27 February 2009
EDIT (I misrepresented this quote): "Yes."
25 February 2009
23 February 2009
This is the last cyanotype I printed. It's made from the 8x10 enlarged negative I made earlier. There are dozens of old processes used to make and print photographs. I'd like to try as many of them as possible, especially daguerreotypes. You have to place the image over heated mercury to expose the image... and it can't be duplicated... interesting. Anymore even the most popular printing process, gelatin silver, has more or less completely given way to digital. It makes sense though. Digital allows more people to own and use cameras.
I still have a lot to learn and more chemicals to acquire, but the tests are getting better.
21 February 2009
This is a cyanotype I made of a drawing by my friend Justin. It's the same process that was used back in the day to make architectural drawings. It's just a contact print of a negative that is exposed to UV light and washed in water.
I also began making some Van dyke brown prints. It's a very similar process but there's also a hypo clearing bath involved (sodium thiosulfate). I'll post that up once it's done washing and drying. It's currently being rinsed in my highly sophisticated washing device (tray in my bathtub with the water running).
Also up for experimentation is some negative reversal film; Bergger BPFB-18. I use it to enlarge my negatives so that I can contact print them. I first have to duplicate the film by contact printing and developing it. That's called making an interpositive. Then I enlarge the interpositive, which is essentially a black and white positive film, onto an 8x10 film. This leaves me with an 8x10 negative. Here's the one I made:
This was inverted in Photoshop.
More to come...
16 February 2009
Let the government spend. "Bizarrely, however, some Congressional critics have denounced the administration’s stimulus proposals as 'mere spending programs.' Of course they’re spending programs! More spending is exactly what we need."
Google introduces work on a power meter application that allows you to view your real time energy usage online. I remember reading that studies have been conducted showing that by merely placing a meter that allows you to see your energy usage in real time consumption generally drops around 20%.
Cool art prints.
I've been absolutely fascinated by these for a while now. They're basically a 4'x4' skylight. The innovative aspect of them is that they use mirrors to reflect sunlight into the building more effectively than traditional passive skylights. the units achieve this with the use of a solar powered motor and sun tracking system. The unit can track the sun at an angle down to 10 degrees above the horizon.
The other huge benefit is that it doesn't produce heat in the same way that a conventional metal halide or fluorescent light would, so your cooling load is significantly reduced. On a sunny day it produces the equivalent of 800 watts of fluorescent light. At 3.4 BTU's per watt that's about 2,700 BTU's an hour saved on your cooling bill. How much is that? A 12,000 BTU (1 ton) air conditioner is enough to cool down a normal sized 2 bedroom apartment during the summer.
It's also reported that when used in retail locations sales increase by 10-40%; in industrial applications employees call in sick less, are more productive, and are less accident prone; and in comparison to no daylight classrooms, classrooms fitted with this device notice a 6-20% increase in grades (that one is the most suspect though). When you think of how good it feels to be outside in the sun and how terrible winter light (or lack there of) can feel none of these results are that suprising.
15 February 2009
It's also worth noting that with the exception of being catholic, every distinction would be more deleterious to your total vote count in 2007 than it would it 2000... I wonder what could have caused that.
14 February 2009
13 February 2009
09 February 2009
When I first read that it struck me how readily the internet can disseminate ideas, papers, research studies, music, television, movies, books, etc. to one person or 6.7 billion for essentially the same price of free. The amazing thing of course being that Jefferson called it over 200 years ago, but not in some clairvoyant sense but rather because it is an intrinsic property of ideas that they have transaction costs approaching zero and are infinitely scalable. The entirety of Jefferson's letter can be viewed here.
Wikileaks released about a billion dollars worth of research enacted by Congress since 1990.
I've read about projects to make government and private university funded research accessible to the public, but it still remains difficult to search through the current scientific literature. Here's the best article I could find on the subject. To find academic papers for free you can either visit your local library and log on to JSTOR or you can just search on Google Scholar. It seems very counter productive to spend so much time and (public) money on a research study then keep the results hidden behind large fees and access codes. If you were a researcher wouldn't you want people to see your results? The less people have to work to get at this information the more widely it will be read and implemented. The same concept is used to make a web page more effective. By reducing the number of pages a visitor has to click through to get somewhere web traffic increases. Come on acadamea - drag your big brains out from under that rock.
08 February 2009
Since then I've continued to document a few of my friends who are doing interesting things. Among them are my brother brewing really good beer, Justin making silk screened art prints and gig posters, Ben playing professional online poker, and a group of my friends recording an album. Which from what I've listened to is quite impressive. I'm very fortunate to have interesting and productive friends.
These are my film photos of Justin printing. I'll post some of Ben and the band later.
My friends always ask for a source that endorses the legalization of marijuana who isn't just another hippy pot head, so here's that from what I consider to be the best excerpt from the above link.
Also, look up the credentials of those that give anti-marijuana views in the article (and vise verse). At least one of the other "experts" in that article is a doctor who cites erroneous studies and was appointed by the Bush administration... but... how could you possibly take yourself seriously as a scientist in that administration?
I began my study of marijuana in 1967 because I was concerned that young people were harming themselves by ignoring authorities’ warnings about a dangerous drug. I had hoped to write a paper that would definitively establish a scientific basis for this concern, and publish it in a widely read medium.
It was not long before I realized that despite my training in science and medicine, I had, like almost every other citizen of this country, been brainwashed by the United States government into believing that cannabis is a terribly dangerous drug. By 1971, the year Harvard University Press published Marihuana Reconsidered, I knew that, far more harmful than any inherent psychopharmacological property of this substance, was the way we as a society were dealing with its use. While marijuana is, in fact, remarkably free of toxicity, the consequences of annually arresting 300,000 mostly young people were not. Once I grasped the absurdity of this prohibition, I became devoted to the cause of changing these laws.
The development of marijuana laws began with the Marijuana Tax Act of 1937, which was based on the same myths as the movie Reefer Madness — myths which have long since been abandoned. The prohibition itself should have been discarded after the publication in 1972 of the report of the Nixon-appointed National Commission on Marihuana and Drug Abuse. The report was titled “Marihuana, A Signal of Misunderstanding,” and it affirmed the lack of a sound basis for prohibition. The Commission recommended the elimination of all penalties for personal possession and use of marijuana by adults, and for the not-for-profit transfer of small amounts of marijuana between adults. Instead, marijuana laws and their enforcement have become increasingly severe, buttressed by “new” myths dressed in scientific costume such as the present notion, developed largely in England and Australia, that marijuana causes schizophrenia.
The marijuana sector of the Drug War has seen annual increases in both its cost (now estimated to be about $11 billion) and the number of arrests. Marijuana arrests now constitute nearly 44 percent of all drug arrests in the U.S. The Uniform Crime Report figures for 2006 reveal that 829,625 people were arrested on marijuana charges, nearly a 15 percent increase from 2005. Nine out of ten were arrested for mere possession. More than 10 million people have been arrested on marijuana charges since 1990, and 75 percent of them were 30 or younger at the time of arrest.
Despite the increasing number of arrests, the growing demands of employers for urine tests, and the ubiquity of misinformation purveyed by the government and anti-marijuana organizations, the number of Americans who experiment with or regularly use this substance continues to grow. A December 2002 CNN/Time magazine survey found that 47 percent of American adults had tried marijuana. The number of people who use it regularly has increased to about 15 million.
This expanding use can no longer be dismissed as simply a youthful fad. It is a clear sign that adults who have a desire or need to stretch their consciousness are discovering that the least costly agent of this kind of experience is offered by marijuana. If used properly, it leads to a gentle alteration of consciousness, there is very little risk to health, the experience does not lead to any kind of antisocial behavior, and it is relatively (or would be, without the prohibition tariff) inexpensive. Marijuana has become part of our culture, and it is here to stay.
There are two other categories of use as well: medicine and enhancement, both of which overlap to some extent with each other and with recreational uses. Enhancement refers to that capacity of the marijuana high to add to the strength, worth, beauty, or other desirable qualities of experiences ranging from food and sex to creativity and appreciation of the natural world (see here for more information). So many people in the last decade have discovered its remarkable and versatile uses as a medicine that twelve states have now adopted legislation or initiatives which allow for its medicinal use. Unfortunately, the federal government, insisting that it has no medical utility, continues its merciless crackdown on patients, their doctors, and the people who grow this medicine within the legal limitations specified by the particular state.
The many thousands of patients who use marijuana for the treatment of a number of symptoms and syndromes do so because they find it to be as or more effective, and generally less toxic, than the conventionally prescribed medicines it replaces, plus it is less expensive, even at prohibition-inflated prices. Despite the federal government’s insistence that marijuana is more of a poison than a medicine, more states are now considering legislation or initiatives to make it available as a medicine, and some are considering initiatives to decriminalize it by reducing penalties for possession of small quantities.
Whatever interim changes we decide to take, ultimately we will have to cut the knot by giving marijuana the same status as alcohol — legalizing it for all uses, and largely removing it from medical and criminal control systems.
05 February 2009
I just updated my post on electronic medical records. In it I had some terribly unrelated rant about the free market. I'm not sure why that was in there. I don't remember drinking while writing that, but then again I guess that would be one of the side effects. Anyways, I thought I'd expound on that rant and make sense of it. This should be a fairly boring post, but what I intend to explain is the government's responsibility to markets. Or at least my take on the governments role in the market.
First off, there are 4 general market structures. I'm going to go over them briefly, but if you really want to understand them just read their respective wiki articles.
Perfect competition: This is an economists' wet dream. The problem is that few, if any, exist. The closest examples are probably farmed commodities or eBay auctions. The characteristics that make up this market structure include: no product differentiation, producers don't set the price, and only normal profit exists. The beauty of this market structure is that the most people are satisfied with the least amount of goods. This is because equilibrium/price is found where demand meets supply.
Monopolies: Comed. Single player market, little innovation, sets own price. Fewer people get to consume the product and they pay a higher price. This results in a dead weight loss.
Oligopolists: GM, Delta. Few firms, large barriers to entry, firms set prices according to game theory (strategy based on expectations of other companies, that's why airline ticket prices are so nuts), collusion is likely because there are so few other firms in the market.
Monopolistic competition: Kraft, GAP, Crest. Like perfect competition but products are differentiated, and producers have some freedom over setting the price of their good.
So while most economists love perfect competition for its simplicity, efficiency, and fairness the reality is that it rarely if ever exists. The reality is that most markets are dominated by the other 3 market structures, 2 of which have huge barriers to entry (read: you have to have billions and political contacts) and the last which breeds advertising and brand names (Side thought: companies pay for advertising by raising the price of their product. Hence, you end up paying more for their product. Would you spend your money on billboards if given the choice? I always think about how in reality you pay for the commercials that you end up watching. It's complete insanity.). This is why economists love the idea of laissez faire/deregulation policies. In theory it works the best, but companies are run by people and sometimes people do stupid things. A perfectly competitive situation produces the most goods at the cheapest price, but the reality is that monopolistic competition dominates the marketplace - not perfectly competitive firms.
In the case of regulation, the best solution is one that stifles the market as little as possible and mitigates the business cycle (creates consistency). Here's what it all breaks down to. I think I showed why no regulation is best in theory, or at least in the right market structure (which is even funnier because the closest market to perfect competition is also one of the most heavily regulated - farming). However, in reality most markets aren't perfect and firms exist to maximize profit - not serve the greater good. Thus, markets should initially be completely free; whatever that means. The government's job is to place limits on a firms' behaviors as it becomes necessary. These restrictions will, to some extent, stunt the potential output of the economy. But they are needed to make sure that an economy can exist at all. Over time new loopholes will be exploited by companies and the government will have to enact new laws to ensure the well being of the economy.
My annoyance with all this is that people turn it into a political thing. The right screams less regulation and quotes Friedman, and the left wants regulation and quotes Keynes. It's just not that simple. Policies need to evolve over time and in step with the marketplace. I would argue that that did not happen in regard to our current mess.
03 February 2009
This is a photo (I think it's an albumen print - a large version of a carte de viste [CDV]) of the Palmetto Sharpshooters. They were a Confederate Civil War unit from Anderson, SC. If you look closely there are some "interesting" things hiding in the photo. One of them is my great great grandfather Jacob Pinkney Reed. Can you guess which one he is? Answer below...
02 February 2009
That's my only hesitation in applying to graduate school. If someone actually lets me design buildings... ha, I'd have no social life. I've decided to try anyways. Here's a small sample of my portfolio that accompanies the rest of my life statistics. Which by the way always ask the wrong questions, but what else is new?
Film scan printed by an ink jet printer on handmade paper. This was a photo of my brother and me when we were young ("Every picture of you was when you were younger!" - Mitch Hedberg).
Pen and ink drawing of Susie on bristol paper.
Pencil and marker drawing on bristol paper. Anyone who has the misfortune of hearing my architectural (of which I know little about) diatribes knows that I love shipping containers, steel, concrete, glass, natural sunlight, and monolithic domes.
There's also a watercolor self portrait, some other ink drawings, a few gelatin-silver prints, a palladium print that I just made (that I'll post if I get the permission of my subject), a poster, and some photos from P8nt.
But first, shameless self promotion:
"But let's be clear: Tax cuts are not the tool of choice for fighting an economic slump. For one thing, they deliver less bang for the buck than infrastructure spending, because there's no guarantee that consumers will spend their tax cuts or rebates."
Thanks Mr. Krugman!
If you don't feel like reading the article here are the... most interesting parts?
"The U.S. economy needs to add more than a million jobs a year just to keep up with a growing population. Even before the crisis, job growth under Bush averaged only 800,000 a year — and over the past year, instead of gaining a million-plus jobs, we lost 2 million. Today we're continuing to lose jobs at the rate of a half million a month." That means a 9% unemployment rate where about 4-5% is considered "natural". That's 20 million Americans.
"For the past half century the Federal Reserve... has been taking care of day-to-day, and even year-to-year, economic management. Your fellow presidents were just along for the ride."
"Reagan had absolutely nothing to do with [the economic boom of 1984]. It was, instead, the work of Paul Volcker, whom Jimmy Carter appointed as chairman of the Federal Reserve Board in 1979 (and who's now the head of your economic advisory panel). First Volcker broke the back of inflation, at the cost of a recession that probably doomed Carter's re-election chances in 1980. Then Volcker engineered an economic bounce-back. In effect, Reagan dressed up in a flight suit and pretended to be a hotshot economic pilot, but Volcker was the guy who actually flew the plane and landed it safely." This however won't work because:
"[W]hile the Fed can still print money, it can't drive interest rates down. Why? Because those interest rates are already about as low as they can go. As I write this letter, the interest rate on Treasury bills is 0.005 percent — that is, zero." This however hasn't led to lower interest rates as banks are afraid to lend money out, and who's spending (the effect of borrowing)? So basically this crisis is all on the president and legislative branches of government.
"There was, however, a big difference between FDR's approach to taxpayer-subsidized financial rescue and that of the Bush administration: Namely, FDR wasn't shy about demanding that the public's money be used to serve the public good. By 1935 the U.S. government owned about a third of the banking system."
"Conservatives will accuse you of nationalizing the financial system, and some will call you a Marxist. (It happens to me all the time.) And the truth is that you will, in a way, be engaging in temporary nationalization. But that's OK: In the long run we don't want the government running financial institutions, but for now we need to do whatever it takes to get credit flowing again."
"[Y]ou have to get job creation right — which FDR never did." FDR, concerned about budget defecits, also cut spending and raised taxes in 1937. This led to a recession. Learn from this.
"The lesson from FDR's limited success on the employment front, then, is that you have to be really bold in your job-creation plans."
"'Full employment' means a jobless rate of five percent at most, and probably less. Meanwhile, we're currently on a trajectory that will push the unemployment rate to nine percent or more. Even the most optimistic estimates suggest that it takes at least $200 billion a year in government spending to cut the unemployment rate by one percentage point. Do the math: You probably have to spend $800 billion a year to achieve a full economic recovery." Krugman goes on to say that this money should be spent on things of lasting value such as infrastructure. The hard part will be finding where to spend the money. Currently there are only about 150 billion in "shovel ready" infrastructure programs. Money can also go to state governments while tax cuts should go to the poor and middle class who are more likely to spend the extra money.
"Now my honest opinion is that even with all this, you won't be able to prevent 2009 from being a very bad year. If you manage to keep the unemployment rate from going above eight percent, I'll consider that a major success."
"The biggest, most important legacy you can leave to the nation will be to give us, finally, what every other advanced nation already has: guaranteed health care for all our citizens." Krugman advocates a shared payment/subsidized healthcare plan as he thinks a single pay (government) backed health care system, although more efficient, would be unpalatable to America currently.
"[L]et's put the costs of the economic-recovery program in perspective. It's possible that reviving the economy might cost as much as a trillion dollars over the course of your first term. But the Bush administration wasted at least twice that much on an unnecessary war and tax cuts for the wealthiest; the recovery plan will be intense but temporary, and won't place all that much burden on future budgets."
"[The Obama] team is well aware of the need to wind down the war in Iraq — which is, by the way, costing about as much each year as the insurance subsidies we need to implement universal health care."
"There is, however, one area where I feel the need to break discipline. I'm an economist, but I'm also an American citizen — and like many citizens, I spent the past eight years watching in horror as the Bush administration betrayed the nation's ideals. And I don't believe we can put those terrible years behind us unless we have a full accounting of what really happened." He gives the convincing argument that when Iran-Contra was swept under the rug many years ago those involved became responsible for similar transgressions 20 years later... in the second Bush Administration.
At second glance the article appears fairly partisan. But he's advocating better health care, economic recovery, ending pointless wars, and he won a Nobel Prize... I'll listen.
01 February 2009
This is from Indexed, a blog that has become quite popular in the last few years.
EDIT: I'm aware of the irony that I played "professional (see: highest classification does not denote large sums of money) paintball."