Tuesday, February 28, 2006

Sunflower 2

Sunflower 2

Sunflower 2 (2002)

Sunflower 1

Sunflower 1

Sunflower 1 (2002)

More than you want to know -- from the National Sunflower Association:

Sunflower was a common crop among American Indian tribes throughout North America. Evidence suggests that the plant was cultivated by Indians in present-day Arizona and New Mexico about 3000 BC. Some archaeologists suggest that sunflower may have been domesticated before corn.

Sunflower was used in many ways throughout the various Indian tribes. Seed was ground or pounded into flour for cakes, mush or bread. Some tribes mixed the meal with other vegetables such as beans, squash, and corn. The seed was also cracked and eaten for a snack. There are references of squeezing the oil from the seed and using the oil in making bread.

Non-food uses include purple dye for textiles, body painting and other decorations. Parts of the plant were used medicinally ranging from snakebite to other body ointments. The oil of the seed was used on the skin and hair. The dried stalk was used as a building material. The plant and the seeds were widely used in ceremonies.

This exotic North American plant was taken to Europe by Spanish explorers some time around 1500. The plant became widespread throughout present-day Western Europe mainly as an ornamental, but some medicinal uses were developed. By 1716, an English patent was granted for squeezing oil from sunflower seed.

Sunflower became very popular as a cultivated plant in the 18th century. Most of the credit is given to Peter the Great. The plant was initially used as an ornamental, but by 1769 literature mentions sunflower cultivated by oil production. By 1830, the manufacture of sunflower oil was done on a commercial scale. The Russian Orthodox Church increased its popularity by forbidding most oil foods from being consumed during Lent. However, sunflower was not on the prohibited list and therefore gained in immediate popularity as a food.

By the early 19th century, Russian farmers were growing over 2 million acres of sunflower. During that time, two specific types had been identified: oil-type for oil production and a large variety for direct human consumption. Government research programs were implemented. V. S. Pustovoit developed a very successful breeding program at Krasnodar. Oil contents and yields were increased significantly. Today, the world's most prestigious sunflower scientific award is known as The Pustovoit Award.

Are you feeling a little heliotropic on cloudy winter days or when trapped and slouched in your Seattle apartment? Then turn your head on its stalk to this light from the thousand monkeys typing at Wikipedia:

Most flowerheads on a field of blooming sunflowers are turned towards the east, where the sun rises each morning. Immature sunflowers in the bud stage exhibit heliotropism; on sunny days the bud tracks the sun on its journey along the sky from east to west, while at night or at dawn it returns to its eastward orientation. The motion is performed by motor cells in the pulvinus, a flexible segment of the stem just below the bud. The stem stiffens at the end of the bud stage, and when the blooming stage is reached the stem freezes in its eastward direction. Thus, blooming sunflowers are not heliotropic anymore, even though most flowerheads are facing the direction where the sun rises.

The inflorescence of the wild sunflower seen on roadsides does not turn toward the sun. In this sunflower, the flowering heads face many directions when mature. But the leaves exhibit some heliotropism.

Finally, sunflowers are seen as a potential new source for fighting HIV. From altpenis.com:

Scientists at the University of Bonn believe that sunflowers can produce a substance which prevents HIV from reproducing, at least in cell cultures. The substance is Dicaffeoyl quinic acid (DCQA), which has already been separately identified by other researchers as a possible foundation for a new group of powerful AIDS drugs. One of the stumbling blocks in developing these new drugs, however, is the astronomical cost of DCQA -- over US$1 million per gram (around US $30 million per once). The researchers in Bonn believe that their discovery of sunflower derived DCQA could slash the costs of the substance.

The researcher who discovered the potential new source of DCQA is agricultural engineer Claudio Cerboncini. Cerboncini found that some sunflowers can fight off a destructive mold called white stem rot by producing antibodies which stop the fungus. He isolated these antibodies and found that one of the components was DCQA.

DCQA was previously obtained from the artichoke and wild chicory, but only in extremely small doses, hence the high cost. "We want to attempt to cultivate sunflower cells or other plant cells in a nutrient solution together with the mold and then obtain the enzyme from the liquid," explained co-researcher Ralf Theisen. "If things go according to plan, we could produce DCQA at a substantially reduced cost."

Cerboncini added that DCQA is one of the few substances known today which inhibit viral integrase -- an enzyme which is essential for HIV to reproduce. "In contrast to other enzymes, medical experts expect there to be only a few side-effects from such integrase inhibitors. In the pharmaceuticals industry they are therefore seen as the great white hope for a completely new class of AIDS drugs. Initial clinical tests seem to confirm DCQA's potential," he said.

Will you ever again be so blasé about spitting your shells at the ballpark?

And, now, feel free to turn your head toward the light of another blog...

Sunday, February 26, 2006

Fields of Fire

Fields of Fire

Fields of Fire (2003)

...somewhere in sands of the desert
A shape with lion body and the head of a man,
A gaze blank and pitiless as the sun,
Is moving its slow thighs

--W. B. Yeats, "The Second Coming"

Traditionally, a field of fire is the area around a weapon or group of weapons that can be easily and effectively reached by gunfire.

Traditionally...

Roxanne Kaylor quoted in Salon: "I would tell [Bush] he is a liar and that he is no good for this country, and that he is killing great people. And for what reason? I don't know. Imagine if this happened to your own child. How would that make you feel?"

[Photograph by Billy Calzada]

Friday, February 24, 2006

Memories of South Dakota

Memories of South Dakota

Memories of South Dakota (2000)

No troop or squadron or regiment's gonna keep the Apaches on this reservation unless they want to stay here. Five years ago we made a treaty with Cochise. He and his Cherokowas and some of the other Apache bands came on the reservation. They wanted to live here in peace and did for two years. And then Meacham, here, was sent by the Indian ring, the dirtiest, most corrupt political group in our history. And then it began -- whiskey but no beef, trinkets instead of blankets, the women degraded, the children sickly, and the men turning into drunken animals. So Cochise did the only thing a decent man could do. He left.
--John Wayne in Rio Bravo

I was born in South Dakota, and I spent much of my childhood there. I have many cherished memories -- most of them tied to the people and places. I recall specifics. The crunch of snow on a cold winter night -- and, overhead, a gigantic sky crowded with bright stars. The feel of a biting wind in January or the smell of prairie grass and wildflowers in June. Long and lonely flat flat highways. The surface-of-the-moon majesty of the Black Hills.

But I have reservations (no pun intended) about visiting anytime soon. Maybe the water's become tainted or the locoweed needs eradication. Or, maybe, the good people of South Dakota need to elect more compassionate representatives. From KELOLAND.com (2-10-2006):

The South Dakota House has passed a bill that would nearly ban all abortions in the state, ushering the issue to the state Senate.

Supporters are pushing the measure in hopes of drawing a legal challenge that will cause the US Supreme Court to reverse its 1973 decision legalizing abortion.

The bill banning all abortions in South Dakota was passed 47-to-22 in the House.

Amendments aimed at carving out exemptions for rape, incest and the health of women were rejected.

The bill does contain a loophole that allows abortions if women are in danger of dying. Doctors who do those abortions could not be prosecuted.

and, from the same source, yesterday:

In the next six weeks, South Dakota lawmakers will decide whether to make abortion a crime.

A bill that would ban abortion in the state will be introduced within the next two days.

The bill will be called the Woman's Health and Life Protection Act. It will ban abortion, but won't prosecute a doctor who performs one to save a woman's life.

And the lawmaker who's introducing the bill says he thinks now is the right time to try and over-turn Roe vs Wade.

Rep. Roger Hunt says, "Abortion should be banned."

Those four words will likely lead to many others in the South Dakota House and Senate as lawmakers will decide whether to criminalize abortion in the state. The bill's supporters are using findings from a controversial abortion task force report recently given to the legislature.

Hunt says, "DNA testing now can establish the unborn child has a separate and distinct personality from the mother. We know a lot more about post-abortion harm to the mother" [emphasis mine].

I see. No exceptions for rape or incest or health problems -- and doctors who perform abortions for these extenuating circumstances can be arrested and prosecuted. In the Bush theocracy, I suppose we should glad for any gruel -- like favors/loopholes preventing mandated surgical removal of the fetus at the expense of the dying and nearly dispensable mother.

In fact, I'm gratified to learn these good souls are so concerned about the "post-abortion harm" to mothers. Obviously, the "post-birth harm" has been vastly exaggerated. Carrying a rapist's child to term and seeing the physical likeness of your rapist everyday as you change diapers, kiss goodnight, bathe, pack off to school, and pay for and mother a child you were forced to have for the rest of your life as you cope with constant stress, tension, nightmares, therapy bills, memory flashbacks, and general misery all forced upon you by a group of primarily male legislators is a cakewalk compared to the "lot more we know about port-abortion harm."

So, can I make a suggestion? How about contracting those intelligent design "scientists," some now free after being voted off school boards, to design a conception-to-birth portable incubator-womb. Nestle the rapist's fetus inside and strap the contraption tight to the belly of said rapist for nine months. Once the baby is born, handcuff it to the rapist six days a week for a minimum of eighteen years. On the seventh day of the week, the rapist can rest -- but, every Sunday, the child has to be handcuffed to one of the legislators who voted for this cruel, sadistic bill.

I know what some of you are thinking. My solution is unfair to the child -- who is innocent and powerlesss -- who had no choice (by law) but to be born. And you're right.

But the same can be said of the mother -- who is also innocent and powerless -- who also did not choose to be raped and will have no choice (by law) but to give birth to a child conceived by sexual violation and violence.

And here's the difference between my plan and the bill proposed by the South Dakota legislature. I'm needling and engaging in satire to make a point. They, on the other hand, are very serious and actively engaging in controlling what women can and cannot do with their own bodies and forcing their very lives to become (pardon the pun) unbearable.

I wonder if my home state is about to undergo a population redistribution. Like Cochise, many of the decent women of South Dakota might soon be thinking of migrating elsewhere. But, as women bail out in droves, their numbers will probably be replaced by another demographic group: rapists.

South Dakota's message to them could not be louder or clearer. Alle Alle in Free...

Thursday, February 23, 2006

Snuffed

Snuffed

Snuffed (2000)

I've been thinking seriously of killing off this blog lately. It doesn't shed enough light in any direction. It should probably be snuffed.

It's like a college student who's an undeclared major. It doesn't really know what it wants to be.

You can see this by the categories of the links. Sometimes, this blog wants to be an art blog -- a silent photoblog to display art without distractions and background noise -- like writing. Other times, this blog wants to be a political blog -- a platform for (mostly my) political observations, rants, musings, diatribes, moaning, and catharsis. Other times, this blog wants to be a cultural blog -- reflecting on odd eruptions of popular culture strangeness or historical oddness. Sometimes this blog serves as a publisher for my poetry. Sometimes this blog actually is my diary.

I'm grateful that several people nominated Blog with a View recently for a Koufax Award. But I wasn't considered because I am not seen as a lefty political blog. And I understand that reasoning and even agree with it. But can you see what I mean about an identity crisis? One day I'm fuming about BushCo. The next I'm delving into how to write poems using fractal theory. And the next I'm looking at ladybug folklore or the literary importance of Sir Mordred. And the next I'm sending a valentine to my wife.

And most of the time the result is just a mess -- an all-things-to-all-people buffet that ends up appealing to no one in particular. The art folks are turned off by the politics and yammering. The political folks are annoyed by forays into the non-political. The cultural folks are short-changed most days. I hear: You write too much. I hear: You don't write enough. Nobody seems happy. Most of the blog's hits stem from the mutated syntax of Google searches -- and I'm guessing the majority of these surfers seeking out nude beach or princess leia's metal bikini left disappointed. In the big picture end, here's the result:

...and the computer you rode in on!!

[Image seen on zloblog]

Those of you who keep blogs know how time-consuming they are. And, lately, I find myself wondering why I do this -- especially when I can't even settle on a format. Like most of you, I hold down a full time job. I want to work on a book of poetry. I want to make more art. And, sure, I'd like to have a personal, private life, too.

But I hate thinking that this blog, almost a year old now, has been a waste of both my and your time. So, for now, given my current frame of mind, I'm going to leave it up and carry on primarily as a photoblog. I'll put up art everyday -- but will keep the writing to a minimum. Maybe that approach will be more focused and result in a better fit. Or, maybe, the silence will choke off the last gasps of fresh air.

I'm not promising I won't go off on a writing binge and sound off sometimes. There are days one has to "speak out against the madness." Or I might wake up one morning and tear everything down -- like I did one morning with my gallery on Renderosity. And, as I said, I'm fighting the urge to just close the curtain on the blog's view and let the room go dark. But, for the time being, I'll just let the room go quiet and allow the art to speak for me.

Wednesday, February 22, 2006

Gone to Seed

Gone to Seed

Gone to Seed (1998)

Blog with a View, at heart, is a digital art photoblog. Each Wednesday, I present an image without the usual stops and starts of verbal communication or outsourcing the blog to a management firm in Dubai.

Tuesday, February 21, 2006

His Master's Voice

His Master's Voice

His Master's Voice (2000)

Who runs the BushCo show?

From Newsweek:

Cheney testified to the 9/11 Commission that he spoke with President Bush before giving an order to shoot down a hijacked civilian airliner that appeared headed toward Washington. (The plane was United Flight 93, which crashed in a Pennsylvania field after a brave revolt by the passengers.) But a source close to the commission, who declined to be identified revealing sensitive information, says that none of the staffers who worked on this aspect of the investigation believed Cheney's version of events.

A draft of the report conveyed their skepticism. But when top White House officials, including chief of staff Andy Card and the then White House counsel Alberto Gonzales, reviewed the draft, they became extremely agitated. After a prolonged battle, the report was toned down. The factual narrative, closely read, offers no evidence that Cheney sought initial authorization from the president. The point is not a small one. Legally, Cheney was required to get permission from his commander in chief, who was traveling (but reachable) at the time. If the public ever found out that Cheney gave the order on his own, it would have strongly fed the view that he was the real power behind the throne.

Well, since everything emanates from an undisclosed location, we'll never know. But there is always the comfort of satire -- like Bernard Weiner's imagined transcript of Bush and Cheney testifying at the 9-11 Commission Hearings. Taken from The Crisis Papers:

Chairman Kean: The Commission will come to order. Welcome, Mr. President and Mr. Vice President. Although, per our agreement, you are not being placed under oath, we expect that your testimony will consist only of the truth. The Commission and the American people deserve no less, and we trust you are in full agreement with this expectation.

Cheney: Yes, of course.

Bush:
Sure, OK.

Kean:
I have a few preliminary questions. First, Mr. President, please tell us what pre-9/11 warnings you were receiving in the Summer of 2001 from various intelligence agencies and from other nations' leaders about a possible coming al Qaeda attack.

Bush:
It was all historical. You know, old stuff, very general, about Osama's desire to hurt the United States. They hate us, you know, hate our freedoms. Nothing specific.

Kean:
Did you receive warnings about the possibility of airplanes being hijacked and used as weapons?

Bush:
Nobody would have ever thought of that. For example, there was the Genoa summit where...

Cheney:
To complete that thought, there had been some information in the past, historical reports, about how al Qaeda might want to hijack an airplane and exchange the hostages for the release of the blind Muslim leader. But, of course, nothing about planes used as weapons.

Kean:
But the President just mentioned the Genoa Summit meeting of world leaders, where there was intelligence that terrorists might want to fly a plane into the hotel where the heads of state were staying. I presume that is why President Bush chose to stay on a naval vessel offshore. Is that what you were referring to, Mr. President?

Cheney:
I think the President was referring to the fact that the world leaders, assembled for an economic summit, were also going to be talking about how to combat terrorism.

Kean:
Excuse me, Mr. Vice President, but I was addressing that question to the President.

Bush:
The Vice President has explained my position.

[...]

Ben Veniste:
My time is running out, Mr. President. So let me just try to parse your answer and follow-up. Despite all the warnings, you, as President of the United States, took no special measures, you ordered no special heightened security warnings, you did not even call your principal advisers together to seek their wisdom on what could be done to batten down the hatches and protect the lives of American citizens. And when the 9/11 attacks did come, the fighter jets at NORAD remained on the ground until more than an hour after the damage was done, even though this was contrary to their quick-response protocols. So my final question to you, Mr. President, is one that a great many Americans want to have presented and answered openly: Did you perhaps do nothing that might have interfered with the 9/11 attacks in order to use the fright and terror that followed to further your own political agenda in...

Cheney:
Mr. Chairman, this is outrageous! I object strenuously to this partisan attack on our President, our Administration. He is suggesting treasonous behavior on our part and I will not be a party...

Kean:
Your objection is registered, Mr. Vice President. Commissioner Ben Veniste, please rephrase your question in a less confrontational tone and permit the President to answer it.

Cheney:
I will NOT answer it. This line of questioning, impugning my motives, cannot be permitted to stand!

Hamilton:
That was a most intriguing reaction, Mr. Vice President. Nobody asked you about your actions or your motives. Commissioner Ben Veniste's question was directed at the President - Mr. George W. Bush, the fellow sitting on your right. Are you suggesting to us that you are the architect of the Administration's policies with regard to pre-9/11 behavior?

Cheney:
It was a mere slip of the tongue, Mr. Vice Chairman, expressed in the heat of the moment. I serve to aid the President in his policy decisions. He was always in charge of Executive policy, and he is now.

Bush:
That's right. I am now. And was then. And always shall be. Just ask Dick.

A hand up the butt beats a wire up the back...

"Direct threats require decisive action."

[Image from BuzzFlash]

Because of another BushCo info suffocation, we can only imagine (with satirical fun) what was said in the hearings. We do know that Bush insisted that Cheney be by his side.

So why was Bush so out of the information loop about Cheney's hunting accident? Another case of Incurious George? Was the Prezdent out of earshot by keeping a safe distance from political birdshot?

Or does a good dog not question the master's actions?

A good dog comes when called. Stays silent. And fetches.

Sunday, February 19, 2006

No Kyoto for Bush

No Kyoto for Bush

No Kyoto for Bush (2006)

Well now if I were the president of this land
You know I'd declare total war on the pusher man.

--Steppenwolf, "The Pusher"

Here's a new one -- and wasn't I talking just the other day about less science under BushCo's Age of Enlightenment?

What a heckuva job. The nation is no more ready for Katrina Redux than we are prepared to send a manned mission to Mars. Let's turn up the planetary heat while whining about oil addictions. Haven't we learned by now that BushCo is able to seize power but absolutely unable to govern. Talk about not lifting a finger to break a sweat.

From The Observer (2-22-04):

Climate change over the next 20 years could result in a global catastrophe costing millions of lives in wars and natural disasters.

A secret report, suppressed by US defence chiefs and obtained by The Observer, warns that major European cities will be sunk beneath rising seas as Britain is plunged into a "Siberian" climate by 2020. Nuclear conflict, mega-droughts, famine and widespread rioting will erupt across the world.

The document predicts that abrupt climate change could bring the planet to the edge of anarchy as countries develop a nuclear threat to defend and secure dwindling food, water and energy supplies. The threat to stability vastly eclipses that of terrorism, say the few experts privy to its contents.

[...]

Last week the Bush administration came under heavy fire from a large body of respected scientists who claimed that it cherry-picked science to suit its policy agenda and suppressed studies that it did not like. Jeremy Symons, a former whistleblower at the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA), said that suppression of the report for four months was a further example of the White House trying to bury the threat of climate change.

Senior climatologists, however, believe that their verdicts could prove the catalyst in forcing Bush to accept climate change as a real and happening phenomenon. They also hope it will convince the United States to sign up to global treaties to reduce the rate of climatic change.

[...]

"Can Bush ignore the Pentagon? It's going be hard to blow off this sort of document. Its hugely embarrassing. After all, Bush's single highest priority is national defence. The Pentagon is no wacko, liberal group, generally speaking it is conservative. If climate change is a threat to national security and the economy, then he has to act. There are two groups the Bush Administration tend to listen to, the oil lobby and the Pentagon," added Watson.

"You've got a President who says global warming is a hoax, and across the Potomac river you've got a Pentagon preparing for climate wars. It's pretty scary when Bush starts to ignore his own government on this issue," said Rob Gueterbock of Greenpeace.

Well, of course BushCo acted -- by catapulting the propaganda even harder. From MSNBC (10-27-04):

The Bush administration is trying to stifle scientific evidence of the dangers of global warming in an effort to keep the public uninformed, a NASA scientist said Tuesday night.

“In my more than three decades in government, I have never seen anything approaching the degree to which information flow from scientists to the public has been screened and controlled as it is now,” James Hansen told a University of Iowa audience.

Hansen is director of the NASA Goddard Institute for Space Studies in New York and has twice briefed a task force headed by Vice President Dick Cheney on global warming. He was also one of the first government scientists tasked with briefing congressional committees on the dangers of global warming, testifying as far back as the 1980s.

Hansen said the administration wants to hear only scientific results that “fit predetermined, inflexible positions.” Evidence that would raise concerns about the dangers of climate change is often dismissed as not being of sufficient interest to the public.

[...]

Hansen said such warnings are consistently suppressed, while studies that cast doubt on such interpretations receive favorable treatment from the administration.

He also said reports that outline potential dangers of global warming are edited to make the problem appear less serious. “This process is in direct opposition to the most fundamental precepts of science,” he said.

But our prezdent, given the dire and apocalyptic distress calls from top climatologists, and being so quick to urge intelligent design be given a fair shake in science classrooms, surely is on top of the global warming issue. Or surely not -- from Salon (9-10-04):

"You're talking about a president who says that the jury is out on evolution, so what possible evidence would you need to muster to prove the existence of global warming?" says Robert F. Kennedy Jr., author of the new book Crimes Against Nature. "We've got polar ice caps melting, glaciers disappearing all over the world, ocean levels rising, coral reefs dying. But these people are flat-earthers."

In fact, Bush's see-no-evil, hear-no-evil stance on global warming is so intractable that even when his own administration's scientists weigh in on the issue, he simply won't hear of it.

In a report sent to Congress at the end of August, government scientists argued that the warming of the atmosphere in recent decades cannot be explained by natural causes but must include such human sources as energy consumption and deforestation. It's a conclusion that a consensus of the world's climatologists reached years ago but that Bush has ignored throughout his presidency.

When the New York Times quizzed Bush about why his scientists had shifted their positions on what caused global warming, he appeared entirely ignorant that they had. "I don't think we did," he said. When tipped off to the paper's coverage of the report, he added: "Oh, OK, well, that's got to be true." Maybe he really doesn't read the newspapers. His aides then assured reporters that, no, this report wouldn't signal any change in his policies around climate change.

Now let's fast forward to 2006. Given the stakes, BushCo surely had the good sense to act in our best interests, yes? No. That was a rhetorical question. From ABC News (2-1-06):

President Bush may have broken some ground when he admitted in his State of the Union speech that the country is "addicted to oil," but he did not mention the other massive issue that's tied to oil … global warming.

The vast majority of scientists now agree that global warming is real and well under way.

"It may have sounded new to some, but it wasn't -- there was nothing really new there," says American economist Gary Yohe, who has focused for years on the economic challenges and dangers posed by global warming. "As long as they remain voluntary, meaningful cuts in greenhouse gas emissions simply won't happen in the U.S."

An extremely gloomy assessment of the dangers of global warming was published this week in Britain by prominent Earth systems scientist James Lovelock. In Gaias's Revenge, Lovelock concludes that catastrophic global warming cannot be avoided; Lovelock does not expect that the United States, China or India will make the necessary emissions cuts over the next few years to avoid catastrophic global warming, and he expects it will occur soon.

Before the end of the century, says Lovelock, too many climate system tipping points will have passed, taking the planet into a runaway greenhouse effect that will raise temperatures so sharply that people will be "dying by the billions" with only a "few breeding pairs left" at the poles, the only places that will be at all tolerable.

Meanwhile, back at the (Crawford) Ranch. From Breitbart.com (1-30-2006):

Exxon Mobil Corp. posted record profits for any U.S. company on Monday -- $10.71 billion for the fourth quarter and $36.13 billion for the year -- as the world's biggest publicly traded oil company benefited from high oil and gas prices and demand for refined products. The results exceeded Wall Street expectations and Exxon shares rose nearly 3 percent in morning trading.

[...]

Exxon's profit for the year was also the largest annual reported net income in U.S. history, according to Howard Silverblatt, a stock market analyst for Standard & Poor's. He said the previous high was Exxon's $25.3 billion profit in 2004.

Exxon's results lifted the combined 2005 profits for the country's three largest integrated oil companies to more than $63 billion.

Hey, did I mention that 2005 was Halliburton's most profitable year -- ever...?

"Kyoto would have wrecked our economy. I couldn't in good faith have signed Kyoto." (George W. Bush, 1-30-05)

[Cartoon by Steve Sack]

God damn The Pusher Man...

Friday, February 17, 2006

All Broken Up About It

All Broken Up About It

All Broken Up About It (2002)

This image appears a little peppered...

I doubt the Veep shares the sentiments of the title.

If you want to break yourself up, surf over to firedoglake's DickFest -- a blog poetry festival about the life and times of His Dickness. It's much more literary than anything I could write today.

Thursday, February 16, 2006

I Like the Way You Think

I Like the Way You Think

I Like the Way You Think (2002)

And sometimes that's all it takes. Call it a kinship of partisan philosophy. Or a shared vision to dumb down the culture. Or to catapult good old boy propaganda to your "average American" about the social evils of non sequitors like gay marriage and flag burning while giving away the farm to fatcats like Kenny Boy Lay and oil buddies raking in chart-topping profits.

And off red state America goes to vote. I like the way you think.

From La monde diplomatique:

The all-Americans despise the affected elites, with their highfalutin ways and that’s why they vote for plainspoken men like George Bush, or his dad, or Ronald Reagan, or Richard Nixon, that ultimate victim of East Coast disdain. Each of whom, once elected, did his level best to shower the nation’s elite with policy gifts of every description.

That's right. You're doin' a heckuva job. I like the way you think.

And I pay absolutely no attention whatsoever to anything you actually do -- like choke off student loans, sell our Medicaid to the drug companies, mortage the environment to corporations, kill our loved ones in a senseless and endless war based on lies and greed. In fact, I shudder with anticipation for the next election cycle when I can turn the other butt cheek and say: Thank you, sir. Can I have another?

You sure can. More fear. More lies. More tax cuts. More deficits. More torture. More death.

Less freedom. Less respect. Less privacy. Less science.

Less science.

Imagine you're a fresh-faced liar Young Republican non-college graduate. I like the way you think. We'll place you in the heart of NASA -- among the rocket scientists -- to do The King's, Pravda's, God's, patriotic work. Like George Deutsch -- a 24-year-old, who lied about having a college degree, who takes a shine to intelligent design, who was deliberately planted by the Bush administration as a Public Affairs Officer in NASA, who was apparently given marching orders to sanitize science with the implied or expressed intent to further the theocratic agenda of the religious right. Here's something else to adhere to your textbook bearing that "Evolution is a theory" sticker -- from an email Deutsch wrote last October:

The theory that the universe was created by a "big bang" is just that -- a theory. It is not proven fact; it is opinion. Yes, the scientific community by and large may share this opinion, but that doesn't make it correct ... It is not NASA's place, nor should it be, to make a declaration such as this about the existence of the universe that discounts intelligent design by a creator -- the other half of the argument.

Sure, it's not NASA's place to follow the scientific method and draw conclusions from observational research. That territory belongs to the stooges of George "the most brilliant man I ever met" Bush.

But now that Deutsch's lying CV had lying lies, like claiming to have a college degree instead of just crony experience in Bush campaigns, Deutsch is crying foul. From Bad Astronomy Blog:

He [Deutsch] goes on to say:

"The interesting thing, is that [there] is no evidence for censorship…"

Maybe he should read a NYT article written by Revkin (a story which increasingly seems to be writing itself), which says that several scientists have come forward with evidence that they were censored: "They called or e-mailed The Times and sent documents showing that news releases were delayed or altered to mesh with Bush administration policies (emphasis mine)."

Oops!

And yet, Deutsch isn’t finished:

"… what you do have is hearsay coming from a handful of people who have clear partisan ties and they’re really coming after me as a Bush appointee and the rest of the Bush appointees, because this is a partisan issue."

Hearsay? Well, George, we do have the email above. And let's talk partisan, George -- especially since World O' Crap conveniently dug up some of those very public columns you wrote for the Texas A&M Battalion while failing to graduate. Some snips:

The ties between al-Qaida and Iraq are clear. So clear, in fact, that there is so much circumstantial evidence linking Iraq and al-Qaida that it would be hard for an informed person not to at least suspect Saddam's regime of having a hand in the attacks.

or...

It is absurd to think that the secretary of defense for the strongest nation in the free world would encourage torturous interrogation tactics in a war his nation was winning and at the possible expense of his political career.

or...

Most of the liberal media has shown that it is so bound by partisan ideology that it would rather continue to subvert its own country's war efforts than concede any sort of justification for invading Iraq. This is a shame.

And I graciously omitted the fascinating article speculating that convicted wife-killer Scott Peterson was framed by a Satanic cult.

So, all in all, George, speaking of pots people calling the kettle black with clear partisan ties...

Here's hoping this is a snapshot of your future career as a faith-based science editor:

Hey.  My diploma was just a theory...

Yup. I don't need an intelligent designer or a rocket scientist to see the universal pattern of the Big Bang of BushCo.

I like the way you think...

...Judy Miller. Armstrong Williams. Jack Abramoff. Jeff Gannon.

Access Granted.

~/~

Salon has published the previously unseen photos of abuses at Abu Ghraib. Maybe you should take a look and ask yourself why your land-of-the-free government has tried so hard to prevent you from seeing these records.

Wednesday, February 15, 2006

Sad Julia

Sad Julia

Sad Julia (2002)

Blog with a View, at heart, is a digital art photoblog. Each Wednesday, I present an image without the usual meandering attempts at discourse or trying to cover up the fact that I shot someone in the face.

Tuesday, February 14, 2006

Pucker Up

Pucker Up

Pucker Up (2002)

This one goes out with love to my valentine.

Hopefully, it's preferable to an arrow in the butt...

Monday, February 13, 2006

Fishing for Compliments

Fishing for Compliments

Fishing for Compliments (2006)

Here's one hot off the monitor...

Ever hung around an online art community for any length of time? If so, you know how this kind of fishing requires virtues other than patience. Yes, that -- and soaking up all the bonding -- and finally finding serenity through suffering many clique fortresses and much self-inflicted, constant competition.

Let's listen in on some actual comments from deviantart courtesy of Urban Dictionary:

deviantart is awesome apart from all the people submitting shit just to get attention.

*

Guy: I was on DeviantART the other day, my picture got six views! I even got one favorite!
Me: I was on SheezyART the other day too. After customizing my user-page, I submitted some art. It stayed on the front page for more than 8 minutes. Then I found pirate gold in my basement.
Guy: Sheezy art is for gay fags who are gay and like to be fags that are gay.
Me: Ok.

*

Good news. Absolutely every shitty sketch and dumb wallpaper anyone has ever made is now considered art.
Most of the people wouldn't know real art if it smacked them upside the face.

*

Writer is to LiveJournal as artist is to DeviantArt.

*

You go do DA just because you like vampires? YOU THINK YOU ARE ONE?!!!???.....dude....get a fuckin life.

*

Deviantart Person 1: ^^ omg yay.
Deviantart Person 2: What?!??!
Deviantart Person 1: I heart Jrock good.
Deviantart Person 2: What does that have to do with art? You are so part of that cult...

*

deviantart seems like a good idea, but read before you submit and think if you really need this.

Meanwhile, there's more good cheer spreading over at Renderosity...

I contacted this person, who goes by XXXXXXXXXX at Renderosity, and asked him to elaborate on his comment, which was only "interesting", and was responded to in a manner I found quite disturbing. Incoherent ramblings, disjointed thought patterns, and this moron THEN wanted me to jump through hoops to explain everything about my piece, while he basically called it a worthless piece of crap. I didn't want him to raise his score, just consider withdrawing it, since it just is basically "hiding" my piece from potential clients who might consider giving me some work. Who am I kidding? Does ANYBODY get graphic work from their Renderosity gallery? I'd like to keep hoping.

*

I can empathize with the frustration. But let's look at renderosity for a moment and truely take in it's "value".
It is basically a T and A flash pot of Poser "wanna be" graphics people. Followed by Photoscrape maniacs who think filters are high art.

*

Every time I post something, I make a judgement call about the rankings. Usually, these days, I turn them off. But that also means that the image has zero chance of ever getting into the Best Rankings. I don't care about that for myself (sure, it's gratifying, but it doesn't make me a better or worse artist), but the Best Rankings section is something that a lot of potential users go to in order to evaluate a software.

*

ah, good ole 'rosity, and it's numbers. I have a long history there, and I made a decission long long ago to not allow numbers to be placed on my work by the masses. None of us need that sort of validation. Really. There are many factors behind what "score" a viewer places on a piece of art, and not all of them have anything to do with the actual painting. Possibly few of the reasons have to do with your art. Your score can be raised or lowered based on wether you used a product sold there or not. Your score can be raised or lowered based on wether there is a busty nude woman in the picture. Or a faerie. Your score can be raised or lowered based on wether you are part of a clique.
It is sad, it sucks, it will never change.
Use Renderosity (and the whole net for that matter) as a place to play, learn, post your art, and enjoy, but don't let the numbers have power, they are meaningless.

I remember having a conversation with Tim over at Fractal Beanstalk who noted that artists probably outgrow the need for these places. Artists hit a kind of critical mass aesthetic puberty and come to understand such cyber lounges are more about hanging around a chatty community than exhibiting work in an art gallery.

Sunday, February 12, 2006

Her Last Night as a Virgin

Her Last Night as a Virgin

Her Last Night as a Virgin (2005)

Here's a fairly new image.

Assuming one is not hunting with Dick Cheney, what's the point of human sacrifices -- and why would a virgin be preferable?

From "Human Sacrifice of Virgins as It Relates to Art Subjects":

Human sacrifice of a virgin is an act of violence. It is no different from an act of war in this respect. Rene Gerard has the insight that the purpose of the sacrifice is to prevent events such as wars which have the potential to harm the persons performing the sacrifice. The reason such a sacrifice may be a good idea is that it diverts violence. If someone acts in such a way that a war seems a reasonable response then a sacrifice, if effective in diverting the violence, will result in much less loss of life. Though a sacrifice cannot be considered good for the victim it could be considered good for the larger community if it prevents a larger loss of life.

The choice of a virgin as a victim results from the desire to select a suitable victim. First a suitable victim must be easily restrained and controlled. Second, a suitable victim must be free of familial connections so the relatives of the victim will not seek vengeance. Lastly, a suitable victim must be expendable. Of all the members of a society a virgin girl most easily meets these criterion. It should be noted that the person most likely to cause a sacrifice to be considered is a community leader such as a king. But kings are hardly ever expendable. Warriors may also cause threats to the community through their actions. But they, too, are hardly ever expendable, and they usually have friends who are bound to defend them. Wives have the advantage of having several families that would be willing to seek vengeance. So a virgin is the best victim.

It should be noted that the choice of a virgin has nothing to do with her sexual innocence or knowledge. It has to do with the fact that she is unmarried and unattached. Only later do the concepts of innocence and purity matter. Originally the virgin was merely a suitable victim.

Hmmm. This hooha sounds more utilitarian than anything out of John Stuart Mill. I always thought ravenous volcanoes just preferred virgins. Personally, I'd be more appeased in my divine lava domain with a diet of folks like Enron top execs or Abramoff suck-ups. But, no, both history and Hollywood seem to prefer this model:

How about you two boys taking the magma bath for me?

Since I'm the only one with my shirt still on, I must be the virgin...

[Poster for Virgin Sacrifice (1959) seen at de Lijst]

Apparently, and fortunately, the whole virgin sacrifice thing is now just a historical curiosity...

...unless you're part of the wave-of-the-future brain trust wunderkids at MIT. From A Land of Dreams and Fire:

I mentioned in my previous entry that a little over a week ago on 5th East we had one of our big annual parties, Reawakening. I also might have mentioned that the premise of Reawakening is that our hall has its own dark god, Krotus. Krotus is painted in the lounge, and in many other places on the hall, and he feeds on our suffering. Hey, it's MIT, you need something to feed on your suffering. During the summer, he sleeps, because we're not taking classes, so there's not enough suffering for him to feed on. Once term starts, he reawakens -- hence the name of the party. We help him reawaken by staging a virgin sacrifice. And I have pictures!

And now I have them, too:

Oooo, your swollen and gargantuan cranial lobes make my knees weak.

Volcanoes are out, princess. You're being pitched into an experimental fusion reactor.

Who says cutting edge technological innovation and ancient purification blood rituals are mutually exclusive? Hell, both are probably safer than hunting with the Prince of Darkness.

Saturday, February 11, 2006

Energy Vampire 345

Energy Vampire 345

Energy Vampire 345 (2001)

Yes, the blog's been in photoblog mode due to RL activity, but I plan to get back to "normal" blogging early next week. Thanks for your patience.

This one's from a series of 400 images. Why the title? Energy vampires drain strength and vitality from others. In this series, I often used (do I mean "borrowed"?) the fractals of other artists, layered them with a fractal of my own, used the composite as the "base" for the picture, and then post-processed the whole mess within an inch of its artistic integrity. The result: something new derived partly parasitically from another existing source.

I know. The digital artist as leech. I deliberately kept no records of whose image I used where. So are my "energy vampires" a brought-back-to-life improvement or an undead abomination?

Sunday, February 05, 2006

Enough Nature for Today

Enough Nature for Today

Enough Nature for Today (2005)

Here's a new one. Perhaps it's the flip side of the Wye Mountain image from two days ago?

I like the suggestion of incompleteness and mutation here. There's a hint of something damaged and turning away from light.

I once wrote in a section of a poem called "Big Dipper":

I want ether,
windstorms and death without

protection so fry me
with a bolt or

cruel virus.
I hear evolution

failing.

~/~

I'll be pretty much in photoblog mode for a few days.

Saturday, February 04, 2006

Self-Portrait

Self-Portrait

Self-Portrait (2000)

This is me...

...or I've seen David Cronenberg's The Fly one too many times.

Friday, February 03, 2006

On Wye Mountain

On Wye Mountain

On Wye Mountain (2000)

RL is being stubbornly intrusive and cutting into blogging and general recreational fun. But here's a little something for you to see.

I live about five miles from Wye Mountain. Each spring, the mountain explodes into a rolling sea of daffodils. I remember, years ago, being there with my daughter and sitting in the midst of the swaying flowers and sweet fragrance.

Some people say, in the Fox News parlance, that fractals are inherently abstract and non-representational -- therefore, they cannot illustrate nature. But why not? Fractal forms are abundant in nature: trees, frost, broccoli , nervous systems, river currents. With some post-process massaging, this image came to remind me of that spring morning long ago surrounded by flowers on Wye Mountain.

To me, it felt natural to see that fractal memory suddenly appear on my computer. And now it's appearing on yours.

Wednesday, February 01, 2006

Jack in the Green

Jack in the Green

Jack in the Green (2000)

Blog with a View, at heart, is a digital art photoblog. Each Wednesday, I present an image without the usual distracting and superfluous wordiness or jokes about Lucky Charms.

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