June 2009


Via PhotojojoPainting with light

Painting with light is a fun technique that gives great results. It is called painting with light because this is what you are actually doing while taking the shot – painting with light.

You don’t need much to experiment with this kind of shot, just make sure you have the following items:

1. A camera capable of long exposures – film cameras will work OK, but if you really want to get the most out of the shooting session, use a digital camera. You will be able to see the results in “real time” and make corrections as you go.

2. A nice tripod. Since you will be doing some long exposures you want to make sure your camera sits still. If you don’t have a tripod you can make one in a few minutes (see this article or this one).

3. A flash light – and by flash light I do not mean flash as in a speedlight, but the flash light or what our British will call a torch.

4. A dark location. This one is tricky. If you are going to shot at home – a dark room will be OK. If you are going to shoot outside – make sure that you are not doing this under a street light, or where a car can come by and “paint its headlight” all over your shot.


First Image of a Memory Being Made

For the first time, an image of a memory being made at the cellular level has been captured by scientists.

The image shows that proteins are created at connections between brain cells when a long-term memory is formed. Neuroscientists had suspected as much, but hadn’t been able to see it happening until now.

The experiment also revealed some surprising aspects of memory formation, which remains a somewhat mysterious process.

Kelsey Martin, a biochemist at the University of California, Los Angeles, and colleagues investigated memory formation in neurons from the sea slug Aplysia californica, a good model for brain cells in other organisms, including humans.

The researchers exposed the neurons to the chemical serotonin, which has been shown to stimulate memory formation (this discovery won Eric Kandel and collaborators the Nobel Prize in 2000). But in a new twist, the scientists devised a way to determine whether any new proteins were created when the memory was made.

The researchers used a fluorescent protein that can change from green to red when exposed to ultraviolet light. They flashed the cells with light, so that any proteins that already existed turned red. But when the scientists induced the cells to form memories, they saw new green proteins appear under the microscope.

“One distinction between short-term and long-term memory is this requirement for making new proteins,” said co-investigator Wayne Sossin, a neuroscientist at McGill University in Montreal. “To make it last you do need protein synthesis.”

If memories and dreams can be recorded by the physical world, does this give some credence to the idea that thoughts have a physical presence – and that they can be ‘read’?

Roger Simon

This is how our state department reacts to recent atrocities in Iran

The United States said Monday its invitations were still standing for Iranian diplomats to attend July 4 celebrations at US embassies despite the crackdown on opposition supporters.

President Barack Obama’s administration said earlier this month it would invite Iran to US embassy barbecues for the national holiday for the first time since the two nations severed relations following the 1979 Islamic revolution.

“There’s no thought to rescinding the invitations to Iranian diplomats,” State Department spokesman Ian Kelly told reporters.

I’m not astonished, I’m not even surprised. This is how the state department reacted to 9/11. They were worried that the Saudi sponsors of 9/11 would cease to be our friends. Legitimizing, empowering and kissing the asses of our most vile enemies has always been their first priority.

They don’t care about us, they don’t care about freedom and they don’t care about democracy, yet for some peculiar reason, we continue to pay their salaries. What’s wrong with us?

I have no interest in tea parties, but if anyone is organizing a rally to storm the walls of the state department, I’ll be there…


Manhattan synagogue makes $10G off of Westboro Baptist Church protest

BY Erin Einhorn and Irving Dejohn

A Manhattan synagogue turned a visit from hate-spewing demonstrators into a lucrative fund-raiser Sunday.

Leaders of Congregation Beth Simchat Torah, a West Village synagogue that caters to gays and lesbians, didn’t want to ignore a planned visit by members of the rabidly anti-gay and anti-Semitic Kansas-based Westboro Baptist Church.

Instead, they asked supporters to pledge a dollar or more for every minute that six protesters stood near their synagogue hurling epithets and holding signs that read “God Hates Fags” and “Jews Stole the Land.”

The final haul after 50 minutes: $10,000.

“Their very presence will actually raise money for the mission of this community,” said Rabbi Sharon Kleinbaum of the synagogue, which now holds services in rented space. “The synagogue wants a building so we’re hoping this will help us get a building.”

The Kansas church, known for picketing soldiers’ funerals to say their deaths are God’s punishment for Americans’ tolerance of gays, has ramped up its demonstrations against Jews, who they say are sinners….

[link thanks to Charles at LGF]

#1 Strength in numbers: In countries like Iran, there is strength in numbers, even if most citizens are unarmed. Like most totalitarian kleptocracies in the Middle East, the Iranian government keeps tabs on citizens through the use of citizen-spies. Neighbors are encouraged to inform on neighbors. This security infrastructure tends to fall apart when entire neighborhoods are so outraged by government crimes, they all march together in protest.

#2 Where is Ahmadinejad? The Russians aren’t as gullible as we are – when they bribe their flunkies they actually expect to see results. When they don’t see results, unproductive flunkies tend to disappear.

When the “most powerful man in Iraq”, Russian/Iranian flunky Moqtaqua al Sadr, failed to perform as expected, he wound up comatose in an Iranian hospital, being treated by “Iranian specialists, as well as by Russian doctors” for a food poisoning attack. Afterwards, he withdrew from public life and devoted his time to studying the Koran. Disorganized and leaderless, his formerly formidable army soon fell.

Ahmadinejad may be following the same path. From the Russia Blog:

Iranian President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad, who won an election last week that various opposition groups both inside and outside the country believe was rigged, was scheduled to appear at the Shanghai Cooperation Organization (SCO) summit on Monday in the Urals city of Yekaterinberg. Ahmadenijad first delayed his appearance to deal with the unrest back home, then showed up to issue a defiant anti-U.S. statement, then promptly returned to Iran. Anyone Googling media accounts of the summit could come away quite confused about the whereabouts of the Iranian leader.

#3 The historic and profound bravery of the Iranian people – most “realist” power brokers and politicians react to this kind of popular uprising with a mixture of confusion and fear. Even some leaders who are supposed to support democracy are tongue tied. It’s a sign that their hold on power is never certain – who knows what will happen if this idea spreads? Ahmadinejad may be frightened, but Master of the Universe wannabes like the members of our State Department, Vlad Putin and Saudi King Abdullah must be shaking in their boots. If protests continue, most ‘realists’ will probably push for reconciliation in an effort to make the whole nightmare go away.

Via the Times Online

What gave so many ordinary citizens the courage not only to speak out after years of fear, but to take to the streets in numbers not seen since Ayatollah Khomeini overthrew the Shah in 1979? And where was this heading? Will yesterday’s events presage a brutal crackdown, or are they just a pause in an extraordinary display of “people power”?

ARTEMIS, a 41-year-old Tehrani woman, is the proud holder of a law degree, but one who has never been allowed to work. She was clear about why she joined the million-plus men, women and children who took to the streets of Tehran last Monday.

“People want freedom and justice,” she said. “They stole the vote. No one in his right mind believes this result.”

She said she had been afraid to voice criticism before. “The neighbours listen to you, and people go to prison just for what they say, or what they write. But this is contagious. What you are seeing, all these people, this comes from 30 years of oppression and now we have had enough.”

Gathering in Revolution Square in the summer sun, they walked miles to Freedom Square, shoulder to shoulder, filling the boulevard and spilling onto the pavement.

More news at iranelection

Back in 2004, when John Kerry was in hot water for dissing the Iranian pro-democracy activists while kissing up to the Mullahs, I noticed that many Iranian bloggers understood (and loved) democracy more than many Americans do.

So now they have a revolution, they’re bravely facing an army of goons armed with nothing but their ideals – and we have John Kerry, Ron Paul and Glenn Beck…

Obama may be a badass flykiller, but he doesn’t compare to this guy

UPDATE: Iowahawk: Widow of murdered fly seeks White House apology, shit

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