Monthly Archives: April 2008

J Street

J Street

J Street was founded to promote meaningful American leadership to end the Arab-Israeli and Palestinian-Israel conflicts peacefully and diplomatically. We support a new direction for American policy in the Middle East and a broad public and policy debate about the U.S. role in the region.

One of the last great writers at, Gary Kamiya has a great article on this movement: Taking back the debate over Israel

For years, liberal American Jews who have chafed under the taboo against criticizing Israel have dreamed of starting a political organization that would speak for them. Now, with the launch of J Street, that dream has become a reality.

Thank you Gary and J Street. I was hoping a movement would emerge that I could identify with and it seems it has with J Street.

The issue of Israel’s security and existence has been framed in binary terms: “love it or leave it” or “you’re either with us or you’re against us” but as a Jew I can tell you that I’ve never seen Israel in those terms, nor do I see the United States in those terms.

The United States and Israel are both democracies; both countries do great things and both countries do despicable things. I don’t think it weakens Israel for me to question their leveling Lebanon going after Hamas, nor do I think the statements of Jerimiah Wright on US domestic and foreign policy weaken the United States.

Of course, the folks who hang out over in the Salon community are turning this into another binary argument. Maybe everything turns into a sore if you rub on it enough.

Bill Lauf and Gordon Titcomb Play Milton Hall, 2008

Bill Lauf and Gordon Titcomb

Milton Hall, Milton, Connecticut. Bill and Gordon warming up before the show. Bill is a part time song writer and folk musician and a neighbor of ours here in Warren. Gordon is a professional studio musician who plays sessions and on tour with the big boys who’s been a friend of Bill’s for years. He’s also local (when he’s not touring).

Anne and I have been going to hear Bill at Milton Hall for twenty years (Anne for another ten) and this was the second time Gordon joined him. Read about Bill’s 2007 concert here.

Milton Hall holds about 75 people comfortably and this show had close to 100 packed in. The audience energy was fantastic and many of us were long time attendees. It was quite an evening and the guys played their hearts out, mostly their own music as well as some covers: Ray Charles, Stevie Wonder, Randy Newman, Paul McCartney and more.

Both Bill and Gordon are solid musicians with depth and breadth and humor and energy and many in the audience thought it was one of the best concerts ever. That’s saying something.

The photography was tougher for me this time: more people, tough lighting, two musicians, more microphones, and I got pinned in a corner up front once the music started. I decided to take fewer shots and enjoy the music more. I’m glad I did.

Bill Lauf on four string tenor guitar

Bill Lauf, in his groove playing his own music. I consider Bill a good friend and I have to say, it’s wonderful to see someone you know perform well.

He told a story about this small four sting tenor guitar but I can’t remember it. I think the instrument came down to him from his father. It has a great, warm sound.

Gordon Titcomb on banjo

Gordon picking out Auld Lang Syne. You haven’t heard this song until you’ve heard it on a bluegrass banjo. Fantastic. He retuned the banjo multiple times on the fly. Incredible picking.

Gordon Titcomb on pedal steel guitar

Gordon really knows how to make the pedal steel guitar sing.

Chris Brown, sound engineer

No good concert can happen without good engineering and Chris Brown, a jazz musician (trumpet) and sound engineer filled the space with great sound, not too hot, perfectly balanced, and just enough so we heard all the string and fret sounds. Note the Mac Mini and small board he takes to gigs with him.

I’ve known Chris for twenty years as well, as an engineer for Paul Winter and David Darling and a fellow Mac user.

We’re hoping that he got enough tracks between both evenings Bill and Gordon played to make a live CD. Maybe they’ll use one of my images on the cover. Dream on…

Soldier Sues Army, Saying His Atheism Led to Threats

Soldier Sues Army, Saying His Atheism Led to Threats

People like you are not holding up the Constitution and are going against what the founding fathers, who were Christians, wanted for America!

If it’s a Christian nation what the heck are the rest of us doing here? Are we here on a guest pass?

No doubt a growing number of Christians outside the military share this belief (although I doubt Jerimiah Wright does) and during the Bush years this number has grown.

It’s pretty scary stuff for us outsiders.

[via Brad Willett]

Bill Moyers Interviews the Reverend Jeremiah Wright

Bill Moyers Interviews the Reverend Jeremiah Wright

I highly recommend watching the entire two part interview. If nothing else it will give a much clearer picture of how the media has distorted the words and intensions of this good man.

How can any reasonable person not agree with every single thing Wright said, both on your show and in his sermons?

Did the arrogance of American foreign policy cause 9/11? Absolutely.

Has American domestic policy wiped out Native Americans and systematically given black people a raw deal? Absolutely.

Couple that with the fact that Wright has done more good for both his community and his country than all of his detractors combined and you have yet another failure of American media to get it right.

I only wish Obama had not been so fast to distance himself from this man and from Samantha Power, another good person injured in a rough campaign.

Thank you Bill Moyers for having him on your show and helping him frame his story in a positive way.

You can read the Moyers blog post and comment here: The Controversy over Wright.

Tenon on Post Sans Beam

Tenon on Post Sans Beam

Bethlehem, Connecticut. A good friend of mine builds timber frame houses and thought I might want to take some pictures of the assembly of a large, Japanese-style house his crew is putting up.

Post and beam or timber frame construction is beautiful and impressive on many levels but the part that interests me the most as a wood butcher, not a woodworker, is the joinery.

This is a tenon that will fit inside a mortise or slot on the beam making a mortise and tenon joint.

Apple Reports Record Second Quarter Results

Apple Reports Record Second Quarter Results

Apple today posted revenue of $7.51 billion and a net quarterly profit of $1.05 billion, or $1.16 per diluted share, for its fiscal 2008 second quarter, which ended March 29. “We’re delighted to report 43 percent revenue growth and the strongest March quarter revenue and earnings in Apple’s history,” said Steve Jobs. During the quarter, Apple shipped 2,289,000 Mac computers (representing 51 percent unit growth and 54 percent revenue growth over the year-ago quarter), sold 10,644,000 iPods, and reported quarterly iPhone sales of 1,703,000.

Wow, those numbers are impressive. They’re more than impressive; that’s a hell of a lot of Macs shipped in a quarter not to mention iPhones. Gad, amazing.

Field of Daffodils

Field of Daffodils

East Litchfield, Connecticut. For each of the twenty years I’ve lived in this area I’ve been going to see the daffodils on a farm in East Litchfield. There are acres of them between rock walls in various fields. Flowers like this on this scale is not something you see every day. Now that I’ve been taking pictures of flowers for a few years, I have to say that daffodils are not my favorite and I don’t find them very photogenic singly. However, a field of them is another matter.

Sony to Buy Gracenote for $260 Million

Sony to Buy Gracenote for $260 Million

When you put an audio CD into iTunes and you’re not connected to the internet, the songs come up “track 1″ track 2″ etc. and the album has no title, genre, artist.

However, if you’re connected to the internet, iTunes will look at an online database (which isn’t always correct) and if the CD is mainstream or close to mainstream the title, artist, track names, and even genre willl automatically be listed. How? The online database that’s doing the lookup is Gracenote.

I’m not sure what Sony’s strategy is in buying Gracenote but time will tell. Somehow I wish Apple had bought them and then they might have made iTunes a bit more interactive with the Gracenote database so that an album that’s not listed might be updated as users fill in the information manuallly in their local copies of iTunes.

All of this is interesting and frankly I’m not all that sure what it’s all leading to.

[via Daring Fireball Linked List]

Dealnews on Gadget Recycling

Gadget Recycling Programs: Turn Your e-waste to $$$

Constantly buying new gadgets is both hard on your wallet and the planet. Here at dealnews, we typically try to help with the former, but in honor of Earth Week, we’ve decided to start helping with the latter as well. So rather than toss your e-waste to the side, we’ve gathered a variety of earth-friendly services that can rid you of yesteryear’s tech.

[via Mayank Bhatia]

Anatomy of an Ikea Product

Anatomy of an Ikea Product

What’s interesting about this is the focus from the beginning not only on the product design and it’s price, but on how it will be packaged, assembled by the buyer, shipped, how many of them might fit in a shipping container, and more. No doubt all modern products go through similar design processes but Ikea products have the added variable of user assembly.

As someone who’s bought and assembled dozens of Ikea products I sort of knew they had a process like this but it was nice to hear it affirmed in detail.

[via Digg]

Using Google News to find quotations

Google News has a nice new feature, useful any time but particularly during this political season: Words Matter.

1. Go to Google News

2. Search for a person’s name you’re looking for quotations by, for instance: Barack Obama, Hillary Clinton, John McCain.

3. Click the link “by John McCain” on the right side of the screen.

4. Scan ten quotations at a time and note that their source is cited.