Month: February 2006

Study Finds Test Scores Not Lowered by Television

Study Finds Test Scores Not Lowered by Television: “A new study taps into a trove of data from the 1960′s to argue that when it comes to academic test scores, parents can let children watch TV without fear of future harm.”

Who cares about test scores, what about world view, attention span, the ability to read long texts and understand them, thinking deeply about complex issues?

I do think it is rather unscientific of those of us who question the effects of television (me included) to essentially say: this generation and that generation didn’t have TV, look what they did, these other generations seem to watch more TV, look what they’re doing (or not doing). There are other factors and TV, while seeming to be a big one because of the amount of time people seem to spend watching it may not be the only or the biggest one.

However, as one who watched a fair share of TV as a kid and now watches very little, I can say that to me, broadcast TV in the US seems to have gone downhill in terms of production values. But, maybe it’s stayed about the same and American values have gone downhill and it’s just hovering relative to them. Then the question might be, which drove which downhill? Did the culture drive TV production or did TV (MTV-style quick cuts, shows that pander to people’s fantasies) drive the culture?

Whichever the case, I find commercial TV revolting for the most part and I find the fact that US citizens re-elected George Bush revolting as well. The connection is not scientific but it certainly exists in my head.

(Via NYT > Education.)

Tom Hunt

Tom Hunt

Our friend Tom Hunt came over yesterday on his way home from school. He teaches English at a prep school near here. Poor fellow has to wear a jacket and tie every day. Anne and I have known Tom for twenty years, he’s a very close friend of ours who lives a few towns away.

When Tom’s brother in law committed suicide he decided to do some research on suicide. That led him to Beachy Head, a cliff on the coast of England where over 500 people have jumped to their deaths.

The research he did on this particular suicide spot turned into a book, Cliffs of Despair which Anne has just finished and I am about to read. Tom was here yesterday to sign our copy.

One of my favorite flickr photographers, Mystery Me specializes in landscapes and seascapes on the British coast and this shot he took at Marsden Bay, which may not be the same spot certainly reminded me of Tom’s book and of Beachy Head.


One of my flickr contacts, a, has posted an image of a fly fishing reel.

I love this. It’s great in sepia (note to self-try other nerdy design shots in sepia), it’s a wonderful representation of the fact that fly fishing gear is as nerdy as camera gear, maybe more so, and it’s a nice perspective on a reel. I don’t fly fish but if I did I’d be a gear fanatic as I love great design.

Red River Paper

A few of us are looking into what the best printers are for various kinds of photographic print jobs: large archival prints, note cards, and everything in between. There are great reviews of numerous printers and then less than great reviews of the same printers. The exact definition of “archival” seems to vary from place to place and face it, sometimes one gets a lemon copy of what otherwise is a great tool so you can’t take everyone’s reviews and opinions as absolute truth.

My friend Dale is very interested in printing note cards on heavy card stock and not all printers can handle this stock even if the manufacturer says they can. Dale had the bright idea of emailing Red River Paper, a supplier of paper and ink for ink-jet printers to see if they’d give him an opinion.

The emails they sent back were incredibly useful and candid and I have to say, after reading them I’m going to give this company my business because I trust their take on things.

We have yet to decide on printers although we have decided that it is best to have two: one for note cards where the print quality can be a bit less and the ink does not need to be archival, and another for higher end printing for larger scale, shows, and selling where archival inks and papers are important. We’re leaning toward the mid-range Canon printers for the note cards and possibly the Epson R2400 or 1800 for the higher end stuff. Stay tuned, and while you’re waiting, if you print photographs with an ink-jet printer check out Red River and let us know what you think of them.

Winter apple

Winter apple

Took my bunny slippers off, bundled up (it was 20 degrees F when I took this with wind) and got out back with the tripod. This is closer to what I wanted yesterday. Still not quite it but closer.

I love this new 300mm lens (Canon 300mm f/4 L). I’ve yet to use the IS (on tripod, no need) but it’s light, compact, built in hood and has enough reach to get me what I want. I think I’m going to use it for all sorts of things.

The Stones do Rio

The Stones Rock 1.5 Million in Rio Days Before Carnival.

It takes audacity to come into the city that is home to the world’s most famous Carnival just one week before that bacchanalia begins and play any style of music other than samba. But the Rolling Stones have never lacked for swagger, and on Saturday night about one and a half million people, according to the police and other authorities, flocked to Copacabana Beach for a free concert starring Mick Jagger and company.


The Rolling Stones’ interest in Brazil goes back to the late 1960′s, when they visited here for the first time, as tourists. “Honky Tonk Women” was written during that stay, and Mr. Jagger later acknowledged that “Sympathy for the Devil” was the group’s attempt to write a samba, inspired by the percussion-heavy rhythms he had heard at Carnival celebrations in Bahia.

Last year’s apples

Last year's apples

We had a freak snow squall this morning and then the sun came out very brightly. I’ve had the thought to shoot these old, dried up apples for a few days before I prune the tree and I’ve been waiting for the light to be low enough to give them some dimension.

Too lazy to put shoes on and move the camera and tripod out to the deck, I shot this through a sliding glass door.



My artist friend in Berkeley has orchids everywhere: window boxes, in pots on tables, outside in her garden. Because her house and garden are spare (she likes clean, open spaces) these complex flowers are an interesting contrast and fit in nicely.


I was too lazy to set up the tripod. Stupid me. This flower was nicely backlit and a tripod would have helped turn an interesting abstraction into a better flower shot. Still, I like the flower and since we don’t have orchids here I like to remember it (and my friend who grew it).

The Gladwell Effect

The Gladwell Effect is a fantastic piece on Malcolm Gladwell in The New York Times with included MP3 sound bites. Well worth reading and listening to (the sound is not just the writing spoken, it’s more so don’t miss it).

When Time magazine and other media outlets declared an attention-deficit hyperactivity epidemic in America, Gladwell argued that people were no more distracted than they’d ever been, but that Ritalin had replaced nicotine as a socially acceptable focusing stimulant.

My pet spider or, my living desk accesssory

My pet spider or, my living desk accesssory

I was sitting here, minding my own business and when I reached for my tea there she was. I’ve not seen her in a while and figured all of you who knew her in months past might like to say hi. She lives in various places on my desk.

I sprung into action and got my tripod set up and the 100mm macro on the camera for this one. She’s a jumping spider so I had to act fast before she jumped off the mug. Actually, I have no clue about gender but with eyelashes like these… well, maybe a transvestite arachnid named “Eddie.” Anyway, she hung out long enough for me to get a few shots off. What a sport.

The Mothership

The Mother Ship

This is the main building at Apple Computer, Inc.’s campus in Cupertino, California. In the gift shop there were t-shirts with the text “I visited the mothership.” I’d have bought one but there were only extra large sizes left.

Mamen and I have a common friend in the iPhoto group at Apple and given that we’re both avid Mac and iPhoto users we thought it would be fun to have lunch with him. It was incredibly exciting to be back at Apple after (for me) over ten years.