Saturday, March 31, 2007

Free Knowledge


For everyone who doesn't know, podcasts are a great way to get brief, yet informational clips of music or news- all for free. Get itunes if you dont already have it from the apple website www.apple.com/itunes and then click on the iTunes Store. Find the podcasts link on the left and click on that and then you can see all of the different kinds of podcasts there are to choose from. My favorites deal with photography and world/african music of course, but there are podcasts for pretty much anything. Here are a list of some podcasts that I really like:

Afropop Worldwide (Made by National Geographic and www.afropop.org)
World Music Profiles (Another National Geographic)
Songlines Magazine (www.songlines.co.uk)
Lenswork (By Brooks Jensen, editor or Lenswork Magazine, www.lenswork.com)

Check those out if you're interested, and browe the categories for anything else you may want to know about. There are plenty of podcasts on music and news and even ones that teach you spanish. Podcasts are just another way that the internet seeks to provide free information to all those that have access, the problem is ensuring that access for all.

Thursday, March 29, 2007

First Cyanotype


I haven't written about photography lately so I better balence it out by showing off my first cyanotype print. The cyanotype is a "non-silver" photographic process that is different from the traditional darkroom scheme. Instead of creating the prints with chemical baths you shine UV light through negative onto a piece of coated paper. Then just run the paper under some water and add just a smidgen of hydrogen peroxide and there you have it, a distinctly blue print the resembles the original negative. I dont expect anyone to be able to visualize that based on my discrition. Anyways, in my case, the negative was 4"x5, that's big compared to regular 35mm and far more detailed. It was one of the first large format photographs that I have successfully taken. I hope to upload some more in the future. In the meantime, enjoy my first cyanotype, I hope you can tell that it is a girl (Maija) drawing. Please let me know what you think by clicking on the word "comments" below. Thanks.

Tuesday, March 27, 2007

Meet Ekua Awortwe


This is Ekua Awortwe, she is from Ghana and I loaned her $25 today to help her with her food sales business. How do I know Ms. Awotwe? I found her using a website called Kiva.org that allows people to make microfinance loans to individuals in developing countries. I have been becoming increasingly interested in microfinance lately and so I was excited when I heard of the website. Microfinance is an excellent way for entreprenuers to receive low interest loans that many large multinational banks are unwilling to give. The Kiva.org website is a great way for people to contribute to development efforts that seem far away or removed from life in the United States. It shows that there are effective ways to be involved in the raising of global standards of living. Kiva.org is a positive force idea has resulted from globalization. Not all of the consequences of globalization have been beneficial to everyone, but Kiva.org seems to have utilized this powerful force for the better. A great aspect of microfinance is that the loans are typically returned 97% or more. In Kiva.org's case the return has been 100% so far, though it usually takes about 10-16 months. Please visit the website and make a loan today so you can help build a world with better standards and less poverty, you may not lose anything at all, except of course die to inflation in the time it takes to be repaid, but that's almost nothing You can loan to people all over the world in developing counties and new projects are added everyday. Do it, you'll feel better for making a difference.
Kiva Microfinance Loans
Ekua Awortwe's Business

The Source of the Scourge


MSNBC Journalist Ann Curry was recently able to secure an interview with Omar al-Bashir, president of Sudan about the so-called problems in Darfur. The interview was supposedly al-Bashir's first public interview in roughly three years and it was interesting to see him sweat. There were huge disparities in the details given by al-Bashir and the ones generally recognized by the international community and presented by Curry. I encourage anyone who reads this to watch the video for themselves. Unfortunatly I couldn't find it on YouTube, so follow the link to Ann Curry's MSNBC video blog.
Interview With Sudan's Genocidal President

Tuesday, March 13, 2007

Zimbabwe Continues to Spiral Downwards


The political situation in Zimbabwe has been pretty messy as well lately. Heres a recap: Police arrested and subsequently beat the opposition leader in Zimbabwe this weekend when he tried to hold a gathing of people under the name Save Zimbabwe. It is illegal to hold political rallies in Zimbabwe which tells how free the society is. Zimbabwe has been ruled for the last 27 years by an 83 year old corrupt man named Robert Mugabe. Mugabe plans to run for an additional presidential term next year despite his best efforts to ruin the county already, and he may succeed in moving the election back to 2010. Zimbabewe has one of the highest adult AIDS rates in the world (24%+ according to CIA as of 2001, but certainly higher) and they are number 1 for annual inflation, with an impressive 1700%. He recently held his 83 birthday party which cost thousands of dollars, even though the value of the Zimbabwe dollar is worth practically nothing. They even had to drop three zeros off the end of it last year to make it managable.

There are a lot of articles on this, here are a few:
Mugabe's 83rd Birthday
CIA-Zimbabwe
Losing the Zeros

Back to the story of the beating. Events like this have been happening so much that the New York Times put the story as the top story on their website today. Mugabe has completely destroyed his country. Zimbabwe needs a new leader very badly, just ask Morgan Tsvangirai.

Sudan Gets Slammed


Its been an interesting couple of days in African news since the weekend. I'll start with Darfur since I turned in an article about it for my journalism class today. Yesterday the United Nations Human Rights Council released a report written in part by Jody Miller, a woman best know as a Nobel Peace Prize Laureate for her work against landmine usage. The report accuses Sudan's government of "orchestrating and participating" in crimes against humanity in the Darfur region in western Sudan.

It also mentions that Sudan agreed as part of the World Summit in 2005, that it is the resposibility of governments to protect their people from genocide or crimes against humanity. If the governments are unwilling or unable to protect their people, than the international community becomes obligated. If people are looking for an opportunity for intervention, doesn't this justify it. Doesn't this at the very least justify peacekeeping troops? There has to be a couple countries out there willing to provide troops this worthy cause. To hear about the report visit this BBC link and you can actually download the full 35 page text if you are so inclined. I know I did. BBC Story on UNHRC Report

In addition to that, the International Criminal Court announced that it had cases against a few prominant Sudanese officials in Sudan. The government in Khartoum got mad and said it would try its own people. What are the odds that it will be a fair and speedy trial? Probably less than slim to none. Sudan Trials

Saturday, March 10, 2007

Vince of Spaceboots


The article I wrote for Journalism Class is now online. I'll tease you with the lead but it's your job to read the rest

"Every day around noon, outside of the Boulder Street Cafe on the corner of Boulder and Tejon Street, a man dressed all in black plays guitar and sings his heart out. From his black leather pants and black leather vest, to his black overcoat and black confederate hat emblazoned with two shiny, silver rifles that cross in the shape of an X, the man looks the part of a rebellious musician. With greasy weathered hands he holds his guitar, plucking the strings rhythmically and belting out love ballads through his long gray beard for the listening pleasure of anyone who happens to pass by.
For years he has sat on the corner, serenading the public with covers, originals and hybrids of the two as he taps his feet, accepting donations on his guitar case below. His laid back persona is the perfect complement to the young hipster crowd that hangs out in and around the coffee shop. One could surmise, by staring into his tired eyes through the pink lenses of his turtle shell-framed glasses, or hearing his raspy voice while he plays for just a few minutes, that he’s been to hell and back and lived to tell the tale."



Just click on the link and scroll to the bottom.
Journalism Class Profile Link



Vince was also profiled in a local monthly newspaper called Newspeak. He was quoted as saying, "I haven't missed masterbating any day of my life since I was two, and with over 580,000 masterbations, its only been anti-climactic twice. That makes me the Master of Bater." I cannot believe I didn't get that quote for my article. Anyway, I hear the Newspeak blog is pretty good. Check it out here, Newspeak Blog.

Noah K Yesterday?


Oh the wonders of photography on the internet. A favorite site of mine that I recently discovered is called Noah K Everyday. Noah Kalina has been taking a photo of himself with the same expression on his face everyday for 7 years. I think he's missed about 22 days in the whole 7 years, but hey, that aint bad. Anyway, I swear I saw a photo of him in the New York Times Arts page for something completely unrelated, an article about Calvin Klein. I think he's in the upper left of the photo, but decide for yourself. Some say the real Noah K is a bit older than the person from the NY Times, but I've seen one of his daily shots where he's wearing the exact same outfit (above).

While we're making friends with Noah K, lets witness his photographic progression set to relaxing piano music.

Win a Trip


Nick Kristof is at it again. He is holding his second annual "Win a Trip" contest in which the winner(s) travel to remote parts of Africa. The idea is to bring "fresh eyes" to Nick's journeys. Eyes that see what he is now unable to see. Last time, Nick brought a Grad student Casey, who had grow up poor and had travelled little in her life. She made a perfect candidate for Nick because everything was new to her, which is good in some ways, but limiting in others. By specifically seeking individuals with little or no travel experience, Nick will be picking the exact same person this time. All they will be able to say is "Wow, Africans are poor." That attitude, though it is not the fault of anyone, does not appear to be significantly helpful.

What Nick needs is a student or a travelling companion of any kind that is knowledgable about development. Someone that has ideas on how to make progress. Only then will people know how to help they can make a positive difference. Nick, we dont need to know that conditions are bad, we already know that. Show people how to make changes for the better, by bringing along an experienced and knowledgable guest, but one with a different perspective from your own. I fear that the "Win a trip" contest number two is destined to duplicate the first contest. Lets hope the third annual trip, if there is one, makes some progress.

If you do fit Nick's discription ( the opposite of a jet-setter and someone who knows nothing about Africa) please visit these links, the trip will be an amazing opportunity for you. Hurry, Nick wants a 700 or less word essay by April 6th. Enjoys Nick's myspace page as well.
Win a Trip
Nick's on the Ground Myspace

Thursday, March 8, 2007

2 Years

In other news, Jack Kloppenburg is speaking at Colorado College tonight. Jack is of course the father of my good friend Micah. Its strange to for a seemingly random lecturer to be your friend's dad. His talk is called Think Globally, Act Locally and I hope it goes well.


I have my photo adjunct today as well. I think we're learning how to do cyanatypes. I may bring Jack to see the class if he's interested. There are a lot of examples of Cyanatypes at Alternative Photography.
Alternative Photography

Wednesday, March 7, 2007

Illuminating Africa


The New York Times has been doing some good coverage of prosperity in Africa recently, most notably the region of Somaliland in northern Somalia as well as Ghana's 50th anniversary mentioned yesterday. The Times ran a nice piece on how Somaliland has solved its own problems and receives little international aid. The elders have organized multiparty elections and prevented clandestine fighting, while south in Somalia's capital of Mogadishu lawlessness still reigns.
Stability in Somaliland
Troubles in Somalia

Easy Photo Publication...If You're Good Enough


One of my favorite places to submit photos online for pubication is at a site called JPGmag.com. Every issue of their magazine is produced from photos and essays submitted to them directly online. They have three themes per issue and you can submit one photo per theme. Currently the themes are entropy, breakthrough and beauty: redefined. One really cool thing about them is right as they go to press, they provide a PDF copy of their entire magazine online. Issue 9 went online today. Feel free to browse through it. I really need to submit a couple to these themes before they close.
JPG Magazine

Tuesday, March 6, 2007

Photographers of the Times


The New York Times has written a couple of articles about photographers lately which is nice. One article appeared in the magazine a few weeks back and another was in the arts section today.

The magazine talked about Jeff Wall, a color large format photographer who blows his pieces up real big and displays them with light boxes. He only makes one copy of each so there value is very high and he can afford to make each shot just how he wants to. Check it out.
Jeff Wall


The other article celebrates Henry Wessel an amercian photographer who shoots american subject matter in black and white and has been for 30 years. In fact Jeff wall has been shooting just as long and both of them have exibits of the Museum of Modern Art. If you like pictures compare their vastly different styles that have evolved during the same period.
Henry Wessel

Kuamka na Kuanza


Today is an important day in African history and a fine day for a first post. 50 years ago on March 6th Ghana gained its independence from Britian, one of the first sub saharan countries to do so. It was led by the great Pan African leader Kwame Nkrumah who was a major proponent of a unified Africa.
BBC on Ghana


Last year on March 6th, one of the great, maybe the greatest, African guitarists Ali Farka Toure passed away. If you havent heard of him, he's worth a listen. I would recommend his latest album that he recorded just prior to his death called Savane. Savane was actually up for a gramy at the recent awards ceremony, but it was snubbed. He's one of those guys who never had a bad record however, so go and listen to anything of his and you will be pleased. His son Vieux Farka Toure is actually on tour now, riding on is fathers fame with a fresh album, I still haven't heard it so I dont know if the Ali's legacy is in good hands.
Savane

I have an interview with the Peace Corps on Thursday morning so I may be heading back to Africa after this academic year. I'm really excited about the possibilities. If I'm selected I will probably go back to eastern Africa where my swahili skills can be best used. Which country will it be though, Kenya, Uganda or Tanzania? I'm ready for two years abroad teaching, taking photos and experiencing real life.
Peace Corps