No Thank You, Google

Yet another reason why Google sucks:

There are so many things wrong with this social justice warrior activism, but the biggest one is that there is no real reason for it. I don’t think a single American exists who isn’t aware of (somber newscaster voice) America’s history of racial injustice. We’ve all been bludgeoned with guilt over the past actions of other people for almost two generations now. We’ve all been raised to believe that our own country is evil because of racial injustice. This subject has been trumpeted in every medium constantly for over 50 years. If this is still necessary from someone’s perspective, then either previous attempts have not worked, or some people feel their grip on power fading, and so its time to rev up the guilt engines. When you have to force your views upon uninterested people, and when you have no reason for it but to keep alive a dying political movement, then you have no right at all to preach to me.

* I use Google only occasionally at work to find images. Otherwise, I’m helping kill it by using Duck Duck Go on every device I own.

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Why Photography is Hard

Post-processing photographs is something amazing and not a little like alchemy. Here’s an example.

I watched the whole thing and I am partly amazed, partly stupefied. I was amazed at the knowledge displayed and the effects wrought. I would not have thought to do that — any of it. My digital “post” is pretty basic. It consists of shooting in RAW, some RAW fiddling courtesy of DXO Optics, cropping, and some sharpening or blurring if need be, sometimes applied to particular areas. Maybe I go monochrome; maybe I bust out ON 1 Effects. That’s nothing close to the techniques this guy was using.

I guess it all goes back to how you approach your art. Me, I spend the time taking the shot, and I take a lot of shots. I’ve become more judicious about this but I still err on the side of it’s better to have a shot to discard than to have nothing. What you don’t capture is probably gone forever. Next I go through a vicious culling cycle — culling stuff that looks bad in camera, culling stuff in DXO, and lastly culling stuff I can’t make work in my photoeditor of choice, Photoline. That’s when my minimal post-processing is up to bat.

What does this say about me? If I used this approach in poetry or in music, I’m forced to admit that I wouldn’t love the work itself very much, because I wouldn’t be spending the time to refine that individual work. I’d just be focused on writing a lot or composing a lot, hoping I could find the keepers with minimal effort. Is it fair to compare two very different art forms in this way? Part of me screams “no”, simply because I don’t have the knowledge or the skills to edit at that level of detail with photography. But here’s a different point — I spend so much time in photography finding the keepers that I don’t have any time left to really refine the keepers. Nor do I know how to take the keepers from excellent to mind-blowing anyway. That is not to say that I haven’t been researching. I have. I have learned about long exposure, neutral-density filters (and whether to go with a filter system or a screw-on lens), tripods, and more.

I am beginning to see that what separates the mind-blowing from the decent or even the excellent is a level of skill and amount of time that I do not now have. Some of this could be fixed by obtaining better equipment, but that costs money, which I don’t have either.

This is a lament, and I need to be spending more time drawing so I can turn out the cover for a book which is being edited.

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Unreal

When you see image after image of perfectly displayed items, whether it is food, home decor, clothing, or people, you experience a fake toxicity event, and you simply want to throw up or poke your eyes out. Clearly, a large number of people are dead set on convincing everyone that they are living the perfect life (TM). Why? Why are they afraid to show the imperfect photo? Why are they afraid to be seen for who they really are?

Yes, I am tired of seeing photos of perfect meals prepared by uber-handsome chefs. Even if I went to their restaurants, and the food did manage to look that good, how would it taste? The illusion doesn’t sell me, folks. I know how long it takes to create good images of food. What about the reality which is the taste? So whom are you trying to impress?

If we are our own brand, then why are so many brands indistinguishable from one another? Look at the hubs of all those social media darlings. Attractive host or hostess? Check. Great photos? Check. Breezy prose saying not much? Check. Great visual design of neutrals and brights? Check. Even problems or issues are presented in this synthetically happy gauze — today was a bad day; oh no, I fought with my husband; yikes, my kids are out of control. No worries, because everything will resolve by the next post and we’re back to happy-happy land.

I wonder how many people break when they see these fake sites lead by lying people who excel in the art of selling gentle illusions. How much damage is done by this retro trend of presenting everything as wonderful all the time? There is a store near where I live called Cotton Colors. Their slogan? Happy Everything! Yes, because that’s how life is — constant sunshine. Sigh. How has the web become overrun with this ridiculous untruth? Why have people built their lives around happy-happy and excrete rainbows?

I have no problem with optimism. In fact, I think it is critical to function in this world. We must not live downcast. However, what I hate more than anything else is deception, and when people cannot be real because they are busy building fragile empires, then I am both insulted and angered. Don’t lie to me. Don’t try to convince me your fakery is real. Hollywood with its billions cannot do it. Neither can you. All this will not come to anything and in fact it is already losing its grip.

Do you know what the latest trend in social media is? Authenticity.

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Songs About Sex

I was reading a book recently about the history of rock and roll; note the tense. I gave up after tiring of the author’s leftism. Anyhow, it struck me just how comical it is when people sing songs about sex (a phenomena that predates rock and roll by centuries). I mean, do you have to make a song about convincing a woman to give you some? It’s even more silly when that woman is your wife. Really, people? Why don’t you just work on your relationship instead? No, I know what we’ll do. Instead we’ll spend 400 hours on making a song, practicing it, recording it, touring in support of it, so that everyone can see how I can’t handle the relationship I’ve got. Or better yet I’ll brag about my sexuality so that I can impress impressionable women or men whom I can sleep with with no consequences and move on to try to fill up my appetite, because that always works.

Also, people who brag should be believed. It’s just comical when you think about it. The people who brag are the most insecure. Real people don’t need to boast about their sexual prowess. I really wonder who thought it was a good idea to weaponize some people’s insecurity and then expose us all to it. What good does it do? I mean here the content of the music, not its form, and yes, they are severable. Whom does this impress? Who believes it? Yet we’re all saturated with it, all the failed thinking and empty hopes of the world.

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Opportunistic Ideologies

If you look at systems over time, you begin to notice something. Very rarely do organizations, businesses, artistic movements, churches, political parties, and so forth stay true to the vision of their founders. Why is this? It is because the people who take over an existing organization, or inherit it, do not share the vision of the founders. Is this a failure of the organization itself? To some degree, yes. I forget who said this, but the quote is this: “Organizations not explicitly conservative, over time, become liberal.” The same applies in much greater strength to organizations not explicitly Christian. The organization must have a distinctive vision and hew to it. It must impress upon its members the primacy of that vision, or risk becoming generic or worse, destructive. Examples of this are legion.

Consider Disney, Methodism, Wal-Mart, the Boy Scouts, and the Salvation Army. Look in the fashion and music world and you’ll brands or bands that once were creative and distinctive now turning out mass-market dreck.

This has a primary cause: the type of people who inherit or take over something. They have opportunistic ideologies. They are not working to achieve a vision, nor are they builders. They inherit or obtain A and use it to make B. They prey upon the existing organization for the purpose of subverting it to do something else. They might respect the power or the presence of an organization but they are at war with its soul. Their stead might squeeze out some marginal profit or value, but their aim is change, which is defiling the original vision of the founders.

So why would any organization allow itself to be taken over by those who do not share its values? Sometimes this happens due to a desire to live the good life; the founders cash in by selling to someone whom cares not for the organization as they do. Other times, founders may have given too much time to the organization and not enough time to their successors; this is especially the case when heirs inherit. Some of it is organizational weakness — a founder or founders does not institutionalize their values so that the organization can thrive after them, or do not pass the torch to a successor. Sometimes the organization is successful but has racked up debts or obligations which it cannot fulfill. In all cases, the organization is in a weak state and is ripe for the picking. Outside forces are always waiting in the wings, hovering about like vultures, to capitalize upon the weaknesses of builders.

We must take the long view and if we do create, ensure that what we build lives on after us. It is a dread and sure thing that the parasites are looking about for things they can take over and subvert to their own fell purposes. “Why should they build when others have done the heavy lifting?” they think, and they are right. As long as we fail to think past our own lifetimes, those who live only for the now will win.

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Rejected by the Host

Earlier this week, it had tried to attach to me. She was filming and had invited my coworker, but not me. It began whispering to me words of unease, words designed to steal past my defenses, words aimed at my weaknesses. “She picked her because she is popular. She is attractive. She is outgoing. She is better.” I fought back with words claiming my worth and my value, and noting that they did not depend upon being chosen or being included. Furthermore, she had every right to choose whomever she wanted to, for whatever reason. How did I know that she thought ill of me? Is this just another dingy film loop of high school running through my head? I cut the film. I did not take offense. I refused to feel injured. I refused to draw a conclusion on the basis of my feelings when I had no evidence that I was being injured. Less than thirty minutes later, the attempted takeover was a memory. I had been attacked by a foreign agent in an attempt at a hostile takeover. I did not need eyes to see the desiccated larvae at some distance from me. It had dried up into a lifeless husk, because it had been rejected by the host.

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If You Cave Now…

It never ceases to amaze me what people will cave on. The smallest challenges to their faith and they immediately surrender — to their friends, to their spouses, to their boss, to their friends, to the culture; all hail the world’s friend who is also known as Christian, the two-headed beast most unnatural and duplicitous! The legacy that the modern church is leaving is one of Babylon and Lot — anything goes as long as you think it’s about love. Yet love has standards and love has its disciplines or it is not love.

I never thought that being a Christian was a simple thing. In fact, I always expected it to be difficult and something that required more than a backbone. I thought it required strength beyond strength, a power not our own to even come close to all that the name covers. Instead, I find people who flagrantly sin and stand for nothing and who call themselves Christians. If you stand for nothing, why bother with the pretense of calling yourself a Christian? The church would grow and prosper if its attendees were cut in half, because then it would not spend so much time trying to motivate and work around the dead wood.

I think it’s so funny to see these relativists who think they are Christians trying to lecture others. You point out that nothing they say has any eternal ground to it and you will find them denying anything and everything about Christianity. What we have in this grim times are impostors — wolves.

If you cave now, while things are still relatively easy, then you are just accelerating the culture trend of reversion to paganism. Where Christians go, they sow life — hospitals, universities, the printing press, charities — which is to say, caring for the health, the mind, the body, the soul of all men, whether aged or young, healthy or defenseless, upholding the innate value of humanity as the image-bearers of God. Strip that from a culture and you will find men without standards oppressing whomever they wish, doing whatever they wish, a tyranny of the weak by the strong in a world without law, without order, without justice, and without hope. Life will once again be nasty, brutish, and short; the death of the soul and the decline of a civilization both start with the same step of compromise and when many march in lockstep over the cliff, then the path gets steeper and steeper for those behind them. Thanks to the cowardly, the fight for the brave gets harder and harder. Nevertheless, we will reap if we faint not.

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