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Photo: Sunglasses

Sunglasses — a smiling girl with cool shades

I’ve been talking about branching off into portraiture, and where better to start than at my school? This is a scan of a gelatin-silver 35mm film frame that I developed and printed; the lady is smiling as this is posed, but she looks good nonetheless.

[sniplet 4×6-lustre]

Canon Elan IIe, EF 50mm 1:1.4, Kodak TRI-X 400 35mm film, 2008-02-11, sunglasses-rxt

Download the high-res JPEG.

This work is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution 3.0 License. Credit me as Richard X. Thripp and link here.

You can use the model's likeness for anything not defamatory. You are one of my "licencees."

No Safety in Multiple Memory Cards

For years, I’ve been hearing this wonderful argument: don’t put all your eggs in one basket; it’s better to have several smaller memory cards than one large one, so that if one fails, you’ve only lost a portion of your prized photographs, instead of all of them.

Seems to make sense, no? Distribution and redundancy are the core of safe computing, so we take this argument without question, spending extra to get four 512MB cards, even if the best bang for our collective buck is at 2GB. Yet do we ever stop to think that the entire concept is flawed?

The multi-card proponents convince us that all things equal (reliability and failure rates), four 512MB cards is the safer option.

But hold on a second there. Are the extra cards going for live, RAID-style backups? Are we afforded the advantage that while we sacrifice the space of one card, if any one card fails, no data is lost (RAID 5)? No. We have nothing. Until you get your pictures copied to your computer, there is only one copy in existence, and your work is in danger, either way. Your camera isn’t going to mirror your data for you. Maybe your fancy $3000 Canon EOS-1D Mark II does, but for us mortals, such extravagance cannot be afforded.

Remember that everything is equal, and we’ve just reached the beautiful world of digital permanence by splitting our eggs into four baskets? Billy’s 8th birthday will not be lost, because you had to spread the shots across four cards. If one fails, all is well, because you still have great shots on three other cards, right?

But it is that if that is important. Have you noticed that when you have multiples of something, you’re more likely to have one fail? In a family with three computers, one is constantly on the fritz. With five school-aged children, one is always sick. And with four memory cards, you’re four times as likely to have one short-circuit. The question is, do you want to lose a day of photos every two years, or an evening of photos every six months?

Our friend Murphy says that you will be losing the photos of Billy blowing out the candles, rather than the guests or the clean-up party. You’re going to lose digital photos occasionally, and the multi-card philosophy does nothing to prevent nor reduce this.

Someone is going to protest: “Richard, all memory cards are not the same. Some are more reliable than others; you cannot pretend they are all equal. Plus, you are more likely to have one memory card fail under intensive use, than to have one of four fail under intermittent use.” For them, I want to take this out of the realm of theory, and into the realm of practice.

How often does a door spontaneously fall of its hinges? It doesn’t; it fails when you open it. I have a Canon Rebel XTi, and it relies on a flimsy plastic hinge to stay attached to the camera. When the door is open, the camera magically does not work at all. This is one part I don’t want breaking in the middle of my adventure at the Grand Canyon (no, I’m not going to the Grand Canyon, this is an example). And when is it going to fail? When I open it in the dry, sweltering sun to swap cards, of course!

Memory cards and readers are usually rated for 10,000 insertion/removal cycles. We cannot assume that they’ll last this long; every time you swap, it’s wear and tear on the camera and cards, and with something as important as our photos, we want to avoid as much risk as possible.

Technicalities aside, trading out tiny, expensive, static-sensitive, photo-filled memory cards in the field is just bad practice. No matter how careful I am, I’m ten times more likely to drop my postage-stamp SD card in the grass at the park, or trip and have it fly into the river, than it is to fail on its own accord. Plus, you’ll miss great photos by having to switch memory cards. It doesn’t matter how well you schedule it—you’ll be clicking away, and the Kodak moment will pop up just as your camera flashes “card full.” It happens to me; I don’t even keep half the photos, but there isn’t time to delete on the spot. You can’t be ready for anything if you have no space.

You should have two memory cards, so that when one fails, you can order a cheap one online (with caution, of course), without your camera being completely useless for a week. Beyond two, there are no advantages.

A Postscript on the Scholarship

If you’ve read last week’s article, $1500 Daytona Beach College Scholarship Revoked, you know what recently happened to me. I’ve decided to do nothing about it.

I went to Charlene Solomon’s office and apologized for my rudeness on the phone (“What? You can’t take my scholarship. You already sent the letter. Who do you think you are?”), the opposite of what many of my friends suggested, which was to escalate to the higher nodes of the Daytona Beach College bureaucracy. I will apply again in the fall of 2008, and perhaps I will win an award for keeps. Fighting a battle would not produce changes but instead make enemies and cost time, which is not what I’m in college for.

Photo: Wine Bottles

Wine Bottles — glass bottles on a shelf

Wine bottles on a shelf. Saw these at a grocery store; I turned the bottles around so the labels are facing away.

This is my first film print for my photography class. I didn’t make a test strip, but instead took a guess at exposing (20 seconds, 50mm lens, F8, 3 1/2 filter), and it developed nicely.

I don’t have a film scanner, so I just put the enlargement on my cheap flat-bed scanner, and then restored the contrast and removed some dust in Adobe Photoshop. Enjoy!

[sniplet 4×6-lustre]

Canon Elan IIe, EF 50mm 1:1.4, Kodak TRI-X 400 35mm film, 2008-01-28, wine-bottles-rxt

Download the high-res JPEG.

This work is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution 3.0 License. Credit me as Richard X. Thripp and link here.

$1500 Daytona Beach College Scholarship Revoked

I lost a $1500 scholarship today.

I won a $1500 scholarship from the Daytona Beach College Foundation (of Daytona Beach, FL, USA) in the Fall of 2007. It is split into two semesters. There is a rule: “You can only receive one DBCC [sic, DBC used to be Daytona Beach Community College] Foundation Donor scholarship per semester.” Many of the scholarships are spread out over two or even three semesters. So, in my strategic cunning, I interpreted the rule in the manner that is most beneficial to me: you may only be awarded one scholarship per semester, but you may be profiting from the sacred funds of multiple donors in simultaneity.

I’m not one to ask questions. Ten times the yeses come from decisive action rather than cautious inquiry. I went ahead and entered for the scholarship. Surely if I interpreted that rule erroneously, I would receive no award, right? I finished my application online on 2007-10-25, with a glowing recommendation from Dr. Casey Blanton, my humanities professor in the QUANTA learning community, and author of Travel Writing: The Self and the World. No error messages or notifications of my ineligibility. It must be fine, right?

December 10 rolls around, and I receive this delightful news from the postman:

Dear Richard:

Congratulations! On behalf of Daytona Beach Community College, I am pleased to advise you that you have been awarded a $1,500 scholarship from the Elizabeth Barr Studio Arts Scholarship Fund. Your scholarship will be awarded over two semesters for the spring 2008 ($750) and fall 2008 ($750) semesters at DBCC [sic]. This scholarship is not transferable to any other semesters.

$1500 Elizabeth Barr Studio Arts scholarship letter $1500 Elizabeth Barr Studio Arts scholarship letter, excerpt

Compare this to the first award:

Dear Richard:

Congratulations! On behalf of Daytona Beach Community College, I am pleased to advise you that you have been awarded a $1,500 scholarship from the James Fentress Scholarship Fund. Your scholarship will be awarded over two semesters: fall 2007 ($750) and spring 2008 ($750) semester at DBCC [sic]. This scholarship is not transferable to any other semester.

$1500 James Fentress scholarship letter $1500 James Fentress scholarship letter, excerpt

Yes! I’ve pulled it off. There were plenty of measly $500 scholarships, but I’d won the big enchilada, twice in a row. Or so I thought.

January 14, the first day of classes. I take my letter of sincere thanks in to send off to the donors for the Elizabeth Barr award. I get the financial aid office mixed up with the bursar’s office, but the kind clerk offers to forward my letter on. You just don’t hear words the caliber of bursar nowadays.

It is on February 1st that I finally get the monies to fund the textbooks I am habitually buying as of late. Yet my beautiful Elizabeth Barr award, which I’ve bragged about to dozens of friends and strangers alike, is ominously absent. Where could it be, I ponder?

As any good coper, I reason that it is just taking longer than normal. “The money will come, soon. There are just processing delays. The gears of the bureaucracy are not well-oiled today.” On February 4, I finally crack and call in.

Charlene Solomon, head of the DBC scholarship foundation, gives me the dreadful news herself: I will not be receiving my capstone prize. It is all a mistake. Up to this point, I am so convinced of the infallibility of the scholarship department, that the word mistake is no more than an Egyptian hieroglyph to me.

The mistake is, that I am receiving the second half of the $1500 James Fentress scholarship this semester, so the rule, “You can only receive one DBCC [sic] Foundation Donor scholarship per semester,” cripples my entire application, as I shuddered to suspect. Because of the $750 I am receiving from the James Fentress scholarship this semester, I lose all the $1500 of the Elizabeth Barr award.

But it gets worse: my precious money was awarded to another student.

Perhaps this would be enough to console a charitable person. But not me. Because I’m just so much better at putting coinage to use, it should obviously be mine, no?

The epic continues: my file indicates that I was attempted to be called several times to be informed of the dreadful thing. Yet I received no such calls. I have devised an ingenious theorem that the messenger chickened out, but marked me as called. I wouldn’t want to be the one to tell a student that his wonderful scholarship, the culmination of years of academic toils, has been rescinded.

It’s not like this is going to ruin my education. Everything is already paid for by our state’s excellent BrightFutures reward program (which I got $75 less of this year), the Pell grant, and the icing on the cake is my previous $1500 scholarship. Suffice to say, there are students much more deserving of the award (if not for academic merit, for financial neediness). I would’ve just saved this $1500 for my postgraduate education, slated for 2011. I’d love to boast that I’m the first person to ever win two consecutive scholarships like this, and that this is the first time the rule has been enforced. But honestly, I have no idea.

Please do not misconstrue this as bashing of the DBC foundation. I know it’s hard to manage so many students and applications, and mistakes happen. But do they have to happen to me, and of such an irritating sort? I’d certainly prefer it that the award was legitimate, yet forgotten to be sent, so long as I’d never found out about it.

$1500 may be a small amount to you, but my family is lower-class so it would’ve greatly helped us. Who’d have thunk it in 1969 that Americans would be paying upwards of a dollar a bottle for water? And how do we profess to respect mother nature when we pile our landfills with such wasteful containers?

I encourage the administration to update their rules. Replace:

You can only receive one DBCC [sic] Foundation Donor scholarship per semester.

with:

You can only receive one DBC Foundation Donor scholarship per semester. If you are receiving a scholarship spread over multiple semesters, you may not apply again until that scholarship has concluded.

And on the scholarships page, replace:

Students may apply for as many scholarships as they are eligible, however, students may only receive one DBC Foundation scholarship per semester.

with:

Students may apply for as many scholarships as they are eligible, however, students may only receive one DBC Foundation scholarship per semester. If you are receiving a scholarship spread over multiple semesters, you may not apply again until payment of that scholarship has concluded.

The current rules are too vague, if the staffers themselves misread them. Don’t let someone else go through the same disheartening rigmarole. If it takes away the faith of one student in our university, then it has hurt my community as a whole.

Scratch the opening. It should be “I lost nothing today,” because I never actually had anything.

2008-02-05 Update: I corrected grammar, clarified parts, elaborated on the proposed rule changes, and revised an overly negative paragraph.
2008-02-10 Update: Read A Postscript on the Scholarship.

Slow Firefox

I was commenting on this poll by Sortvind at deviantART about web browser usage, and want to share my wonderful insight with my readers. :grin:

I use Mozilla Firefox because of the great tab control, automation, nice bookmarks toolbar, no text aliasing, other add-ons, and general speediness. But it slows down a lot as I leave one window open for days (using Windows’ hibernation function at night); it’ll even lock up and make everything else slow as molasses, as it steals all the CPU cycles and RAM. I did re-install recently, switching from the portable version to the regular Windows installer, but to no avail. It surely doesn’t help that I like to keep 20 tabs open.

Firefox was originally supposed to be simple and fast, replacing the slow Mozilla suite, but with spell-checking, RSS support, history caching, etc. in the core instead of being relegated to add-ons, it’s becoming increasingly heavy-weight. Inefficiencies in the code don’t help either, though changes will mess up the plugins people love, I hear.

Incidentally, there is the same problem of slowness with WordPress; I and many other users have to use caching to stay running during traffic spikes. Though most database-driven websites use caching, it’s particularly necessary due to WordPress’ inefficiencies. And they won’t be going away or else plugins will break. At least we get lots of cool features out of it. :smile:

Photo: Branches of White

Branches of White — a barren tree against a windy white sky

Looking up at bare tree branches against a white sky. I took this on a dark night, but used a large aperture, high ISO speed, and slow shutter speed, bracing the camera against the ground.

I haven’t posted a photo in a week, but I’ve been quite busy with school; I’ve added two recent essays.

[sniplet 4×6-lustre]

Canon Rebel XTi, EF 50mm 1:1.4, 2″, F1.6, 50mm, ISO800, 2008-01-16T20:33:10-05, 20080117-013310rxt

Download the high-res JPEG or download the source image.

This work is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution 3.0 License. Credit me as Richard X. Thripp and link here.

Cannibalism and Slavery

Cannibalism and Slavery: An Analysis of Equiano, Swift, and Rousseau. Question-and-answer format. Essay by Richard X. Thripp.
2008-02-03 (Updated 2008-07-17) — http://richardxthripp.thripp.com/essays
PDF version (90KB).

Question One: Who is Olaudah Equiano’s narrative, Travels, directed toward, and what point of view does the author use?
Travels is directed not only toward the slave-holders who claim to be Christians, but also the people who rely on goods produced by slaves, such as consumers of sugared tea in eighteenth-century England. It is shown that “some six to seven million slaves were transported to work on sugar plantations in the West Indies” (Fiero 616), so sugar alone was a source of much suffering. When Equiano writes, “O, ye nominal Christians! Might not an African ask you, Learned you this from your God who says unto you, Do unto all men as you would men should do unto you?” (619), he is calling out the hypocrisy in believing in a merciful, just god who gives countenance to all, except slaves. The account is written from a riveting first-person perspective, with the reflections following Equiano’s thoughts: “I no longer doubted of my fate; and quite overpowered with horror and anguish, I fell motionless on the deck and fainted,” he vividly recalls upon seeing the slaves chained together wearing faces of “dejection and sorrow” (618). As “he mastered the English language” (616) and writes that the slave ship’s crew spoke a tongue that “was very different from any I had ever heard” (618), we can deduce that Equiano’s autobiography is not for the people of his original Benin tribe.

Question Two: Which conditions described by Equiano are most contrary to the ideals of the philosophes?
People being stolen away, flogged, and forced to live at the bottom of a filthy ship for the long journey to slavery—this is not at all in accord with the motto of the philosophies: “wipe out all evils” (Fiero 606). Equiano recalls, the ship is “so crowded that each had scarcely room to turn himself”; the fledgling slaves are “almost suffocated” (618). Even the sheep and cattle of the day were treated better! Yet our noble Thomas Jefferson almost sanctions such depravity, seeing the blacks as being “inferior to the whites in the endowments both of body and mind,” the inferiority being “a powerful obstacle to the emancipation of these people” (620). It is always necessary to claim slaves to be sub-human—it is merely the device that justifies the crimes being committed. There is no other way to support the ugliness of slavery, while in tandem, holding pretty ideals such as Locke’s statement that humans should “be equal one amongst another without subordination or subjection” (602), or Jefferson’s declaration that “all men are created equal” with the “unalienable rights” of life and liberty (604). Because slavery was such a benefit in the absence of mechanical automation, it persisted, despite contradicting enlightened thinking.

Question Three: What is the real thesis of Jonathan Swift’s “A Modest Proposal”?
Anything can sound reasonable, but we cannot look just for our gain; we must also be ethical. Even Sunday-morning Christians consider killing and eating babies to be morally objectionable. What Swift really supports is not cannibalism, but instead reforms to combat poverty in Ireland, such as “taxing our absentees at five shillings a pound,” introducing “prudence and temperance,” and using “what is of our own growth and manufacture,” as exclusively as is reasonable (Fiero 623). “A Modest Proposal” is profoundly satirical writing, so these ideas are presented as what cannot be spoken of, because there is no effort implement them. As Swift sadly concludes, “let no man talk to me of these and the like expedients, ‘till he hath at least some glympse of hope, that there will ever be some hearty and sincere attempt to put them into practice” [not included in the Fiero excerpt]. The author is ingenious in his use of “shock value,” as the last paragraphs—the thesis for reform—are far more influential than they would be in an ordinary essay.

Question Four: What is the character of the narrator in “A Modest Proposal”?
“A young healthy child” is a “wholesome food” (Fiero 622); the narrator does not see the evil in killing and eating children, unlike the audience and author. Swift satirically derides his own beliefs toward the end: “let no man talk to me of other expedients,” such as “learning to love our Country,” “quitting our animosities and factions” (Catholics versus Protestants), and “being a little cautious not to sell our country and conscience for nothing” (623). The narrator dislikes these noble proposals, instead finding his or her idea of infanticide to be the way: it will “greatly lessen the number of Papists” (Roman Catholics), provide “eight shillings sterling per annum” yearly to “the constant breeders” (622), and be “a great inducement to marriage” (623) while providing a new delicacy for wealthy landlords, improving the quality of life for the poor, and ridding them of their burdensome progeny. The separation between the author and narrator is much more solid than in “The Ones Who Walk Away from Omelas,” as Swift’s “profoundly moralizing body of literature” (621) is wholly separate from the outlandish ideas that seem to be pushed seriously in “A Modest Proposal.”

Question Five: When does the reader discover Swift’s irony?
While “A Modest Proposal” is in line with works of its day, such as The Satires by Juvenal, modern readers, unfamiliar with the style of writing, are totally shocked upon reading the statement, “a young healthy child is at a year old a most delicious, nourishing, and wholesome food, whether stewed, roasted, baked, or boiled” (Fiero 622). While I discovered the irony upon reading that sentence (I perused Fiero’s lead-in first), many may continue to think the piece is serious, perhaps even to the end where Swift makes his real proposal, which is of “parsimony, prudence, and temperance” (623). In fact, it is a safe assumption, that because Swift sustains the deadpan satire for so long, a good portion of his readers, several paragraphs in, will be convinced of his conviction. Hopefully, the statement, “a child will make two dishes at an entertainment for friends” (622) is so laughable that the irony becomes obvious.

Question Six: What are the reasons for human corruption, according to Jean-Jacques Rousseau in Discourse on the Origin of Inequality among Men? How does he want us to live?
Rousseau believes that property, surplus, and collaboration are all the seeds of corruption. His philosophy: “As long as men . . . applied themselves only to work that one person could accomplish alone and to arts that did not require the collaboration of several hands, they lived as free, healthy, good and happy men” (Fiero 637). This is not at all the case in the twenty-first century United States, as we rely on hundreds of others at our workplaces, and for essentials such as food, water, power, and computer networking. Rousseau laments, “how much misery and horror the human race would have been spared if someone had pulled up the stakes,” disputing “the first man who, having enclosed a piece of land, though of saying ‘This is mine’” (636). As the QUANTA class has been well taught by Dr. Michael Flota, as soon as it was “found to be useful for one man to have provisions enough for two, equality disappeared, property was introduced . . . [and] slavery and misery were soon seen to germinate and flourish” (637)—this is the birth of surplus. We are corrupted by mechanization and the privatization of property to compete viciously with our fellow people, but in the primitive days of hunting and gathering, where the Earth had no owner, we had a more perfect society, despite its perceived obsolescence.

Work Cited

Fiero, Gloria K. The Humanistic Tradition Volume II. 5th ed. New York: McGraw-Hill, 2006.

Freedom vs. Human Nature

Freedom vs. Human Nature: The Battle of Hobbes, Locke, Jefferson, and Smith. Question-and-answer format. Essay by Richard X. Thripp.
2008-02-02 — http://richardxthripp.thripp.com/essays
PDF version (90KB).

Question One: How do Thomas Hobbes and John Locke differ in their ideas about human nature?
Hobbes believes that people must be united under the ironclad rule of a mortal god, be it a lone monarch or ruling assembly, to which we in unison say, “I authorize and give up my right of governing myself” (Fiero 601), that being the birth of a commonwealth. In his undeniable pessimism, Hobbes announces that our “natural passions” are “partiality, pride, [and] revenge,” so much so that the “laws of nature,” “justice, equity, modesty, [and] mercy” can only be maintained as long as we are constantly in “terror of some power to cause them to be observed” (600), which must be a mortal god, acting in concert with the immortal god, to enforce them at the threat of the sword. In contrast, Locke thinks of humans as blank slates. Hobbes’ “natural passions” only come about through our interactions with the world. Like with Hobbes, we all have the right to be “free, equal, and independent” (602), but we can only be removed from our property and subjugated to another if we consent. To “join and unite into a community” with stricter rules is fine, so long as “the majority have a right to act and conclude the rest” (602), as this does not harm the freedom of those who elect not to join. Contrary to Hobbes, if the rulers make laws for their benefit at the expense of the people, there is tyranny, and the people are entirely right to revolt. Simply, in the land of Hobbes, the people are the slaves of the rulers, but in Locke’s world, the rulers are the slaves of the people, hence the term, “public servant.”

Question Two: What ideas did Thomas Jefferson borrow from John Locke to write The Declaration of Independence?
Jefferson’s idea that “life, liberty, and the pursuit of happiness” are “unalienable rights” (Fiero 604) is harmonious with Locke’s statement that we are, by default, “all free, equal, and independent,” though we may choose to give up freedoms for “comfortable, safe, and peaceable living” (602), always at our option. In tyranny, we must throw off the shackles of our oppressors, even if it requires a forceful and bloody revolution—this both Locke and Jefferson agree on. In Locke’s powerful words, “tyranny is the exercise of power beyond right, which nobody can have a right to,” and the people, “acting without authority,” may oppose such so-called magistrates just as they would a foreign invader (603). Jefferson is similar, stating that when the rights to “life, liberty, and the pursuit of happiness” are alienated by a government, “it is the right of the people to alter or abolish it,” replacing it with a fair system (604).

Question Three: How is this excerpt from The Wealth of Nations [abridged title for An Inquiry into the Nature and Causes of the Wealth of Nations] related to the excerpt from the same work in The Humanistic Tradition Volume II (Fiero 605)?

. . . every individual necessarily labors to render the annual revenue of the society as great as he can. He generally, indeed, neither intends to promote the public interest, nor knows how much he is promoting it. By preferring the support of domestic to that of foreign industry, he intends only his own security; and by directing that industry in such a manner as its produce may be of the greatest value, he intends only his own gain, and he is in this, as in many other cases, led by an invisible hand to promote an end which was no part of his intention. Nor is it always the worse for the society that it was no part of it. By pursuing his own interest he frequently promotes that of the society more effectually than when he really intends to promote it. I have never known much good done by those who affected to trade for the public good.

In An Inquiry into the Nature and Causes of the Wealth of Nations, Smith writes that “we expect our dinner” not from “the benevolence of the butcher, the brewer, or the baker,” but because of “their regard to their own interest” (Fiero 605). There is no charity in the hearts of our merchants, nor any loyalty in the shrewdness of our customers, yet everything is peachy because the invisible hand takes care of it all—business owners cut costs, raise quality, and lower prices, not to help consumers, but to trump their competitors and make more money for themselves. In Fiero’s excerpts, the “invisible hand” is not named as such, but the whole page is dedicated to it, with Smith stating that when bartering, we must “never talk to [the merchant] of our own necessities, but of their advantages,” and that “the monopolizing spirit of merchants and manufacturers” must not be legitimized by the government, as it is “directly opposed to [the interest] of the great body of the people” (605). The idea of a wall of separation between business and state, where the “invisible hand” thrives in industries free of governmental regulation, is sanctified in Smith’s passage in this question: the laborer “intends only his own gain,” but in doing so is “led by an invisible hand to promote an end which was no part of his intention,” and that end is promoting the public interest and society at large, whether the catalyst is merchants lowering prices, employees working harder for promotions, or home-owners operating yard sales to rid themselves of their possessions.

Question Four: How is the “Christian allegory” (Block 15-20) related to the assumptions of Thomas Hobbes, Thomas Jefferson, John Locke, and Adam Smith?
Hobbes, Jefferson, Locke, and Smith, despite their unique and differing ideas, all believe that we can better ourselves and build a wondrous society with effort. When looking for the cause of our short-comings, they look for individuals, not systemic blame, nor “original sin,” as in Christianity. Hobbes sees the bad apples who harbor revenge and do not value the liberty of others. Jefferson and Locke know that a government is needed, but that the magistrates are not godly and can be disputed, when they become corrupt or self-serving, defying our rights to “life, liberty, and the pursuit of happiness” (Fiero 604). Smith sees that the individual employees and business-owners, in their untiring efforts to benefit themselves and live securely, can “be of the greatest value” in contributing to society as a whole. They all were undoubtedly influenced by the Christian allegory: we are lost but can find ourselves through hard work, self-discipline, and god, or by extension, when you become fat, the path to morality is “greater personal discipline,” and when the economy fails, it is because “people fell into temptation and prosperity disappeared” (Block 16). However, the Age of Enlightenment is more refined: we are not hopeless, we can grow and better ourselves to build a heaven-like community on Earth; “the promise of reason [is] the realization of an enlightened social order” (Fiero 599), not an omnipotent God who controls us and everything. Halley’s comet is not God’s wrath, fate does not rule our actions, and the individual can make waves across society. These are the principles of reason’s age and philosophers, who know logic, secular thinking, and are optimistic about humankind.

Works Cited

Block, Fred L. The Vampire State. New York: The New Press, 1996.
Fiero, Gloria K. The Humanistic Tradition Volume II. 5th ed. New York: McGraw-Hill, 2006.

Photo: Spores of the Sun

Spores of the Sun — a dandelion clock against the blinding sun

Took this by positioning the dandelion clock right in front of the sun, but I hurt my eyes a bit from the light. They’re fine, but it reminded me to be more careful about photos like this. This was going to be a sequel to Two of Us Against the World, but I decided to focus on the dandelion blocking the sun, as it’s so much brighter. Had to under-expose manually, because the camera didn’t want the sky to be black. This is my finest black-and-white photo since Raindrops. :smile:

[sniplet 4×6-lustre]

Canon Rebel XTi, EF 50mm 1:1.4, 1/2000, F16, 50mm, ISO100, 2008-01-25T15:27:19-05, 20080125-202719rxt

Download the high-res JPEG or download the source image.

This work is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution 3.0 License. Credit me as Richard X. Thripp and link here.

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