Composure Outlasts Composition

It shall have to, because most of the last roll I got developed was weak. I guess it is a sign of progress, I think I’m noticing more in my pictures, how they have too much or too little of certain things, and how that produces a photograph that isn’t balanced, harmonious, and ultimately beautiful. I can still appreciate some of them though, so there’s that.

I think this is a roll of Ilford hp5 400. I’m gonna have to stick to color or b/w from now on. I think there are different techniques for composing each. Having an array of colors, assuming they aren’t contrasted between darker and lighter colors or shades, doesn’t make much of a difference. And my eyes have started noticing similar colors that are within a fram. So, here’s the ones I liked or thought were decent:

cropped tree outside

As always, feedback is welcomed and appreciated.

Note to progress-makers

A good world is one where good (which has to be defined before achieving advancement) is probable, not merely possible. Good is always possible, even it just means dying in a fight with evil. But a good world, a good society, has good as the likelier event. We are not a good society, but understanding what a good society is can help us to become one.


Banking off Burnouts

My first job was UPS. I didn’t and do not like the predicament such work placed people in my position. You had to work nights for a few hours performing repetitive, laborious work that was vital to the company’s success for varying (usually 10-20) hours a week while getting paid peanuts to do it. Many of my co-workers had second jobs. The only redeemable factor was the opportunity for promotion — that good old lie meant to assuage workers by convincing them that if they fail in a company, it is strictly because they aren’t advancing towards a better (higher paying) position. People who were an unloader like me could become a driver eventually. I knew one guy who did. I saw him multiple times driving around while I was working the next job I got.

My second job was as a person who worked with special needs children in their homes and at school. I don’t know that I ever liked the job; for the most part I only liked certain kids. I did think I was really on my way towards something greater than my previous job. They hired me without experience or a degree — rare at the time. It was also important that I was a male because there were a few kids who were rough and difficult to work with because the protocol for dealing with them demanded someone to physically move them or prevent them from harming others. I was also optimistic about it and more than willing to work long days for nearly 12 hours in total away from home. I would start at my first session at a little after 8 most days, and end, with about 30 minutes of lunch and some drive time between other sessions, the last session at any time between 6:30 and 7:45 most days. This is the kind of thing only a young person would do, someone who needs money because they want to feel independent and support themselves.

Just this willingness to work has turned out to be very important to, I’m finding, more and more businesses. I don’t have any statistics on the matter because I distrust and dislike statistics in general. But every bar I go to, every new restaurant, my experience driving for uber, and my knowledge of charter schools (not to mention the high turnover rate for teachers and California’s shortage), I am left with the impression that it is mostly young people who work for these places and traveling a lot in LA. I doubt it is really different in other big cities. I won’t get into my unequivocal hatred for the recent influx in traveling and becoming periodic nomads.

I will say that we ought to see there is a problem with mostly young people being relied on for these jobs. Teaching and working with special needs children at home and school both amount to rather long hours worked. I know one teacher who has been doing it for years at a school that isn’t chartered and some days she still stays at work until 10 at night. Most of the people I knew to work with the special needs children were expected to and supplied far more enthusiasm and energy than I could on the job.

But in both cases — teaching and working with special needs children — the turnover rate is very high. Towards my last year at my job, I started to notice there was almost always someone changing cases/kids. Someone had left which caused things to need to be switched around. People also requested off of certain cases that were exhausting.

When people talk about work these days, not enough realize this is the reality: so many of us are being overworked. I specifically sympathize with, for instance, women working like 3 jobs just to afford to live in LA. Even if they’re staunchly liberal and would scorn me equally before and after I mention that sympathy. There’s just no one talking about this struggle and it leaves people to feeling trapped in a neverending plight for all the good moments they think are happening somewhere else. It’s fucking sad. People are spending their 20’s, not building a career, not establishing themselves, not even planting themselves in a city where they work and want to start a family, but instead just trying to make it through the day and working their ass off.

Some of the fault is indeed due to the fact that many are awestruck by the lights and glamor of the big city. They move away from a dull small town or the remotest edges of a big city, and then they have to work very hard to survive.

The fact that so many of them are convinced of this illusion doesn’t help either. They end up in a city with lots of newcomers whom they have to compete with for a living. Many don’t make it and just move back with their parents or, worst, they move to another big city and give it another shot.

People who believe in the salvation of souls should be talking about what this kind of restlessness does to the soul. They feel besieged by forces moving in and out of their lives. As Christopher Lasch said, “Those without power find themselves fighting phantoms.” Who of them really has the time to develop a moderate criticism of the democratic party? Not many. Instead they end up warring with the conservative party, and many conservatives are too blind to see they suffer the same obstruction of sight. But even if that is so, conservatives should be understanding of what effects such a reality has on hope, virtue, family relations, home ownership, and introspection. Instead they don’t.

My First B/W Photos

Got back my first roll of B/W photos and I’m charmed by the simplicity of them. I don’t mean that in any self-congratulatory or prideful way. I’m just seeing that photography as a hobby — and maybe all hobbies are this way — lends beauty to the creator as much as their audience. What was it Doseone once said, “speaker and listener are two of a kind,” making the artist and their audience the same witness to the art. Not that I’m an artist with a camera.

These are shot around LA. I tried to get a lot in Downtown LA after going whiskey tasting with a friend at Seven Grand. So yes I am a bit tipsy for some of the night shots.


Comments and (anything but de-constructive) criticism  welcome. I’m wondering what some of the white streaks are in some of these. I’m guessing that means the aperture was too low and there ended up being too much light in the shot.

Removing Pitts from Brad

And knowing him by his fruit:

Sitting with those horrible feelings, and needing to understand them, and putting them into place. In the end, you find: I am those things I don’t like. That is a part of me. I can’t deny that. I have to accept that. And in fact, I have to embrace that. I need to face that and take care of that. Because by denying it, I deny myself. I am those mistakes. For me every misstep has been a step toward epiphany, understanding, some kind of joy. Yeah, the avoidance of pain is a real mistake. It’s the real missing out on life. It’s those very things that shape us, those very things that offer growth, that make the world a better place, oddly enough, ironically. That make us better.

I have a real knack for finding people defend pain. God’s trying to teach me something. Would that I could get it and stop making the same mistakes.

Anyway. I wasn’t expecting this much wisdom from Pitt. There’s something about his character in Burn After Reading that just seemed like him, like it was a role he played without acting at all. Maybe he was that way when he was young, maybe it’s just what Hollywood has made him out to be in public. But there’s much more. In another part of the interview, he offers words anyone interested in getting married, or currently married, should cherish:

I heard one lawyer say, “No one wins in court—it’s just a matter of who gets hurt worse.” And it seems to be true, you spend a year just focused on building a case to prove your point and why you’re right and why they’re wrong, and it’s just an investment in vitriolic hatred. I just refuse. And fortunately my partner in this agrees. It’s just very, very jarring for the kids, to suddenly have their family ripped apart.

Divorce should be seen as something quite uglier than the best feminist’s defenses can conjure. It ought to be seen as a “family ripped apart.” Indeed Jolie was Brad’s second wife, but the truth is the same.

As Christians, we have a responsibility to acknowledge and seek to understand how that much pain can become normal, how it can just become apart of someone’s philosophy — that a family should be ripped apart, that divorce and separating children from their earthly creators should be allowed.

Elsewhere, Pitt shows himself to have learned a lot as a father, and from this men have a lot to learn also:

People on their deathbeds don’t talk about what they obtained or were awarded. They talk about their loved ones or their regrets—that seems to be the menu. I say that as someone who’s let the work take me away. Kids are so delicate. They absorb everything. They need to have their hand held and things explained. They need to be listened to. When I get in that busy work mode, I’m not hearing. I want to be better at that.

Causal Relationships

“There is no such thing as a Lost Cause, because there is no such thing as a Gained Cause.” — T. S. Eliot

Christopher Lasch had a different idea about the Left: “It is allergic to anything that looks like a lost cause.”

There is no other explanation for how the world has changed so swiftly in 100 or so years when the thing is potentially thousands or millions of years old.

A Working Model of Distributism

As Medaille suggests in this essay, people considering an alternative system to capitalism ask for an example of where it works. Here is Medaille’s example of a cooporative corporation in Spain:


Founded in 1953 by students of a rather remarkable parish priest, Father José Maria Arizmendiarrieta, it has grown from a simple paraffin stove factory into a giant corporate conglomerate with several hundred worker-owned firms involved in the manufacturing of the most sophisticated products, banking, retailing, research, education, construction, business services, and insurance. Today, the Corporation has €33 billion in assets, does €16 in sales, employs 104,000 workers, 81% of whom are worker-owners to whom they distribute 52% of the profits. But Mondragón is more than a mere “corporate success story.” It is a business model that is completely counter to the modern corporation.

In the first place, Mondragón is ruled by the principle of subsidiarity; that is to say, the higher level exists to serve the lower levels. Indeed, the individual cooperatives have the right to leave the corporation; participation is voluntary. This makes it impossible for a centralized authority to “lord it over” the member cooperatives. The corporation itself is ruled not by outside investors (there are none) but by the workers themselves. You might call this an inverted model of corporate organization. The firm is built from the ground up rather than the top down.

But that is only part of the story, because Mondragón is more than just a business enterprise; it is a social one. It is of course a profit-making enterprise, but profit is not an end in itself. It is merely a means to a much broader set of ends. In addition to its normal business enterprises, Mondragón runs an education system, a university, social safety networks, retirement systems, research and training institutes—things normally provided by governments through taxes—and provides all on its own resources, without the help of government. The guiding principle is solidarity, people caring for each other with the help of formal structures and institutions.

Between these two principles, subsidiarity and solidarity, Mondragón takes the principles of Catholic social doctrine and turns them into a living reality. And a successful one at that. The fear of implementing a “morality-based” system is that it might compromise the necessary business goals. But the opposite seems to be the case; the cooperative model doesn’t merely work, it works to produce a strong and growing network of firms that are fully profitable and competitive in local and world markets. Moreover, it lessens the need for big government by providing social services from its own resources. But more than these successes, what Mondragón really builds up is community, that sense of mutual caring and obligation that must be the real point of any sane economic system.

I’m not convinced that hope of this lies afoot for America. Silicon Valley seems to be the closest we could come to that, and from what I hear, everyone there is obsessed with profit and individualism. As one writer responding to a story about the new Juicero (a juicing machine that presses the liquid from a bag of fruit), Silicon Valley is “a stupid libertarian dystopia where investor-class vampires are the consumers and a regular person’s money is what they go shopping for.” Sounds about right.

But one may still hope that Americans outside of that cesspool can see that we have enough common needs and goals to dedicate our lives to satisfying them together with those who are around us, which strikes at a principle distributists may certainly understand better than capitalists: locality is better for people than globalism. Working with those around you is more likely to result in having your needs met than is trusting either a far off government or corporation. Libertarians and those that argue for more local power get this to some degree. The trouble is they stick to criticizing the government’s long-reaching power. Government and corporations are equally capable of working ot the detriment of communities across a nation, and now the world.