Now that I’ve begun my first blog, I guess I ought to reference a few of the knottier (not self-explanatory) references I dropped into the first entry.
The National Conference on Media Reform (NCMR);
convened last summer in St. Paul, Minnesota, was jam-packed with interesting speakers, events and sidebars. Among the most memorable of these, for me, was Tim (End2End) Wu’s description of the U.S. Constitution as a document that (fundamentally) outlines the limitations of federal governmental power to impact on the lives of citizens. The important thing the Constitution doesn’t do is furnish a utilized example for private enterprise in shaping/impacting the lives of employees.
Early in the very first episode of The Wire, the murdered victim of street violence, Snot, is described as a moderately retarded guy who always attempted to scoop up the common gambling pot and abscond with it into the darkness, which always resulted in Snot getting the snot beat out of him by the rest of the group. McNulty asks the informant why nobody prevented Snot from playing, if everyone knew that at some point he’d take a half-witted shot at stealing everone’s winnings. “Ain’t this America?” was a wonderful response. I think it means that the Constitution acts as a moral guide for far too few of us, and is not utilized in that way at by a great many others, whose vested self-interests, tyrannical rule and abusive, unconscionable, incumbent power it clearly discourages.
Beating Snot senseless(er) was considered okay, but killing the fool was regarded by the speaker as downright unAmerican. I’m going to follow this line of reasoning one more step and suggest that the influence on individual conscience of The Golden Rule runs exactly counter to the rule of gold; that the spirit embedded in the Constitution aligns (for [the collective agenda of] governance) with the prescription for hip individual living. Self-interest, conversely, is the rule of gold, and justifies a dog-eat-dog perception of human existence, as though the “jungle out there” is all that exists, contravening the dictates of conscience, The Golden Rule, and the example of conscientious government outlined in the United States Constitution.
Oops. I don’t seem to be debugging my first blog entry very effectively. WTF.
Later in the conversation I had with Grant McCracken, I tried to retract any earlier rants I may have visited on the Nikon Corporation’s lack of support for “legacy” products that are not currently coming off their production lines. Last week I learned that NikonUSA’s website references several phone numbers that lead directly to the kind of support that is not (yet) made available online. The 1982 vintage 600mm Nikkor f/4.0 ED-IF [AI-S] lens I bought last February, from a vendor and prevaricator on eBay, was described incorrectly as free of problems. For the past two months I’ve been chasing shadows up blind alleys in search of (“ancient” Nikon information, like) an exploded diagram or service manual or userguide to find part numbers to effect repairs (as though salvaged replacement parts were readily available) on a splendid supertelephoto lens that’s been so badly abused that my D300 digital camera wobbles in its interface, and the aperture ring did not control the diaphragm. None of this stuff is as hopeless as it appeared to be while I was busy ranting in frustration a few weeks ago.
This seems like a reasonable place to insert the .jpg of a Caspian Tern I shot last Sunday with a rented descendant of my manual-focus lens. The purpose of this weekend rental adventure was to establish a standard of perfomance to which the restoration of my legacy lens aspires. Just for the record the rental lens is hot off the production line. It’s valued in excess of $10,000, and never stopped terrorizing the crap out of me until I’d returned it to the exemplary rental company from which I rented it, BorrowLenses; they ship nationwide, with offices two freeway exits away from me.
The original cost of my legacy lens, including shipping and ongoing repairs is still under $3500, and the difference in image quality is not 6500 bucks. Autofocus, as a matter of fact, is a monumental pain in the butt. I have a lot to learn about shot discipline and manual-focus consistency, but that realization is a irresistible springboard to as-yet unexplored states of mind. And here’s where I add the continually evolving conclusion that getting swell photographs is only a fraction of the pleasure this 13pound hunk of hardware has already given me.
And finally, Milch and Clark, if I’ve understood them correctly, insist that the public face of law enforcement in this country is significantly different in practice than citizens are entitled to know. That would mean that the rising flap over Bush-era interrogation techniques of high-value detainees in the War on Terror are far less starkly contrasted than we now generally believe from the practices of law enforcement officials busting suspected pimps, junkies, murderers and thieves. If that’s so, then the Obama Administration’s reluctance to satisfactorily renounce, disclose and open to public scrutiny the excesses of the recent past begin to make some sense.
Full disclosure and accountability would not be limited to post911 CIA monstrosity, but would necessarily lead to scrutiny of the commonplace, traditional methods of domestic law enforcement; a gigantic, retroactive, profoundly destabilizing housecleaning.