‘To Kill A Mockingbird’ 50th Anniversary

‘To Kill A Mockingbird’ Anniversary: Anna Quindlen On The Greatness Of Scout

The book To Kill a Mockingbird was published in 1960, this is its 50th year in print. The film was made in 1962.

Every kid has had that house in the neighborhood that your friends would dare you to knock at on Halloween. The idea that the person in that house is not a monster but a prisoner is so beautifully wrought in this book that I think you’re just totally present in it the whole time you are reading it. At that moment when she says “Hey, Boo” and her father says, “Jean Louise, this is Mr. Arthur Radley”–it doesn’t get any better than that.

That scene in the movie makes me cry every time. Reading about that scene is making me tear up. It was toward the beginning of Robert Duvall’s incredible career.

To Kill a Mockingbird is an incredible book and an incredible film. If you never saw the film I highly recommend it.

Mount St. Helens, 30 years ago

Mount St. Helens, 30 years ago

Alan Taylor at The Big Picture has put together a fascinating collection of photography and a great piece of history that many have either forgotten or were too young to appreciate.

When St. Helens blew it had a very large effect on the area around it. I lived in Eugene, Oregon at the time and was up in Seattle climbing during the eruption. I watched it from Seattle and it was spectacular.

A few years earlier I’d climbed Mt. St. Helens (among other Cascade volcanoes) and when it erupted my stomach turned thinking about anyone who might have been up there.

iPad, initial thoughts

I’ve been watching various reactions to Apple’s new iPad and it amazes me that people don’t learn from history that Steve Jobs is a visionary and visionaries take larger steps than the rest of us. This is one of the many things I admire about Jobs and Apple. Not all of these steps work out for Apple. I think this one will.

The announcement happened yesterday while I was flying and I got at least ten emails and tweets (the Gogo wifi on the plane worked great, again) that said the thing has an “unfortunate” name because it sounds like a sanitary napkin. As someone with a nickname of “Dick” I’ve been there and all I can say is, people who see things that way see things that way. I don’t. The name is fine and this focus will die off fast as the iPad gets traction.

Then there are those who say the iPad is not a netbook or a tablet Mac, it’s missing firewire, a camera, and a real desktop OS. To them I say, that’s what you might have wanted but when did Steve Jobs ever give you exactly what you wanted? And, had he made that for you my guess is you’d have skipped buying it because these days if you want a computer you get a computer. This device, while technically a computer, defines a new category (for Apple). Maybe it is just a bigger iPod Touch but maybe the iPod touch needed a larger cousin. If so, great.

What Jobs and Apple tend to do is to project ten or more years out and make a device for that world knowing that they have enough pull, push, magnetism, cache, and cool that a good number of people will follow and the rest will catch up over time. There are always the people who can’t make the leap with Jobs and Apple: “It doesn’t have a disk drive, it’s a piece of shit.” I’ve learned, over many years of watching Apple to take a longer view and it’s paid off.

In watching Apple’s various video demos of the iPad, I find the standard applications incredibly alluring in their simplicity and functionality. The email client built in looks better than the one on both the iPhone and Mail on the Macintosh. The address book looks great. Maps look great. the Calendar looks great. The device is fast, in fact it is probably faster than any Macintosh at doing the things it does. It will run all (100,000 and growing) iPhone apps out of the box and no doubt as it becomes more popular apps will be nudged to take advantage of the larger screen.

The iPad is a platform, just like the iPhone, just like the Macintosh. It can be anything to anyone.

Eric Schmidt at MIT

This is an excellent 40 minute interview of Google CEO Eric Schmidt by Tom Ashbrook, host of NPR’s OnPoint which took place at MIT recently. The “Michael” being referred to is Michael Hammer who was a computer science professor at MIT and who recently passed away.

Schmidt is incredibly articulate and his discussion of these large issues is fascinating.

More on the interview here.

The Berlin Reunion

The Berlin Reunion

Earlier this week, 1.5 million people filled the streets of Berlin, Germany to watch a several-day performance by France’s Royal de Luxe street theatre company titled “The Berlin Reunion”. Part of the celebrations of the 20th anniversary of the fall of the Berlin Wall, the Reunion show featured two massive marionettes, the Big Giant, a deep-sea diver, and his niece, the Little Giantess. The storyline of the performance has the two separated by a wall, thrown up by “land and sea monsters”. The Big Giant has just returned from a long and difficult – but successful – expedition to destroy the wall, and now the two are walking the streets of Berlin, seeking each other after many years apart.

Absolutely incredible. I can’t get enough of this.

Informal talk at the G20


President Barack Obama talks with British Prime Minister Gordon Brown and French President Nicolas Sarkozy prior to making a statement about Iran at the David L. Lawrence Convention Center in Pittsburgh, Penn., Sept. 25, 2009. (Official White House Photo by Pete Souza)

It’s absolutely incredible to see images like this on flickr. This is historic and to have a great candid of these guys talking informally is incredible.

This was taken with a Canon EOS 5D mark II and a Canon EF 35mm f/1.4L. To get a shot like this with that lens on a full frame camera Pete had to be quite close, less than ten feet away.

You can see the EXIF information on the shot here. Note, no flash was used.

Mary Travers

Mary Travers

Warren, Connecticut. Mary Travers of Peter Paul and Mary has died.

Here Will McCabe, Gordon Titcomb, and Bill Lauf sing for her at an Obama fundraiser we put on here in Warren the summer before last at the home of Adil and Zarinna Mulla who were good friends of Mary’s. She made a great speech at this fundraiser and was happy to be there.

Mary was a fan of my landscape photography and one of my images is hanging in her house. I’m extremely honored.

The times they are a changin’.

Here’s the New York Times Obituary on Mary Travers.

Note: Just bought a “best of” album from iTunes. I hadn’t listened to them in years, great stuff, highly recommended: The Very Best of Peter Paul and Mary.