Come aboard the Steem ship

Hi everyone. I hope no one will be angry with me, because I am here to recommend you about another social network. I think it's OK because I don't see this social network as a direct competition to Vingle. I mean, I wasn't very active in Vingle for a while due to lack of time, but I still think Vingle is great. Some of you may have more free time on your hands and are probably active on several social networks already, so why not try something new? Especially when Steemit, the new social network that I am talking about is different. Different in a way that I am sure many of you will like: On Steemit you get payed for contributing content and for up - voting content, contributed by others. Steemit a social network, very similar to Reddit. It is very new and in fact still in beta stage, so things are still a little bit messy there. But it has a growing community of some very interesting people, and it is based on a Blockchain system that gets you actually payed with real money for participating. It is a bit hard to explain in just a few words how it works, but there are very good user guides at their home page that you can look at before you decide to register. So again, I am not here to steal users from Vingle, but some of you may want to try something new as well. Making money on Steemit takes some time. It will not make you rich overnight. But it's a chance to be part of the growing phenomenon of the Blockchain, and a chance to get reworded for your writing.
+ 1 interests

Street photography ethics

The only time someone shouted at me, "Paparazzi!", was when I took a picture of a statue. Although there where very few cases in which I did encounter a celebrity in a cafe or on the street and took her or his picture ( who wouldn't ? ), I generally disapprove of Paparazzi as a phenomenon. I think people, including famous people, are entitled of their private life. Street photography is not Paparazzi. It is not about stalking specific people and capturing pictures of them while they take out the garbage. Yet, I am often asked if it is OK to photograph people without their consent, usually while they are just minding their own business. First of all, there is what the law sais, and that may change from country to country. In most countries though, the law permits taking pictures of people in public places with certain restrictions. In Israel, for example, It is not allowed to take pictures of children without parental consent. And then of course, all privacy and non-defaming laws apply to pictures too. Street photographers need to be mindful of these legal issues. But legal issues aside, the question still remains: Is it OK to take pictures of people in the street photography manner? I mean ethically OK? Well I don't see myself an expert on moral decisions, but I can tell you what guides me in my decisions. A street photo is the result of a mental process that ends with the decision to press the shutter button. This process begins with a hint. Something that make the photographer decide to pursue a specific picture. Each street photographer relies on different hints. For me, the hint in most cases is that someone, the object of my picture, had the courage to stand out in the crowd. It's as if that someone lights up the scene for me, and says, "Shoot this!". The more the picture looks like someone or something in it made me feel compelled to take it, the more I feel that it's a good one.

The human endeavour from street level

Photography is a manipulation. A picture never shows a genuine capture of reality. Reality has 3 dimensions of space plus a time axes. A photograph is a two dimensional capture of a single moment in time. A photographer always have to choose. What gets in, and what stays out? How much exposure? What level of sensitivity? Color or black-and-white? each of these choices affect the final result just as much as the reality that is the subject of the picture. Photojournalists have to make all these decisions plus some moral decisions. And yet, they usually enjoy the luxury of having relatively long time to plan and of a thousands of dollars worth equipment. I wish I could be a photojournalist. Actually in my next life, I want to be a National Geographic photographer. In this life though, I work in IT and photography is just a hobby. So I picked up the lightweight version of photojournalism. The one in which I can use a $100 pocket camera and my smartphone camera. At least one of those is always with me. Armed and ready to shoot. But using lightweight gear comes with a cost. A cost of even more decisions that have to be made and less time to make them. The essence of street photography is to capture scenes that only last for 2-3 seconds and then evaporate into the past. Scenes that are like delicate objects that the photographer can easily roin. All my street photographs have people in them, weather you can see them or not. Sometimes it's the architects and the builders of a building. Sometimes it's this bureaucrat in the city offices who could'nt care less that a piece of his city's history is falling apart. I can't make you see what is not in the picture but I can make you wonder about it. And I can also make you wonder about the photographer, about myself. Why did I make this choice? And did I make it? Is the photograph blurry on purpose or did my camera just fail to focus and then I decided that the result is actually kind of artistic? So let me give you a hint - for the most part I don't really know. A street photo is the result of a long process. A process of observation and introspection. In street photography the photographer is very much like his camera, zooming in and out, changing perspectives, choosing between light and shadow, focusing ( or not ). Movements, Body language, operation of the camera and finally the pressing of the shutter button must all be means to a purpose. And the purpose is to capture a piece of life that the photographer is inside it, but not part of it. So what do I see in my pictures? Well unlike Bruce Willis, I see living people. I see the human endeavour as I believe it should be seen. An amazing journey towards a great unknown. A journey we are all part of weather we like it or not. I want to make other people see that too. I hope I do it in part through my pictures, but to be honest, that is far from being enough. So what I really want is to make you pick up a camera and go out there too. And I don't mean go out there and just take pictures, which is something that everyone is doing nowadays. I want to make you adapt the perspective of a street photographer, because once you do, I am pretty sure you will realize how wonderful we all are and that we must be crazy to treat one another the way we do now. It's an oxymoron, I know, but this is exactly what I want people to see, and then, when enough people understand that, maybe things will start to change.

Biological privatized warfare - prepare for the worse

I don't usually tend to spread apocalyptic predictions, but this is something that I think we should all be concerned with. I urge you to pay close attention to what is written below and also to spend the 16 minutes or so, it will take you to carefully watch the attached TED talk. I know it may be a bit tough to understand if you are not a biology major, but I hope to get you to at least understand that something of epic proportions is going on, and doesn't get anything close to enough public attention. So here is the TED talk, and please watch it carefully before you read further OK, so let me just recap that for you: CRISPR is a technology that makes gene editing almost as easy as cut-and-paste in a word processor. Even more, in a recent breakthrough, scientists discovered that they can make sure that the modified genome will be inherited by 100% of the offspring of a modified organism, which is never the case in natural sexual breed. Although CRISPR is a remarkable achievement of science, that can bring hope, not just to people with genetic disorders but also to mankind in general ( by eradicating mosquito transmitted diseases, for example ), It is quite clear that it bares some significant and rather frightening risks. And although the ones that come first to mind are alarming enough ( Imagine for example, how easy it now becomes to perform genocides and ethnical clearances ), the one that I find the most concerning is a bit more tacit. CRISPR works very much like computer code modifiers, that is malicious software like worms and viruses on one hand, and computer protection software on the other hand. This fact did not escape the attention of genetic engineering entrepreneurs. In fact, I know of at least one bioengineering startup that develops tools for "Genetic engineering as a service". Remember also that in order to spread modify genomes, there is no need to spread actual biological material. Genomes can be spread as computer files to labs where the actual genetic material can be generated at the very last moment with gene sequencers. I feel that this is a good point to pause and remind ourselves that we are not talking about science fiction here. This is all existing technology that is put to use in these very days. A technology that is a game changer not only for mankind but for all of life on earth. We are now capable of eradicating a whole species at will and of creating new life forms, and it is as easy as writing computer code. True, we still don't know how to manipulate complex things which are probably not completely genetic, such as behaviour, in a controlled manner - a fact that is used by scientists to downplay the risks that CRISPR bares, but to understand why I think we should still be very concerned, we have to consider another factor: Privatized warfare. Privatized warfare is not a new thing of course. Mercenaries, Pirates, Private armies and cell based terror organizations have existed since the beginning of civilization. But in the internet age, it became a major factor in the map of organized threats. This is very much evident in the realm of cybercrime and it's related criminal activities. Private and for-profit organizations, as well as lone wolfs, co operate with states and state like organizations trough a complex network of interests and conflicts, in a way that is very difficult to control and predict.


0.0000005 is roughly the time since the "out of Africa" migration of homo sapiens, divided by the time since the big bang. Just this tiny fraction of the life of our universe ago, there were less humans on this planet than there are chimpanzees living on it today. Furthermore, research shows that all of us, no matter of which race, nationality or faith, are the descendants of a single human family. It should make all of us wonder about some of our deepest convictions. Are we really so different than one another? It took the universe 13.8 billion years to create intelligent life on earth. It took us 0.0000005 of this time to learn to be hateful and indifferent. Isn't that so stupid? I mean think about all the things that we value so much as differentiating us. Gender, skin color, nationality, belief systems, socioeconomic status. They are all just a result of the random noise at the edge of a 13.8 billion years long process. Isn't it just stupid that we invest so much of our mind power in trying to make sense of this noise instead of wrapping our mind around the awesomeness of the entire process? All our religions, all our addictions to short term and shallow solutions, they come from lack of perspective, from the fear that comes with measuring everything in the magnitude of a single lifetime. We are born, we live, we die, and first we think this is all we have and then we can't bare this thought. But it's just not true. We are part of the universe. We are made of the stuff that was created in the big bang and are shaped by the process that was going ever since. It makes us great. It makes us part of the almighty. It is it, and not all the things we falsely think that are important.