momentary lapse  

It feels sort of odd not to have blogged in almost a month, given that I've been as engaged with events and online media during that time as I can remember ever being. I don't know if I haven't posted because I've been too busy watching calamity unfold or if I just didn't feel like I had anything to contribute to an overwhelming amount of opinion out there already. Anyway, I'm back now, and while I'm not going to say anything about the financial crisis or the presidential campaign right now, I probably will soon.

For now, here are a couple of great links gleaned from Ezra Klein's excellent link blog -- which unfortunately doesn't have an RSS feed (that I can find, anyway). The first is a great post on amateur food photography aimed at the food blogger with a DSLR. It's very much built around the particular style of the author, which means it's a little short on atmospherics, doesn't cover shooting in restaurants or low light generally, and steers you away from ever using a flash. Still, it's full of good ideas.

The second is a recipe for blueberry pancakes full of helpful pancake-making hints and some more great food photography -- this time process shots. I guess I'm already feeling nostalgic for blueberry season.