Monday, July 31, 2006

Castaway Hot Spot

Castaway Hot Spot

Castaway Hot Spot (2001)

Hey, Little Buddy. Is something troubling you?

The Comedy...The Comedy...Or Lack Thereof...

Mr. Howell, do you want your head cufflinks back?

[Image supposedly from a dead MySpace site]

From the we know everything and you're a moron Wikipedia:

In 2006, the comic strip Monty had an extended sequence in which the title character was shipwrecked on the island of Lost. He eventually discovered that the mysterious "Others" were in fact Gilligan and his descendants. Gilligan was portrayed as having gone mad and become a figure resembling Colonel Kurtz (Marlon Brando) in Apocalypse Now.

Surely the bumbling, banal Gilligan could not be worshipped as a god and be out there somewhere "operating without any decent restraint, totally beyond the pale of any acceptable human conduct." Right?

Call me Killigan...

I watched a snail crawl along the edge of a straight razor.

[Image seen on Worth1000]

The Bathos...The Bathos...

~/~

I'd almost (and should have?) forgotten that I once wrote this short poem about:

Gilligan

ain't my little buddy
so the next time
I'm marooned on
some tropical sitcom
with Tina Louise you
can bet your coconut
there will be a
sailor hat in
my first mate stew.

Sunday, July 30, 2006

The Passion of R2D2

The Passion of R2D2
The Passion of R2D2 (2006)
I know what you're thinking. Why does the Stars Wars droid who burps in squelches deserve a passion? Passions are reserved for gods and geniuses. Christ. Van Gogh -- or, at least, Kirk Douglas playing him in Lust for Life. Bardot. Charo. Camille Paglia. Courtney Love (or is the passion aligned against her?). But R2 of the metallic blinking swivelling head? Surely not.
Au contraire. Trust yr. blogger. There's more than cuddly Ewoks in the dark pockets of the Net. Dare we venture where the Force is no match for the dressed-in-white-plastic armies of sarcasm?
From Big, Fat, Stinking Software -- the complete review of Sim R2D2, v.2.0:
Randomly plays R2D2 sounds.
Use it to annoy your coworkers.
Got it? I suspect that's the same feeling I experienced when a "friend" gave my young daughter one of those cheapo cassette players with a plastic mic.
What's sadder, I suppose, is that my daughter is now heading off for college -- but I still sometimes haul the Belle boombox to my poetry readings -- for, you know, enhanced "360 stereo sound" effects.
Meanwhile, the anti-R2 League of Extraordinary Geeks has a full battery pack of complaints:
Like this comment in the form of a short screenplay by Star Wars Commentary -- seen on Robot Tees who ask "Is It Okay to Kill Robots?"
Darth Vader: Luke, I am your father.

Luke Skywalker: NO!!!!!!!!!!! Wait. What...?

Darth Vader:
I said I'm your father.

Luke Skywalker:
I heard what you said, but a Robot can't have a human son, silly Darth Vader. Therefore, you must die.

Darth Vader
: NO!!!!!!!!!

Sound Effects: (Darth Vader dying) Slash! Whoom! Clash!

Luke Skywalker: Took you long enough. Heh...

R2D2: beep beep blop bloop blep (Why have you done this? Why did you kill my father?)

Luke Skywalker: You have seen too much now you must die.

Sound Effects: (R2D2 dying) Slash. Sparkle.

Luke Skywalker: Stupid Robots. Anyone else?
I've burned out and I can't get up.
Please can you stop the noise
I'm trying to get some rest...

--Radiohead, "Paranoid Android"
[Image seen on "The Graveyard" at BattleBricks]
And you don't want to know some of the enhanced interrogation techniques Jar Jar gets put through.
But to actually have a capital P Passion, R2's iconic circuits must fail less than Windows and have profoundly influenced popular culture. Imitators abound -- from Buck Rogers' cloying Twinkie to James Cameron's "I'll be back" (in California) Terminator to the new improved Battlestar Galactica's sexy, boltless, buff Cylons. But what influenced George Lucas to power up his feedback-gurgling robot in the first place? From we just make it all up as we go along Wikipedia:
  • Some people believe George Lucas got the look for his robot from a vacuum cleaner. It was Rexair's Rainbow model D2, sold between 1959 and 1969. This was parodied in an episode of That 70's Show in a Star Wars themed dream Eric Forman was having. In the dream, Kitty Forman, dressed as a Rebel pilot, is using R2D2 as a vacuum cleaner before using the blue dot on top of R2D2's head to turn it off so she could answer the door. This is also parodied in the opening sequence of Tripping the Rift.
Often imitated.  Never duplicated.
Suck it up, boys. I clean the galaxy for no (hu)man.
[Image seen on Images de Star Wars!!!]
So, clearly, spirit and funds willing, Mel Gibson could easily have another "passion" smashed film project. Just be sure to take his keys before he insists on driving the X-Wing Fighter home.
~/~
Today's image is fairly new and rendered in QuaSZ before being beat around its titanium temples in Photoshop and Painter. Buzz Pro and Lucis' Sculpture also helped to prevent rust.
Cross-posted to Orbit Trap.

Friday, July 28, 2006

Portrait of Dick Cheney

Portrait of Dick Cheney

Portrait of Dick Cheney (2004)

"10 Mind-Numbingly Stupid Quotes" by Dick Cheney -- compiled by Daniel Kurtzman at about.com:

10) "Except for the occasional heart attack, I never felt better." –June 4, 2003

9) "I had other priorities in the sixties than military service." –on his five draft deferments, April 5, 1989

8) "There are a lot of lessons we want to learn out of this process in terms of what works. I think we are in fact on our way to getting on top of the whole Katrina exercise." --Sept. 10, 2005

7) "Conservation may be a sign of personal virtue but it is not a sufficient basis for a sound, comprehensive energy policy." –April 30, 2001

6) "My belief is we will, in fact, be greeted as liberators." --March 16, 2003

5) "We know he's been absolutely devoted to trying to acquire nuclear weapons, and we believe he has, in fact, reconstituted nuclear weapons." --March 16, 2003

4) "In Iraq, a ruthless dictator cultivated weapons of mass destruction and the means to deliver them. He gave support to terrorists, had an established relationship with al Qaeda, and his regime is no more." –Nov. 7, 2003

3) "I think they're in the last throes, if you will, of the insurgency." -- on the Iraq insurgency, June 20, 2005

2) "Oh, yeah. He is. Big time.'' --agreeing with then-candidate George W. Bush, who was overheard at a campaign rally saying, "There's Adam Clymer, major league asshole from The New York Times," Sept. 4, 2000

1) "Go fuck yourself." --to Sen. Patrick Leahy, during an angry exchange on the Senate floor about profiteering by Halliburton, June 25, 2004

Ponder these brain droppings instead of other things as you go to the polls this November -- unless someone rigs your voting machine -- or you get accidentally shot in the face on your way to vote...

Thursday, July 27, 2006

Persian Market

Persian Market

Persian Market (2000)

Today's image is the Before picture.

And here's an After picture:

We're turning...

And another:

...turning the corner...

Another:

...turning...

And another:

...and turning...

And still another:

...in the widening gyre...

[All photographs were seen on Cursor -- "When Precision Bombing Really Isn't" by Marc W. Herold]

Wednesday, July 26, 2006

Jonah's Doorbell

Jonah's Doorbell

Jonah's Doorbell (2003)

Blog with a View, at heart, is a digital art photoblog. Each Wednesday, I present an image without making a snarky remark about the ongoing collapse of the chock-full-o-nuts Bush Doctrine.

Instead, like Tony Montana, I'll have someone else to do it for me. "Manolo Mike, shoot draw dat..."

They hate us for our freedoms that I am systematically destroying...

"Bring It Like Sorta Kinda On."

[Cartoon by Mike Luckovich]

Tuesday, July 25, 2006

A Taco for Snow White

A Taco for Snow White

A Taco for Snow White (1999)

Oh, the counting-sheep sleep balm of fairy tales. A sure tonic to have little ones peacefully drifting off to sugarplum land? Or else boarding the nightmare commuter lane to hell? Yo, Morpheus. What's up?

From Fairy Tales and After by Roger Sale seen on the Snow White Criticism Page:

Let's start with the mirror, mirror on the wall, because that shows at every point that this is a story about the desire to be the fairest of them all. The term "narcissism" seems altogether too slippery to be the only one we want here. There is, for instance, no suggestion that the queen's absorption in her beauty ever gives her pleasure, or that the desire for power through sexual attractiveness is itself a sexual feeling. What is stressed is the anger and fear that attend the queen's realization that as she and Snow White both get older, she must lose. This is why the major feeling involved is not jealousy but envy: to make beauty that important is to reduce the world to one in which only two people count.

[...]

The queen's desire to eat Snow White's lungs and liver implies only her desire to include Snow White's beauty and power within herself, and whatever sexual feeling is involved in that is included in the original passion to be fairest.

Then we come to the three temptations, where Snow White is at last able to chose. . .Whatever we might say the stepmother wants, it is clear that what Snow White wants is to be laced, to have her hair combed, and finally to eat the poisoned apple. Her attention is directed toward what will make her beautiful, what will make her sexual even...

Um, wait. Eat her lungs and liver? What is this? The Silence of the Dwarves? But, of course, it is -- as writers like Bruno Bettelheim in The Uses of Enchantment have shown, the Brothers Grimm are grim indeed. Cinderella's stepsisters go beyond cutting behaviors straight to extreme self-mutilation as they sever heels and toes ever desperate to jam their bleeding stumps into the glass slipper. Later, the wicked stepmother has her eyes furiously pecked out by beyond-Poe crows. Good night. Sleep tight.

How'd we get to this state? Mary Sharratt, in "Through a Dark Forest," observes:

The original fairy tales were not romantic children's stories. Only very recently with Walt Disney have these raw and very ominous stories been reduced to little more than cute cartoons. Until the 17th century, fairy tales were adult entertainment, the way of passing a dark winter's evening. Many older fairy tales are quite bawdy. Allocation of fairy tales to the nursery took place in the 18th century when the educated upper classes rejected the irrational and supernatural aspects of the tales in favor of a more rational and scientific world view, thus dismissing these tales as nonsense and only good for amusing young children.

Ah, blame it on Disney cuteness outsourcing. And some of the cute challenged are quite pissed at the cultural whitewash -- like Kay Stone in "Things Walt Disney Never Told Us":

Walt Disney is responsible not only for amplifying the stereotype of good versus bad women suggested by the children's books based on the Grimms, he must also be criticized for his portrayal of a cloying fantasy world filled with cute little beings existing among pretty flowers and singing animals.

Yeah -- even if Bambi's Mom does get whacked in the most cloying Precious Moments glade.

Fortunately, some cultures are able to resist the long animated arm of Disney:

Hi Ho.  Hi Ho.  It's off to the socialist state we go...

Don't these Japanese dwarves look more likely to be reading Chairman Mao rather than whistling while they work?

[Play poster seen at Nagoya University]

I remember well, years ago now, the night my daughter first asked me to tell her a bedtime story. The incident went something like this:

"Okay, honey. Here's one. Once upon a time, there was a brother and a sister named Hansel and Gretel who had a slight problem. Their parents didn't want them. So, their father blindfolded them, dumped them in the woods, and left. Now, the woods -- just so we're clear -- do not symbolically represent the mall or the toy store but always always always mean death. Got it? Okay, so Hansel and Gretel were wandering in the super creepy woods, sad at being abandoned and fearful of being lost -- but, thinking ahead, they carefully laid out a trail of bread crumbs to be able to retrace their steps. But a bunch of birds came along and ate all the crumbs. Bwa ha ha ha. Before long, the two children came to a clearing and saw a house -- and what do you think it was made out of? No, not straw. Not high-density aluminum siding. CANDY!!! Oh no, they're not going there, right? And in the front yard were like-sized gingerbread cookies -- which were once real children but whose heads and limbs are now crumbling and melting in the sun. Bwa ha ha ha. So, Hansel and Gretel approach the door of the House Made of Snickers and knock. And who do you think lives there? Mother Teresa? Nooo, it's a cannibalistic witch who scoops up the children, claps Hansel in irons in a hanging birdcage, and preps him for Hamburger Helper. But, with luck and against the tone of the story, before the witch can set the stove to broil, Gretel head butts the crone into her own oven. And quicker than you can say microwavable, the witch becomes a briquette. Gretel frees herself, brushes the seasoning salt off Hansel, and the children run back outside. And guess who's standing in the gingerbread crumbs? Smoky the Bear? Nooo, it's Dad, who slaps his head and says What was I thinkin'? And he sweeps the children up in his Paul Bunyan arms, and they cruise in a Hummer through the drive-thru for some Happy Meals, and they all lived happily ever after. Good night, honey. Sleep tight."

And my daughter, her eyes big as twin moons, screams, "Never leave me...."

Monday, July 24, 2006

Poker with the Curies

Poker with the Curies

Poker with the Curies (2004)

I call. He folds
but she smoothes her apron
and fingers the test tube
brimming with isotopes in
her pocket. She smiles. I like
the pretty blue-green light
she says. I nod breathing
with lungs of lead inside my safe
suit
and boots. Your play, Madame
I say with stacked deck confidence
knowing she wears nothing up her
sleeves but chemical burns. She has
no chips either having donated both
to the war effort so she bluffs
--standing in her bare shed
--seeing what no one else can see.

Sunday, July 23, 2006

War Based on Lies

War Based on :ies

War Based on Lies (2006)

I've never trusted the gut of George W. Bush. And I'm not alone.

From CounterPunch -- "Going on His Fabled Gut" by Rich Proctor:

As Governor, Bush's gut told him that rapacious corporations would "self-regulate" themselves into responsible civic institutions. That's how Houston became America's smoggiest city in the calamity that became known as "Smokestack Texas." His gut told him he didn't need to apply for Federal funds to feed hungry schoolchildren, so Texas slid from 29th to 48th place in the list of "Best Places In America To Raise Kids." His gut told him he had too many living citizens, so George barbecued 131 death row inmates (publicly chuckling about their deaths), despite documented tales of underpaid, incompetent defense attorneys sleeping through trials. His gut told him to cut taxes without cutting spending, and now Texas is as good as bankrupt.

As President, Bush's fabled gut told him to ignore the warnings of the outgoing Clinton Administration to pay attention to this dangerous dude named Osama bin Laden. Nope, the Golden Gut of G.W. Bush told him that his Administration would ignore the rest of the world. Blow off the Kyoto Accords? Why not? They were ginned up by a lot of strange-talkin' furriners. Let the Middle East Peace Process take care of itself. No foreign "adventures," no "nation-building," no pokin' our nose where it doesn't belong.

[...]

Bush's gut told him the way to stimulate the economy was a colossal tax cut/giveaway to our wealthiest citizens. This threw a prosperous economy into recession, spooked the financial markets and turned a colossal surplus into a crushing deficit. What does Bush's now-legendary gut tell him needs to be done? More tax cuts for his wealthy compatriots, of course, without any restraints on Republican (and Democratic) pork barrel spending. Doesn't make any sense, does it? But that's the thing about ignoring logic and "trusting your gut." Logic doesn't matter.

You bet. The dog of logic won't hunt around Dubya. He prides himself on drifting by in a semi-retired state of illiteracy. No readin' or thinkin' allowed. He'll either grope massage world leaders or tell 'em to "stop that shit." He'll tune in to his Pentecostal Pepto-free gut that's picking up CB squelch from the Higher Father that's tellin' him to invade hither and yon. And consequences? Like the collateral damage dead -- whether in Iraq or New Orleans? That's reality-based brain territory. He don't never go there.

Higher Father?  Mayday!  Mayday...

I speak straight from the gut, OK? I give people the truth, unfiltered by rational argument. I call it the No Fact Zone.
--Stephen Colbert, from remarks made at the White House Correspondents' Association Dinner, April 29, 2006.

[Panel from today's Doonesbury by Garry Trudeau. See it complete at uclick.]

There's more. My gut senses it. Like this from the Crisis Papers at Democratic Underground -- "George Bush's Gut" by Ernest Partridge:

This is what is especially scary about George Bush: he lacks the fund of experience and knowledge that enhances the value of the "gut feeling." Bush doesn't read, he doesn't tolerate dissenting views much less critical analysis of his instincts, he has no curiosity whatever about alternative theories or avenues of investigation. His "wisdom of experience" is meager, having failed in all his business ventures, and having served in the weakest governor's chair in the nation.

Such an individual is capable of blundering into catastrophic errors -- witness Iraq and the federal deficit. Still worse, such an individual, when caught in a morass of error and ignorance, is incapable of reassessment, redirection or, if necessary, strategic retreat. Instead, he "stays the course," and insists that his stubbornness is a virtue -- "strength of leadership" and "resolution."

And so George Bush, whose "gut" is his final, infallible oracle, will never admit to a mistake. Instead, anything that goes wrong is the fault of someone else.

His inarticulate word salad is folksy. His The Pet Goat stare projects calm. His bring-it-on, get-down-with-torture tough talk seems manly.

I know what my gut is tellin' me. Bullshit. Pass the Maalox.

~/~

Today's image, throttled out of Fractal Zplot and particle-beamed through Photoshop Etc., reminds you that the Downing Street Documents still make some tasty brain food -- although your gut may not enjoy digesting such a steady diet of lies.

~/~

UPDATE:

And still others are wary of The Gut of Bush. Seen on feuilleton -- "Is Bush Still Too Dumb to Be President?" by Jonathan Chait:

Bush’s supporters have insisted for the last six years that liberal derision of the president’s intelligence amounts to nothing more than cultural snobbery. We don’t like his pickup truck and his accent, the accusation goes, so we hide our blue-state prejudices behind a mask of intellectual condescension.

But the more we learn about how Bush operates, the more we can see we were right from the beginning. It matters that the president values his gut reaction and disdains book learnin’. It’s not just a question of cultural style. The president’s narrow intellectual horizons have real consequences, sometimes cataclysmic ones.

It’s true that presidents can succeed without being intellectuals themselves. The trouble is that Bush isn’t just a nonintellectual, he viscerally disdains intellectuals. “What angered me was the way such people at Yale felt so intellectually superior and so righteous,” he told a Texas Monthly reporter in 1994.

Yeah? I get angry, too. What angers me is that people die when liars lie.

Friday, July 21, 2006

Suburban Weekend

Suburban Weekend

Suburban Weekend (2000)

And the people in the houses
All go to the university,
And they all get put in boxes,
Little boxes, all the same.

--Malvina Reynolds, "Little Boxes"

From The Harvard Design Magazine -- "Ozzie and Harriet in Hell" by Mike Davis:

In other metropolitan areas, of course, the class differentiation of suburbia still corresponds to the concentric rings -- income increasing outward -- of the old Burgess Park model of urban ecology. The “hole in the donut,” as it were, is growing larger. At the same time, the new intensity of intersuburban interaction -- including commutes-to-work and flow of goods -- has dramatically weakened, if not fully displaced, the traditional solar system model of suburbs radially attracted to the center. Indeed, in some metropolises, the outlying major airport, with its office towers, warehouses, and convention facilities, has become more gravitationally important as a center of employment and exchange than the older downtown.

The have-not suburbs, moreover, have accelerated their own decline by squandering scarce tax resources in zero-sum competitions for new investment. Too many poor communities have tried to upscale themselves through a combination of draconian social engineering (restriction or even removal of low-income residents) and desperate bids for new tax resources. If a decade ago, every aging L.A. suburb from Compton to Pomona had to have its own auto mall, now the mügic bullet is believed to be a card casino (and both Compton and Pomona are scheming to build one). Redevelopment programs, which in California devour 10 to 15% of local tax revenue, have become little more than cargo cults, praying for miraculous investments that never come.

In addition to the dramatic hemorrhage of jobs and capital over the last decade, senile suburbia also suffers from premature physical obsolescence -- the architectural equivalent of Alzheimer’s disease. Much of what has been built in the postwar period (and continues to be built today) is throw-away architecture, with a thirty-year or less functional lifespan. “Dingbats” and other light-frame sunbelt apartment types are especially unsuited to support the intergenerational continuity of community and property. At best, this stucco junk was designed to be promptly recycled by perennially dynamic housing markets. But such markets have stagnated or died in much of the old suburban fringe.

So what, exactly, about the suburbs is so soul crushing? Is it the place?

Los Angeles is 72 suburbs in search of a city...--Dorothy Parker

I would sum up my fear of the future in one word: boring...The future is just going to be a vast, conforming suburb of the soul.
--J. G. Ballard

[Photograph: Suburb by Jeff Spirer]

Or is it what the place produces?

Did you know Jesus was a Jew?

If Jack Kerouac had set out to find a real bookstore in the suburbs, he would still be on the road, Phileas Fogg would still be in the air, the Ancient Mariner wouldn't have had time to tell anyone his story.
--Michael Winerip

[Photograph from Clerks II site]

Which came first? The ticky? Or the tack?

Wednesday, July 19, 2006

Chernobyl Pears

Chernobyl Pears

Chernobyl Pears (1998)

Blog with a View, at heart, is a digital art photoblog. Each Wednesday, I present an image without being a world leader on the international stage who both talks about pigs and acts like one.

Tuesday, July 18, 2006

After the David Lynch Festival

After the David Lynch Festival

After the David Lynch Festival (2000)

I hang with Death I sleep
and dream of suburban

lush scenes where I wear
black in Technicolor. You

look extra weird today,
pull off the lost highway

and take a picture of my canary
as the dwarves in the radiator

sing some song backwards unless
I step in the magic vomit

which transmogrifies my shoes
into pet logs but I am

leaving Big Tuna I am
not an animal I am

a giant sand worm I fear
or else that Eraserhead brat

who cries each time I try
to close the bedroom door.

Baby wants to...

You stay alive, baby. Do it for Van Gogh.

[Image seen on ScreenSelect]

Monday, July 17, 2006

Bad Day at the Joust

Bad Day at the Joust

Bad Day at the Joust (2004)

More than a sticky wicket. From The Age of Chivalry:

Tournaments were held regardless despite their inherent risks: Geoffrey, the son of Henry II of England, was killed in one in 1186 and William Marshal’s son, Gilbert, was killed in 1241. Participants also used tournaments to carry out acts of revenge and no more so than at the Rochester tournament of 1251 where the English knights turned the event into a real battle: the visiting continentals were bludgeoned with staves and chased into the town by their squires. This was in retaliation to their supposed mistreatment by foreigners when abroad. In the tournament of Neuss (a town in Germany) in 1241 eighty knights and squires were killed. One chronicler recorded that they had suffocated by the clouds of dust created by the combat whereas another recorded that they had gone mad and killed each other in frenzy.

Injury (and death) aside the other downside of competing in tournaments was financial ruin. Not all knights were successful. Along with losing lots of money they could also lose their armour and their horses, which were both very, very expensive and, combined, probably the equivalent today of someone losing a Rolls-Royce.

So, who'd object to a little perforation and bloodsport? Who else. The fundies. From the National Jousting Association:

Fundamental to the tournament was the idea of chivalrous and romantic conduct. A knight selected a lady; beautiful and preferably married to a husband of slightly higher rank. In her honor he would fight. If he fought successfully, he expected to receive his reward. It was considered downright disgraceful -- absolute treachery -- for a lady to refuse her favors to a knight who had fought in her honor.

Obviously, there was a direct conflict between the Christian ideal of monogamy and what can only be described as polite aristocratic adultery, which quickly brought the wrath of the Church upon all who participated. The French excelled in this department, whereas in England, a tournament was regarded more as serious training for war. English contests became so savage that the Church of England eventually forbade the Christian burial of those killed in tournaments. "Those who fall in tourneys will go to hell," scolded one monk.

I guess any suggestion that knights take a faith-based abstinence class would be passionately met with a sharp stick in the eye lance poke to the vizor.

Sunday, July 16, 2006

The Day Before the Meteor

The Day Before the Meteor

The Day Before the Meteor (2006)

So what exactly wiped out our dinosaur buds? Was it a deep impact or pandemic disaster scenario? From the BBC:

Until recently most scientists thought they knew what killed off the dinosaurs. A 10km-wide meteorite had smashed into the Yucatan peninsula in Mexico, causing worldwide forest fires, tsunamis several kilometres high, and an "impact winter" -- in which dust blocked out the sun for months or years. It was thought that the dinosaurs were blasted, roasted and frozen to death, in that order.

[...]

The impact theory was [note the was] beautifully simple and appealing. Much of its evidence was drawn from a thin layer of rock known as the "KT boundary." This layer is 65 million years old (which is around the time when the dinosaurs disappeared) and is found around the world exposed in cliffs and mines.

For supporters of the impact theory, the KT boundary layers contained two crucial clues. In 1979 scientists discovered that there were high concentrations of a rare element called iridium, which they thought could only have come from an asteroid. Right underneath the iridium was a layer of "spherules," tiny balls of rock which seemed to have been condensed from rock which had been vapourised by a massive impact.

On the basis of the spherules and a range of other evidence, Dr Alan Hildebrand of the University of Calgary deduced that the impact must have happened in the Yucatan peninsula, at the site of a crater known as Chicxulub. Chemical analysis later confirmed that the spherules had indeed come from rocks within the crater.

The impact theory seemed to provide the complete answer. In many locations around the world, the iridium layer (evidence of an asteroid impact) sits right on top of the spherule layer (evidence that the impact was at Chicxulub). So Hildebrand and other supporters of the impact theory argued that there was one massive impact 65 million years ago, and that it was at Chicxulub. This, they concluded, must have finished off the dinosaurs by a variety of mechanisms.

Bummer...

There goes the neighborhood...

[Image seen on Dinosaurs Alive!]

But, in the marches on tradition, new evidence seems to contradict the mass meteor theory. From the lab:

An ancient meteorite collision that created a vast crater off the coast of Mexico may not have triggered the extinction of the dinosaurs, according to an international team of scientists.

They say the collision off the Yucatan peninsula happened 300,000 years before the mass extinction, too early to have killed the dinosaurs by itself.

[...]

"Since the early 1990s the Chicxulub crater on Yucatan, Mexico, has been hailed as the smoking gun that proves the hypothesis that an asteroid killed the dinosaurs and caused the mass extinction of many other organisms at the Cretaceous-Tertiary (K-T) boundary 65 million years ago," the researchers wrote.

The K-T boundary can be seen in rock formations as a thin layer of clay rich in iridium, an element common in meteorites.

But the researchers said a core drilled out of the middle of the crater suggested it dated back more than 300,000 years before the K-T boundary and "thus did not cause the end-Cretaceous mass extinction as commonly believed."

[...]

This finding would support an alternative theory that the dinosaurs and other forms of life were wiped out in a series of disasters that changed the Earth's climate, [Professor Gerta] Keller's team said.

Defoliate two trees and call me in the morning...

Must be that pterodactyl flu going around...

[Cartoon seen on Dinosaur Floor]

Of course, since "The Decider" was coronated elected, he has decided that science is not decisive and should be more faith-based. His "base" has opened time tunnels and empowered flunkies theorists to conjecture that dinosaurs and humans could have easily hung in the same hood. From The Creationist Evidence Museum:


This scientifically chartered museum was established in July of 1984 for the purpose of research, excavation, and display of scientific evidence for creation. The Museum's team, led by its Founder and Director, Carl Baugh, Ph.D., has excavated eleven dinosaurs (Acrocanthosaurus, Stegosaurus, Allosaurus , etc.), 475 dinosaur tracks, 86 human footprints, 7 cat prints, and other fossil remains - all in Cretaceous limestone. Excavations were professionally documented along the Paluxy River and various other international locations.

Among museums this entity makes a unique contribution, demonstrating that man and dinosaur lived contemporaneously.

If Noah takes the raptors two by two, I'm outta here...

"That dude's gonna need a bigger boat."

[Image seen on WSKU News]

Hmmm. Yr. blogger is skeptical. "Dr." Braugh does appear to have three degrees -- two from non-accredited institutions -- and the third from a school he founded himself. And, well, his tracks seem to be of his own making. Glen J. Kuban, who has a legit degree in Biology and is president of the Cleveland Museum of Natural History, notes:

For many years claims were made by strict creationists that human footprints or "giant man tracks" occur alongside dinosaur tracks in the limestone beds of the Paluxy River, near Glen Rose Texas. If true, such a finding would dramatically contradict the conventional geologic timetable, which holds that humans did not appear on earth until over 60 million years after the dinosaurs became extinct. However, the "man track" claims have not stood up to close scientific scrutiny, and have been abandoned even by most creationists. The supposed human tracks have involved a variety of phenomena, including forms of elongate (metatarsal) dinosaur tracks, erosional features, indistinct markings of uncertain origin, and some doctored and carved specimens (most of the latter on loose blocks of rock).

Well, nice going sleeping around Einstein. So what really snuffed out the dinosaurs? Isn't it obvious? It had to have been...atheism...

~/~

UPDATE:

My wife informs me that (once again) I may be full of it.

She politely points me to Stephen Jay Gould's essay called "Sex, Drugs, Disasters and the Extinction of Dinosaurs" (found in Biological Anthropology by Michael Alan Park). Gould, one of the sharpest minds in evolutionary science (and an amazing essayist) cites several other speculations for the rather sudden disappearance of the dinosaurs. I want to stress, however, Gould does not advocate these theories but mentions them more tongue in cheek.

And how these tragic ends must resonate in modern minds. For what killed the dinosaurs? Sex and drugs.

Sex: The Testicular Theory. Blame global warming. It dried up all the male dinosaur's sperm. Hasta la vista. Gould clarifies:

Testes function only in a narrow range of temperature (those of mammals hang externally in a scrotal sac because internal body temperatures are too high for their proper function). A worldwide rise in temperature at the close of the Cretaceous period caused the testes of dinosaurs to stop functioning and led to their extinction by sterilization of males.

Drugs: The Overdose Theory. The dinosaurs never just said no. They were too stoned to live. Sayonara. Gould elucidates:

Angiosperms (flowering plants) first evolved toward the end of the dinosaurs' reign. Many of these plants contain psychoactive agents, avoided by mammals today as a result of their bitter taste. Dinosaurs had neither the means to taste the bitterness nor livers effective enough to detoxify the substances. They died of massive overdoses.

Gould mentions Ronald K. Siegel, a UCLA psychiatrist, who is down with drug extinction and claims to have 2,000 records of animals that will self-administer available drugs. Gould observes:

Elephants will swill the equivalent of twenty beers at a time, but do not like alcohol in concentrations greater than 7 percent. In a silly bit of anthropocentric speculation, Siegel states that "elephants drink, perhaps, to forget...the anxiety produced by shrinking rangeland and the competition for food."

Man, such social adjustment would be tough if you could never forget. I wonder. Do drunk elephants see pink people?

I shoulda sucked two aspirin up my trunk first...

In Dumbo, the naive elephant drinks from a moonshine-spiked water bucket and then hallucinates "Pink Elephants on Parade." But now...

[Photograph seen on savethepinebush.org]

So, dinosaurs were done in by modern malaise. Smells like Jurassic spirit. Tastes like peyote cud. No doctor to see for that Viagara-less, four-hour, non-erection. Poor Dino. He was too tripped out to get it up.

And I never knew the Dead Kennedys were anthropologists. After all, they wrote a song called "To Drunk to..."...um...Procreate....

Friday, July 14, 2006

Still Better Than Staying Home

Still Better Than Staying Home

Still Better Than Staying Home (2006)

Your clanking prom
date with a robot seems
forged. Decoys. Oil decks
break out in the backyard
like a slick carnival

or sly product placement.
A gearbox of culture
will spread like kudzu covering
car parts and jello molds.
No greasy parking pets.

No metal kiss at garage doors.
Your robot's bolts are buffed
to high gloss as his pinchers snap,
click like handcuffs over
your chubby wrists.

~/~

Something new. The image was mashed up in Fractal Zplot and then beat to a pulp and reconstituted in Photoshop. The poem is from my notebook. It was originally written in response to a painting: The Garage Door (2000) by Douglas Bourgeois.

Thursday, July 13, 2006

Manque

Manque

Manque (2000)

Please welcome a guest blogger today.

Billmon, on his terrific Whiskey Bar blog, had a fascinating post earlier this week on Al Gore. After seeing Gore's An Inconvenient Truth, Billmon begin to wonder what makes Gore tick -- and why, in an increasingly "debased political and cultural climate," Gore continues to assume that meticulous, reasoned discourse will triumph over today's rampant anti-intellectualism. Billmon compares Gore to Willy Loman and pushing the borders of bathos for trying "to speak the language of reason to an increasingly irrational, post-Enlightenment world." In the end, Billmon admires Gore because "like the doctor protagonist in Camus The Plague, he’s decided that work -- all that schlepping from airport to airport -- is the only sane alternative to despair."

Impressed, and wishing (again) that I could tap into Billmon's Muse, I sent the link out to make some email rounds. Eleny, a good friend, wrote back an impassioned letter that knocked me out. I asked if I could post her reply on my blog, and she graciously agreed.

Although Eleny is reflecting on Billmon's entire essay, she seems to initially key off this passage:

There’s something deeper at work here than just conventional media bias or capitalist economics, although they're certainly part of it. There’s always been a powerful current of anti-intellectualism in American politics, just as there is in American life. It’s the dark side of democracy: The pressure to accept what the majority, or the most vocal minority, thinks is true as truth – even when the evidence is entirely on the other side. When Henry Ford said history was bunk, he wasn’t taking about the past but about the present, and his ire wasn’t directed at historians per se but at the revisionist historians of the Progressive Era, who were telling him and his fellow know nothings inconvenient facts they didn’t want to hear. Pump Henry full of Hillbilly Heroin and put him on the radio, and you’ve got Rush Limbaugh, still making the same point.

The difference between Ford’s time and Limbaugh’s is that the political presumption against rationality is now shared, or at least pandered to, even at the top of the political and cultural pyramid. It’s curious that people who are paid to think and write for a living, and who, like Gore, attended the “best” schools, are now nearly as susceptible to the politics of ignorance as your average conservative talk show host, but then the elite media ain’t what it used to be. Like academia, it’s fighting a losing rear-guard action against the spirit of the times and the angry, irrational prejudices that go with it.

But even more than academia, the old journalistic bastions of enlightenment liberalism -- the New York Times, the Washington Post, Newsweek -- are vulnerable to the growing institutional and commercial pressures to tell the customers what they want to hear. And since conservatives are by far the larger and more economically attractive audience, the gravitational pull is perpetually to the right, which these days means the authoritarian right and the artificial reality it prefers to live in.

And here's what Eleny had to say...

~/~

Interesting how [Billmon] used the phrase "authoritarian right" in this essay. It's almost hard to escape John Dean's appearances these past few days. I'm glad to see that the authoritarian concept is slipping into writings immediately.

One thought that keeps me in hope is how things change when the rubber meets the road. Everything is getting more costly, not just gasoline. We had a bad hailstorm a few weekends ago. Our roofer mentioned how his materials have gone up in price each month for the past 6 months. People in my working class neighborhood are cutting back on air conditioning because Xcel's prices are skyrocketing. Air conditioners in the windows are sitting quiet. So?

People of my generation are having to cut back and approach lifestyles reminiscent of their parents who grew up when there weren't many cars and no home air conditioning. Fine and good. People can live like that. But when you're forced to compare yourself to what you yourself had a few short years ago, that has to rub. There's no tangible reason for the sacrifices. Not so soldiers can commit atrocities on the other side of the world. At some point people start putting this together. And that includes my roofer.

I figure that the people on the fringes of being a follower of authoritarians might break away. That makes our side's numbers all the bigger. Even if it means they just don't vote. Which brings us back to the last hope for the authoritarians -- the voting machines. My hope is that the administration has pissed off the media so much that we do finally get some news of what's happening in Mexico besides Palast's reporting. I hear that Choice Point is now creating voter lists in Venezuela, too. If not Mexico, then Venezuela may be a Waterloo.

Meanwhile, the rich get richer and desperate. Have you seen the latest Hummer ad? The theme of it is "Get Your Manhood Back." It's about a 30 second spot. They can't sell them and are now going for the socially conscious male. They don't get it that he's probably already on the Prius waiting list.

One nagging thought frightens me these days, though. It's that Americans may soon become irrelevant to corporations. The emerging Chinese market is lucrative to them. We could find our collective self expendable -- even in the way. A nuisance with our bitching for health care, jobs and affordable heat and air conditioning. Corporations have better things to do and juicier places to develop for customers. Like bacteria jumping from a carcass to a fresh young body. It scares me that much of America could slowly but surely look like Flint, Michigan one day.

Which brings me to Billmon's conclusion about what makes Gore tick. I watched Gore when he was making the rounds on TV and talk radio. I tried to catch every interview. And I always wondered what well he drank from for his optimism. Billmon thinks it may be that doing is better than despair. But I think it's something else. Maybe it's not even optimism. I think Gore looks at his kids and grandkids and figures he owes them something. He's doing all this because he, unlike the authoritarians, has some fragment of a conscience along with a healthy dose of ambition.

While President Bush likes to project an image of strength and courage, the real truth is that in the presence of his large financial contributors, he is a moral coward.

[Photograph by James Rexroad]

When the shit hits the fan and humanity has to face what it's wrought, it will need some buoy to hang on to. If people can actually make changes it'll be because of people like Gore and Dean who told us the sky was falling and why.

Helping to save humanity and democracy from extinction is one hell of a legacy. Bush says in the deep future he'll be dead so what he does now means nothing in terms of legacy. The ultimate sociopathic atheist. Gore's head is in a different place. Somewhere in that wooden, self-conscious head of his he has the capacity for love so he keeps at it. It might even get him the nomination.

Wouldn't a Gore/Dean ticket both excite and scare the piss out of us? We're going to need some excitement on the Dem side since I believe that Jeb is the only hope the Republicans have of keeping a firm lid on a shitstorm.

~/~

Eleny is also a gifted artist -- as you'll quickly discover by visiting Incurable Art.

Wednesday, July 12, 2006

Walkman for Narcissus

Walkman for Narcissus

Walkman for Narcissus (2002)

Blog with a View, at heart, is a digital art photoblog. Each Wednesday, I present an image without inheriting a $284 billion surplus and running up a projected $296 billion deficit (4th largest of all time) for 2006 and subsequently claiming this "accomplishment" vindicates my economic policies.

Tuesday, July 11, 2006

Divas

Old Diva

Old Diva (20002)


New Diva

New Diva (2002)

From the we make it up as we go along Wikipedia:

A diva is a female opera singer, but now the term also refers to a popular female performer of non-operatic works. The term was originally used to describe a woman of rare, outstanding talent. The term derives from an ancient Italian word meaning "goddess", which, in turn derives from the feminine form of a Latin word divus, meaning "divine one".

[...]

As with the earlier "prima donna", which was also derived from opera (lit. "first lady"), the term has slipped from its trade origins and come to be used in any theatrical or performance setting. In particular, because of marketing efforts, the word "diva" has come to be applied most often to popular female performers. In order to qualify as a diva there must be one, or both, of two dominant traits present: a broad and expansive voice and/or a thoroughly captivating and commanding presence.

The term has slipped much further than our Wikipedia scribes admit. More than the voice is now "broad and expansive." Today's divas are now known for expansive egos, drug habits, temper tantrums, creature comforts, and reality disconnect.

I see divas falling into three categories:

The Real:

My abdomen contains jewels...

Diva Plavalaguna from The Fifth Element

[Photograph seen here.]

Hmmm. Ironic that my choice for a real diva is a fictional, blue-skinned alien.

The Unreal:

No, I'm not a drug addict, and neither is my husband. If that were so, you'd get a lot less work out of me...

Diva Whitney Houston

[Photo seen on BBC.com]

Poor Whitney has her ups and downs. Here, amazing voice notwithstanding, she appears to be either keeping granules in her nostril or her fake nose on her fake face.

The Surreal:

But I'm the decider, and I decide what is best.

Diva George "The Decider" Bush

[Image seen on discobug]

An odd selection? Not at all. Review the criteria I established above:

Expansive ego?

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

Drug habit?

Bush says he isn't going to play the rumor game -- specifically, the rumor that he was born with a silver spoon in his nose.
--Mark Russell

Temper tantrums?

[President Bush]'s out of control,” one White House aide says privately. “There’s no other way to put it. His anger spills over in meetings. He berates anyone who brings him bad news but there's not a lot of good news we can bring the President right now. He calls other Republicans 'motherfucking traitors' and it is becoming more and more of a challenge to keep that anger from showing in public.”
--Doug Thompson, "Government by Temper Tantrum"

Creature comforts?

Q: This is manmade, this lake?

THE PRESIDENT: Yes, I made it. I paid for it. Obviously, with no rain, it evaporates. And we've had some good rains.

There are pumps over there. We keep it pumped because when it does rain, it fills up that little island and we don't want to kill those oaks.

But it's stocked. I bought a little bass boat. It's stocked --

Q Very little.

THE PRESIDENT: It is. It's perfect for that size lake.

It's stocked with a lot of bait fish and I put in 600 fingerlings. So we started -- didn't put any big bass in to begin with. And I've caught nearly a pound in size.
--from The White House home page, "President Gives Tour of Crawford Ranch"

Reality disconnect?

In the summer of 2002, after I had written an article in Esquire that the White House didn't like about Bush's former communications director, Karen Hughes, I had a meeting with a senior adviser to Bush. He expressed the White House's displeasure, and then he told me something that at the time I didn't fully comprehend -- but which I now believe gets to the very heart of the Bush presidency.

The aide said that guys like me were ''in what we call the reality-based community,'' which he defined as people who ''believe that solutions emerge from your judicious study of discernible reality.'' I nodded and murmured something about enlightenment principles and empiricism. He cut me off. ''That's not the way the world really works anymore,'' he continued. ''We're an empire now, and when we act, we create our own reality. And while you're studying that reality -- judiciously, as you will -- we'll act again, creating other new realities, which you can study too, and that's how things will sort out. We're history's actors . . . and you, all of you, will be left to just study what we do.''
--Ron Suskind, "Without a Doubt" in The New York Times

I rest my case...and take the fictional over the surreal/actual every time...

Monday, July 10, 2006

Three Out of Four Elements Agree

Three Out of Four Elements Agree

Three Out of Four Elements Agree (2001)

And two out of every three Americans disagree with Rove and BushCo. They'd rather "cut and run" than "stay the course." From Editor and Publisher:

A new Gallup poll finds that roughly 2 in 3 Americans urge a U.S. withdrawal from Iraq, with 31% wanting this to start immediately.

Gallup's director, Frank Newport, sums up the results today: "Taken together, it is perhaps fair to say that a significant majority of Americans would like the United States to either withdraw troops from Iraq or make specific plans to do so, although there is no majority demand that troops be withdrawn immediately."

The poll was unusual in that rather than give respondents a list of options, it allowed them to respond in their own words. Gallup then grouped the varied responses and labelled them with a common theme.

Results showed that almost 1 in 3 want to "pull the troops out and come home," as soon as possible. About the same number seem to wish for a gradual pullout. The remaining one-third back the present course or want to "finish what we started."

Does this signal the beginning of the end of the Bush Doctrine of cowboy diplomacy? Time, in their latest cover story, apparently thinks so:

A grinding and unpopular war in Iraq, a growing insurgency in Afghanistan, an impasse over Iran's nuclear ambitions, brewing war between Israel and the Palestinians -- the litany of global crises would test the fortitude of any president, let alone a second-termer with an approval rating mired in Warren Harding territory. And there's no relief in sight.

No relief in sight for any of us -- unless Congress can be reconfigured come November. Make no mistake. The upcoming election is not about gay marriage, flag burning, immigration, or other red meat distractions. It's all about Bush -- his litany of failed policies, his record of corrupt cronyism, his dossier of massive incompetence. If you want to "stay the course" and string our nation out with perpetual wars -- whether based on Neocon militaristic delusions, or on class warfare rewarding the mega-rich, or on spiraling privacy invasions from an imperial presidency -- then vote Republican. You'll help Bush continue to spend his capital -- and you'll be as richly rewarded as an ascetic. Less is more, remember? You'll have fewer loved ones and less money and less privacy.

Unless you're in the upper 1% and buds with our leaders oilmen.

But, you know, three out of four doesn't begin to scratch the surface. More like 1 out of 279. From the Center for American Progress:

In the fifth year of this business cycle [and, notes yr. blogger, the fifth year of the Bush Administration], the fortunes of CEOs and middle-class families pulled further apart. In 2005, the typical CEO received $11.6 million in total direct compensation-salaries, bonuses, restricted stock grants, gains from stock option exercises and other long-term incentive payouts. This constituted a 24 percent increase over the 2004 average of $9.3 million. This means that in 2005, the average CEO made 279 times the average pay of a production non-supervisory worker, the vast majority of America's private sector work force. This is up from 185 times in 2003 and 229 times in 2004.

So, are you better off? Well, are you...punk?

~/~

And, some days, life is worth living just to get up and have the honor of reading Digby over breakfast:

Our failure [in Iraq] is already certain no matter what we do. The fundamental flaw in this entire enterprise is not how we did it, although the massive failures outlined in this article are so obvious that it's imperative to discuss them on their own terms. In fact, I worry that what this failure of execution reveals is a military leadership so lacking in intellectual ability and so wracked with primitive racism that this country cannot count on it to actually defend us in case of a real war. The officer corps are supposed to be smart guys, not a bunch of idiots who would read some piece of trash like "The Arab Mind" and actually believe it --- much less use it as the basis for tactics on the ground. This is a dangerous situation for America.

However, the fundamental flaw remains the invasion itself, a bad decision from which everything else flows. The lesson is that an illegal, dishonest war of choice is doomed on its own terms. In the modern world outright conquest is impossible and anything else cannot be finessed with spin and wishful thinking.

That we compounded that error with a comic book understanding of the people we were "liberating" and a lack of postwar planning that was criminal in its negligence is just more evidence of the perfidy of this administration and its congressional enablers. But the central problem remains that it is not how we waged the war, it's that we waged it at all.

Oh, to have the number of that Muse...

Sunday, July 09, 2006

Yarn Addicts

Yarn Addicts

Yarn Addicts (2006)

Ain't no junk, ain't no string...
--Dire Straits, "In the Gallery"

Something new I just unraveled. Feel free to download and stash hoard it.

Yarn Addicts. They're everywhere. Like Yarn Addicts Anonymous. Or another closely knit group called Yarn Addicts Anonymous. Or the less covert Yarnaholics Unanonymous. Or the Yarn Addicts Unite webring. Or the related disorder: Fiber Addict. And let's be sure not leave out Men Who Knit either. Or the Yarn Harlot.

And knitters can also fight the power. Remember when protesters gently placed flowers in the rifle barrels of guardsmen? Well, now...

Hey.  I'll take cuddle over camo anyday...

All we are saying knitting is...

[Photo seen on Make which depicts "a knitted, pink tank from the Danish Army...Part of an art exhibition and created by Marianne Joergensen plus appr 1000 volunteers (knitters) from around the world who knitted the squares 15*15 cm which MJ then stitched onto the tank."]

~/~

Vacation was restful...but it's good to be back. I wasn't completely idle. I read Eric Boehlert's Lapdogs: How the Press Rolled Over for Bush. I also watched Eugene Jareki's Why We Fight. Both are excellent -- well documented and very insightful.

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