Wednesday, August 31, 2005

Male Model

Male Model

Male Model (2003)

Blog with a View, at heart, is a digital art photoblog. Each Wednesday, I present an image without the usual annotation/explanation.

As I note in the blog's description, please feel free to talk back to the art, or, if you wish, use this post as a weekly open thread.

Tuesday, August 30, 2005

The Woods Always Mean Death

The Woods Always Mean Death

The Woods Always Mean Death (2000)

From "Into the Fairy Tale -- The Forest of Eden" by Frank Dwyer:

“In fairy tales,”[Bruno]Bettelheim wrote, “being lost in the forest symbolizes not a need to be found, but rather that one must find or discover oneself.”

[...]

What else do we know about the forest, from the fairy tales? It’s a place where kings lose their way and don’t know how to get home...

Mmmm. Let's see. Employing the war in Iraq as a metaphor for being lost in the woods, who might be using the conflict to discover himself -- yet who doesn't have a clue how to "get home"? Someone, with codpiece thrusting, who enjoys dressing up and acting kingly? Someone, as the tales tell us, who is known for huffing and puffing fits?

Could it be...this guy?

No need to read my lips...

My what lovely oil you have...

From Capitol Hill Blue -- "Bush's Obscene Tirades Rattle White House Aides" by Doug Thompson:

While President George W. Bush travels around the country in a last-ditch effort to sell his Iraq war, White House aides scramble frantically behind the scenes to hide the dark mood of an increasingly angry leader who unleashes obscenity-filled outbursts at anyone who dares disagree with him.

“I’m not meeting again with that goddamned bitch,” Bush screamed at aides who suggested he meet again with Cindy Sheehan, the war-protesting mother whose son died in Iraq. “She can go to hell as far as I’m concerned!”

Bush, administration aides confide, frequently explodes into tirades over those who protest the war, calling them “motherfucking traitors.” He reportedly was so upset over Veterans of Foreign Wars members who wore “bullshit protectors” over their ears during his speech to their annual convention that he told aides to “tell those VFW assholes that I’ll never speak to them again if they can’t keep their members under control.”

White House insiders say Bush is growing increasingly bitter over mounting opposition to his war in Iraq. Polls show a vast majority of Americans now believe the war was a mistake and most doubt the President’s honesty.

“Who gives a flying fuck what the polls say,” he screamed at a recent strategy meeting. “I’m the President and I’ll do whatever I goddamned please. They don’t know shit.”

Bush, while setting up for a photo op for signing the recent CAFTA bill, flipped an extended middle finger to reporters. Aides say the President often “flips the bird” to show his displeasure and tells aides who disagree with him to “go to hell” or to “go fuck yourself.” His habit of giving people the finger goes back to his days as Texas governor, aides admit, and videos of him doing so before press conferences were widely circulated among TV stations during those days. A recent video showing him shooting the finger to reporters while walking also recently surfaced.

Bush’s behavior, according to prominent Washington psychiatrist, Dr. Justin Frank, author of Bush on the Couch: Inside the Mind of the President, is all too typical of an alcohol-abusing bully who is ruled by fear.

To see that fear emerges, Dr. Frank says, all one has to do is confront the President. “To actually directly confront him in a clear way, to bring him out, so you would really see the bully, and you would also see the fear,” he says.

[...]

Dr. Frank explains Bush’s behavior as all-to-typical of an alcoholic who is still in denial:

“The pattern of blame and denial, which recovering alcoholics work so hard to break, seems to be ingrained in the alcoholic personality; it's rarely limited to his or her drinking,” he says. “The habit of placing blame and denying responsibility is so prevalent in George W. Bush's personal history that it is apparently triggered by even the mildest threat.”

Into the woods / To get the thing / That makes it worth / The journeying...

You can go to grandma's house...once you've been pre-screened...
[Illustration by Gustave Dore]

Hopefully, our own experience in the woods of Iraq, as well as this revealing peek into Bush's backstage temperament, will lead us to the same conclusions Red Riding Hood reached in Into the Woods:

And I know things now
Many valuable things
That I hadn't known before...

Isn't it nice to know a lot
...and a little bit not...

And, as today's image states, although some neoconnish children may try to twist the meaning of the woods to mean ridding the world of stockpiles of (mythical) WMDs or regime change or nineteen other reasons, fairy tales consistently show the woods are symbolic of one thing. It's always

Whose woods these are I think I know...

And the mother gave, in tears and pain,
The flowers she most did love;
She knew she should find them all again
In the fields of light above.

--Henry Wadsworth Longfellow, "The Reaper and the Flowers"
[Sketch of the Grim Reaper found on firstworldwar.com]

Monday, August 29, 2005

Bad Dog

Bad Dog

Bad Dog (2000)

From The Bad Dog List -- "Destroying":

*A multi-colored ink pad is NOT food and will cause my paws to be green, my mouth to be blue, my tongue to be orange...and the carpet in the office to be all different colors!
* I can allow the kitties to play with their furry toy mouse for at least 24 hours before I chew it into an unrecognizable pulp.
* I have several toys designated as mine, and I know what they are. I must to chew and take out my separation anxiety on them, instead of all the things I AM NOT allowed to have, like electric cords, and cooking utensils.
* I must not break through the glass on the back door in my efforts to escape from the basement while my human is at work. I also must not then try to chew my way through the wood on the door, as this still has glass pieces on it and it cuts my mouth. After she takes me to the vet for emergency checkup and cleans up all the glass and blood I left in the house, I will not refuse to eat my antibiotics just because there is no peanut butter on them. This causes my human to worry about me and think about murdering me simultaneously. This also causes her a great financial burden, since a vet visit for a 100-pound dog isn't cheap, and neither is a new back door.
* I shall not eat the crotch out of my human's dirty underwear when she forgets to close the closet where the laundry basket sits.
* I will not bite my human's cellular phone every time it rings.
* I will not bury all the expensive doggy toys my human bought me so that I may spend my days eating the landscape lights.
* I will not chew the dog training book, especially when it is a library book.
* I will not dig under the cherry tree, chew on the roots and kill it.
* I will not pee into the container that has the central air conditioning unit inside. I will rust out the coils and force expensive repairs to be made.
* I will not try to lick all the dirty dishes in the dishwasher (even though I know I'm not supposed to), and then jump back when I am yelled at, catching my collar in the bottom rack and scaring myself, causing me try and run away dragging the whole (full) bottom rack with me, and breaking my human's mother's crystal cake platter that she to got as a wedding present.
* Just because I can see onto the counters does not mean I have eat/hide/destroy whatever is up there.
* The crotch of a my human's pants is to be left alone.
* When my human goes to work, I will not do the 'Escape From Alcatraz' act over the gate in the kitchen, chew the wicker coffee table, dining room table and chairs, poop in the bathtub, eat 2 stuffed animals, drag all the clean and folded laundry out of the bedroom and pee on it, rip the top off a box of Triscuit and eat the whole thing, and then greet my human at the door with a grin and a look that says "I had a great day! How was yours?"

Artesian Spring Water, my ass...

I will not eat Duraflame logs. I already have enough fiber in my diet.

From Bankrate.com -- "11 Dogs That Could Raise Your Insurance Costs" by Kay Bell:

Insurers say when they identify dog breeds that tend to bite, it helps bring down the cost of homeowner policies. Dog owners say their pets should be considered as individuals and the insurance approach amounts to ineffective canine profiling.

Some states are considering barring "breed discrimination" by insurers. Even the American Kennel Club has weighed in, arguing that some dogs save insurance companies money because the animal is a natural alarm system whose bark deters intruders and prevents potential theft.

While the debate rages on, many major insurance carriers continue to limit coverage to dog owners. Large dogs that can inflict a lot of damage are prime "no-insure" targets. Other considerations that influence a company's willingness to cover a breed include the frequency of dog bites for the breed, the breed's reputation as well as research conducted by the Centers for Disease Control and individual insurance companies.

Will your family pet cost you more in insurance premiums? Here, listed alphabetically, are 11 pooches that regularly make insurance companies' "bad dog" lists. Breed information comes from the American Kennel Club and various breed Web sites: Akita, Alaskan Malamute, Chow Chow, Doberman Pinscher, German Shepherd, Pit Bull, Presa Canario, Rottweiler, Siberian Husky, Staffordshire Bull Terrier, Wolf Hybrid.

Get the paper?  Get a clue...

Why don't you play dead, asshole?

From WCTB-TV Pet Center -- "A Bad Dog May Be a Sad Dog":

Is your dog bad to the bone?

It could be he has a condition called canine compulsive disorder. It can cause unexplainable, repetitive behaviors such as tail chasing, snapping at the air, excessive licking, chewing with an empty mouth, and monotonous barking without any change in volume or intonation.

About 2 percent of dogs have canine compulsive disorder, says Andrew Luescher, the director of Purdue University's Animal Behavior Clinic. The disorder can be so severe that it affects the dog's daily living. For example, he says, one dog was so distracted by its own shadow that it stopped drinking water.

Strange behaviors caused by the disorder are often misdiagnosed as neurological problems. The longer the behaviors are allowed to continue, the more difficult treatment can be, Luescher says.

[...]

The first study will evaluate the effectiveness in dogs of a class of drugs called selective serotonin re-uptake inhibitors (SSRIs). The second study will examine whether positron emission tomography (PET) can be used to diagnose and evaluate neurophysical brain changes in dogs with the disorder.

I can't afford my own meds...

but, okay, the poor abstract dog in today's image will never receive another newspaper rap to the nose again for tearing the sheets to shreds while trying to find the mole that lives in the bed. I'm sure Celexa and a talking cure regimen will get different results than repeated Pavlovian rituals involving electronic collars and self-Tasering...

Sunday, August 28, 2005

Locusts

Locusts

Locusts (2003)

The rockets came like locusts, swarming and settling in blooms of rosy smoke.
--Ray Bradbury, The Martian Chronicles

From National Geographic News -- "Locusts Inspire Technology That May Prevent Car Crashes" by John Roach:

Locusts are commonly associated with plagues, food shortages, and death. But for a team of European scientists, the grasshopper-like insects are inspiring a technology that may save lives by preventing hundreds of thousands of car crashes.

"Locusts are good at avoiding collisions," said team member Claire Rind, a biologist at the University of Newcastle upon Tyne in England. "We should learn from a species that is good at the task."

The insects migrate in swarms as dense as 80 million adults per square kilometer (0.4 square mile) yet avoid crashing into each other and the mouths of predatory birds.

[...]

Locusts, which can consume their own weight in food each day, have a large neuron called the locust giant movement detector (LGMD) located behind their eyes. The LGMD releases bursts of energy whenever a locust is on a collision course with another locust or a predatory bird.

A few years ago Rind and her colleagues studied the activity of the LGMD as locusts watched action scenes from the movie Star Wars. The team found that the LGMD releases more energy when something is coming directly at the locust.

[...]

To date, the team has built a locust-inspired, collision-avoiding robot and is currently developing crash-avoidance circuitry for a model car. In a few years Volvo may have a prototype. By the end of the decade cars equipped with the locust-inspired technology could be on the showroom floor.

The system is envisioned as something that would detect approaching danger before a human notices it. The system would sound an alarm so that the driver could take evasive action. "If the situation gets worse, it would apply the brakes, initiate defensive features, such as tensioning of the seatbelts, and arming inside airbags," Rind said.

From CounterPunch -- "Empire of the Locusts" by Jeffrey St. Clair:

The American Empire is in the grip of the idiot prince. But Bush the Younger doesn't have the heart of Claudius. He is a smirking and vindictive man, running on very bitter juices indeed. A sour little man of limited intellect and unbound ambition, primed with the pious rage of a dry drunk. Pretzel Boy.

Bush was whisked into power in an electoral coup, the way cleared by his more capable brother, a cadre of media handlers and pitbull lawyers, and a corrupted Supreme Court. Bush merely watched things break his way like a dazed automaton.

The American people, by and large, mulled around like somnambulants, as the remnants of their Republic dissolved without so much as a murmur. They were mired in a pathology of submission. Even the baleful Gore didn't stand up for himself, as if to say that if he had to win the election by fighting for thousands of disenfranchised black voters in Florida it wasn't worth winning.

This is a dangerous mix in a putative democracy. The nation is ruled by corporate gangsters and the people who might do something about it are too dulled, overworked and panic-stricken to make a move to defend their rights. It's evidence that an extreme political degeneracy has set in, eating away at the great promise of this wrecked republic. The glory days are gone. Now the nation finds itself enshrouded in a kind of terminal entropy.

[...]

Even Nero proved a more forgiving despot than Bush. Here's Suetonius on the deranged emperor: "According to my informants, Nero was convinced that nobody could remain chaste or pure in any part of his body, but that most people concealed their secret vices; hence, if anyone confessed to obscene practices, Nero forgave him all his other crimes."

In contrast, Bush, a former drug dilettante and alcoholic, pursues private and consensual conduct with the rabid spite of an uptight bully. He has attacked the right to die with dignity and zealously pursued the prosecution of those who want to alleviate their suffering by smoking a little pot, even when such federal prosecutions trample state laws, which he once deemed as sacrosanct. His Attorney General, John Ashcroft, a psalm-spouting, prosecutorial puritan. He views the Bill of Rights with the same acidic disdain that J. Edgar Hoover once reserved for the Communist Manifesto. John Ashcroft is our Torquemada, has turned America against itself, seeding the country with snitches, snoops and informants. Diversity was once the calling card of this nation, now it can land you a subpoena or a one-way ticket to an internment camp: address unknown.

These things happen every day in the empire of the locusts.

The locusts have no king, yet go they forth all of them by bands (Proverbs, 30:27).

Shake It Up Baby Now...

From plaguedomes.com:

Can you imagine what a swarm of hungry grasshoppers sounds like? With this Plaguedome, you won't ever have to! With a quick swish of your wrist you can cause millions of ravenous locusts to descend upon the world's food supply! This 40mm diameter, glass dome was the first in the Plaguedomes line here at Products of the Apocalypse, Inc. Don't let this one pass you over!

Currently, these 40mm domes are cast in the finest of plastique and glass and filled to the overflowing brim with good ol' tap water and 10% antifreeze solution to keep you shaking up a storm during those hard winter nights. Every scene is individually designed to make each of the ten plagues extremely unique*. Hours of tender, loving care are invested in each of these works of art to provide you with an experience of Biblical proportions.

*Extreme uniqueness may vary.

Wouldn't it be nice if locust technology could help prevent a head-on crash into the apocalypse? But with Tiberius Bush driving the car, believing it's better to "stay the course" and drive full speed into oncoming trucks, we're headed straight for plague* times.

*Extreme plagues may vary.

One person who understands well the hopeless situation in Iraq and the rigidity of Republicans is Digby over at Hullabaloo. Go now and read his recent post on the futility of hoping BushCo will wise up or ever give a Roman inch. It's been thumbs down from the get go, and liberal intellectuals are fools for thinking Bush will ever come nosing around the light of reason. Digby notes:

On what planet did liberals think that the modern Republican party gave a flying fuck about what they thought about anything? It certainly wasn't planet earth circa 2003. Bush had just recaptured the Senate and was striding around the country, codpiece bursting, proclaiming to the entire world that he didn't care what they thought. Did liberal intellectuals actually believe some fantasy that Bush could blow off Europe and ultimately the entire security council but listen to them? My God.

Why are people so unwilling to admit what they are seeing before their eyes, even today? The Republican party is corrupt, incompetent and drunk with power. And no matter what their intentions, they are incapable of setting things right. We have seen this over and over again.

What planet, indeed. These give-Bush-the-benefit-of-the-doubt Democrats are like the guy in the snow globe above. Smiling sheepishly, reaching for cap in hand, trusting Bush Tiberius will lift a thumb in their direction, they instead are tossed facedown into the arena. The globe wobbles. The insects attack. The bones are stripped bare. The skeletons apologize. Repeat. Slaughter is inevitable when gladiators equivocate instead of fight. Will liberals and the Democratic leaders ever learn and fine-tune their sensors to avoid another crash?

Meanwhile, in its last throes, the Empire slouches off to the vomitorium and awaits the regurgitation of democracy. Bush, with his imperial smirk intact and bored with vacations from his vacation, once more shakes up the world for daily bread and circuses. And, like radioactive ash, the locusts swarm and bury liberals wearing rose-colored blinders -- again and again and again.

Saturday, August 27, 2005

Birdbath

Birdbath

Birdbath (2001)

You know the expression taking a bath? Could the tub get much bigger in Iraq?

Of course -- especially when there's always more sentimental propaganda to catapult. Fear and screened rallies can't seem to shore up BushCo's sagging polls, so let's get out our handkerchiefs. But how many yellow magnets have to be superglued to our trunks and foreheads before a nostalgic glaze in our non-reality-based eyes blinds us to the ongoing blatant manipulation?

Thanks to my friend Jim who pointed me to this rosy scenario gone seedy from Yahoo -- "Hoax Leaves Illinois Student Newspaper Embarrassed":

Kodee Kennings' story was pure gold. For nearly two years, the motherless 8-year-old spoke and wrote movingly of her struggle to deal with her soldier father being shipped off to fight in Iraq, and Southern Illinois University's student newspaper chronicled her thoughts in its pages.

But there was no Kodee Kennings, and the elaborate hoax exposed Friday left The Daily Egyptian embarrassed.

"Certainly for us it's a sad day," said Eric Fidler, Daily Egyptian faculty adviser for the past year. "Some good can come from this, but it doesn't help our reputation. All we can do is be upfront with what happened and what we know."

A 2004 SIU graduate who posed as Kodee's guardian says she and a former Daily Egyptian editor concocted the story to help his career. He denies that and says he was duped, too.

A 10-year-old girl who posed as Kodee in public appearances and a man who pretended to be her father say they were unwitting participants in the scam and believed they were acting in a film.

[...]

Kim Treger, owner of a women's shoe and accessories store, said she followed the story from the start but was not surprised to learn it was fake.

"As long as people dig those sentimental stories and have that yellow-ribbon mentality, there are going to be these hoaxes," she said.

The Daily Egyptian printed a retraction and filled in these details:

Over nearly two years, the Daily Egyptian told the story of a precocious little girl whose mother was dead and whose father was fighting in Iraq.

Members of the newspaper staff befriended the girl known as Kodee Kennings and she was given an occasional column in the DE. The column, at times funny and at times heart-rending, talked about her father in the military, her fears about monsters under her bed and her life with her guardian, Colleen Hastings.

None of it was true.

The Daily Egyptian and its readers were taken in by a bizarre, elaborate hoax.

There was no Kodee Kennings. There was no Colleen Hastings. And there was no father named Dan Kennings in Iraq.

The web of lies began to unravel about two weeks ago when the staff of the newspaper was told that Dan Kennings had been killed in battle. Sources at the Department of the Defense and at Fort Campbell, Ky., where Kennings was supposedly a member of the 101st Airborne, said no man by that name has served or died in Iraq.

Reporting by this newspaper and others since then has found that Hastings is actually Jaimie Reynolds of Marion, a 2004 graduate of SIU. And Kodee is actually the daughter of a pastor in Montpelier, Ind. The man portraying Dan Kennings is Patrick Trovillion of Vienna, who says Reynolds paid him for his role.

[...]

Calls from a young voice saying she was Kodee Kennings were often placed to the Daily Egyptian and staff members would talk to this person, often for hours. E-mails from family members of Dan and Kodee Kennings were sent to numerous members of the Daily Egyptian staff and the girl was also allowed to sit in on classes by journalism instructors.

In summer 2004, Trovillion, posing as Dan Kennings, visited the Daily Egyptian newsroom, thanking the staff for taking care of his daughter while he was in Iraq. He walked through room, shook hands and hugged staff members. Trovillion said Reynolds paid him "about $100" to appear in the Daily Egyptian that day. Reynolds insisted he was not paid. Both said the two met through her cousin.

"I am absolutely floored by this," Trovillion said. "It really does piss me off."

Pissed now there was no movie, maybe, but nothing catapults the propaganda better than war hero sentimental slop. Here are email and column samples that appeared in the student paper written by lonely (and fake) Kodee -- complete with carefully added misspellings:

"Dear Daddy,
I miss you and I want you to punch Saddam. Don't die, OK dad? When you come home, can you stay home for real? You should find Saddam and run him over with your tank. Then you can come home. Do you wear your helmet when you sleep? I love you and don't die.
Love, Kodee" -- from journalism student Michael Brenner's story about Kodee's separation from her father.

"Michael use to rite sports but traded it in for being the editor. He's the boss of the newsroom. He's kind of like the Vise Presadent. He just comeands and fixs storys. He wins awards." -- from "Kenningsology," Kodee's column in The Daily Egyptian, referring to Brenner.

"You know what? Theres monstars under my bed. They come out when it's dark in there. Some of the monstars make nose and some don't becuse they'r sneky. ...

"My dad use to make the monstirs run away becus he would use his soldier voys. I hate when he yells at me in his soldier voys and so do the monstirs. After he did that they would leve me aloan." -- from "Kenningsology."

"I miss my dad. When he kills all the bad guys Air Force One will bring him home. I'm tired of wateing." -- from "Kenningsology."

Feel used enough for that cleansing bath now? But here's the kicker. As callous as this manipulative scheme is, it was done for short-term personal gain. How much worse are the administration's open lies about the "heroic" exploits of Jessica Lynch and Pat Tillman -- lies designed for the sole purpose of providing a rah-rah injection in a crass attempt to inoculate the public against the virus that the war in Iraq has steadily become? Remember how Pat Tillman's parents felt when they learned their son's death was being packaged as a photo op? Tillman's mother said:

The military let him down. The administration let him down. It was a sign of disrespect. The fact that he was the ultimate team player and he watched his own men kill him is absolutely heartbreaking and tragic. The fact that they lied about it afterward is disgusting.

and Tillman's father added:

After it happened, all the people in positions of authority went out of their way to script this. They purposely interfered with the investigation; they covered it up. I think they thought they could control it, and they realized that their recruiting efforts were going to go to hell in a handbasket if the truth about his death got out. They blew up their poster boy.

but, after the Downing Street Documents, we now know the entire war has been scripted from the beginning. "Kodee" conned a student newspaper -- but BushCo scammed the nation. How much longer are we willing to be marks as the carnies shove more magnets and Kleenix into our hands? Apparently, as long as we sit still and swill the agitprop. As Mark Morford observes in "The Big Lie of Jessica Lynch":

Look, there is no war without spin. There is no war without outright lying to the populace, without trying to coerce a wary nation into supporting our unprovoked savagery by way of Hollywood-style set pieces performed specifically to deflect attention from the brutality and the decapitated children and the still-dying U.S. soldiers and the burning bodies by the side of the road.

This is nothing shocking. This is nothing even remotely unusual or uncommon. The fabric of war consists not of gallant battles fought by hardy soldiers for some noble collective good yay yay go team, but of manufactured tales of valiant brotherhood and purebred heroism designed to make the vile pill slightly less bitter.

War is, of course, vicious and primitive and disgustingly violent and not the slightest bit gallant, and America has rarely been more thuggish in its short history than when we annihilated Afghanistan and Iraq lo these past few years, the world's greatest bloated superpower hammering down on two nearly defenseless, piss-poor nations in the name of, well, petrochemical rights and strategic political positioning. It's not a war; it's a gang beating. Uncle Sam wants you.

And, hence, we need the sugar. We desperately need the sweet, teary-eyed images of flags and salutes and stunning "rescues" to make it all go down smoothly, to suppress the collective recoil, the national gag reflex. After all, who wants to see burning babies and crying mothers and hot screaming death on prime time? Show me Old Glory waving in slo-mo! Ahh, that's better.

But it's not better. It's a slap in the face and each bitter pill has an aftertaste that makes us all feel worse -- and used.

When I first showed today's image to my daughter, she had only one comment: Where's the bird?

And I think it's important for me to be thoughtful and sensitive to those who have got something to say...

There it is, honey. See. You just have to look a little deeper...

...look a little beyond the borders of the daily propaganda proscenium...

Friday, August 26, 2005

Curious George Goes to the Disco

Curious George Goes to the Disco

Curious George Goes to the Disco (2002)

I'm curious. Aren't you curious? I'm very curious...
--Dennis Hopper in Apocalypse Now

And why not dance the night away? You're on extended vacation, more physically fit than Achilles, and of the mindset that "it's important for me to get on with my life." Bring it on is so last year. The new night rally cry should be Get it on.

So, in between Travolta thrusts, I wonder -- are we very curious as to how curious Curious George is?

from The Bush Dyslexicon (quoting the Associated Press, August 26, 1999):

Thus Bush replied when asked, by a schoolchild in South Carolina, to name the the book he liked the most when he was small:

"I can't remember any specific books."

Curious George wasn't very curious, was he?

~/~

Update: I've activated the word verification option for comments because of increasing spam problems on the blog. I'm sorry for any inconvenience.

Wednesday, August 24, 2005

Gang of Roses

Gang of Roses

Gang of Roses (2002)

Blog with a View, at heart, is a digital art photoblog. Each Wednesday, I present an image without the usual annotation/explanation.

As I note in the blog's description, please feel free to talk back to the art, or, if you wish, use this post as a weekly open thread.

Tuesday, August 23, 2005

Mars Stirs

Mars Stirs

Mars Stirs (2004)

Still feeling sub-par, but, in the something is better than nothing vein, here's an image of our planetary neighbor done in fractal minimalism.

Another image tomorrow, and then, hopefully, regularly scheduled blogging back by Thursday.

Monday, August 22, 2005

Sick Mosquito

Sick Mosquito

Sick Mosquito (2001)

Feeling really under the weather, so blogging will be hit and miss for the next few days. Thanks for coming by and hanging in.

I hope to get back up to speed again soon. In the meanwhile, please check out a few of the many fine sites located on the right.

Sunday, August 21, 2005

Take Me to Your Pharmacists

Take Me to Your Pharmacists

Take Me to Your Pharmacists (2000)

Make your madness end
and head back home to burn
a hippy peace flag. Make a massive
spectacle of yourself, put yourself beyond

reproach and camp
out in a ditch with moral
authority. Exploit designer
sandals and stub toes like Freeper

threatening goons. You are crazy
and want a new speechwriter to air
anti-war ads against Bush’s Red Square
ranch. Your pathetic interests

at heart are a fun lie. Go home.
Your fifteen minutes of fame will remain
insignificant compared to a grieving mother.
You are like a glass of water

seen through a TV screen. Cindy sighs
but what are you doing with your sleaze? You hate
and lie your ass off. I’m tired of seeing you.
Bury yourself.

Rush recommends this hillbilly heroin...

This should numb the pain from reading Freeper writing...

Today's image is a peek into the Freeper soul. The poem was collaged from comments made about Cindy Sheehan on the Free Republic website. Selected comments were cut and pasted into a virtual cut-up machine. All values were set on random, and the text was cut up multiple times. The poem was arranged out of the resulting, reconstituted text. The outcome is a found poem recast into a new context that turns Freeper language inside out. I like to think of this process as either a purification rite or a wingnut detox step program. At any rate, from my perspective, the remarks now seem sensible rather than pharmaceutically addled.

Saturday, August 20, 2005

Take Me to Your Safe Sex Seminars

Take Me to Your Safe Sex Seminars

Take Me to Your Safe Sex Seminars (2002)

From sexpert.com -- "What Woman Really Want in Bed"

For Men Only.

In this fun, informative class, you’ll discover what women wish you knew about them - but rarely tell you. Love guru and sex expert Dr. Ava Cadell will answer all your questions, ease you over your anxieties with frank discussions about what women really want and teach you new techniques guaranteed to satisfy any woman.

Did you know the majority of women say that they prefer sensuality to sexuality? So how can you learn about these most desired sensual technique? Chances are, you won’t get the right information from your ill-informed friends or adult videos. There is a better way.

Dr. Ava Cadell will share secrets to fulfilling your partner’s needs by harmonizing sensual techniques that will tease her and drive her wild and incorporating sexual activities to keep you satisfied. This class is for men who want to learn the secrets of a woman & raise their erotic IQ.

Dr. Ava Cadell will cover:

--The G-spot mystery
--Tongue Magic
--Erogenous Zones and why slower is better
--Using common household items to enhance lovemaking
--The latest sex toys that will drive her wild
--Multiple orgasms for men and women
--Keeping the flame of passion burning
--Making safe sex erotic

This class is for men who love sex...and men who want to love sex!
Although God has glorious plans for your love life, disturbingly, in today’s society finding True Love is a lot like trekking through a wild jungle.

Amongst other things you must avoid: liars, fakes, cheaters, men on the down low, angry bitter females, gold-diggers, HIV/AIDS and other sexually transmitted diseases.

[...]

No Glove No Love? -- Raw and uncut, we’ll examine the naked truth about safe sex. We’ll answer critical questions such as, “Where, when and how safe sex originated? Is safe sex really safe? Who’s really behind the safe sex movement? Are condoms the surefire bullet proof method to preventing unwanted pregnancies and sexually transmitted diseases?”

There's no time lock on chlamydia...

That safecracking class is gonna come in handy...
[Safe Sex #2 (How About a Little), 1987, from Winston Smith's ArtCrime]

From sexuality.org:

CREATING A SPACE FOR PLEASURE
A Seminar on Hosting Erotic Events

Sunday, May 31, 1998
Noon - 5pm
$6

1412 12th Ave
Seattle

For many people, the idea of attending or hosting an erotic event is both intriguing and intimidating. On the one hand, it might be wonderful or perhaps even transformative to be able to experience erotic or sensual pleasure in the presence of other folks who are similarly engaged. On the other hand, you might have only a vague sense that such events are possible, much less know how to feel comfortable attending or hosting one.

The fact of the matter is that a wide variety of erotic events, ranging from large semi-public gatherings to small invitation-only gatherings of a few friends, occur on a regular basis all over the world. If you are curious about this cultural phenomenon, think you might like to attend some sort of erotic gathering, or think you might like to host one, then this is the seminar for you.

"Creating a Space for Pleasure: A Seminar on Hosting Erotic Events" will leave you with all the information you need to attend or host an erotic event of your own. It will contain the distilled wisdom of folks who have considerable experience at successfully putting on erotic events ranging in size from 150 people to 3 people. Several participants in this seminar (men and women of various persuasions and orientations) who have attended a variety of erotic events in Seattle, San Francisco, Portland, and other places will be present to share their experience in terms of "what worked" and "what didn't work."

This seminar will present information on how to host a variety of different types of events, including safer sex parties, erotic massage salons, "ritual/spiritual sex" events, BDSM play parties, "threesomes," large gatherings, and more. Towards the end, a group brainstorming session will help each attendee create a personalized written "blueprint" for an event he or she might like to create and host at some point in the future. Issues such as creating the guest list, arranging the space, deciding on the type of event you wish to create, helping the guests feel safe, having a good time as the host, dealing with emotional issues and jealousy, etc., will all be covered.

[...]

Light snacks and informational handouts will be provided, and we plan to start on time :)

I get the feeling that the visitor in today's image wants to be taken -- but not necessarily to a leader.

~/~

Why not treat yourself and visit Matt at The Tattered Coat to view and vote in the First Annual Katherine Harris Colorized Photo Contest? You might recall that Ms. Harris complained recently that the press was "colorizing" her photos. You can explore my digitized contribution and many other fine alterations. All are hysterical and worth checking out.

Friday, August 19, 2005

Baby Monster

Baby Monster

Baby Monster (2004)

From Wikipedia:

In mathematics, the Baby Monster group B (or just Baby Monster) is a group of order

241 · 313 · 56 · 72 · 11 · 13 · 17 · 19 · 23 · 31 · 47
= 4154781481226426191177580544000000
˜ 4 · 1033.

The Baby Monster group is one of the sporadic groups, and has the second-highest order of these, with the highest order being that of the Monster group. The double cover of the Baby Monster is in fact a subgroup of the Monster group.

The smallest faithful matrix representation of the Baby Monster is of size 4370 over the finite field of order 2.
Generalized Moonshine for the Baby Monster
by
Gerald Hoehn
Albert-Ludwigs-Universitt Freiburg

I will explain Nortons generalized Moonshine conjecture and present a proof for the case related to the Baby Monster. The main steps are the construction of the Baby Monster Lie algebra with the help of a vertex algebra and the use of the no-ghost theorem from string theory to identify the denominator identity of the constructed Lie algebra. As an application, the Thompson series of the shorter Moonshine module are determined and it is shown that the even vertex operator subalgebra is of class S^7 in the sense of Matsuo.

Denominate This!!!

Check my diaper if you want proof of something...
[Image from Edgewater and Leonia Monster Exchange]

From iStockphoto.com -- "Baby Monster"

Keywords:
baby bib cry crying fantasy goblin green infant monster ogre pony ponytail rattle sad tail toddler tot wart warts
I asked Mark Gould about the audience for Pink Baby Monster. He said, "It's a problem for record companies. The companies ask: 'Well, who's gonna buy this? Who is this for?' Maybe the lyrics are a bit more sophisticated than usual teenage lyrics and maybe the music is too experimental. Right now, it’s in a stage of development and Juilliard's a very good place to do such things."

From Chester Goudal (Punisher Foe):

(Punisher: P.O.V.#4) -- On the trail of the baby monster, Chester heard screams, the sounds of police being killed by the monster after tracking it. Following the sounds, he was grabbed by the monster, but freed himself with an acid/holy water bomb. He continued to pursue the monster and found that it had been pacified by the Punisher, who had appealed to the infant inside of it. Chester then blew a hole in the baby monster with a shotgun blast full of dimes. The Punisher tried to fight him off, but as he was on the peak of exhaustion and severely injured after multiple battles with Deke, Chester got the better of him. The baby monster grabbed Chester again, but this time he mortally wounded it with his axe. When the Punisher nearly flattened Chester with a punch, he decided that this monster was too tough for him, and so he cut his losses and fled. He escaped up into the subways and was nearly home free when several monsters grabbed him and threw him back on the subway tracks, where he was run over by a train.

Synopsis of Monster from a Prehistoric Planet -- seen in the online catalog at Ventura Distribution:

A group of scientists and reporters are sent to Obelisk Island, a small island in the South Sea, in search of an exotic animal. They discover a baby monster, which has never been seen. Against the protest of the natives, the researchers take the baby monster back to Japan, not realizing the path of destruction that soon awaits them.

So...what have we learned from today's post? If you have a baby monster that is keeping you up nights, try these home remedies:

* double cover it to the smallest faithful matrix
* generalize its moonshine
* tie its bib in a ponytail to rattle off a sad tail of warts
* forego the usual teenage lyrics
* blow a hole in it
* mortally wound it with an axe
* cut your losses and flee
* take it back to Japan (destruction of Tokyo optional)

Dr. Spock -- eat your heart out --

Thursday, August 18, 2005

Welcome to Rome 9

Welcome to Rome 9

Welcome to Rome 9 (2005)

Caesar cuts his vacation short for once,
soars back to a public forum to pen
a bill of rights for one woman. No negligence
to fault and against the bland grain of his
gubernatorial decrees the Emperor agrees
to error on the side of life excepting
inmates and 100 thousand civies stuck
in sandy provinces or spent legions
consigned undercover in a cable blackout.
You’d never know from the news that
souls not braindead still matter --
so what kind of man is he thunders
The Hammer drawing flies and shutterbugs.
A conquered world built by dreams dies slower.

~/~

From a series called Welcome to Rome. Today's illustrated poem was written during the Schiavo debacle. I recall Bush jumped at the chance to leave the compound and help one woman during his last vacation.

But, this time, another woman doesn't need others (like psychic congressmen) to presume to speak for her. So, naturally, Bush turns a deaf ear and feels it's also important for me to go on with my life. Thousands of families of the fallen feel the same way -- with no vacation from their grief -- including one mother, standing
at your door, seeking straight talk that will help her go on. She's not a solicitor. You called her and started the conversation when her son shipped out to serve in your war. Mr. President. Answer the door.

Wednesday, August 17, 2005

Geisha

Geisha

Geisha (1999)

Blog with a View, at heart, is a digital art photoblog. Each Wednesday, I present an image without the usual annotation/explanation.

As I note in the blog's description, please feel free to talk back to the art, or, if you wish, use this post as a weekly open thread.

Tuesday, August 16, 2005

Mordred

Mordred

Mordred (2002)

From David Nash Ford's "Early British Kingdoms":

Sir Mordred appears to have been an historical personage. Tradition makes him the youngest son of Queen Morgause of Orkney. He was raised as a son of her husband, King Lot, but - due to an unfortunate and uninformed encounter -- his real father was his own uncle, King Arthur. When the monarch discovered the truth, he tried to have the baby Mordred disposed off. Along with all the children born his birthday, he was set adrift in a large boat. The boat sank but Mordred survived and was washed up an island shore, from where he was taken in by Lord Nabur the Unruly. When he grew up, Mordred travelled to the Court of King Arthur and was reunited with his real parents. He capitalised on the reputation of his brother, Sir Gawain, and was made a Knight of the Round Table. For some time, he was the companion of Sir Lancelot, but the goodly knights influence did not rub off on Mordred. He is portrayed as having torrid affairs with married ladies while beating-up their husbands. He raped some ladies and murdered others. When his family came into conflict with sons of Pellinore, over the death of his father, Mordred was one of those who conspired in the murder of Sir Lamorak. Arthur, however, favoured Mordred and made him regent when he left Britain for the Continent -- either campaigning against the Roman Empire or pursuing the treacherous Lancelot. But Mordred was devious. He made alliances with the Saxons, Picts & Scots and faked news of Arthur's death, in order to have himself proclaimed King. He declared his intention to take Queen Guinevere as his wife, but the Queen's reaction is in dispute. She either eagerly agreed or fled to London and barricaded her self in the Tower. News reached Arthur of his son's treachery and he rushed home to reclaim his throne. Mordred's forces were defeated at the Battle of Richborough (or Dover), then at Winchester (or Barham Down) and he was pursued west into Cornwall. The two armies met for the final time at the Battle of Camlann. Mordred and Arthur were amongst the last warriors standing. A single combat led to Mordred being slain, but not before he had inflicted a mortal wound upon his father. One version of his end claims that Sir Mordred survived Camlann and was only later defeated by Sir Lancelot. Having executed Guinevere for compliance in plot against Arthur, the Knight of the Lake then incarcerated Mordred in the dead queen's tomb. He cannibalized his former lover before dying of starvation! His rebellion was continued for a while by his two sons, Melehan and Melou.

He'll go as was appointed by his fate / For my necessity.

Yet who shall snuff the light of what he knows
To blind the king he serves?

-- E. A. Robinson, "Mordred, A Fragment"

From Sir Mordred the Traitor:

A shadow is, as LeGuin days, "the other side of our psyche, the dark brother of the conscious mind. It is Cain, Caliban, Frankenstein's monster, Mr. Hyde . . . it is the serpent, Lucifer. The shadow stands on the threshold between the conscious and the unconscious mind, and we meet it in our dreams, as sister, brother, friend, beast, monster, enemy, guide. It is all we don't want to, can't admit into our conscious self, and the qualities and tendencies within us which have been repressed, denied, or not used. It is not evil, but it can only unmake. It is the animal side of human nature.

Not only is Mordred the product of incest (certainly a part of the dark side of Arthur's nature), but he seeks another incestuous relationship with Arthur's wife. He is filled with a hatred that Malory never really accounts for. He is malicious and vicious, yet without the rationale that the conscious mind would require. Though he does have reasons to desire revenge, the impetus to merely destroy is powerful in him. Nowadays, Arthurian authors are beginning to give him the benefit of the doubt, yet all through the ages, Mordred has been presented as pure malice and viciousness. Arthur refuses to acknowledge Mordred, for he cannot face him. In the end, Arthur does not get rid of Mordred permanently; instead, they kill each other. Without the Shadow, a person has only two dimensions, and that is why, figuratively speaking, Arthur and Mordred could not exist apart from each other.

Combat of Arthur and Mordred
[Illustration by Arthur Rackham]

Layamon's Brut conveys the pain that Arthur felt at the betrayal of Mordred, and the narrative sometimes reads like a chorus echoing Arthur's sentiments. He has dreams foreshadowing the disaster, and when he hears of Mordred's treachery, he responds with despair and anger.

It is interesting to note that Arthur and Gawain are much less lenient and much more powerful than they are in later centuries-- there is no pathetic hope of a Lancelot to come rescue Guinevere from the stake, no powerlessness in the face of one's own law. Arthur abandons the war against Lucius and goes back to "kill cunning Mordred and torch the queen / And destroy all those who are tied to this treason" (14,065-66). Walwain (Gawain) also is angry; he insists on pulling her to pieces.

The queen is also portrayed differently here than in later centuries. She is indeed a traitress against King Arthur, for Mordred has become her "dearest consort." She even counsels him against the king. In later versions of the tale, her guilt in this instance is partially cleared by the fact that Mordred tells her that the king is dead. Here, she is just as blameworthy as Mordred.

The war between Arthur and Mordred is terrible, but it gives Layamon an opportunity to show how wicked Mordred is, having the traitor sneaks away from his own supporters so as to stall Arthur's finding him and leaving them to be needlessly killed by Arthur. The queen hears of Arthur's fierce onslaughts, and predictably steals away and takes holy orders. Arthur, the "angriest of kings," hunts Mordred down and kills him and all his cowering companies. Arthur's valorous life is cut short by fifteen terrible wounds, but Merlin the magician prophecies that he will be healed and return to Britain.

And, finally, from "The Case of Sir Mordred" by Tyagi Mordred Nagasiva:

Mordred's motives are seldom addressed, or they are characterized as "evil" or unsavory in the extreme. Mordred is cast as a villain foil to a king hero; a rather two-dimensional caricature. I suggest that Mordred is more complex a character than is to be found in tales of Christian chivalry. Malory's Mordred is too shallow, too unknown, too inhuman to be believed.

[...]

Mordred may indeed have had the well-being of the realm in mind when he attempted to seize power. Arthur's handling of Guinevere's romance with Launcelot seems to validate this hypothesis. The king quickly condemns her in anger, yet later rescinds his judgements. Is a queen's love expressed to a man other than the king something which is treasonous and punishable by death? If so, then the law either needs to be changed or enforced to be called "just." Arthur does neither. Is he somehow above his own laws? This is definitely one of Arthur's key weaknesses -- his inability to balance his love for his wife and Launcelot with his regard for justice.

The Arthurian Tales fired my imagination as a child -- especially puzzling through the motives of Mordred. Later, as a teenager, the struggles of sons and fathers began to make more sense -- although, mercifully, not on Mallory's scale.

America's Camelot died in Dallas in 1963. Now, in the reign of King George of Crawford, the land sinks into chaos and darkness. Tonio K nailed such a transition when he sang in 1981:

You can face it now, or face it later
You will have to face it either way
You should hate them with a perfect hatred...

Wise up
Welcome to the new dark ages...

That sounds a little like someone from long ago who "had the well-being of the realm in mind" and was dreaming of regime change...

Monday, August 15, 2005

Dance Recital

Dance Recital

Dance Recital (2001)

From Contemporary Dance Online -- "Why Dance Matters" by Neil Nisbet:

The arts matter because the benefit is not in things you can measure but in things you cannot possibly begin to measure. Any arts organisation from ACE to the smallest dance company will throw charts and numbers at you until you beg them to stop but the success and the reason lay not in the numbers but in the one person in the audience or in the workshop within whom the flame of inspiration has been lit.

If that one person begins to think ‘what more can I achieve, what more can I do to lift myself above mediocrity, to lift myself above the person sitting next to me?' then the process has begun. If just one person in a thousand can be motivated by dance to push themselves off the pre-determined path of least resistance then it is there that you have your success; it is there that you have your reason; that is why it matters.

A youngster who is inspired may not translate into an individual wishing to become a professional dancer and that is the last thing we should expect. Just as many who read books have no desire to become authors we should not expect those participating in or watching dance to take to the stage and use this to judge its success. Nor should we try and equate success with the audience understanding the particular motivations of an artist and their work since interpretations and conclusions can vary a great deal. The majority of people who engage with the arts in some way never write down the effect, if any, a performance or workshop had on them, they are simply collated into the numbers for the next press release.

We live in times where our politicians and public figures are looked at with both suspicion and derision in equal measure. They lie, obfuscate, pander and mislead on a daily basis on matters of grave importance, how many youngsters will tell you that the leader of the opposition is their hero? And would you really want them to? So-called sports ‘stars' are vain, inarticulate and in many cases just plain stupid to say nothing of the wide spread drug use in sports and the constant bombardment of advertising urging kids to part with their money because David Beckham [English footballer, and, according to some observers, the most famous sports personality in the world] says so! Many young people are enamoured with these individuals but again we have to ask, do you really want them to be?

In the culture and entertainment sphere this leaves us with the arts to inspire new thinking in our population and in particular the younger generation. Article19 would be first to admit that a lot of what goes on in dance is uninspiring, self involved nonsense but there are projects and individuals out in the world that are reaching just that little bit further, connecting with people on a more cerebral level and perhaps they are inspiring some, however few, to loftier ambitions and ideals.

The truth is we will probably never know the extent to which the arts impact on the lives of individuals but we can only hope that it happens and with that in mind it is of vital importance that it continues. Yes, the arts have problems and some of those problems are almost cancerous in nature but the alternative is a world where none of this activity takes place and the mass media is left to inspire the generations and that is a thought too scary to contemplate.

If you think the arts don't matter then you're a fool, a very dangerous fool.

The people who do not dance are the dead (Jerry Rose of Dance Caravan).

The Dance by Pablo Picasso (1925)
[Image from The Artchive]

From maisonneuve -- "Why I Read (and Write) Dance Criticism" by Kena Herod:

All art forms claim to be the neglected middle child when it comes to recognition and funding. I have worked for a symphony orchestra, done volunteer work for an opera company, and hung out with poets, fiction writers, painters, sculptors, musicians, composers, independent filmmakers and, of course, dancers and choreographers. All claim that their art is the most neglected. Sadly, it seems the dance people have the dubious distinction of being right in their claim.

Dance has been viewed for ages as a minor art. Perhaps as blinded by my love for the form (in whatever style) as I am, I fail to understand why an art that relies mainly on that marvelous thing called the human body is not more popular than it is. It should be a no-brainer, shouldn't it? One of the first things children do, and with great joy, is dance.

[...]

Dance is more dependent on the musings of its critics than, say, poetry and music are on the writings of their critics. Unless you live in a culturally significant city, your chances of seeing a wide range of live dance (much less different casts of a single work) are slim. If you want to hear Beethoven's Ninth Symphony, of course, your local symphony orchestra will perform it sooner or later -- it usually arrives a few weeks after Tchaikovsky's 1812 Overture. Why such sarcasm? Because even the most obscure post-minimalist or Renaissance composer is more likely to be culturally available -- at least, satisfyingly enough on CD -- than any well-established or even world famous choreographer. Adding to the scarcity of live dance performances in some parts is the fact that recorded dance rarely satisfies. Video and film dance recordings have yet to make the necessary jump to become their own art forms, suitable for public consumption beyond the art house crowd.

[...]

Like the artists they review, writers on dance must in turn be nearly as inventive. For anyone who has struggled to write a dance review, trying to translate the visual, kinetic, and nonverbal language of a dance work—usually seen only once—into words is a form of mental gymnastics that requires prodigious acts of memory (no rewind button, no turning back to the page!) and an ability to scribble notes in the dark without disturbing your theatre neighbours or distracting your attention from the stage.

Dance critic Walter Sorell acknowledges almost as much in his classic 1965 essay “To Be a Critic.” At the same time, he argues that dance critics must be poets themselves for “only the immediacy and remoteness of the poetic image can picture the visual image of human bodies in space and time, can make us relive and remember the elusive quality of the dance.”

I become more interested in dance when my daughter took up ballet when she was younger. Today's image came out of the remembrance of seeing one of her recitals.

Saturday, August 13, 2005

Bush Does Macbeth

Bush Does Macbeth

Bush Does Macbeth (2005)

...it is a tale
Told by an idiot, full of sound and fury,
Signifying nothing.

--William Shakespeare, Macbeth

Does the Leave It to Freeper crowd have enough ants in their pants over Cindy Sheehan? Mrs. Sheehan, whose son Casey was killed in Iraq last year, is holding a vigil outside the War Prezdent's ranch in Crawford, Texas, while his motorcade speeds by her in the course of his current extended vacation. Mrs. Sheehan would like the president to come out of the compound and meet with her. She has a very simple question she'd like to ask him: What did my son die for?

Personally, I'd like to hear the president tackle that one -- without his usual rah-rah, filtered audience and radio wire snaking up his back. Polls suggest a growing majority of Americans also wonder why the nation's sons and daughters, spouses, grandchildren, and friends are dying.

But, in the dark heart of Freeperville, you'd think Mrs. Sheehan, well, hates America...or something. Here's what Erick had to say over at Red State.org:

Cindy Sheehan's son was killed in Iraq. She's a grieving mother. Last year, the President met with Mrs. Sheehan, comforted her, and grieved with her. At the time, Mrs. Sheehan thought the President had done well and appreciated him. Enter August, no major news, and a media still smarting over the President's re-election despite everything they threw at him. Cindy Sheehan returns entering stage right -- this time a left wing media whore in the form of a grieving mother.

[...]

The remarkably humorous bit of all of this is that while Mrs. Sheehan is using the body of a dead solider to get her fifteen minutes of fame, Mrs. Sheehan is letting that body be used by Michael Moore, Code Pink, the DNC, and the media to extend their fifteen minutes of fame. The only one in this orgy of anti-war sentiment who has not spoken is Casey Sheehan, who gave his life that Iraq might be free. Whether he believed in the cause or was just doing his job, we will never know. But he did not die in vain. Iraq will be free. And in September we will all go back to forgetting who Cindy Sheehan is, not that we ever cared to begin with, and we will remain in Iraq.

Talk about empathy. So grieving mothers have no right in our supposedly free society to ask questions of those who placed their children in harm's way without being called a whore? I won't provide a link to such callousness, but if you'd like to write Erick to ask when he is stepping out from behind his keyboard and enlisting to fill the slot vacated by Casey Sheehan, you can reach him at: erick@erickerickson.org.

Meanwhile, another sensitive soul at Instapunk had this to say:

Yes, it is a terrible thing to lose a child. But I'm getting tired of hearing the rote assertion that it's the worst thing that can ever happen to you, you never get over it, and no one who hasn't had the experience can ever understand. It's as if this category of event, "lose a child," represents some kind of emotional tree-line which, once passed, automatically elevates a person into a new state of existence from which ordinary mortals are excluded. It's the Skull & Bones of parenthood, an elite membership which confers extraordinary privilege and exemption from all merely human judgment or criticism.

Pardon me, but that's a crock. On several levels. Anyone who has lived more than a few decades comes to understand that life is largely about loss. The longer we survive, the more we lose: grandparents, parents, friends, lovers, wives, husbands, family, pets, and any number of dreams, possessions, and ideals, including -- for many -- faith, hope, and love. The whole idea that there is a Publisher's Clearinghouse Jackpot of Loss is absurd and demeaning to the human spirit.

No, pardon me, Instapunk, but that's a crock. I've seen my father, sixty years after surviving the hell of Peleliu, tear up while remembering the friends he lost. You never get over such loss. And I'd bet you your witless jackpot analogy that losing a child makes such loss immensely worse -- and intensifies the need and drive to find some meaning in such a death. That's all Cindy Sheehan wants. Some sensible explanation that gives her son's death meaning. Apparently, you need more than a few decades (or a five-week vacation) to understand what it means to lose someone you love. It's not a thought problem, like whether to buy Salsa or Nacho Cheese Doritos; it's an ache and sadness you live with every day. By the way, I think it's a safe "rote assertion" you're a big backer of the war, and I understand the Sheehan family left a vacancy that needs filling. When are you shipping out? If you'd like to ask Instapunk, who understands so well that life is largely about loss, when he's trading in his keyboard for his desert fatigues, write him at: punk@instapunk.com.

And, now, consider more media-visible and caring types, like Michelle Malkin, known for her poise and magnanimous decorum

And I wouldn't call it scorned. I would call it scrutiny.

who refers to Sheehan and her supporters as "the grief pimps." Good to know that Wingnut Central never resorts to the ad hominem level by, say, asserting a grieving mother is a hooker for exercising freedom of speech.

So, what's giving the Wackosphere such a wedgie? I think Cindy Sheehan has simply asked a question weighing on the minds of many Americans. Why, really, truly, are our loved ones dying in Iraq?

The rationale from BushCo has been shuffled more often than playing cards at a casino. WMDs? Smoking mushroom clouds? Replacing evil dictator? Flypaper theory? Bringing freedom? Fighting terrorism (er, global insurgency...or whatever)? Spin the wheel. Nobody knows. I think people would feel better if Bush came out and flatly said we invaded Iraq to grab all the oil and maximize profits for Halliburton. That's at least more concrete than constant abstract evasiveness. And no matter how granite-jawed, gut-trusting, turning-the-corner-of-the-last-throes Bush remains with his stubborn resolve, he still has to be resolved about something. And, so, please, just tell us, without equivocation, straight out -- why are our soldiers, including Mrs. Sheehan's son, dying in Iraq?

Bush could make this whole PR fracus go away by meeting with Mrs. Sheehan. Ask her up to the ranch for some sweetened tea and pretend to listen while daydreaming of clearing brush. Such a gesture would be a cakewalk for former presidents like Carter and Clinton and Reagan. But, under the guise of not showing weakness, Bush won't. Moreover, he can't. He doesn't have the skills. Wouldn't it be refreshing to, just once, see something genuine from our president? His past sympathetic expressions for the fallen dead clunk on the ear with the same dispassionate tone as remarks like Got wood? and You forgot Poland. There's an awkwardness around the edges -- as if you expect a smirk-tinged Now watch this drive will follow each statement.

So, why won't Bush meet with Cindy Sheehan?

Maybe because he doesn't do spontaneous. Removed from his pre-screened throngs, watered-down Gannonized press conferences, and eventless photo ops, he's a stumbling, bumbling stiff. To actually converse in real time with real people would run the risk of everyone discovering that, at the core, there is no there there. And, then, finally, the public's increasing perception, borne out by sagging poll numbers, will crystallize. Bush is an empty parenthesis. He signifies nothing.

Or, I suppose there's another possible answer. He just doesn't give a shit.

Friday, August 12, 2005

Stuffed Shirt

Stuffed Shirt

Stuffed Shirt (2003)

From Urban Dictionary:

Stuffed Shirt:

1. A pompous jerk.
2. A politician.

"That stuffed shirt thinks his by-products smell like roses when in fact they do not."

"To a Stuffed Shirt" by Robert Service:

On the tide you ride head high,
Like a whale 'mid little fishes;
I should envy you as I
Help my wife to wash the dishes.
Yet frock-coat and stove-pipe hat
Cannot hide your folds of fat.

You are reckoned a success,
And the public praise you win;
There's your picture in the Press,
Pouchy eyes and triple chin.
Wealth,--of it you fairly stink;
Health,--what does your Doctor think?

Dignity is phony stuff.
Who is dignified deep down?
Strip the pants off, call the bluff,
Common clay are king and clown.
Let a bulging belly be
Your best bid for dignity.

Miserable millionaire!
For indulgence you must pay.
Yet there's salvation in prayer,--
Down on your fat knees and pray.
Know that with your dying breath
There is dignity in death.

How ironic. If I had to envision a "stuffed shirt poet," Robert Service would certainly be a contender. But, perhaps, I judge him harshly. In a recast age where Bush's "have-mores" are now a political base and CEOs make 600 times what their employees are paid, these fat cat stuffed shirts do indeed "stink of wealth." Service does make the mistake, though, of assuming these Enron-type execs have a trace of conscience. They are beyond shaming and will go to the best graves money can buy without giving dignity a passing thought.

From Forward Newspaper Online -- "Bush's Stuffed Shirt" by Kevin Berger:

October 29, 2004: George W. Bush tried to laugh off the bulge. "I don't know what that is," he said on Good Morning America on Wednesday, referring to the infamous protrusion beneath his jacket during the presidential debates. "I'm embarrassed to say it's a poorly tailored shirt."

Dr. Robert M. Nelson, however, was not laughing. He knew the president was not telling the truth. And Nelson is neither conspiracy theorist nor midnight blogger. He's a senior research scientist for NASA and for Caltech's Jet Propulsion Laboratory, and an international authority on image analysis.

Whisper sweet nothings in my ear, Turd Blossom...

Got wire?
[Image from Salon]

More from Salon:

How can Nelson be certain there's some kind of mechanical device beneath Bush's jacket? It's all about light and shadows, he says. The angles at which the light in the studio hit Bush's jacket expose contours that fit no one's picture of human anatomy and wrinkled shirts. And Nelson compared the images to anatomy texts. He also experimented with wrinkling shirts in various configurations, wore them under his jacket under his bathroom light, and couldn't produce anything close to the Bush bulge.

In the enhanced photo of the first debate, Nelson says, look at the horizontal white line in middle of the president's back. You'll see a shadow. "That's telling me there's definitely a bulge," he says. "In fact, it's how we measure the depths of the craters on the moon or on Mars. We look at the angle of the light and the length of shadow they leave. In this case, that's clearly a crater that's under the horizontal line -- it's clearly a rim of a bulge protruding upward, one due to forces pushing it up from beneath."

Hapke, too, agrees that the bulge is neither anatomy nor a wrinkled shirt. "I would think it's very hard to avoid the conclusion that there's something underneath his jacket," he says. "It would certainly be consistent with some kind of radio receiver and a wire."

I'm the Codpiece Prezdent. Talk to the hand.

Speaking of bulges, my pants are stuffed, too...
[Photograph from The Village Voice]

For an emperor without clothes, it's amazing how many garments Bush can stuff. He fits the definition above to a Texas T.

Thursday, August 11, 2005

Bring Me the Head of Fido

Bring Me the Head of Fido

Bring Me the Head of Fido (2001)

From Dog Haiku:

Today I sniffed
Many dog behinds -- I celebrate
By kissing your face.

I sound the alarm!
Paper boy -- come to kill us all --
Look! Look! Look! Look! Look!

I hate my choke chain --
Look, world, they strangle me!
Ack Ack Ack Ack Ack!

Dig under fence -- why?
Because it's there. Because it's
There. Because it's there.

My human is home!
I am so ecstatic I have
Made a puddle.

From Cat Haiku:

You never feed me.
Perhaps I'll sleep on your face.
That will show you.

The rule for today.
Touch my tail, I shred your hand.
New rule tomorrow.

Grace personified.
I leap into the window.
I meant to do that.

Terrible battle.
I fought for hours. Come and see!
What's a "term paper"?

Wanna go outside.
Oh, no! Help! I got outside!
Let me back inside!

Hey.  My litter box needs remodeling...

What are you looking at, asshole?
[Photograph from My Cat Hates You]

From Salon -- "Cat People vs. Dog People" by Laura Miller:

Dog people profess to be baffled by the cat person's affection for an animal that provides so little active amusement: Cats will not frolic with you in the surf or fetch sticks or point with their noses at a bird for you to shoot. Because cats can't be trained to do the same sorts of tricks that dogs do, they are considered to be less intelligent, and because they are not by nature as social as dogs, they are seen as comparatively aloof or indifferent to humans. Dog people think cat people are suckers for doting on sneaky, selfish creatures that only pretend to like people in order to get food and other goodies and that will never, say, jump into a raging, flood-swollen river to rescue a small child at the risk of their own lives, as the faithful hound supposedly will.

Cat people heap contempt on dog people for actually thinking a dog's devotion counts for much. A dog's love for its owner is, cat people say, entirely instinctual, indiscriminate and often unearned by its object; you are not loved for yourself but for the position you assume in the dog's life -- anyone else would do as well. Therefore, dog owners must be so desperate for love as to be nearly undeserving of it. The willingness of dogs to learn tricks is a result not of their intelligence but of their dopey eagerness to please. That cats can't be bothered to sit or heel on command is, their partisans insist, a sign that they are more clever by half. Cats are also self-cleaning, slobber-free, handy when you've got a mouse problem and don't have to be walked.

From Dog Diary vs. Cat Diary:

Excerpts from a Dog's Diary:

8:00 am - OH BOY! DOG FOOD! MY FAVORITE!

9:30 am - OH BOY! A CAR RIDE! MY FAVORITE!

9:40 am - OH BOY! A WALK! MY FAVORITE!

10:30 am - OH BOY! A CAR RIDE! MY FAVORITE!

11:30 am - OH BOY! DOG FOOD! MY FAVORITE!

12:00 noon - OH BOY! THE KIDS! MY FAVORITE!

1:00 PM - OH BOY! THE YARD! MY FAVORITE!

1:30 PM - ooooooo. bath. bummer.

4:00 PM - OH BOY! THE KIDS! MY FAVORITE!

Excerpts from a Cat's Diary:

DAY 752 - My captors continue to taunt me with bizarre little dangling objects. They dine lavishly on fresh meat, while I am forced to eat dry cereal. The only thing that keeps me going is the hope of escape, and the mild satisfaction I get from ruining the occasional piece of furniture. Tomorrow I may eat another house plant.

DAY 761 - Today my attempt to kill my captors by weaving around their feet while they were walking almost succeeded, must try this at the top of the stairs. In an attempt to disgust and repulse these vile oppressors, I once again induced myself to vomit on their favorite chair...must try this on their bed.

DAY 765 - Decapitated a mouse and brought them the headless body, in attempt to make them aware of what I am capable of, and to try to strike fear into their hearts. They only cooed and condescended about what a good little cat I was...Hmmm. Not working according to plan.

DAY 768 - I am finally aware of how sadistic they are. For no good reason I was chosen for the water torture. This time however it included a burning foamy chemical called "shampoo." What sick minds could invent such a liquid? My only consolation is the piece of thumb still stuck between my teeth.

Call me a pussy, willya...

"It was not my intention to do this in front of you. For that I'm sorry. But you can take my word for it, your mother had it coming. When you grow up, if you still feel raw about it, I'll be waiting."

I know. Some of the annotations in today's entry have long been circulated on the Net. I still found myself chuckling, though.

I'm a cat person. Maybe I prefer cool disdain to slobbering loyalty. Or maybe it's the fact that cats paint

Now...off to track this shit all over the white carpet...

Cat Painting: The Balloons
[from PAW PRINTZ]

but the cat cult in today's image may have been partaking of the sacramental catnip a little too often...

Wednesday, August 10, 2005

Tiki Party Gone Bad

Tiki Party Gone Bad

Tiki Party Gone Bad (2003)

Blog with a View, at heart, is a digital art photoblog. Each Wednesday, I present an image without the usual annotation/explanation.

As I note in the blog's description, please feel free to talk back to the art, or, if you wish, use this post as a weekly open thread.

Tuesday, August 09, 2005

Liposuction

Liposuction

Liposuction (2001)

From the New Yorker (7-26-2004):

There has been a great deal of speculation recently that the government might reinstate the draft at some point, in order to replenish the nation’s armed forces. Military and government officials have, for the most part, dismissed such talk. As Secretary of Defense Donald Rumsfeld said in an interview the other day, “We’re perfectly capable of increasing the incentives and the inducements to attract people into the armed services.” For years, the military has offered its recruits free tuition, specialized training, and a host of other benefits to compensate for the tremendous sacrifices they are called upon to make. Lately, many of them have been taking advantage of another perk: free cosmetic surgery.

“Anyone wearing a uniform is eligible,” Dr. Bob Lyons, the chief of plastic surgery at Brooke Army Medical Center, said recently, in his office in San Antonio. It is true: personnel in all four branches of the military and members of their immediate families can get face-lifts, nose jobs, breast enlargements, liposuction, or any other kind of elective cosmetic alteration, at taxpayer expense. (For breast enlargements, patients must supply their own implants.) There is no limit on the number of cosmetic surgeries one soldier can have, although, Lyons said, “we don’t do extreme makeovers in the military.” The commanding officer has to approve the time off for any soldier who is having surgery. For most procedures, there’s at least a ten-day recovery period, and while soldiers are recuperating they’re on paid medical leave rather than vacation.

A Defense Department spokeswoman confirmed the existence of the plastic-surgery benefit. According to the Army, between 2000 and 2003 its doctors performed four hundred and ninety-six breast enlargements and a thousand three hundred and sixty-one liposuction surgeries on soldiers and their dependents. In the first three months of 2004, it performed sixty breast enhancements and two hundred and thirty-one liposuctions.

[...]

“I’m appalled the military would support liposuction,” Bill Fay, a captain in the Arizona Army National Guard, who is now serving in Nasiriyah, wrote in an e-mail. “This is a purely functional organization that does not exist for their livelihood or enjoyment.”

The Army’s rationale is that, as a spokeswoman said, “the surgeons have to have someone to practice on.” “The benefit of offering elective cosmetic surgery to soldiers is more for the surgeon than for the patient,” Lyons said. “If there’s a happy soldier or sailor at the end of that operation, that’s an added benefit, but that’s not the reason we do it. We do it to maintain our skills” -- skills that are critical, he added, when it comes to doing reconstructive surgery on soldiers who have been wounded.
According to a survey conducted by the American Society of Plastic Surgeons of more than 1,500 plastic and reconstructive surgeons in January, 1999, the death rate of one in every 5,000 (or 20 out of 100,000) liposuction patients between 1994 and 1998 was much higher than anyone anticipated -- higher even than death rates from traffic accidents.

And higher than acceptable death rates from other kinds of surgeries, admits Bruner. Although the survey data are not considered scientific information, they are useful when establishing practice guidelines, and they led ASPS to recommend some practice changes when performing liposuction.

I know.  I really suck...

"Bacon was everywhere: in the diptych and triptych formats, geometric structures in a vacuum, the body styled like meat."
[From ArtForum -- "Weighty Madonna" by Rhonda Lieberman]

And, finally, from whygodwhy -- "My Home Liposuction":

The details of my home liposuction are still emerging. For a while there was a whole bunch of internal debate about where I would actually conduct it. After careful consideration and a few headaches I decided on the downstairs bathroom as the operating theater. Basically the downstairs bathroom and the kitchen are the only uncarpeted rooms, and the kitchen is somewhat of a high-traffic area. I suppose the garage would have been another option, but
it doesn’t seem as sanitary.

[...]

A lot of people have emailed in to offer their assistance while I’m performing the operation. That is so cool, but I feel like this is the kind of thing you have to do on your own, you know? I mean the whole thing is I’m self-conscious and have a negative self-image about people looking at me in general, so having someone right there while I’m conducting my own liposuction would feel like 9 kinds of crazy awkward.

Probably it sounds like I’m not taking this all very seriously, and in your imagination I’m all alone in a bathroom, mopping up blood and human waste into a bucket and you just think Man that is so horrifying and disgusting. But, I don’t know. It’s like the same level of discomfort as looking at myself naked in the mirror every day, so whatever, I think I can handle it, thanks.

Today's image is a quat fractal variant of a Moebius Loop -- a construct allowing one to "be all you can be" by turning oneself into a fountain recycling fat.

Sunday, August 07, 2005

Under Yucca Mountain

Under Yucca Mountain

Under Yucca Mountain (2000)

From Public Citizen (January, 2005):

Yucca Mountain is located about 80 miles northwest of Las Vegas, which is the fastest growing metropolitan area in the United States with a population approaching 2 million people. The DOE is proposing to build tunnels to store the highly radioactive waste at 1,000 feet below the very top of the mountain, which is 1,000 feet above the water table.

The ground under the Yucca Mountain site is crisscrossed by 33 fault lines and is nicknamed “Serpent Swimming West” by the Western Shoshone Indian nation due to its constant movement. Nevada ranks third in the nation for current seismic activity. A 1992 earthquake 12 miles from the site registered 5.6 on the Richter scale. Earthquakes could cause the casks in the surface facility, which is slated to hold as much as 40,000 metric tons of spent fuel in vertical dry casks, to break open and release radiation.

Yucca Mountain is made up of thick, 8 to 12 million-year-old ash deposits from a series of nearby volcanic eruptions. The younger volcanic cones in the area were most active 1 million years ago, but the latest activity at the youngest cone is only about 80,000 years old. If the volcanic cones were to become active, magma could enter the underground tunnels and cause the canisters to fail instantaneously, releasing radiation to the groundwater or in the case of a major eruption, to the air as contaminated ash. The DOE, NRC and Nevada geologists are still debating the likelihood and the severity of the radiation dose to the public as a result of volcanic activity. After 20 years, data collection and analyses are still under way on this critical -- but unresolved -- issue.

[...]

One of the biggest myths perpetuated by the Bush administration is that the Yucca Mountain dump is the “solution” to our nuclear waste problem. With waste in one place, the administration argues, it will no longer be stored at sites throughout the country and be vulnerable to theft and terrorism.

This is wrong. Nuclear waste, which is produced at every operating reactor, must be stored on site for about five years before it can be transported, because it is too radioactive to move. This means that at least five years worth of spent fuel (100-150 metric tons) will always remain at reactors as long as they continue to operate.

Each year, the 103 nuclear reactors in the United States generate about 2,000 metric tons of waste, which most people do not realize will remain extremely radioactive for hundreds of thousands of years. Today, approximately 50,000 metric tons sit at sites around the country, awaiting a permanent storage site. According to the DOE, by the time Yucca Mountain is filled to its legal limit of 70,000 metric tons, approximately 42,000 metric tons of nuclear waste will be stored at 63 sites in 31 states – still almost as much as there is now. As long as we continue to use nuclear power, it is not possible to consolidate spent fuel.

[...]

Transportation routes to Yucca Mountain, by rail, road and barge, would pass through as many as 44 states and the District of Columbia, putting the dangerous waste within half a mile of 50 million people. The nuclear industry often touts its good record on nuclear transport, but since the dawn of the nuclear age 50 years ago, there have been just 3,025 high-level waste shipments in the United States. In the past decade, there have been only a few shipments involving relatively small amounts of irradiated fuel over very short distances. The magnitude and duration of this proposal to transport 70,000 metric tons of the country’s spent fuel and high-level radioactive waste to one national site is outside the current realm of experience. More waste would be shipped in the first year alone than has been shipped in the United States in the past three decades.

Under the plan the DOE has selected, more than 22,000 shipments would be made by rail and truck, and almost 3,000 shipments would be made by barge over 38 years, averaging about 658 shipments per year. At sites that do not have rail access, the DOE plans to ship thousands of casks by barge through densely populated cities, including Boston, Baltimore, Newark and Miami. According to Nevada’s Agency for Nuclear Projects, as many as 390 accidents and 2,400 regulatory violations can be expected as a result of these shipments.

And I'm going down, all the way down / I'm on the highway to hell...

A Tunnel at Yucca Mountain

From about.com -- "USGS May Have Falsified Yucca Mountain Research" (May, 2005):

The U.S. Geological Survey (USGS) has initiated an investigation into allegations by its own employees that data used in suitability studies done six years ago on the proposed Yucca Mountain Nuclear Waste Repository located in Nevada may have been falsified.

In a brief press statement USGS Director Chip Groat reveals that the Department of Energy had notified the Department of the Interior that e-mails by USGS employees had raised serious questions about the Yucca Mountain review process.

USGS employees involved in studying water infiltration and climate at the Yucca Mountain site during the 1998-2000 period, are alleged to have committed "improprieties" after moving into the quality assurance phase imposed by the Department of Energy to begin the Nuclear Regulatory Commission's licensing process.

The e-mails indicated that the USGS employees may have falsified documentation of their work.

From the Reno Gazette Journal (April, 2005):

WASHINGTON — A House committee released nearly 100 pages of documents Friday in which government employees talked about falsifying research to try to make sure a proposed nuclear waste repository at Yucca Mountain in Nevada moved forward.

“So I’ve made up the dates and names … this is as good as it’s going to get,” one e-mail message said. “If they need more proof, I will be happy to make up more stuff.”

[...]

Other quotes in the e-mail:

* “In the end, I keep track of two sets of files, the ones that will keep QA (quality assurance) happy and the ones that were actually used.”

* “YMP (Yucca Mountain project) has now reached a point where they need to have certain items work no matter what and the infiltration maps are on that list.”

Joe Egan, an attorney working on Nevada’s fight against the Yucca Mountain project, said the e-mail essentially shows that water would infiltrate the nuclear repository, corrode the casks housing the atomic fuel and release radioactive material.

“The big picture is that the mountain flunked,” said Egan, who is also a nuclear engineer.

“These e-mails have finally blown the lid off this fraudulent and ill-conceived project,” said U.S. Sen. John Ensign, R-Nev. “I’m stunned by the number of references to deleting and destroying e-mails, fudging information and not telling anyone how something was done.”

They don't call these sites a dump for nothin'...

This Toilet Could Run for 10,000+ Years.

And, finally, from this week's New Yorker (August 8 and 15, 2005) -- "Minority Retort" by Elsa Walsh -- an article on Senate Minority Leader Harry Reid:

"But this President [George W. Bush] is totally different. He takes after his mother. It’s either his way or no way. It’s very, very difficult." Even Reid seemed surprised by the depth of his reaction. "I’m sorry to give you this report on President Bush," he said, "but that’s how I feel."

[...]

What happened between him and Bush?..."First of all, he started out on a real bad foot with me because of Yucca Mountain" -- a site a hundred miles northwest of Las Vegas, which the federal government wants to use as long-term storage for tens of thousands of tons of radioactive waste. Al Gore opposed this plan in the 2000 campaign, and Bush seemed to oppose it as well, promising that he would base any decision on "sound science." Reid believed Bush, but, he said, "my belief was short-lived." Barely a year into his first term, Bush approved the project, and Reid accused him of lying: "I thought he had misled the people of Nevada on nuclear waste." Of calling Bush a liar, Reid said, "If somebody doesn’t tell the truth, how else would you describe it? I guess I could have said he didn’t tell the truth."

Remember -- we're fighting the terrorists in Iraq, so we won't have to fight them in ...Nevada?...where all roads to Yucca Mountain will be lined with flypaper and signed with catastrophic odds?

Feeling safer? Or would you prefer I just "make up more stuff"? And care to bet your half-life on BushCo's "sound science"?

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