Tuesday, August 30, 2011

Photos: Fly

As long-time readers of this blog know, I happen to enjoy photography.  One particular type of photography that I enjoy is macro photography, otherwise known as "close up" photography. 

I own two macro lenses which I use for my macro photography.  One is a Canon 100mm macro lens (the older, non-L lens, for you photo geeks).  This is a great lens which provides up to life size (1:1 magnification) pictures.  This is also a nice portrait lens.  Despite the name, it can be used for non-macro work as well and is my favorite lens among the ones that I own.

Canon, however, also makes a specialty macro lens, called the MP-E 65.  It's a 65mm lens that is exclusively a macro lens.  It cannot focus on anything more than a few centimeters away.  This lens, however, is capable of providing up to 5x magnification.   This lens, however, has some unique challenges, such as the lack of an auto-focus feature.  It's all manual focus and the only way to get your subject in focus is to manually move the camera (or your subject) back or forth until the focus is right.  In addition, the higher the magnification you chose, the more challenging the shots become.  As a result, I find myself most often using it at 2-3x. 

I like to shoot insects with my macro lens.  Or, rather, I should say, I like to *try* to shoot insects.  The little buggies, however, rarely stand still long enough for me to set up with my manual-focus macro lens.  Needless to say, taking such pictures, while fun, is sometimes quite challenging and when I do end up with a nice, clear image, I like to consider it a victory.

Which brings us to this picture.  I set up a plate on my back porch with a piece of apple and some honey, hoping to attract some bees or wasps.  All I got was a very young fly.  As it turns out, that was a blessing for me.  Since the fly was young, he(?) hadn't yet learned to be overly fearful.  As a result, he was willing to sit on the apple and pose while my camera lens got thisclose to him.  The result:

Canon XSi, MP-E 65mm lens at 3x, f/8, 1/20 second, ISO 800

As always, comments, critiques and criticisms are welcome, encouraged and appreciated.

The Wolf

Monday, August 29, 2011

Whatever Happened to Civility and Basic Respect?

This past Tisha B'Av, a group of Chassidim (I believe they were Neturai Karta, but I could be wrong about that) protested in New York against Rav Shteinman and his support of the Tal Law in Israel which allows for a chareidi army unit.  In the course of the protest, at least one of them loudly proclaims that Rav Aharon Leib Shteinman is a "Rusha M'Rusha" (extremely wicked person) and says "Y'mach Sh'mo" (may his name be erased) after his name. 

Long time readers of my blog know that I do not ascribe to the doctrine of rabbinic infallibility.  I believe that it is possible for gedolim, including Rav Shteinman to be in error*.  So, if you believe that Rav Shteinman is wrong,  I have no problem with someone marshaling forth their arguments and making their case, even forcefully.

But there's a very clear and distinct line between forceful, civil disagreement and outright disrespect and outright demonization --- and the people in this video completely blew past that line.  To call someone who is generally acknowledged to be one of the greatest living sages extremely wicked and to use the epithet "y'mach sh'mo" -- an epithet reserved for only the most reviled people in history is, in my humble opinion, completely and utterly beyond the pale. 

I can't help but think that their version of "shivim panim laTorah" (that there are seventy facets to the Torah) is similar to Henry Ford's idea of choice of color for the Model-T -- the customer can "have any color so long as it's black."  It's one thing to believe that your path is legitimate.  It's quite something else to believe that only your own narrow ideology is correct and that anyone even slightly outside it is not just wrong, but a wicked person whose name deserved to be wiped out. 

Interestingly enough, I see the same thing happening in other places as well.  For example, in a recent thread on the YWN Coffeeroom, a discussion cropped up about the recent earthquake and Hurricane Irene both hitting the northeastern United States in such close proximity.  Some posters felt that there was a Divine message there.  One poster (ronrsr) stated that it was mere coincidence.  Another poster decided to attack that position by saying:

sorry, ronrsr, to call this a coincidence is pure apikorsus

Let's leave aside the fact that that ronrsr's respondent clearly doesn't know what constitutes apikorsus.  What disturbs me far more than his ignorance is the fact that the respondent sees no possible middle ground between his own opinion and heresy.  In his eyes, it seems, it's not possible to simply be wrong (let alone have an alternate, legitimate opinion).   Instead of being incorrect, his disputant has to be labelled as an apikorus -- possibly the worst designation you can give to a Jew. 

Whatever happened to the idea of respectful disagreement?  Whatever happened to the idea that someone could be wrong but they don't have to be demonized?  In short, what ever happened to common civility? 

The Wolf

*  I personally don't know enough about the issue to say whether Rav Shteinman is right or wrong on the issue.  The issue here is not whether Rav Shteinman is right or wrong, just that it is within the realm of possibility that he is wrong.