Hani has some great shots over at Effinchamp, well worth checking out. I particularly like his shot of graffiti on the street. It's always good to get a shot that captures a portion of how NYC feels.
Right now I'm having a hard time with my photography. I've been trying to take a lot of night time shots and a lot of dark interior shots (which would surprise no one.... since I basically live in a bar). I've upgraded my film, switching from 800 iso to 1600. Hopefully that will help. The main problem is that I can't get the camera to stop using fill flash, though, which distracts the hell out of my subjects. I'll have to harass Canon about that.
Anyway, go check out those pics on Hani's site. I know I'm slow with good stuff, myself, right now, but that is because (1) it's the holidays, so I want to spend my free time with family and friends ("and I live in a bar under the seas! drunk bob square pants!"), (2) I'm working on a story and it's taking way too long to write, and (3) I like sleeping (a lot), and the holiday time is the one time I can do so without missing a court appearance. Coming soon, though: Christmas at the Dub'; Why GQ Hates Catholics; and Why we Should Look to Ourselves, Not Our Stars. Discuss. I'm faklempt.
Jonas, a gentleman with intriguing experiences (exactly why did Medecins Sans Frontieres stitch him up I imagine we'll never know, but I suspect it's a hell of a story), has a tip on how to help the Iranian earthquake victims.
"I felt terrible not telling him that my music was what she'd heard. But now, as I look back, I consider my silence the first decision I made as a true musician. An artist. My playing was more important to me than my father's pain. It was that clear. I said nothing, but after that I was all the more sly and twice as secretive.
It was a question of survival, after all. If I had not found the music, I would have died of the silence. There are ways of being abandoned even when your parents are right there."
Louise Erdrich, Shamengwa, in The Best American Short Stories, at 179 (2003 ed.).
The Scobleizer Weblog has a piece on the proper relationship of the State to religion(s). The author takes what I would consider an extreme view of the Establishment Clause, wherein he argues that the State should have nothing to do with any religion, that it should reject any relationship to religion.
Rob does have some other points. For instance, he says that we should consistently deal with all religious displays. Implicit in his arguments is an [sic] "display them all, or display none" point of view. I totally agree with that, although I'd take the "display none" point of view. Governments should not establish religion. At least that's what our constitution says. So, government officials. [sic]You know, teachers, staff, mayors, senators, etc should not do anything that favors one religion over another. And, yes, I include Atheism in that bunch.
Yeah, I know, our money says "in God we trust" and they "swear in" presidents and other elected officials over bibles and such. Personally these are rituals that are repugnant and should be removed. They are unconstitutional on their face and they are a slap in the face of the millions of Americans who do not believe them (or believe differently).
Insofar as he argues that the state needs to reconsider the implicit support it gives any sort of deism by requiring people to swear in on the Bible in court or in other rituals, Scoble is only partly correct. Yes, the Bible can be used for swearing in, but I have often seen people refuse to swear in on the Bible. I've seen some judges remove Bibles from their courtrooms and have simply required an oath of honesty from the witness. Presumably, an atheist president would not need to be sworn in over a Bible. While I agree that we could do away with the practice of swearing people in by way of a religious text in secular courts, I don't think it's accurate to state that the use of this symbol is mandatory and universal.
Scoble's next point is that the state should not have any role in the establishment of religion.
Instead, focus in on what Rob's asking for. He wants it to be OK for schools to establish religion. Market it. Push it. Think about it. A teacher who is allowed to make her class sing a "Christian" song. Hello, what about the Muslim kid in the back row? What about the atheist kid? What about the Jewish kid? What about the kid who believes in some new-age religion? The JW [Jehovah's Witness] kid (they aren't allowed to celebrate Christmas, by the way)?
The question this raises for me would be the nature of Scoble's position on the Establishment Clause vis a vis the use of school vouchers. If the full voucher program is allowed, it will be the case that federal funding is used to benefit religious schools, whether Catholic, Jewish, Muslim, etc. Are we to expect the state to take such a strong stance on the Establishment Clause that this school choice program must fail? I suggest that it should not, that the practice of using school vouchers to pay for schooling at any school that meets minimum educational standards is acceptable because it does nothing to favor any belief over any other (including the lack of belief). Still, it's interesting to see what those with strong views on the Separation of Church and State think about issues like this.
"The music was more than music - at least, more than what we are used to hearing. The sound connected instantly with something deep and joyous. Those powerful moments of true knowledge which we paper over with daily life. The music tapped our terrors, too. Things we'd lived through and wanted never to repeat. Shredded imaginings, unadmitted longings, fear, and also surprising pleasures. We can't live at that pitch. But every so often, something shatters like ice and we fall into the river of our own existence. We are aware."
Louise Erdrich, Shamengwa, in The Best American Short Stories, at 174 (2003 ed.).