Author Archives: badbiker

Troy Davis must die.

At 6:00 PM CDST this evening, Troy Anthony Davis will die for a crime that he likely did not commit. 

All of the arguments are over. All of the pleas have been dismissed. All of the evidence has been filed away. Tee shirts and signs and editorials will focus on a new issue, a new problem, tomorrow. The world will forget about Troy Davis. Few will remember him after today.

Well, some may remember, quite vividly. The seven ‘witnesses’ that testified against Davis that later recanted their testimony may remember him. The police department and prosecutor might think about him now and then. The family of the slain police officer may wonder if they executed the right man.

Redd Coles may think about Troy Davis. Coles was there the night the officer was killed and several eye witnesses say that it was Coles that did the shooting. Coles testified that it was Davis that fired the fatal shots. Coles is one of the two ‘witnesses’ that has yet to recant his testimony. Troy Davis never owned a gun, but Redd Coles did. It was the same caliber of the gun that killed Officer MacPhail.

No murder weapon was ever found.  No DNA evidence ever linked Troy Davis to the slain officer. There was no forensic evidence presented at the trial. All that the prosecution had was eye witness accounts, but that was enough to secure a conviction for capital murder against Troy Davis. And now, Troy Davis will die.

And so it is with justice in America. The Right Wing cheers the Texas Governor that brags of executing 234 inmates during his tenure in the Statehouse. Opinion pages are filled with comments from death penalty supporters that claim that Davis has had enough time to prove his innocence. All of the standard arguments for capital punishment have been discussed, refuted and discussed again. It’s all over now. The proper authorities have spoken clearly – Troy Anthony Davis must die.

William Stephenson Clark

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Filed under Death Penalty

The Dream Lives On

“I say to you today, my friends, so even though we face the difficulties of today and tomorrow, I still have a dream. It is a dream deeply rooted in the American dream.”    

Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr.

Time slips quietly into the past and the lessons of yesterday are often forgotten or misunderstood today. It is unfortunate that the greatest lessons that have been taught to us are frequently whitewashed, sanitized, and distorted. When Dr. King gave his “I Have A Dream” speech on the Mall in Washington in 1963, he was a pariah to much of white America, a troublemaker and a threat to the establishment. The FBI had a file on him, Southern Democrats hated him and the Klan had him in their cross-hairs. 

Today, a statue of Dr. King will be unveiled on the same Mall where he gave his speech. Politicians and pundits will laud his memory and sing the praises of a world without discrimination. That world only exists in the minds of those naive enough to believe that the cause that Dr. King died for has been realized. We live in a country where discrimination is still rampant in our daily lives. While the Dream lives on, there is still a great struggle to be fought before freedom can truly ring for all people – regardless of race, color, creed, gender or sexual orientation. 

It is a simple photograph: the stump of a tree that was felled due to a summer storm, its roots surrounded by tiny saplings trying to grow, trying to be like the tree that once was. 

 

William Stephenson Clark

(Photograph by the author.)

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Filed under Diversity

Steven E. Davis

Although it was several days until any of us knew, our friend and the founder of Pop Blog died a year ago today. The world has changed a great deal since then, changes that surely Steven would have had choice words to describe. Undoubtedly, our friend would have much to say about Donald Trump, the continuing Health Care debate and our new Representative in Congress, Mike Pompeo, among other topics.

One of the things I like best about Steven was his dry sense of humor, and his ability to display that sense of humor related to most any nonsense in the news of the world.

It doesn’t get any easier to accept Steven’s passing. He was gone far too soon. Each of us have a story or two to tell, a comment from Steven that we remember vividly or just a bit of his sense of humor that still makes us laugh.

I think of Steven often when I hear the music of Bob Dylan. Like me, Steven was a fan of Dylan and appreciated his lyrics and musicianship.


FOREVER YOUNG

“May your hands always be busy 
May your feet always be swift
May you have a strong foundation 
When the winds of changes shift
May your heart always be joyful 
And may your song always be sung
May you stay forever young
Forever young, forever young 
May you stay forever young.”

Bob Dylan – 1974


For so many of the people who’s lives were touched by him, Steven will remain for us, forever young.



WSC

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Filed under This humble little blog...

Smile, Santa!

Holiday photo tips from a “been-there-done-that” photographer.

These days, everyone has a digital camera, whether it is a camera phone, point and shoot or a DSLR. Unfortunately for my wallet, I am a hard-core SLR photographer with a large quantity of expensive equipment. Fortunately for me, I have learned how to use it to my advantage. During the Holidays, an invitation to me is usually accompanied by the words “and don’t forget to bring your camera.”

There are millions of rules for photography, but only a few really make a difference to the casual photographer. Note:

Make a list! Before you head off to Grandma’s House, make sure you have all the gear you will need. If you are going “point and shoot” it’s pretty simple – a spare charged battery, and a spare memory card, in addition (!) to the camera. If you are shooting DSLR, make sure you have your lenses, flash unit and other accessories, in addition to the items mentioned. Before you leave home, make sure your gear is cleaned and functional.

KISS! No, don’t hang out under the mistletoe, but “Keep It Simple, Stupid!”  The typical “snap shot” photographer tries to get too much into too little space. Limit your subject matter to just two or three people, a shot of the Christmas Tree or a child opening a present – don’t try to cram all of it into one shot.

Don’t pose your shots, people tend to look goofy when trying to pose for the camera. Think casual, and your pictures will look more natural. One trick is to set up and be ready and only then let your subject know that you are going to take their picture, just don’t sneak up on the elderly.

Naturally, Aunt Jane will yell out something like “everybody get together for a picture!” Now, you are stuck and all you can do is make the most of it. Pick a background that is as uncluttered and plain as possible. Have your subjects/victims line up as best you can. What I do to get around “posing” is to tell the group that I am “going to take a few test shots.” Your subjects will still be relaxed and usually those turn out to be the best pictures.

Don’t have whine with your cheese.  Never have your subjects say “cheese!” Pronouncing the word pulls the lips into an unnatural looking position – have them say “me!” instead. Saying that gives a much more relaxed and natural look. If your camera does not have a “red-eye” elimination function, have your subjects look towards a bright light for a second before shooting the picture. Red eye is a reflection off  of the  fundus at the back of the eye – looking into a light will cause pupils to contract, eliminating the sinister “glowing eye” effect.

If you absolutely, positively have to take formal pictures, do it right. That means studio lights, backdrops, scrims, tripod, remote shutter release, stands, reflectors, portrait lens. Shooting portraits is not easy in a non-studio setting, especially if you seldom take that kind of picture.

Fire away! You are shooting digitally, so you don’t have to worry about running out of film, processing costs, etc. Check your “work” periodically on your LCD screen, deleting really bad shots as you go. Adjust your settings as necessary. When you get home, you can process your haul with Photo Shop or another computer software program. Even the most basic program can crop, light and color correct and touch up. I regularly remove zits, stains and mud from photos. Recently, I put my granddaughter’s missing tooth back in using PS.

If you are at the office Christmas Party, try to get a shot of your Boss hitting on the lady from Accounting – it may come in handy during your next performance review.

If you are interested, I will be “hanging out” today and tomorrow if you have a specific question. I’ll try to answer promptly to the best of my ability .

 

 

William Stephenson Clark

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Filed under Celebration

So this is Christmas…………………

So this is Christmas
and what have you done
another year over
a new one just begun

and so this is Christmas
I hope you have fun
the near and the dear ones
the old and the young

a very Merry Christmas
and a Happy New Year
let’s hope its a good one
without any fear

and so this is Christmas
for weak and for strong
the rich and the poor ones
the road is so long

So Happy Christmas
for black and for white
for the yellow and red ones
let’s all stop the fight

a very Merry Christmas
and a Happy New Year
lets hope its a good one
without any fear.


Happy X-Mas (War is Over) – John Lennon – 1971


Well, Merry Christmas, to one and all. Regardless of your religious preferences, it is almost impossible to ignore the fact that this is Christmas week. The stores have been jammed, so I hear, neighborhoods are decorated with Christmas lights, the newspaper weighs five pounds and Santa is rumored to be lurking in the shadows.

So what are you looking for from Santa under the Christmas Tree?

The other day, in a moment of reflection, I thought about what I would ask of God, should I be given one request. Well, maybe it was a moment of hallucination, but you get the idea.  Peace on Earth? Good will towards man?

I am still lusting after that 2011 Ferrari 458 Italia (Verde over Crema, please.) but I was thinking that a Ferrari wouldn’t exactly solve the problem of the world. Perhaps wishing for an end to discrimination would be more appropriate. Perhaps, with irony, an end to religion would be a better choice.  Maybe, asking that all people observe the “Golden Rule” might bring and end to much of the suffering in our nation and our world.

It is unlikely that God is going to grant me one wish or that Santa will bring anything other than lumps of coal for my stocking.  Such is reality, but I can still dream.

And you?


William Stephenson Clark

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Filed under American Society

Random Thoughts 10/15/2010

(The full title is: Random Thoughts, from a Severely Twisted Mind, for October 15, 2010.)

Why do the DADT’ers think that our military men and women are not afraid to die in combat, but they will be afraid of being hit on by a gay person?

Are Angle, O’Donnell, Miller and Paul really the best of the Tea Party?

Why is “bailing out” Hawker-Beech good but bailing out GM is bad?

Who would you rather see lose, the Yankees, the Cowboys or Notre Dame?

Sarah was bad enough, so why do we have to put up with Bristol now?

“Tom and Jerry” is the best cartoon of all time.

Could Thomas Frank been any more correct?

Opinion Line comment: Cleavage is a sin. Huh? Someone has an issue.

If you had to be a horror movie character, would you rather be a werewolf or a vampire? I already have a start on the fur suit, so I’m going for werewolf.

They are thinking of doing a remake of “All in the Family.” Who should play Archie and who should play the Meathead?

An apple with salt or an apple with peanut butter?

Is Harry Reid truly the most politically clueless politician in America?

Football. Hockey. Basketball. Baseball. At this time of year, all four major professional sports are being played at the same time. This is really a tough time to be a sports junkie.

Kansas State’s football team played somebody Thursday evening. Fortunately, I missed it. Who was that other team?

Cats are crazy, especially my brood.. End of story.

I am looking forward to the end of election season just so I won’t have to see another Mike Pompeo campaign ad on television.

Any twisted thoughts of your own?


Will

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Filed under American Society

What a Wonderful World

“I hear babies cry, I watch them grow.

You know they’re gonna learn,

a whole lot more than I’ll ever know.

And I think to myself, what a wonderful world.

Yes, I think to myself, what a wonderful world.”

(“What a Wonderful World” – Louis Armstrong – Thiele/Weiss – 1968)

Last night, I went to sleep watching images, from thousands of miles away, of a man hugging his young sons and wife after having been rescued from 70 days trapped in a rocky tomb. This morning, similar images flashed across the screen, as men that were thought dead emerged from the Earth, back to the loving arms of their families and their country, and the world united in joy at their safe return to this wonderful world.

This wonderful world – to read through pages of blogs on numerous websites, both left and right, you would think that life in this world is about to collapse in ruin, the blame assigned, of course, to the other side.

There is no doubt that this world of ours has issues to address, from economic stagnation to war, famine and a lack of human rights. There is no doubt, also, that this world has faced far worse in the recent past, genocide and world war, depression and the displacement of millions throughout the world.

In my little world, there are issues to address, just as there is in the world at large. There is never enough money, of course, our health could always be a bit better and the tank still needs to be filled if I want to drive. That is life, but there are still the smiles of my grandchildren and the love of my dog and cats to smooth the road. There are hugs to share with my children and my friends and the wonder of the natural world that I love to capture in photographs.

The looks on the faces of the rescued miners, their families and the rescue teams tell all that this is truly a wonderful world – a world that we inhabit with some that share our views and some that are vehemently opposed to us. The Chilean people and their international neighbors managed to set aside differences to united to save the lives of 33 brave and determined friends.

Perhaps, we can learn a desperately needed lesson from the events on the desolate landscape of the Atacama Desert, regardless of our perceived view, we still live in a wonderful world.

 

 

William Stephenson Clark

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Filed under World Politics