Tuesday, December 28, 2010

Christmas Weekend

This Christmas was alot of fun.

I got to visit with my family & relatives, play with my nephews & niece, exchange gifts, relax, & eat as much as humanly possible. Then I finally had to get in gear to shovel my driveway after it snowed the other night. I was off yesterday, so I slept till noon & then took a few hours to clear the waist-high snowdrift taking up my front yard. I actually like being outside shoveling snow as long as I'm bundled up good & we're not hammered by consecutive blizzards like last year...

All the gifts for my family were made with the help of a laser engraver at my work. They turned out very cool & in return I got a lot of excellent presents. At my age I prefer practical things like tools, clothes, & household stuff. However, I do appreciate luxury items- like the 3/4 lb of beef jerky or the bottle of Gentleman Jack that my brothers got me.

On Christmas Eve, it's now a tradition for my family & relatives to play the White Elephant game. The gift that I made for the game was a picture of my uncle's face that I photoshopped onto a pic of Hugh Jackman at the beach. My cousin ended up picking it & had everyone laughing.

I drew an early number (4) for my turn & the present I chose was a gift bag- that turned out to have a bunch of plastic holly garland in it. :(

Since my turn was so early, there weren't any gifts open that I wanted to steal yet. Luckily, my brother's girlfriend later traded me her gift- a South Park DVD game for it, which was a great trade for both of us.

Here is me trying to figure out what the hell I just opened...

The garland must have sensed my complete lack of enthusiasm, because it tried to strangle me....

Thursday, December 23, 2010

Merry Christmizzle

"Y'all ready for Christmas, biatches?"

It's Christmas time again & I've been busy in my polar workshop making gifts for my family.

Christmas Eve will be a crazy affair w/ a bunch of relatives visiting my sister's house for festivities such as our White Elephant gift game. Then it should be a fairly chill Christmas Day & weekend.

Unfortunately, I will not have an opportunity to celebrate Christmas properly- by dressing up as Santa's traditional demonic helper, Krampus...

Tuesday, December 21, 2010

Solstice Lunar Eclipse

Winter Solstice Lunar Eclipse from William Castleman on Vimeo.

Despite staying after work till almost midnight working on Xmas gifts, I stayed up super-late to see the lunar eclipse that lasted from around 1-4 AM when I got home.

It was friggin' freezing outside, but I periodically went out to sit on my back patio & observe its slow progress. I've seen a lunar eclipse before, but this was a rare occurrence of a total eclipse on the day of the winter solstice, which hasn't happened in almost 400 years.


The night sky was perfectly clear & I first went out just as the Earth's shadow started passing over the edge of the Moon. I had layers of clothes on w/ my face all wrapped up in a snowcap, a scarf & multiple hoods. If it wasn't so damn cold, sitting outside in the still of the night for this celestial event would have been completely relaxing.

When the shadow was about halfway over the Moon's surface, it looked totally crazy. Maybe it was partly because my eyes were teary but the glare off one half of the Moon was dazzling, & the other half was dark w/ a reddish tinge. Visually, it was very bizarre. It also seemed to be very low in the sky for some reason. I could see why ancient people probably looked at a cosmic event like this & were astounded.


This is a good representation of what it looked like when the Moon was completely covered & when the shadow was partially over:

I was waiting for the red-tinged shadow to pass as I kept alternating between resting on my couch and peeking out the window. Eventually I passed out sometime after 3:30, still in my coat, & woke up a few hours later for work. I'm definitely glad I got to see such an interesting phenomenon.

Sunday, December 19, 2010

Big Paul's Adventures in History III

I have alot of photos of my Dad sleeping in many different chairs on many different occasions. He has worked hard in the food retail business all his life, but when he gets a chance to sit down & relax it usually turns into a snoozefest. Family events or holidays inevitably become napping opportunities for the big guy.

My old friend Dan J. gave me the idea to have him sleeping right through important times in history. I thought this idea was hysterical & created this series of "snapshots" showing Big Paul experiencing historic events in his own special way.


This is the third set of of "adventures" as he sleeps his way through history, & I definitely have enough photos of my Dad passed out for at least one more set:


"Big Paul's Adventures in History"
"Sgt. Pepper" Photo Shoot
My Dad loves the Beatles, but not enough to stay awake during their photo shoot.
"Big Paul's Adventures in History"
State of the Union 2010
Joe Biden & Elmo join my Dad for a patriotic nap during President Obama's speech



"Big Paul's Adventures in History"
Tiananmen Square Protests
The rumbling of advancing Chinese tanks is completely drowned out by my Dad snoring.


Thursday, December 16, 2010

Fractals: "Hunting the Hidden Dimension"

Earlier I was watching an excellent episode of Nova "Hunting the Hidden Dimension".



Fractals have been a favorite subject of mine & I think it is conceptually at least as important as Relativity.

One new thing I learned from watching this program was that cell phone antenna circuitry is designed according to fractal properties. Generally speaking, it seems like we are figuring out the language of the Universe so we can tap into the Universe.


O M G :(

Geez. This is one room I would NOT want to be in....

Watching things like this make me feel like I'm in Bizarro World.



Wednesday, December 15, 2010

Wanking Bankers

This Irishman has some insightful opinions on the Irish financial crisis & other global economic disasters.

Of course not everyone in the banking industry is bad, but he's not too far off.



The theft of Ireland's national wealth has a direct impact on important things, like preserving it's national heritage:

Tuesday, December 14, 2010

Monkey Day

Today I posted all monkey stuff, because I saw on Neatorama that it's...



Click here for previous posts about MONKEYS.



Radioactive Monkeys


I don't approve of destructive or invasive animal experimentation in general.

Especially seeing my fellow simians in little cages is damn depressing. Just because a creature can't tell you directly doesn't mean it's not mentally miserable and in physical anguish. Sadly, it's unavoidable that life can suck, and there are always twisted people out there with no sense of empathy whatsoever.

In one small victory for the animal rights crowd, I saw on io9.com that NASA stopped a plan to immerse monkeys in high-energy gamma radiation. The purpose was to simulate deep-space conditions.

Space.com:
NASA Halts
Monkey Radiation Experiment for Now

I'm glad NASA came to their senses. Besides, the last thing we need is super-powered apes running around...

Flip-Flop Monkey

I've been blabbing about politics in the last few posts.
For balance, there's nothing like wacky art.

Flip-Flop Monkey


For the record, I can't stand wearing those thong style sandals.
I don't like clothing to be stuck in any crevasses.

Flip-flop close-up:


Monday, December 13, 2010

Abstract Ideals

It seems like the tax/stimulus bill has passed the Senate today by a big margin of 83-15 & continues to the House vote.

By giving the Republicans even more tax breaks for the filthy rich & scolding those damn bleeding-heart liberals who dare to have a conscious, President Obama somehow seems to be pulling off the role of a Grand Negotiator on this issue in the eyes of the general public.

Personally, I still think Obama is doing as good a job as anyone could under the circumstances- in which the GOP are holding up everything until the rich are guaranteed their tax cuts.

However, by dismissing "abstract ideals" like HOPE for the sake of pragmatic compromise on the status quo, he opened himself up to this kind of critical sarcasm:




Saturday, December 11, 2010

Bernie & Bill on the Tax Deal

The big political battle right now I think is the developing tax proposal. The more progressive Democrats are balking at it's generous benefits for the wealthy & of course the most conservative Republicans will oppose it for any concessions to liberal causes.

The only truly Socialist senator, Bernie Sanders from Vermont, led a non-'filibuster' for over 8 hours to protest the tax bill. I think Sanders is too much of an ideologue on certain things, but overall he puts his voice to work for the benefit of the vast majority of working people.

Despite any good intentions he may have, when I visited Huffington Post I saw one of the funniest headlines ever. I laughed out loud from the ridiculous headline & picture.


Unfairly, they made him look like a total crackpot.

The article about the speech was less sensational:

I watched alot of the first couple hours of his epic speech & he was not incoherently rambling. He was laying out the case for the damaging effects of our nation's crazy social priorities.

Watch it ALL, I dare you-

On the other hand...
In defense of this upcoming deal, President Obama gave the stage over to the ever-loquacious Bill Clinton. I guess the hope was that ol' Bill could polish this legislative turd, that really stinks to the majority of his fellow Democrats. I've always liked Bill Clinton & it's generally agreed that he was a relatively good President. However, with the help of a Republican Congress he also presided over such foundations for institutional failure, such as NAFTA & the de-regulation of the banks.



Obama should have just left right away to go to his party, instead of conceding the podium for that long & having to stand there while Clinton soaked up the spotlight. It seemed a little awkward, but Bill Clinton is knowledgeable and can make a hell of an argument. Hopefully, though, Obama can learn soon not to keep yielding his platform.

Anyway, I think Obama's trying to be tough with his base because they are being unrealistic, to an extent. At the same time, they're also correct- that he appears to be surrendering the debate waaaay to fast, without hammering away the point that some of these "compromises" are a huge detriment to the budget & the economy. He is definitely trying to be a 'moderate' at all costs. Maybe it's just his unavoidable nature, or maybe he's trying to position himself as a true independent leader for the next election.

I think a recent The Word segment from Stephen Colbert had a great take on the need for a fighting spirit when approaching these kind of serious negotiations with a wrong-headed opposition.


"Isn't it better to have love & lost,
than to have fought & WON?"

Wednesday, December 08, 2010

ABC News Parenting: Da Vinci's Challenge


My parents' neighbor forwarded me a link on a news article she saw about the game I created back in college- "Da Vinci's Challenge".

It's nice to see it getting some more recognition by ABC News correspondent David Murphy. Da Vinci's Challenge is the work I'm most proud of & is due for a comeback soon. In my completely unbiased opinion, it is the greatest strategy game ever conceived.



Obama the Middle Man

[Socialism!-by-paul-mic.jpg]

I think it's fairly obvious now that President Obama is definitely NOT a raging Marx-Loving Socialist Liberal.

With this tax & stimulus deal The White House is working on, it is clear that Obama is a pragmatist... a maddeningly moderate pragmatist.

I'm an Independent, but more often agree with policy positions that are so-called 'progressive'. Even if I don't agree with an idea, though, I'll often try to see things through the lens of someone with a different view. Obama & the tax/stimulus bill in development have led to a strong debate on issues like taxes, the national debt, & entitlements. Initially, I had a knee-jerk response from my lefty instincts to the ridiculous concessions to the super rich - such as the extensions of the top tier tax cuts, fiddling with the estate tax, etc. The seeming lack of a Presidential fight over this deal & the scolding of his supposed left-wing 'base' over their criticism has liberal politicians & bloggers flipping out.


It's actually amazing that he (or the government in general) has the ability to get anything done with a country full of us 'sanctimonious' maniacs- all trying to get their own Utopia. As even-headed as I usually am, I would never be able to patiently deal with the numerous loathsome characters in Congress & all of the political shenanigans.

His refusal to cater only to either party's hardliners is why Obama's inhumanly persistent efforts at building consensus have the ideologues on either extreme of the political spectrum freaking out. I think he would probably like to institute more progressive social policy, but he is working within the constraints of political & legislative realities.

Tonight I heard some lady on CNN saying Obama was "Bush on Steroids". This is a laughably silly statement. If Obama disappeared, & Dubya magically popped back into office... she & most of the country would soil their pants in despair!!!

I don't care what anyone says, Obama's still trying to salvage a flaming car wreck that would have violently exploded if 'McPain' were running things now. Thankfully, McCain is back to grumbling about gay soldiers in Senate hearings, while The Alaskan Banshee only maintains power over the lives of wild animals & her Twitter followers.

(... FOR NOW!)

The 20 Awesomest Monkeys

I can't resist a list of monkey videos I saw linked on The Chive.


Calling all these 'awesome' might be an overstatement, except for this tiger-taunting monkey:


Tuesday, December 07, 2010

WebGrabber for Downloading Websites

Recently I was joking with my Mom about being the "voice of conscience" in the back of my head. Both my parents definitely instilled a sense of preparedness for whatever life has to offer, good or bad.

Although I don't expect things that I create to last forever, it's good to have backups & copies of things in case unfortunate events occur. Most of my visual art, both professional and otherwise, I have digitally copied and saved in different drives or media. Redundancy can prevent serious loss of work.

One thing that has bothered me in writing this blog is that all the written content is on Google's servers- but I had no copy of it offline.

Since I've been writing The Monkey Buddha for over 5 years now, I thought it would be wise to back up all posts on this blog. Of course, I hope that something crazy- like the Web going down or a disruption to Google's services- doesn't happen. Still, I feel better knowing that the work & time I've spent is less likely to be lost or destroyed.

After a short search, I found a website for a program called Webgrabber that lets you extract any website from The Internets so you can back up the info on a hard drive or disc. This is the Mac version:

Webgrabber for Mac OSX

or, I found this program too for other Windows/Mac/Linux:


It only took about 20 minutes and 25 megabytes of space, not including images that I already have copies of. Now I have five years worth of my writing backed up OFFLINE for posterity & my own peace of mind.

One day, if I have extra time and money I'd like to print portions of The Monkey Buddha by date or topic. Actually, it turns out that service already exists, so anyone could get a compendium of my views on robots, the Mayans, politics, art, The Universe, monkeys, or any of the other myriad topics that have caught my attention.


Monday, December 06, 2010

3D Virtual Spaces from Photos

This kind of virtual model-generating program is a teasing glimpse of visualization technologies soon to come.

Basically, a cloud of data generated from hundreds of photos of the same place is used to calculate the spacial relationships of that area. It's always amazing to me that people can figure out how to make computer codes to do this sort of digital alchemy.



Seeing the unfinished 3D settings on the black background gives the models a very surreal appearance- like I'm watching the Matrix taking shape.

The more people take extensive hi-res photography of an area, like that of the website 360º Cities, the more data there is to fill in the blanks & increase the resolution of the virtual re-creations.

Just the panoramas of Roman areas on 360º Cities are enough to keep me occupied for hours. The virtual panoramas of the Sistine Chapel or Raphael's School of Athens give a much better impression of the space than flat photos.

Friday, December 03, 2010

Drawing the Internet

On Neatorama I came across this cool idea for a website: "Can You Draw The Internet?"

Anyone can submit artwork that depicts the amorphous phenomenon we call The Internet. Little kids can make drawings on the same page as professional artists like myself, or anyone who feels like being creative.

I thought it was a cool idea & wanted to make something... so I did. The general idea immediately popped in my head. I wanted to make an image of the colorful contents of the web melding with the increasingly digitized mind, in a synchronized explosion of cognitive novelty.

click image for hi-res

From The Monkey Buddha Visual Archive:


"A digital self-portrait
representing the mind integrating with &

transcending physical technology
through immersion into the realm of pure energy.

The Internet is the beginning of a conduit
into a non-local experience of consciousness."


With the many colors bursting through the circuit boards, I wanted to suggest the rich, diverse content of the web & the countless individual personalities that participate in it. The ancient "Flower of Life" pattern was added as a element of order and unity that the mind can coalesce from seeming chaos. The encroaching digital tendrils could be signaling an enlightening process... or they could be enveloping a digital death's head. I'd prefer to think mankind is going to advance as a result of our technological knowledge, ensuring better chances of survival, & not worse.

Anyway, that is my rendition of The Internet. Vote for it on the website & see the other drawings:



Thursday, December 02, 2010

Colbert Has Lost His Mind

Comedy Central late nite w/ The Daily Show & Colbert Report is nightly viewing for me. Their irreverent look at the day's news continually unmasks the absurd aspects of human nature.

Stephen Colbert
is consistently great... just last nite, he invented Meat Goggles!

Tonite's show, though, was probably the most stunningly sardonic things I've ever seen. He ruthlessly mocked race, religion, politicians, the banking system, and federal law in a barrage of satire that rivaled his 2006 roast of President Bush...


Oprah the Queen Bee

This animated GIF cracked me up:


I thought it was really funny, but wasn't even going to post about it.
I just sat down to watch TV though, & the first thing I saw was a MiND TV segment about the 1st set of bee hives on The White House grounds.
Then, I changed the channel to an episode of Life on Discovery ... narrated by Oprah. :P
...so... I guess the TV convinced me to mention it.

It turns out, the original video spoof is from Conan O'Brian's new show.


Wednesday, December 01, 2010

WikiLeaks Turns Into a Flood


Even though the massive release of classified material from WikiLeaks is the big news right now, I really don't know what to make of it.

Is it really a foundation dedicated to freedom of information & transparency?

Is it a modern day Robin Hood, fighting the invisible ruling elite?


Is it a propoganda outlet for political, financial, or security forces?

Is it a small part of an orchestrated globalization agenda, trying to destabilize nation-states?

Is it a dangerous terrorist organization?

No one who follows world affairs can deny that it has impacted society in a significant way. Now that the masses have had a taste of the myriad intrigues, scandals, and going on behind closed doors in high places, they will undoubtedly feel the need to get more.

I don't have an opinion on whether this is good or bad. To me, it's just a phenomenon to observe. I'm sure if I was a senior member of the US State Dept., my opinion might be drastically different. That's why I stay happily un-involved in active politics. The world is just too damn crazy to manage on a large scale.

This new info crisis posed by WikiLeaks definitely seems to be one of the many seismic changes that are currently facing mankind and affecting how we manage our world. Generally, open flow of information is a good thing. However, human beings are still individual souls & not part of The Hive Mind... yet. Therefore, there needs to be some degree of personal privacy afforded people, even those in public service. Whether releasing all this classified material of varying significance will have a net positive or negative effect isn't clear.

On the other hand, blowing the whistle on corporate or financial wrongdoing is almost always a positive action. If Julian Assange can keep himself out of jail and the sniper crosshairs, his next target seems to be one of our major creditor overlords, Bank of America.


After reading about him and the whole situation, I'm definitely intrigued by the cognitive shockwaves Assange is making around the world. His stated mission of exposing corruption and shining a light on the "bastards" seems noble enough. Without personal knowledge of Wikileaks operations & Assange's true motivations, though, I admit it's possible there's something more nefarious to it. Really though, how much more nefarious could they be- compared to subversive intelligence agencies, corrupt officials, or parasitic mega-banks?...

Monday, November 29, 2010

Scale of the Universe

Significant events of life and death always give me serious pause for thought. Pondering the mysteries of existence should effectively stretch the imagination. The more thoroughly we try to understand reality, the more emergent information seems available to engage the endless fractal recesses of our minds.

This website I saw linked on BoingBoing features an amazing interactive Scale of the Universe. It visualizes the conceptual continuity from the quantum level to the vast cosmic aspects of the Universe. This interactive scale is a fascinating tool that can instill the deep understanding that we have no idea what the hell is going on.

"The Scale of the Universe"


The mind is the center of the Universe.



Sunday, November 28, 2010

Thanksgiving Festivities

This past week was pretty crazy. I haven't been able to post anything in between eating, drinking, going out, visiting family, or sleeping whenever possible.

Last Sunday my family had a pre-Thanksgiving feast with relatives at my parents' house. There were 20+ people with alot of kids running around. I made the mistake of starting to wrestle my cousin's little boy, so my other 2 nephews & niece piled on. After wrestling 4 kids for a half hour, I needed a cold beer.

We had the dinner early because my sister had planned for her baby David to be born on Tuesday. I've become the uncle of another little dude. He's doing well & my sister bought him over for Sunday dinner at my parents' tonite. My other 2 yr-old nephew has been, in his own words, "awesooome" so I'm now looking forward to watching this little guy get older, too.

Holding my nephew David, the newest Dude.

Monday, November 22, 2010

American Masters: LENNONYC



I just finished watching a documentary about John Lennon on PBS.

PBS:
"American Masters: LENNONYC"

My Dad started playing music when he was a kid because of The Beatles. As a result I became knowledgeable of their music at a young age. John Lennon in particular was always a major creative & philosophical influence of mine.

The more I've learned about his activism over the years, the more I've come to admire his use of his ridiculous level of fame to advance a positive agenda to improve humanity. The realist in me thinks it's hopelessly naive to consider world peace to be even a remote possibility. However, I think his efforts were supremely noble- and it shows in the way the world remembers him.


"He was an artist.
Why would they want to kill an artist?"

-Yoko Ono



Thursday, November 18, 2010

The Ultimate Adventure

When I was a little kid in elementary school, I used to love the Choose Your own Adventure books.

It was a primitive, but effective form of interactive entertainment. You reached certain points in the book where you had to make a decision based on 2 or more choices. There were multiple possible endings, depending on how you proceeded through the story's options.

Now that I'm thinking about it, I remember that I used to flip ahead through the different combinations of pages to see if certain choices would lead to a favorable ending or not. Despite my work-around, it was still a great idea for a book series & helped my interest in reading at a young age.

Anyway, this is one title that would definitely NOT have gone over well, even though it is the most likely of all possibilities:



It seems to have come from this superb gallery of alternate title ideas:

Ancient Trips

I just came across a few crazy things while browsing the web that I'm just going to combine into one wild psychoactive post.

While looking at images on Fffound! I ended up on a link to this visually insane animated promo for MTV.

MTV Sight from ilovedust on Vimeo.



Then I was on BoingBoing & saw this article about the study of ritual use of psychedelic substances throughout history. The premise is that our ancestors took part in practices such as fasting, sensory deprivation, and imbibing in plants or drinks that altered your senses. Combined with sacred architecture that amplified the effects, the vision quests of ancient people could be found around the globe. This probably occurred on a larger social scale to the Egyptian initiates, the Eleusinian Mysteries, and the pre-colonial cultures of Mesoamerica. This possibility should be fairly obvious to anyone with an understanding of history and, more importantly, human nature. Even today, there is a drug-fueled rite of passage many young people are known to go through... it's known as 'college'.

Discovery.com
"Acoustic Archaeology Yielding
Mind-Tripping Tricks"

I experienced the chirping echo of the Temple of Kukulkan myself when my family vacationed in the Mexican Yucatan a few years ago. However, my mind was not being altered by anything- other than perhaps the 100º+ heat at Chichen Itza that day.

Finally, I was just searching Google for Mayan graphics when I saw this very freaky 3D rendering of a Aztec Priest by digital artist Sofia Vela Cruz. She really gave the character the kind of sociopathic feel that you'd expect from a priest who eats magic mushrooms then rips the hearts out of other humans.

Click on the image for her website:


Wednesday, November 17, 2010

Unending Palin Madness

UPDATE!: I saw this story & can barely believe the audacity of this crazy fame hound. Bring it on, you loon. She's either going to guarantee Obama's re-election... or she will bring out all the stupid that America can muster & actually win - bringing about a thorough regressive dismantling of this country and ushering in Armageddon. Either way, it'll make a hell of a show!... PALIN 2012!!!!


-----------------------------------------

I don't know why this guy was arrested. Wasn't he reacting how a normal person should when faced with someone from the Palin family on the TV?


I hate adding to the people talking about this woman, but Stephen Colbert did a great take-off of her "reality" show, Sarah Palin's Alaska.


My family was watching the opening part of that show while we were at my parents' house. The only redeeming quality was the nature shots, which looked great in HD.

However, the calming beauty was soon shattered by the shrill shriek of The Alaskan Banshee herself.

Like everything else, the irony of the situation is lost on her as she screams:

"How come we can't ever
just be satisfied with
TRANQUILITY?!?!?!?"

>:-O

I became totally annoyed and changed the channel, refusing to watch any more of that insufferable show.

Green Lantern Trailer

I enjoy superhero movies more, now that the level of movie-making technology & CGI makes them more believable. Iron Man & the recent Batman movies were pretty cool.

Spider-Man was ok, but the underwhelming use of Venom was a disappointment. Even when I was a little kid, I thought the Superman movies with Christopher Reeves were kind of retarded because the special effects were fake-looking & it was so cheesy.

Obviously, Superman is still the most awesome hero ever. However, my close second choice of powers would be that of The Green Lantern.

I think computer graphics have gotten to a point that could do the character justice.
This trailer for the upcoming movie I saw on Fasthack looks pretty good. Of course, I would improve upon it- by adding more black to the suit, instead of it being all neon green.



Tuesday, November 16, 2010

Interactive Deficit Reduction


I find no joy at all in dealing with numbers, but I can at least balance a checkbook. However, dealing with a budget on the scale of of our government's is a colossal task that most people can't even comprehend.

It's easy to simply say "Government needs to cut spending!!!" and it's also easy to overlook the thousand of lives affected by even relatively minor decisions.

The New York Times did what any respectable media should do in the Information Age. They featured a tool to help the reader understand the problem better.

It's obviously a simplification of the myriad issues surrounding the deficit, but it's still a great idea that at least lets people experience the complexities involved. The fact that it's completely interactive and simple to use makes it very engaging, even for a topic so mundane as the Federal Budget:



*Here's my initial choices, though I didn't spend too much time on it.

I can agree with the general direction of the plan released by Sen. Jan Schakowsky, one of the more progressive Senators on the so-called "Catfood Commission". There's definitely going to be stark contrasts in ideologies & priorities are going to be drawn as we enter the new year w/ a new Congress. If anything positive is accomplished, it'll be amazing.

Monday, November 15, 2010

The Spiral of Time

Time is a perception, like the sensation of color. "It" does not exist independently of our mental experiences. There is no absolute flow of time, only the flow of our minds.

Even science reveals that time is not a constant feature of reality- it is a relative phenomenon. However, our ancestors long ago adapted the abstract idea of Time into a useful tool to regulate our lives. It also informs our natural sense of a temporal continuum we call History.

I thought this was an awesome visualization of the "Spiral of Time". It's enough to warp your mind into a vortex.


click to enlarge

Michael Moore on Real Time

Michael Moore should be Obama's Chief of Staff.

Even though he's a dumpy looking guy with a clearly "liberal" point of view, he's never wavered in his support of working people over the selfish interests of corrupt big business & government that have drained the country.

When he rightly spoke out against the serious problems with the Bush crew & The Oil Wars, he was derided as a un-American liberal loudmouth. He was, in fact, a voice of reason in a country deluded by fear & insanity post 9-11.

Bill Maher should have interviewed just Moore, who really goes on a tear towards the end of the clip.

He's definitely right about the need for the public to press the Obama White House on the big issues that urgently need to be addressed. The divided Congress may not be any help to him or the nation at large unless he decides to clearly & forcefully make the case for viable solutions to the county's complex problems.


Saturday, November 13, 2010

Smart People Sleep Late

click to enlarge

I'm posting this to make myself feel better about my sleeping habits & the fact that I did nothing but lounge around on my day off today.


I have never, ever, been a morning person.

When I was in grade school, my Mom used to bang on the ceiling under my room with a baseball bat to get me up. My Dad, who has always gone to work at early hours, told me I'd eventually get used to waking up early. (This, coming from a guy who falls asleep instantly whenever he's not at work.) However, after spending my whole life getting up in the morning for school or work, it is no easier for me to get out of bed in the morning.

Now, I can blame it on being too damn smart.

Thanks, random 'scientific' study!!!!!

Friday, November 12, 2010

The Decider Returns

How better to celebrate America's most recent re-lapse into electoral conservatism... than a media tour by the iconic monkey face of modern conservatism, George W. Bush!!!

The Daily Show:

Wednesday, November 10, 2010

I Love Conspiracy Lady

On the symbolism website Secret Sun, I saw a link to this video that is instantly on my list of Youtube favorites.

I'm not completely sure if this video by 'contactee' Colleen Thomas is totally serious, a bit of a joke, or an attempt to influence people. Regardless of the intent, it's a masterpiece & she's definitely a piece of work.

The only way I can describe her is as a combination of the reptilian/alien/global elite conspiracies of David Icke & the political paranoia of Glenn Beck, somehow manifesting itself in an attractive, feisty lady who seems to know the secret truth behind everything.



The greatest thing about modern technology is that people like myself & Ms. Thomas can express our voices & ideas to the world, even if they seem completely crazy.

Even though I find her to be extremely entertaining, this next 1/2 hour video is quite a rant. I've had it playing in the background as I'm typing. I just stopped & laughed because she's kind of droning on about reptilians and pleiadians and the world leaders eating people...

Like I've said before, I think anything is possible- but extraordinary claims require extraordinary evidence. What's going on inside a person's head is not convincing evidence for me.

Despite a fair amount of off-topic rambling, at 18:40 in this video, she says the wisest thing of all:



As I'm watching her other videos, for some reason they seem to be getting more intriguing...



Monday, November 08, 2010

Genesis Animation

This animation illustrating the beginnings of human life is thought-provoking, to say the least.

If you are not a fan of Fatboy Slim, you may want to turn the volume down & play some other inspirational background music of choice:



This video should be watched repeatedly until the mind is thoroughly nullified by the incomprehensible processes of life & death.

Sentimental monkey-grunts such as "God is Great!" or "Science is amazing!" are equally meaningless when faced with eternal mysteries such as the origin of Life.

Judging Smiles

I consider myself an excellent judge of character. Even short interactions with people usually can give me a good idea of their essential nature. It's probably attributable partially to instinct, alot of observation, and experience with a wide variety of people- from the scum of the earth to people with saint-like virtues.

Spotting sincerity or the lack thereof is a no-brainer for me & when people are being "fake" it is like a fire alarm in my head, though I never call people out who I don't know well.

Taking this quasi-scientific visual quiz solidified the confidence I have in my people-scrutinizing skills.

I would have scored perfect, but I went against my gut feeling on the first one... which was the only 1 out of the 20 that I missed.

BBC Science:
"Spot the Fake Smile"



This next one's a little tougher...
but I'm pretty sure this smile is a fake one:


I'm a sucker for a pretty smile...



Incidentally, I also took the "Thinker Quiz" on the BBC site & I'm an 'Existential Thinker', which seems appropriate.


Sunday, November 07, 2010

What the Ancients Knew

This weekend I watched a few episodes of a really good series on Discovery Channel about one of my favorite topics- ancient civilizations & their technology:

"What the Ancients Knew"

The episodes I watched were China, Japan, Rome, & some of Egypt. There was alot of information about these cultures that mirrored the excellent book I finished recently, The Ancient Engineers. It's amazing how much detail scientists & historians are beginning to extract from the past, so much of which has been forgotten up until now.



Thursday, November 04, 2010

Election 2010

Nancy Pelosi never shed a tear during her tenure &
this lobbyist-loving goof is weeping during his first speech.



That was quick:


I've been watching the election results come in this week with the inevitable Republican gains. The Democratic messaging has been phenomenally bad despite some significant accomplishments by the Congress & White House in the past 2 years. You would never know it though by listening to the pundits- from both sides of the political spectrum. The Fox News opinion machine has definitely dominated the political narrative through aggressive conservative opposition.

Even though the House is now a GOP majority, the number of losing Tea Party candidates (especially Sarah Palin's horrible picks) have ended up costing Republicans the Senate.


Despite the tears of joy flowing down the orange face of probable Speaker of the House, John Boehner, the GOP are only marginally more powerful. I wonder if, under Speaker Boehner, they will now be freely handing out checks from lobbyists on the House floor. The Senate and the President's veto pen exist to temper their dreams of complete Health Care repeal & permanent tax breaks for the rich.

In fact, it's possible that the government will come to a standstill, or at least a crawl. This will succeed in pissing the American people off more. Who it will affect more in the next election cycle is anyone's guess. Despite President Obama's maddening insistence at bipartisanship & compromise, the Republican leadership has already expressed their self-serving desire to destroy his efforts in order to make him a "one-term President".

2010 Elections To
Usher In Era Of Gridlock


All I know is that the next couple of years will be interesting, as always. The real winners here are the political commentators & comedians. The Daily Show & Colbert are already on fire with the new political conflicts in the headlines.

Monday, November 01, 2010

"The Rally to Restore Sanity" 10-30-10

Now that I have some time, I'm going to try to give an account of my time in Washington DC this weekend. I went with a group of 5 other guys to attend "The Rally to Restore Sanity" on Saturday- like hundreds of thousands of other fun-loving, engaged citizens.


If I had no traveling companions, I definitely wouldn't have made the trip... so it was great to have my brother and some other guys we know want to go, too.

We were totally psyched for the trip & our one friend known as 'Shooski' aka 'The Shoosk' has a brother who lives in DC, which helped our planning alot. Shoosk wanted to get a hotel, and we all eventually realized this was the best way to go since we could stay & really have a good time. Another one of the guys 'The Rev' offered to drive down in his truck and park at the hotel, so we were good to go.

Both my brothers went to a Freeway concert in Philly the night before the trip. I, on the other hand, was on my back patio at 10Pm on Friday nite ripping apart small wooden pallets to use for sign handles. Only one of my brothers could go to the rally on Sat., but thanks to the concert he was late & hungover the next morning. He didn't hear the end of that for the next 24 hours.

Once we got rolling, we faced the notorious state-long traffic jam known as Delaware. The traffic slowed on 95 a little but the drive overall wasn't horrible. Once we got to the hotel, the plan was to take the metro. We didn't realize the inevitable until we paid for our tickets & got down there- that it was like a Japanese subway with people packed in every car like sardines. There was literally not room for one single person in any of the cars. After several of the trains stopped & went without being able to fit anyone, we decided to bail.

We went back up to the streets to take a bus or cab. It was past noon & the rally had already started, so we wanted to makes moves fast. We lucked out & saw a minivan taxi who picked us up. Since there were 6 guys, I volunteered to sit in the van's hatchback just to get to the damn rally.

Once we got to the general area of the park, we got out & followed the large streams of people leading toward the nexus of the event. We walked for a bit & once we got into the grass we found a spot to put our 'protest signs' together. I had earlier busted my staple gun back at the parking garage, but thanks to my general desire to be prepared I also had a whole roll of wide masking tape. I weaved the tape around the handles and taped over the tape! I was frantically trying to get all 6 signs together & eventually got everyone else to help the process along. Surprisingly, the signs held up for the entire day & made the effort worth it.

Once we had our signs, the real fun began. We could just walk around & watch the madness. Immediately, we realized all the rally signs that I made were a hit- as people started taking pictures, laughing & making approving comments.

I was carrying my "Savior/Liberal Devil" sign that people kept asking me to flip around. My brother wanted the "Teabagging Takes Balls" sign, which got alot of laughs throughout the day. Shooski of course carried the sign saying "Shooski is Here!", with "Ralph Wiggum 2012" taped to the back. People kept laughing when reading out loud the Shooski sign or saw my Monkey Buddha signature on the other signs, even though they had no idea what it meant.


As we kept walking toward the main crowd, the sea of people kept getting thicker & thicker & thicker!

Our highly-visible signs came in handy as we tried to keep together & navigate the massive crowd. I have never seen that many people in one place. It was almost surreal to be amongst that large a gathering of seemingly endless variety & number. It's hard to describe, but 'astounding' comes to mind. As we slowly pushed our way along Madison Dr., the crowd near us was being amused by a Jesus hanging up on a traffic light. It could have been an impersonator, but he did have the crowd enraptured by his antics. Once we got closer, I realized his sign said "Jesus Loves Obama". He was perched up there for a while.

Other people were climbing trees, standing on walls, trying to get any high vantage point. Even going up on a little hill, though, it was possible to get a glimpse the size of the crowd extending out in all directions. Eventually we needed a break from the shoulder-to-shoulder people & went off to more open side parks & wandered for a bit.

At some point after we rejoined the crowd, my brother & I realized we lost a couple people. This wouldn't be a problem, but nobody had any cell phone service. Without being able to text each other, we'd never find them. We looked for the 'Shooski is Here!' sign, but all we saw were thousands of other people who were not The Shoosk, as far as the eye could see. We debated with the other 2 guys with us if we should hang out, or just walk around. I realized we didn't prepare for something like this at all. There was no meeting time or place, most of us didn't have the hotel info, etc.

Instead of worrying about it, we decided to hang out around 7th & Madison for awhile. The four of us took over the corner & held our signs up while shouting ridiculous slogans to the throngs of people walking by. We always had at least a couple people trying to take pictures of each sign. I was constantly flipping mine around for people to see both sides. During this time when I was appealing to the masses, I could barely manage to take photos of my own, but I still got a bunch of good ones.

After maybe an hour, we finally had a text message come through from the other guys & were able to meet back up. It turns out they were right near us, but in a different area so we didn't see each other.

This might sound crazy, but like alot of people I didn't hear or see any of the actual rally!!! From where we were, I could barely make out Colbert & Stewart's voices and had to look through trees across the park to see the huge video screens beside the stage. Missing the scheduled entertainment was totally alleviated by the plentiful entertainment provided by the rally-goers themselves. I like to observe things & people-watch, so this was like visual overload. There were so many crazy people, costumes, signs, & things going on in the street, that missing the show was almost inconsequential. I still haven't been able to go watch it all online yet!

The idea of promoting reasonable discourse & open-mindedness should not be revolutionary, but the two hosts should be proud of their effort to promote a more constructive way of thinking.

After the rally was officially over, the other guys wanted to go find a restaurant in town which was another bad call because every food place in the area had a half-hour wait or more. I would have just hung out around the park area for a while longer, but I wasn't sweating it. We finally ended up all jamming into a regular cab & going back to the hotel.

We found a cafe type restaurant near the hotel to chill out & eat. As we were waiting for our food, the manager or owner came up to us an said something in a thick accent, but I thought I heard it very clearly. Incidentally, I was pretty buzzed by this time after finishing my Sprite bottle mix of Tanqueray. I looked at the guy quizzically and asked him, "Did you just say your name is... 'Master Something' ???" ...which is what I swore he said! Everybody laughed because they thought he said the same thing. It turns out, he was asking if we needed mustard & some other condiments, so I apologized for the misunderstanding. However, he is now forever "Master Something" in our minds. On the way out, some of us wanted to take our leftovers to eat later. I asked 'Master Something' for a couple boxes for the food. He looked at me like I was from another planet, so I tried asking for containers instead. He nodded & went in the back. He came back with 2 large cardboard packing crates! Another waiter had brought us out actual food containers in the meantime. He must have saw that, along with the mixture of amusement & bewilderment on my face, because he continued walking with the big boxes right out the front door to put them in the trash. He tried to apologize but I told him not to worry about it.

Back at the hotel, everyone was wiped out & it was only the late afternoon. The plan was to go out on the town that night after we had rested up a little. I ended up passing out for a little bit.

................

When I woke up, it was nighttime & time to get ready to go out. The combination of gin & the cold I was fighting this weekend made me look like I was a wreck. We each took showers & changed, then were ready to head out to the Adams Morgan neighborhood of DC.

For some reason, none of us thought to even bring costumes, despite Colbert encouraging it on his show for the rally. My brother had a crazy vampire mask he was wearing under his Día de los Muertos hoodie. However, he didn't bring it out to the bars. It wasn't long before we saw people in costume, and when we got into the town, we realized everyone on the streets was in costumes!

From then on out it was bar-hopping & taking pictures with people in awesome costumes. We actually felt out of place because we were some of the few people not dressed up. I was wearing a black hoodie, so I put it up- to be at least partially disguised! Regardless, we had a good time & stayed out till we shut the bars down at 2.

Overall, it was a wild, action-packed day that many thousands of other people also got to enjoy. The rally, its purpose, and its effects have been endlessly analyzed already. To me personally, the spirit of the gathering was that of good-natured social awareness, tinged with a healthy dose of absurdity & humor.

I took about 100 photos on Saturday of the rally & the nightlife. I edited the set down to these, showing the size of the rally, and the multitude of characters inhabiting the nation's capital for a truly memorable day.

More of the story is detailed in the photo captions...