June 25, 2009

Why do they hate the children?

Filed under: Publications — grahamophone @ 1:19 pm

1_AP09-16_071405.inddColorado roller coasters are an endangered species. First, Six Flags filed for bankruptcy, which may threaten Elitch Gardens. Serves them right for moving the park downtown and taking away all the gardens before I could even visit the original Elitch’s.

Meanwhile, the 101-year-old Lakeside Amusement Park is repairing the Cyclone. The old, rickety, wonderful wooden roller coaster is a west Denver icon, but it may be closed for the rest of the summer.

At left is one of my favorite stories from the Mile High Newspaper days. I hauled five teenagers to Lakeside to rate the rides. They gave the Cyclone a B+, but they were a little hard to please. I give it an A+. Read on for the full story. (more…)


June 17, 2009

Maybe I can use your photos. Or maybe not.

Filed under: Publications — grahamophone @ 10:26 am

Fair use and copyright law is unclear and subject to interpretation — even more so than the Second Amendment. For the most part, a limited portion of photos, quotes and other content can be used for “transformative” purposes. Don’t know what that means? That’s OK. Even lawyers and judges don’t know.

I read this book to write a straightforward article about fair use rights for photography. I hoped to list three specific legal uses for photos and wait for the praise and gratitude of photographers everywhere.

Not so much. The book is very readable and helpful, especially for a textbook written by an attorney, but it still can’t answer the question of “what is fair use.” It notes millions of dollars and hundreds of hours have been spent defining “transformative” and creating useful precedent for fair use laws. It remains pretty unclear, but hopefully my article can provide some useful examples and broad guidelines.

June 16, 2009

More resources for government accountability

A couple of weeks ago, I wrote about seeking out advocacy groups’ ratings for your Congressional representatives. Here are two more resources for Congressional accountability.

Federal Election Commission campaign finance lists: I used this list today to research a story on my Congresswoman’s contributions from major health insurance PACs and lobbying groups. Health care reform is clearly the top current issue for President Obama and Congress, and campaign fundraising will likely have an influence on health care reform votes and all other issues. The FEC lists contributions by candidate, committee or individual. Good local newspapers and bloggers will research and report these records, but will probably not list every individual or committee of interest. 

The Congressional Bill Text Search: The Library of Congress helps inform voters about all legislation so you can research issues of interest or specific bills that may have slipped through the cracks with little media coverage. 

Contact your representatives to combat the influence of major campaign contributors and to weigh in on bills that are important to you. Project VoteSmart offers contact information for all your federal and state legislators.

June 15, 2009

Don’t get your camera pregnant

Filed under: Publications — grahamophone @ 10:38 am
Tags: , ,

In my latest search for digital photography innovation, I found three ways to protect a digital camera underwater. My favorite is the safe sex photography method. Wrap the camera in a condom, tie off and glue the end. There’s a slim chance of water leaking in, but a broken condom could be much worse.

June 12, 2009

Vegetarians can get protein

Hey carnivores, you can quit asking vegetarians how they get their protein. Read this story for a list of high-protein beans, and this story for a list of high-protein nuts and seeds. Some of them have a basically equivalent amount of protein to many meaty foods. And most of them are cheaper than meat — unless you’re buying that sketchy expired meat. If so, good luck to you.

Speaking of food, I’m really looking forward to this movie, which exposes industrial food. I’m hoping it does even more than “The Ominvore’s Dilemma” to raise interest in the vital issue.

June 11, 2009

Hating Congress, loving my congresswoman

Filed under: Politics,Publications — grahamophone @ 1:45 pm

I’m still frustrated with Congressional leaders for ignoring the wide public support for universal single-payer health care. It’s a justice issue and an economic issue, but it’s also a personal issue for me as a home-based business owner. Employees at larger businesses typically have an employer-assisted health care plan (albeit with sometimes frustrating and spotty coverage), but home-based business owners are forced to choose between various lousy, overpriced health insurance plans. I don’t have a lot of optimism about the Congressional plan to add a public option without overhauling the private health insurance industry.

Another issue for home-based businesses is convoluted and confounding tax regulation. I know taxes are a hassle for everyone, but they are especially illogical and annoying for home-based business owners. We have a high tax burden, but we can claim some business deductions — maybe.

For more on the bill and my woes, read this story. Or read on for some good health care news. (more…)

June 5, 2009

List of legislative scorecards

I just published this story  about my local legislators and a recently released statewide environmental scorecard. Knowing federal legislators may have already started campaigning for 2010, here is a list of scorecards from national groups, along with their area of interest. Most are nominally non-partisan, but we all know they are either kind to Republicans or Democrats. However, the groups typically also list the votes they compiled to make a grade for each legislator. 


Project Vote Smart: Variety of ratings from national groups, as well as campaign finance records, legislative speeches and more.

Leaning left

League of Conservation Voters: Environment

U.S. PIRG (Public Interest Research Group): Media reform,political corruption, prescription drugs and voting rights, etc.

American Civil Liberties Union: Freedom of speech, equal protection, privacy.

Humane Society: Animal protections

Planned Parenthood Action: Pro-abortion

Leaning right

National Taxpayers Union: Small government, low taxes

Club for Growth: Economic freedoms

Gun Owners of America: Gun rights

National Right to Life Committee: Anti-abortion

Christian Coalition: Conservative Christian issues (this is a printable download, not a searchable database).  

There are also state groups in each state for researching votes by state legislators.

June 4, 2009

More compromises on health care

Filed under: Politics,Publications — grahamophone @ 9:56 pm

Congressional Democratic leaders already killed any hope of a universal health care proposal. Now they may make more compromises to pass watered-down health care legislation. President Obama this week already reneged on a campaign pledge that he would not require every American to buy health insurance. He said he will now support such a requirement as long as it also includes a waiver for people who can’t afford insurance.

Now Senate leaders have hinted they may compromise on creating a public health insurance option. This provision is the heart of Obama’s plan and some liberal advocacy groups are unhappy with Obama and other Democratic leaders for making so many compromises.

To read about the rift within among progressive health-care reform groups, read this Examiner story.

June 2, 2009

New camera articles published

Filed under: Publications — grahamophone @ 10:43 pm

I published a few new articles about digital photography at Bright Hub. This one was pretty fun. It’s about rotoscoping photos (basically turning photos and video into “paintings”). It is used digitally in those Charles Schwab ads, and manually for “Waking Life” and “A Scanner Darkly” (through more than 500 hours of work for each movie). (more…)

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