Saturday, March 21, 2009

The secret life of money

I can't pretend to understand all that much of it, but this article has some interesting data, claims, and postulates regarding money, paper and gold, debts, etc.
"The decision to sell England’s gold thereby saved Goldman Sachs and insured the political future of Gordon Brown. Goldman Sachs’ is still in business and Gordon Brown is now the Prime Minister of England—proving that good things come to those who do the bidding of the powerful (whether either outcome was worth 415 tons of England’s gold is questionable)
Selling a nation’s gold to save the bankers’ parasitic system is now common practice as the banker’s system continues to collapse and gold continues to rise. Since Gordon Brown sold England’s gold, gold has risen from $275 dollars per ounce to its present price of over $900 despite the thousands of tons of central bank gold sold to prevent its inexorable movement higher."

... Aha, this guy echoes something I've said for a while:
"Though, today, we look to government to provide and protect our freedoms and welfare, we are fools for so doing. Throughout the ages, the greatest threat to freedom has always been government."

A comment:
How would you expect a group of people to act civilly towards each other with no one establishing and maintaining some sort of rules/guidelines for society?

I wouldn't. I just think we should be aware of how governments are likely to behave when push comes to shove.
For example, it might cause us to think twice before passing suppressive legislation like the Patriot Act. The threat of government is *far* greater than the threat of "terrorists", just look at the number of people each of those has murdered in the past.
Notice the article is only peripherally about government, though.

Mad skills

"I got mad skills," as Eliza Dushku said.

Joe said:
The quote "All things are possible with training" at the start of the video is not true.
With continued training I could never do half the thing it this video.
The wisdom of age lets me accept the things I cannot change.

I agree. I used to in into that thing, but not now. That dream is based on the false idea that to be able to win the Olympics or something is necessary to have a full life. I don't even think it's desirable. I almost commented on that when I posted the video. I didn't post it for "inspiration", just for entertainment. People who have some insane skill are not more fulfilled than others. Maybe on the contrary, due to the equally insane sacrifices they have to make to acquire that skill, and the admiration it buys them.

To some this will sound like I don't believe amazing things can be accomplished. But it's more of a shift of priorities. Now I value communication, beauty, and brotherhood with the universe and god higher than winning some contest.

Underwater fairytale

Underwater fairytale. A strange idea, but I sorta like the resulting pictures.

On and on and on and on

On and on and on and on.


Ugress. Norwegian, pretty much a one man band. Awesome music. Lots of free samples, but I've just paid a big overprice on their newest, because he's given me so much over the years.

This is also a tribute to the power of giving-away-material-for-free marketing. Four or five years ago I got a few of their songs from a friend, including "Decepticons", and as I listened to them over the months, I liked them better and better. 
He has an interesting model, he is giving away the latest "EP" for free at 128k encoding, and selling it in 320k encoding. I think that works. 
If it were me, though, I'd throw in a bonus track for buyers, since the difference is so slight otherwise. (And maybe delete the $10 minimum price, it seems silly since you can get the thing for free anyway.)

Friday, March 20, 2009

Old Chicago poster art

Old Chicago poster art. I love that olde-worlde poster art. I wonder why lineal art is so lost today.

Sheep art

Sheep art. Total fake of course, but pretty funny.

A sneezer

I've just watched some of the first season of an oddball show called Modern Toss. It has ten-minute episodes each with various recurring characters. The part I really liked was Sneezeman (nine minutes, 38MB). Total genius. (These are all of his bits from the first season.)

I have a dream

I dream of a world of such beautiful directness that cups of coffee could just be labelled "small", "medium", and "large".

Ah, such honesty it would be, such communication, such simplicity. But I fear it will remain a dream.

Thursday, March 19, 2009

Pano print

Another article on huge high-quality prints, with a specialized camera (to say the least).

Det er Ikke Pop

Interesting Iggy Pop interview.
I am watching a documentary-slash-concert-film about the Stooges. Interestingly, I find the interviews more compelling than the concert footage. For one thing, they avoided playing any songs from Raw Power, which to my mind is the strongest Stooges album. [Update: I just now see from an Iggy docu on the disc that on the third album, the Asheton brothers were not there. I don't know how they could call it a Stooges album. By the way, Ron Asheton just died in January of a heart attack.] And in extension of that, I don't think Iggy is the greatest song writer on the planet, all my favorite records of his were done in collaboration with Msr. Bowie. (Bowie produced Raw Power. Iggy claimed he ruined it, but see what a classic it became.)

I am sure the girls still love Iggy, even at sixty. His stage persona is as kinetic as ever, he is fit, and he's continually fighting the tendency of his trousers to fall down. (I don't understand why he doesn't just buy a belt or suspenders...)

I always find it interesting when an artist manages to still be on top after 40 years. That's just a super-human accomplishment.

... In the middle of Iggy's interview, he got up and stretched, and asked how far they were. When they said 33 minutes, he said "aha, so a little over half." And the interview continued, and he continued to answer questions in a very pleasant and sincere way, even when the interviewer for some reason included a few questions like "what's your favorite color". And then when the interview had lasted an hour, suddenly he got up and said "I guess this is it". No rounding off, no by-your-leave, nothing. Isn't that odd behavior?

Here's Iggy's The Passenger (disregard the video) And China Girl. These are both great songs, which I prefer much over the very early Stooges material. I'm reminded of about 20 years ago, friends who were musicians made an amateur band specifically for me to be able to sing China Girl. It was brief-lived, but fun while it lasted. I mixed elements of both Iggy's and Bowie's performance of the song. I think a more lyric approach than Iggy's energetic one is more fitting for a melodic song like this.

Flying trike

This is cool. (Butterfly LLC)
I'm interested in the fact that it seems the unpowered rotor on top (gyroplane) apparently is more efficient at low speeds than fixed wings. Seems counterintuitive to me.
But surely it also means that speed and range are quite limited, since the back rotor has to drag the top rotor through the air.

Update: Joe points to this interesting little flying car.

Wednesday, March 18, 2009

Big women

I hate to say this, but "only in America"... Americans do the same things the rest of the world is doing, but they tend to take it to extremes, don't they. This goes for all the good things too, of course.

I'm sure our resident doctor will give us a paragraph about just how unhealthy this kind of super-over-trained body is. I'll just say, even with men I'm amazed they think it looks good, but with women it's mind-boggling. Do they have mirrors? Do they live in a total fantasy world?

This one I like:



A couple of nice new old pictures on Shorpys, a portrait and a architectural (I guess it is).

Tuesday, March 17, 2009

Swiss hiking

The Swiss are considering outlawing hiking in the buff.
It's funny that the argument is always "think of the children". I've never heard a shred of evidence that seeing a nude person is in any way harmful to a child or anybody else. And in fact the idea is so laughable that even discussing it seems silly.

How to cut open a book?

After over a year's search, I found and bought a rare book, Drawing The Head And Hands by Andrew Loomis.
It's a nice old hardcover, but it seems the edge of the book was not cut right in production, so many of the pages were not separated.
How do I separate them with minimal damage?
I've noticed when opening envelopes that contrary to expectation, using a sharp knife is worse than using a dull one.

Sally Mann (update 3)

This Sally Mann documentary is excellent.

Sally seems to me to be just the consumate artist. She is a highly successful fine arts photographer, and for the right reason: she is fantastic. Surely one of the greatest living arts photographers. And she does not have compromise in her body: one gets the feeling that if she'd never sold a single picture, she would still be doing the same thing. Also, she has integrated her art with her life and her family to an enviable degree, her husband and her children are frequent and willing subjects for her, and talks about her with nothing but love and respect. If I couldn't have my own life, I'd want hers.

... I find it amusing that nothing helped Sally's career as much as the kiddie-p*rn accusations from the likes of Pat Robertson, in the nineties. I can just imagine these fundamentalist a-holes sit there and observe: "well, that's not what we intended... hell, next time it'll be different. What's the next artist to attack?"

Joe said:
Reading about her on Wikipedia, some of her stuff sounds a bit grotesque.

Probably you're thinking about the death series, art photos including human corpses in various stages of decay (from an amazing research facility where they leave corpses out in the free to study them as time passes). Yes, it's a challenge, but I think art should not shy away from anything.
Funny though, at the end of the first documentary, which was made near the end of her childrens photos project, she said: "I hope my next project will be something easy, like fruit in a bowl, because this has just been so tough." I thought "yeah, sure, like it's in you to do something easy". And lo and behold.
(Typical of her: she named her boy after a black boy who was brutally murdered in 1955.)
Funny anecdote: in the newer docu, we see her photographing the faces of her now-grown children, with a 3-minute exposure time. And hers is done, Virginia says: "I'm sorry, I blinked." And Sally says: "that's all right, at three minutes it doesn't show." Virginia: "What, you never told me that."
She's been photographed by her mother since birth, often at long exposures, and she thought all the time that she couldn't blink!

update 18.3:
Tommy said:
I just finished the DVD, "What Remains: The Life and Work of Sally Mann". Wow it certainly does put her photography and life into perspective. I almost felt sad in the end though and wonder what has happened to her husband. I did enjoy it very much though.
Her camera certainly puts a new meaning on the term point-and-shoot!! More like point and wait. I found it very interesting that she's using that technology today. If I wanted to check out how it works, what terms would I do a search on? It looks like she products a negative on a piece of glass and not being a true photographer, I don't know the terms.

I don't know much either, but she is using, for most of that work an old "wet plate" technique which is highly tricky. It's 150 years old, and it was big progress when they invented dry plates so you no longer had to bring your darkroom with you. It's typical Sally to do it the hardest way.
Example: we saw her shoot the face of (adult) daughter Jesse (4-minute exposure), and come back from the darkroom proudly showing a beautiful picture (funny enough a positive, I'm not sure why). Typically it had some error-artifacts on it, like ripples all over the face, and it was great. Then she went to do the rest of the fixing process, and when she came back she said that when she did the final wash, the whole of the emulsion and with it the picture had washed off the plate! It was gone.

Never Get Married (a short short story)

Never Get Married (a short short story)
Just ask.

Monday, March 16, 2009

Heff and empire-building (updated)

Top Cat points to an interesting interview with "Heff" (you know, the guy with the bunnies).

It seems to me that Heff is, even at 82, basically a very immature person.

But that's not as much of a dis of him personally as it sounds. I am gradually growing into the feeling that "empire-building" is basically an immature and silly activity. At least the parts of it which include lots of publicity, a big mansion to impress visitors, trophy wives/girlfriends, many luxury cars which you don't have time to enjoy, etcetera.

It wasn't so damn long ago that I was sort of into it myself. I wanted to be the greatest artist on Earth, and I just thought that fortune and fame and a huge house came with the territory.
But now I don't see it. What the heck good does it do? It seems to me it must be a very weak ego which needs support by big artificial structures like that. Not a healthy ego, a weak one.

Update: I once read an article about Heff where the writer said that he did not imagine anybody would want to live like him: in a mansion, in a robe, in co-eds. That seems to be a weird statement, what man does not dream of a life with no dress code, no money problems, and pretty girls galore?
I think his statement was more one of not liking Heff, and for that I don't blame him. His ideals are as much loose sex as possible, as many possessions as possible, and no accountability. He is also and has always been blatantly unfaithful and promiscuous while at the same time being totally devastated by his first wife being unfaithful to him before they married.

Just the fact that at 82 he is still playing the big JamesBond-DonJuan-super-womanizer... I mean, jeeeez. Even if we were to imagine that he can still sexually satisfy three 22-year-olds (which seems to be what we are expected to believe), it's just silly, tasteless, and pointless.

Update: Bron points to this about Playboy.
... Which leads to this.
The most interesting parts of the book involve Hefner's childhood. As a kid consumed by pop culture, he doodled and daydreamed his way through class. When a girl rejected him in high school, the young Hefner gave himself a montage-worthy makeover: buying new duds, improving his dance skills, learning hip expressions, and adopting a "suave manner." Many people revise their image in high school, but Hefner was eerily thorough, producing an entire comic series about his new self. He described the character in writing as "a very original fellow" who "calls everyone 'Slug' or 'Fiend' and his pet expression is 'Jeeps Creeps.'

I'm gonna be sick. Heffner probably considers himself a king, but he is the ultimate slave. He will do anything to get girls to like him, and he will do anything to get the public to admire him. He has no pride whatsoever. He completely eradicated himself and replaced it with the fantasy of what he thought he was supposed to want.

Sunday, March 15, 2009

The Making of a Seven Gigabyte Eight Foot Wide Print

The Making of a Seven Gigabyte Eight Foot Wide Print, article.
Candy for fidelity buffs.

Desktop picture

(Thanks to David, who composited this based on a domai picture.)

Sarah Silverman

Sarah Silverman, Jesus Is Magic the movie.
Sarah is beautiful, funny, and she's the only comedian to actually make me uncomfortable. She's amazingly brave.

Web TV and subjectivity

I think it's great that the domain of TV is being wrenched from the monopolistic clutches of huge comglamorates, finally. There are now actual commercial web TV stations, like for example
Talking about them, they seem to produce real substantial work, and I like their statement: "Traditional journalism always aspires to objectivity, and since day one with the magazine we never believed in that... Our ethos is subjectivity with real substantiation."
Years ago I had a realization that what I disliked about traditional news-media journalism was exactly that, the affectation of objectivity. Because for one thing it's untrue, they rarely even try to be objective. And even if they did, it simply is not possible, an objective viewpoint does not exist. So it's a lie and pretense at the most profound level.

Homes of the Billionaires

I'm proud of living well beneath my means, but Warren Buffet has me beaten all to heck. Article.
"In today's tough economic climate, Warren Buffett is setting a good example. The world's second richest man lives in the same five-bedroom, gray stucco house he bought in 1958 for $31,500."