Saturday, March 22, 2003

We interrupt your regularly-scheduled war for a brief rant...

DISSENT Protects Democracy Today's paper contained this little gem from a story about a war protest in Nashville:

About three dozen people held and waved signs at motorists to oppose this week's allied attack on Iraq. The effort mirrored other protests around the nation in cities such as Atlanta, Chicago, Washington and Los Angeles.

The crowd faced some angry drivers stopping to criticize their war protests. While some supporters honked and flashed peace signs, others veered toward the curb where the protesters stood or made obscene gestures.


Across the street from the peace demonstrators, three employees from nearby Advantage Business Solutions used their lunch break to spread their own message. Their sign, scrawled on a cushioned business envelope, said ''Protestor equals terrorist.''

I am fed up with people who contend that those opposed to the war are unpatriotic, terrorists, or any of the other epithets that have been hurled. Speaking one's mind is a a right guaranteed to all Americans, and whether you agree or not it is despicable to imply that dissenters don't care about this country or its people.

If you have a problem with what someone is saying, you should engage them by refuting their arguments, not by questioning their patriotism.

Friday, March 21, 2003

British Lieutenant Colonel Tim Collins gave a stirring speech to the battlegroup of the 1st Battalion of the Royal Irish shortly before they rolled into Iraq:
"Iraq is steeped in history. It is the site of the Garden of Eden, of the Great Flood and the birthplace of Abraham. Tread lightly there.

"You will see things that no man could pay to see and you will have to go a long way to find a more decent, generous and upright people than the Iraqis.

"You will be embarrassed by their hospitality even though they have nothing.

"Don't treat them as refugees for they are in their own country. Their children will be poor, in years to come they will know that the light of liberation in their lives was brought by you.

Thursday, March 20, 2003

While speaking on a panel sponsored by my alma mater, Ted Turner he volunteered to cover the war in Baghdad for his old company (CNN), but was rebuffed:
"I'm 64, pretty much financially wiped out, and it would be a dramatic way to exit the world," Turner told an audience of media luminaries yesterday at a Newhouse School of Public Communications breakfast.

"But they said no, I 'wasn't qualified.' How qualified to you have to be? Holding the microphone and describing the world falling apart isn't a magical thing . . . 'I'm here in Baghdad . . . bombs are everywhere . . .' "

The best part was the New York Post's typically boisterous headline: TED TURNED DOWN AS BAGHDAD BAIT.
Salam Pax is blogging live from Baghdad. Link via Missives Anonymous.

UPDATE: There is some speculation that this could be a hoax. Paul Boutin examines the evidence and concludes that the blog is likely for real -- but no one knows for sure right now. (link via Boing Boing)
Danielle asked what digital camera I bought. I deliberated for a long time (months!) on this. I wanted something that could take reasonably decent photos that could be enlarged, but I wasn't quite ready to pay for a "pro-sumer" model like the EOS 10-D and its ilk.

Originally I was looking at the Canon Powershot G2. But then I realized that the PowerShot S45 was basically the same camera in a smaller case. The biggest problem with my old Pentax K-1000 SLR was that it was so bulky I never seemed to have it with me when it really mattered. A few years ago I got a smaller autofocus Fuji camera to carry around, but I was never very happy with the quality of the snapshots it produced.

The S45 seemed like a good way to get a lot of flexibility in a 4MP camera, without having to lug around the larger body. (The biggest thing I gave up was the ability to easily attach interchangeable lenses or an external flash, but I think I can live with that.)

I'm having a bit of trouble getting used to all the digital gizmos. I never really realized how the controls on the K-1000 had become second nature until I tried to use the electronic settings for ASA, aperture, and shutter speed on the S45. What used to be an almost subconcious process of turning knobs now seems like programming a VCR. So mostly I've been using it in auto mode, but I'm really trying to learn how to push the envelope on it a bit before I go to Italy. (In the arena picture below, I had to fight with it, because the auto exposure wanted to pick up on the bright sky and underexpose everything else.

The camera does have some nifty extras built in. For example, it has a stitch assist mode that helps create a seamless panorama from multiple photos. (So far I've created a stunning panorama of my living room, but I'm hoping to try it on something more dramatic soon.) The camrea also allows you to do short movies and add audio annotations to photos, although I haven't tried these things yet.

I just got my first set of prints back from OFoto, and was pretty impressed with the quality. I was a bit skeptical as to whether I would really be comfortable using this as my primary camera for stuff I really care about, but I think my doubts are evaporating.

I bought it from some hole-in-the-wall on the Internet -- partly because their price was good and partly because I was able to avoid the outrageious 9.5% sales tax we have to pay here in Nashville. (I feel slightly guilty, but if this state would actually pass a decent tax plan, this sort of thing wouldn't be an issue!) I didn't really have any problem with the company except that they refused to ship anywhere except my billing address -- and I'm typically not home during the day to sign for things. It actually worked out, though, because they delivered it early in the morning before I left for work.

I just bought an extra battery and a 512 MB card (to augment the 32 MB it came with.) Hopefully that will be enough to get me through a day of trigger happy photography in Italy. I think I'm going to try to post photos online during the trip, depending on how often I can get decent internet access.

Which reminds me, does anyone have a European-style GSM cell phone that they want to sell for cheap? I'd like to get one, but it seems like a total waste to buy a new one for the short time I'll be there, and the rental rates aren't much better. I'm thinking a used one would be a good way to go. (Apparently an American GSM phone won't work, though, since they are on different frequencies.)

Wednesday, March 19, 2003

How could anyone start a war when it's this nice out?

Forsythia and Church

Monday, March 17, 2003

The Tennessean just had another article about Kevin Barbieux, a homeless guy from Nashville who runs a blog at The blog is definitely an interesting read.
To the anonymous WebTV user who was came to my site after googling "victoria secret uncensored": I'm really sorry to disappoint, but I don't really have a special source on this. If I were you, I'd try here. I imagine it's still sort of censored, though.

And I wish I could help the guy who was looking for "how to digitally uncensored equipment," but I'm still trying to figure out how to program my VCR. Maybe these folks can help.

An unexpected visitor...
Steve, looking smooth in Nashville. So Friday night I was at work late, and all of a sudden my phone rang. It was my cousin Steve, who I haven't really talked to in about a decade, and who at that point was in a U-Haul at a gas station east of town. (Having apparently done the grand tour of Nashville interstate highways first.)

We agreed to meet at the Exxon near my house, and I burned rubber out of work. Turns out there was no rush -- he somehow managed to circumnavigate the city twice more before arriving! But we eventually met up, and then went back to my place. He had originally been planning on driving for another few hours, but after some prodding (and a beer) decided to spend the night. So we caught up, more or less, looked at old photo albums, toured my scary cellar, watched TV, goofed around with an online dating service he's a member of, and stayed up half the night.

Saturday morning we got up and I decided we should go to the Pancake Pantry for a true Nashville breakfast experience. So we headed over there, but when we saw the line snaking out to the street, we decided instead to go downtown, get barbeque at Jack's, then head over to Bicentennial Mall to eat.

Bicentennial Mall is one of those places I take just about anyone who visits town. The best time to go is probably a few weeks from now when the fountains are turned on and the trees are in bloom. But there's really never a bad time. The entire 19 acre park was built in 1996 in honor of the state's bicentennial, and it is a great way to learn about the state (and get wet, if you want.) Plus it's right next door to the farmer's market, so you can always go buy veggies and stuff at the same time.

After eating we walked around the park for a while, then we headed back to my place, where we hung out for a little while longer before he finally loaded up the U-Haul and headed for DC about 24 hours later than expected.

Then I started frantically thinking about the paper that I was supposed to be writing for class all weekend! (Although I admit I got sidetracked on travel planning for a couple of hours today -- still trying to narrow down where we're actually going next month.)

All in all, it was a pretty nifty weekend.

Sunday, March 16, 2003

Spring is here...