Wednesday, August 13, 2014

Peking Union Medical College Hospital - International Medical Services

Just thought I should post a little something about my experiences at this hospital. 

For those living in Beijing or China at large who are looking for good medical care, I have had mixed results thus far.

First off - no one really speaks English at this hospital.  I was able to communicate with the doctors in Chinese though.  Glad all those years of studying paid off, or did they?

The first time I went in for a check up, I had a very professional patient doctor (very rare in China).  He was an endocrinologist who was obviously aware of the of recent research on Hashimoto's disease.  He also took a look at my liver function which has been problematic over the past few months.

He asked me to take some medicine, diet and exercise, and come back in a month to see him. 

When I came back however, he was gone and his replacement refused to give me any blood tests.  She insisted I go see a "digestion internal medicine doctor." She also recommended that I see a urologist and a nerve specialist. I traveled a long way to get to this hospital and now it looks like I will have to wait a week to see a doctor. 

You can make reservations by phone - though the line is always busy and they hang up on you for no reason. 

The problem is that you can't get immediate (or same-day) medical care at this hospital unless you are having an emergency.

Chinese hospitals run on a "take a number" system.  This means you have to phone in advance (at this hospital) to get a number.  Then you go in with your hospital card (which you get on your first visit).  The computer system will then allow you to pick up your number and pay the fee for seeing the doctor (currently, 200 RMB - about $30 US). 

However, this "international" department isn't international any more.  Anyone can go to this hospital and there are hundreds of thousands of people all over China desperate for decent medical care - which is basically non-existent in China.  Currently there is a one week delay if you want to see a doctor - So if you are far away and want to make an appointment - call in advance!  Otherwise you will have to hang around Beijing for a long time waiting to see a doctor.  (I suppose this may be similar to the situation in Western hospitals.  However, in China, you can usually see a doctor the same day if you go into one of the many hospitals in every city.  Service is unfortunately very substandard.

I suspect that in the future this problem will become more severe.  The "international medical services" department recently moved and it appears to be much more crowded now.  I wouldn't be surprised if in the future there are waiting times of a month or more. 

Currently, the only thing slowing down registration for this hospital's services is that the prices are a bit higher the neighboring hospital which is jammed like a massive Chinese train station!!!

So the bottom line is that this "international" hospital is, in fact, not international in any way, aside from it's name and higher prices. 

I suppose, if you are working at an embassy and you have an emergency, they may give you special treatment and allow you to get a number more quickly... Everyone else seems to be out of luck. 

Tuesday, July 31, 2012

Chords for Another New World - Josh Ritter

Having searched the web to find this chord progression (and failed).  I am posting this as a public service - I have finally figured out the last chord (or more accurately, the second chord which eluded me for a few days)

I am playing this on a Mandolin and I find it comfortable to play this in A minor.  Here it is:

A min / B dim / E7 / A min / A maj / D min / G7 / C maj / E7

I transposed it down from E minor and the E minor progression is as follows
E min/ F dim / B7 / E min / E maj / A min / D7 / G maj / B7

An Amazing cover by Thile and be found here:

Let me know if you find any mistakes or can suggest any improvements.

Saturday, June 25, 2011

Riddle me this, all you science geeks out there

I was thinking about "space time" today for short story that I am considering writing and the following question popped into my head. I am assuming that the following points are true:

1) All motion is relative - and therefore the lack of motion is also a relative concept. (In a universe with only one object motion becomes meaningless.)  If two bodies are considered (only in relation to one another) it makes little sense to say that one is moving and the other is at rest.  It is all a question of one's point of reference.
2) The more rapidly one body moves in relation to another the greater the temporal displacement between the two (this may not be the correct terminology).  For example - If the space shuttle left earth and accelerated to near-light-speed for one week and then returned to the earth, the astronauts on the shuttle would experience the passage of one week's time while those on earth would experience a longer period of time.

Can you see where this is going?

The Question: When considering two bodies in motion, relative to each other, how can we know which object is moving more rapidly? (And thus) How can we know which object will experience the shorter duration of time?

For example: If I am on the space shuttle traveling away from the earth at near-light-speed, I could say, in the strictest relative sense that the earth is moving away from me.  Why should I then experience the relatively short period of time?

Any ideas?

Tuesday, January 25, 2011

How to Get to Changbai Mountain (长白山)

In my recent effort to gather information on getting from Dandong to the Changbai Shan nature reserve on the border of China and North Korea, I was shocked by how scant and uninformative the online information currently is. Such a famous tourist location deserves better coverage!

Below is my attempt to rectify the situation

Take a train headed for Helong in Jilin Province – Get off at Songjianghe or Baihe

There is currently an old train leaving Dandong every afternoon at 3:10. It is very slow but the good news is that you will be sleeping for a most of the trip. In addition, this train does NOT have a dining car. So you will probably want to bring some food with you.

You will arrive in the Changbaishan area of Jilin the following morning around 6 am. If you choose the western entrance to the park which offers the better view (in my expert opinion) of the volcanic lake on top of the mountain you should get off at Songjianghe.

This town still has an off-the-beaten-track feel and is really in bad shape – though there is lots of construction underway. Once you get away from the dirty little town and head into the park the scenery is idyllic.

Changbai Shan is very heavily regulated. It is virtually impossible to get anywhere without tagging along with a tourist group. My tour was prearranged but you should be able to pull something together on arrival near the train station, as long as you have someone who can speak some Chinese (more than “nihao” and “zaijian”). I have heard that it is possible to hike in the park, though when I spoke to tour guides they denied this, perhaps to protect their business.

You can spend a good part of the day riding around on the park buses, seeing the lake, taking a photo standing just over the border in North Korea and viewing some relatively boring “sites.” There are lots of gorges with strange rock formations. I found this somewhat interesting.

There really isn’t as much to see, over all, at the western entrance to the park (as compared with the Northern entrance). If you get bored in the afternoon you might want to ask a tour guide, taxi driver or someone at a local hotel about white water rafting. Although its really much more like drifting than rafting, it’s a lovely way to spend a couple of hours passing through some fabulous country side (if you don’t get enough of that where you come from).

During my trip to Changbai Shan, I didn’t stay over night in Songjianghe, but instead got on the 10:30 train to Baihe, which took a bit over an hour. There may be other trains running to Baihe earlier in the day. You can check the schedule at the station if this time doesn’t suit you. Also, it must be possible to get a taxi or bus, since the road looks far more direct on the map than the train line.

Upon arrival in Baihe, there are many cheap hotels very close the station

When you walk out of the train station you enter a shabby square surrounded by restaurants (including one that specializes in dog). There is a dismal looking hotel on the right side of the square. However, if you walk ahead about 50 meters, you will pass some trees and come to a road. Just across the road on your left and right are two hotels. The one on your left is cheaper – with dorm rooms for 30 or 40 RMB.

Prices are no doubt constantly changing so if you want to reserve in advance contact the hotel at:

Tel. 0433-5758000

Mobile. 13500919023



The women at the front desk of the hotel gave me this contact information under the name of Jihe Vacation (Changbaishan Jihe Tourism Company ltd. – in Chinese). However, the website doesn’t appear to be working at this time.

Of course, there are also hotels inside the park if you want to pay the price (I am guessing at least 700 RMB per night)

Once you are situated you can catch buses and taxis heading into the park right in front of the train station. It’s really that simple.

They will take you to the park entrance and once you have purchased your ticket, you’ll be able to take the buses all around the park and see the various sites. I recommend the water fall, the lake of course, and the underground forest. However, there are a few other sites which you may enjoy

Things to watch out for:

Altitude! It is hard to climb at the top of the mountain, unless you are in great shape.

Insane SUV drivers - the northern path to Tianchi Lake is only accessible via a life threatening (though thrilling SUV ride! China is a strange country!)

Room with a bath - my trip was arranged by a tour guide and they booked a room for me that did not have a bath! After a day of hiking and getting into the hotel at 11 o’clock at night you will want to shower.

Breakfast – it’s Chinese style – get over it and stop whining! If millions of people can eat that strange stuff for breakfast everyday, so can you.

Heading home? Just catch the train at Baihe Station

Really not much to say here – just be sure bring a book for the long ride home.

The best time to visit this incredibly beautiful mountain is late spring or early fall.

Tuesday, January 04, 2011

Okay so You Wanna Beat NFS 14 "One of Five"

Don't listen to those who say you need to knock out the police. The secret is speed, speed, speed. Also don't forget that your two jammers disable the coppers ability to deploy spike strips. So hit the nitrous, hit the turbo (on one of the longer straight-aways), and "jam" those spikes the best you can. You will find it's easy to get silver with this method and you'll get gold after a few tries.

Saturday, December 04, 2010

Down With Chinasmack

I just want to vent a little today. The website is an interesting place to go if you are curious about the bizarre and interesting realm of Chinese internet commentary. I used to visit the site often, just to see what people were saying about various topics.

The city I am living in actually made the page a few times, most notably:

However, recently I have come to realize that the site regularly bans people for no apparent reason.

While I can understand blocking severe profanity or bating posts that are just intended to anger others, these aren't the posts they remove and block. They edit opinion much like the Chinese government does.

Very sad indeed - so today a big BOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOO goes out to - May your success be friendsteresque or should I just say "short lived?"

Saturday, April 17, 2010

My Love

My love's a target missed,
A chance now lost forever
And yet the heart persists
Till distance it may sever.

It's a thing beyond all reason
Irrational, unwise;
An unrequited season
Of senseless weary sighs.

Peter Waldvogel
April 17, 2010

LOL - Wrote this in during a writing class for some advanced students. They were writing poems, so I thought I would join in.

Sunday, November 29, 2009

Stay Clear of China Railway ISP

Today just a brief word of warning for those who may be searching the internet for information on the China Railway internet service provider (Tie tong 铁通) – steer clear! Their speeds are absolutely abysmal. I often get service comparable to that of dial up ISPs in the US.

Any other service (though there are very few available currently) would be better. Sadly, Chinese society being stuck in a cultural time warp/prison means that you can’t get people to do anything without whining at them for a few hours first. Is this the fault of the CCP or just the traditional “5000 year” culture? I may never know – but I have not been able to get my internet serviced switched to a different provider - though I have tried (and - to be fair - given up). Last month when the one year contract expired, my landlord didn’t even bother to ask me – he just renewed the contract and sent me a bill.

Anyhow – beware of China Railway internet, unless you enjoy hours of sitting in front of your computer watching discs spin and hour glasses invert themselves.

Wednesday, August 12, 2009

Struggling to stay online

In recent days its been hard to get throught to my usual list of websites, including this blog. The Chinese government is blocking so many of them. However, with a little help from a friend, I managed to get a proxy program that allows me to do most of what I want, aside from uploading videos to Youtube (something that apparently can't be done with proxies).

Things are going well for me here. I am just about to start preparing for final exams this weekend and after that I am just one review weekend away from a week-long vacation. I am planning to head up to Changbaishan - a mountain with a large crater lake near its summit that is situated right on the Chinese North Korean border and which supplies water to the Tumen and Yalu rivers.

Overall, I have been surprised how much I enjoy teaching. This may be due to the fact that most of the time there is little or no pressure from the manager of the school and during the regular school year I have quite a bit of free time. In general, the kids are great; cute, friendly and smart.

One of the things I have enjoyed about living in this city is the chance it affords me to wonder in the country side. Sometimes this means getting stopped by the army and having my passport checked (they are just doing there job) since I am often right on the border. They also don't let me take pictures of many of the interesting things I see in North Korea. As in the States, there is a very strange fear of cameras here. Of course I could easily view the city of Pyongyang itself, just by opening Goolge Earth and I am sure governments have much better satellite photos of this border than my rinky dink D700 could ever provide. But never the less, as is often the case (here and in the States, though more so here), idiocy prevails!

Last night's view of the Perseid meteor shower was fun. Dandong has relatively clear skies so it was easy to see the occasional shooting star. I managed to capture on shooting star with my camera. Not much to look at but it was so hard to do that I was thrilled that I got something this good.

Here are some relatively new vids that I made a long time ago and just posted to vimeo in the last few weeks.

Best wishes all!

A Springtime Ride Through the Countryside Near the NK Border from Peter Waldvogel on Vimeo.

Beijing Again from Peter Waldvogel on Vimeo.

Monday, April 27, 2009


OK, the election's over...

...but can you believe the insanity!!!???

Is it still this bad in the States? I can't believe the BBC would stoop to this.

After clicking on this link and reading its content, It's hard not to have at least a slight desire to shoot some leftists... it's really very hard. This is like something out of 1960's China or Lenin's Russia.

I think its time that we erect some massive statues of Mr. Obama's rump - and place them strategically outside the glorious pinnacles of western journalism - this way the writers, editors, et al. can kiss his arse all day long - even on their lunch breaks.

I used to be proud of western journalism. It was something that made living in Western Europe and the States desirable. However, If things keep going in this direction, before long the People's Daily will be a more reliable news source than NY Times.

Friday, March 27, 2009

Quality Control, Self Respect, Social Mobility and Other Useless Things

I am often asked what I think of China and I rarely answer this question with any specificity since I suspect most people just want an answer that will make them feel good about themselves and/or their country.

The conversations go something like this:

Me: 你好(Johannah, please translate) Please, take me to...
Taxi Driver: Ooh, your Chinese is great (it clearly isn't great, by the way).

Me: No, no, no - I can only speak simple Chinese.

Taxi Driver: What country are you from?

Me: I am an Alien.

Taxi Driver: Oh, you are very humorous.

Me: You don't believe me? Ok, I am a gypsy (stole this one from a Swiss friend 10 years ago - sadly only a few Chinese seem to get the implications of the term Ji(1)bu(3)sai(4)ren(2) )

Taxi Driver: Oh, you are very humorous.

Me: OK, I am American from NY

Taxi Driver: Oh, America is a great country... (1) it's the most-developed, richest country in the world. It's number 1 (2) it's the most powerful (militarily) country in the world. It's number 1 (3) Oh, I have a cousin in Lula-lula, Washington, do you know him (ok, they don't ask me if I know him - just kidding), it's number 1

Me: It's OK.
Taxi Driver: What do you think of China?

Me: It has it's good points and bad points, like any country...

At times drivers will push me harder to criticize their country, sometimes they will start criticizing it themselves and still others will list for me what they see as the strengths of this particular municipality.

Those who criticize China, are the most interesting. This is a relatively new phenomenon. 10 years ago, Chinese people were far less likely to criticize their local or national government in front of foreigners, now it seems that they feel free to do so - the resulting conversations often surprise me.
One taxi driver told me that in America people can own guns and they don't kill each other (very interesting - since many Chinese still have the idea that America is country of terrifying gang violence and arbitrary murder). "Americans are Christians" he said "and their religion keeps them from killing each other." (I didn't mention the fact that Christianity doesn't stop Americans from aborting a few thousand children a day) The same driver told me that if guns were legal in China, Chinese people would just start killing all their bosses - I believe his implication was the government.

In another conversation, a taxi driver went on to tell me that Chinese people behave like they have no education (or culture). They don't know how to act - a fact that he felt was demonstrated by the way they walk into traffic with no regard for their own safety or that of others.

I have had several of these unsolicited conversations over the past few months with taxi drivers and others. This is one way in which China has noticeably changed. People are not only free to praise their country but they feel more comfortable criticizing it in a way that would have led to their imprisonment and perhaps worse just a few decades ago.

That is not to say that there isn't a great deal of blind nationalism here. There is and if a Chinese citizen causes his country to lose face in a very public way - it is likely that he or she will suffer for it.

Another change that I have found fascinating is the way Chinese people have adopted foriegn foods. In the past, and still in the states, many Chinese people (especially the older generation) are bound by culinary arrogance. In their minds Chinese food is the best there is. Why waste your time trying anything else?

However, in China today things have changed. Foreign food (even if its only KFC, McDonald's and Pizza Hut) is no longer an exotic curiosity, it’s become a normal part of the Chinese diet, not just reserved for the young but accepted by every age group. It fascinates me that KFC isn't really considered a foreign anymore - in much the same way that pasta is not really considered Italian by Americans. How many of us have grown up eating spaghetti and meat sauce and never thought of it as foreign?

Clothing styles have also shift in a more "western" direction - though with Japan and Korea providing much of the cultural influence, It seems unfair to call it "western."

These changes aside, there are three general criticisms of China that I constantly find myself coming back to.

For one thing, almost everything here is produced with very little regard for quality control. The newest buildings are aging rapidly. Brand new street lights are rusting away. Cars that look new sound like they have two broken axels. This can be overwhelming at times.

I live on the 22nd floor of a 23 story apartment building. The view across the Yalu is lovely and the space is decent - but there are some really annoying problems that reflect this lack of attention to quality. For one thing - the windows will never be washed (unless I risk my life hanging out one of them) - but more importantly - several of them are broken and are constantly filled with moisture. These windows are just a few years old. For this reason, the walls under my windows are covered with mold.
Chinese bathrooms are generally designed without bathtubs or shower stalls (probably to keep the costs of construction low). This means every time you bathe your entire bathroom serves as a shower.

In my apartment, the drain which is supposed to allow the water that floods the room to flow out, is always clogged and cannot be unclogged for more than a day or two (as far as I have been able to manage). Add to this the fact that the drain was not placed in the lowest part of the bathroom floor so even if works - it's impossible not to end up with a big puddle in the corner of the room which takes days and days to dry and makes the apartment extremely humid, probably feeding the mold.

So you get the picture - sloppy, lazy construction - with no regard for quality.

Now imagine a society where nearly everything operates this way and you will get some idea of what a large part of China is like. Things are chaotic, dirty, and often dysfunctional.

This brings me to the second point - Self respect.

Chinese, like any other ethnic group, are capable of producing high quality goods. Take a look at the newest Nikon 50mm f/1.4 lens. For those who are interested in photography, this is one of the highest quality, low-cost lenses in the current Nikon line. Its design may be the most basic, but producing this lens with internal AFS, various lens coatings, etc. requires great precision and a very high level quality control. My copy is stunningly sharp and I am convinced it would perform well with some of the highest resolution MF sensors. This lens is now manufactured in China demonstrating the Chinese ability to produce high quality goods under the right conditions.

The number of high and low-tech products produced in China is constantly growing, even in these tough economic times and quality is ever improving. However, the Chinese people see very few of these high quality goods. They are mostly for export.

This leads to a strange situation in which Chinese-made products that are made for foreign markets are very highly respected, while those sold locally are almost always low quality. This can be seen in many different sectors of the economy - with the result that Chinese companies, by and large, only provide high quality goods and services to foreigners and the very rich.

It’s just simple economics. Foreign markets (in the developed world) are not interested in low quality goods, so in order to make money abroad, standards of quality must be improved. However, in other cases, like the drain in my bathroom - there is an apathy regarding quality of production. Chinese often use the term 差不多就好meaning close is good enough. In my opinion, this demonstrates a clear lack of self respect. Chinese people know to produce quality goods for reasonable prices, but the Chinese consumer doesn't demand quality.

There are of course many criticisms that one might raise against any culture but one of the most glaring faults of contemporary Chinese society is the culture of bribery.

This particular form of corruption is absolutely everywhere. It is so prevalent that it is difficult to convince many Chinese people that there is anything at all wrong with receiving or giving bribes. The wide spread nature of the problem means that social or class mobility is severely limited in China as compared with many other nations.

A consideration of how this phenomenon plays itself out in the education clearly illustrates the problem.

First of all, there is the issue of access to schools - from kindergarten through college. Students from wealthy families go to the best schools - and just to be clear, these are public schools that are supposed to accept students based on residence or merit (or so one would expect in the West).

On one level, this is to be expected. Rich parents can afford to provide the best of tutoring and private schooling to their children and the results reflect this. However, a significant percentage (getting figures on this would be next to impossible) of students bribe there way into school.

Even middle or lower class families will spend tens, if not hundreds, of thousands of RMB throughout a child's academic career to insure acceptance into decent schools and passing (or higher) grades in classes where students are struggling. Those who can afford to give the biggest bribes get the most attention from the best teachers who give the best grades, in many cases, regardless of whether they are deserved. Teaching in China can be a very profitable occupation! Teachers also "force" students to go to tutoring sessions in their homes in order to further supplement their incomes.

It has gotten so bad that identity theft (i.e., completing stealing a persons identity and living as that person) has been reported.

From the BBC:

There has been outrage in China over reports that a police official helped his daughter get into university by stealing another student's identity. The official, Wang Zhengrong, stole the name and ID number of his daughter's classmate, state media reports. The classmate had scored much higher grades in China's national college entrance exam. While Mr Wang's child took her university place, the other girl had to spend a year re-taking the exam. The classmate, Luo Caixia, eventually gained a place at another university. Miss Luo only learned what had happened when she tried to open a bank account and was told there were problems with her personal information.

(For the rest of the article see:

It is hard to imagine how China will ever be the great power it longs to be without addressing this extremely self-destructive aspect of it’s culture.

Tuesday, March 24, 2009

Youtube blocked again... and more.

After editing a few videos this morning I have been frustrated by the lack of access to Youtube. It seems that every few weeks the Chinese Government blocks the site - perhaps until some type of "sensaitve" material is taken off the front page.

Overall, the net seems to function quite well in China, aside from the stark lack of information on contraversial topics. The fact that I am able to access blogspot, with its immense diversity of content, is a bit of a surprise to me.

Things are progressing nicely thus far. I have been enjoying teaching English at Aston and also having a great time getting more familiar with this little city of Dandong. It has its glaring faults, as well as its charms.

I had the chance to spend about 2 hours driving around the outskirts of the city a few days ago and found that in east (as I predicted from studying google earth) the countryside is quite pleasant. To the north, on the other hand, it's a depressing combination of utter disregard for sanitation, poverty and pollution. I hope to take further excursions as I have more days off and the weather improves. There are some pretty massive mountains not too far from here as well as an area where the Yalu opens up and looks more like a lake than a river.

Speaking of the Yalu, the picture attached with this post is a shot from my bedroom window across the river into the DPRK. I've heard all kinds of rumors about what goes on over there - from the execution of those who attempt to cross the border - to the fact that the average North Korean doesn't every get to experience being full. I'm not really sure what to believe at this point. I do hope that I will get the chance to take a tour or at least get a little closer on one of the tourist boats that pass quite close to the southern bank.

So much has been happening and there really is much to tell. For today, I will stop here. I send my best regards to all those back in the States. As spring rolls (NPI) on around, I hope you are all happy and healthy and enjoying life.

Thursday, March 05, 2009

Online Once Again

After about 2 weeks off line (strangely it seems like an eternity) I am back on line as of this morning. Here is a quick edit of a shot I made in Beijing about 10 days ago. (I still can't process raw images - but this one is OK as a jpeg.)
I am getting settled in and I am pretty confident that once I get over the chest pains and sore throats and first few weeks of teaching, this should be a great experience.
I will be posting to Flickr soon. Best wishes to all!

Tuesday, February 17, 2009

Safely Arrived in Beijing

I made it. The flight was painful and I really hope I can find some way to avoid it in the future.

I will be staying in a youth hostel for a few days - getting over jet lag and hopefully checking out some of the sites. I have been hoping to see the olympic stadiums and also just get reaquainted with Beijing. I have seen many changes, in terms of the city's infra-structure.

The arrival experience was pretty amazing - I have never been through a more impressive airport. It's huge - but well organized and fast - at least it was for me.

I don't yet a have a computer - so my contact with the outside world will be somewhat limited... more to come.

Saturday, January 03, 2009

Gran Torino

So tenderly your story is
Nothing more than what you see
Or what you've done or will become
Standing strong do you belong
In your skin; just wondering

Gentle now the tender breeze blows
Whispers through my Gran Torino
Whistling another tired song

Engine hums and bitter dreams grow
Heart locked in a Gran Torino
It beats a lonely rhythm all night long

Realign all the stars above my head
Warning signs travel far
I drink instead on my own Oh! How I've known
The battle scars and worn out beds

Gentle now a tender breeze blows
Whispers through my Gran Torino
Whistling another tired song

Engines hum and bitter dreams grow
Heart locked in a Gran Torino
It beats a lonely rhythm all night long

These streets are old they shine
With the things I've known
And breaks through the trees
Their sparkling

Your world is nothing more than all the tiny things you've left behind

So tenderly your story is
Nothing more than what you see
Or what you've done or will become
Standing strong do you belong
In your skin; just wondering

Gentle now a tender breeze blows
Whispers through my Gran Torino
Whistling another tired song
Engines hum and bitter dreams grow
A heart locked in a Gran Torino
It beats a lonely rhythm all night long

May I be so bold and stay
I need someone to hold
That shudders my skin
Their sparkling

Your world is nothing more than all the tiny things you've left behind

So realign all the stars above my head
Warning signs travel far
I drink instead on my own, oh how I’ve known
The battle scars and worn out beds

Gentle now a tender breeze blows
Whispers through my Gran Torino
Whistling another tired song
Engines hum and better dreams grow
Heart locked in a Gran Torino
It beats a lonely rhythm all night long

Friday, October 17, 2008

The Madness Continues at Yahoo

Leading stories:

"Huge Drop in Popularity: Voters souring on McCain, Obama stays steady"

"McCain to Letterman 'I Screwed Up.'"

Gallup Poll:
Obama: 49%
McCain: 47%

Obama: 48%

Yahoo has shown itself an incredibly biased news source during this election cycle.

Obama is leading, but according to the polls quoted above - there has been no significant change over the last few months - and the margin of error for these polls still gives McCain a shot.

I have switched to Google - too bad I still have Yahoo.mail.

Sunday, September 07, 2008

Friday, August 29, 2008

Something Nice

I ran came across some protestors the other night and made this image:

The Intolerable Bias of the Conspiratorial - A Rant for today

How can we accept a "press" with such blatant disregard for intellectual responsibility? Nearly every news source that feigns objectivity is slavishly working to promote the presidential campaign of Barack Obama. Nearly every political story is designed to serve this "master." Information is a weapon and the easier it is to distort and twist into an attack on the Republican Party, the more likely it will be used to that end.

Here is one small example from the headlines - Today Gov. Sarah Palin of Alaska was selected as John McCain's running mate. Here is what Yahoo news had to say:

McCain's VP choice 'risky'

Analysis: Palin's age, inexperience rival Obama's

This is not analysis - it is the imposition of biased opinions on the minds of those who lack the facility to think for themselves!

Information is what we need in this story. Who is she? Where is she from? What experiene does she have? Instead, before we even know how to pronouce her name our minds are influenced by the people at Yahoo.

Meanwhile, the press for all intents and purposes ignores a glaring weekness of the democrat party. With every passing day, we go further and further down the slippery slope toward collectivism.

After watching the Democrat convention for a few nights this week, it is very clear that the ideas of personal responsibility and pride in one's work and accomplishments are things of the past, at least for the bulk of that party.

When did we accept the idea that people don't need to support themselves but instead should expect their needs to be met by the government. This attitude will destroy us, that is, unless we are willing to make those who are successful the slaves of the indolent and irresponsible.

Time and time again we hear the same old song! "Times are hard, people are suffering," "What is the government going to do about it?" Yet it is so rare to hear the simple truth that the government isn't capable of doing anything about it. Economic booms come from the people, not the state.

If a family or individual is struggling financially it is their own responsbility to change things, to work harder, to forge their own life and destiny. Hand-outs can meet needs for a short time - but their recipients will always become dependents - always wanting more from the pockets of those who were more careful, more thoughtful, or more responsible.

These not secrets. These are ideas that have been systematically crushed by a media that is interested in maintaining the plantation.

Monday, June 30, 2008

No time for the Times

Hi all,

No more NY Times. I would like to say that I was so sick of the biased coverage that I had to cancel my subscription. However, the truth is that since I started working three jobs I don't have the time to read the Times and the Economist - and quite frankly - the Economist is a much better publication with broader coverage of issues and locations and a bias toward intelligent pro-capitalist coverage. In short, I am learning a lot more from the Economist than from the Times. Most of it I promptly forget, but I am going for the long-term cumulative effect.

Aside from all this - the Times was getting stolen several times a week and it can be had free online... So why pay for biased news coverage with limited scope and a lack of intellectual and political responsibility?

Thursday, May 08, 2008

Weakness of the Times #3

Today I just want to point out what I see as one of the most embarrassing aspects of NY Times journalism - the politicized photo editing. As a part time events-photographer, and someone who has studied propaganda photography, this is a field with which I have some familiarity.

Before raising the issue I will just point out that there is never an accident. There are always better photos available – probably dozens of them.

Consider the juxtaposition of these two photos on the front page of the Times on 5/7/2008.

I am no Clinton supporter. However, this kind of disrespect of a presidential candidate is a disgrace. How can the times be taken seriously when they choose to express their political bias through humiliating photos?

This photo should have been consigned to the recycle bin for imminent deletion. As a photographer, I would not feel that I was acting in good conscience if I gave an image like this to my editor. It demonstrates a serious lack of respect for the subject and the profession of photojournalism.

This journalistic failure is enhanced by the fact that the Times has an incredible photography staff and its pages are often graced by incredibly compelling images.

I never thought I would see the day when this paper would turn on a Clinton so blatantly.

More to come...

Tuesday, April 22, 2008

Friday, April 18, 2008

Weakness of the Times #1

A NY Time's subscriber’s frustration with the bias and propaganda of New York's most respected "news" source.

I have been contemplating a regular feature on my blog along this line ever since I subscribed to the NY Times a few weeks ago. (I simultaneously subscribed to The Economist and I am sure there will be reasons to discuss that publication as well)

The realization that objectivity is not possible has, in many ways, been a boon to the intellectual world, ridding it of invalid confidences and allowing for constant reassessment of old and new arguments. However, many news organizations continue to maintain a semblance of objectivity, giving them an aura of added credibility. The more ideologically-affiliated publications, like National Review or The Nation are not expected to keep up appearances. They have a clear agenda and those who log on to their websites or still read their printed copy don't expect anything more or less.

The Times needs to be consigned to this latter category of "news-punditry." A significant percentage of its articles are written with a demonstrable political agendas. Unfortunately, in many cases the agenda is at odds with the interests of the United States. I am sure that the editors, writers and many readers don't see it this way, but they are aligning themselves with a political and cultural movement that is destructive to our economic, political and geopolitical interests (not to mention this nation's political discourse) and undermines the intellect and integrity of readers as individuals and citizens.

That said, there are few if any alternative news sources available for those who are interested in expanding their knowledge of international and domestic affairs. For this reason I am continuing my subscription and have decided to use this blog to vent some of my frustrations.

Today I will keep it short.

Consider the following article:

Here, Eric Schmitt informs us (in different terms) that the United States does not have a broad-based strategic plan for enforcing its will on the sovereign state of Pakistan. Instead the various agencies of the federal government are working with an a uncoordinated jumble of approaches.

He writes:

"The Bush administration has failed to develop a governmentwide (spelling error in original ;) ) plan to combat terrorism in Pakistan’s unruly tribal areas, even though top American officials concede that Al Qaeda has regenerated its ability to attack the United States and has established havens in that border region, government auditors said Thursday."

As one reads on, it becomes clear that a politically motivated congressional report that has more to do with Washington than Islamabad, is being interpreted as a fair assessment of the Bush administration's handling of Pakistan.

The blatant lack of respect for Pakistani sovereignty and the failure to acknowledge many of the ways in which it's government has attempted to deal with a very complex situation are all overlooked and the blame for "failings" is place squarely on the back of the administration.

In a very odd turn of logic, the Schmitt implies that employing a variety of strategies to address a single issue is problematic. (...the State Department, the Pentagon, the Agency for International Development and other agencies carrying out individual counterterrorism (again – spelling error maintained from the original) strategies for Pakistan, with little or no formal integration of the plans by the National Security Council and the National Counterterrorism Center. ) The implication here is that the National Security Council and the National Counter Terrorism Center have a mandate to direct the policies of various federal agencies.

Anyone who has been paying attention to Washington for any length of time is aware that this is not how the executive agencies function. There are a variety of political and ideological "cultures" fostered by these organizations, not to mention differing responsibilities and authorities. It is natural to assume that they would pursue the same policy goals through differing means and strategies - and this is in fact a sign that they are working toward the same goals.

Mr. Eric Schmitt needs to enhance his critical understanding and stop acting like an fawning operative in a democratic propaganda machine.

Thursday, April 10, 2008

One Man Quartet

I have always wanted to try this and the other day I realized I could do it on my computer without any additional equipment.

I did this one rather quickly - its much harder than it sounds so please excuse the many mistakes.

Here is the link. Blogger is acting up so the link doesn't actually work for some reason. You will have to cut and paste.

Monday, March 31, 2008

The Strangeness of the Times

(Far be it from me to criticize grammar, syntax or anything relating to proficiency in the use of the English language. I am aware of my own weaknesses in this area. My complaints below are more conceptual than grammatical)

As a recent subscriber to the NY Times, I continue to be amused and disturbed by the nature of the headlines and reports this paper generates. This evening on the NY Times website a prominent headline reads "Iraq Seems Calmer After Cleric Halts Fighting."

Although in recent years opinion polls and perception have come to dominate news headlines, one still yearns for some level of certitude from a publication with the prestige of the Times. Does Iraq "seem" calm or is it in fact calm. Has violence really subsided or has the killing just gone in doors or maybe the Times reporters happened to be in the wrong place at just the right time.

The problem with the use of the verb "seems" in relation to a word like "calm" is that there is a kind of logical contradiction here. Calmness is a matter of relativity and subjectivity - and therefore it must be impossible for something to seem calm without being so. One might get the impression from this article that there has been a lull in hostilities; that tomorrow morning fighting might again escalate. However, calmness would still be an apt description for this moment in time. Why is it necessary to say that the situation "seems" calm?

Consider the following headline - "New Thai Eatery Seems to Serve Mouth-watering Spring Rolls." Does this make logical sense? How about next weeks possible headline? - “Iraqi Streets Seem More Violent After Government Crack Down?”

This has more to do with the political and ideological orientation of the Times than the situation in Iraq. There are many ways that this positive news could have been reported. However, the Times, as usual chose to promote a sense of failure and uncertainty with the very first line of this article.

Monday, November 26, 2007

Post-wedding shoot with the Pakman

Once again I was out shooting with Pak. This time we were finishing up a wedding that we shot together a few months ago. The resuls weren't too thrilling, but we learned a lot.

Here are few of the shots.

Unfortunately, blogspot crushes the resolution and gives the images a blocky pixelized look :(.

Saturday, November 24, 2007

Out shooting with the Pakster

Its been fun spending more time with my buddy Pak So from High School days. Here are two shots from a few months ago. I never got around to posting them. We had the chance to make some really nice images from a very cool vantage point.

Thursday, October 11, 2007

Wednesday, September 19, 2007

From the pro photog at Tim's wedding

Here I am pretending to be a musician. Looks believable no? The sound is another matter.

Sunday, September 09, 2007

V. Mullova

My favorite violinist plays some J.S. Bach. I have never heard a recording by Ms. Mullova that didn't impress.

Saturday, July 14, 2007

Tim and Kia's Wedding

It was a joyous day, a unique wedding experience, and I was happy to be a part of it in some small way.

Thursday, December 28, 2006

To My Many Fans

I have not been posting to this blog for some time becuase blogspot has been giving me a hard time when in comes to posting photos. I have instead been using - a photo gallery service that, although somewhat problematic, is much more user-friendly. My galleries can be viewed at
Thats all for now.


Saturday, December 23, 2006

Into the trenches with the Pakman

Pak Ki So - aka PaxaP
We shot a wedding together the other night. Good times and room for improvement, at least on my part.

Thursday, October 26, 2006

Here I have bumped up the saturation to make the problem obvious.

Monday, October 23, 2006

D80 For Events Photos?

Here is a sample of what my new D80 can do.
The levels look a bit low on my office monitor, but you get the idea. D80, ISO 800, 70-200 mm f/2.8 VR @ 1/80 & f/2.8