Lost holiday

Filed under: Musings, Stolen moments — olivander February 27, 2006 @ 5:00 pm

Lost holiday
Originally uploaded by olivander.

About fifty years ago, a family took a vacation to Miami Beach, FL. They brought along their Brownie Hawkeye Flash camera and took lots of pictures of themselves having fun. They got home, finished up the roll with a couple shots of the dog, and put the camera up. Perhaps that’s the day that they bought a new camera. Maybe they set the camera down somewhere and forgot it and it became lost. Somehow, life interfered and the roll was never removed from the camera.

For fifty years.

Recently, I bought a lot of vintage cameras on eBay, and this family’s Brownie Hawkeye Flash was among them. I found the roll of film inside and decided–without much expectation–to develop it and see what was on it. Film left in cameras is notorious for not surviving. The camera inevitably gets opened, and the unsealed film is repeatedly exposed to light and high temperatures and humidity. On top of it, it had traveled with its camera through standard postal service, undoubtedly being subjected to x-rays at least once. I figured I would get, at best, a bunch of fog-covered frames with faint images of someone’s new car or kids playing in the back yard.

The results blew me away. Verichrome Pan was long heralded for its superior range of tone and fine grain. Evidently, it was made to last, too. The only alteration I made to the developing process was to push the developing time from Kodak’s recommended six minutes to eight, in the hopes that the increased time would boost the contrast enough to cut through the inevitable fog.

You can see for yourself that the pictures were almost perfect.

This lost holiday brings up many questions. Who was this family? What brought them to Florida? Why didn’t they ever get their pictures processed? Did they ever wonder what ever happened to them? Does the kid in the pictures remember that trip? What ever became of them?

I created a set for these photos on Flickr. I hope that someone, somewhere, will see them and say, “Hey, that’s Dad/my aunt/me!” If that happens to be you, please get in touch with me so I can return your photos.

Because I disagree with the gov’t more than I believe in wormholes

Filed under: Diversions — olivander February 16, 2006 @ 8:02 am

You scored as Serenity (from Firefly). You like to live your own way and do not enjoy when anyone but a friend tries to tell you that you should do different. Now if only the Reavers would quit trying to skin you.

Moya (from Farscape)
Serenity (from Firefly)
Galactica (from Battlestar: Galactica)
SG-1 (from Stargate)
Bebop (from Cowboy Bebop)
Millennium Falcon (from Star Wars)
Nebuchadnezzar (from The Matrix)
Enterprise D (from Star Trek)

Which sci-fi crew would you best fit in? v1.0
created with QuizFarm.com

The return of concentration camps on US soil

Filed under: Rants — olivander February 8, 2006 @ 9:37 am

Remember The Siege? The 1998 Denzel Washington/Annette Bening flick about the US government rounding up all Arab-Americans in the wake of a series of bombings seemed like heavy-handed paranoia at the time. Then came Sept 11, and the FBI began rounding up and detaining thousands of Arab-Americans for questioning. It was WWII all over again, when Japanese-Americans were pulled from their homes and held without charge in POW-style concentration camps. All that was missing was the concentration camps.

Guess what?

According to this rather undernoticed article, Halliburton has been awarded yet another no-bid contract, this one to build detention centers within the US. (Halliburton also built the Guantanamo Bay, Cuba, camp where thousands of “enemy combatants” are being held incommunicado.)

There seem to be contradicting stories about exactly what branch of the government has contracted for the camps, or precisely what their use will be for. The prevelant story is that the camps will be used in the event of an “immigration emergency”, which is vague. Regardless of label, once built the camps could be used for almost any purpose the Bush administration desires.

Following the Supreme Court’s ruling that the president has the power to detain American citizens outside the judicial system, and given this administration’s dismal civil rights track record, I wouldn’t be surprised if that purpose involved American citizens of Middle Eastern descent becoming “disappeared”.

Since articles older than 14 days get archived by the Press-Telegram, here is the full text, with apology.

Halliburton subsidiary nets contract amid suspicion

By Mason Stockstill, Staff writer

A Houston-based construction firm with ties to the White House has been awarded an open-ended contract to build immigration detention centers that could total $385 million a move some critics called questionable.

The contract calls for KBR, a subsidiary of oil engineering and construction giant Halliburton, to build temporary detention facilities in the event of an “immigration emergency,” according to U.S. officials.

“If, for example, there were some sort of upheaval in another country that would cause mass migration, that’s the type of situation that this contract would address,” said Jamie Zuieback of U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement.

“Essentially, this is a contingency contract.”

Under the contract, which was awarded by the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers, KBR could also be tasked to operate one or more temporary detention facilities, and to develop a plan for responding to a natural disaster in which ICE personnel participate in relief efforts.

The contract is good for one year, with the option for four one-year extensions.

The open-ended nature of the contract raises concerns about overcharging and other potential abuse, said Charlie Cray, director of the Washington-based Center for Corporate Policy and a frequent Halliburton critic.

The Government Accounting Office has criticized both Halliburton and KBR for cost overruns and inappropriately obtaining government projects under a similar contingency-based program connected to reconstruction work in Iraq, Cray said. Halliburton’s billions of dollars in revenue from federal contracts, many of them awarded without competitive bidding, have made it a frequent target of critics who accuse the Bush administration of cronyism.

Vice President Dick Cheney is Halliburton’s former CEO.

KBR also has faced allegations that, through subcontractors, it hired numerous illegal immigrants to perform rebuilding work in the Gulf Coast region following Hurricane Katrina, and paid them sub-minimum wages. The company’s hiring practices in Iraq have come under scrutiny for the alleged exploitation of foreign workers.

But KBR officials said the contract for detention facilities is well-deserved, because of the firm’s experience in building infrastructure and support networks for U.S. military and law enforcement.

KBR’s revenues totaled $3 billion in the fourth quarter of 2005, according to company figures released Friday, and Halliburton plans to sell part of the subsidiary in the coming months.

“We are especially gratified to be awarded this contract because it builds on our extremely strong track record in the arena of emergency operations support,” said Bruce Stanski, KBR’s vice president of government and infrastructure, in a statement.

There’s no guarantee that any work will be performed under the contract; if no immigration emergency or natural disaster occurs, there won’t be anything for KBR to do, said company spokeswoman Cathy Mann.