Autumn Leaves Disprove Conservative Charity
In October 9, 2010, Andy Schlafly decided to cheer Conservapedia up with a rather blurry photograph of beautiful autumn leaves which supposedly disprove the Theory of Evolution and prove Intelligent Design. The folks at WIGOCP rather rightfully point out that the photo does not exactly meet any sensible quality standards, and that there might have been a much more sensible method for Andy to obtain a photograph, which we photography lovers call "going out with the camera". This is not a very complicated metaphor-laden method; It is exactly what it says in the tin.
What everyone seems to forget is that Andy appears to have gotten this photograph from The National Scenic Byways Program of US Department of Transportation, and this is a public domain photograph. Andy has previously stated that public domain works, which have been produced with taxpayer money, should be put to good use in Conservapedia. I agree with this sentiment in itself, as Wikipedia has become an incredibly interesting, lively and educational source of imagery, mostly due to well-coordinated efforts to use US Government images.
Where I disagree with Andy, however, is how this material should be chosen. Material in one context may not work in another. Wikipedians spend incredible amounts of time fixing up images, and strive to obtain the source images from quality sources. It may require some effort. Without going into undue details, let me just summarise the problem in simple terms: Crappy Thumbnail + Article ⇒ Still Crappy Thumbnail, now in an Article ⇒ Laughter and Finger-Pointing.
It is as if Andy took a crappy thumbnail, thought "if this is what taxpayer money gets us, that's what I'm going to use, dammit", and put it on the web page. No polite inquiries to the source to obtain a high-quality image. No retouching to make the image presentable in Conservapedia. No nothing. You see, this might have required some acts of charity. Facing the massive government bureaucracy headlong and obtaining a copy of a file, and using it to help fellow citizens, fellow humans on planet Earth.
As a foreigner, I don't have any idea how to contact US government entities, so I leave that business to the US citizens. Instead, I decided to post a photograph of my own here. It took me all of 15 minutes, walking outside and finding something photo-worthy that illustrates those beautiful autumn leaves, withered they may be in the ever-going cycles of Nature. We got our first snows here yesterday, but they fortunately melted away for now so I could just take this photo. It features a brilliantly coloured birch, standing close to a public school. It appears someone has strung a windbag way up a pole in the distance. I've always wondered what the heck that was about. Any crappiness in the resolution is due to the fact that this is a pretty old camera – most certainly not the fault of our caring, service-providing government. (Though I would be first to support a law that would make government-funded works public domain here, too.)