Tuesday, January 30, 2007

Dethroned

Dethroned

Dethroned (2000)

Under the chief executive who now purports to be in charge, America has bolted from the path cleared by the Founders, promisculously violating every tenet of the "creed" that finally guided Thomas Jefferson and his associates.
--Mark Crispin Miller, Cruel and Unusual (10).

From today's Salon:

A Senate Republican on Tuesday directly challenged President Bush's declaration that "I am the decision-maker" on issues of war.

"I would suggest respectfully to the president that he is not the sole decider," Sen. Arlen Specter, R-Pa., said during a hearing on Congress' war powers amid an increasingly harsh debate over Iraq war policy. "The decider is a shared and joint responsibility," Specter said.

[...]

"Read the Constitution," [Senator Barbara] Boxer told her colleagues last week. "The Congress has the power to declare war. And on multiple occasions, we used our power to end conflicts."

Congress used its war powers to cut off or put conditions on funding for the Vietnam war and conflicts in Cambodia, Somalia and Bosnia.

Under the Constitution, lawmakers have the ability to declare war and fund military operations, while the president has control of military forces.

Long live suck the king...

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Monday, January 29, 2007

Itinerant Polar Bears

Itinerant Polar Bears

Itinerant Polar Bears (2007)

We've been feeling this heat for some time -- in spite of BushCo's repeated oil profits blinders about global warming and having their heads buried in the remaining Arctic ice sand. From the Harvard University Gazette in 2001:

While politicians argue, polar bears slowly starve.

A 1999 study of polar bears on Hudson Bay showed that rising temperatures are thinning the pack ice from which the bears hunt, driving them to shore weeks before they've caught enough food to get them through hibernation.

One of those trying to give the polar bears a break and settle the argument is James McCarthy, Alexander Agassiz Professor of Biological Oceanography and an internationally known authority on climate change. McCarthy was among a handful of top scientists who coordinated a remarkable report by the world scientific community this year that said global warming is real, it's here, and it's going to be worse than we thought.

"We already see effects that [indicate] the change in climate has occurred," said McCarthy, who also serves as director of the Museum of Comparative Zoology, head of the concentration on environmental science and public policy and Pforzheimer House master. "And the projection of some of those [effects] into the future are not a pretty scene."

More recent studies seem to lend further credence to McCarthy's observations. From the Washington Post (7-7-2005):

As the pack ice that is the bedrock of their existence melts because of global warming, polar bears are facing unprecedented environmental stress that will cause their numbers to plummet, according to a report by a panel of the world's leading experts on the species.

In a closed meeting here late last month, 40 members of the polar bear specialist group of the World Conservation Union concluded that the imposing white carnivores -- the world's largest bear -- should now be classified as a "vulnerable" species based on a likely 30 percent decline in their worldwide population over the next 35 to 50 years. There are now 20,000 to 25,000 polar bears across the Arctic.

"The principal cause of this decline is climatic warming and its consequent negative affects on the sea ice habitat of polar bears," according to a statement released after the meeting. Scientists from five countries, including the United States, attended the meeting.

"All of the evidence is heading in the same direction, and the trend is dramatic," said Scott Schliebe, who led the Seattle meeting and is polar bear project leader in Alaska for the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service. "In a shrinking ice environment, the ability of the bears to find food, to reproduce and to survive will all be reduced."

Detail of: Itinerant Polar Bears

Upper left corner detail of Itinerant Polar Bears

And just last year -- from CNN.com:

And with sea ice vanishing, polar bears are starting to turn up drowned. "There will be no polar ice by 2060," says Larry Schweiger, president of the National Wildlife Federation. "Somewhere along that path, the polar bear drops out."

So much environmental collapse has at last awakened much of the world, particularly the 141 nations that have ratified the Kyoto treaty to reduce emissions. The Bush administration, however, has shown no willingness to address the warming crisis in a serious way...

I suppose the only way the emission-lovers at BushCo will stir from their dreams of oil drums sugar plums is if and when corporate profits are finallly threatened...

Death goes better with...

"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?"
--Robert F. Kennedy, Jr. in Salon

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UPDATE:

Well, melt my floes. Is the lapwatchdog press, awakening in winter caves, rubbing the sleep of catapulted propaganda from their eyes? From yesterday's Yahoo News:

Federal scientists have been pressured to play down global warming, advocacy groups testified Tuesday at the Democrats' first investigative hearing since taking control of Congress.

The hearing focused on allegations that the White House for years has micromanaged the government's climate programs and has closely controlled what scientists have been allowed to tell the public.

"It appears there may have been an orchestrated campaign to mislead the public about climate change," said Rep. Henry Waxman.

[...]

At the House hearing, two private advocacy groups produced a survey of 279 government climate scientists showing that many of them say they have been subjected to political pressure aimed at downplaying the climate threat. Their complaints ranged from a challenge to using the phrase "global warming" to raising uncertainty on issues on which most scientists basically agree, to keeping scientists from talking to the media.

The survey and separate interviews with scientists "has brought to light numerous ways in which U.S. federal climate science has been filtered, suppressed and manipulated in the last five years," Francesca Grifo, a senior scientist at the Union of Concerned Scientists, told the committee.

[...]

At [Senator Barbara] Boxer's Senate hearing, her predecessor as chairman of the Environment and Public Works Committee, Sen. James Inhofe [R-OK] had his own view of the science.

There is "no convincing scientific evidence" that human activity is causing global warming, declared Inhofe, who once called global warming a hoax. "We all know the Weather Channel would like to have people afraid all the time."

"I'll put you down as skeptical," replied Boxer.

It's Repugs like Inhofe that have me afraid all the time -- not Storm Stories. When will such toadies skeptics go into permanent political hibernation?

Maybe my civics is rusty, but isn't governmental arm-twisting of intellectuals to "filter, suppress, and manipulate" public information a characteristic of...fascism?

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Friday, January 26, 2007

Aquarium Prison

Aquarium Prison

Aquarium Prison (2006)

Stock photography and
retail lighting suggest ways for sharks
to swing
out of the fishtank. She
reportedly likes clogged filters
and demolition. The attack went on and on
without Arthur. Showing her frying pans
near Lake Superior
successfully balances brutality with phenomenal
reality. Give science a boost. Take
financial failure like a jellyfish. A long stretch
of gravel blows.
Cue sharp writing and great prices.
Deflation with
the help of new friends de-
lights aquatic inmates. Is irony
lost on security
I'm wondering?
An underwater television is playing
inside my skull.

Detail of: Aquarium Prison

Lower left corner detail of Aquarium Prison

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A found poem caught and skinned from phrase strings netted from a Google search of "aquarium prison."

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Thursday, January 25, 2007

Too Curious Ray

Too Curious Ray

Too Curious Ray (1999)

Just don't use the daily panel.
Throw up mail paper and gross features
like a Christian controversy
or a Sony logo.
Your actual cargo vessel?
Glacial police telegrams where restarting
hard code and phototonic drives
does not help hypocrites.
You've gotten Microsoft.
The Fall will be noisy.

~/~

A found poem sifted and panned out of phrase strings from a Google search of "too curious ray."

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Tuesday, January 23, 2007

Dragonfly Saloon Girls

Dragonfly Saloon Girls

Dragonfly Saloon Girls (2001)

We had gunslingers in
deluxe tuxes and knit jackets
with shoulder straps.

We had military
girls and sailor girls but
sexy Red Riding Hood

was a no show. Smothered
in daisies she came out
of the planet of green

love in the late
90’s. Her cowgirl costume
tanked in Jamaica but

in Miss Kitty’s parlor
her fringe dress seemed
sassy as her faith dance

bombed like a laughable
Day of the Dead. Her wings
were pulled off artfully

by redneck plebes. Was that
indiscrete? Rockette like
she kicked off her slippers

as the trail boss dove
off the technological bronk
into waterbeds of whiskey.

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A found poem re-assembled out of phrase strings from a Google search of "dragonfly saloon girls." The image was originally rendered in Fractal Zplot and post-processed in multiple graphics programs.

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Monday, January 22, 2007

Monolith Monsters

The Monolith Monsters

Monolith Monsters (2006)

This one from last year came from fuzzy recollections of a sci-film I saw as a kid. It centered on a "monster" that was formed from many jagged, rocky monoliths growing and crashing in an unending cycle. The sleepy desert town of the main characters was in danger of being pulverized into monolith residue.

From written with the brain of a rock Wikipedia:

A meteor crashes near a small town in the American desert southwest. One of a pair of geologists finds a piece of it in a roadway and, not recognizing the mineral, takes it back to their laboratory to study. In the morning his partner finds the lab wrecked and the man himself petrified, completely drained of fluid. It is eventually determined that the substance composing the meteor is susceptible to water. If wetted it grows into black, crystal-like shafts which absorb all available liquid nearby, including from any animals or humans who come in contact with it. Once all water is absorbed and grown to its fullest possible height, the shaft becomes dormant, but may easily totter and collapse, shattering into a legion of fragments, waiting to grow entire new shafts at the next contact with water. The original meteor has also shattered all about the area where it crashed. A local schoolgirl on a field trip takes a piece home and puts it in water ... her farmhouse is later found demolished, and the girl near death. She's rushed to the city and kept barely alive in an iron lung. The big problem for the town is a rain storm is on the way.... Our hero races time to find a treatment for the little girl and protect the town from the onslaught of the towering, destructive Monolith Monsters.

Detail of: Monolith Monsters

Lower left corner detail of Monolith Monsters

Naturally, it all works out in the end. If my memory holds up, I think saline solution negated the regeneration process of the shafts of spiked charcoal.

But I don't recall the hero peeling out from Walgreen's with a dump truck filled with nasal spray.

Today, he'd be swarmed by state troopers and taken away for questioning on suspicion of running a meth lab.

As the desert southwest ever so slowly is reduced to a Kingsford graveyard...

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Friday, January 19, 2007

Eurcharist

Eucharist

Eucharist (1999)

From straight from the mind of God Wikipedia:

The mysterious change of the reality of the bread and wine used in the Eucharist, a change to which patristic writers had given other equivalent names, began to be called "transubstantiation" in the twelfth century. Though this change is ultimately a mystery which can never be fully explained or understood, in the judgment of the Catholic Church, the term "transubstantiation", with its accompanying unambiguous distinction between "substance" or underlying reality, and "accidents" or humanly perceptible appearances, still best safeguards against the opposite extremes of a cannibalistic interpretation (the accidents remain real, not an illusion) or of a merely symbolic interpretation (the substance is changed from that of bread and wine to that of the body and blood of Christ) of the Eucharist.

Of course, there's been a new, improved church-state transubstantiation in more recent years -- a driven devotion especially found in worshippers of The Order of the Unitary Executive. Within this sect, no one is allowed to question the infallibility of the Higher Father:

Watch me change blood for oil.

"I'm the Transubstantiater...creating my own reality out of nothing..."

[Image seen on Jesus Politics]

Run that part about the distinction "between substance or underlying reality, and accidents or humanly perceptible appearances" by me again...

And talk about a "mystery which can never be fully explained or understood..."

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Monday, January 15, 2007

"Fractals Don't Look Like Anything"

Alien Supplicant

Alien Supplicant (2007)

I go on a quaternion fractal kick for a few weeks almost every year. There's something very special about these sculpted, rolled in Play-Doh, Tootsie Roll forms. I find them fascinating because they seem more tactile and three-dimensional than most other kinds of fractals. They can also be more visually evocative. Maybe that's because they occasionally break the restraints of abstraction. Moreover, they sometimes share important traits with literary works: tone and mood.

Out for the Season

Out for the Season (2003)

Because fractals are generally so highly abstract, generating a mood along with an image can be an added plus. And while it's true that other kinds of fractals, like L-System forms, can produce life-imitating shapes like ferns and branches, quaternions sometimes bear a resemblance to more complex living things. But these imitations, perhaps because of the 3-D nature of the forms, are far from flat planes or "stick figures." Rather, they can contain a powerful, emotionally-charged resonance.

Grieving

Grieving (2002)

I'm sure none of this surprises many of you. We see ourselves in fractals all the time. It's not uncommon to find faces peering out from the tiled nooks and accidental recesses of our images. I still remember the first time I stumbled into the main page at Bill Rossi's Fractopia and saw him and his fractal family. And some fractal artists have produced stunning self-portraits -- like these by Jurgen Schwietering and Damien M. Jones. I've even made a few fractal replicas of myself -- like this one that Stan Hood once told me "looks like I've seen the movie The Fly one too many times."

Beyonce

Beyonce (2004)

I guess it's the semi-anthropomorphic, I-recognize-that features of quaternions that fascinate me. Maybe the image above doesn't suggest the pop diva of Dreamgirls to you -- but I see her languid body and graceful movements on display. Over the years, I've seen so many curious things cooking away on my computer: ravens, dictators, male models, meter maids. So, don't let anyone tell you -- as a painter recently said to me -- that "fractals don't look like anything." Quat nonsense.

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All images were made in QuaSZ and mildly post-processed in Photoshop and other graphics programs.

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Sunday, January 14, 2007

Desert Bloom

Desert Bloom

Desert Bloom (1999)

Only time for a haiku on this rainy Sunday evening:

Empty of flowers
but with a hint of cacti--
future tequila.

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Friday, January 12, 2007

Gomorra

Gomorra

Gomorra (2001)

America where are you now?
Don't you care about your sons and daughters?
Don't you know we need you now
We can't fight alone against the monster
--Steppenwolf, "Monster"

Gomorra, or Gomorrah, according to Genesis, was one of two cities destroyed with fire and brimstone by God. The name itself means "a ruined heap."

The contemporary equivalent are the cities of Iraq. They are being turned into ruined heaps by America's Boy King who once observed: I trust that God speaks through me.

And who will check the brain hand of The Decider? The recent elected Democratic majority? The people who, seeking something other than stay the course, elected them? Poppy's buds making critical recommendations from the Iraq Study Group? Can we guess what Junior thinks of them?

We don't have to, as Sidney Blumenthal tells us in a recent article on Salon:

Informed correspondents of the Washington Post and New York Times related in conversation that Bush furiously called the [Iraq Study Group] report "a flaming turd," but his colorful remark was not published. Perhaps it was apocryphal. Nonetheless, it conveyed the intensity of his hostile rejection.

And now the Boy King is surging forward and sending more troops into a woodchipper of his own making.

But how can he reclaim that old shock-and-awe, mission-accomplished, bring-it-on glow? Maybe surge ahead of the surge? From NewsMax:

Though President Bush's national address Wednesday night was about Iraq, his most provocative comments focused on her neighbor, Iran.

Early in his speech Bush raised the matter of Iran, suggesting that if U.S. efforts to secure Iraq failed, "Iran would be emboldened in its pursuit of nuclear weapons."

Bush blamed both Syria and Iran in helping radical insurgents within Iraq.

"These two regimes are allowing terrorists and insurgents to use their territory to move in and out of Iraq," he said.

He then singled out Iran, adding that she "is providing material support for attacks on American troops."

Bush made an implied military threat against both nations: "We will disrupt the attacks on our forces. We will interrupt the flow of support from Iran and Syria. And we will seek out and destroy the networks providing advanced weaponry and training to our enemies in Iraq."

The President continued in this vein, suggesting a larger U.S. goal of stopping Iran's nuclear program:

"We are also taking other steps to bolster the security of Iraq and protect American interests in the Middle East. I recently ordered the deployment of an additional carrier strike group to the region. We will expand intelligence sharing -- and deploy Patriot air defense systems to reassure our friends and allies.

That's the sound of one saber rattling. Digby speculates why BushCo might want to get another war on:

Everybody is wondering just what game Bush is playing. I tend to the "go for it" model, the typical spoiled rich kind, alcoholic style that is born of someone who has never had to deal with the consequences of their actions. I think that Junior sees "history" as having already vindicated him so there is no need for caution, prudence or reason to interfere with anything he emotionally needs to do.

Cheney is trying to secure oil fields and create an imperial America that only superficially answers to the people, whom he disdains. So, for him, everything is going fine. I think they figure that they have nothing to lose and everything to gain by going after Iran and while they might get their hair mussed, at the end of the day, the oil fields will be securely under American control.

Democrats? Man your battle stations. It may be scorched earth time.

God supposedly destroyed the people of Gomorrah for their impenitent sins. But if we and our elected officials sit on our hands and allow Bush's surge in his codpiece to rain down smart bomb brimstone on new ruined heaps, then the sins will be on our heads -- and the blood on our hands.

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Thursday, January 11, 2007

The Last Robin

The Last Robin

The Last Robin (2006)

-- won't be the early bird...

-- will find the worm has turned...

--won't be bop-bop-bopping anywhere...

Detail of: The Last Robin

Upper left corner detail of The Last Robin

From The American Robin Blog -- Day 17 -- "The Last Robin Takes Flight":

At 6:30 AM the third robin took flight. The young robin tried to fly to a support beam, but missed and fell to the deck below, landing upside down. It had its eyes open and appeared to be in good condition. The fledgling struggled for a while, but was able to turn over using its wings and short tail feathers.

-- won't grasp the business savvy of Arctic drilling...

-- won't migrate to that non-existent "healthy forest..."

-- won't give a damn about showing up for spring...

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Monday, January 08, 2007

When Club Med Freezes Over

When Club Med Freezes Over

When Club Med Freezes Over (2001)

In their styes with all their backing
They don't care what goes on around

--"Piggies," The Beatles

From today's VOA News:

Democratic leaders, such as the new Speaker of the U.S. House of Representatives, Nancy Pelosi, have put ethics and lobbying reform at the top of their legislative agenda. The first act of this new congress: a ban on gifts and meals and travel from lobbyists. They say voters sent a strong message for change after a string of mostly Republican-related scandals erupted over the last year.

[...]

Brian Pallasch is a lobbyist for the American Society of Civil Engineers, and president of the American League of Lobbyists. He says the proposed legislation is an overreaction to past abuse.

"In one sense the system is working in that we are finding people who are not following the rules and they are being punished for not following those rules. So we would focus first on the fact that you need to enforce the current rules."

But Joan Claybrook, President of Public Citizen, a consumer advocacy group says ethics reform is needed. "I think that it is very important to have the robust engagement of debate that lobbying involves. What isn't good is to have lobbyists give, you know, entertainment tickets free of charge to members of Congress, to take them out to endless dinners -- $200 to $300 dinners -- and supply them, to take them on their private corporate jets to different places where they have to go to travel."

Claybrook not only supports the ban on gifts and travel but also supports the creation of an office of Public Integrity to enforce the rules, and ultimately public funding of elections to dilute the influence of large corporations in political campaigns. These issues will be considered later in the year.

Pallasch is correct only if Congress is diligent about targeting, investigating, and punishing violators. Let's take a trip down memory lane and recall just how ethics inquiries were handled by the recently ousted Republican former majority. From Bloomberg.com (11-17-04):

Republicans in the U.S. House of Representatives changed their rules so that Majority Leader Tom DeLay could stay in power if he's indicted by a Texas grand jury.

The rules change is designed to protect DeLay after three of his political associates were indicted in Texas on charges related to fund-raising for state political campaigns. DeLay, a Republican from Texas, denied any wrongdoing.

On a voice vote, the House Republican Conference changed a rule that required party leaders to step down if indicted for any crime that carries a prison sentence of two or more years. Now other Republican leaders would have 30 days to review a felony indictment and make recommendations to all House Republicans about whether the person should step aside.

Obviously, cough cough, Republicans can be trusted to rigorously police themselves.

Still, I'm with Speaker Pelosi. Let's make absolutely positively sure lobbyists are not sending our legislators off on an anti extraordinary rendition weekend to Club Med. Back off Abramoff. Looks like the Republican partying's over.

And something's frozen over. The look on Hastert's face during Pelosi's swearing in perhaps?

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Sunday, January 07, 2007

Face Card Kids

Face Card Kids

Face Card Kids (2006)

Something new. The tiling pattern somehow reminded of the design forms on face cards. Or maybe, while working, I was suffering from a mental imagery hangover after seeing the latest James Bond film.

Detail of: Face Card Kids

Lower right corner detail of Face Card Kids

Making art is not unlike playing poker. Perhaps I've created something memorable. Or maybe I'm just bluffing.

At any rate, today's image is on the table. I call.

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Friday, January 05, 2007

Three Energy Vampires

Energy Vampire 326

Energy Vampire 326 (2000)

Three images slink out of the hard drive graveyard today. They are part of a series called Energy Vampires -- 400 images that I worked on sporadically for over five years. I wrote about the series about a year ago, but very few of the images have appeared here.

Stakes pulled from their pixel corpses--

Rising from their digital coffins --

Energy Vampire 333

Energy Vampire 333 (2000)

The composition method for the series is positively parasitical. I found fractal images by other artists and messed them up severely with multiple layer dumps of whatever would stick to the monitor. I was sampling. Often, I would cannibalize my own images for the greater good. They were probably undead anyway. And, now, these three live again by feeding off the artistic blood of others and by draining the meaninglessness from my own failures.

Transforming into fractal werewolves --

You're getting sooo sleepy and different--

Energy Vampire 352

Energy Vampire 352 (2001)

I kept no record of whose images I bit in their beds -- or which of my own were seduced and sucked to a husk. I deliberately did not want to remember. The process itself was all that mattered -- just as the vampire is driven to feed off others with myopic need. The artist as leech. The artist as tapeworm.

Stealing silently onto your web sites --

Gradually making you more like him --

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Thursday, January 04, 2007

Hordes of Photoshop Jockeys

Hordes of Photoshop Jockeys

Hordes of Photoshop Jockeys (2000)

This one is kind of an in-joke.

Back when I used to post my images on Usenet on alt.binaries.pictures.fractals, there occasionally would be some lively (read: flame-filled) discussions. One night, a thread got hot and heavy on the subject of post-processing -- meaning, at least in this particular discussion, the further manipulation of fractal images by exporting them into Photoshop or other graphics programs. One writer, who obviously preferred his fractals to be unaltered (pure as the driven pixel?), complained that if post-processing became acceptable the fractal art world would soon be overrun with "hordes of Photoshop jockeys."

As someone who post-processes with wild abandon, that phrase tickled me. So, naturally, I felt the need to make this image for him and share it.

Strange. I never heard back from him.

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I'm going to make the switch over to the "new" Blogger tomorrow. Wish me luck. If the blog is funky for a few days, bear with me. Hopefully, the transition will not be too traumatic.

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Wednesday, January 03, 2007

The Buffalo River in Autumn

The Buffalo River in Autumn

The Buffalo River in Autumn (2002)

I remember the sticker shock of nature when I first moved from the flat geometry of the Great Plains to the forested hills of the Ozarks. Vast sky shrunk down to dense woods.

Some friends I'd met in graduate school hauled me out for a canoe ride on the Buffalo River one early October morning. As a fine mist wafted up from the river, the canopy of trees over my head exploded in vivid reds, yellows, purples, oranges, and browns -- and the wobbly canvas of the painted leaves reflected back from the blue water. Some of the colored leaves had given up, fallen, and were now beside the boat and drifting in the slow current.

I'd never seen anything in the world like that place. Until, one day, twenty-five years later, this fractal-based digital image appeared suddenly on my computer studio monitor.

And, now, here is your view as you look just over the side of the canoe.

Feel free to trail your fingers in the water, if you like...

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