Today Google came out with a new app called PhotoScan that will scan your old photo collection. Like just everyone, I have stashes of shoeboxes inherited from parents full of pictures. Some were scanned in a scanner, back when I had one that was compatible with a computer. More recently, I’ve used scanning apps like Readdle’s Scanner Pro and Scanbot. These de-skew the photographs of the photos that your phone takes but the resolution’s is not always the best and there can be some glare from overhead lights, especially when you’re working with a glossy original pictures.
Google’s approach cleverly stitches together multiple photos. It uses a process much like their 360-degree photo app: you start with a overview photo. Once taken, you see four circles hovering to the sides of the picture. Move the camera to each and it takes more pictures. Once you’ve gone over all four circles, Google stitches these five photos together in such a way that there’s no perspective distortion.
What’s remarkable is the speed. I scanned 15 photos in while also making dinner for the kids. The dimensions of all looked good and the resolution looks about as good as the original. These are good results for something so easy.
My choice, from an early age, has been to engage in social change from the ground up, using the power of organized nonviolence. A distrust of the political process was firmly in place by the time I was 15. As a daughter of Quakers I pledged my allegiance not to a flag or a nation state but to humankind, the two often having little to do with each other.
Yesterday the family traveled north of Trenton to a living history farm to learn about maple sugaring.The kids collected buckets of sap, practiced drilling a tap, watched the boiling off process in a “sugar shack,” cut firewood, and then — yes! — ate some pancakes with farm-made maple syrup.
L.A. Kauffman’s critique of consensus decision making in The Theology of Consensus is a rather perennial argument in lefty circles and this article makes a number of logical leaps. Still, it does map out the half-forgotten Quaker roots of activist consensus and she does a good job mapping out some of the pitfalls to using it dogmatically:
Consensus decision-making’s little-known religious origins shed light on why this activist practice has persisted so long despite being unwieldy, off-putting, and ineffective.
All that said, it’s hard for me not to roll my eyes while reading this. Perhaps I just sat in on too many meetings in my twenties where the Trotskyists berated the pacifists for slow process (and tried to take over meetings) and the black bloc anarchists berated pacifists for not being brave enough to overturn dumpsters. As often as not these shenanigans torpedoed any chance of real coalition building but the most boring part were the interminable hours-long meetings about styles. A lot of it was fashion, really, when you come down to it.
This piece just feels so…. 1992 to me. Like: we’re still talking about this? Really? Like: really? Much of evidence Kauffmann cites dates back to the frigging Clamshell Alliance—I’ve put the Wikipedia link to the 99.9% of my readers who have never heard of this 1970s movement. More recently she talks about a Food Not Bombs manual from the 1980s. The language and continued critique over largely forgotten movements from 40 years ago doesn’t quite pass the Muhammad Ali test:
Consensus decision making is a tool, but there’s no magic to it. It can be useful but it can get bogged down. Sometimes we get so enamored of the process that we forget our urgent cause. Clever people can use it to manipulate others, and like any tool those who know how to use it have an advantage over those who don’t. It can be a tribal marker, which gives it a great to pull together people but also introduces a whole set of dynamics that dismisses people who don’t fit the tribal model. These are universal human problems that any system faces.
Consensus is just one model of organizing. When a committed group uses it for common effect, it can pull together and coördinate large groups of strangers more quickly and creatively than any other organizing method I’ve seen.
Just about every successful movement for social change works because it builds a diversity of supporters who will use all sorts of styles toward a common goal: the angry youth, the African American clergy, the pacifist vigilers, the shouting anarchists. But change doesn’t only happen in the streets. It’s also swirling through the newspaper rooms, attorneys general offices, investor boardrooms. We can and should squabble over tactics but the last thing we need is an enforcement of some kind of movement purity that “calls for the demise” of a particular brand of activist culture. Please let’s leave the lefty purity wars in the 20th century.
I must admit I’ve been thrown off my blog reading by the demise of Google Reader, closed July 1 with only a few months warning. I remember when Google’s was the newest member of the RSS reading options. Its simple interface and relatively-solid performance eventually won me over and its competitors gradually stopped innovating and finally closed.
In the last few months other services have taken up the challenge of replacing Reader, but it’s been a chaotic process and a gamble which would be rolled out in time. One of my go-to programs, Reeder, now works for the phone but not the Mac app. It runs off of the Feedly service, which I now use in the browser to access my feeds.
I rely on these blog reading services to keep track of over 100 blogs. RSS may not be sexy enough to be a mass-market service but for those of us whose temperments or hobbies run toward curation, it’s an essential tool. As the new systems mature, I hope to keep up with my Quakerquaker reading more thoroughly.
Combine glue, three-fourths cup water, and food coloring in one bowl. In another bowl, mix one-fourth cup water with one tablespoon Borax, and add this to the first bowl, stirring until it forms a Goop ball. Remove the ball. Again combine one-fourth cup water with one tablespoon Borax and mix it into the glue mixture, stirring until another Goop ball forms. Keep repeating the process until the glue mixture is gone. Then knead all the Goop balls together. Now you’re ready to play by pulling and patting the Goop into strings and unique forms. Store the Goop in an airtight container.
We only really managed one-round of Goop (see video). We also couldn’t find any food coloring on-hand and so made white Goop.