Sunday, April 17, 2011

It Gets Better - Pixar

National Poetry Month

It is National Poetry month. The New York Review of Books is offering a poem a day. Bookmark it and rejoice every day.

Flash Mob at Bank of America - Tax Weekend 2011

More cowbell!

Friday, October 19, 2007

Get ready. Oh-ate is coming.

Geoff Halber, one of Dwell magazine's senior designers spoke at the AIGA's 2007 design conference in Denver recently. Given only 60 seconds to present, and working under this year's theme, "Next," Geoff decided to put out a call to designer friends and friends-of-friends to make an '08 symbol. Geoff turned 60 designs into 60 frames. (Sorry about the ads at the end.)

The Black Bloggers Emerge or SILENCE IS NEVER GOLDEN

Attorney Wayne Bennett is representative of the growing group of black bloggers who speak a truth that may singe your white or, even, black ego. His blog The Field Negro is tough and honest. In today's post he is articulating his thoughts about the failure to override SCHIP. On Wednesday he gathered his thoughts about conservative blacks, "The Talented Tenth Wannabes."

"You can't be against a minimum wage increase or a fair living wage for workers. Not when some poor single mother is working at Wal Mart and earning $6 an hour, and Sam Walton's fucking daughter bought a 30 million dollar painting at some art auction in New York. You can't just blindly follow the NRA and their strict interpretation of the second amendment when kids are getting slaughtered in our streets on a regular basis. You can't support free enterprise and a total deregulation of businesses when environmental racism is killing your people in places like South Texas, and Mississippi. You can't oppose affirmative action programs, and minority business set asides, but turn around and rip black folks for not starting businesses in their own neighborhoods. ( You benefited from the same affirmative action programs that you now conveniently want to get rid of. I know I know, you guys are the smart ones, you didn't need affirmative action.) You can't oppose strong voting rights enforcement, but rip your own people for not being involved enough in the political process. And finally, you can't support the death penalty when you know that more than one innocent person has been put to death by the state because of a fucked up justice system."

At other times he addresses everyday quandaries and insult.

"Black people can we talk?" he wrote in May. "Why the. . . do you all talk so loud during movies? Seriously! If I drop 30$ to see a movie (I am adding the concessions in the mix) I want to watch that. . . in peace. I really don't want to hear your kids crying, your cellphones ringing, and exactly what you will be cooking for dinner when you get home."


"I swear, white people love their pets more than they love people. Seriously, they have clothes for their pets, gourmet food for their pets, exercise schools for their pets, they take their pets in their cars with them, they have pet hotels. . . . Ten people were shot to death this past weekend in Philadelphia, but that was still page two news here. Now I guarantee you, that if there were ten dogs shot all across the city, white people would be losing their. . . minds."

It is worth reading this LA Times article if you're interested in diversity on the web.

What to do with grief and sadness.

I picked up this quote from T.H White's Once and Future King. It is the wizard Merlin, who is speaking to "Wart", the future King Arthur, about what to do with his sadness.

"The best thing for being sad," replied Merlyn, beginning to puff and blow, "is to learn something. That is the only thing that never fails. You may grow old and trembling in your anatomies, you may lie awake at night listening to the disorder of your veins, you may miss your only love, you may see the world about you devastated by evil lunatics, or know your honour trampled in the sewers of baser minds. There is only one thing for it then--to learn. Learn why the world wags and what wags it. That is the only thing which the mind can never exhaust, never alienate, never be tortured by, never fear or distrust, and never dream of regretting. Learning is the thing for you. Look at what a lot of things there are to learn--pure science, the only purity there is. You can learn astronomy in a lifetime, natural history in three, literature in six. And then, after you have exhausted a milliard lifetimes in biology and medicine and theocriticism and geography and history and economics--why, you can start to make a cartwheel out of the appropriate wood, or spend fifty years learning to begin to learn to beat your adversary at fencing. After that you can start again on mathematics, until is it is time to learn to plough."

Saturday, October 13, 2007

The smack of irony

Secretary of State in a pensive moment w/flags.

Does anyone else enjoy the irony in Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice's condemnation of Putin and his ransacking of the Russian government?

"In any country, if you don't have countervailing institutions, the power of any one president is problematic for democratic development," Rice told reporters after meeting with human-rights activists.

I think there is too much concentration of power in the
Kremlin. I have told the Russians that. Everybody has doubts about the full independence of the judiciary. There are clearly questions about the independence of the electronic media and there are, I think, questions about the strength of the Duma," said Rice, referring to the Russian parliament."

She has "told the Russians that." Do they care?

This McClatchy Report quotes Michael McFaul, of Stanford's Hoover Institution on War, Revolution and Peace, a center for international studies, that is consistently conservative (Richard M. Schaife, a billionaire, Clinton tormentor, sits on the Executive Committee): "Bush and his aides grossly misjudged Putin..." One of Bush's aides is none other than Condi Rice, known academically as a "Russian expert." Being criticized by her own University must be painful. You have to wonder, though, how can they get everything so wrong?

Remember 2001 after his first meeting with Putin? Bush famously said he'd looked in the Russian leader's eyes, found him "trustworthy" and "was able to get a sense of his soul." If this omniscient insight weren't so gravely in error, it could be funny, instead it is just recklessly psychotic.

General Disgust

Tanks in the streets, Thailand Military Coup
19 September 2006

Fortunately for the United States, we have a loyal military. That said, am I the first to wonder just how close we may come to a military revolt, dare I say, coup, of sorts? Lt. General Ricardo S. Sanchez airs his thoughts. Snachez joins 19, other retired Generals who have blasted the government. I think this certainly constitutes, at the least, a revolt.

“There has been a glaring and unfortunate display of incompetent strategic leadership within our national leaders,” he said, adding that civilian officials have been “derelict in their duties” and guilty of a “lust for power.”

Things are feeling a little "brinky", aren't they?

Nobel Fashionista

Milan - Gucci - 2006

I needed some light hearted diversion today. I am grateful to my west coast stringer who alerted me to this wonderful LA Times parody. Writers Patrick Day and Todd Martens poke some gentle fun with a "Hit or Miss" fashion review of our 2007 Nobel Laureates. It makes me giddy to see the words "Nobel" and "fashion" in the same sentence. Hence the good fun. Enjoy.

All our hearts must be broken.

Relatives and loved ones of 12 U.S. soldiers attend a group burial with full honors at Arlington National Cemetery in Virginia. The 11 men and one woman died in a helicopter crash in Iraq. (Getty Images / October 12, 2007)

I can't look at this picture without crying. There is so much I feel I can't control right now. But, this war on Iraq seems out of everyone's control. It just goes on wasting lives, cursing families. The grief will reverberate for decades in the lives of the families whose loved ones have died so miserably in a foreign land.

I propose that every newspaper and magazine in America produce one supplement every week that includes only photos of every military burial that took place that week for soldiers who have died in Iraq (and Pakistan). As a country we are shamefully passive about the destruction of the lives of Iraqi's who now number in the hundreds of thousands. It seems this knowledge alone would move us to revolt, but, it doesn't.

Maybe, if we could see the compounding of death to just our own soldiers, we might get up in arms---an American insurgency against this nightmare. But, these images of burials are few. We are protected from this suffering. We need many, many images, over and over, day after day until the hardened American heart breaks open---until an American insurgency takes root. We must stop this war. This warring. This mindless, unconscionable waging of death.

Thursday, October 11, 2007

Autoerotic Mishap

The Rev. Gary Aldridge
I apologize. I cannot not post this.

Mission Accomplished

Jim Holt, a frequent contributor to the New York Times Magazine and the New Yorker, has written a piece in the London Review of Books. It nails the Iraq oil theory nicely (he must have been reading my blog!). Holt cogently lays out the middle east stew pot. He sums up why the administration must feel, behind closed doors, that it has been wildly successful. The US now sits on one quarter of the world's oil reserves. Now, if only everyone would cooperate. A worthwhile quote that sums it up:

"Iraq has 115 billion barrels of known oil reserves. That is more than five times the total in the United States. And, because of its long isolation, it is the least explored of the world’s oil-rich nations. A mere two thousand wells have been drilled across the entire country; in Texas alone there are a million. It has been estimated, by the Council on Foreign Relations, that Iraq may have a further 220 billion barrels of undiscovered oil; another study puts the figure at 300 billion. If these estimates are anywhere close to the mark, US forces are now sitting on one quarter of the world’s oil resources. The value of Iraqi oil, largely light crude with low production costs, would be of the order of $30 trillion at today’s prices. For purposes of comparison, the projected total cost of the US invasion/occupation is around $1 trillion

Who will get Iraq’s oil? One of the Bush administration’s ‘benchmarks’ for the Iraqi government is the passage of a law to distribute oil revenues. The draft law that the US has written for the Iraqi congress would cede nearly all the oil to Western companies. The Iraq National Oil Company would retain control of 17 of Iraq’s 80 existing oilfields, leaving the rest – including all yet to be discovered oil – under foreign corporate control for 30 years. ‘The foreign companies would not have to invest their earnings in the Iraqi economy,’ the analyst Antonia Juhasz wrote in the New York Times in March, after the draft law was leaked. ‘They could even ride out Iraq’s current “instability” by signing contracts now, while the Iraqi government is at its weakest, and then wait at least two years before even setting foot in the country.’ As negotiations over the oil law stalled in September, the provincial government in Kurdistan simply signed a separate deal with the Dallas-based Hunt Oil Company, headed by a close political ally of President Bush."

Sunday, October 7, 2007

China to the rescue.

Chinese police train at a military base in Wuhan in central China's Hubei province August 30, 2005.
By Herman47 at Flickr, August, 2005

The Washington Post exposes, yet, another humiliation for this Bush administration. Iraq is buying arms from China because we can't produce them quickly enough. The article could be used by some MBA study group as the foundation for a critique of all the ways a delivery system failed.

Meanwhile, General Patreaus has again insisted that Iran is providing Iraqi insurgents with arms. But, according to the latest count, 190,000 American-provided weapons are missing from the Iraq rosters. It looks to me like the primary provider of weapons to the insurgents is...the United States!

As far as China selling $100 million in arms to Iraq, maybe we could join the Iraqis and also purchase our arms from China. Since we are unable to arm our own troops in a timely fashion, let's get some help from the Chinese. They are more than happy to be of service. We'll just outsource everything.

By the way, where did Iraq get the $100 million for their arms purchase? Think about that for a moment.

Oil again.

The kiss of death

I feel compelled to keep posting about the oil situation in Iraq, since, as you may know, some people think that may be what the Iraq invasion was all about. It seems from this BBC news article that the Kurds went off the reservation. They have begun signing oil deals with western countries.

The "surge" was really about giving the government time to sign the legislation that would govern the Iraq oil industry and offer protections for investments. This agreement would serve to mandate how oil profits would be distributed between Sunni, Shia and Kurds. It would also stipulate that the oil industry would be privatized (taken from the Iraqi government) and run by western oil powers. So far the Bush administration can't get the Iraq government to sign it.

The bizarre complication of the Kurds signing oil deals without Iraqi approval or governing rules is just one more insane event in the Iraq debacle. Worse, one of the companies that the Kurds have signed agreements with is Hunt Oil of Dallas, Texas.

This CBS News article provides interesting background. Ray Hunt, the CEO of Hunt Oil, and a powerful conservative, is on the Board of Halliburton, is a key Bush fund raiser and sits on the President's Foreign Intelligence Advisory Board. If anyone would know what a disaster it would be to have the Kurds independently signing away Iraqi oil it would be this insider, Ray Hunt. So WHAT is going on? Stay tuned.

No escape from the modern world

I am trying to catch up with some things I found interesting. This post by Audrey Tempelsman over at Dwell blog---always a great place to visit---is a few days old, but who cares?

Tempelsman's post concerns an exhibition that opened in London called Psychic Vacuum. The artist is Mike Nelson, a British sculpture. Sculptors do the damnedest things lately! It might just shake you up, and, as Tempelsman suggests, isn't that what modern art is all about? Sometimes I wonder.

Don't miss the slide show of eerie spaces in the exhibition. You'll have to cursor down the page to find the link. It is an amazing and deft construction.

Herbert Muschamp Dies.

Photo:Robert Maxwell for The New York Times
Herbert Muschamp in October 2006 in New York.

Herbert Muschamp, architecture critic for the New York Times, died October 3, at the age of 59 of lung cancer. He was an erudite man and an inspired writer and thinker. Here is the obituary providing some insight into Muschamp and quotes from his writing. I found his comments, included in the obituary, on his visit to the concentration camp in Dachau, uniquely evocative and moving. Here, also, is an Op Ed piece by Verlyn Klinkenborg offering appreciation for Muschamp. A quote from the Klinkenborg Op Ed:

"A lot of people argued with Herbert about his take on the world, and their argument with him often boiled down to the proposition that taste is not morality. I suspect that if you were talking about an ideal world, Herbert might agree. But in his own life, he saw that there was an Orwellian connection between taste and morality — that bad faith nearly always means bad buildings and that bad faith in our society is endemic."

For people who care about design, it was so helpful to have someone writing about it who was committed to it and actually addressed the value and the ethics of design without a slant toward political correctness. You might disagree with Muschamp, but you couldn't, ever, doubt his good faith. Just that, helps.

What to do?

I just found this list in my sticky notes. I can't remember where they came from. Perhaps someone else saw these and will remind me from whence they came. Until then, despite their occasional sentimental quality, I think they can help to refocus the wandering mind---the one that likes to get lost in trivial pursuits and those meandering narratives. Questions 16, 17 and 18 were probably submitted by Sally Fields, don't go there. Some are a little redundant. So OK some suck. Just pick one and work with it. Focusing, matters. Paying attention, matters. I'm just tellin' ya.


1. What do I want to accomplish today?
2. What is the most important thing I need to do today? (Do it first!)
3. Is this the best use of my time right now?
4. What am I trying to accomplish right now?
5. What can I cross off my list by deleting or delegating? What is not important?
6. What can I do right now to take the next leap instead of the next step?
7. Who can I learn from today?
8. Who can I thank today?
9. What am I grateful for?
10. How can I eliminate distractions right now?
11. What are my top 3 current goals?
12. What is most important to me in life?
13. If the my world was going to end within one year, what would I be doing right now?
14. What will I do today towards my major goals?
15. What action can I take instead of worry right now?
16. Who should I thank today?
17. Who needs some love today?
18. How can I be a kinder person today?
19. How can I have more compassion today?
20. What can I do right now to release negative energy in a positive way?
21. What can I do to let go of my anger?
22. How can I put worry on hold right now?
23. How can I choose happiness right now?
24. What can I do to slow down today?
25. What am I learning right now?
26. What beneficial routines can I start today?
27. What will I do, see, explore, or experience today that is new?
28. How and with whom can I partner today to make 1+1=3?
29. How can I be more compassionate today?
30. What will I celebrate today?
31. Where did I find Joy today?
32. What did I learn today?
33. How will I “pay it forward” today?
34. How will I make today great? How do I define great?
35. What can I stop holding/clinging to help me break free?
36. How can I let go with peace?
37. Who can I help today?
38. How can I add Peace to the world today?
39. What’s the most powerful thing I can do right now, today to increase my business?
40. What have I been avoiding that I can do today?

Saturday, October 6, 2007

Bad, sad day.

Marion Jones confesses. After lying to her public and to federal investigators for over three years, Jones tells the truth, sort of. She still insists that she didn't know her trainer was giving her banned performance enhancing drugs. She thought it was "flax seed oil." Jones faces a jail term of six months. One could assume that she probably, finally, confessed because to continue to insist she is innocent in the face of overwhelming evidence, would mean a longer jail sentence. There seems to be little redemption in this one.

It is hard to sympathize given the scope of her fabrications. She even sued Victor Conte, founder of Blanco, the performance enhancing drug company, for millions of dollars, claiming slander and defamation. He testified that he saw here inject herself with the drugs. She has now dropped the suit. But, how devious of her.

It is hard not to feel sorry for her. However, I am afraid that four years of denial, when it was pretty clear there was a serious problem, stretched everyone's trust. She has few supporters remaining. It is very bad and sad.

Can someone please tell me how an athlete can be a doper and NOT get caught? Why does an Olympic athlete take these drugs? Aren't they always tested and found out? It seems to be a gamble with zero chance of success. I continue to be baffled.

Thursday, October 4, 2007

Anthropolgizing the Military

What took so long?

Glenn Gould Anniversary

Just this video will give you some sense of Glenn Gould's amazingly touching understanding of the music he performs. There he is, bent over the piano, murmuring to himself in a state of wonder. He is playing Bach BWV 828 - 3 - Courante. Go to YouTube and play everything Gould. Buy his Goldberg Variations. Listen religiously.

Glenn Gould died 25 years ago at the age of 50. He remains the classical genius of the century. Here is a wonderful piece by jazz pianist Jessica Williams on Gould along with her thoughts on "dead music." Her appreciation of Gould helps to illuminate the broader understanding of his importance and gift.

Then there is this from Toronto, Gould's home town. "Could there ever be another Glenn Gould?" It is hard to imagine. And then, I offer again my own April post on Gould and that adorable picture of him at the piano with his teacher. This post helps to explain some of the techniques Gould used.

Recent conjecture that Gould had Asperger Syndrome, explaining some of conditions that might relate to his curious eccentricities, does nothing, in my judgment, to diminish the full wonder of his talent. Genius is funny stuff. Try as we might, there is no way to fully understand it. I have to believe that genius does not arise from the norm, but, rather, from the ability to escape the norm. Most of us are trying so hard to be normal, we haven't a chance at being a genius. It may be that an innate disregard, for whatever reason, of the worth of being normal holds the most promise for a stab at genius. Gould had no fear of his oddness, but neither did he champion it in any way. He just was who he was.

All of this is not to say that the mystery of genius or Gould is simple. It is baffling. But when genius is manifest, one doesn't think about its origins, just its presence and astounding poise.