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Sunday, 17 July 2016

Comments

I think the thing that bothers me about Brexit the most is that here we have a case where, by simple majority vote, the Civil Rights [EU citizenship] of millions of people are about to be taken away and nobody is even talking about that. To me, the implications of that are staggering.

The fight against terrorism and ISIS aside, I think that the current feeling of disaffection in the US comes primarily from an increasingly irresponsible news media. Don't mean to beat that drum, because I've said this here before, and I'll add that as somebody who worked for 25 years as a newspaper reporter, it makes me terribly sad to say it.

But consider this: Every year some 600,000 people are released from prison. If they're released in roughly the same racial proportions as they are convicted, about a quarter million of those people will be black. There are around 800,000 armed police officers in the US. Of those 800,000, my personal belief is that more than a quarter of them are simply unqualified for street work (for a lot of different reasons, including lack of intelligence, authoritarian impulses, personal bigotry, poor training, alcohol and drug problems, burnout, and so on.) So let's say just as a rule of thumb, that 200,000 armed cops shouldn't be out there at all. So you have 250,000 or so black people, mostly men, released from prison **each year** encountering as many as 200,000 cops who shouldn't be out there at all. The result is going to be the death of a certain number of innocent blacks in totally unjustified shootings each year. It's inevitable, just as traffic deaths are inevitable. You can push the total down, as we have with traffic deaths, but we'll never eliminate them.

What's happened, though, is that **single** innocent black deaths have become a cause for mass action, with a very strong suggestion that these killings are somehow the result of policy decisions that can be corrected. But they can't be. Even if we required cops to have much more training, and pass much more stringent tests, there are so many contacts between cops and black men that there are going to be killings, just as there are between cops and innocent whites.

As far as I know, this simple statistical truth has never been mentioned in any newspaper or on any television news shows. We behave as if something awful has happened here, that we've developed some jim-crow type societal malaise, when in fact, what has happening is as inevitable as traffic accidents.

That failure to look at the root cause of these shootings, and instead to focus on the drama of the incidents and the black response to them, as a form of entertainment, encourages crazy people to imagine that they are somehow defending the race by killing innocent cops -- five in Dallas last week, three in Baton Rouge today. I will be astonished if the same phony news dramas don't inspire some white nut in the next few days to mow down a bunch of innocent blacks.

And I put this on the TV news media. Their irresponsibility is largely to blame for all of this.

[I should pass along these stats that Dennis sent as well: there are some 44 million interactions between the public and law enforcement every year. Less than 4% are violent. There were 990 citizens (40% of them black) and 42 police killed in the course of those interactions in 2015. Meanwhile, in the same year, the number of people who die from medical mistakes annually was recently estimated by a Johns Hopkins study to be 250,000. --Mike]

I've also pondered why there aren't more road accidents. I think that, as in your example above, it's when one road user isn't being vigilant enough and something unexpected happens; it takes too long to react. The trouble is that keeping in a high vigilance state for a long time when nothing unexpected happens is not easy.

Being in a high vigilance state for a long time when there is reason to be is hard work. I once rode to a motorcycle event and received an award for the longest distance travelled there. I had recorded 179 miles. On crowded English roads with frequent junctions, with daydreaming or hostile drivers often encountered, it took hours and I was exhausted by the time I got there. Pretty standard for England.

Visiting a bike club in New South Wales, I mentioned the long distance award and they all laughed. That weekend, I did nearly the same distance with that club but the roads weren't crowded, the junctions less frequent, and daydreaming or aggressive drivers were a rarity. I was a bit tired, but not exhausted at the end.

As in photography, there is always more than one way to look at things.

The fact you expressed your views on traffic accidents after mentioning your police officer friend brought to my mind something that made me sit and take notice a couple of years ago.
As all countries, mine is afflicted by traffic casualties. I haven't crushed the numbers, but although the number of accidents has been increasing, deaths are actually declining. (Which can only mean that there is more traffic, hence more probability of accidents, but cars are getting safer.)
Of course, accidents will take place more often in certain times of the year. Christmas and New Year, Easter, summer holidays and three-day weekends are the worst times for road accidents. Our law enforcement corporations, the police and the National Guard, always put on some special operations during those times, with little to no effect on accident figures. All they really want is to fine as many drivers as possible, and they don't really care about the causes of accidents, let alone preventing them; they just go on TV blaming "excessive speed" for all crashes, which never fails to make me think to myself: "yeah, right".
Except one day, when the TV broadcast an interview with a particularly articulate National Guard officer. He had this theory that many accidents occur because people who buy powerful cars aren't aware that the latter are mostly rear wheel drive, which makes them handle differently from the average front wheel drive car under slippery conditions. His message was obvious: people who drive Mercedes and BMW cars can't control them; they don't have the technical awareness and the skills required to respond to the car's reactions on slippery roads.
Being something of a car guy, I found it quite refreshing. It is true, even if there isn't one single cause for road accidents. I wish things like controlling understeer were taught in driving school.

I'm sorry you are feeling so depressed but you really do need to look back a bit and see that there has never been a time when the world has been calm, organised and reasonable in its entirety. Human beings are not always the rational creatures we pretend they are. I look at all this potentially destabilising events and see them as a failure of management but in the end we do collectively manage, often in an ad hoc, unsyestematic way. As a Brit who voted remain I can see that the choice was not as clear as we would like to make out. The EU is deeply flawed and is fundamentally undemocratic in its policy making with a clear disconnect with the people it governs but I still wanted to be connected to my neighbours. Strangely, the UK's exit might get the EU to wake up and become a more answerable institution and the UK might be able to manage its affairs in a fair and sensible way. At least it makes our leaders think about the situation rather than assuming they have a mandate to go on their own merry way.
I hope that whatever happens in the US will make people challenge the lazy assumptions that have been part and parcel of government. And I hope that the democratic decency of your country will still prevail.

Most people have very little training as drivers. They do all sorts of idiotic things to distract themselves, like apply makeup, eat, talk on phones, text, on and on. I'm astonished that in America, the government allows the utter stupidity of "infotainment" screens in cars. How is that? Drivers weren't distracted enough already? We drive tipsy, we drive soused, we drive high on weed, and sometimes people are just dopes, as when you see someone proceeding down the road with their car entirely covered by snow save for a small clear patch in front of the driver. I have seen some truly bonehead moves in cars over the years...but then, you have too.

So sometimes it strikes me as absolutely miraculous that more people aren't killed in cars.

Not too long ago the California DMV issued rules for autonomous vehicles which require they include full manual controls, a licensed operator on board and that the operator be able to take over at any time. I wrote that department's director to complain how bad those rules were.

Even, I contended, with today's level of autonomous vehicle technology, there would be far fewer collisions, injuries and fatalities if all vehicles were fully autonomous and manual controls banned.

Forget the Second Amendment scare tactics. I'm looking forward to a day when "the government comes for your human-controlled cars." :-)

I think John Camp's comments are spot-on. While maybe not a primary cause of what we're seeing today, the news media's rush to be first with the news often means they're giving us wrong information that sticks like Velcro in the minds of the news consumer. Today, perception is reality. When those perceptions are based on irresponsible reporting by the news media, people use poor judgement. I'm also a former member of the news media. I worked for a daily newspaper for over 15 years and, yes, it is sad as John stated.

Reading about the mention of careless drivers, I'll share what happened - Back in June 2008, I was hit by a car while crossing the street. I was in 2 hospitals before being sent to rehab in September, then went to another rehabilitation facility in January 2009.

When I was in the 1st rehabilitation center, I was initially unaware of what happened until I was told how bad everything was - the car(Manuel, I'll back what you said - he was driving a BMW) was going so fast that when it hit me, I went up the equivalent of 6 flights before landing on my head*. The driver had his "UH OH" moment, then tried driving away. Luckily, a couple spotted what happened and chased him down until he got caught by the police.

I was doing some intense physical therapy - I was wheelchair bound for a few months. Seeing my sister carry the wheelchair up several subway stairs was what drove me to work even harder to get walking without physical aide - which I was able to be free of soon after.

You see the negative, the positives far outweigh them - a friend who hosted an event I photographed every month made one of the events a fundraiser, and another friend put the event on DVD for me to see. Seeing all that love shoved whatever anger I had about the hit go away. I got back to photographing that series.

In 2009, I joined a physical therapy group that jogged along the FDR. That group also encouraged me to do a marathon, which I did**.

A former smoker, I quit after I was told the 1st hospital cleaned out my lungs due to breathing problems***.

After seeing the history that came about from that hit, I'm just a little more glad for every little thing I can do. I'm a work in progress, but still making some progress.

*At least that was what happened when I was told by the woman who chased him down. When I saw her at the criminal case, I hugged&thanked her.
**In hindsight, I blame the Traumatic Brain Injury for that. A few therapists told me I'd be sore once I saw them at the finish line, and I brushed that off. Once I sat down on the subway, I felt a little bit of the soreness that they mentioned. Once I tried getting up from the chair, my legs flipped me the middle toe and went on strike. I've done overtime physical labor at the UPS&that doesn't compare to post-marathon leg soreness.
***Ice cream helped ease that phase, That mated with Ensure Plus got me to gain so much weight that I worked even harder in physical therapy in my attempts to shed some of that weight.
PS - the article on the hit : http://www.vosizneias.com/17178/2008/06/19/brooklyn-ny-hit-n-run-driver-nabbed-with-the-help-of-witness/

[Derek, Wow--I had no idea this post would draw out such a harrowing and dramatic personal story. Thank you for sharing that and continued best wishes. --Mike]

Mike, I'll one up that - back in 2012, I was told by a psychotherapist that the rehabilitation center I was getting therapy from was branching off into other locations, and the director of the physical therapy program would like to document the therapists at work before the branching off - and he recommended me to her to photograph the therapists there before they branched off. I met with her & got to photograph the therapists at work (A lot who already knew me from the previously mentioned physical therapy group). My favorite photography related gig.

I don't understand John's comment or why it was featured. I agree with him that there's an increasingly irresponsible news media. But that has been going on for many years now. Since at least the 2000 presidential election and maybe earlier, the press became uninterested in critical analysis. Much of this seemed to have been driven by endless complaints about the "liberal news media," causing the majority to go soft on George W., while the Fox news group conveyed endless misinformation, so that its viewers were much more likely to say that Obama is a muslim, or was born somewhere else, or that Iraq really did have WMD, etc.

But John's main argument seems to be that a disproportionate number of released prisoners are African American and guesses that there are a disproportionate number of police officers (25% according to John's guess) who shouldn't be on the street. So, says John, he's shocked that single "innocent deaths" of African American men should cause mass demonstration, and it's the media that is at blame because they don't compare this to the inevitability of traffic deaths each year.

Really? Murders of African American men by agents of the government that either go un-prosecuted or, if prosecuted, are undertaken by the same DAs who have to rely on the same police to work cooperatively to get legitimate convictions, resulting in weak cases against the police that typically do not result in guilty verdicts, and that's the same as mass traffic deaths???

Sorry, John, you often offer insightful comments, but this one's off the tracks. As human beings we and the media are rightfully outraged when one segment of our society is arrested disproportionately for the same offenses committed in roughly the same proportion by the rest of society, receives harsher sentences for petty offenses, is treated worse on release from prison and then dies in inexplicable interactions with police officers.

Of course, in a civilized society that is going to result in outrage and while the media has much to criticize, this isn't one of its foibles. Thank goodness the spotlight is turned on these outrageous acts that have been going on for more than a century, but which people chose to ignore until phone videos demonstrated the horror of it.

John Camp said that the killing by police of a disproportionately large number of black people is "inevitable, just as traffic deaths are inevitable."

But surely this is a very parochial point of view. To people from other, often equally multicultural societies, the problem looks far from inevitable. Look, for example, at how peacefully a group of Swedish cops on vacation broke up a subway fight in Manhattan in April 2015. Or look at the UK police, which, while far from perfect, has significantly improved its relationship with racial minorities since the 1970s and 1980s. The US could have the same cultural change. It would require confronting some uncomfortable truths, and it would take time, but the problem is not inevitable.

I agree with everything you write, except this:

"Global warming hasn't gotten very far yet, and we can always hold out hope for technological solutions."

That's the trouble. We are very good at imagining technological solutions. About 20 years ago (yes, we knew about global warming that long ago) I seriously suggested putting shields in orbit to block a few % of sunlight. That was a terrible idea - the same money invested in alternative energy would have produced much better results - but it keeps surfacing. The only technological solution we need is a very simple one. Stop burning coal and oil. If that means windmills and solar farms in your favorite places, and more nuclear power stations, so be it.

You forgot this week's fad, Pokemon Go:
http://www.oregonlive.com/trending/2016/07/oregon_man_crashes_into_tree_playing_pokemon_go.html (this guy gives fresh new meaning to the word "jarhead").

I swear to God, I will not be stopping these people from waltzing in front of a bus.

We certainly lack perspective. It's the new world of infotainment news and unabridged propaganda.

If we collectively start thinking more independently and less as our corporate masters tell us to, we will be able to see a lot more beauty that this world still holds and put in perspective the negative events as abberations, which is what they really are in our part of the world.

Ideas worth sharing. But where are the photos?

Just a small comment from someone who followed from afar the Scotland vote (Scexit) a couple of years ago and the recent Brexit vote too. The Scotland Leave folk's arguments sound almost exactly the same as the UK Leave folk's arguments and the Scotland Remain folk's arguments sound almost exactly the same as the UK Remain folk's arguments. It sure seemed like Alex Salmond = Boris Johnson and David Cameron = David Cameron (he was a Remainer in both cases, right?). No doubt when you get into the weeds there are some differences, but the major arguments and complaints from Remainers and Leavers in both referendums sounded amazingly similar. :-)

Its nonsense to claim Mercedes and BMW cars are more accident prone because they are rear wheel drive. The different handling characteristics of front versus rear wheel drive can be summed up as 'Oversteer' and'Understeer' which is just a question of which end goes through the hedge first. Understeer (most front wheel drive cars) will go through the hedge nose first whereas the opposite pertains to rear wheel drive.
Personally I prefer rear wheel drive as I find the cars more easily controlled.

"If it bleeds it leads' as the saying goes in the news business." I have to comment on this. I have been a newspaper photographer for 30 years. I have never heard this saying, or any variation of it, within the realm of the decision-making process for content of our newspaper. On another note, I do have familiarity and great respect for Mr. Camp, (in fact, I also graduated from his alma mater and my only internship was at the newspaper in the city in which he grew up). His important research and information would make a great book. End of comment.

Thanks for this, Mike.

When bombarded with bad news I like to remember Carl Sagan's comments about a picture that shows Earth taken from Voyager 1:

> We succeeded in taking that picture, and, if you look at it, you see a dot. That's here. That's home. That's us. On it, everyone you ever heard of, every human being who ever lived, lived out their lives. The aggregate of all our joys and sufferings, thousands of confident religions, ideologies and economic doctrines, every hunter and forager, every hero and coward, every creator and destroyer of civilizations, every king and peasant, every young couple in love, every hopeful child, every mother and father, every inventor and explorer, every teacher of morals, every corrupt politician, every superstar, every supreme leader, every saint and sinner in the history of our species, lived there – on a mote of dust, suspended in a sunbeam.

https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Pale_Blue_Dot#Reflections_by_Sagan

I got my driver's licence in November 1965. I've been driving for nearly 51 years. I've driven all over Australia, crossing the continent twice; the length of Britain twice; in Europe from Calais to Austria and back; in the USA from the Grand Canyon to Seattle via SF; (both of these latter on the wrong :-] side of the road); and in Malaysia.

I've never had an accident. Never had a crash. I'm nearly 70.

I got two demerit points for reversing into a parked car on a dark night, and for mistakenly doing 49km/h in a 40km/h school zone. Apart from that, two parking tickets.

Why do people have crashes? Why do people get traffic violations? Luck? I must be very lucky. Or ...

John Camp (LOL now you have revealed his identity, Mike! :)) is quite right about the numbers but the killing still shouldn't happen. Something which police departments need to take hold of is that when they shoot someone they are introducing a death sentence for that person for … what? I disagree with the death sentence prima facie, but if you are going to have it, confine it to the most serious of circumstances. Not doing exactly what an officer demands, often unlawfully, is NOT the most serious of circumstances.

The other point I take issue with in comments so far is Pinker's assertions about violence in tribal and other ancient societies. Pinker is GREAT on language -- I love his linguistic work -- but his anthropology is not so good. He listened too much to missionaries' stories. Missionaries, of course, always need to justify imposing their own bizarre POV and practices on "native savages".

Mike, nope -- technology isn't going to save the day. We are repeating, on a global scale, exactly what humans have done time and time again on a regional and latterly a national scale. Read "A Short History of Progress" by Ronald Wright, a Canadian. A slim book, very easy reading, with a huge list of references/citations for you to look up if you want to argue the point! :)

And finally, Mike, no we are not all doing so well. There are huge rifts in the fabric hidden from you in the first world. The rich nations (through their various arms; multinational corporations (with close links to government) in the case of the USA, allegedly private corporations closely tied to government and the Community party in the case of China, for example) are buying up land and water at an incredible pace in the poorer countries as they see their own land and water resources dwindling. Then they turn the land and water to producing what THEY want while the local people get ready to slowly starve. At sea, the fish population is estimated at about 30% what it was at 1900. Fishery after fishery has been wiped out, gone, totally kaput.

It is all happening because we have exceeded the carrying capacity of the earth and we are now running down resources to exhaustion.

We need to stop.

And if that's depressing, I'm sorry, but I live and work at the sharp end of it here in the New Guinea islands nd I have two daughters in Australia who can recognize the dystopia my generation (and that includes you, even if you are still not officially "old") has bequeathed them.

Cheers, Geoff

It seems that human beings are fated to experience ennui. It our default setting when we are not panicking due to an immediate crisis, or euphoric following some good fortune.

We compare our situation not to a realistic average of humanity, but to those who are better off than us. We focus on those things that annoy us and seldom on those things that work and make our lives better because they are not significant pain points. They simply work, usually because a lot of people make a huge effort to make them work, but we take them for granted.

This is just human nature and is generally harmless. In fact, many would claim that dissatisfaction with the status quo is a force for progress and innovation.

However, the modern media seems to exist to foster that ennui. It understands people's biases and uses them to identify a receptive target audience. It selects a number of convenient scapegoats who are easy to identify but seldom responsible.

People therefore begin to feel their ennui is justified. Ennui turns to resentment and then genuine anger against some vague target group who cannot usually defend themselves because they have no voice. They have no voice because they are not, in effect, a 'group'. They are a random collection of individuals who have some accidental common identifier, such as skin colour, religion, income class or racial background.

In short, we allow ourselves to be divided by cynical people who exploit our own prejudice.

It only takes a small political crisis, anything that creates fear and uncertainty, and this resentment and prejudice becomes a ticking bomb.

At best, we end up making some reckless voting decision, which makes things worse. We learn the consequences and back off at the next opportunity.

At worst, we take direct action, or the consequences of that democratic decision are irreversible.

In short, all societies contain within themselves the seeds of their own downfall, and those seeds are most likely to flourish in times of prolonged stability and relative peace, because that is when societies lose any sense of common cause.

The last few years I have been trying to set down in words my "handful" theory of history and social activity. Simply put the world is a lot saner than we think on a daily basis. What we have, and will always have, is a handful of people (and corporations) that will act selfishly, maliciously, stupidly, and criminally because they don't think about society's welfare (maybe too Socialist a thought) or don't think at all. I believe that our government increasingly has to enact laws and issue regulations that really only affect this handful in the hopes of controlling their negative actions. What we can do about this handful is what I am working on.

I agree with the comments about journalism. My father was a journalist, and he would be appalled by the state it is in. I also love statistics. They are very interesting for discussion, but I don't think they matter very much to the "average" person in Syria, Iraq, etc. who are starving, being killed or bombed everyday. Or, as a friend of mine who has black and white children pointed out, she only has to give her black son instructions on what to do during an interaction with police. Killings aside--the bigger problem is unequal harassment by law enforcement and others toward innocent blacks, Muslims, and other people of color. Statistics are not going to make a mother feel better about her dead child.

I'm going to disagree with John Camp on a couple points. The protests against killings of individuals by the police are extremely important. Black Lives Matter is one of the most significant new movements in this country in many, many years. That's why it makes so many people angry, just like the civil rights movement did in the fifties and sixties. And increased training of the proper sort can of course make a huge difference in how cops react to Black people on the street. You can have a panicky fear response, or a level headed approach that treats every one as a human being and keeps your adrenaline levels normal. The level headed approach has to be trained into them, because the tendency towards fear is there from the get-go. It's another form of desensitization training, and very valuable.

Reinforcing Rod Young's comment, here's a different take on Brexit from some economists:
"The only way to save the EU is for the UK to leave it" and “The vote repudiates a vision of Europe that rewards companies at workers’ expense. It’s a rebuke of a government that invests authority in a professional elite insulated from the economic realities of ordinary Europeans.”
http://qz.com/721089/the-case-for-brexit/

As for cars, Peter Diamandis has insights into the future in his blog. Here's an example: http://www.diamandis.com/blog/upside-of-teslas-autopilot
Also note that driving a car is no longer the rite-of-passage for teenagers as it used to be. We're forced to it because the alternatives are generally so weak (some people say on purpose, but that's a story for another time). Last night I had to go somewhere that Google said would take about half an hour by car and one and a half hours by mass transit. Guess how I got there, even though that half hour was a waste of time since I couldn't read TOP on my phone while in transit? And this in a area relatively rich in mass transit (for the US).

If I'm reading correctly, your post is meant to be a "cheer up, things could be worse..." type of sentiment. I'm hoping though that you don't mean that "things are fine, so let's all sit on our hands..."

John Camp's post acknowledges that there are 25% of police that are unsuited for the job. But then his ultimate message seems to be that we can't change that number.

I disagree. I think we can do a lot better than 25% and it starts with re-training our police force. Lack of intelligence, personal bigotry, poor training? All these things can be addressed. Let's fix problems instead of writing off human lives as collateral damage.

[I think the problem is not so much statistical deaths but perception. The problem is that many black people are scared and/or skeptical of the police and for good reason, and that is not acceptable. Really, ONE Michael Slager is absolutely unacceptable. Absolutely. I know my police chief friend agrees wholeheartedly.

One thing I keep in mind is a video I saw many years ago. A policeman is trying to pull over a car, and the car refuses to stop. He follows her for mile after mile, and in the process slowly becomes more and more angry. By the time she does pull over, he is enraged, and he drags her out of the car and beats her.

Later, she said she had heard stories and was too afraid to pull over. And the cop's behavior made it very clear that she was RIGHT to be afraid to pull over. That policeman was fired, if memory serves, and he was very sorry for what he'd done--he said he lost his temper and his behavior in that instance was very uncharacteristic of him.

The point is that as long as ANY black person is scared that the police are not on their side and might mistreat them, we have (I mean the country has) a problem. Accidental deaths will happen; but the policing has to be good enough that the average law-abiding citizen feels safe with the police, especially if they are minority.

Just my opinion; I'm not an expert on any of these issues. --Mike]

I want to make it clear if I didn't in my original post, that I believe it's absolutely true that there will be some totally unjustified shootings by policemen every year. I simply think this is a matter of the number of contacts between cops who may be incompetent at some level, and people who are (at some level) doing something that creates the contact. If you have a large enough number of contacts, there will be a certain number of tragedies.

But those tragedies are not indicative of societal malaise, but simply of numbers; my problem with the media is that they go for the "societal malaise" answer, but that's simply incorrect. In any individual case, there may be something terribly wrong: but there is no public policy that creates the situation, that can be fixed by angry mass movements.

I have no problem with most angry mass movements, but those directed at cops by groups like Black Lives Matter have had a number of problematical effects. The greatest effect is that cops in places like Chicago withdraw from necessary street contacts because they fear that they will become victims of politically motivated punishment. This is not a secret, and any number of well-regarded police chiefs, like the chief in Dallas, have said so. As a result, gangs become emboldened, guns swarm the streets, and you have the results we see on Chicago summer weekends -- an occasional shooting by a cop, but dozens of shootings of black people by gang members who no longer have to worry about aggressive enforcement.

The bottom line is that as cops withdraw from the streets, chaos reigns and many more black people are killed than would be under the stricter enforcement regime. If black lives matter, and of course they do, we need more enforcement, not less. Making the cops into the enemy has had exactly the opposite effect.

Isn't it obvious that smartphones are enlarging the recent conflicts between police and the suspects they confront? Previously, all we had was the police officer's word against the suspect's -- and if the suspect was dead or held incommunicado in jail, we didn't even have that much. Now we've got video. It may not always tell the whole story, but it has the ring of truth. These violent confrontations have been going on forever, but now all of us can be "witnesses," of a sort. And sometimes the videos don't show the police (or the suspects) in the best light.

John Camp's story reminded me of when I solved my registrar's (senior doctor's) overexposure problems. He was taking photos of mine and other's injuries for later perusal; we were in the plastic surgery ward and my foot had taken a beating from a motorcycle accident.

It was a simple matter of getting him to zoom in a bit, and hold the camera further from the subject, so it was further away than the minimum flash exposure distance of his camera.

He was one of the surgeons putting my foot back together, so it was the least I could do.

"Global warming hasn't gotten very far yet,..."

One of your least smart comments in a long time. 2015 was the warmest year in recorded history and 2014 was the second warmest. Don't buy the ignorant climate change deniers B.S.

[I don't at all, but the sad fact is that global warming hasn't gotten very far, which is what I said. It's going to get much worse in the future. --Mike]

I guess I think these socio-political discussions are too far off-topic for a blog I read for its discussions on photography, but I feel motivated to comment off-topic but end with a reference to the power of photography.

My family had a long history with slavery in the South. One relative owed her wealth and status to it then married the biggest slave trader in the country, becoming the biggest slave owner in the US during the Civil War (or The war between the states" as it was called in the South. As I have researched the family history, I have learned much about the treatment of African-Americans during and post slavery. As bad as it was being a slave, the treatment after being freed was worse. My relative owned the Angola Plantation that became the LOuisiana State Penetentiay, where blacks were sent as prisoners on minor or trumped-up charges (there is some pun there, I imagine) to do the same jobs working in e fields that they would have been doing as slaves. Growing up in the South on a farm, our road was maintained by chain gangs - mostly black- in chains, just like the groups of slaves my ancestor marched in chains from his office in Alexandria, VA to Natchez and New Orleans. Growing up, the KKK was active and lynching was still a regular occurrance. I lived through the treatment of blacks by cops during the Civil Rights movement. Now I watch the suppression of voter rights trying to disenfranchise them.
My point, the treatment of the race by "law enforcement" in the South and elsewhere is a deplorable time in our history. A time that is still now.
As for photography, search for "A Sundress In An Age Of Riot Gear" in today's NYTimes to see what's still happening. http://www.nytimes.com/2016/07/18/opinion/a-sundress-in-an-age-of-riot-gear.html?_r=0

About the English soccer fan hooligism, in April 2016 the part 2 inquest into the Hillsborough disaster reported in: https://en.m.wikipedia.org/wiki/Hillsborough_disaster

"Aggrieved relatives launched a campaign for truth and justice, initially rebuffed, but eventually succeeding in gaining a new inquest verdict in 2016, exonerating fans of any blame and recording a verdict of unlawful killing."


"Britain puts a very complicated policy issue to a public vote but then doesn't hold a vote at all for its new leader,"

This isn't that unusual. We don't have elections for leaders. The political party with the most seats chooses the Prime minister.

When the Tories ousted Thatcher, they made John Major leader of their party and, by extension, PM. A similar situation occurred with the Labour party when Gordon Brown took over.

Incidentally, I wasn't pleased with the EU referendum result but at least we had a big turnout. 72% of the electorate voted.

The 250.000 number is doubtful.
http://skepticalscalpel.blogspot.nl/2016/05/are-there-really-250000-preventable.html
The study extrapolated from a 'meta' study of 3 earlier papers with the grand total of.... 35 preventable deaths. Hardly scientific.
https://www.americanhealthline.com/analysis-and-insight/features/2016/may/experts-question-study

Bruce Schneier, a noted computer security and cryptography expert, once wrote newspapers sell better with the headline "Three Shot Dead in Random Act of Violence" than "Two Hundred and Seventy Million Americans Have Uneventful Day"

This was before the recent trend of protests, terrorist attacks, and general mayhem but by and large, the message still holds true.

NPR just interviewed a guy trying to document the number of deaths at the hands of police - justifiable or not - see http://www.fatalencounters.org - he's 2/3 through and has over 14,000 since January 1, 2000. When finished, he's expecting ~22,000. And he will have a database for others to review and research.
In case you wondered, he's an old bald white guy -
name is D. Brian Burghart. I’m the former editor/publisher of the Reno News & Review, a master’s student and often, although not at this moment, a journalism instructor at the University of Nevada, Reno.

Folks hold out that the event of totally autonomous vehicles will wipe out that 32,000 deaths per year, but we don't have to wait for that eventuality to make large inroads into that total. For instance, just the simple driver assistance of automatic emergency braking will reduce injury-causing rear end collisions by a whopping 42%.

Your Readers might appreciate Steve Ingraham, 'the point and shoot' naturalist. His web site, http://psnp.lightshedder.com, is filled with examples of great nature pictures taken with point and shoot cameras, along with great advice on how best to use them.

I refuse to be afraid or depressed. Yesterday at the doctor's office the nurse remarked about the attacks in various places in Europe, including Nice, and wondered if maybe I wouldn't want to reconsider again visiting Paris. My response was "I don't care. If I get blown up I'll die enjoying life."

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