Tag Archives: culture

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

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

Those Evil Moderates………………………

If the truth is told, I have to confess to being somewhat of a moderate. I lean to the left, hard to the left some would say, but many of my positions are decidedly more moderate than far left. On social issues, I am decidedly liberal, as if it is a “liberal” position to consider equal rights for all and “giving” women the right to decide their own medical decisions.

I believe in giving folks a hand up, not just a hand out. Most definitely a hand out is warranted at times, but it is my belief that most folks would just as soon have an opportunity to make a place for themselves and their families in this life. I believe in the intent of the Second Amendment, a pro-gun position, but I also believe in strong laws to punish those that use a gun in the act of committing a crime. I am against the Death Penalty but I believe in life without parole for those convicted of heinous crimes. I believe in fiscal responsibility but embrace Keynesian economics. I believe in low taxes, but only when they make economic sense. I believe in war, but only when it is in the (true) national interest of the United States.

So why am I “accused,” sometimes in vile terms, of being a far left socialist that is anti-American?

The positions that I have noted should be mainstream, not positions that are vilified as somehow being “fringe or radical.” Recently, I read on another blog that moderates, or independents, are cowardly and ill-informed. Eh? Somewhere, I got the “radical” idea that we are to educate ourselves on the issues and make an informed decision for ourselves. In 2010, apparently it is not enough to label liberals as evil, but moderates fall into that category as well.

The pendulum always swings right when the left is in control politically, and visa versa. This election season the pendulum is not swinging right, it seems to be stuck on far right. The Tea Baggers are purging RINO’s while attempting to win state-wide general elections without moderates and independents.

There is certainly something strange tainting the waters these days.


William Stephenson Clark

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Filed under American Society

Monday, Monday………………………………

“Monday, Monday, can’t trust that day.

Monday, Monday, sometimes it just turns out that way.

Oh, Monday mornin’, you gave me no warnin’ of what was to be.

Oh, Monday, Monday, how could you leave and not take me?”

(“Monday, Monday” – the Mamas and Papas – 1966 – John Phillips)

Ah, Monday, the traditional start of the work week for millions of Americans. The song says, in its condemnation of Mondays, “every other day of the week is fine.” In popular nomenclature, it is known as “Blue Monday,” the day that marks the end of the weekend and the beginning of the drudgery of just another workweek.

In years past, that drudgery was something that the “working man” endured, week after week, so that he could make it to the weekend and spend sometime with his family. If he was lucky, he got a two-week vacation in the summer and took a road trip with the wife and kids to the mountains or the lake. That was his life, week after week, working for the same old company, until he earned his retirement and hung up his lunch pail. If he was relatively healthy, he might look forward to ten or twelve years of retirement before being laid to rest.

Life is no longer like that. For millions of Americans, there is no job to go to on Monday morning. Working for the same company for years is very unusual, given the plant closings and migration of jobs south and east. The company’s loyalty to the worker no longer exists and the worker’s loyalty to the company has faded over the years.

America is no longer home to the “working man.” It now takes two incomes to support a family and to guard against layoffs and job eliminations. The drudgery of the work week has been replaced, for so many, by the drudgery of endless and fruitless searching for a job.

America’s greatness has been the strength of our working class – men and women toiling in our factories and fields, putting food on the tables of their families and gold in the pockets of their employers. Now, the gap between the rich and poor is as great as it has been in  decades and job security is a distant memory.

Where do we go from here? Are America’s best days behind her?

What is the next chapter for the American “working man?”



William Stephenson Clark

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Filed under American Society

What Would Steven Think?

It has been nearly five months since Steven tragically left us. During these past few months, I have thought of our friend often, as I am sure that all of you have, also. I only had the privilege of meeting  Steven once, but we had a lively friendship on the blogs. There were times that we didn’t agree, but for the most part, we shared similar philosophies.

Steven Davis was quite the unique individual, a mixture of unapologetic liberal, dedicated professional and (semi) frustrated musician. Above all, Steven was a doting father and good friend. He also did not suffer fools gladly, particularly if they were spouting the latest GOP talking points or Limbaughesque rhetoric.

As I write and comment on Pop Blog, I frequently reflect on what Steven would be thinking. (Or is thinking, if that is your mindset.) Since he died, the prospects for progressives and liberals have dimmed considerably, to the point that it is likely that the House will flip to the GOP and the Senate will be narrowly divided in favor of the Democrats.

What would Steven think about the likes of Sharron Angle? Rand Paul? Christine O’Donnell? What about the Republican-owned Tea Party that refuses to go away, despite the dismal opinion that most moderates hold of them? I wonder what he would think of House Minority Leader John Boehner’s assertion that the GOP will cut taxes and reduce spending, all without running up a deficit.

Like many of you, it still seems so strange to me that Steven is gone. I miss his input and his wit, not to mention his plain-speaking manner of addressing an issue. I miss cussin’ and discussin’ music and various artists with him. I miss his self-depreciating  wit and quiet manner.

I miss Steven. I am sure that I am not the only one.



(Thread photo by the author.)


William Stephenson Clark

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