Video of the day

Time-lapse of Namibia at night.  Pure awesomeness:

Pretty cool how they made this:

It’s not easy to come up with something new when you visit the same place every year for more than a decade. Over the years Marsel has created the most extensive and most popular night photography portfolio of Namibia on this planet, and two years ago he decided it was time to take it to the next level.

The idea was to create a night photography timelapse video featuring his most popular subjects in this amazing country: the fairytale-like quivertrees and the eery, dead camelthorn trees in Deadvlei – something that had never been done before. But instead of going for static scenes, Marsel decided to add movement to the scenes by using a dolly system.

All scenes were shot during the night with Nikon D3, D3s and D4 cameras. We used small headlights for selectively lighting trees and rocks, and we sometimes used the moon. The brighter the scene, the more moon there was at the time. For the arch scene we timed our shoot exactly with moonset, which involved quite a bit of calculating and planning. But the hardest one of all was probably the mist scene in Deadvlei. Mist in Deadvlei only occurs around five times a year, so we had to keep a close eye on the weather predictions and many attempts were unsuccessful. When we finally got it right, the results far exceeded our expectations and show Deadvlei as no one has ever seen it before.

Each second of video consists of 30 photographs. In total, Marsel shot more than 16,000 images over a period of two years for this project.

The video won First Prize in the 2012 Travel Photographer Of The Year Awards.

Marsel & Daniella

Director: Marsel van Oosten
Editor: Daniella Sibbing
Composer: Simon Wilkinson
Produced by: Squiver

Equipment used:
Cameras: Nikon D3, D3s and D4
Lenses: Nikon 14-24/2.8 and 24-70/2.8
Tripods: Gitzo
Dolly: Stage Zero, Dynamic Perception


One more

Friend and reader DJC just posted this on FB regarding Lightfoot’s comments.  Too good not to share:

Entitlement mentality?

Getting poor kids an opportunity to start school without being light years behind is not creating an entitlement mentality. You know what is? Benefitting from all we have built ( good schools, safe streets, clean water, countless innovations from our universities, freedom from marauding bands etc. etc. etc.) and then pulling up the ladder behind you because you want a few more nickels on your 1040 or because you don’t want the 4 year olds to be looking for a handout?

That’s an entitlement mentality.

To beat a dead horse… sad, pathetic, and disgusting at what passes for acceptable thinking in Republican circles these days.

It gets even better

So, about that new appointee opposed to state-funded Pre-K.  Apparently she’s kept quite the twitter account that she deleted today:

Hours after becoming the focus of media attention, the state’s new director of early childhood development has deleted her overtly political – and sometimes derogatory – Twitter account.

Dianna Lightfoot, appointed Tuesday by DHHS Secretary Aldona Wos, was the subject of questions Wednesday about a non-profit she founded that advocates against public pre-kindergarten programs.

DHHS spokeswoman Julie Henry told WRAL late this afternoon that Ms. Lightfoot has resigned her position as president of the National Physicians’ Center for Family Resources. But her Twitter account remained public until it was deleted early this evening.

In postings on her “ChinaLight44” Twitter account, Lightfoot calls Hillary Clinton one of Obama’s “Butch bunch,” and apparently suggests that the massive Japan earthquake of March 14, 2011, may have been caused by ultrasonic waves from neighboring China or North Korea.

Lightfoot’s Facebook account follows the same line, protesting Chick-Fil-A’s agreement to stop funding anti-gay groups as “sad and ridiculous,” and calling pro-gay protestors “anti-freedom-of-speech bigots,” the “Chicago Mob,” and “bullies.”

I’m sorry, but “both sides” don’t nominate people this extremist, intemperate, and on the fringes to important government positions.  Only one side does.  If you are always complaining about how horrible government is, perhaps you don’t think it important that it is staffed with qualified people.

Ouch, the stupid!!

If there’s one massively under-utilized policy in cost-benefit terms, it’s state-funded pre-school for at-risk youth.  Economist James Heckman has estimated that investment in solid pre-K education for at-risk youth can pay off as much as $10 in benefits for every dollar spent.  Even the Republicans in Oklahoma, among the reddest of states, have been smart enough to invest more in pre-K.  It’s one of the most obvious policies we should be doing more of.  Alas, our new Governor, who I really don’t think is quite this retrograde, once again gives in to the Tea Party faction by nominating an absolute moron to be in charge of pre-K education in NC.  Get this:

RALEIGH, N.C. — Department of Health and Human Services Secretary Aldona Wos announced Tuesday that Dianna Lightfoot has been appointed the state’s new director of Child Development and Early Education.

The Division of Child Development and Early Education, or DCDEE, oversees the state’s child-care program as well as NC Pre-K, which was moved into Health and Human Services from the Department of Public Instruction last session.

From the DHHS news release:

“Ms. Lightfoot is a strategic and tactical top tier policy executive with extensive healthcare, child welfare and education expertise,” said Secretary Wos. “Her leadership will ensure we meet the State’s longstanding commitment to protect and serve our young children.”

Lightfoot has served as president of the National Physicians Center, a non-partisan, non-profit organization that supports and promotes healthcare public policies and education, a post she has held since 2001. … She holds a master’s degree in psychology and community relations, a counseling license and a secondary teaching credential.

The National Physicians Center for Family Resources, which Lightfoot founded in 2001, advocates against “institutional” preschool programs.

“In the case of early childhood education programs, available research suggests they may actually be inferior to early learning opportunities at home. In addition, it appears the demand for out of home childcare is not as prevalent as many advocates claim,” says an open letter signed by Lightfoot on the group’s website.

The letter also warns that “There is great potential for early learning institutions to foster more dependency on the government (i.e. taxpayer) and more of an entitlement mentality.” 

Good God.  This would make me laugh if it didn’t make me want to cry.  I mean seriously, there’s so much solid research on the benefit of pre-K and we get this just crazy right-wing crap about creating an entitlement mentality and instilling secular values.  Literally unbelievable.

Power grab

Sorry if I’m getting too NC-centric for my readers far and wide, but it truly is breathaking what the Republican Party is trying to do here now that they have complete control of state governments.  Get a load of the latest:

RALEIGH — The state’s GOP-dominated legislature and Republican governor would have a free hand to sweep out all the members of several key boards and commissions and replace them with their own appointments, under a bill advanced Tuesday.

The legislation surfaced unexpectedly in the Senate Rules Committee attached to an innocuous bill eliminating certain boards and commissions for efficiencies. Over objections from Democrats, the committee approved provisions to replace and in some cases downsize the membership on the state Utilities Commission, the Industrial Commission, the Coastal Resources Commission and others.

The appointments are not merely ceremonial. Most of the boards and commissions covered in the bill make important, far-reaching decisions. Many of their members were appointed when the Democrats controlled both the legislature and the governor’s office…

Gov. Pat McCrory worked 29 years for Duke Energy and now has the authority to appoint all of the members of the Utilities Commission as the positions become vacant. Otherwise, his appointees would not achieve a majority of four seats until 2015. The commission currently has one vacancy, two more opening this summer and a fourth in 2015. All current members were appointed by Gov. Bev Perdue or Gov. Mike Easley, both Democrats…

Environmental groups were appalled at Tuesday’s development…

“These legislators were sent to Raleigh to create jobs and to help our struggling economy,” said Dan Crawford [personal friend and great guy] of the N.C. League of Conservation Voters. “The majority party wants to allow corporate special interests to write their own rules without public input. The people of North Carolina deserve better.”

Or to summarize one way of looking at this, here’s what a friend posted on FB:

“Okay, y’all, I know this is really, really difficult, but see if you can follow this: Last month, a Republican who worked for Duke Energy for 28 years became Governor. Yesterday, Duke Energy files a request with the North Carolina Utilities Commission (NCUC) to increase electric rates by approximately $446 million, for an overall increase of 9.7 percent. The NCUC would have to approve any rate increase, something the current members are unlikely to do. The *same day*, Republican legislators introduce a bill that would fire all the members of the NCUC and allow the former Duke Energy executive, now Governor, to appoint an entirely new board. The new board would be certain to approve the rate increase and give $446 million of your money to Duke Energy, a major contributor to the new Governor and Republican candidates. THIS IS HOW REPUBLICAN “GOVERNANCE” WORKS, PEOPLE.”

Now, I’m not at all willing to think of this as something quite so craven and quid-pro-quo, but honestly, anything that at all looks like this has absolutely no place in government.  As we’ve seen in Congress, Republicans have long since learned that there are long-standing (and quite sensible) norms of doing things that they don’t really have to follow if they don’t want to.  And, if it means more power and influence they’re not going to follow them.

Photo of the day

Love old photos of the Big City.  Great set (In Focus) for Grand Central Terminal turning 100.  This shot to open the set is pretty awesome:

Sunlight streams through the windows in the concourse at Grand Central Terminal in New York City in 1954. (AP Photo)


Sound of the day

This NPR story about the Cornell Library’s on-line sound library or animals sounds was awesome.  Definitely one you need to listen to.  I tried to embed my favorites from the story here, but doesn’t seem to work, even though it says it’s supposed to.  But, you really should click through and listen– some truly amazing sounds from the animal world.

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