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Thursday, January 14, 2010

Greed and Fear???

After hearing that Lane Kiffin, now former football coach at the University of Tennessee, jumped ship to coach at USC, and will bring his father and defensive coordinator, Monte Kiffin, and assistant head coach and recruiting coordinator Ed Orgeron to Southern California with him, I read this artical about the supression of free speech and can't help but think "what in hell is wrong with our society."  Comments anyone?

ACLU Sues Library of Congress Alleging Ex-Guantanamo Prosecutor Wrongfully Fired
by: Yana Kunichoff

The American Civil Liberties Union (ACLU) has filed a lawsuit against the Library of Congress on behalf of Col. Morris Davis, the former top prosecutor at Guantanamo and an outspoken critic of the military commissions system, alleging he was unfairly terminated from his position with the Library's Congressional Research Service (CRS).

The lawsuit charged CRS with violating Davis' free speech and due process rights by removing him from his positions with CRS, following the publication of a series of articles he wrote for The Wall Street Journal and The Washington Post about issues that were related to his former role with the military commissions, but not with his responsibilities at CRS.
"Col. Davis has a constitutional right to speak about issues of which he has expert knowledge, and the public has a right to hear from him," said Aden Fine, a staff attorney with the ACLU First Amendment Working Group. "Col. Davis's firsthand experience is invaluable to the ongoing debate over military commissions, and the public should not be denied the chance to hear from him just because he is a public employee."

Davis resigned from his role as a chief prosecutor in the Guantanamo military commissions in October 2007, citing his conviction that the system was fundamentally flawed. Drawing on his time with the military commissions and his 25 years in the United States Air Force, Davis became an outspoken critic of the commissions. He wrote articles, gave speeches and testified before Congress.
Then, in December 2008, he took up a position as the assistant director of the Foreign Affairs, Defense and Trade Division at the CRS.
"My status as the former chief prosecutor for the military commissions at Guantanamo Bay and my opinions on that subject are completely unrelated to my position at CRS and totally separate from my duties there, and they don't interfere with my ability to do my job," said Davis. "The work that CRS does is incredibly valuable and I am proud of the opportunity to continue serving my country after a career in the military. I hope to be reinstated to my original position so I can continue to support Congress at this critical time in our nation's history."
In response to the ACLU's call for Davis to be returned to his former position with CRS, the Library of Congress said that it would not return Davis to his job.
As Truthout previously reported, the articles written by Davis appeared in The Wall Street Journal and The Washington Post on November 11, 2009. In them, Davis argued against using both military commissions and federal courts to try detainees.
The Wall Street Journal articles identify Davis as the former chief prosecutor for the military commissions. He retired from the military in 2008. In the ACLU's lawsuit, it said that Davis said he wrote the pieces in his personal capacity, made no mention of CRS, wrote the pieces outside of his work hours and did not receive payment for the articles.

Shortly after the publication of these articles, Davis received a number of phone calls, emails and requests for meetings from his supervisor at CRS, Daniel Mulhollan. On November 20, Davis received a final phone call saying that his employment would be terminated, and he was transferred to a temporary 30-day position, which will expire on January 20.

The ACLU lawsuit said that Davis had previously attended a conference concerning the military commissions and submitted a law review article expressing his views in connection with the conference... Mr. Mulhollan approved his participation, with the only condition being that Col. Davis had to participate on his personal time by using a vacation day, because of the subject of the conference. Guantanamo and the military commissions system had nothing to do with his CRS job responsibilities or duties.
The lawsuit also highlighted the lack of an official policy regarding CRS employees and whether personal writings must be subject to prior review or that supervisors must be notified about the intention to publish.
It goes on to say, "The decision to terminate Col. Davis for his speech has intimidated and chilled other CRS employees from speaking and writing in public. CRS employees are confused, uncertain, and fearful about what outside speaking and writing is permissible."
The ACLU is suing James Billington, the Librarian of Congress and Mulhollan in the US District Court for the District of Columbia.

Tuesday, January 12, 2010


On the way into work this morning, I heard that Ms. Miep Gies had died at 100. Impressive age but not the reason for her on-air obituary. She was the office secretary who defied the Nazi occupiers by hiding Anne Frank and her family for two years and saved the teenager's diary

That story is a bringer of tears in itself. But the commentator did what is all too often done when it comes to getting in that “this story is unique” standard of today’s journalism.

Ms. Gies was the last of the few non-Jews who supplied food, books and good cheer to the secret annex behind the canal warehouse where the Franks hide along with other Jews hid for 25 months during World War II.

After the apartment was raided by the German police, Gies gathered up Anne's scattered notebooks and papers and locked them in a drawer for her return after the war. But as we all know Anne did not survive the war having died of typhus at age 15 in a concentration camp in March of 1945. Yes that was toward the end of the war and her camp was liberated just two weeks after her death.

Ms. Gies said she did not read the diary but after the war, Otto Frank, Anne’s father, returned to Amsterdam and lived with the Gies family. When he learned of Anne’s deaths, she gave him the diary saying, “this is Anne’s legacy”.

Ms. Gies who has been hailed as a hero, never accepted that she was special herself. She claimed she did what she had to because these people needed help. She said, “"I don't want to be considered a hero. Imagine young people would grow up with the feeling that you have to be a hero to do your human duty. I am afraid nobody would ever help other people, because who is a hero? I was not. I was just an ordinary housewife and secretary."

This is where the announcer pissed me off. Just after a recording of Ms. Gies was played saying just what I wrote about her not being special and why she said it, this announcer ignores her wishes and says, “but she was special . . .” Why did this idiot announcer need to contradict Ms. Gies and her well thought out answer to why she helped hide folks during that insane war?

She was an ordinary person who did special things. Her husband died in 1993. She is survived by her son and three grandchildren.

You can read and listen to this NPR article at:

Saturday, January 09, 2010

The Weather Outside is Frightful!!!

Coldest its been in a long time here in Lincoln County, Tennessee.  Anyone ready for Spring?  Or am I jumping the gun?

Friday, January 08, 2010

Winter Is Here

Actually this is last year.  We didn't get this much snow this weekend. 
But it is colder than a Witches Tit!!

Thursday, January 07, 2010

Creativity is not proportional to superior equipment.

Ken Rockwell has a great site in which he reviews cameras, lenses and other photography related accessories not to mention a good bit of advice and insight. It is simple in design yet full of useful info if you are camera hunting.

He has a what’s new section that I check on periodically just for his attitude. He has opinions on everything from RAW vs. JPG to old film cameras to digital. I don’t always agree with him and with the constant change in digital photography – software to accessorized equipment – some times he has to go back and revise his comments. That is part of what keeps me going back.

I bought my Nikon D300 after reading his views on it. (Yes, Ken I gave you credit when I made the purchase at Adorama) Yet today he will tell you not to waist your money because the N90 has everything the D300 has but lighter. I have no qualms over comments like that. I learned a long time ago you make the best decision you can with what you know at the time. With digital cameras coming out so often these days you just have to pick a point to make a commitment. I’m happy with my D300. I know how it works and can make adjustments quickly on site. I’ve even won a contest with the photos I’ve taken with it. I’m not without experience with film cameras since I’ve been at this for over 40 years.

Which brings be to the purpose of this blog entry. Ken posted yesterday –

New decade, new deal.

Let's try to forget how many tens of thousands of dollar each of us threw at DLSRs last decade, and how little we have to show for it today.

Let's see: I burned through a D1H, D70, D80, D40, D300, D3, Rebel XTI, 5D, 5D Mark II, numerous Mavicas and point-and-shoots and I forget what else, and what is it all worth today? Worse, how about in just 5 years when the D3 and 5D Mark II are expired?

How about all the time I spent banging out reviews of all that junk? I must have ten huge 100 pages (when printed) on each of the D70 and D1X, and today, no one cares.

Compare that to the numerous pages I have up about the Nikon F100, which I wrote back in the 1990s. That work is still usefully, heck, the one guy I saw yesterday, Michael Chan, had just bought a used F100 and was having a blast with it.

So why review digital stuff, when something like the
LEICA IIIf has been cranking out great pictures for sixty years, and in 2020, the camera and its review will still be as useful as it is today.

Again I’m not disagreeing, but what I love about digital is post click production. Developing film and printing it is time consuming and costly. Yea, you can have someone process the film for you and even print the pictures, but the number of photos I take does not make that affordable nor convenient not to mention the problem with dealing with a distant photo processor when you want something that isn’t an industry standard. Just try to get a 10 x 6 picture on an 8 x 10 piece of photo paper via email. Cameras and software will change constantly. But the images I’ve captured will be as fixed as I make them and that means I have the most control with digital.

Yes, film and film cameras are still superior to digital today when it comes to quality of equipment and achievable results. After all, any photo can be digitized after it is processed. But what you are doing and what you want to achieve and what you can do with alternatives should figure into what equipment you use as much as superior results. Creativity is not proportional to superior equipment. Ken will tell you that right up front.

Wednesday, January 06, 2010

The Reluctant Mr. Darwin - a good read.

For Christmas, my son gave me David Quammen’s, The Reluctant Mr. Darwin. I’ve enjoyed reading it even though I know how it ends.

The book covers the period 1837 through 1882. Quammen deliberately bypasses the “Beagle years” (1831 – 1836) and concentrates on Charles Darwin, “the shy patriarch with bald head and the full beard, the breeder of pigeons and primroses, a very private Englishman who wound up buried in Westminster Abby, the fellow with a good for bank notes, presents to us a comfortably downy image” but not everything is so comfortable. “At the core of his work is a difficult, scary materialism.” Quammen explores that theme as well the idea that it was difficult and scary even to Darwin.

What I find interesting about this book is how different the times are. All through my read I am struck by two ideas:

1) How people communicated and socialize 140 years ago. Letter writing was the personal chat medium of the times. Publishing and membership in interest societies was a major source of exchange when it came to examining lofty ideas. And if you should think that Victorian text of the times was stogy and formal . . . well, Darwin wrote in abbreviated forms that would make any modern text message guru proud.

2) How much we take medicine for granted today. Darwin and his wife Emma had 10 kids. Three died in childhood. Darwin was sick most of his life. Down’s syndrome was not yet discovered as it is known today and pathogenic microbes had yet been discovered. Malaria was thought to be caused by miasmal vapors from swamp land. Diseases that we take vaccines for today were epidemics and ravished towns and villages because their causes were unknown. Yet, it is easy to neglect that when you think of just how thoroughly Darwin changed science and our understanding of the causes of the great diversity of life.

Tis a good read and not too technical. There is even a bit of the thrill of racing as a young untrained adventurer pushes Darwin and cause Darwin to dig deep for the personal character to do the right thing.

Saturday, January 02, 2010

Elk and No Elk

Teresa Binstock, while in Colorado Mts., posted this video of an Elk migration. It is cool to see such a big herd. I live near the Elk River in Lincoln County, Tennessee (our paper is the Elk Valley Times) and we have no elk - wild or captive.

Actually to say I live near the Elk River in Lincoln County, Tennessee is like saying a double negative in a weird "Chet" sort of way. We have no Elk and Lincoln county is not named for Abraham Lincoln. Go figure. LOL

Friday, January 01, 2010


Its a new day, a new year, a new decade and I've not made any resolutions. After 50 years of trying and succeeding so seldom I don't bother anymore. I also happen to be pretty satisfied with who I am.

I've given some thought to back dating some post and probably will. I've given some thought to posting pictures done by other photographers that I really like, but I probably won't. I just don't know where I got the pictures. I will keep posting my own pictures and the pictures may or may not have anything to do with my comments, although I do tend to like the "stream of conscience" approach.

Its been hard to avoid political commentary. Politics are the legitimate form of lying it would seem, although I doubt any mother or father would accept it from their kids. It depresses me - so I avoid it.

Em and I spent the day in Huntsville. We ate breakfast at the Broken Egg Cafe in the Bailey Cove section of town. Pricey but good. We tried Cracker Barrel first but they had a 35 minute wait so we didn't stay and it was good that we didn't. Broken Egg was better. We skipped lunch and had popcorn at the movies. Avatar in 3D was great! I loved it! I was afraid after hearing about how much attention the creator put into the special effects the story would suck. But it was pulled off nicely. I might have opted for a smoother or more detailed ending, but it is over two hours long. I'd have to say it was one of the best movies I've seen in a long time. I highly recommend it!

We ate supper at Chili's then came home and enjoyed a quiet evening. I checked on the Outback Bowl since Auburn was in it. After Tennessee sucked yesterday in the Chick-Fil-A Bowl‎, I needed to hear the SEC was still a power house. Well it is and Auburn pulled it out in overtime:

Outback Bowl: Northwestern Wildcats 35 - Auburn Tigers 38

Life is Good!


You may consider this picture exploitive. However, I would recommend you look at it with the same curiosity that I did. Surly you see just a bit of risque humor here and how odd it is that a person would mark their body in what could be considered self deprivation. I wondered why she would care if her partner knew her name if she hadn't managed to give it before getting into this . . . hhhuuuuhhhh . . . predicament.