Obama’s broken promise

Glenn Greenwald is good at highlighting government hypocrisy, no matter where it originates:

Regarding Obama’s refusal to disclose the identity of health care executives meeting in the White House, TPM’s David Kurtz notes:  "It’s an especially painful continuation of Bush policies since candidate Obama promised to let CSPAN in to cover the creation of a health care bill and his campaign website still promises transparency in meetings between White House staff and outside interests." 

There are certain times when Obama betrays the spirit of his promises and other times when he betrays both the spirit and letter.  This seems quite clearly to be an example of the latter.

Definitely not Starbucks

My Ethiopian friend Asrat pointed out this coffee shop in Addis Ababa, just off Bole Road. The logo bears a certain resemblance to Starbucks, no? I was told that Starbucks threatened legal action but didn’t find that the Ethiopian legal system was as protective of their interests as the US courts are.

How to take really bad baby pictures

Inspired by an article called How to Take Better Baby Photos, featuring an interview with Carrie Sandoval, who explains how she takes such stunning photos of young kids, I thought I’d share a couple more of my very, very bad pictures of my son. I’d seen (as I’m sure you have) those lovely close-up shots of baby hands and feet, and thought I’d have a go myself.


As you can see the pictures are in focus and the composition and lighting are fine, but I somehow manage to bring to the process of photography an indefinable something that makes my child’s hands look like those of a mutant, and his feet look like those of a teenager. He is in fact a small and delicate-featured child. It takes really inverse talent to make him look so weird. I think the secret is to use the macro setting to get close up rather than a long lens.


You can see from the picture below that he’s actually very cute.

Oceans on Mars

I have to say it still astonishes me that no one has set foot on Mars. I’m aware that the technical problems are massive, but it’s quite possible that by the time the first human sets foot on the Red Planet all the humans who have ever set foot on the Moon will have passed away. I was eight years old when Apollo 11 landed, and I feel cheated out of my lunar colonies and my jet backpack (although admittedly no ’60s sci-fi ever predicted anything quite as cool as the iPhone — even Star Trek communicators couldn’t play music or movies).

Anyway, as part of my fascination with Mars, here’s a SeaWiFS visualization of what Mars’ oceans might have looked like (minus clouds, etc).