Wednesday, November 30, 2005

My Car

My Car

My Car (2002)

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

As always, feel free to talk back to the art or to thread openly.

Monday, November 28, 2005

Ripley Enters the Nursery Again

Ripley Enters the Nursery Again

Ripley Enters the Nursery Again (2002)

And, well, while we're on the subject, I thought it might be interesting to compare this follow-up to the previous post.

The last post was a fairly untouched fractal made with Tiera-Zon. This later image was generated in Fractal Zplot, imported into XenoDream, and then graphically thrashed within an inch of its pixels in Photoshop.

A self-similar study in contrasts?

Ripley Enters the Nursery

Ripley Enters the Nursery

Ripley Enters the Nursery (1998)

This blog's very first entry was about Ellen Ripley -- the flamethrower tough heroine of the Alien films as portrayed by Sigourney Weaver. But, apparently, I still have Ripley in my acid blood.

From the DVD Journal's review of The Alien Quadrilogy:

As the last woman standing at the end of Ridley Scott's bloodbath, Sigourney Weaver's Ellen Ripley earned the audience's respect for outlasting her more formidable-looking costars, while also winning the… er, hearts of men everywhere for doing it in an outrageously skimpy pair of panties that amazingly retain the power to titillate in this era of the imagination-less thong. But while Weaver went on to become a sought-after leading lady in films like The Year of Living Dangerously and Ghostbusters , her career path met a fortuitous juncture when it dovetailed with that of director James Cameron. An infamous purveyor of the tough-mama persona, Cameron was still at a make-or-break moment when he was handed the reins for his first studio film. But, as he has ably proven since, scale doesn't bother him. And while Linda Hamilton eventually transformed from a shrinking violet into a no-nonsense heroine at the end of his previous picture, The Terminator (1984), in Aliens (1986) Ripley would be his first fully-realized depiction of "I am woman, watch me kill and kill again" empowerment.

The fearlessness with which Weaver threw herself into this hardened incarnation of Ripley was so convincing that it would win her a well-deserved Academy Award Best Actress nomination, which was all the more impressive considering that science-fiction films rarely registered with the Academy outside of the technical categories. Had the film been released at the length Cameron had intended, which would have included an unwisely excised sequence in which the audience learns that Ripley had a daughter who passed while the character languished in hypersleep, she might've actually won. That pivotal moment near the beginning of the film better informs the ferocity of Ripley's maternal instincts once she encounters Newt (Carrie Henn), the lone survivor of a colony set up on the planetoid that is home to the derelict ship carrying the alien eggs. These creatures have, in essence, already robbed her of the chance to be a mother once, and it'll be over Ripley's dead body if they succeed at doing it again.

Cameron's Aliens made more sense to me once I saw the director's cut version. The death of Ripley's daughter is a critical plot point. The loss clarifies why Ripley's job as a loader lacks meaning and shows her motivation for wanting to return to the hellish planet to help find the missing colonists. Ripley's near obsessive devotion to young Newt also becomes clearer. When I first saw the film (at a drive-in), I understood Ripley's compassion for Newt as a kind of duty. The other female marines, like Vasquez, were hardly maternal. They radiated testosterone -- joking about the "bug hunt" and quickly out-quipping the male marines. But why would Ripley run back into the collapsing station to rescue Newt, already cocooned like so many others, as seconds tick down to planet nuking?

It's all about nursery images. Having lost one child, she's not about to let the aliens take another. Newt must be removed from the blanket of goo before she becomes an incubator -- a corporeal nursery. Ripley's decision to set the pods ablaze in the Alien Queen's nursery now gels. There's a moment, once she recovers from the shock of stumbling into the nursery, when Ripley realizes the alien guards fear she will torch the unborn facehuggers. Ripley first cocks her head with an eye-for-an-eye epiphany -- then unleashes hell -- firing without mercy as the digital display of rounds counts down.

Face hug this!!!

Where yet was ever found a mother
Who'd give her booby for another

--John Gay, Fables, Part I

It's no surprise that some viewers have kicked the whole mother/alien thematic blender up a notch. Stella Williams, reviewing AlienWoman: The Making of Lt. Ellen Ripley by Ximena C. Gallardo and C. Jason Smith, notes that

Gallardo and Smith argue that the male-female dichotomy is broken down in the Alien films, and women as well as men are "raped" to serve as wombs for the symbolic mother-destroyer Alien. The authors claim the Alien saga was the first science fiction film to approach what it means to be human on the basis of biological sex and gender roles. As males are penetrated, impregnated, and give birth, everyone is feminized. The authors describe space as a sexual enterprise where monstrous generative mothers threaten to devour men. Gallardo and Smith credit the first film with setting up the conflict between the female protagonist and the monstrous feminine that operates throughout the Alien series.

which, given the scope, almost makes this parent

Get the door.  It's Domino's...

It's what's for dinner...
[Saturn Devouring His Children
(1819-1823) by Goya]

seem sweetly 50s sit-com retro once Ripley enters the nursery.

Sunday, November 27, 2005

Viking Funeral

Viking Funeral

Viking Funeral (2005)

Here's a new one to send your Thanksgiving weekend sailing off in flames. Were the turkey a bit overcooked and the dressing dry? Here's why.

You probably have an image of Viking funerals -- burning ships drifting away on fog-drenched fjords? But maybe you aren't being festive enough...or dutifully walking like an Egyptian? From House Shadow Drake, here's an abridged account from a "Viking Chieftain's Funeral on the Volga" (921-922 AD) as recorded by Arabian envoy Ibn Fadhlan:

When a chieftain dies, slaves and servants are asked who will die with him. The one who volunteers cannot alter the decision. In this particular case it was a woman who was treated with great courtesy while the burial was being prepared. On the day of the funeral the chieftain's ship was drawn up onto land and people walked around it and said words. A beir was placed on it and loths and cushions laid on it by an old woman called the Angel of Death. She was responsible for the preparations. The dead body which up to now had been laid in a grave was taken up and dressed in special garments made for the occasion. He was seated among the cushions in the tent on the ship, with alcoholic drink, food, aromatic herbs and all his weapons. Then a dog, two horses, two cows, a cock and a hen were killed and placed in the ship.

The woman who was to die went round to each tent in the camp and had sexual intercourse with its owner. After this she performed various other rituals. She was raised three times above something which looked like a door frame and said: "I see my master sitting in paradise, and it is beautiful and green and with him are men and slaves and he calls me. Lead me to him." Then she killed a hen, and was taken to the ship, took off her jewelry, drank two beakers and sang, and was finally taken into the tent to her dead master by the Angel of Death. Six men followed her into the tent and had sexual intercourse with her, and then she was killed. The closest relatives of the deceased now lit the firewood under the ship. Others threw more burning brands on the fire and within one hour everything was burnt. Then they built a mound on the spot and raised a pole at its center with the name of the chieftain and his king on it, and went away.

Maybe it's just my jaded 21st Century mindset, but I'm not sure that volunteering to accompany the chieftain to the afterlife is the best gig. Is this your idea of going sailing?

If you can't stand the heat, stay out of the boat.

"He that will not sail till all dangers are over must never put to sea" (Thomas Fuller).
[Funeral of a Viking (1893) by Sir Frank Dicksee]

But, apparently, the Vikings did prefer scorched boating into the next life. Even the Ministry of Foreign Affairs of Norway bears out the burial detail described above:

At the time of burial, the ship was drawn up on land and placed in a pit. A burial chamber was constructed behind the mast, where the deceased was placed to rest in a bed, dressed in finery. Copious provisions were placed in the ship, dogs and horses were sacrificed, and a large burial mound was piled on top of the vessel.

An Arab travelling in Russia at the end of the 9th Century happened upon a group of Vikings who were in the process of burying a chieftain in this manner. Ibn Fadlan made note of his observations, and his journal has survived. The deceased chieftain's ship was pulled ashore, and valuables were placed aboard. The corpse was dressed in fine clothing and placed on board in a bed. A slave woman, who had chosen to follow her master in death was sacrificed along with a horse and a hunting dog. The ship with its contents was burned, and a burial mound was constructed over the ashes. We have finds of cremated ships graves in the Nordic countries and in Western European Viking sites, but the large graves along the Oslofjord were not put to the torch. In the Gokstad ship a man was found, and the Tune ship probably carried a man a well. However, two women were buried with the Oseberg ship. The skeletons are of a 50-60 year-old and a 20-30 year-old. We can only speculate as to which was the companion and which was the noblewoman.

Unfortunately, these arcane customs do not always translate well when applied to contemporary living. From the Northwest Indiana News:

Barbara Garcia told jurors Friday she rolled her husband's body down a hill toward a pond in Illinois because she wanted to give him the "Viking funeral" he always wanted.

But she denied killing him.
Viking Funeral Stopped By Fire Department (Hampshire, England):
A family who held a Viking-style funeral for their missing son had their tribute disrupted when the fire department turned up to put out the blazing memorial.

After all, if city ordinances forbid leaf burning, then this

Yeah, this is the last year that I go to the Burning Man festival...

[Artwork by Zakas]

voyage to Valhalla activity will probably further prod your neighbors to call and report you.

Wednesday, November 23, 2005

Crayon Payback

Crayon Payback

Crayon Payback (2002)

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

The blog's in sleep mode until sometime this weekend. Meanwhile, thanks for coming by, please feel free to browse, look or maybe talk back at archived images, or try teleporting to one of the many fine sites and blogs just to your right.

Tuesday, November 22, 2005

Nude Beach

Nude Beach

Nude Beach (1999)

European Nude or American Naked? It's in that tricky beholder's eye. I mean, are you Fun or Fundie?

From Susan Frei's BAJA Nude Beach:

You see, in Europe when they say "nude" they think of artworks in the Louvre, Degas, Michelangelo. They think of Greek sculpture; of the David. The word "nude" in the USA means a centerfold in Playboy or Penthouse.

Even in Asia they have a much clearer understanding of the distinction between the artistic nude and pornography. Sacred spaces throughout Asia are illustrated with Gods copulating and creating life; the life force is what they are depicting. In the USA, the whole concept of morality was founded by Puritans. They got off the Mayflower and never walked very far from Plymouth Rock. Our psyche is still tied to this mode of puritanical thinking. I would love to see this change, but it won't happen in our life time.

The USA seems to be plagued by a disproportionate number of demonizers that find no other engagement between TGIF and Monday Nite Footsieball, so they venture to masturbate in frontof their iMacs to the theme of superputas and pseudo lesbos, but when they hit upon a "family nude beach" they shudder in awe, because naked people in nature are "evil" and unless a woman has a huge cucumber shoved up her anus while sucking the silicon enhanced genitals of queer weekend bikers, -- well "naked people in nature" MUST BE BANNED IN THE USA.

Breaking the link between nudity and sexuality often opens an entirely new dimension of body and self-acceptance. For most people it's an exhilarating realization of physical and spiritual freedom.

So ciao for now, Amigos! - George "Mad Magazine" Bush ordered the Baja Nude Beach bombed! We're regrouping ;-)

Creative uses for cucumbers aside, and not that I'd put anything morality-pandering past the current White House culture-of-lifeguards, I still wondered what BushCo did to "bomb the beach." So I did a Google search on BAJA NUDE BEACH BUSH. No skullduggery info was unburied, but I'll leave it to your imagination as to what other hits popped out of their tops.

Why are all the tourists screaming and fleeing, Madge?

"We are not naked for the pictures, we are naked for the summer, and because we are alive."
--An unnamed model quoted in a collection of photographs by Jock Sturges
[Drawing by Kurt Vonnegut]

I'm still having a beach blanket bingo moment and kicking sand in the face of that naked vs. nude bully. So, let's turn to a source rarely given a voice on this blog -- the art critic. From artnet, here's a snippet of Donald Kuspit's "The Troubling Nude":

In modern art, the distinction between naked and nude has lost the weight it had back when representing the body was a moral act: the transcendentalized nude, with its perfect body, was a symbol of goodness and beauty -- ideals to be striven for -- while the realistically naked body, with all its blemishes, imperfections and grossness, was inherently immoral -- the ugly body of the fallen, sinful Adam or Eve, the antithesis of the saved soul rising to heaven.

The problem embodied in the traditional tension between nakedness and nudity was the mystery of the transformation of the one into the other, which was a religious mystery, for the metamorphosis of the profane into the sacred was a miraculous conversion. One could change one's wretched, hideous body -- like that of the crucified Christ in Grünewald's Isenheim Altar -- to a luminous, immaterial, sublime body -- like that of the resurrected Christ Grünewald also depicts -- by a revelatory leap of faith. It is this basic spiritual change that is embodied in the difference between nakedness and nudity: the naked body conveys the state of the soul before the change, the nude body conveys its condition afterward.

Got your reptile brain wrapped around that naked/nude dichotomy now? Let's review:

Okay. Somebody point out the naked guy...

Before: Naked
[Isenheim Altar: Crucifixion (1510-1515) by Matthias Grünewald]

You could even say it glows...

After: Nude
[Isenheim Altar: Resurrection (1510-1515) by Matthias Grünewald]

Naked body bad. Nude soul good. Stuff them doctrines up your turkey's cavity this Thanksgiving.

From cucumbers to crucifixions, Blog with a View has got it going on...

...or, then again, this could be just another post that tracks sand all over your condo's carpet.

Monday, November 21, 2005

Generalissimo

Generalissimo

Generalissimo (2001)

If this were a dictatorship, it'd be a heck of a lot easier...just as long as I am the dictator.
--George W. Bush, 12-18-2000

The best argument against democracy is a five-minute conversation with the average voter.
--Winston Churchill

I'm the commander -- see, I don't need to explain -- I do not need to explain why I say things. That's the interesting thing about being President.
--George W. Bush, as quoted in Bush at War by Bob Woodward

It's Greek Theater -- complete with padded flight suit phallus. Our self-described "war president" forgets that in satyr theatre a horse's tail was often tied to the back end. From City Dionysia:

In the satyr play the chorus members (who belonged to a Dionysian society) dressed up as the god's companions to celebrate his vital power. Its subject was related to that of the tragedies, but brought the hero down a peg by its earthy humor.

[...]

There were two or three actors, a reed-flute player, and a chorus of twelve, who were dressed as tipsy silenoi (horse-men), satyrs (goat-men) or various blends of the two. Thus they wore short pants to which a large phallus and a horse's tail were attached; they also wore soft dancing shoes that resembled hooves.

[...]

More common in the satyr play than in tragedy was the dance figure known as "peering" or the "owl dance," in which the chorus looked around as though searching for something -- part of the message of the satyr play.

On the Washington stage, the drama of a horse's ass is playing out. And the public has switched to comedy mode. No one's buying tragedian Cheney's somber rebuttal that claims of doctored intelligence to amplify war drums is "senseless" and "reprehensible." No, the sensible assumption, borne out clearly by the Downing Street Documents, is that the lying liars were cooking intell overtime. Common sense would call into question the coincidence of "failed" intelligence aligning perfectly with NeoCon nation-building hoop dreams of slam-dunk first-strike wars. No, that war president was hibernating inside Bush's compassionate conservative cocoon from the get go. The codpiece could not be contained.

Torture.  It's hard work...

"It is deeply irresponsible to rewrite the history of how that war began..."
[Poster by Ted Rall]

And Americans aren't bamboozled by Dear Leader's comic procession stage exit to the Far East. A call-in poll during Lou Dobb's CNN program tonight suggests how limp the POTUS phallus has become. The question centered on the president's Asian trip. 67% found the trip to be a failure. 31% said it was insubstantial. A mere 2% described the jaunt a success. These phone polls are not "scientific," true, but the meager support for Bush's headline-diverting trek to the Far East underscores that nearly all the blindfolds are off. And once the emperor is revealed to have no clothes, no stuffed crotches or presidential patches on para-military jackets will hide the smoke and mirrors anymore. There is no unseeing what has been so clearly seen:

Our children is learning -- finally!!!

The truth once seen, man is aware everywhere of the ghastly absurdity of existence...nausea invades him.
--Nietzsche, The Birth of Tragedy
[Cartoon by Ted Rall]

Better late than never. We no longer have to dance and peer like a Greek chorus that is looking around for something. Our war is a fiction that was staged for us -- increasingly tragic. Only the players are comic. They cannot move away from the footlights. They are still searching for something:

And what's behind Door Number 2?  Why it's endless deficits and perpetual war.  And it's all yours!

I'll take Paul Lynde to block...

They are searching for an exit strategy...

Sunday, November 20, 2005

Death of Chumley

Death of Chumley

Death of Chumley (2005)

Art brought Chumley to animated life, so why can't my art do him in?

From Tennessee Tuxedo and His Tales:

Tennessee Tuxedo was introduced on CBS-TV in response to the 1961 speech by FCC Chairman Newton R. Minow which addressed television as a "vast wasteland". Tennessee, voiced by comedian Don Adams (who portrayed Maxwell Smart on Get Smart , and later voiced Inspector Gadget ), educated as well as entertained youngsters. The series initially included repeat episodes of The Hunter and Tooter Turtle from King Leonardo. These segments were later replaced by newer components, including The World of Commander McBragg and Klondike Kat.

Tennessee, a wise-cracking penguin, and his dim-witted pal, Chumley (voiced by Bradley Bolke), resided in the Megalopolis Zoo. They were constantly scheming against zookeeper Stanley Livingston (voiced by Mort Marshall) and his assistant Flunky (voiced by Kenny Delmar), in an attempt to raise the quality of zoo-life. Their projects required the assistance of their educated friend, Phineas J. Whoopee (voiced by Larry Storch), and his 3-D BB (a three dimensional blackboard). The 3-D BB helped demonstrate basic scientific principles through the use of instructional film clips (a technique also used that year by Ken Snyder's syndicated Funny Company cartoons).

I remember watching this show as a kid, although I never thought of it as instructional in any way. In fact, thinking back now, it certainly did its part to reinforce stereotypes like a bumbling, theft-inclined French mouse (Savoir Faire) and a pair of buck-toothed, nonsense-spouting Indian gophers (Go-Go Gophers). Tennessee and his pals have been in the limelight again fairly recently because of religious wingnut fears over the sexual preferences of cartoon characters, although, apparently, both Tennessee and Chumley were investigated and exonerated. From Corey Anderson's sarcastic American Idle -- "FBI Files on Suspected Gay Cartoon Characters Uncovered":

While Tennessee and Chumley raised alarms initially due to the possibly-gay naked-except-for-neckwear dynamic they both shared, the FBI showed little concern as long as they were safely behind bars at the Megopolis Zoo, under the watchful eye of Stanley Livingston and Phineas J. Whoopee, who used an animated chalkboard as a re-education tool.

Why, Chumley, how did you know I wanted a gerbil for my birthday?

"Chumley, did you use KY Jelly as the frosting on this cake?"
"Duh, gee, I dunno, Tennessee."

I remember there were many inconsistencies on the show. Tennessee and Chumley were constantly scheming of ways to escape from the zoo, but they easily strolled out to hang out with Mr. Whoopee. Would that our worse-than-a-dimwitted-president could walk out of Iraq so easily. As driftglass observed after a Saturday morning of channel surfing:

Over on Channel 23 they're showing reruns of Tennessee Tuxedo. It's the most honest five contiguous minutes I've heard all morning.

He and Chumley are apparently plotting to escape from Stanley Livingston's Zoo.

Damn!

When even cartoon penguins have better exit strategies than the White House, you know you're fucked.

Better make a note of that, Chumley...

~/~

Blogging will be flickering on and off for a few weeks because of an illness in my family. I'll post when I can.

Monday, November 14, 2005

The Probe

The Probe

The Probe (2001)

Given the ongoing follies of BushCo, and Dear Leader's continued support by his 35% base who'd probably cheer him whatever he says or does, intelligent life on this planet is looking less likely. So, let's branch out and seek elsewhere. But how? Is scanning the skies in the hope of tuning in an alien talk radio host the most sensible search method? BBC News wonders if we can take the search directly to The Others:

There could be an alien spacecraft with a message for us lurking somewhere in our Solar System, say scientists writing in the journal Nature.

Until now, it was generally believed that the best way to find ET is to look for a radio signal from them as such signals can travel vast distances.

But an analysis by US researchers suggests that sending a probe into space would be more efficient.

A recent radio search of 800 stars showed no sign of a signal from ET.

[...]

Christopher Rose of Rutgers University and Gregory Wright of Antiope Associates, both in the US, present a new analysis of an old topic that may explain why the ET radio searches have been unsuccessful.

They argue that, in many circumstances, it makes more sense to send a space probe carrying a message to another star system, rather than a radio beam.

Unless the radio messages are short, they say, their "package strategy", is more efficient, requiring less energy per bit of information transmitted.

NASA's gone down a similar slippery trajectory before. It attached this picture message to the Pioneer interstellar probe:

Hey, Eve.  You dropped your apple...

Translation: We are here. Invade us. We lack defenses -- including clothing. Aim your superior weaponry directly at our exposed genitals.

Or perhaps you're pondering more invasive probes -- as in this (NY Times rather esoteric) plot description for South Park's premiere episode -- "Cartman Gets an Anal Probe":

After a thrilling game of "Kick the Baby," Kyle's adopted brother Ike is abducted by the same aliens who had visited Cartman the night before in order to insert a big metal hooba-jube into his rectum. The anal probe causes Cartman to expel flaming gas and eventually sprout an 80-foot satellite dish, which attracts the aliens. Kyle's barrage of obscenities prompts Ike's release, and the aliens present a gift to the beings of earth they have judged to be the most intelligent and wise (not humans, of course) before they leave.

Is that not the most erudite description imaginable for this:

Why is it that everything today has to do with things either going in or coming out of my ass?

I dreamed I was standing out in a field, and there was this huge satellite dish stickin' out of my butt. And there were hundreds of cows and aliens, and then I went up on the ship, and Scott Baio gave me pinkeye.

And why don't the aliens get bored with the same shtick-- which is what Kareem Harper of UGO.com wonders as he reviews Destroy All Humans:

After a while, you can only anal probe and destroy so many buildings before all the fun of laying waste to a planet diminishes.

As much as I enjoy the scene in Mars Attacks! when Congress gets ray gunned, I actually prefer our elected officials to work a little before being lasered. How about a probe on this guy

Well, I'm dressed for nuclear winter...

for torture, and this guy

Scooter? No -- never fell off one of those...

for lying? And if the Rethug-Controlled Everything won't authorize a congressional probe of the Bush Administration's heavy torturing and deep lying, then can the two crooks above at least receive a thorough Cartman-style anal probe?

And, for the sake of irony, how about using a chemical light stick as the suspect device? Maybe that will give them both a less, um, cheeky and more reality-based perspective on "enhanced interrogation techniques."

~/~

UPDATE:

I won't be blogging for a while due to RL situations, but I hope to be back slinging art and text soon.

In the meantime, please visit some the many fine blogs and sites to your right. There are many treasures waiting to be dug up in those links.

Sunday, November 13, 2005

Cerberus

Cerberus

Cerberus (2005)

Today's new image wants to know who let the dog out. From the Hercules page at Tufts University:

The most dangerous labor [of Hercules] of all was the twelfth and final one. Eurystheus ordered Hercules to go to the Underworld and kidnap the beast called Cerberus (or Kerberos). Eurystheus must have been sure Hercules would never succeed at this impossible task!

The ancient Greeks believed that after a person died, his or her spirit went to the world below and dwelled for eternity in the depths of the earth. The Underworld was the kingdom of Hades, also called Pluto, and his wife, Persephone. Depending on how a person lived his or her life, they might or might not experience never-ending punishment in Hades. All souls, whether good or bad, were destined for the kingdom of Hades.

Cerberus was a vicious beast that guarded the entrance to Hades and kept the living from entering the world of the dead. According to Apollodorus, Cerberus was a strange mixture of creatures: he had three heads of wild dogs, a dragon or serpent for a tail, and heads of snakes all over his back. Hesiod, though, says that Cerberus had fifty heads and devoured raw flesh.

[...]

A weaponless Hercules set off to find Cerberus. Near the gates of Acheron, one of the five rivers of the Underworld, Hercules encountered Cerberus. Undaunted, the hero threw his strong arms around the beast, perhaps grasping all three heads at once, and wrestled Cerberus into submission. The dragon in the tail of the fierce flesh-eating guard dog bit Hercules, but that did not stop him. Cerberus had to submit to the force of the hero, and Hercules brought Cerberus to Eurystheus. Unlike other monsters that crossed the path of the legendary hero, Cerberus was returned safely to Hades, where he resumed guarding the gateway to the Underworld. Presumably, Hercules inflicted no lasting damage on Cerberus, except, of course, the wound to his pride!

Bad dog!  Just wait until newspapers are invented!

Stop that snarling. Lots of hellhounds are neutered.
[Photograph by Maria Daniels and courtesy of the Musée du Louvre]

Ceberus made a vivid impression on me when I read Edith Hamilton's Mythology as a high school freshman. The monster mutt, with the anti-Holy Trinity heads, seemed fearsome -- ferocious far beyond the CGI undead hounds of Resident Evil.

Later, when I was in graduate school, I had a friend who had a menacing black Doberman named Cerberus. My friend once housesat for me while I went on vacation, but Cerberus, who had a blood lust for my cat, threatened to Hun-trash my apartment. My friend's solution to keep the peace? He confined Cerberus in a car for a week -- my car! Surveying the canine wasteland upon my return, I immediately made two decisions:

1) I would have one less friend, and
2) I would most definitely need a new car.

I owned a baby blue 1963 Ford Galaxie at the time. A milk truck had sideswiped it a year before while it was innocently parked on the street. One side was badly mangled, and only two of four doors worked, but it was still drivable. But its week-long doghouse date with Cerberus did it in. Unlike Hercules, my car wasn't a child of the gods and could not wrestle the beast into compliance.

Okay, Snuffles.  Ready for your dog biscuit?

I'm tellin' ya, Herc, hell is Club Med compared to that blogger dude's car...
[Illustration seen on Triplemind.com]

Wouldn't Scooby Doo Where Are You have been more dramatic with Cerberus playing the lead? Cerby-Doo. Shaggy makes his first dumbass remark, and, wham, Cerby bites his head off. Each visceral episode ends with:

I would have gotten into hell, too, if it hadn't for that meddling devil dog...

Friday, November 11, 2005

Dynamical Instability

Dynamical Instability

Dynamical Instability (2005)

Too much chaos in your life? Sorry. It can't be helped.

From a panel on "What is Chaos?" at the University of Texas:

You can now learn about dynamical instability, which to most physicists is the same in meaning as chaos. Dynamical instability refers to a special kind of behavior in time found in certain physical systems and discovered around the year 1900, by the physicist Henri Poincaré. Poincaré was a physicist interested in the mathematical equations which describe the motion of planets around the sun. The equations of motion for planets are an application of Newton's laws, and therefore completely deterministic. That these mathematical orbit equations are deterministic means, of course, that by knowing the initial conditions -- in this case, the positions and velocities of the planets at a given starting time -- you find out the positions and speeds of the planets at any time in the future or past.

Of course, it is impossible to actually measure the initial positions and speeds of the planets to infinite precision, even using perfect measuring instruments, since it is impossible to record any measurement to infinite precision. Thus there always exists an imprecision, however small, in all astronomical predictions made by the equation forms of Newton's laws. Up until the time of Poincaré, the lack of infinite precision in astronomical predictions was considered a minor problem, however, because of a tacit assumption made by almost all physicists at that time. The assumption was that if you could shrink the uncertainty in the initial conditions -- perhaps by using finer measuring instruments -- then any imprecision in the prediction would shrink in the same way. In other words, by putting more precise information into Newton's laws, you got more precise output for any later or earlier time. Thus it was assumed that it was theoretically possible to obtain nearly-perfect predictions for the behavior of any physical system.

But Poincaré noticed that certain astronomical systems did not seem to obey the rule that shrinking the initial conditions always shrank the final prediction in a corresponding way. By examining the mathematical equations, he found that although certain simple astronomical systems did indeed obey the "shrink-shrink" rule for initial conditions and final predictions, other systems did not. The astronomical systems which did not obey the rule typically consisted of three or more astronomical bodies with interaction between all three. For these types of systems, Poincaré showed that a very tiny imprecision in the initial conditions would grow in time at an enormous rate. Thus two nearly-indistinguishable sets of initial conditions for the same system would result in two final predictions which differed vastly from each other.

Poincaré mathematically proved that this "blowing up" of tiny uncertainties in the initial conditions into enormous uncertainties in the final predictions remained even if the initial uncertainties were shrunk to smallest imaginable size. That is, for these systems, even if you could specify the initial measurements to a hundred times or a million times the precision, etc., the uncertainty for later or earlier times would not shrink, but remain huge.

The gist of Poincaré's mathematical analysis was a proof that for these "complex systems," the only way to obtain predictions with any degree of accuracy at all would entail specifying the initial conditions to absolutely infinite precision. For these astronomical systems, any imprecision at all, no matter how small, would result after a short period of time in an uncertainty in the deterministic prediction which was hardly any smaller than if the prediction had been made by random chance. The extreme "sensitivity to initial conditions" mathematically present in the systems studied by Poincaré has come to be called dynamical instability, or simply chaos.

Because long-term mathematical predictions made for chaotic systems are no more accurate that random chance, the equations of motion can yield only short-term predictions with any degree of accuracy. Although Poincaré's work was considered important by some other foresighted physicists of the time, many decades would pass before the implications of his discoveries were realized by the science community as a whole. One reason was that much of the community of physicists was involved in making new discoveries in the new branch of physics called quantum mechanics, which is physics extended to the atomic realm.

Why might it be groovy to merge dynamical instability with quantum mechanics? Because, according to Chris Clarke at Green Spirit:

The combination of dynamical instability with quantum theory demonstrates that, however one interprets quantum theory, the universe is fundamentally unpredictable on a large scale as well as a small scale. Dynamical instability is sometimes called "the butterfly effect": a butterfly flapping its wings in Brazil can cause a hurricane in Bengal.

Uh-oh. The Butterfly Effect? Be like a jury and disavow any mental pictures of this guy

You've just been chaotically punk'd, dude...

Like wow. One sec I'm hanging with Demi, and the next sec I'm zapped into this blog. Go fig.

because we aren't going there, although I'm surprised to find myself here. My background is in literature and creative writing -- not science. And you can certainly read in-depth articles about chaos theory with a click of a quick Google search. But as someone who uses fractals as a base to make digital art, I find all of this pandemonium more than just cool. It's a means to get at art.

Let's see if I can summarize. Dynamical instability (chaos) describes complex motion and the dynamics of systems -- systems that are sensitive and not necessarily stable. Chaotic systems can be determined mathematically but are nearly impossible to predict. Chaos concerns itself with whether it is possible to make precise, long-range predictions of any system if the initial conditions are known and generally accurate.

So where do fractals fit in? Fractals are geometric shapes that are extremely complex, self-similar, and infinitely detailed. Fractals are tied to chaos because they have definite and defined properties and because they are extremely complex systems. Chaos and quantum mechanics reveal the universe (vast and minute) is inherently unstable, and, not coincidentally, Nature is filled with fractal patterns.

That's my nutshell grasp, but, as I admitted earlier, I'm out of my league here. I'd certainly welcome comments or links from mathematicians or fractal artists who can clarify the big picture better than I.

What intrigues me as an artist is to take this snapshot of a complex system and radically modify (some would say destroy) its established definition. My fractals become isotopic -- incredibly unstable. They mutate and are quickly less predictable. In fact, often, they are no longer fractal at all -- although they usually retain shards of fractal forms. However, that doesn't mean that my methods or the progressive stages of a given image are serendipitous. My process is discovery-oriented, but I also am familiar enough with graphics programs to sense in advance what choices produce what effects.

I'm probably sinking deeper into a tar pit of viscous abstraction today with each word I write. I lack any real understanding of complex mathematics, and I feel awkward talking (even in vague terms) about my artistic process. In fact, now that I reflect back to last spring, much of my blogging is probably dynamically unstable. I had ideas-parameters when I started this post. So how in the name of Poincaré did I end up here?

~/~

I've never posted a random (chaotic?) music shuffle, so why not. Spin the wheel:

1. "SUS" (Peel Session) -- The Ruts
2. "Broken Ship" -- Immaculate Machine
3. "Danger Bird (Live) -- Neil Young and Crazy Horse
4. "Strode Rode" -- Sonny Rollins
5. "Fill Me with Your Light" -- Clem Snide
6. "Night Light" -- Sleater-Kinney
7. "Trinkle Tinkle" -- Thelonious Monk with John Coltrane
8. "Get Out of This" -- Dinosaur Jr.
9. "Pull of the Moon" -- The Mermen
10. "Tangerine" -- Big Head Todd and the Monsters

Hmmm. This looks more like a list of what I've been listening to lately. Note to self: infuse additional tunes.

~/~

Friday Faves
Blogs and sites I've enjoyed this week:

Fractal Art:
Reward your senses by visiting Mindy Sommers at Peapod Design. Lush, gorgeously saturated, post-processed fractals that allow mathematics to uncover connective patterns found in nature. She is fractaldom's finest watercolorist and landscape artist.

Political Blog:
Go hang with Attaturk and friends over at Rising Hegemon. Spot-on analysis of current political theatrics mixed with hilarious and satirical uppercuts that always land and do damage. I especially dig their sharp-edged, narrative photoblogging. Also, captioning fun galore.

Cultural Blog:
Feast your eyes on the stills of Square America -- self-described as "a gallery of vintage snapshots and vernacular photography." The site is truly expansive -- packed with picture windows revealing countless moments of lived lives. I find the gallery of photobooth shots pleasureable, and (if you're feeling more Type A) a series exploring "America's love affair with high-caliber weaponry" will have you locked and loaded.

Thursday, November 10, 2005

After Hours at the Charnel House

After Hours at the Charnel House

After Hours at the Charnel House (1999)

If you want to work out, you need a gym.

If you want to torture, you need a gulag.

Who's your Commie now? From the Washington Post:

The CIA has been hiding and interrogating some of its most important al Qaeda captives at a Soviet-era compound in Eastern Europe, according to U.S. and foreign officials familiar with the arrangement.

The secret facility is part of a covert prison system set up by the CIA nearly four years ago that at various times has included sites in eight countries, including Thailand, Afghanistan and several democracies in Eastern Europe, as well as a small center at the Guantanamo Bay prison in Cuba, according to current and former intelligence officials and diplomats from three continents.

[...]

The existence and locations of the facilities -- referred to as "black sites" in classified White House, CIA, Justice Department and congressional documents -- are known to only a handful of officials in the United States and, usually, only to the president and a few top intelligence officers in each host country.

The CIA and the White House, citing national security concerns and the value of the program, have dissuaded Congress from demanding that the agency answer questions in open testimony about the conditions under which captives are held. Virtually nothing is known about who is kept in the facilities, what interrogation methods are employed with them, or how decisions are made about whether they should be detained or for how long.

While the Defense Department has produced volumes of public reports and testimony about its detention practices and rules after the abuse scandals at Iraq's Abu Ghraib prison and at Guantanamo Bay, the CIA has not even acknowledged the existence of its black sites. To do so, say officials familiar with the program, could open the U.S. government to legal challenges, particularly in foreign courts, and increase the risk of political condemnation at home and abroad.

Well, we can't have any of those foreign legal challenges from quaint organizations like the International Court of Justice in the Hague or queasy countries that might go rubbery to having our torturing outsourced to "black sites" within their borders. And, my oh my, we certainly cannot disclose anything like mini-malls of super-double-secret made-in-America gulags because, hey, that might lead to "political condemnation." Now there's an embedded syllogism Socrates would love:

-- We can detain and torture enemy combatants without impunity in hidden foreign locations.
-- Political condemnation might put a stop to such illegal, unethical, or immoral activities.
-- Therefore, shut your trap so we can do whatever the fuck we want.

How logically democratic and so very like us -- assuming, thanks to BushCo, we have now become the old Soviet Union.

Let's climb in the Wayback Machine and remember Russia's rationale for gulags. From Anne Applebaum's Gulag: A History:

The Gulag had antecedents in Czarist Russia, in the forced-labor brigades that operated in Siberia from the seventeenth century to the beginning of the twentieth. It then took on its modern and more familiar form almost immediately after the Russian Revolution, becoming an integral part of the Soviet system. Mass terror against real and alleged opponents was a part of the Revolution from the very beginning -- and by the summer of 1918, Bush Lenin, the Republican's Revolution's leader, had already demanded that enemy combatants "unreliable elements" be locked up in black sites concentration camps outside the United States major towns [struck text is my addition].

But, as every Freeper lives and breathes, authorities gotta have extraordinary police powers to combat fanaticism, right? That's why Dick Cheney is lobbying lawmakers to exempt the CIA from an amendment that would ban torture and inhumane treatment of prisoners, including those in clandestine prisons. After all, people incarcerated in hush-hush Gitmos are evil, right?

A gulag is a gulag is a gulag is a gulag...

If only it were all so simple! If only there were evil people somewhere insidiously committing evil deeds, and it were necessary only to separate them from the rest of us and destroy them. But the line dividing good and evil cuts through the heart of every human being. And who is willing to destroy a piece of his own heart?
-- Aleksandr Solzhenitsyn, The Gulag Archipelago

Wow. Who is actually willing to do such a thing? Could it be...this guy?

Read my bird. No new torture...

Yes, Regis. That's my final answer.

Wednesday, November 09, 2005

Widow's Walk

Widow's Walk

Widow's Walk (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, November 08, 2005

The Fire Down Below

The Fire Down Below

The Fire Down Below (2000)

Speak Out
You've got to speak out against the madness

Crosby Stills Nash & Young, "Long Time Gone"

Stop the presses. President Bush can quit splitting journalists' sides by peeping under Oval Office furniture for missing weapons of mass destruction. WMDs were finally found in Iraq -- in our own arsenal.

Worse, these WMDs were actually used on human beings -- not by Saddam -- but by us.

From The Independent Online -- "U.S. Forces Used Chemical Weapons During Assault on City of Fallujah" by Peter Popham:

Powerful new evidence emerged yesterday that the United States dropped massive quantities of white phosphorus on the Iraqi city of Fallujah during the attack on the city in November 2004, killing insurgents and civilians with the appalling burns that are the signature of this weapon.

Ever since the assault, which went unreported by any Western journalists, rumours have swirled that the Americans used chemical weapons on the city.

[...]

In December the US government formally denied the reports, describing them as "widespread myths". "Some news accounts have claimed that US forces have used 'outlawed' phosphorus shells in Fallujah," the USinfo website said. "Phosphorus shells are not outlawed. US forces have used them very sparingly in Fallujah, for illumination purposes.

"They were fired into the air to illuminate enemy positions at night, not at enemy fighters."

But now new information has surfaced, including hideous photographs and videos and interviews with American soldiers who took part in the Fallujah attack, which provides graphic proof that phosphorus shells were widely deployed in the city as a weapon.

In a documentary to be broadcast by RAI, the Italian state broadcaster, this morning, a former American soldier who fought at Fallujah says: "I heard the order to pay attention because they were going to use white phosphorus on Fallujah. In military jargon it's known as Willy Pete.

Phosphorus burns bodies, in fact it melts the flesh all the way down to the bone ... I saw the burned bodies of women and children. Phosphorus explodes and forms a cloud. Anyone within a radius of 150 metres is done for."

[...]

A biologist in Fallujah, Mohamad Tareq, interviewed for the film, says: "A rain of fire fell on the city, the people struck by this multi-coloured substance started to burn, we found people dead with strange wounds, the bodies burned but the clothes intact."

The documentary, entitled Fallujah: the Hidden Massacre, also provides what it claims is clinching evidence that incendiary bombs known as Mark 77, a new, improved form of napalm, was used in the attack on Fallujah, in breach of the UN Convention on Certain Conventional Weapons of 1980, which only allows its use against military targets.

Naturally, the military issued a blanket denial -- as seen in this article I found -- in a mind-boggling coincidence -- in the heart of Freeperland:

The US Marines in Baghdad described white phosphorus as a "conventional munition" used primarily for smoke screens and target marking. It denied using it against civilians.

"Suggestions that US forces targeted civilians with these weapons are simply wrong," US Marine Major Tim Keefe said.

"Had the producers of the documentary bothered to ask us for comment, we would have certainly told them that the premise of the program was erroneous."

[...]

An incendiary device, white phosphorus was also used to light up combat areas. The use of incendiary weapons against civilians was banned by the Geneva Convention since 1980.

The United States did not sign the relevant protocol to the convention, a UN official in New York said.

Why bother to sign a section of a document the Attorney General notes is "quaint"? Our leader, who says we don't torture even as his Veep is actively seeking policy avenues to allow the CIA to continue torturing, has threatened to veto any bill mandating against the use of torture. Wake up and smell the Orwell. We do not torture. We did not use phosphorus weapons. We've always been at war with Eurasia. Ignorance is Strength.

And, you know, I'd like to believe the military denials. I would -- except for the mile-long paper trail. We have all been here before, as Environmentalists Against War remind us:

On March 22, 2003, following the US-led invasion of Iraq, the Sydney Morning Herald reported that US forces had used napalm. Noting that napalm had been banned by a United Nations convention in 1980 (a convention never signed by the US), US military spokesmen denied using napalm in Iraq. On August 5, 2003, however, the San Diego Union-Tribune reported that US officials confirmed using "napalm-like" weapons in Iraq between March and April 2003.

In a feat of semantic hair-splitting of which Bill Clinton would have been proud, the US claimed the incendiaries used in Iraq contained less benzene than the internationally-banned napalm and, therefore, were "firebombs" and not napalm.

According to US officials, had reporters asked about firebombs [note similar train of thought in the Fallujah denial above] in March of 2003, the US would have confirmed their use. Nonetheless, the US was forced to concede that regardless of the technicalities, the napalm-like weapons were functionally equivalent to napalm. In fact, the difference between napalm and firebombs is so minute that US forces still refer to the weapons as napalm.

With that kind of track-record, it is difficult to swallow the recent denials by the US that it used napalm or any other banned weapons in Fallujah.

We don't use napalm. We just call it napalm.

We don't torture. We just call it "sleep adjustment" and other "enhanced interrogation techniques."

We don't melt down sleeping civilians with phosphorus. We just use the chemical like a flare to light up the sky.

Here's a former person in Fallujah who was apparently sleeping on a cloud:

While visions of sugar plums...

Note the leathery skin. Note that the skin is singed but the clothing is relatively intact. These are signature traits of phosphorus burns. There are many more photos of the Fallujah dead here -- if you choose to stomach the graphic images.

I'm sickened and disgusted at this latest BushCo War Criminal Moment. But the sensitive souls in Wingnuttia have a different take. Let's eavesdrop on actual comments as Freepers weigh in on this breaking news story:

"Don't throw water on burning Willie Pete."

"The United States did not sign the relevant protocol to the convention, a UN official in New York said...so, the point of this article is ....?"

"Looks like the guy quoted in the story is this Jeff Englehart, big fan of psycho babbler Hunter S. Thompson and dedicated anti-war activist. Oh, I'm sure he's just as reliable as some of the other Cindy Sheehan/John Kerry types......"

"Another slam against the US, pure and simple."

"Jihadis are a bunch of hotheads and they are burning down France. Maybe the MK77s are a little payback. What's wrong with taking a jihadi hothead and placing a little fire on his head?"

"This must be a Democrat talking points memo."

Well, I hope to Jumping Jeebus this a Democratic talking point. I hope at least one Democrat stands proudly and says that we (supposedly) went to war to find WMDs and not to use them. 90 senators voted against torture, so I hope a similar number would vote against deploying banned weapons of mass destruction.

Not that BushCo cares.

I want my country back. I really really do.

~/~

UPDATE:

Idyllopus has written a poignant response in reaction to this post tying it to another one at Alas, a Blog.

Monday, November 07, 2005

Word Salad

Word Salad

Word Salad (2001)

Better be with the dead,
Whom we, to gain our peace, have sent to peace,
Than on the torture of the mind to lie
In restless ecstasy.

--William Shakespeare, Macbeth

Bookend stories on CNN.com today. One:

The Supreme Court agreed Monday to consider a challenge to the Bush administration's military tribunals for foreign terror suspects, a major test of the government's wartime powers.

[...]

Justice Sandra Day O'Connor, who is retiring, wrote in one case that "a state of war is not a blank check for the president when it comes to the rights of the nation's citizens."

The announcement of the court's move came shortly after President Bush, asked about reports of secret U.S. prisons in Eastern Europe for terrorism suspects, declared anew that his administration does not torture suspects.

"There's an enemy that lurks and plots and plans and wants to hurt America again," Bush said during a joint news conference in Panama City with President Martin Torrijos. "So you bet we will aggressively pursue them but we will do so under the law."

And two:

Five U.S. soldiers from the 75th Ranger Regiment have been accused of beating detainees in Iraq, the U.S. military said Monday.

"The allegations stem from an incident on September 7 in which three detainees were allegedly punched and kicked by the soldiers as they were awaiting movement to a detention facility," according to a news release from the U.S. military.

[...]

The announcement came on a day when President Bush told reporters that the United States does not condone torture.

"Our country is at war and our government has the obligation to protect the American people," Bush said in Panama City, Panama.

The question is simple, America. Do you believe your president is being straight with you? BushCo creates its own reality, remember? So when Dear Leader says he'll pursue evildoers "under the law," he means his self-created law. Our current Attorney General, the official in charge of enforcing federal laws, has said the Geneva Convention is "quaint."

And does an "obligation to protect" supercede international laws regarding the humane treatment of prisoners? Did we publicly embrace torture during any conflict in recent memory? Do we, as a nation, openly advocate an ends-justifies-the-means doctrine of tormenting human beings? And if you say, hey, short-term-memory-loss blogger, we did. Have you forgotten slavery? I'd say, no --

-- and is that the kind of behavior you want to defend -- because that is exactly what BushCo is doing. Let's flashback to last July. Telegraph News remembers:

The Bush administration pledged yesterday [7-9-2005] to veto legislation banning the torture of prisoners by US troops after an overwhelming and almost unprecedented revolt by loyalist congressmen.

The late-night Senate vote saw the measure forbidding torture passed by 90 to nine, with most Republicans backing the measure. Most senators said the Abu Ghraib abuse scandal and similar allegations at the Guantanamo Bay prison rendered the result a foregone conclusion.

The administration's extraordinary isolation was underlined when the Senate Republican majority leader, Bill Frist, supported the amendment.

The man behind the legislation, Republican Senator John McCain, who was tortured as a prisoner in Vietnam, said the move was backed by American soldiers. His amendment would prohibit the "cruel, inhumane or degrading" treatment of prisoners in the custody of America's defence department.

But has something popped into Bush's head since summer? Surely he's had advance time now to ponder his position. Will advocating pro-torture jog his memory to recollect his first mistake? Uh-huh. As surely as global warming will melt the ice in hell. From Japan Today:

Tuesday, November 8, 2005 at 08:00 JST
PANAMA CITY — U.S. President George W Bush declined Monday to comment on reports of secret U.S. prisons for terrorism suspects but defended U.S. interrogation tactics, declaring: "We do not torture."

Amid reports that senior aides have been lobbying lawmakers to exempt the CIA from limits on aggressive questioning, Bush said he was "working with Congress" to "make it possible -- more possible -- to do our job."

"Our country is at war, and our government has the obligation to protect the American people," he said. "Anything we do to that end, in that effort, any activity we conduct, is within the law [emphasis mine]. We do not torture."

It's all word salad -- meaning, 1) "Speech that is so disorganized that a listener cannot comprehend it," or 2) "Confused speech occurring in schizophrenia." Either definition applies.

No, we don't torture. And remember, last June, when Cheney, after Amnesty International compared Gitmo to Soviet-era gulags, cooed: "They're living in the tropics. They're well fed. They've got everything they could possibly want."

I see. So, it's like going on a cruise, and these guys were just

We all fall down...

Playing Twister

More ice, barboy...

Chilling by the Pool

Watch this jack-knife...

Diving

Ahoy there...

Making Small Talk with the Captain

Catching some serious rays...

Barcolounging

Bush & Company. It's

Like one
Who having into truth, by telling of it,
Made such a sinner of his memory,
To credit his own lie.

--William Shakespeare, The Tempest

Sunday, November 06, 2005

Real Life Is Always Worse

Real Life Is Always Worse

Real Life Is Always Worse (2005)

Here's a new image that wonders: real life vs. online existence. What's the dif?

Everyone's avatar has an opinion. ExpectNothing! says:

There are so many people online that internet people are easily replaced. One disappears and another fills their place. So I rarely am bothered if one disappears or I have to remove one or cut off the contact. You can easily find someone else to fill their [sic] role...

...I’m an arrogant ahole online. In real life I’m a nice shy guy in real life except in the car. Skullder is very cool in real life but kinda lame online. Many people I know are cool online or in real life but often not both at once. The internet isn’t a good representation as to how people are. You can get away with anything and people know that and act accordingly.

So, online acquaintances are cannon fodder. I think I'd rather hang with Skullder. But girlwonder notes:

maybe some of the disconnect is over real life vs. online life. i'm thinking of the movie home page, i'm thinking of the fact that the cyborganic community is what brought me from new york to california when i was 24, and that the tendrils of that community continue to permeate my personal and professional life. that this crossover is still so weird and vital. and there are people with whom i communicate that i've never met. and i've fallen in love online, and in words, across the world and in my hometown.

I like the term cyborganic. It makes me think of grains and beans...or teledildonics. Whichever. Meanwhile, from the Anthony Robbins Web Community, jennihul speculates:

don't think there is a shred of difference between meeting someone online and in so-called "real life." The difference is, I believe, that people who are looking online for someone special MAY, just may be, looking for a quick-fix, magic bullet type of relationship that can "save" them from the rigors of the dating scene. That is a huge mistake. The MEETING part is like a molecule of the whole process.

Online meeting (I don't even think it should be referred to as "dating") increases the odds of finding someone matchy [sic] and appealing, on paper. The true test of any budding relationship, whether face to face or online is the chemistry. The little nuances, habits, beliefs, pheromones, styles, behaviors, etc. As far as it being safer vs. more fraught with peril is irrelevant. Psychos are everywhere. The vast majority of people wouldn't qualify as sociopathic but wacky, weird and plain freaky people are common.

Hmmm. Check out some wingnut blogs if you want to learn more about people as molecules. The sociopathic rate is probably well above average at these sites, too. Still, digital diversity observes:

The difference between online and "real life" identities stems from the fact that, online, you can be largely whoever you want. There is a large amount of anonymity that one can work with when choosing who they want to be portrayed as when they are online. People virtually have the choice (although it might not be considered largely moral or right) whether they are going to "be" someone totally different than they are in real life.

For one, when I go online, I feel like I am less inhibited than when I am talking to people on a face to face basis. I am more able to get out what I want to say because I am able to use the gaps in conversation to think of what I would like to get across to the people/person I am talking to. There is also the faceless nature of online chatting that makes it easier to talk to people when they cant see you or judge you based on your appearance or other things that real life encounters are more based on.

[...]

All in all, I would say that, when talking to people online, someone can create a character that is based on them, but inhabits characteristics that they would wish to have. It is, essentially, a more perfect version of reality. When you are talking to people who you never plan to meet, it is easy to fib and bend reality a little to make yourself either more of what you feel that they want, or more of what you feel you should be. It is a way to be more of what you want to be rather than what you are.

I'm me -- a self-made product that's new and improved. Project away. Let that Id rumble. And judge not, as Shiva on Heroes Community declares:

A few things, first regarding real life vs online. Sure, there are differences, but you can't have anarchy. Thus an arbitrary set of rules called the COC. And respect does matter anywhere you are. If you lose that, well, its all over. It may be online is a kind of pseudo-life, but I think it's just an extension of life. In other words, it's just part of the same life we call real life. So to those who say if we can't handle it here, we can't handle it in real life, let me echo Hexa and say, in real life, Stiven would have had his legs broken, then his teeth stuffed down into his toes. If he ever talked like that to anyone in the flesh, his flesh eventually would be rather fractured. Someones [sic] brother would take him out, someones [sic] friends would teach him some manners.

I'd like to go on record for really disliking having my flesh fractured. That sounds even more painful than Zappa's observation that weasels ripped my flesh. Not that we need medical comparisons, unless you take your imagined self over to Jugglezine -- where Caroline Leavitt recounts in "Virtually Connected":

Dr. Jerry Gale, director of family therapy at University of Georgia's Department of Child and Family Development, who logs time on adoption listservs, compares virtual community relationships to courtships. He advises taking it slow. "The next step from posting is private e-mailing," says Gale, "and then, as you become more comfortable, online goes into phone lines -- you call and get the voice. Then you get the meeting. And that's when a cyber relationship moves into a real one."

What will happen next is anyone's guess. Gans's favorite regular at The Well later became his wife. And at Readerville, project manager Debi Carey tumbled into love with poster Russell Rowland. "It never occurred to me to question what I was feeling in terms of real life vs. online community," Carey says. "Probably because I'm so much myself online." Propelling the couple along were delighted Readervillians ("Our first romance!" posters crowed), a welcome respite from the skepticism of Carey's offline community.

Office gossip cynical? The steno pool is shallow compared to the cyberocean? Well, there's always the chance of rehabilitation. Justin recants on Swing Talk:

Can we officially end the groove-bashing thread? I had an epiphany and am now renouncing my mr.asshole-online-identity.

Jeez, I can be such a jerk online. But you gotta admit, some people got a bit too nitpicky with me. If you know me in real life, you know that this real-life vs. online thing is all a Jeckyl [sic] and Hyde act. To all those whose feelings I hurt by bashing groove, please accept my apologies.

No serum needed. Just an Internet provider -- and you too can become an instant monster -- bashing away without the RL constraints of propriety or the physical chance of having the side of your head knocked.

And, oh, let's not forget the Bushless World I can construct online. That cinches it. Real life is always worse.

Friday, November 04, 2005

Up Your Buttercups

Up Your Buttercups

Up Your Buttercups (2002)

Yes, culture lovers, it's time again to slam your critical faculties with that weird amalgamation of the verse arts: Freeper Poetry.

This is where I hold my nose and enter the discussion area over at the verbal cesspool of Free Republic. I hunt and gather remarks, paste them into a virtual cut-up machine, slice and dice them on a random setting multiple times, and then rearrange jumbled phrase accidents as poetic lines. It's a cathartic exercise that reclaims strangled language and recycles dumb thoughts. Today's collaged found poem was reconstituted from the following threads: 1) "Psst -- We Don't Really Need Liberals," 2) "Fight Back, Mr. President: Shouldn't the President Defend His Honor?", and 3) assorted comments written in response to the "Fight Back" essay. The result:

"Up Your Buttercups"

Fitzmas is fun and pro-family.
I'm a pathetic rat raised on Doom
smacking and wiping Karl regularly
according to protocol and theocracy.
My wet blanket remake fails

faster than conservative kiddies
can rap proper on rhetoric
or nit-pick their snot-noses
and pom poms rather than risk
growth tasks. Danger. Bush battles

competence. History remembers
chock-full intell and the lying disgrace
of this cloud group. Harry pressed
for a referendum on perpetual war.
Lunacy is my permanent message.

Hardship cases first, dude...

Today's Muse

~/~

Friday Faves
Blogs and web sites I've enjoyed this week:

Fractal Art:
Drift over to Tim Hodkinson's Fractal Beanstalk blog. Sharp art and thoughtful musings on process, philosophy, computing, history, and even life itself. Witty, informative, and sometimes biographical -- always well written. Something good sprouted and grew here.

Political Blog:
You need to go on a quest with The Green Knight. Intelligent writing on politics and society spiced with occasional fine art and poetry. Sometimes funny, yes, but more often reflective and sensitive to the big picture. You'll be swayed but not clubbed.

Cultural Blog:
I love exploring zloblog -- even if I can't speak the language. A surreal mish-mash of visual art, photography, film stills, comics, logos, and strange-o pop culture. I have no idea what's going on, so I just let it wash over my eyes and simmer in my brain.

Thursday, November 03, 2005

Fire in the Hole

Fire in the Hole

Fire in the Hole (2001)

Dems with spines? An evolutionary shift? Or did the Congressional foxhole finally get so hot that something just had to blow...or grow.

Standing on the sidelines and warming your hands while the other side explodes is not leadership. Worse, hoping the public will return to the Democratic fold as everything goes gaga dysfunctional under BushCo misrule is insipid. What's your concrete plan? Let the country go to shit under Wingnut Marshall Law because the Repugs control all aspects of government? Or, worse, stand quietly and sigh and hope all gets mucked up to the max? Roe overturned. War forever. Deficits galore. Boots on the necks of the working poor. Hell, throw in the hot button kitchen sinks, too. Axe social security. Fill the Supreme Court with snake handlers. Blow it out.

Because then, once the Bushies have finished returning the nation to medievalism redux, the Dems can boldly step forward and begin loudly tsk-tsking. And the skies will be cloudy all day.

What rot. Digby explains why:

If we let the Republicans completely bankrupt the country so that we have a catastrophic economic meltdown, destroy social security and medicare, all those old, poor and unemployed people on the streets will surely wake people up. It will probably make them puke.

I'm not sure why that would lead to anyone voting for the Democrats, though. After all, we'll have sat idly by and let these things happen without fighting because we thought it would be politically helpful to our cause to force women to have back alley abortions, enable torture, destroy our judicial system, let common citizens be conned out of their hard earned money, and their lives destroyed in economic calamity -- in order to make a political point. But hey, it's a good plan anyway. We'll run on the "we told you so" platform and everyone will love us.

He's right. Everyone will loathe the Dems as cynical opportunistic grandstanders. You're the opposition party -- start opposing. How low does the limbo bar of Bush's poll numbers have to go before you'll start dancing on his self-dug grave? I mean, Bush's support among African-Americans has sunk to 2%. Given a margin of error of 3-4%, that means there are now legions of unborn black children already unfavorable to Bush. Now's the equinox apex. The moment of uber moments. The mother of all pants around the knees. So, are your sleeves rolled up like Bush and Brownie? Are you pumped?

You're doing great!! You've got yourself on the ropes!!

Democratic Fight Club
[Cartoon by Mike Keefe]

But the bell hasn't rung quite yet. Harry Reid took off the gloves this week, shut down the Senate to keep the overhead lights on the nuances of Traitor-gate, and Frist, after being thrown for a loop over the top rope, had a hissy-fit. Here's a bit of what Reid said:

There are numerous examples of how the Administration misstated and manipulated the facts as it made the case for war. Administration statements on Saddam's alleged nuclear weapons capabilities and ties with Al Qaeda represent the best examples of how it consistently and repeatedly manipulated the facts.

The American people were warned time and again by the President, the Vice President, and the current Secretary of State about Saddam's nuclear weapons capabilities. The Vice President said Iraq "has reconstituted its nuclear weapons." Playing upon the fears of Americans after September 11, these officials and others raised the specter that, left unchecked, Saddam could soon attack America with nuclear weapons.

Obviously we know now their nuclear claims were wholly inaccurate. But more troubling is the fact that a lot of intelligence experts were telling the Administration then that its claims about Saddam's nuclear capabilities were false.

The situation was very similar with respect to Saddam's links to Al Qaeda. The Vice President told the American people, "We know he's out trying once again to produce nuclear weapons and we know he has a longstanding relationship with various terrorist groups including the Al Qaeda organization."

The Administration's assertions on this score have been totally discredited. But again, the Administration went ahead with these assertions in spite of the fact that the government's top experts did not agree with these claims.

What has been the response of this Republican-controlled Congress to the Administration's manipulation of intelligence that led to this protracted war in Iraq? Basically nothing. Did the Republican-controlled Congress carry out its constitutional obligations to conduct oversight?No. Did it support our troops and their families by providing them the answers to many important questions? No. Did it even attempt to force this Administration to answer the most basic questions about its behavior? No.

And this goes wonderfully on and on. BushCo helped sell the war with fire-in-the-hole scare fantasies of WMDs and smoking mushroom clouds. It's so nice to finally see the flamethrower turned back on their bunker.

Give 'em hell, Harry. And thanks.

Now how about the rest of you Rip Dem Winkles rubbing the sleep out of your eyes? Ready to fling a few matches?

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