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.

"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'.
"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


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...

John Denver & Johnny Cash

How the hell am I supposed to start uploading photos & write about my crazy time in DC when I'm seeing John Denver on PBS singing "Take Me Home, Country Roads" with the man in black, Johnny Cash?!?!?!?!