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Exposing the Big Game

Hey hunters, here’s a question for you: On a scale of 0-3, how strongly do you agree with this statement “Seeing an animal injured or in pain doesn’t bother me in the slightest.” If your answer was 3, do society a favor and get yourself fitted for a straightjacket and a Hannibal Lector hockey mask, because that was one of the top questions from the “How-to-tell-if-you-are-a-psychopath” quiz.

On a similar note, I just came across a September 3rd 2009 article by George Wuerthner with the no-brainer question for a title: “Are Hunters Stupid?” The article’s subheading, “The Unintended Consequences of Wolf Hunting,” was more in keeping with his point, since Wuerthner is a hunter and former hunting guide who probably doesn’t really consider himself stupid.

He starts his article out by telling about Daryl, a co-worker of his at the Bureau of Land Management in Boise, Idaho. At a…

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Travel Photographers

Curated by Stillmind 

August 3rd -2011-

Photo Tips from Nat Geo Travel


Posted by IT Blog August 1, 2011 
Ralph Lee Hopkins/National Geographic

Ralph Lee Hopkins/National Geographic

  • Have you always dreamed of becoming the next great National Geographic photographer, traveling on assignment to some of the world’s most exotic and exciting destinations? Well here’s your chance to learn from the pros and get one step closer to realizing your goal. Beginning in September, our popular photography seminar series returns. At these day-long events, hear from National Geographic Travelerphotographers as they share tips and advice about these topics: Using Light to Make Powerful Images; Putting the WOW in Your Nature and Outdoor Photography; A Passion for Travel: Photos That Tell the Story; and Becoming a Versatile Travel Photographer. Sign up today through August 7 using the coupon code EARLY10 to receive 10 percent off  your registration.

The first seminar doesn’t begin until September, so in the meantime we asked Travelerphotographer Ralph Lee Hopkins to give us a sneak peek into his fall lecture, Becoming a Versatile Travel Photographer. Here’s what Ralph had to say about mastering the art of travel photography:

Intelligent Travel: Your seminar is about becoming a versatile travel photographer by learning to shoot all the different elements of a travel story: portraits, architecture, festivals and celebrations, landscapes and cityscapes. Does having to capture all these different elements make shooting a travel story easier or harder? What element do you prefer to shoot?

Ralph Lee Hopkins: Shooting all the different elements of a story is what makes travel photography so much fun. Obviously, some subjects are more challenging to capture than others. I find photographing people, for example, to be the most difficult to do well. Photographing people requires finding approachable people in a pleasing situation in good light. That takes a lot of time and effort and being out at different times of day when people are out and about and things are happening. I’m most comfortable shooting landscapes and wildlife, but I also enjoy photographing festivals and celebrations with all the different photo opportunities.

What is your favorite piece of equipment or accessory that you’ll never be caught without while on assignment?

Interesting question, since I rely on my gear almost on a daily basis. I guess I would have to say my 24-105mm lens is the one piece of equipment I can’t live without (attached to a camera body of course). The 24-105 is the most versatile lens and my workhorse for photographing people, landscapes, and for aerial photography.



Ralph Lee Hopkins (NGS)


What’s the number one thing you want the audience to take away from your seminar?

The major point I want people to take away from the seminar is that, in the end, it doesn’t matter what camera you use, or how much equipment you carry. It’s all about knowing how to use your camera, knowing its strengths and limitations, and being there in the moment, at the right time and the right place, to get the shot. The actual practice of clicking the shutter is the easy part. It’s doing the research, getting to location, and taking the time to find good situations to make images.

Best piece of advice you’ve received as a travel photographer?

The best advice I ever got was from my good friend and colleague Bob Krist who says that, in photography, it’s not your batting average that counts, but whether you get the shot, so shoot to exhaustion and don’t be satisfied thinking that you nailed it. Keep working until the situation is over, or until exhaustion, whichever comes first.

If you could choose your next assignment for Traveler where would it be?

This is a difficult question, since there are still so many great places in the world to visit. Near the top of my list would be driving the Ring Road around Iceland in mid-summer, when the days are long and the sun barely sets, being so close to the Arctic Circle. This 830-mile adventure circumnavigating the island would be the ultimate road trip, and something that anyone could do (with time and money, that is). Iceland has great photographic variety, from rugged coastlines, expansive volcanic landscapes and hot springs, to interesting people and wildlife (puffins, puffins, puffins…).

For more information about Traveler‘s Fall Photo Seminars and to register, visit:

  1. August 2, 4:44 pm

    I love to travel, but I must admit one of the hardest parts about traveling is actually trying to capture it on camera. I’ve made that mistake in the past and a pricey trip didn’t come out with as many souvenir photos as I had hoped. This photo seminar is a good idea.

Cuba Part 1.

¡Vamos a guarachar!.

A while ago we made a request for 7 “lost” Muñequitos tracks that had never been released on CD.

We soon found 4 of them.

The last three have finally been found.

LP Siboney 420 “El guaguancó de Matanzas…Los Muñequitos” grabado en Santiago de Cuba, 1988, from which the following tracks were left off the “Rumba Caliente 88/77” CD:

Canto Para Ti (Guaguancó de Florencio Calle) (Earlier we uploaded a version of this one by Guaguancó Matancero.)
Ese Señor (Guaguancó de Gregorio Díaz). (This one was later recorded on the “Vacunao” CD.)
Mayeya (Guaguancó de Jesús Alfonso). (This is a version of the same song from “Rapsodia Rumbera.” The LP attributes it to Jesús Alfonso but with all due respect I am skeptical.)

As far as I can tell we have now posted all vinyl tracks recorded by Los Muñequitos (or Guaguancó Matancero), which have never been released on CD, with the possible exception of their recording of “Xiomara” which plays in the closing credits of Oscar Valdes’ “La Rumba” documentary. Also, our copy of “Ya están sonando los güiros” is incomplete.

(Big thanks to Mark Sanders at Fidel’s Eyeglasses for digitizing and cleaning up the sound files and cover scans.) Download here.


Sara Gómez article on rumba: Cuba Vol 3, No. 2 1964

We came across this article by Sara Gómez (1943-1974) in the December 1964 issue of “Cuba,” which seems to have been the Cuban equivalent of the USA’s “Life” magazine.

Sara Gómez is most known today for her films “…y tenemos sabor” and “De cierta manera.” I am not aware of any other articles she has written. The article also contains historic photographs of the old “Clave y Guaguancó” by Mário García Joya, “Mayito,” who also had a distinguished career in Cuban cinema and now lives in Los Angeles. Some of them we have seen before in a book by Olavo Alén Rodríguez, but others are new, such as this one of Agustín “el Bongocero” Gutiérrez:

Agustín Gutiérrez, c. 1964
Photo by “Mayito”

Sara Gómez would also include this group in her film “…y tenemos sabor.”

The text of the article takes a bit of an unusual form, with narrative information in small text alternating with quotations from Agustín Pina “Flor de Amor” in larger text.


Osama Bin Laden — Everyone’s Missing the Point

Osama Bin Laden — Everyone’s Missing the Point | Common Dreams.

Osama Bin Laden — Everyone’s Missing the Point

by Barry Lando

The jubilation of Americans and Western leaders at the death of Osama bin Laden, though understandable, misses the point. In many ways, the figure gunned down in Pakistan was already irrelevant — more a symbol of past dangers than a real threat for the future.

Indeed, from the point of view of America and many of its allies, the most menacing symbol in the Arab World today is not Osama bin Laden but another Arab who recently met a violent death — Mohamed Bouazizi, the 26-year-old Tunisian fruit vendor who chose to set himself on fire after being harassed by corrupt local police.

His act, of course, ignited the storm that has spread across the Arab World and proven a much more serious threat to America’s allies in the region than al Qaeda ever was. Ironically, his sacrifice probably also dealt a far more devastating blow to al Qaeda’s fortunes than the assassination of Osama bin Laden.

The Arab world today bears no relationship to the situation a decade ago after 9/11. Obsessed with bin Laden and al Qaeda, the U.S. has been sucked into a vast quagmire — a disaster for the Americans, their economy, and their standing in the Arab World.

What particularly provoked Osama bin Laden — a Saudi — was the decision of Saudi rulers to accept the presence of more than a hundred thousand “infidel” U.S. troops and their allies in Saudi Arabia following Saddam Hussein’s invasion of Kuwait. In general, he and his followers were outraged by U.S. support for corrupt, repressive regimes from Saudi Arabia to Egypt to Yemen, as well, of course, for America’s backing of Israel.

As Osama himself told CNN in 1997, “the U.S. wants to occupy our countries, steal our resources, impose agents on us to rule us and then wants us to agree to all this. If we refuse to do so, it says we are terrorists… Wherever we look, we find the U.S. as the leader of terrorism and crime in the world.”

Bin Laden’s message resonated throughout the Muslim world. But U.S. officials remained deaf to its meaning, and continued obsessed with al Qaeda and its Taliban allies. The upshot — U.S. policy was the best recruiter Osama could have asked for. Over the past decade, hundreds of thousands of American soldiers, CIA killer teams, mercenaries, predators, and “diplomats” swarmed across the region from Iraq to Afghanistan to Pakistan to Yemen and Somalia, supported by sprawling new bases and pharaonic embassies.

The bill for all this — for an America crippled by cutbacks in health, infrastructure. and education — will be in the trillions of dollars. But despite this massive effort, none of those targeted Arab countries could by any stretch of the imagination be considered a success story. Hostility to the U.S. is high throughout the region. In polls, the majority of those Arabs queried consider the United States a greater threat than al Qaeda.

In Pakistan, despite the U.S. lavishing tens of billions of dollars on that country’s military, it turns out that Osama bin Laden, rather than groveling as an outlaw in the isolated tribal regions, has been living in a fortified villa near the country’s major military academy and a large army base, just a few miles away from the capital city.

America had also launched an ambitious civilian aid program: $7.5 billion over five years, designed to win Pakistani hearts and minds and bolster the civilian government. But, corruption is so rife throughout the Pakistani government, and its officials so incompetent, that the U.S. has been unable to disburse most of the aid. As the New York Times reports:

Instead of polishing the tarnished image of America with a suspicious, even hostile, Pakistani public and government, the plan has resulted in bitterness and a sense of broken promises…

The economy is failing. Education, health care and other services are almost nonexistent, while civilian leaders from the landed and industrialist classes pay hardly any taxes.

Pakistanis see the aid as a crude attempt to buy friendship and an effort to alleviate antipathy toward United States drone attacks against militants in the tribal areas.

The same reports come from Afghanistan. A decade after the U.S. invaded, tens of thousands of American troops are still fighting what seems to be, at best, a see-saw battle against the Taliban. There also, according to another report in the New York Times , the U.S. is backing incompetent, corrupt, unpopular leaders. Millions of dollars of U.S. funds actually get diverted as payoffs to the Taliban and their allies — bribing them not to attack U.S. projects, such as $65 million highway that may never be completed in Eastern Afghanistan.

The vast expenses and unsavory alliances surrounding the highway have become a parable of the corruption and mismanagement that turns so many well-intended development efforts in Afghanistan into sinkholes for the money of American taxpayers, even nine years into the war.

Now back to Mohamed Bouazizi the Tunisian fruit vendor whose death unleashed the Arab Spring that is still roiling the region.

Though Osama Bin Laden and Al Qaeda have yet to be credited with overthrowing an Arab regime, the spark provided by Bouazizi has already led to the downfall of American-backed tyrants in Tunisia and Egypt, and continues to threaten other despots in Libya, Yemen, Syria and Bahrain.

Ironically, most of the leaders overthrown or desperately trying to hang on to power had declared themselves implacable enemies of al Qaeda. Yet, again, it was not bin Laden, but Bouazizi, who turned out to be a far greater menace.

Precisely for that reason, it is Bouazizi’s Arab Spring, not sophisticated U.S. killer teams, that most threaten al Qaeda and its allies. By demonstrating that secular uprisings can succeed in toppling the aged, crusty tyrannies, young Arabs across the region have — so far — undercut the appeal of the Islamic radicals.

So far, because despite the early successes in Tunisia and Egypt, the future of the Arab Spring is far from clear. The current process will take decades to play out. The political and economic establishments have been decapitated in Egypt and Tunisia, but not decimated. In the rest of the region, though seriously shaken, the old order still reigns supreme.

The same corrupt Saudi regime that fueled bin Laden’s outrage is still in power, still backed by the United States. Indeed, they have been doing their utmost to tamp the spreading revolt, spending millions to bribe Yemen’s tribal leaders, dispatching their troops to Bahrain to help crush the uprising of the Shiite majority in that country.

Indeed, that brutal repression may radicalize thousands of young Shiites, generating hosts of new recruits for al Qaeda or other extremists Islamic groups — even as the corpse of Osama bin Laden lies somewhere at the bottom of the sea.