Categories
quotes ranting

Know your history, but don’t be a slave to it

History isn’t some static set of facts. … We are connected to history today.

Nick Sheedy, quoted in She sued her enslaver for reparations and won. Her descendants never knew, [washingtonpost.com] from The Washington Post

This is from an interesting article in the Washington Post about the rediscovery of one families matriarch, Henrietta Woods, and her legal battle for reparations from the people who kidnapped her and sold her back into slavery. Spoiler: she won. It reminded me of one of the plot lines in Lovecraft Country [confusion.cc] about the family matriarch who kept a record book of the debt she was owed by her former slave masters, with interest. I wonder if the author was familiar with this story.

It will be interesting to see how the current discussions about reparations [forbes.com] go in the US. This article seems to be making an argument, without blatantly stating it, that the long term success and attitude of Henrietta Woods descendants owes something to the reparations she won, not only the cash but to the fact of the reparations.

For myself, I’m not sure where I stand. I’m not outright opposed to reparations, I can see an argument that the descendants of enslaved peoples still suffer from the effects of slavery. I would like to see more debate and understand what sort of format reparations would take. How will it work? Direct payments (the Forbes article reference a poll sighting only 20% of American support direct payments)? Or targeted programs? The Forbes article also says most serious models … have been focused on reparative community-based programs. It’s a hard question. I know there are proposals out there, have been for a long time, but until there is a proper public debate it’s hard to tell what we are actually talking about. And given the mixed success of programs designed to address racial inequality, like Affirmative Action, how will a more focuses program succeed?

On the other hand, I can see how holding the entire current generation of America accountable for the sins of the fathers, through payments using tax money, will be… controversial, to say the least. Even an official apology, without reparations, would be fuel on the fire for way too many people. People who have been more and more vocal about their racism in the past few years. I hope that the more visible and vocal racism in the US over the past decade or so has been the result of a changing of attitudes in the majority of Americans, becoming less racist and less accepting of racism, pressuring an increasingly small minority of racists into a corner and causing them to lash out… but I’m not sure I have that much faith in America, or the world, these days.

As for sins of the my own fathers, as far as I know there is no history of slave owning in my family. Everyone in my mothers known family tree immigrated to the Midwest in the second half of the 1800’s well after the Missouri Compromise, so slave owning was never a real possibility. So nothing there. On my dad’s side there is nothing in the known tree, but there is a person, so far unlinked, with the last name Beggerly in an Alabama “Slave Census” in 1855 [dollsgen.com] who owned 5 people… there is another record from Tennessee in the 1846 census [tngenweb.org] listing two Beggerly’s, also unlinked, one of which is taxed for two slaves… my fathers family tree is much less well known than my mothers, they lived in various places around the South in the 1800’s and the name is not very common, so it’s very possible there is a link to one or both of these slave owners. So I can’t confirm my family is innocent. And of course that is only talking about Pre-Civil War slavery, not considering Jim Crow.

Reading the article triggered a vague memory about public apologies for slavery. I did some searching and it seems the House of Representatives did pass a bill apologizing for slavery and Jim Crow [npr.org] in 2008. I was not living in the US but I don’t recall much of a public backlash at that time (though maybe it galvanised the hate that lead to Nazis in my hometown [confusion.cc] and the rise (or at least, much more visible,) white supremacy movement that is trying to normalise its views once again, and having an uncomfortable about of apparent success. The apology came with conditions that it could not be used as a basis for reparations.

So we have no official apology and the legacy of slavery lives on… not that an apology would change it, people are as racist as ever. Would paying reparations move us forward? Who knows, but let’s have some proper debate. We have been failing to live up to our founding creed, that all men are created equal for our entire history, it’s time to take another step towards it.

While looking for news articles on the 2008 House apology I can across an opinion piece in the New York Times from 2015 [nytimes.com], saying Obama should apologise officially (it didn’t go over well, it’s a touchy subject and apologies and reparations have a lot of symbolism). Anyway, about halfway down is this line:

[Obama] could also elevate the current discussion on race, which swirled earlier this week around the serial liar Rachel Dolezal, and the race-baiting billionaire vanity blimp of Donald Trump.

Timothy Egan, in Apologize for Slavery [nytimes.com], published by The New York Times. Emphasis mine.

In hindsight, yea, that was a bit of foreshadowing, dark foreshadowing.

Categories
photos ranting

My Best Mobile Photos — 2008

Time marches on…And technology gets better. While the iPhone was released in the US in 2007 the rest of us had to wait for the 3G or even 3Gs (unless you got a very overpriced parallel import) so I entered 2008 as I ended 2007 with my Sony Ericsson, the Z610i [wikipedia.org]. But, it did not last long, in the first month of 2008 I got a Nokia N95 [wikipedia.0rg] (actually the N95-2 or N95 8GB version, the black one).

I got the N95 via work, a test phone we no longer needed, one of the perks of working in the mobile content business. It was very cool phone, one of my favorite of the pre-iPhone era. The first Nokia I liked after the iconic 3310 [wikipedia.org] or my original 1997 252N [nokiamuseum.info]. The N95 did suffer from some “Symbian bloat” and the “why do they move every function around on every new phone” issue that Nokia had with Symbian. In short Nokia had a habit of re-arranging everything on the Symbian 60 UI every new phone just to confuse loyal Nokia users and over the years the Symbian 60 got more and more bloated. Coming from the Sony Ericsson world where the same OS had slowly evolved from the T616, through the Z800i to the Z610i it was a shock. The best thing about the N95 though was the camera. And that’s what we are here to rant about.

The rear camera on the N95 was 5 megapixels. That’s half the megapixels on the Canon 40D [wikipeida.org] that came out the same year, that I took lots of photos with.

But anyway… on with the photos from the N95. The vast majority of the photos are snapshots of my oldest daughter, born in July 2008. Including a lot taken in the minutes and hours after she was born. But we are not sharing photos of people so…

First up, a night shot! From a trip to Kuala Lumpur for work, the Patronas Towers all lit up. Edited in light room as the raw photo had a lot of noise and tried to up the dark sky so much it was like snow from an old TV.

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Petronas Towers in Kuala Lumpur

Next up to shots of flowers on the grounds of Parkview Square [wikipedia.org] in Singapore, where I worked at the time:

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Flowers at Parkview Square
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More flowers at Parkview Square

There is also this shot of rainwater on the marble outside of Parkview Square:

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Rain rain go away…

And then there is this awesome shot of Parkview Square, also known as “the Batman building” or “the Gotham building”:

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Parkview Square, it’s never that sunny in Gotham

In August 2008, I got a JesusPhone [confusion.cc] via work again. I had to pay for it, but work was able to get a few iPhones a couple of days after it launched officially in Singapore through their corporate plan. The truth though is the iPhone camera was a step down from the Nokia N95. I would be a few years before the iPhone camera was up-to-date with other mobiles. So, I don’t have any photos from the iPhone in 2008 I would consider as part of my “best” mobile photos of the year given that I spend the first 8 months using the much better N95…

Categories
photos ranting

My Best Mobile Photos — 2007

I started 2007 with the same Sony Ericsson Z800i [wikipedia.org], that I got back in June of 2005. But it died in late February or early March of 2007 (my last Z800i photos is dated February 25th, but the first with the next handset is from March 11th). I replaced the Z800i with a another Sony Ericsson, the Z610i [wikipedia.org], a more curvy, more shiny flip phone. The camera got a bit better, taking photos at 1600×1200 pixels versus the Z800i’s 1280×1024.

2007 was a bit of a barren years as far as mobile photos goes. In total I have a couple of dozen photos and most of those are of coworkers or family, so I’m not sharing them. I did pick out three from what little remains after excluding portraits.

First up is this looking up shot taken, I think, at Ministry of Sound during it’s short life in Singapore. It seems I have had a fascination with taking “looking up at lamps” [confusion.cc] shots for a long time.

Not sure you can call this a lamp, it’s just hanging fibre optic threads.

And another abstract shot, no doubt also from clubbing… Never point a laser at your camera processor. At least that’s what they say. You can get some spiffy photos out of it if you do:

Possibly also taken at Ministry of Sound.

Finally something different, a non-abstract shot taken in Moscow, on a work trip:

Beeline

I was working on a project with the Russian mobile operator, Beeline and on the way to their office the first morning after I arrived I passed this sign, which I believe is pointing to their office building I was working it, just down the road. Fun fact: I got deported from Russia [confusion.cc] on that trip…

Well, that’s it for 2007.

Categories
quotes

Social Doomsday

The social web is doing exactly what is was built for. Facebook does not exist to seek truth and report it, or to improve civil health, or to hold powerful people to account, or to represent the interest of its users, though these phenomena may be occasional by-products of its existence.

Adrienne LaFrance, in Facebook is a Doomsday Machine” [theatlantic.com], published in The Atlantic

The article as a whole goes a bit overboard into hysteria, to me, at least that’s what I thought when I was reading it. Then again, it was published in December, before the final death throws of the Trump administration. The social media driven buildup to January 6th and the knee jerk overreaction by the tech industry to their own role in the violence kind of prove the authors point…

Categories
photos ranting

My Best Mobile Photos — 2006

Continuing on my journey reviewing all my mobile phone photos over the years we come to 2006. (you can see 2004 here [confusion.cc], and 2005 here [confusion.cc]).

2006 was a big year for me, I got married at the end of the year, I changed jobs here in Singapore (which was big as it meant no automatic repatriation, any going back to the US would be on my own dime and, um, I’m still here). But for mobile phones it was a dull year, at least for me. I got the Sony Ericsson Z800i [wikipedia.org] in 2005 and kept it all of 2006. And somehow I don’t have a lot of photos from my phone for 2006. But anyway… here are three photos from what I have that I will call “My Best Mobile Photos of 2006”:

First is a shot taken, I think, from a car. Judging by what I think are reflections (about halfway up the left side) and the fact that it’s shot up at a strange angle catching the stoplight and street lamp pole.

Cloudy Singapore skies.

Next is a another sky shot. This time a rainbow. Probably also taken from a car.

There is as much color noise in this photo as there is color in the rainbow

And lastly, a shot of a good night out with the team from the office.

Ah, mothers milk.
Categories
ranting

Another Former British Colony’s Fragile Democracy

The idea of American exceptionalism has eaten itself, cannibalised by the very people who most believe in the idea. A rich, autocratic president disrespecting an election result and whipping up his supporters to use violence and intimidation to cling to power is, for too much of the world, the norm.

Categories
ranting

Day 15,707…

Another trip around the sun. 15,707 days (inclusive of today) or:

  • 43 years and 1 day
  • 516 months and one day
  • 2243 weeks and 6 days
  • 376,968 hours
  • 22,618,080 minutes
  • 1,357,084,800 seconds

At times it felt like there were that many days in just 2020! <sarcasm> Thanks COVID-19!</sarcasm>

Calculations according to timeanddate.com [timeanddate.com].

Categories
quotes ranting

Hetero (or Homo) Lifemates

In Pocket’s Best of 2020 [getpocket.com] list I came across this article on The People Who Prioritize Friendship over Marriage [theatlantic.com]. Interesting article, you should read it.

A couple of random poorly connected thoughts on this:

  1. I’ve pontificated before on this blog about an idea that is related to this. In this post on The Separation of Marriage and Civil Union [confusion.cc] (five years before the Supreme Court ruled in Obergefell v. Hodge [wikipedia.org], legalizing same-sex marriage throughout the US). I noted that Marriage is a religious idea and in a secular state, like America with the constitutional separation of church and state, it would be better to leave marriage to religions and out of state matters. To do this you need to remove any distinctions, advantages and disadvantages of being married from law. Replace the religious idea of marriage with a secular idea of a civil union (or some other phrase if that is too loaded) such that any legal or commercial issues which are today based on marriage would be instead based on civil union. Whats more a civil union, is not a romantic thing and need not be between romantic partners, so it could be between friends as described in The Atlantic’s article. The article comes close to the same idea:

[Elizabeth Brake, a philosophy professor at Rice University whose research focuses on marriage, love, and sex], takes issue not just with cultural norms that elevate romantic relationships above platonic ones, but also with the special status that governments confer on romantic relationships. Whereas access to marriage currently hinges on (assumed) sexual activity, Brake argues that caregiving, which she says is “absolutely crucial to our survival,” is a more sensible basis for legal recognition. She proposes that states limit the rights of marriage to only the benefits that support caregiving, such as special immigration eligibility and hospital visitation rights. Because sexual attraction is irrelevant to Brake’s marriage model, friends would be eligible.

Rhaina Cohen in The People Who Prioritize Friendship Over Marriage [theatlantic.com], published in The Atlantic.
  1. I’ve always heard that the most successful, long term, marriages are those that begin or become close friendships. So breaking the idea of life-long legal entanglement from the idea of romantic love and opening it to friendship seems like a good idea.
  2. Despite #1 and #2… I can’t even begin to imagine the changes to day-to-day society that would need to happen for this to be normal. Imagine you are ‘married’ to someone, living with them, I assume, but at the same time have a legal civil union with a lifelong friend. If you die the friend is the main beneficiary (unless your Will say otherwise). You could jointly file takes with someone you are not living with? And who might be living with someone else also? What rights and duties are their with respect to kids from any marriages the two people in a civil union have? And you don’t need to get married to have kids —you don’t need to be married today but it’s still the norm, if there are no legal benefits to being married then maybe people will stop doing it unless they are highly religious. There are so many little things, the traditional idea of what a marriage is is so ingrained, even with the opening of marriage to same-sex couples…
  3. Urban Dictionary has a few definitions of Hetero Life Mate [urbandictionary.com], including one that says A best friend who is so close, that were they not to match your sexual orientation, you would be married to them. Other sexual orientations may use “homo lifemate” or equivalent. Pointing out that if there can be hetero lifemates there must also be homo lifemates. So maybe we need a better, less bigoted term. Another definition for Hetero Life Mate on Urban Dictionary notes that it’s basically a synonym for “Platonic Soulmate” [urbandictionary.com].
  4. And finally, Kevin Smith had this shit figured out in the View Askewniverse [wikipedia.org] at least by 1999 in Dogma and maybe way back in 1994 in Clerks:

Oh, I’m Jay, and this is my hetero-lifemate Silent Bob.

Jay, in Dogma [quotes.net].

Maybe Platonic Soulmate is a better term than Hetero Lifemate, given the issue of bigotry that goes with the use of hetero and homo… but as a lifelong fan of Kevin Smiths movies I’m sticking with Hetero Lifemate. And I confess I wrote this whole post just so I could quote Jay.

Categories
photos ranting

My Best Mobile Photos — 2005

I started 2005 using the same Sony Ericsson K700i I took my best 2004 mobile phtos [confusion.cc] with. I used it for the first half of the year, and the only photo worth sharing during that time that is not a portrait is another panorama:

ABC food center at lunchtime

The photo stitching is much better in this one, as the camera was sitting on the table when I took all the photos, I just had to rotate it for each shot. So maybe, just maybe, the software was good and the photos in that shot of the Singapore CBD skyline I shared from 2004 were really not level.

Moving on. At some point in 2005 I got a new phone, one that I loved, I think it was the best phone on the market at the time and I can’t understand why it was not more popular. The Sony Ericsson Z800i. A flip phone with a rotating 1.3 megapixel camera, a step up from the K700i’s 640×480 (with an “extrapolation mode” which output photos at 1280×960). The Z800i output photos at 1280×1024, which isn’t much bigger than the K700i’s extrapolation mode but they look much better:

“Life, uh, finds a way”

There are still a serious lack of actual good photos in my library. Focus was an issue, on both the K700i and the Z800i. Also, action was an issue, even the slightest movement is blurred.

I actually went through two Z800i’s, as shortly after I got it my wife —now wife, then girlfriend— sent my new phone for a ride through the washing machine. One night after drinking I left it in my pocket and she decided do to the laundry early in the morning due to the smell of smoke and alcohol on the cloths. At the time I was living in a shared corporate flat and I didn’t even know the phone when through the wash, I found it on the table in the living room and just assumed I left it there. But when I tried to turn it on it was dead. I spent the afternoon waiting in Wisma Atria to see a Sony Ericsson agent to get it fixed, since it was nearly brand new. After waiting for my number to come up it took the agent all of 2 minutes to tell me the damage was not covered by the warranty as it was water damage. Apparently there is a little white square of material on the battery that turns blue when exposed to water. At first I couldn’t figure out how the phone got “submerged” and argued that it could only have been sweat or a splash from normal usage, I had not dropped it in water. I was only when we got home and my co-worker cum roommate told me he found the phone in the washing machine when he went to do his laundry that we managed to piece the story together.

So I had to buy a new phone… I don’t remember how much it cost but I do remember it being painful and my wife being surprise I did not get angry with her. C’est la vie.

Anyway, here are a couple of more photos for the Z8ooi that I can count as my best mobile phone photos of 2005. First a photo of the US flag from my hotel room in Washington DC on a trip back in July of 2005 to attend a wedding:

Taken from a hotel in Washington DC

And… then there is this:

Death with nasty, big, pointy teeth… and a Guinness hat

That’s my killer rabbit that used to look down on my cube in the office in Virginia wearing a hat I got at a St. Paddy’s day pub bash in 2002 in England. I gave the rabbit away to a coworker, and the hat eventually got trashed. C’est la vie.

Categories
photos ranting

My Best Mobile Photos — 2004

I have embarked on a mission to cleanup my mobile phone photo library. As long as I’ve been taking photos with my mobile I have been ignoring them after I back them up. These days I back them up to Lightroom and I have even managed to find and imported photos from before I used Lightroom into my Lightroom library. There are a few gaps but I have a long mission ahead.

My library of mobile phone photos goes back as far as 29 September 2004. There are a couple of shots of people I was working with at the time, which I won’t post, and then this gem:

Alkaff Bridge at night

That’s the Alkaff Bridge [wikipedia.org] over the Singapore River, just down the quay from the hotel I was living in (The Gallery Hotel, no longer there) in September 2004. Having arrived from the US on, as I recall, September 4th (thought looking back at my 2004 post here on Confusion I seem to have left the US on August 30th [confusion.cc]… I know you skip a day and I took a crazy long, multi-stopover route, but it does not seem to add up, maybe I left well after midnight, I can’t remember.)

In any case, that photo was taken on a SonyEricsson K700i [wikipedia.org]. I’m sure I should have photos that were taken on even older photos, specifically the T610 [wikipedia.org] but it seems those are lost to time, so the K700i are my oldest. They are mostly crap photos, but there are some fun shots of people I worked with.

Sunset from the office

For some reason about half of the photos from the K700i are 1280×960 while others are only 640×480.

Lanterns and menu at Ice Cold Beer on Emerald Hill in Singapore

But the K700i did have a fun panorama function built in. I made a few attempts but it wasn’t always so good at handling my inherent inability to keep the camera level from one shot to the next (a problem I have with my DSLR too). These buildings look like they are drunk or auditioning for Inception or Dr. Strange a few years early:

Singapore CBD from the top floor of the Stamford Raffles Hotel

So I really don’t have any good mobile phone photos from 2004, the title of this post is a bit misleading. I plan to post a few mobile phone ph0tos for each year as I continue my cleanup. We’ll see how much the phones and my ability to use them advanced. Not sure what year I’ll stop at. I started using Lightroom mobile to take photos on my phone sometime in 2017 so that’s a logical place to stop… let’s see if I can get that far.

As a final aside, the photo of Alkaff bridge was taken on the night of September 29th. According to Confusion [confusion.cc] I visited the Chinese Gardens to view the lanterns setup for the Mid-autumn festival with some colleagues. But I don’t have any photo, or DSLR photos of that night…