Facts Matter..?

December 12, 2017


I like to flatter myself that I am an independent thinker, i.e, I think for myself.  One of the problems with that tendency is that I sometimes find myself in disagreement with people with whom I agree most of the time.  This slogan, in the button above, is one of those instances.  I dislike it intensely.

The first reason I dislike it is that everyone knows that facts matter – even Trumpy and Roy Moore.  Even Kelly Anne Conway, she of “alternative facts” fame.  The disagreement is over what is, and what is not a fact, and how important some facts are compared to others.  Science and history have their methods for resolving these questions, techniques in which our present administration is uninterested because they pose inconvenient questions, but the importance of facts is not really at issue.

One of the unpleasant aspects of being a dissenter is that you are opened up to condemnation when you disagree with the prevailing view, what Flaubert called “received wisdom.”  I may agree with my friends 95% of the time, but when that 5% comes up, out comes the “Facts Matter” buttons!

The other reason I don’t like this slogan is that it presumes that the speaker has all the facts, i.e. THE FACTS.  Much of the time, these days, the slogan is deployed regarding Trumpy’s lying and misstatements about politics,  history, economics…well just about anything, and the newspapers, e.g. the NYTimes, are held up as proof that he is wrong.  Well, I like the NYTimes and read it daily, but memory is short.  About fifteen years ago, it was telling us breathless stories about the vast arsenal of weapons of mass destruction hidden in Iraq by Saddam Hussein, remember him?  There were no WMDs.  I knew it then, and so did lots of other people.  The paper did apologize, years later, but why assume that they have the facts simply because they happen to be in the right all the time about Trumpy?

It’s a lot of work to cross check sources, read up on issues, track the positions of people to see if they lie about their past statements, and so on, but hey, you want a democracy, that’s what you have to do.  You want knowledge, you have to work for it. Relying on Breitbart or the NYTimes as the oracle of The Truth is the lazy way to ignorance, though of the two, naturally you’ll do better, most of the time, with the NYTimes.  That’s based on my personal research.  🙂

And just FYI, the NYTimes still maintains the same low standards of journalism they displayed in their coverage of the WMDs in Iraq when they “report” on climate science.  Facts matter, but you’ll look long and hard for them in their coverage.  Just sayin’.  🙂




Larvatus prodeo

December 7, 2017

Masked IIa.jpg

Full image here.

On the Turnpike

December 6, 2017


This is my first attempt at a roadside panorama of the New Jersey Turnpike.  The noise and wind from the traffic, fairly light at that hour, were terrific, and made it difficult for me to concentrate.  Hoping to visit again on a nicer day for some better shots.  Here is a link to the full-sized image.

The view is looking southeast, to my beloved Pulaski Skyway, and then due east, right across the Jersey wetlands with Manhattan in the distance.  The tallest building is the new World Trade Center tower, at the site of the former Twin Towers.


Dark Day

December 4, 2017


Yeah, pretty dark days these days are.  I can hardly bear to read the news.  I decided to try to get some pinhole shots out while there was still some winter light.  The one above was taken at the Teaneck Creek Conservancy.  I managed to sit pretty still for two minutes, but lugging my cardboard cameras around in a sack loosens their joints, and this one seems to have a bad light leak.

I found myself in Manhattan in the morning, so I went to the Metropolitan for some interior shots.  This one sort of worked, with a ten-minute exposure in the arms gallery, one of the few with large windows to the outdoors.  While I was waiting, I had a nice chat with the guard, who happened to be interested in alternative photography.


Back at The Creek, a four-minute exposure.selfie in maze

And one of the more successful shots, done with a very small, very primitive repurposed hand lotion tin as pinhole camera.Roots 3b

And for those of you who insist on verisimilitude of a higher order…

Roots A

Hackensack Noir

December 3, 2017


It was a dark super moon evening, and I decided to take some shots of Hackensack, in color, with lenses!  The county courthouse looks classic(al), a bit pompous, and cold.  Certainly, there is a lot of doubt regarding the quality of justice dispensed therein.IMG_3873

The Bergen County Jail, where I visit immigrant detainees, looks pretty creepy.  This is a view of the “residential” area where my inmate friends live.  They describe to me what they see out of the window slits, and ask me questions about it.  I was shooed away by a policeman after a few minutes.


And COSTCO, alas, that temple of consumption, looks rather forlorn.  This one is no longer a regular store, but many were the days when I visited it and the lot was filled with happy shoppers pushing carts laden with tons of materiel…


Pulaski Skyway, My Way

November 29, 2017


Taken today with a variety of pinhole cameras, from coffee can to re-purposed hand cream lotion tin.



Doremus Avenue Revisited

November 29, 2017

David Plowden

I have always liked this beautiful (sic) silver gelatin print by David Plowden of Doremus Avenue, Newark, NJ.  It was taken in 1964 (this print from Yale, dates from 1993).  I worked on the avenue briefly in the 1990s, and it didn’t look quite this bad, but it was definitely no garden spot.  I was inspecting some chemical plants to see if they had adequate protection for the local waterways in case of a spill:  some of them looked like a set for the lab in an old Frankenstein movie.

In the distance in Plowden’s print, you can see the Pulaski Skyway.  Since I was planning to photograph that bridge today, I went to revisit Doremus.  Pretty spic and span industrial district, I’d say.

Doremus Revisited

Doremus Revisited Color 3