Monday, April 06, 2009

High-quality digital movies at affordable prices

This camera took this video. Seriously. Follow the links. The price of high-quality cameras is falling so fast... Low-budget movies don't have to look like crap anymore. And think of what this will do for nature photography.

Sunday, April 05, 2009

Whiskey Fire In Binghamton

I've been reading the Whiskey Fire blog for quite a while now. Great snark. Plenty of insight. Always good wing-nut fun making. When a shooter killed 14 people in Binghamton last week, I was surprised to hear that this fun little blog I'd been reading is being written by folks just down the road from me. I felt a little tinge of memory from past tragedies that make us all feel closer together. In this case, we were pretty close already.

I was anxious this morning to see what they had to say about the tragedy, now that it's had some time to really sink in. The post is from Jake T. Snake: Why is the mine still open when the canaries keep expiring? It's a powerful post, and I recommend reading the whole thing, now, because I'm going to quote the end, which is where Robin and I wound up when we talked about this yesterday. Why, if this guy was pissed at people who fired him, or the rednecks (Binghamton is a city of 43,000, of which 80% are white) who made fun of his bad English, did he go shoot other immigrants like himself?

Finally, I think it is instructive that the shooter picked as his victims, not someone powerful like the people who had laid him off, but a group of the powerless like himself. This is the other dynamic that repeats itself over and over, don't attack those in power that are the root of the problem, but rather find someone weaker to victimize and perpetuate the cycle. This also explains the disdain people have for social workers. We help the weak and disenfranchised and in the united states that is a sign of weakness the unforgivable sin.

All the pitchforks and torches talk is a bunch of hot air fueled by psuedo-populists who will pat the back of the next CEO to donate to their election campaign. When the really angry people lash out with their firearms and satchels of ammo hanging around their necks, they don't go after the powerful. They go after the weak, the easy targets, those least able to protect themselves or fight back. Their self-loathing is exposed through their choice of targets.

Take the case of the Pittsburgh cop killer who was so certain that we were going to take his guns that he, whipped into a frenzy by the riot inciters in the GOP and Fox news, decided to take it out on some middle class, under paid cops who were just doing their job trying to keep their community safe from the likes of Wing Nuts like him. Maybe those cops were conservative 2nd amendment types too. He didn't know. He just started shooting at the first easy target to walk up to his house. He used an assault rifle. The cops were sitting ducks. Easy targets.

We're going to see a lot more of this. As Bushvilles sprout up all over the country, as the welfare roles and the unemployment lines get longer, as wages continue to fall, real income collapses, health care is lost, mental illness goes undiagnosed, we're going to see some very angry, heavily armed people lose it. And they won't lash out at Phil Gramm, George Bush, or Dick Cheney. In one of the final, ironic twists of the Bush era, they will take it out on the people who least deserve it.

Saturday, April 04, 2009

UPDATED: Safe Havens in End-of-Your-Rope-istan

Expect to see a lot more of this (well armed people attacking and killing groups of people, like in Binghamton, NY yesterday). While we're trying to stop a safe haven for terrorists in AfPak, we're letting them re-develop in militia-stan, crazy-stan, and at-the-end-of-your-rope-istan (think Michigan).

We have increasing numbers of frustrated people. These are especially frustrating times. We have easy access to guns and ammo, rampant undiagnosed mental health problems, loss of access to health care and medication, rising unemployment, homelessness and Bushvilles, higher rates of poverty, violent gangs, mafias, narco-terrorists, layoffs of cops and public safety officials, rapidly declining tax revenues at the state and local level. Add desperation to the mix, and people will react in very angry and violent ways.

Odd that John Robb of Global Guerrillas gave testimony to the House Armed Services Committee (pdf) Thursday in which he said:

"With the failure or weakening of nation-states across the board and the lack of ideological alternatives, people will shift their primary loyalties to any group that can provide them security and the basics of survival. These groups will span the gamut of gangs, tribes, criminal syndicates, militias, religious sects, etc. Many, if not most of these groups, will maintain and expand the interests both vigorously and violently. The worst version of this trend line would be the expansion of the criminal insurgency in Mexico into the US (through expansion of the criminal ecosystem more than anything due to ethnic identity)."

While not exactly on point, the example in your backyard is more proof of societal collapse, and is to be expected in the pressure cooker of 21st century America: armed and more dangerous than ever.

UPDATE: Three police officers dead in Pittsburg, shooter feared Obama Gun ban.

Wednesday, April 01, 2009

Poetry After Years of None

Photograph by Robin Supak
Thousands of Tiny Taps Almost at Once

Almost frozen rain drops bounce
off slanted glass: molten BBs
the second impact of which
humans can barely detect.

The defroster-warmed windshield
lubricates the basal slide,
a glacial race across car parts
toward salted road like wrist blood

down fingers. Red and blue sirens
intermittently flash blinding,
weary authority from cops, ambulances,
and plow apparatus-strapped pickups.

The shorting-neon bar-sign effect prisms
through each half-flattened drop in the mire--
Tetris-piled-ice sky-scrapers, an opaque
cityscape on a bedrock of wiper blades.

Flip the switch! See a civilization
destroyed! The rubber barbarian
horde squeegees the watery wen
into compressed detritus, then resets.

Oil-fueled blades slice ice aside
into dross monoliths, offal sacrifices
destined to feed roadside sluices.
Obliviously eager new sleet

floods the excavated tabula rasa--
the abhorred-vacuum, now a province
filled by termites, protected witnesses,
contraceptive sponges, and colonists.

Gravity hauls the slush across
the transparent Diolkos, unaware
of its shivering nakedness, bare
liquid held together by sheer

temperature like exposed, decrepit
houses in leafless woods,
revealed only in winter,
about to be obliterated.

Scott Supak
February, 2009