Julian Röder

Julian Röder takes amazing photos (via). I’m really curious what his primary camera is; most of the shots have a vintagey 35mm look to them. If it’s a new digital, then he’s doing some really excellent (and consistent) digital processing. Regardless, the style, content and composition are eye-catching. Take these two from his The Summits, for example:
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Chomsky on economics

I’m going to unwisely quote Chomsky out of context here, in the hopes that it will whet your appetite for the whole article:

The designers of the international economy sternly demand that the poor accept market discipline, but they ensure that they themselves are protected from its ravages, a useful arrangement that goes back to the origins of modern industrial capitalism, and played a large role in dividing the world into rich and poor societies, the first and third worlds.

This wonderful anti-market system designed by self-proclaimed market enthusiasts is now being implemented in the United States, to deal with the very ominous crisis of financial markets. In general, markets have well-known inefficiencies. One is that transactions do not take into account the effect on others who are not party to the transaction. These so-called “externalities” can be huge. That is particularly so in the case of financial institutions. Their task is to take risks, and if well-managed, to ensure that potential losses to themselves will be covered. To themselves. Under capitalist rules, it is not their business to consider the cost to others if their practices lead to financial crisis, as they regularly do. In economists’ terms, risk is underpriced, because systemic risk is not priced into decisions. That leads to repeated crisis, naturally. At that point, we turn to the IMF solution. The costs are transferred to the public, which had nothing to do with the risky choices but is now compelled to pay the costs – in the US, perhaps mounting to about $1 trillion right now.   And of course the public has no voice in determining these outcomes, any more than poor peasants have a voice in being subjected to cruel structural adjustment programs.

A basic principle of modern state capitalism is that cost and risk are socialized, while profit is privatized. That principle extends far beyond financial institutions. Much the same is true for the entire advanced economy, which relies extensively on the dynamic state sector for innovation, for basic research and development, for procurement when purchasers are unavailable, for direct bail-outs, and in numerous other ways. These mechanisms are the domestic counterpart of imperial and neocolonial hegemony, formalized in World Trade Organization rules and the misleadingly named “free trade agreements.”

(Emphasis mine.) Think about that highlighted phrase: essentially our system of credit burdens all of us with the risk, and bestows upon us none of the reward. And as for companies being too big to fail, I think Senator Sanders is right when he says, “If a company is too big to fail, it is too big to exist.”

The Chomsky article as a whole is actually much more broad in its scope than the financial crisis and bail-out; but then, Wall Street’s relationship to government is much broader in scope than just money. It’s very thought-provoking stuff, especially if like me, you rarely take South America’s role into account. History is being written on this mess right now, and it’s bigger than just bad debt causing companies to fold. We need a major philosophical paradigm shift in the corporate financial model if we want something that is sustainable and shields the average person from harm.

Getting Sweded

I have settled into the hotel here in Stockholm after a very long journey. I left London at 8pm yesterday, landed in Amsterdam a little after 10pm, wandered the streets of Amsterdam all night, didn’t get stabbed, flew to Stockholm around 6am, and walked around like a zombie most of the day. I hopped on the train with Tim and a couple of his coworkers to the central station, where we walked around a street market and inside a shopping mall. I bought a trendy-ish scarf at one of the three H&Ms on one block (no exaggeration). I think I’d like to also buy a nicer scarf somewhere this week, too. Stockholm’s a very fashionable place, so I think I’d do well to shop a bit – but only a tiny bit. It’s Norway-expensive here.

If anyone has any recommendations for places to see and things to do, please let me know. Here are a few pictures from the trip so far (click to super-size):

Waiting at Heathrow:
On my way to Stockholm

I felt very welcome at the mall:
Stockholm mall

Balloons over Stockholm (from the hotel window):
Stockholm balloons

Stockholm balloons

Norway update

Pics! (Some of these are friends-only; join and be my friend, or let me know if you want me to send you a guest pass link.)

Norway is staggeringly gorgeous. Huge cliffs abut aquamarine glacier water, giant waterfalls cascade down cliffs everywhere. Picaresque tiny villages are nestled between the mountains and fjords. The only word to describe it is idyllic.

The wedding was in this awesome church on a hill above Oslo (which is a pretty cool city, kinda generically modern/old European). Declan O’Rourke sang a song at the wedding (he’s really good and a super nice guy to boot). The reception was in a beautiful home close by, which overlooked Oslo from a big hill. The food was so good, I can’t even describe it – very unusual combinations married together beautifully (kind of like a Norwegian and Irishman who met in Austin). The wedding band was some Irish dudes called the Gits (I think, apologies if I got that wrong), with the drummer from Belle and Sebastian – they mostly did covers, with Declan stepping in a couple of times. Iain Archer finally showed up, but I can’t remember if he played (he was supposed to do the wedding song but missed his flight). I spent some time dancing around and taking pictures. There was a lunar eclipse that night, too, and a beautiful view of the city below in the waxing and waning moonlight.

Then we went to an after-party at the bride’s brother’s house, where there was a (thankfully heated) pool outside. i think i was probably second or third to strip off my suit and tie and jump in. So awesome. We swam around some, did a few synchronized cannon balls and relay races. A lead singer in a major label band stole my sock, and I didn’t want to wear his because it smelled bad. So I spent some time wandering around trying to find him and my sock, only to later realize he’d left. But on the plus side, there were hot dogs ready to eat, and a bunch of cool Irish dudes strumming the guitar and singing next to the pool – the highlight of which was Declan doing his song ‘Sarah‘ with a couple of the guys singing spontaneous harmony.

I also should mention that the city of Bergen is really nice, too. It’s the one with the rainbow and sunset in the pics. But the tiny village of Flam (and getting there by train) is the real must-see in Norway.

Oh, also, Norway is really really effing expensive.

Jerk it

I’ve been enjoying this song from Thunderheist for a week now. I’ve been enjoying the winning video (done by That Go [warning: sound]) even more. I have been remiss in my duties as a blogger, and I apologize. Enjoy:


thunderheist – jerk it (contest cut) from thatgo on Vimeo.

It seems like the video is filmed with the Phantom, or some other sort of super-high-speed imaging device. Check out this other video that uses it. (Thanks, Allen!)
Edit: I guess it’s actually shot on a Red.

Film fan

OK, so as it was pointed out this weekend, I’m a total photo nerd. And even though my beloved old Nikon F chewed up and spat out a roll of exposed film Saturday night, I still firmly believe in the power of film over digital. Not that I’m anti-digital, but given the choice, I’d usually shoot with an old film camera. I’m tempted to turn this into a more general argument for analog over digital, but I’ll hold back. So speaking of old cameras and film, here’s a really awesome page that  lists cameras by type and shows example images from each.

Click for original size

(Taken with my Lubitel lomo.)

The Big Picture

Holy crap. Best new blog in a while. From the Boston Globe, The Big Picture is a relatively simple idea, executed gorgeously: few words, big, pretty pictures, tells a story. It just started this month, and already there are some really great stories and even better photos:

Daily Life in Sadr City, Iraq

The Sky, From Above

Mississippi Floodwaters in Iowa

Ethiopia in Food Crisis Once More

You really have to see these full-sized. Stunning work.

Life through an SX-70 lens

This has been blogged ubiquitously today, so much so that the original site exceeded bandwidth. It should be back up soon, but until then there are still pictures around, and more background on the story here. Mental Floss says it best:

He Took a Polaroid Every Day, Until the Day He Died

Yesterday I came across a slightly mysterious website — a collection of Polaroids, one per day, from March 31, 1979 through October 25, 1997. There’s no author listed, no contact info, and no other indication as to where these came from. So, naturally, I started looking through the photos. I was stunned by what I found.

In 1979 the photos start casually, with pictures of friends, picnics, dinners, and so on.

Sadly, the story ends abruptly. But the Polaroids live on, giving their owner’s life a warm tint as only Polaroids can – a Time-Zero flipbook of a man’s daily life from 1979-1997. It’s such a powerful piece of work to me: the thousands of neatly categorized images, the inherent nostalgia of the Polaroid color palette, the mundane alongside the intimate portraits of happiness and illness, and those who lived on and honored their friend with this exhibit – the story of a life recounted by an SX-70.