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Just Wait ‘Till Next Year?

May 8th, 2008 | Comments Off | Posted in Entertainment, Personal, Yahoo! Related

I needed a few days to get over the Sharks’ heartbreaking 129 minute loss to the Dallas Stars on Sunday.  By the end of that game, watching the players gasp for air was so painful that I almost forgot the Sharks entire season was hanging on one goal.  And then it was all over. Regardless, it’s been a great season. I’ve really enjoyed being at the games, especially the incredible game 7 win over Calgary, which was by far the best sporting event I’ve ever been to:

 

Meanwhile, the NHL experts blog at Yahoo! Sports has been running some very funny eulogies for teams that get knocked out of the playoffs, and the Sharks eulogy is up here.  Honestly, it’s not that great; it’s not nearly mean enough. This one for the flames is totally brutal, which is what makes it hilarious.  I was really hoping for some nasty digs at my favorite players (Brian Campbell in particular has been made into a hot scapegoat for this year’s annual second round breakdown), and some potshots at the city of San Jose.  This comic was good, though:

Anyways, like I said, it’s been a fun season, and I’m (once again) looking forward to next year with high hopes.  Maybe I’ll get a Brian Campbell jersey so when they release him in the off season I’ll have a jersey for a guy that was only on the team one year, that’s always fun.  And meanwhile, I get to watch the Stars get completely thrashed by the Wings (ooh, I should submit one of those obits for the Dallas stars when after they get trounced), and the series in Pennsylvania should be really fun to watch.  And I’d better enjoy it while it lasts, since the period between the end of the NHL playoffs and the start of football season usually involves listening to my friends blab on and on about fantasy baseball every night.

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New Lens Fun

April 9th, 2008 | Comments | Posted in Personal

2401536683_f4f3f64f60_mSo my new Sigma 30mm f/1.4 arrived at the office today.  I bought mine here, although I don’t know if I’d recommend using these guys since they screwed up three different things in this one order.  Then again,  I did finally receive the item I ordered and for a great price.  Regardless, I’m very stoked to have this thing, because this lens is 1) super fast (f/1.4) which will be great for indoors and other low light situations and 2) has an amazingly narrow depth of field, so I can take really cool shots like these ones I’ve posted here, where the subject is in focus and the rest of the shot is really blurry.  The focus field is so thin, in fact, that I actually took some portrait shots today where the subject’s eyes were in focus and tip of their nose and their ears were blurred out.  The downsides to the lens are 1) it’s fixed at 30mm, so there’s no zooming in or out whatsoever, and 2) it’s fairly heavy for a fixed lens (it has to be big 2402365466_2ba379fc1e_mto open so wide and take in so much light).

I’m really pleased with the sharpness of this lens as well; in the original of this shot I took of Keith, I can zoom in on his eye and actually see myself holding the camera, clearly reflected in his iris.  Pretty awesome.  I’m really looking forward to using this in most casual situations, and it should also be great for shooting bands from the front row.

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Mandatory Reading

April 4th, 2008 | Comments | Posted in Personal, Politics

This article regarding an Illinois state senator caught my attention today.  Apparently she became irate during the testimony of an outspoken atheist and began browbeating him:

Davis: I don’t know what you have against God, but some of us don’t have much against him. We look forward to him and his blessings. And it’s really a tragedy — it’s tragic — when a person who is engaged in anything related to God, they want to fight. They want to fight prayer in school. I don’t see you (Sherman) fighting guns in school. You know? I’m trying to understand the philosophy that you want to spread in the state of Illinois. This is the Land of Lincoln. This is the Land of Lincoln where people believe in God, where people believe in protecting their children.… What you have to spew and spread is extremely dangerous, it’s dangerous–

Sherman: What’s dangerous, ma’am?

Davis: It’s dangerous to the progression of this state. And it’s dangerous for our children to even know that your philosophy exists! Now you will go to court to fight kids to have the opportunity to be quiet for a minute. But damn if you’ll go to [court] to fight for them to keep guns out of their hands. I am fed up! Get out of that seat!

Sherman: Thank you for sharing your perspective with me, and I’m sure that if this matter does go to court—

Davis: You have no right to be here! We believe in something. You believe in destroying! You believe in destroying what this state was built upon.

Listen to the clip of the exchange here:

Rather than discuss the logical fallacies involved in her arguments (and there are tons: her ad hominem abusive arguments regarding Sherman’s chosen realm of activism, her ridiculous argumentum ad populum about belief in god, and her wholly unsupported implication that Illinois was somehow built on Christianity, just to name a few), I’d like to address the most frustrating aspect of this tirade, which is her claim that being exposed to atheism is somehow destructive to children.

Look, I understand what’s really going on here; if this woman genuinely believes that children unexposed to the teachings of Christianity are going to burn in hell, no one can really blame her for feeling that the perspective of an atheist is something corrosive that should kept away from impressionable minds at all costs.  But unfortunately, that’s a fully circular argument; it points to belief in god, but it only holds if you believe in god in the first place.  And more importantly, it’s missing the crux of the issue at hand, which has to do with teaching our children how to think.  The irony of her position is that the only children so easily susceptible to indoctrination are ones who were never taught how to think, how to analyze, how to discuss and debate; the ones who were never exposed to any new ideas in the first place.  And that’s why I’ve yet to ever hear a single valid unbiased argument against teaching children about critical thinking.

I hate to post the same stuff over and over again, but it appears my goal of getting this document into the hands every human being on the planet has not yet been achieved, so allow me excerpt once again from Walter Lippmann’s essay The Indispensable Opposition. Friends, please, read it right now if you never have before. It’s short, I swear.  But I digress; here are some relevant portions:

We miss the whole point when we imagine that we tolerate the freedom of our political opponents as we tolerate a howling baby next door, as we put up with the blasts from our neighbor’s radio because we are too peaceable to heave a brick through the window. If this were all there is to freedom of opinion, that we are too goodnatured or too timid to do anything about our opponents and our critics except to let them talk, it would be difficult to say whether we are tolerant because we are magnanimous or because we are lazy, because we have strong principles or because we lack serious convictions, whether we have the hospitality of an inquiring mind or the indifference of an empty mind. And so, if we truly wish to understand why freedom is necessary in a civilized society, we must begin by realizing that, because freedom of discussion improves our own opinions, the liberties of other men are our own vital necessity.

This is the creative principle of freedom of speech, not that it is a system for the tolerating of error, but that it is a system for finding the truth. It may not produce the truth, or the whole truth all the time, or often, or in some cases ever. But if the truth can be found, there is no other system which will normally and habitually find so much truth. Until we have thoroughly understood this principle, we shall not know why we must value our liberty, or how we can protect and develop it.

And here we get to the heart of the matter, which is that society genuinely needs different viewpoints because exposing people to different viewpoints is what helps learn how to learn, and what help us discover truth.  Atheists, as the opposition, (or Christians, were they the minority) are not something to just be tolerated.  They serve an important function: to either weaken or strengthen your own beliefs by putting them to the test.  And if a belief doesn’t hold up under scrutiny, is it really worth having?

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I’ve Been Robbed

March 27th, 2008 | Comments | Posted in Music, Personal, Photos

DSC_1579Some of you may know about my “shoes project”, which I came up with after last year’s SXSW festival, where I happened to get a few great shots of a few bands’ shoes as they were playing.  The idea behind the project was to take a shot of the shoes of every band I saw this year at SXSW (whenever humanly possible) and make them into a framed collection of cool shoe shots to put up on the wall, with the name of each band represented in the collection.  On the right, for example, you can see the triumphant shot I took of the band Blitzen Trapper.

I was quite proud of myself for coming up with this idea, because, seriously, it’s awesome.  Which brings us to the today; here I sit, feeling pleased and quietly developing pictures of band shoes, when out of the blue, I get a phone call from Jesse:  “Hey buddy… I’ve got some bad news.”

08326_160251_BlocPartyshoesL200308Thus enter French electro-popsters The Shoes and their new single, “Knock Out”.  Apparently, they have pressed 300 copies of the 7″, and each one comes bundled with a Polaroid of (guess what)… shoes.  And here’s the kicker; they (being significantly cooler than I) have far more famous friends than I could hope for (although I do sorta know the drummer from Lady Genius and one the guys from Altman).  Each Polaroid is of someone indie-famous and is signed by the aforementioned semi-celeb; notable notables include folks from Bloc Party (left), CSS, and The Darkness.

So what’s the moral of the story? Apparently, it’s “never try to do anything cool or fun or awesome, because someone will just rip off your idea and flaunt it all  over the internets”. Internets like NME, Pitchfork, and MixMag. Well, crap.

What do you guys think… should I go ahead with the project or toss it in the fail bin?  Jesse has already made it clear where he stands (and I’m paraphrasing here): “I dunno, man. I was just worried you’d have someone over to your apartment who would see the pictures, yell, ‘Hey, that french band The Shoes already did that!’, and then burn the place down.”

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SXSW Pics

March 26th, 2008 | Comments | Posted in Music, Personal, Photos

I’ve finished developing and uploading my SXSW pics, so here’s the final set:

Listening to: Rush – Rivendell
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