Blogs

Peta Pixel Conflict Photography

 

I have always wondered how photographers could capture such dangerous moments in certain situations, and whether they would go all the way into those situations risking their life. Do people or enemies not harm them just because they have a press badge on? The movie Blood Diamond also made me ponder on this thought; how many photographers have died trying to capture an image representing a certain conflict? There are those people who may have given there lives in hope that they would capture an award winning photograph and then there are photographers who take a not-so-violent situation and skew it to make sure their photograph forces an award winning conflict. Watch this video below in order to see what i'm referring to.

Ruben Salvadori

Light and Ramonville (dimanche, 24 Juillet, 2011)

I begin to understand why artists talk about light with such reverence.  Provence is fabled for its light: A destination for artists and for sun-worshippers, en general.  Toulouse is in the Midi-Pyrenees, which is immediately west of Provence and definitely southern France.  So the light in Toulouse can be pretty spectacular, too.  Evenings are really the best time to watch the light.  It is clear and soft and the change from early evening to late is a constantly evolving show.  There’s a big, old (built before Columbus sailed) church visible from my balcony.  Around 8:00 p.m., it is white-washed by the sun.  By 8:30, it radiates a rose color, as does the city (hence the nickname “pink city” although I prefer the untranslated “ville rose”).  By 9:00, the sun is low enough that the buildings are in shadow, but the cumulus clouds are lit up – textured whites on top, blue-grays and pinks on the bottom.  It will stay like that for another 30 minutes or so and be twilight around 9:30.  But the most amazing light I think I’ve ever seen was on a short evening trip from Ayron to Poitiers two weeks ago.  It was about 9:30 p.m.

Some thoughts on Texting and Communication

After having a quite candid conversation with one of my friends last night over the ever popular text message, it got me to thinking a little bit about how we use this feature in our everyday lives and the impact it has had on how we communicate. I have often found myself trying to explain myself, or really anything for that matter over my handy dandy iPhone and realized that in the time it took me to compose, alter the incorrect auto-correct, and send the message, a simple phone call would have taken less time.

I think we are losing the personal touches that come with texting as well. The subtle changes in voice or inflection cannot be delivered by an emoticon. Recent studies have indicated that teens these days are sending well over 3000 texts a month. The question I raise, which has been raised by many before me, is if this style of communication and language is dominating teen’s life, what are they missing out on? Are we still connecting on a level as profound as that of speech or writing?

Fromage & Toilettes

A note of explanation:  I arrived in Toulouse, France on July 1 for a year-long sabbatical stay.  I spent the first 5 weeks on my own, settling into my apartment and learning my way arround.  In the second week of August, the rest of my family arrived.  My wife, Betty, and youngest daughter, Rachel, will stay the year with me.  Betty is also in Psychology and an Associate Dean in the College; Rachel is in the fortunate position of just having graduated from high school, so we offered her an "off year" before college to learn some French and some French culture.  My oldest daughter is one year out of college and will visit 2 or 3 times this year, but will live in Lexington and keep my mind at ease because my 2 golden retrievers were left at home.  With that, this is the first of several blogs that I created for my family.

Fromage and Toilettes (14 Juillet, 2011)

Bucket List

 

#1 on my “bucket list” is arranging a private concert by Diana Krall for me and 30 or so hand-picked friends and family.  (Ella is no longer available.)  The playlist will be chosen mostly from her “Live in Paris” CD and her “All for You” CD.  The finale will be Diana’s version of Joni Mitchell’s “A case of you.”  The champagne will be French; Kentucky will, of course, supply the bourbon.  Mr. Dave and Ms. Betty will put together the menu. 

There must be at least one dream on your bucket list….

#2 on my bucket list is living abroad for a year.  At the moment, I am two months into crossing that item off my list.  I am definitely not in a hurry to get it crossed off.  Toulouse is a great city in which to live and is conveniently located for one who finds Europe a generally pleasant place to spend some time.  Being in France on a sabbatical leave is, perhaps, the best of circumstances in which to spend time abroad.  I am expected to spend a year focusing on the part of my job for which I was trained; I am meeting new colleagues who share many of my interests but bring different perspectives to our common ground; and I have a great deal of freedom in deciding how to use my time.  But the biggest advantages of living abroad are the consequences of the constant mundane challenges to routine.

End of Summer Round-Up

Well folks, it’s the end of the summer semester here at UK, and fall term starts but a few days from now.  That means that this week’s blog is going to focus on wrapping up my thoughts and experiences on my first summer as a Media Mafia worker.

I guess I could sum up the summer by saying working here was…interesting, I guess.  There were days wherein I had very little to do, and days wherein I was absolutely swamped.  There were videos to shoot, people to interview, movies to digitize, furniture to move, sandwiches to eat, and programs to learn.  Higher powers, were there programs to learn.

This summer, we were lucky enough to acquire a nifty little application known as After Effects.  It’s fun to play with, but until you can get the basics down, it makes you feel like a complete moron for daring to try and operate a system that is so clearly out of your league in every way, shape, and form.  It took many a frustrating Youtube search and much trial and error, but I finally got to the point where I could make a decent enough video on it without feeling like I was an absolute failure.  I’m not a master of the program by any means, but I’m not so far in the novice range as I once was.

True Complexity of Computer Programs

First off, fair warning this is going to be very nerdy but I find it interesting so enjoy!

In high school computer science class I was introduced to the idea of complexity. Complexity is a way to describe how efficient a program is. In other words how much computer memory does the program need and how fast can the program be completed. Complexity is described mathematically using what is called big O notation and is written as a function of time or memory in terms of the input size. For example O(n^2) means that for n number of inputs the time to complete the program increases quadratically. Big O notation is always written as a function of one term with no coefficients. Examples are O(n), O(n^3), O(log n), etc.

Obviously some of these complexities are problematic because as the size of the input increases the complexity increases much faster. For example O(n^3) with an n value of 100,000 has 10^15 operations to perform. If the computer runs through a million operations per second the program wouldn't stop running for almost 32 years! If your computer lasted for that time it would be incredibly obsolete. Clearly no one has time to run a program for this long and 100,000 isn't even that large of an input number (consider that google searches deal with billions of sites).

Return to Classes

     It is hard to believe that the Fall semester is almost here again.  It seems like just yesterday Spring semester ended and the summer was beginning.  The local public grade schools have even already started their new school year.  Soon the new freshmen will be coming to UK’s campus and beginning their new lives as well.  The air is full of excitement and promise. 

     I myself am excited for the new school year to begin.  I am starting new classes and an extended research lab project.  There will be new books to read and new subjects to explore.  Also, in Online Education we will be aiding in new classes and start working on some new classes for the next summer.  I am always anxious to find out what classes and professors have decided to utilize an online format. 

An interesting TED talk...

I watched an interesting TED talk this week. It was on the fundamental moral differences between Liberal and Conservative mindsets. The presenter used the psychology of morality to justify why people on both sides of the isle always think their position to be infallible, or their beliefs unquestionable. Liberals speak for the weak and oppressed, want change and justice even at the risk or chaos. Conservatives speak for institutions and tradition, and want order even at the cost of those at the bottom.

Unfortunately, the stereotypes are quite reliable. It turns out that Liberals usually score much higher on a personality trait called openness to experience. According to McCrae (1996): “Open individuals have an affinity for liberal, progressive, left-wing political views, whereas closed individuals prefer conservative, traditional right wing views.”

Now, this is an interesting thought. If our moral views are predicted and defined by personality traits, which are not an acquired, but rather innate for each individual, perhaps it is not all based on the environment or conditional circumstances of someone’s birth, and we do have a “first draft” of our moral mind upon our entrance to the world.

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