Thursday, April 29, 2021

Kent State, Photo Ethics, How Subject And Photographer Were Affected

[Note to readers:  This post started with one article about a photograph.  But then it seemed like a good place to slip in some book notes on books about photographers.  The ideas are stacking up on my desk faster than I can post.  Sorry if this one rambles.]

When I first started blogging I spent a lot more time pondering the ethics of this medium, including using of images - of others' photos,  of people without their knowing, let alone permission.  I decided that for kids it was taboo.  For adults, if they were part of a crowd in public and relatively innocuous, it was ok.  But it's better if I get at least their oral permission.   (See some links to some of those posts below.)

I thought about that reading this Stars and Stripes article  [Thanks Brock, I think it was you] about the girl immortalized by photographer John Filo at Kent State in May 1970.  Turns out she was a 14 year old who had run away from a bad situation in Florida and just happened to be on the Kent State campus when the National Guard started shooting students.  And the photographer was too.  Below is a snipped from the article, but I recommend going to the link.  

From Stars and Stripes:

"Last May, when Mary Ann Vecchio watched the video of George Floyd's dying moments, she felt herself plummet through time and space — to a day almost exactly 50 years earlier. On that afternoon in 1970, the world was just as riveted by an image that showed the life draining out of a young man on the ground, this one a black-and-white still photo. Mary Ann was at the center of that photo, her arms raised in anguish, begging for help."

Photo from  John Filo/Getty Images

It focuses mainly on how that photo affected both the subject and the photographer over their life times, but it also reminds us about another time in recent (for us that were alive and aware back then) US history when the country was deeply divided.  And it shows that law enforcement shoots at white folks too, if they've categorized them as 'the enemy.'

I've also just finished three books about photographers (two were book club books) in which very task oriented photographers took pictures without regard to others.  The Short Nights of the Shadow Catcher by Timothy Egan examined the life of photographer Edward S. Curtis, who, in the early 20th Century, set out to capture American Indian culture before, as he saw it, it died out.  His was a manic effort to document the 'real' Indians and their culture.  

In Arctic Solitaire, Paul Sauders chronicles his own quest to take the best ever photograph of a polar bear.  He goes to extremes chasing bears for several summers in a small boat in Hudson Bay.  

You Don't Belong Here is Elizabeth Becker's documentation of and tribute to three women journalists who broke barriers in Vietnam by getting out to report from the battle field.  One of the three was the French photographer, Catherine Leroy.  This work focused more on the battles women faced as journalists at that time.  An excerpt:

Chapter One begins with Leory in a C-130 cargo plane.

"Leroy was the only journalist on the plane, the only photographer - she had two cameras draped around her neck - the only civilian and the only woman.  Her US Army-issued parachute nearly swallowed her.  At five feet tall and weighing eighty-seven pounds, she was less than half the size of the dozens of US Army parachutists sitting alongside her."

The shots she took of the parachute assault were printed in newspapers and magazines around the world.  

"With so much riding on the operation other reporters had demanded to be on the ground with the paratroopers.  Many were upset, some even disdainful, when they found out Leroy would be the only accredited journalist to jump.  For over year, Leroy would be the only woman combat photographer in Vietnam and had given up trying to change attitudes.  Eve the great photographer Don McCullin, who admired Leroy's work, was taken aback seeing her on the battlefield.  'She did not want to be a woman amongst men but a man among men.  Why would a woman want to be among the blood and carnage? . . . I did have that issue with Cathy.'"

"There was a horror of assigning women to sports much less war," said Hal Buell, the New York photo editor of the Associated Press who worked with the Vietnam War photographs sent from Saigon.  "Look at the history of photography.  It was male oriented for so long:  the equipment, the printmaking.  We didn't think women could handle it.  Women just weren't part of that pool."

But the readers know she got on that plane because she was the best qualified.

"She had lobbied to jump with the troops ever since she arrive in Vietnam from Paris.  Few other press photographers were remotely qualified.  Leroy had earned first- and second-degree parachute licenses in France while still in secondary school, egged on by a boyfriend who had dared her to try it, where she jumped eighty-four times over the vineyards and meadows of Burgundy." 

The book is very much worth reading.  I'd started to write, particularly for those who were watching the war at the time.  But, of course, it's an important history lesson for readers who weren't even born yet - about the war and about the obstacles for women covering it.  

Here are some of my earlier posts on photo ethics as I was confronting issues as a blogger.

Do You Put Your Kids Pictures On Facebook?  Should You?

Photography Is Not A Crime:  Blogging, The First Amendment, And Your Camera

Our Rights To Film Cops In Public

Anchorage Daily News Updated Photo Policy - Icon-Sized Photos Usable

Tuesday, April 27, 2021

Short, But Very Noticeable Quake In Anchorage -UPDATE "Hey Southcentral, we're working on processing the earthquake at 9:54am. We'll have reviewed information soon."

 The Alaska Earthquake Center website is giving me this message:

Error 503 Backend fetch failed

Backend fetch failed

Guru Meditation:

XID: 90047248

Varnish cache server

Depending on how far away and deep the quake was, I'd guess anywhere from 4.0 - 5.3.  

Nothing fell or broke.  These things are common here, but this one was not one you could mistake for a truck passing by.  

[UPDATE 10:02 am:  This Tweet is the last thing up at the Earthquake Center's Twitter Account. It says there was an earthquake at 9:26 am.  The one I felt was much closer to 10am.

click on image to enlarge and focus

That was a 4.1 and it says felt in Anchorage.  I didn't feel that one at all.  So I'm thinking this latest one was definitely 5.0 or more. ]

[UPDATED 10:10 am:  Latest Tweet from Alaska Earthquake Center:

"Hey Southcentral, we're working on processing the earthquake at 9:54am. We'll have reviewed information soon."]

[UPDATED 10:13AM: Earthquake Center website working again and there's a small note:

  • M4.9   at 09:54 AM, 8 mi N of Anchorage]

 [Last UPDATE 10:30 am - Tweet From Earthquake Center xxxx

This is an image so the link won't work - go here

Monday, April 26, 2021

Alaska Officially Has 733,391 People - According To The 2020 Census - UPDATED

Just got his email from Peter Torkelson, executive director of the Alaska Redistricting Board.  (You can subscribe to these email updates from the redistricting board here. 

"Good afternoon subscribers -- A few minutes ago the US Census announced the total population numbers for each state.  Alaska's official 2020 resident population is 733,391. This means the population target for new legislative districts will be 733,391/40 = 18,335."

Let's take that apart a bit.  Nothing more than 3rd grade arithmetic at most, I promise.  Alaska has forty state house seats.  The state senate is made up of pairings of those forty seats - that is two adjacent house seats make up one senate seat. 

Each house seat should have the same number of people in it as every other house seat.  Of course, that would be quite a feat.  So the goal is to make them within 1-2% of each other.  In cases where this just isn't possible, the absolute maximum difference is 10%.  (This is based on my memory from last year.  Once the Board gets these number broken down by census districts, the Board will get a lot busier and we'll get these details refreshed.)

So, if there are 40 districts that have to have equal population, you have to divide the total population by 40.  Which is what Peter has done to get 18,335 residents per district.  Actually, my calculator says it's 18,334.775.  Which does mean that it is truly impossible to get all the districts exactly equal.  And since the time they recorded everybody, people have moved out of the state or into the state and new people have been born and some people have died.  So the number is always in flux.

The magic number for each district based on the 2010 data was 17,755.  So each district this time will have 580 more people.  Theoretically.  

I'd add that this includes all Alaska residents, not just those of voting age, not even just US citizens, but all the people who live here.  

To put that in context, [see below] people have applied for Alaska Permanent Fund this year.  [I thought I was going to get that number from the PFD office in Juneau.  Chris transferred me to Corey, but he didn't answer the phone. (It is after 4pm now, though it wasn't when I started these calls.)  I'll add the number in when I get it]

[UPDATED 5pm:  Corey got back to me.  They are still entering paper applications into the system by hand.  As of this afternoon at 4:30pm, they have 643,117 applications and he expects 25-30,000 more.]

Meanwhile  here are the PFD's numbers for population and applications since 2020.

 Remember the magic number:  18,335

Saturday, April 24, 2021

Campbell Creek From Winter To Spring In One Week

 Breakup used to be in March - when snows started melting, streets got wet, slushy, and muddy and cars raced through puddles spraying anything nearby.  And just when you thought it was done, we'd get an April snow.  But you knew it would be gone fast.  

Well, some of that happened in late March and early April, but then the temperatures dipped again.  By mid April we still had deep snow, though it was starting to evaporate.  Thanks to city and state plowing efforts, sidewalks/biketrails along streets were cleared pretty much by April 15.  

This past week or so has to be one of the warmest weeks ever in mid-May Anchorage.  We've been high 50s and low 60s each day.  Lots of sun.

Campbell Creek emerged from winter in about a week.  From the bridge at Lake Otis.

April 16

April 18

April 20

April 23

Monday, April 19, 2021

AK Redistricting Board Has Short Meeting. - Approve Voting Rights Act RFI With Longer Time Limit

The agenda, as mentioned previously, was mostly procedural - call to order, adopt the agenda, approve minutes, adjourn.  They also allowed for public testimony, but since it was not broadly announced in advance, there was no one who wanted to testify. (Unless you know how to find the Board meetings on the state public notice website or you have signed up to get notices emailed to you, it's pretty hard to keep track of the Board's meetings.)  

The key thing on the agenda was to approve the Request For Information (RFI) for a Voting Rights Consultant.  They chatted a bit about the RFI and approved it with a change in when it would be due (that added a couple of weeks so respondents would have enough time to see it and write up a proposal.)  And they took out the "Alaska Experience" requirement because not very many people with Voting Rights Act experience also have experience applying it to Alaska.  

They also announced the hiring of Star Assist to do the minutes of the meetings.  

Below are my rough notes on the meeting.  Don't rely on them for complete accuracy, but they should give you a sense of the Board's discussion.  The audio should eventually show up here. [April 20, 2021 - audio is now available at the link]

Alaska Redistricting Board Meeting April 16, 2021 2:30 pm

Agenda Adopted

First, item is public testimony. We're going to do this at meetings, 3 minutes for general comments.  Anyone who has signed up to testify? 

Peter:  We have listeners on line but no one who has signed up for public testimony. 

John:  Were minutes in our packet?

Peter:  Yes, still tracking some down.

Budd:  I have some format issues with the  minues so I'd defer to Mr. Presley to go first.  Want to comment on format of minutes.  

Presley - Hired minutes service, we now have Anmaly as  our minutes contractor.  Owner of Star Assist started her own Minutes taking service.  Lots of clients 

Inmaly:  Thanks so much.  Thanks to the Board to give me the opportunity to work with the Board.  

John:  I haven't had a chance to review all the minutes provided.  I'd like to hold off to the next meeting to approve.  

Budd:  I did see them in the packet and went over them.  I don't object to deferring them, but have comments about way minutes presented in the future.  Three things, minor, 

1.  Under heading under AK Redistricting Board - should be titled Minutes of Such and such a date, to see the date of meeting in bold at top

2. Every agenda and minutes - section about the agenda.  Minutes should have whole agenda at the top, so you don't have to hunt around to find copy of agenda.  Maybe just personal preference.

3.  Whenever someone has made a motion, currently minutes say, Ms. Marcum motion to choose AP proposal.  In my mind 'motion' not the right word - should be the verb 'move' or 'make a motion'.  

John:  All good suggestions and I would agree.  Anyone else?  Maybe good to go back and get them all in that form.  [others agree]

John:  We have RFI, Peter?

Peter:  VRA passed by congress in 1965.  All states must comply.  Very technical..  I've been to various redistricting conferences and the all say to hire a consultant.  First we have to analyze the elections since last time and that can start now.  With our attorney's advice - Mr. Singer.  We're hopeful we can get several bids and bring them before the Board.  Basically using the previous RFI with some changes.  

A few points:  1.  I choose May 3 for responses, that's just two weeks, maybe make it a little longer.

John:  Questions?

Bethany:  Quick Q:  Clarification on the travel.  Understand that Board would be responsible for funding the travel?

Peter:  Yes.  But limited to approval of project director.  Can't just travel willy-nilly.  It's likely the person from out of state and we want them to know they may have to take a red-eye to get here.

John:  Other Qs?  

Budd:  I thought substance fine and appreciate work done by staff and counsel.  As Peter suggested I'd rather see a longer open time.  At least another week or even a month.  

John, you said that rather specialized and not that many people?

Peter:  May 10 or even 14 is reasonable.  Also curious about number of contractors.  Talked to Association of ??? to see if they have a list and they'll send that to me.  

John:  Why not put 14th in but allow for making it possible to lengthen it.  

Budd: Fine

John:  Ok, lets do that  it.  And allow for a possible extension.

Peter:  guidance?  We ask for , see page, we mention Alaska experience in two locations.  That language from RFI ten years ago.  Of course we'd like that, but hope that doesn't imply we want only Alaskan experience.  Last time, wasn't able to officially confirm this, the contractor last time was the only one to apply.  

Matt:  Good suggestion.  Board benefits from casting a wide net.  Anyone who has Alaska experience would be foolish not to highlight it.

Budd:  I agree

???:  I agree.  Should create a pool of contractors instead of just having one.  

John:  Ten years from now hopefully there's someone around with that expertise.

Peter:  With understanding the Board consents, will strike it out.

???:  Mr. Chair I move we adopt the RFI with two amendments - strike Alaska requirement and extend the due date.

???:  Second

John:  Any objections?  

???:  Can we receive the link to RFI once it's posted publicly.  

John:  Motion to adjourn.

Nicole:  I move we adjourn

Bethany:  Seconded

John:  Any objection?  Hearing none, We're adjourned.

Sunday, April 18, 2021

Dave Bronson Cancels Appearance At Alaska Black Caucus Because Of "Last Minute Conflict"

 Attending the Alaska Black Caucus Sunday meeting.  They had confirmed RSVPs from both Mayoral candidates - Dave Bronson and Forrest Dunbar.  

But when the zoom meeting opened, Celeste notified us that Dave Bronson would not be at the meeting - "he had a conflict."   Later, explaining to those who got to the zoom meeting late and wondered where Bronson was, she said it was a "last minute conflict."

Here's Forrest Dunbar answering questions from people representing the Black, Alaska Natives, the Latinx, and the Asian-American communities.

So I went to Dave Bronson for Mayor Facebook page.  I was trying to find out how I could go to a meeting so that I could hear Dave Bronson.  A second thought was, where is he tonight, what was the conflict?   Here's his Upcoming Events page.  "No Upcoming Events."  It's hard to believe he's not campaigning and having events.  But there's nothing here to help us find where/how to hear what he stands for and to interact with him.  

I did double check on Dunbar's FB page.  Tonight's panel is on his main FB page and again on his Events page.  

However, before I posted this, I double-checked on Bronson's website.  He does tell us how to meet with him on his webpage.

I'd note, for those of you who do not keep track of local Anchorage affairs,  that these are the two diners that defied the initial lock down orders and stayed open in August 2020.  The court rejected their arguments.

Do I really want to enter a restaurant that doesn't care about its customers' health in order to meet Dave Bronson?  

Clearly, Bronson's message on COVID and other issues reflects his support of the former president of the US.  In a television ad for the general election he said "here in Anchorage a bunch of idiots are tearing up our city" with a picture of the Anchorage Assembly (city council) in the background.  

So was it just a weak moment when Bronson or someone at his campaign agreed to the Alaska Black Caucus mayoral forum?  Or did he know all along he wasn't going and thought this was a way to mess with the Black Caucus' weekly meeting?  

The professional thing to do is to decline in the first place.  

Bronson was the candidate with the most votes in the general election.  But there were more strong progressive candidates running for office than strong conservative (that's not even the right word for him) candidates.  My sense is that the votes are their for Dunbar, but if his coming in second scares people into voting, that's fine with me.

Saturday, April 17, 2021

Keeping Busy Doing Nothing - AK Press Club, Seedlings, Bike, Cooking, Redistricting, COVID, Spanish, Grandkids. . .

 Time seems to whiz by.  Suddenly it's Wednesday and I have to take out the garbage again.  How can it be 10pm, it's still light out?  I just paid that bill.  Making it worse, it seems like I haven't gotten anything done.  

But when I try to track what I'm doing, it turns out I'm really doing a lot.  I'm tracking and posting  the Alaska COVID numbers every day.  I'm doing 20-40 minutes into DuoLingo Spanish.

I try to do the Cryptoquote and the Sudoku in the paper every day.

My Seattle granddaughter FaceTimes with us for an hour or three several times a week.  And I've been volunteering in her class, via zoom, listening to kids read books of their choice.  The SF grandkids have a regular two or three hours every Wednesday afternoon.  

This month, the Alaska Press Club has been having Monday, Wednesday, and Friday 8am workshops in lieu of a three day in person conference.  Despite the horrible hour, all the ones I've listened in on (all of them so far) have been excellent.  Yesterday was one on covering Corrections and included a reporter who does cover corrections, an ACLU employee who works on corrections issues and used to work for the Dept of Corrections under Walker, and a woman who started a non-profit called Supporting Our Loved Ones Group - people who have friends and relatives in prison.  One part of the discussion focused on the words that journalists use to describe people in prison. I guess I've had a soft spot for the plight of prisoners ever since I visited a former 6th grade student (he was then probably in the 9th grade) at a juvenile detention center outside of Los Angeles maybe 50 years ago.  Other sessions have been on Climate Change and How to Choose And Write Stories. They also did one on setting up an elections debate commission for Alaska that was very compelling.  You can see the commission proposal here.   I've got notes for blog posts on all of these, but the Anchorage Municipal Election and the Redistricting Board have distracted me.  

I haven't seen much coverage at all in other media about the Alaska Redistricting Board and since I covered it intensely in 2011-13, I realize I know a lot about what it is, what the issues are, and what was done last time.  So it seems I'm stuck doing it again.  Right now not much is happening - setting things up procedurally and getting staff - they've hired a law firm to advise them and they are getting an RFI ready to hire a Voting Rights Act consultant.  They are behind the pace of ten years ago because the Pandemic and Trump policies slowed down the Census Count and the State redistricting numbers won't come out until maybe August this year.  Last time they got the numbers in March.

I've started my summer biking in earnest yesterday, keeping to the trails along streets while the trails through the greenbelts still have snow on them.  I did a seven mile test run south on Lake Otis, east on Dowling, north on Elmore, then wandering through neighborhoods back home.

Here's Campbell Creek from Lake Otis

An aside about snow this year.  I'd asked Weather Service guy Brian Brettschneider, via DM on Twitter, if we'd had more snow days this year, because it seemed like I was shoveling snow all the time.  He responded: 

"Anchorage will finish with about 5" less snowfall than normal. But our snow depth was one of the greatest on record. We basically had 0 melting events throughout the season."

Riding along Dowling, the ice and snow were gone from the trail the whole ride.  

And then Campbell Creek again, this time looking back from Elmore.

My knees have been showing signs of being past their warranty.  Running is out.  Biking was ok last summer.  I'm hoping I can do another 600 km or more this summer, but it will depend on how my knees react.  

We've been zooming in to the Alaska Black Caucus' Sunday panels. (Link to this Sunday's forum is on the upper right of their page.) They've been doing a great job covering a lot of topics from candidate forums (School Board and Mayor, and this Sunday they are going to have the mayoral runoff candidates - Dunbar and Bronson) to discussions on things like body cameras for police and the military experience in Alaska for Blacks.  They've been having 50 and 60 attendees every week.  Really well done.  I've never heard candidates talk so candidly.  But then the 

There was also a Citizens Climate lobby meeting and a few other zoom meetings.

One way to get through all the zoom meetings is to do relatively mindless tasks that allow me to pay attention, but also get something done.  Eating is the most obvious, but I also prepared and baked a bread through one meeting.  

And used the left over dough to make a veggie pizza.  

And I've been planting seeds now that I can see patches of ground through the snow outside.  Trying Arctic Tomatoes this year.  But I've also got arugula, stock, snapdragons, pansies, sweet peas, flax, and a few other seeds growing.  

I suspect that feeling like I haven't gotten anything done comes partially through the fact that zoom meetings let you stay home and so you don't get out that much.  When you physically go to a meeting, it (probably, it's hard to remember) feels more like you've actually done something.  So I have to write things down to remind myself that I've actually been busy and doing worthwhile things.  

Oh, and watching some of the video of each of the UAA Chancellor candidates.  A really diverse selection.  Not a good time to be a white male in this crowd I'm guessing.  Most looked reasonable, some very good, and our Superintendent of Schools must have been unwell, because she couldn't be still or say more than platitudes.  You can watch them yourselves.  I'd recommend about ten minutes of each to get a sense of them.  Really, these tell us mostly how well they speak in public.  To some extent how much the know about higher education.  But not too much about how well they can run a university.

Thursday, April 15, 2021

Anchorage Election Results Today Don't Change Anything [UPDATED 4/16/21]

[UPDATE 4/16/21 - today's new numbers don't really change the standings.  You can see them here. I don't think I need to keep updating this table.]

I managed to squeeze in one more day.  Front-runner Dave Bronson added 241 votes to his total and second-place Forrest Dunbar added 197 votes.  All the candidates kept their same ranking, with just a couple of exceptions, throughout.

In the School Board races the leading candidates continue to lead and seem to have gained a bit over yesterday.

Mayor RaceTuesWednesThurFridaySaturdayMonTue WedThu
EVANS, Bill 

999 (4)   

3,871  (4)  4,782 (4)5,505 (4)5,686   (4)6,281(4)6,83270087052

36  (9)

139 (10)157 (10)173  (10)183  (10)206 (10)226228230

321 (6)

1,272  (6)1,658 (6)1,928  (6)2,006  (6)2,345(6)2,6342,7202,744

12  (11)

35  (13)39 (13)40  (13)44 (13)47(13)484850

1,281 (3)

5,312  (3)6,703  (3)7,614  (3)7,826  (3)8,527(3)

91   (7)

303    (7)337  (7)366  (7)374  (7)400(7)428441445

63  (8)

190   (8)233  (8)237  (8)242   (8)270 (9)290296303

3,116  (2)

12,986  (2)15,953 (2)18,716  (1)19,334  (1)21,807(1)23,59724,23624,467
BROWN, Jeffr

33  (10)

147   (9)196  (9)229  (9)236  (9)274(8)295304307

11  (12)

31  (14)35  (14)36  (14)36 (14)37 (14)414142

745   (5)

3,097   (5)3,766 (5)4,324  (5)4,457  (5)5061(5)5,5425,6895,743

3,701 (1)

13,711 (1)16,458 (1)18,300 (2)18,812  (2)20,566(2)22,23822,76322,960

8  (14)

18  (15)21 (15)25 (15)25  (15)29 (15)303031

12 (11)

48  (11)61  (11)67  (11)68 (11)73(11)798383
KERN, Jacob S


38   (12)41 (12)43  (12)45 (12)50 (12)515252


The Recall and School Board Votes


Precincts Reported: 0 of 23 (0.00%)


Times Cast

12,487 / 42,059











Total Votes



Unresolved Write-In



Precincts Reported: 0 of 123 (0.00%)


Times Cast

75,158 / 236,619





ELEDGE, Judy Norton



STEWART, Marilyn



COX, Mark Anthony






Total Votes



Unresolved Write-In



Precincts Reported: 0 of 123 (0.00%)


Times Cast

75,158 / 236,619








HILDE, Alisha












WILLIAMS, Nial Sherwood



Total Votes



Unresolved Write-In



Precincts Reported: 0 of 123 (0.00%)


Times Cast

75,158 / 236,619

















Total Votes



Unresolved Write-In



Precincts Reported: 0 of 123 (0.00%)


Times Cast

75,158 / 236,619











Total Votes



Unresolved Write-In