Four-month-old baby panda named Peanut


Click to enlargeDaily Mail UK

Realized we haven’t had a panda picture here in a spell. This is from the Daily Mail.

Haboob eats Phoenix


Click to enlargeJerry Ferguson

❝ It was a haboob. The word is Arabic and means “blowing or drifting,” and to meteorologists it is the term used to describe intense dust storms inherent to arid regions.

❝ Haboobs are caused when the strong winds blasting out of a thunderstorm hit the ground and kick up the loose sand and dust covering the arid landscapes. Just as a shelf cloud marks the leading edge of a thunderstorm from above, a thick dust cloud marks the leading edge of this same thunderstorm from below.

Arcing across the sky landscape stretching dozens of miles from end-to-end, these dust storms can reach up thousands of feet in the air, and move across the landscape at highway speeds.

❝ While these monstrous haboobs with their menacing shelf clouds hold astonishing beauty, they can be incredibly dangerous. Often accompanied by 60 mph winds or higher, they can pack a serious punch as they steam-roll across the landscape. In addition to the strong winds, the dust can cause visibility to drop to zero in heart beat, blocking out the sun turning day to night, and making it nearly impossible to see until the winds die down and the dust settles…

Phoenix is the haboob capital of the United States. I’ll just leave that alone as a straight line.

Lots of cold balls!

❝ Like thousands of white cannonballs dumped on the beach, you think these have to be manmade, perhaps part of some sculpture exhibition. But the giant snowballs are entirely natural, although the sight has not been witnessed here in living memory.

It was ten days ago that the villagers of Nyda, just above the Arctic Circle, started noticing the phenomenon. Some are the size of tennis balls. Others almost as large as a basketball…

❝ Valery Akulov, from the village administration, said: ‘Even old-timers say they see this phenomenon for the first time. These balls appeared about a week and a half ago…

❝ When the water in the gulf rose, it came into contact with the frost. The beach began to be covered with ice. Then the water began to slowly retreat, and the ice remained. Its pieces were rolling over in the wet sand, and turned into these balls.

A few more photos in the article. Way cool.

Pic of the day


Click to enlargeBrett Gundlock/Boreal Collective

Drivers stuck in traffic in Mexico City lately have found themselves being buzzed by a fleet of sign-toting drones. “Driving by yourself?” some scolded in Spanish. “This is why you can never see the volcanoes” — a reference to the smog that often hovers over the mega-city and obscures two nearby peaks.

It wasn’t exactly a plea for environmentalism, though — it was an ad for UberPOOL, part of Uber’s big push into markets across Latin America. As Bloomberg points out, Uber already does more business in Mexico City than any other city it operates in, and Brazil is its third-largest market after the U.S. and India. Uber sees Latin American countries as generally easier targets for expansion than either of its top two markets…And that, apparently, involves accosting drivers in gridlock with a swarm of drones.

In the US, someone would already have been busted for shooting at the critters.

San Francisco Noir: Photos from the ’40s and ’50s by Fred Lyons


Click to enlarge

Fred Lyon is 92 years old and has photographed his hometown, San Francisco, for more than 70 years. His rich black-and-white scenes conjure a bygone era, when flash powder still existed, being alone with your thoughts was common, and the famed cable cars were public transportation for locals, rather than rolling tourist traps headed to Fisherman’s Wharf.

A large selection of these amazing photographs, so incongruous with today’s lifestyle, is being exhibited at the Leica Gallery in San Francisco through Oct. 21, and collectively they do the city’s history proud…

San Francisco, too, has undergone a reinvention lately, with the much-publicized arrival of residents and money from nearby Silicon Valley. But with a longer-term perspective than most of us have, Fred Lyon is not concerned for the future of his beloved city, saying “every city that’s really alive has to keep changing.”…

“What I really miss is the kids playing in the street,” he said. “That was a constant source of joy for me. I don’t know where they’ve gone. Their parents don’t allow them out. It just doesn’t happen. The kids were always great. They’d laugh at this silly guy with the camera, and know I really wanted to get in their games with them. And indeed I did.”

Lovely, talented work. If you’re in the northern Cali chunk of the Left Coast, get your butt to town to see Fred Lyon’s work.

Photo gems from the Moon


Click to enlarge

From October 2007 to June 2009, Japan’s SELENE (SELenological and ENgineering Explorer) mission orbited the moon. The mission consisted of three spacecraft. The largest was better known by the nickname the public had chosen for it: Kaguya, honoring a lunar princess of Japanese legend.

During its expedition, the SELENE mission returned a wealth of scientific information from its polar orbit, such as the most detailed map of the moon’s gravity field ever obtained up until that time.

The Kaguya spacecraft also carried cameras, including one with a pair of 2.2 megapixel HDTV sensors that captured the first high-definition video from the moon. Thanks to this clear-eyed video camera, many of Kaguya’s images — especially the shots showing the Earth rising and setting at the lunar horizon — are moving in both senses of the word.

Now the Japanese space agency, JAXA, has publicly released the entire data set from Kaguya’s HDTV cameras. The iconic views are all there…plus some gems that haven’t been widely seen before.

Click through to the blog post and follow any other links along the way. Entertaining, beautiful.

A powerful image of Michelle Obama and George W. Bush


Click to enlargeAP Photo/Pablo Martinez Monsivais

A striking image from this weekend offers some symbolic hope for Americans troubled by the country’s stark division along ethnic, political, economic, and gender lines.

At the opening of the National Museum of African American History and Culture yesterday, photographers including Pulitzer-winner David Hume Kennerly captured a warm embrace between first lady Michelle Obama and former president George W. Bush, who first signed the bill to build the museum in 2003.

The photo clearly resonates with a country grappling with its own history of racism and slavery, one that quite literally built the White House we know today. And as the US anticipates a combative first presidential debate…it’s all the more striking to see leaders reaching across the proverbial aisle in a moment of genuine warmth.

Say, Amen.

After that there are two divergent currents I wish to address. First, the predictable backlash from the overtly racist chunk of America. Pretty good size as we all know. Tweet comments everywhere these photos have appeared automagically fire up the alt/right/racist nutballs. No rational reason to repeat their commentary.

I was surprised – and shouldn’t have been – at the response from sectarian portions of the Left. Including lots of folks who I know would be standing side-by-side with the exploited and oppressed of this nation at any point of confrontation.

I am guilty as any of my comrades, peers in the class struggle, of treating our enemies as cardboard cutouts. Easy to forget that individuals who live and die in service to exploitation and profiteering are individuals, capable of the range of humane feelings about the lives of others that we on the Left sometimes think we own. Not so, my sisters and brothers.

Those feelings are enough to change an individual’s course in life. Witness Ted Olson, a conservative lawyer, represented George W in beating back appeals of the 2000 election — and later led the fight to overturn California’s Prop 8 ban on gay marriage. And even if they don’t change their ways – they are part of the lives of those we battle every waking day.

Perhaps, someday, we’d see George W publicly recant the official Republican line on the lies used to invade Iraq, condemn the scumbags [yes] like Dick Cheney who deserves most of the credit for misleading a whole nation as much as he misled his boss in the Oval Office. Perhaps not.

The photo comes from an important day in American history. Recognize it with as much emotion and feeling as George W Bush and Michelle Obama.

Photography and our Civil War


Click to enlargeGettysburg

❝ While photographs of earlier conflicts do exist, the American Civil War is considered the first major conflict to be extensively photographed. Not only did intrepid photographers venture onto the fields of battle, but those very images were then widely displayed and sold in ever larger quantities nationwide.

Photographers such as Mathew Brady, Alexander Gardner, and Timothy O’Sullivan found enthusiastic audiences for their images as America’s interests were piqued by the shockingly realistic medium. For the first time in history, citizens on the home front could view the actual carnage of far away battlefields. Civil War photographs stripped away much of the Victorian-era romance around warfare.

❝ Photography during the Civil War, especially for those who ventured out to the battlefields with their cameras, was a difficult and time consuming process. Photographers had to carry all of their heavy equipment, including their darkroom, by wagon. They also had to be prepared to process cumbersome light-sensitive images in cramped wagons.

Today pictures are taken and stored digitally, but in 1861, the newest technology was wet-plate photography, a process in which an image is captured on chemically coated pieces of plate glass. This was a complicated process done exclusively by photographic professionals…

❝ While photography of the 1860’s would seem primitive by the technological standards of today, many of the famous Civil War photographers of the day were producing sophisticated three-dimensional images or “stereo views.” These stereo view images proved to be extremely popular among Americans and a highly effective medium for displaying life-like images…

With these advancements in photographic technology, the Civil War became a true watershed moment in the history of photography. The iconic photos of the American Civil War would not only directly affect how the war was viewed from the home front, but it would also inspire future combat photographers who would take their cameras to the trenches of Flanders, the black sands of Iwo Jima, the steaming jungles of Vietnam, and the deserts of Afghanistan.

RTFA for techniques and technology. Photography brought a new dimension to recording history. hopefully, it continues to bring new dimensions into understanding politics and war.