Saturday, February 28, 2009

*Our* air space, dammit

Ray wrote to me:

The press over here is making a fuss about the Russians 'Bear' bombers invading our air space, and being intercepted by our air force's CF-18 Hornets.
The thing nobody's mentioning is that both of these aircraft are between 26 and 30 years old. So our obsolete technology is chasing away theirs.
When a Russian official was quoted as saying that this whole thing is a farce, I think I understand what he meant.

Yes. I think that nations, being aggregate minds, show us what humans are really like. Meaning: children, egoic beyond belief and prone to hissy fits and paranoia.

Jessica White Bodypainting

Top Cat pointed to this. (You sure you don't have mixed feelings pointing out hot girls to men?) Thanks.
Sure is gorgeous, both the girl and the paint job. The gold parts is a brilliant idea. It's real gold leaf, and nothing shines like it.

Funny, it seems body paint is enough to get around Utoob's no-nudity stance. I once posted a nude flame dancer (swirled flaming balls around her, only lit by those, pretty abstract), and it was taken down in a nanosecond.

(If somebody finds high-res versions of the pictures from this shoot, I'd love to have them.)

Friday, February 27, 2009


I was listening to one of my old Danish favorites, Shu-bi-dua's "Bageren og servitricen" (The baker and the waitress). I decided to post it to youtube, but to my amazement, not only was it already done, but the guy had made a video to it!
("Slut" in Danish means "the end".)

As you may be aware, I am not much for romance, but I think that Shu-bi-dua here really, both in melody and lyrics, have captured the painful sweetness of loneliness and longing. (It's about a baker sitting in a bar as it closes, trying in vain to get the waitress which he likes to join him for a drink.)

What does wealthy mean?

(Woa, suddenly today a host of posts (hehe) about value and money...)

This is from a comment in the comment-heavy tent-city post: Aniko said:
"I was astonished, reading the article, that the rich "can't pay their mortgages." Why would rich people have mortgages? My feeling is that if you are rich, means you have no credit."

Aha. Shouldn't it be that way? Why would you put yourself in debt if you don't have to?

As the famous book The Millionaire Next Door pointed out to a surprised world, the wealthy people, when measured in net worth, aren't those who we tend to think they are, they are not the people with huge houses, boats, and Rolls Royces. Those people who keep their money tend to be people who live just like others and drive a ten-year-old Datsun, and like a hamburger more than caviar, and a beer more than champagne.

The "rich" people we hear about very often have a rich lifestyle because while they make a lot of money, they spend all the money they have, and very often spend much more money than they have.

This seems pretty insane to somebody like me, but I think again we come down to a hidden, but very powerful inner anxiety that many people have, and which comes out in the form of addictions. An addiction can be drink or drugs, but it also can be work, or sex, or exercise. Or it can be status and lifestyle.

I don't want to seem superior about it, because saving your money can also be compulsive and can come from anxiety, only this anxiety is about the future rather than status. Some people will have millions in the bank, but still clip coupons for the supermarket.

What is value?

Value is interesting. People are always talking about "real value", but I doubt there is such a thing.
Say a specific loaf of bread is sold for $2. If you want the bread and have two dollars, you pay it.
But what if you were somewhere without food, but had lots of money, and about to die of starvation, what would it be worth to you then?
Moreso, if you buy one at the bakers, what would a second one be worth to you? You're not likely to eat it before it goes stale, so you won't pay two dollars for it. And a third one would even be a liability, just taking up space. But it's the same bread.

And some things are even more blatantly subjective. Take the (possibly) Jackson Pollock painting mentioned below. If it's not by Pollock, it can be sold for ten dollars if anybody likes it. If you can convince people it was painted by Pollock, suddenly it's worth fifty million dollars. And yet it's the same painting.

It also goes for non-monetary values. Say you have glass necklace which may have cost 99 cents. If you like it, you may wear it. If you don't like it, you may chuck it. But say it was worn for years by your late mother, and suddenly it may feel very valuable to you.

A used jacket may be junk. Except if it had belonged to Humphrey Bogart, wooo, eBay party.

Update: one might think one could cut through this gordian knot by saying: "all value is entirely subjective, except for objects which directly aid physical survival, such as food and shelter." But the bread example above addresses that, and also, why is survival so valuable to us? Because we fear death. But why do we? Over half of the planet's population believe either in an afterlife or in reincarnation, so why fear death at all?
Most of us fear pain too, but then there are people who will pay good money to have somebody in heels step on their nuts.

Amazon affiliateship

Hey, I just found out that in the past five years my Amazon affiliateship has earned me over $4,000.
That's not bad. But of course it is over five years. And it should not exite anybody unduly, unless you have a heavy-traffic site, cuz most of that sales comes via the traffic of, and a lot of it is from our own book Natural Beauties.
(Ooh, here's a special treat for blog readers: high-rez samples of pictures from the book.)

The Culture of Fear, book

The Culture of Fear: Why Americans Are Afraid of the Wrong Things, seems like an interesting book.
I suspect that fear is a far more important feature of the human psychological landscape than most of us are aware. Perhaps the most important one. And I think that if panic reactions were magically removed from humanity, our quality of life would be dramatically improved.
Of course we don't have a magic button for that, but we can work on facing our fear (rather than our fears, because that implies outside things to be faced), and we can work on realizing that 90% of fear is irrational and harmful.

Web picture match?

Does anybody know if there exists a service (I think it should be possible at least) which by computer computation can match an image, and find similar ones on the web? Say, if I want to know who painted the painting behind the gentleman here?

It's photographed off my TV, and the gentleman is an art expert, formerly with the MOMA in NYC.
He, by the way, is one of the most beautifully arrogant people I've ever seen. He totally and offhandedly dismisses the opinion of anybody who does not have his own expertise. He even dismisses the evidence of fingerprints, saying that his own feeling of a painting overrides that. Great stuff.

It's from an documentary, Who The F..k is Jackson Pollock. It's delightful, full of quirky characters from real life.

Thursday, February 26, 2009

Brazil's best job?

Brazil's best job? Paint Carnival models, article. I have one of the best jobs in the world, but this doesn't suck either.

Tent Cities across America

Top Cat points to this article. I actually never realized the recession would create lots more homeless. Thirties, here we come.
Aniko made a facetious comment today about real estate being important, if for no other reason the for having a roof over your head. As a child of Denmark, I always took that for granted (DK has virtually no homeless), but I guess you can't always.

Epona said:
Well, I don't think I'll become homeless thanks to my boyfriend, but I just lost my job Monday. I need to find a job like yours!

Eolake said:

You could do worse.

Some people have thought that being self-employed is insecure, but I tell you: every job I have had with others I've lost within three to five years. But now I've been self-employed for twelve years, and doing better than ever.

Um, your mileage may vary... !

Update: I'm confused: why the tents? According to wikipedia, USA does have welfare. Supposedly welfare would keep one above the poverty line?

India and taboo

My friend Max has been in India, and took these photos of statues/reliefs.

When you look at the Kama Sutra and their amazing erotica, it beggars belief how much taboo India has against nudity. It's all-powerful.
... Of course, when you think about it, basically the same thing could be said about many places, like USA.
Maybe we need to face that nothing and nobody has a single mind, it's all split.

New Olympus

The new Olympus camera seems really nice. Cheap, compact, quality. In-body stabilization! And articulated LCD screen! Kewl.

Also, enjoy Mike's rant about the camera's art filters.
Mike also has some information about just why photo dealers are going out of business.

Wednesday, February 25, 2009

Tim Prentice kinetic sculptures

Tim Prentice kinetic sculptures. Pretty cool. Click on squares on the right to see different works. (Mystery meat navigation, gotta love it.)

What's worse

Just had a thought:

If anything is worse than an idiot, it's an intelligent idiot.

Early color photos

[Thanks to Uncle Ron.]
Edward J. Steichen’s Autochromes of Charlotte Spaulding Albright
, videocast from George Eastman house. If you're interested in the history of photography, this is cool.

I wonder why they feel they need a sponsor for the videocast? Many private persons can afford to make their own videocasts, so surely an important museum like this should not need to dilute their brand like this?
I've never had ads on any of my sites, despite many offers, because I feel like it's no longer entirely my site if I do (and it ruins the design). And if sponsors can earn money on visitors, surely I can too, at least as far as Domai goes (and my other sites don't have enough traffic to make sponsorships interesting).

Pawn your Gauguin (updated)

Desperate formerly-wealthy are pawning their fine art.

Update: Mike Johnston pointed me to this article. Almost funny, but not really. Notice it's from last summer, before the big collapses! I wonder how it's going now.
“They fear their kids won’t get invited to the right birthday parties,” said Michele Kleier, an Upper East Side-based real estate broker. “If they have to give up things that are invisible, they’re O.K. as long as they don’t have give up things visible to the outside world.”

I've long been astounded at how badly some people are managing their finances. Take Annie Leibovitz, mentioned in the article, she is one of the most prominent, if not the most prominent and successful, commercial photographer in the world. And yet she is in such dire straits that she has now taken big loans against several properties and the rights to all her work, even future work! Holy cow. How do you manage that?

... I didn't know she was gay. And yet she's had three children in the past eight years, two from a surrogate mother. She is sixty years old now, isn't it a bit... irresponsible to have three children that late in life, and such a busy life too? When the youngest children are teenagers, their mother will be in her seventies!

Tuesday, February 24, 2009

School time photos

School time photos. I don't know what the hell this is, but it's weird and interesting.

New art poster

There's a new pinup at Domai. (Warning, nude art drawings.)

I changed the page to say "art poster". Some people think that "pinup" somehow compromises the site. I don't get it. Do you? What's impure about pinups?

I asked a visiting friend about it today, and she said "maybe it's because they're not as classy as the photos".
I suspect that's it, but I don't really see it. To me they are at least as classy. Maybe I see them as a painter, not as a public?

A bad day at work

A bad day at work. (Notice the driver fleeing.)

Monday, February 23, 2009

New Samsung camera

It seems Samsung has listened to my cries for "cameras which look like machines", they are releasing a camera with two analogue gauges! The gauges give an approximate readout of remaining battery life and card capacity. Looking at them I'd say quite approximate, but hey, they look kool.

High Voltage Cable Inspection

High Voltage Cable Inspection, video.
"There are only three things I'm afraid of, electricity, heights, and women."
I guess this guy likes to face his fears.
I wonder what you actually do to maintain a cable? Is there really warning before one snaps?

As expected, Bert chimes in (is there any tech you don't know about, dude?):
Manufactured and installed to Western world standards, cables last a very long time and never snap on their own. Any significant damage to a cable (I think the most common cause is vandalism by hunters) will cause a localized temperature rise, which will be detected by thermal vision inspection equipment even before the linemen go take a stroll up there.
Close visual inspections are done mainly to detect (and repair) damages to cable spacers, and to assess the state of the insulator chains. Both dirt buildup and cracked insulators can lead to arcing between the line and the tower, which is something to avoid (the line will fail and require important and lengthy repairs).

I wonder: even though the workers apparently don't get any serious shocks, surely there must be some kind of long term effect from working inside a super-electrified suit for hours every day? The body has a significant electrical field, both inside and outside, that must be affected.

Evil twins in da house

Sasha Obama Keeps Seeing Creepy Bush Twins While Riding Tricycle Through White House, The Onion article.
"Sasha, who was playing in the East Wing of the executive mansion so as not to disturb her busy father, reported seeing the former first twins while riding her Big Wheel tricycle down the Cross Hall corridor. The frightening apparitions, the 7-year-old said, emerged out of thin air and were dressed in identical outfits consisting of spaghetti strap tank tops and denim skirts."

Open letter to British Gas (updated)

I just sent this email to British Gas:

Dear Sirs,

A week or two ago I was contacted by doorbell by a man who wanted to win my custom for British Gas. I told him no.

Then today I got an automated phone call which was a complete waste of time. It told me I'd been rung before, which is not true, and had called back, which is not true, and your "operatives" had been busy, thus wasting my time if it had been true.

And then it just told me you would try again! Waste of my time. Why did I get this call at all?

I could cancel future contacts, but only by calling, on my dime, a phone number which I had no earthly chance of remembering. (Why not giving me the option of simply pressing a key if I don't want sales pitches?)

Also your complaints page won't open on your site. I hope this email address has an actual recipient.

Stop calling me.

Respectfully yours, Eolake Stobblehouse

Update: Well, today they apologized. By phone!

Illegal Downloads Don't Equal Lost Sales, Judge Rules

Illegal Downloads Don't Equal Lost Sales, Judge Rules, article.
"Those who download movies and music for free would not necessarily purchase those movies and music at the full purchase price," he wrote...
In my personal guesswork, most downloading is done by students who have no money, but build huge libraries of music and films. Meaning probably they download at the very least twenty times more than they would ever have paid for. It would be a very good business model for content providers if they could force networks to compensate them 1:1 for every download!

Eric said:
Instead of filing lawsuits they need to adjust their business model. Digital versions of most media are worthless- they're easy to make, easy to get, easy to copy. Selling low-quality DRM packs MP3s for 99 cents is a rip-off. Granted, they've started to drop the DRM, and the quality is improving, but it's happening way too slowly and the price is still too high. An MP3 isn't worth more than 5 or 10 cents. A flac file would be worth a lot more, but even then they really shouldn't charge more than 25 cents. 50 cents should be the ceiling.

Ideally they'd make up for the loss of profits on individual tracks by selling in bulk. If they want to stop people from pirating they need to make their stuff too cheap to steal, and they need to make it more convenient than torrent sites. Say 15 dollars a month and you can download as many MP3s as you want as use them however you wish. Upgrade to the 20 dollar package and you get lossless audio and access to exclusive interviews from the artists and clips from their concerts. They could even add in social networking, giving artists a place to congregate where their fans can find and interact with them easily. It would be better than myspace since it would ensure you've found the real band and hopefully it would streamline the process.

There's no reason there couldn't be a similar service for movies. $1.99 would be a reasonable price tag for a typical movie about 700mb in size. For $25 a month you could download all the movies you want and you'd gain access to a slew of interviews and "making of" clips.

Basically they'd be better served if they stopped trying to make money off of music and movies and instead focused on making money off of services that provide them. They could pay royalties on the basis of what gets downloaded the most and what gets the most user feedback.

They've already got services like this but it doesn't go far enough. For fifteen dollars I can sign up at Napster and listen to all the music I could ever possibly want, but I can't download those songs and listen to them indefinitely. Netflix is great for watching movies and I don't think they could make a better rental service for physical media but as far as I know there's nothing nearly as good in the digital realm.

Paul Roberts painting

Paul Roberts painting.
I'm not the biggest fan in the world of super-naturalistic painting, but this guy has some atmosphere.

Sunday, February 22, 2009

Taboo of psi

"Science and the taboo of psi" with Dean Radin, long GoogleTalk video.

An example from the video: with testing of telepathy with select subjects, hit rate in an experiment where chance gives your 25%, was up at around 65%! And this is from 3,000 studies... there's no way you can explain away that. With random subjects, it was 32%, still way too high to explain away as statistical error. (More detail after about 23 minutes into the video.)

25-hour Batman

25-hour Batman.

Peter Funch photography

Peter Funch photography.
These are nice. I wonder how many are composites, because in many of them, all the people are doing the same thing, which seems too unlikely.