Tuesday, August 31, 2010

"Mandlebox" Fractal

The infinitely recursive wonder of Fractals is one of my favorite topics. I recently saw this video linked on a couple different sites & thought it was pretty mind-blowing.

I'd recommend seeing the full size video several times. Just try to wrap your head around it (& through it..)

The only thing missing is the 'fractal machine elves'.

It's very strange to think we are perceiving a seemingly solid structure that doesn't exist in the physical world. It is an object of pure imagination.

Perhaps that jackass Plato was actually onto something with his theories of abstract, idealized forms.

With the emerging technology of 3D printing, creating an 'impossible' object like this will simply be a matter of ever-increasing resolution, like the DPI (dots per inch) in current imaging processes.

Saturday, August 28, 2010

MLK & the Philosophy of Synthesis

I wanted to post something serious about Martin Luther King's political philosophy after mocking Glenn Beck's rally.

While reading this Media Matters piece about the numerous differences between the political perspectives of Glenn Beck & Dr. King, I noticed this paragraph about MLKs' view on political synthesis.

"My reading of Marx also convinced me that truth is found neither in Marxism nor in traditional capitalism. Each represents a partial truth.

Historically capitalism failed to see the truth in collective enterprise, and Marxism failed to see the truth in individual enterprise. Nineteenth century capitalism failed to see that life is social and Marxism failed and still fails to see that life is individual and personal.

The Kingdom of God is neither the thesis of individual enterprise nor the antithesis of collective enterprise, but a synthesis which reconciles the truths of both."

Any ideological mode of thinking that is unyielding & absolutist is inherently flawed. The devoted worshipers of "The Free Market" are just as wrong as the hardcore Marxist who finds no value in capitalism. King was speaking of the courage and intelligence needed to adapt different perspectives toward synthesizing a more effective solution.

Glenn Beck's Dream... My Nightmare

The figureheads of America's Moron-ocracy.

I was outside eating breakfast at the park & the weather is beautiful. I figured Glenn Beck's rally (starring Glenn Beck & Sarah Palin) was already underway to Restore America's Honor™.

Of course, we've lost our Honor™ to the communist black guy that I & everyone else in the country elected President- in order to stop the slide into Beck's regressive brand of conservatism. Therefore, Glenn Beck feels the need to have a rally on same steps & the anniversary as Martin Luther King's "I Have a Dream" speech. This way, his suckers... I mean Goldline customers, I mean fans... can "reclaim" whatever the hell they're trying to reclaim from Obama's bloodthirsty tyranny.

I admit it's possible that Glenn has honest intentions that are based solely on concern for the well-being of America's people.
...It's also possible that today I'll get a big tattoo of Glenn Beck's face on one side of my butt & Sarah Palin's face on the other.

Glenn's melodramatic, self-righteous performance art is directed toward the most impressionable, uninformed, & easily incited of Fox News viewers. I try to watch a few segments of the show when I can stomach it & am absolutely astounded that anyone can take that dork seriously. His followers must think The Pasty One is delivering an inspired revelation revealing the hidden secrets of politics & government. However he has been proven repeatedly to either make misleading, nebulous connections or just make crap up entirely.

Media Matters:
Search "Beck+False"

I'm not going to comment any further than agree w/ my brother who texted me yesterday with a simple message, "Glenn Beck is such an a-hole douchebag." He must have been watching a news report about the rally or reading about it. It's the feeling any normal person should get watching Beck's self-serving antics.

The masters of political comedy, Stewart & Colbert, have already whipped this one to death...

Thursday, August 26, 2010

Terrorist Death Mosque of Doom™

I was reading the local town newspaper & read a rant by a local woman about the "Cordoba House" community center/mosque that is being proposed in Manhattan.

The shrill letter was unfairly inflammatory to both Muslims & also the so-called "Left" or "liberals" of this country- which seems to be anyone like myself, not filled with fear, hate, & vitriol toward a particular group of people. Basically, her letter described how Islam and The Left are both out to destroy America, and this Park51 center/mosque being proposed is an example of some nefarious agenda. I would recommend the lady turn off the TV or get offline & take a nice, long walk outside to get some fresh air.

To be clear, I don't have any special concern for Muslims, other than they are fellow human beings. Their beliefs are no more or less crazy than the other 2 Abrahamic religions, or any other belief system for that matter. Our country is founded on freedom to worship & you just can't lump in all people of a faith/race/creed together for exclusion and persecution based on the purported actions of a few zealots. If there were really hordes of insane evil Muslims or any other group collectively plotting the destruction of America from within, there'd be bombs and attacks going off in our cities constantly.

Especially considering that the funds for this project aren't even close to being raised yet, this whole 'debate' is basically a manufactured distraction for those easily persuaded.

Religious Wars are much more exciting for the news industry & 'right-wing' reactionaries than practical issues, like monetary policy or the need for infrastructure investment!

The level-headed among us hesitate branding a general group as The Enemy not out of naïve "coddling," as the writer put it it. The intention is to prevent the violent backlash that has been unleashed on innocent people throughout history, simply because they were part of a particular hated group. It starts with spiteful rhetoric like that letter, but hopefully American society can more quickly learn to deal with these divisive situations in a constructive way.

The op-ed letter really seemed like a Fox News-driven paranoiac screed. The irony lost on the viewers of intellectual luminaries such as Glenn Beck & fellow knucklehead Sean Hannity is that Saudi Prince Alwaleed bin Talal is a shareholder in Fox's parent company, News Corp. This same prince has also backed the imam behind the proposed community center! The news channel raising the biggest stink about this project is the one with the closest ties to it!!!

"Saudi Royal Backs Imam
and Fox News"

Anyway the fact that people are still so monkey-like to still be having these conflicts deriving from primitive clan mentality is expected, but still disappointing in an age of amazing progress in other areas.

I've been seeing plenty of the hateful reation to the specific project & the general idea of Islam in the national news. However, seeing this kind of openly venomous bigotry in my own town's paper has compelled me to respond with an attempt at a rational perspective - free from the emotional parasites of fear, hatred, and anger. Unfortunately when it comes to good ol' traditional religious feuds, it's probably like trying to teach nuclear physics in a room full of apes throwing poo.

Predictably, the best commentary on this whole "Ground Zero Mosque" debacle has been from Jon Stewart & the Daily Show.

Tuesday, August 24, 2010

Say Goodbye to... Crazy Hair

One song that's been stuck in my head recently is Billy Joel's classic "Say Goodbye to Hollywood".

On Sirius, I heard a version of the song with Ronnie Spector of The Ronettes & backed by Bruce Springsteen's E-Street Band. I came home & looked it up on Youtube:

Interestingly, Billy Joel actually wrote the song about her, which she then covered. It's got to be a little strange to sing a song somebody else wrote about you.

Anyway, I was looking at old photos of The Ronettes & other music of the day on the amazing Google Images. I then came across this dude, by the name of Wayne Cochran aka. The White Knight of Soul...

I saw this crazy hair and thought immediately of Ronnie Spector's one-time husband, the psycho producer & creepy goblin Phil Spector. The wigs Phil Spector wore during his murder trial were mind-bogglingly, outrageously bad. He should have just worn a sign on his chest that said "I'm a lunatic, put me away!!!"

So that's how my brain jumps from Billy Joel... to Phil Spector's wigs.

Monday, August 23, 2010

Internet Crazy People

Andy Warhol's idea that "in the future, everyone will be world-famous for 15 minutes' continue to be proven more & more visionary.

I was watching The Angry Internet Preacher, Don Vincent, get a deserved "Web Redemption" on Tosh.0.

His 'Spirit of Truth' video is one of my all-time Youtube favorites.

While looking on iambored tonite I came across this video of the crazy Leslie Hall, another one of the Internet's resident freaks. She is completely out of her mind, but I find her to be hilarious.

More recent Internet celebrity Antoine Dodson seems to be trying to capitalize on his instant fame. He's doing the right thing so far and trying to get his family out of the hood by being positive. Besides being the source one of the greatest viral videos ever made, now hopefully he can make a few bucks off of it.

Star Wars Stuff: Cool Graphics & Celebration V

I've seen a lot of neat Star Wars related items from The Internets lately.

A friend of mine emailed me this cool panorama of the Hoth ice planet w/ a roving probe droid amongst the mountains of ice. The artist is Dan McCarthy.

click for larger version

This is a crazy detailed technical breakdown of everyone's favorite droid, R2-D2:

At the annual Star Wars Celebration geek convention, George Lucas unveiled an action figure that combines 2 of my favorite pop culture phenomenons- Star Wars & The Daily Show's Jon Stewart.

To try & balance out the Star Wars geekness, I'm including a photo from the Celebration V- a stage full of "slave Leia" cosplayers... This might be simultaneously the hottest & dorkiest damn thing I've ever seen.

Jabba knew what he was doing.

Then there's the newly revealed deleted scene from Return of the Jedi that would've been a good one to include (minus all the maniacs in the background cheering):

Then there's this.

Sunday, August 22, 2010

Filming Great Whites from a Surfboard

In my last post about my vacation in Cape May, I mentioned my natural human aversion to sharks.

Consequently, I came across this video on Groonk.net of a guy named Chuck Patterson filming a Great White from his surfboard with an underwater camera.

It's safe to say that I would be crapping my pants if this thing was swimming around me while I was in the ocean.

Wednesday, August 18, 2010

Cape May Vacation 2010

*I forgot I had a folder of photos from my brother's girlfriend's camera, so I've added a few more to the album below.

Last week I got to spend most of the week in Cape May w/ my family. It turned out to be a superb vacation, even after a great week in the Poconos in the beginning of July.

Most of the days I spent on the beach- which was right across the street from the house we stayed at. There were only at the most a dozen clusters of people per stretch of beach & it felt as close as I've ever had to a private beach.

The main activities were lounging in the sand, swimming in the enjoyably warm bay, and throwing my brother's gel-filled Waboba ball that skips across the water. My brother brought his kayaks down so we went out on the bay one day which was cool.

The first day there I went walking with one of my brothers & his girlfriend on the jetty and slipped on a rock. I fell back & landed upside down on an algae-covered boulder that I slid headfirst right down onto another (thankfully) flat rock & then down into the water. It happened so fast I was still holding onto my water bottle when I stood up in the tidal pool I fell into, but I still got banged up a little. I'm glad I didn't hit my head or land on a jagged rock edge, that would've been ugly.

My sister came down for a couple days w/ my nephew & we all had a blast on the beach. My brothers & I, aka. The Uncle Dudes, dug out a pool for him we were calling his 'Lake' & we ended up creating a whole area of canals, pools, & castles in the sand for him to play w/ trucks & boats.

Although the idea of ocean creatures lurking around (sharks) creeps me out just a tiny bit, the water was perfectly warm. I kept going swimming over & over each day. It was great!!

Speaking of sharks, my Dad caught a few sand sharks after I left, but they sent me a photo.

One day we went to the Cape May Zoo, which was fun. It was really hot that day, but we got to see all of the animals out of their shelters- except for the white leopards or whatever was the featured animal.

I got a bunch of pictures throughout the week, so I uploaded a set to my Picasa album:

Picasa Web Albums:
"Cape May Vacation 2010"

I was doing some late-nite redneck grilling
on the chiminea w/ a cup of Tanqueray.

Monday, August 16, 2010

Wild Turkeys in My Yard

In addition to the other creatures that I have encountered in my backyard, wild turkeys have now made multiple appearances.

I looked out my window when I got home from work to see a couple of them roaming around the edge of the yard. It's a good thing I'm not starving...

Slooowly Paying Down Debt

Well today is a good day, since I finally made my last payment on my car loan!

Now, according to Murphy's Law I fully expect the engine to either blow up or the car to get totaled somehow...

It's definitely nice to have that debt paid off. However, now that money is really just going to be spread around to pay off the various other financial institutions who still hold me in indentured servitude.

People who go on whining about losing our imaginary freedoms & other such nonsense are wasting their breath as long as something like a loan or credit card exists.

Thursday, August 12, 2010

Cape May Sunset

I just got back from spending most of the week in Cape May. It was awesome & the house we stayed at was right on the Delaware Bay.

My main objective was to enjoy the Sun & shore as much as possible with my family.

Here are some views of the sunset over the bay from the front lawn...

Monday, August 09, 2010

Big Paul's Adventures in History II

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 second set of of "adventures" as he relaxes his way through history, & I have at least one more set to make:

"Big Paul's Adventures in History"
U.S. Declaration of Independence
My Dad's passed out during the symbolic birth of America.

"Big Paul's Adventures in History"
D-Day, Normandy Beach
My Dad relaxes in his beach chair as the Allied forces storm the French coastline.

"Big Paul's Adventures in History"
WW2 Yalta Conference
My Dad snoozes straight through the photo-op at the summit with Churchill, Roosevelt, & Stalin.

Thursday, August 05, 2010

Plato's "The Republic" Sucks

From the Tournament of Genius-
Personally, I'd go with Colbert...

Today during lunch I finally finished reading Plato's "The Republic" & it was pretty much a waste of my time. I found a copy from one of my siblings on the bookshelf at my parents' house, so I took it to read on vacation the other week. It was so disappointing that I have to comment on it.

I was already familiar with Plato's general biography & work. In high school, the great teachers I had for Intellectual Heritage exposed me to Plato's 'Allegory of the Cave', which is a small part of "The Republic". That allegory was pretty much the only enlightening aspect of the book for me.

While hiking with my brother-in-law in the mountains I was trying to describe my problems with the book & the one word I came up with was 'bullsh*t'. I'm sure this analysis wouldn't go over well w/ philosophy scholars, but oh well. Even though I'm aware it's a translation of a Classic... I personally found almost no value in reading it. These ancient Greek intellectuals seemed to have hours on end to B.S. about their opinions, and now we call it philosophy. I guess I was looking for logical discussions using factual observations of the topics presented, but all that's produced are arbitrary rules and theories based on many questionable assumptions.

The premise of the book is that Plato's mentor, Socrates, & some other Greeks of his time were discussing the nature of justice vs. injustice. Out of this search for moral clarity arose the attempt to theoretically design the ideal city. I can appreciate their effort to come up with a blueprint for a new way of governing society. Every step of the way, however, the main speaker Socrates throws out one conjecture after another & conveniently treats them as objective truths.

I know it was written over 1500 years ago, but it's hard to take any of it seriously as when these guys are talking about the value of personal freedom & individualism... while also assuming it's okay to own slaves. There were inconsistencies in all the arguments made, from what makes a man "just"- to what type of ruling class would be best for a city.

The last chapter was the most annoying to me, because Socrates tries to explain the unimportance of art such as painting, music, or theater. In the ancient Greek world, these professions were seen more as we today view as 'crafts' as opposed to 'fine art'. In the book, however, Plato (through Socrates) goes another step & claims that these skills are mere 'imitations' of reality & not reality itself. A carpenter makes a table, and is therefore of a higher ability than a painter because a picture is a mere "imitation" of the table. This coming from the same man who believed made-up numbers & abstract geomeric solids are the basis of reality.

So basically, my review summary is:
"The Republic" is undoubtedly a historic work of literature, but I still think it sucks. :P

Wednesday, August 04, 2010

Green Tea: The Greatest Drink in History

"There is no trouble so great or grave

that cannot be much diminished by a nice cup of tea."

~ Bernard-Paul Heroux

The other day I was reading this article by the widely-recognized Dr. Andrew Weil. It was about the benefits of my favorite beverage, hot or cold,- green tea:

Huffington Post:
"A Life with Tea"

My family usually has coffee & tea after a Sunday dinner. I think in college is when I really started drinking green tea. That's also the last time I occasionally drank coffee, since I was always so hungover in the morning after partying with my roommates on the weekends- which was when I had to go to work.

Nowadays, I drink the Arizona or Turkey Hill green tea as my go-to cold beverage. Nowadays I have no desire whatsoever to drink soda or other sweetened drinks unless I'm mixing Jack Daniels or some other liquor. Every morning at the studio I also make myself a cup of hot green tea w/ honey. My usual choice is green tea w/ mint in teabags, nothing fancy. I should really brew vats of it like my Mom does for regular iced tea and chill it.

Besides the potential health benefits, brewed green tea is really a taste that I savor. Although I haven't actually drank tea in the manner of a fancy Japanese ceremony, just the experience of sipping a regular hot cup of tea is calming enough for me.

Rattlesnake Sign

I wish I saw this sign before hiking on my Serpent Quest in the Poconos:

I simply can't imagine being oblivious or stupid enough to piss on a rattlesnake.

Tuesday, August 03, 2010

Antoine Dodson: Hero & Internet Superstar

After just commenting on "The Rape of Europa" film and now this, I hope to never have to post about the despicable topic of 'rape' twice in a row ever again.

I have to give kudos to Antoine Dodson, though.

Not only did he save his sister from being sexually assaulted by an intruder- but he got on the local news, has become an internet meme, and had a superb music remix made with his footage.

Of course, the reason it is catching people's attention is the craziness of it. It's strange that such a serious story about a girl being almost raped by some scumbag animal can have any aspect of humor to it. The pissed-off, defiant attitudes of the victim and her brother Antoine are the diamonds in this very rough patch.

The auto-tune music remix takes it to another level of pure insanity & puts this meme on par with such greats as "Leprechaun in Mobile Alabama" and "Bacon is Good for Me!":

Monday, August 02, 2010

"The Rape of Europa" on PBS

Last night I stayed up to watch a documentary on PBS that I randomly put on, not really planning to stay with it.

However, I quickly became enthralled & horrified by the story of the irreversible effect of World War II on the cultural legacy of Europe. I'm fairly knowledgeable about WWII & history in general, but the mind is like a fractal that can always be fascinated by more detailed information on a given topic.

The title of the film, "The Rape of Europa" refers to a few things. Appropriately, it was the subject of a famous Titian painting derived from the super-freaky classical Greek myth. It also literally describes the cultural desecration of the European continent through the widespread brutality of the war.

Despite my awareness of the massive Nazi looting & allied bombings during that hellish time, this program really gave me a deeper perspective on the effect of all war on people and their culture. WWII just happened to be the most massive example in a long history of humans fighting & plundering.

The immense scale of the destruction is what is hard to wrap your head around. So many lives & families wiped out, so much art that celebrates beauty cruelly stolen, so much of people's work destroyed. If you have any kind of conscious or an appreciation for art, watching parts of this will make you sick. One Jewish survivor talked about being put into a work camp & sorting the trainloads of Nazi-confiscated items after his family was dead. He came across his own family's belongings and was shocked. He kept a few photographs of his parents that he could hide, but even these were taken again and destroyed when he was moved to another camp. As he put it, his 'family memory was wiped out'.

Such human devastation is hard to fathom on an individual, but when it's multiplied by millions... it's beyond reason.

Perhaps a few million years from now humans won't even exist and all this sentiment about our precious little lives & fragile creations will be for nothing. Perhaps people are just like ants or like pawns on a chessboard to be helplessly manipulated in a dance of chaos and creation. To have that mindset however, is to deny the immediacy of our shared social experience and the natural human feeling of compassion with a love for life. In that case, you would have to be some kind of inhuman monster, like Dick Cheney.

Speaking of evil bastards, the amount of stolen property that Reich Marshal Hermann Goering aquired just for himself was obscene. The amount of effort that when into moving all of Europe's artwork around between the Nazis & Allies was totally crazy.

I thought this was an amazing film & would recommend it to anyone interested in art, history, and the jarring effects of war.

Sunday, August 01, 2010

Becoming Happier

I saw a link to this video on Reality Carnival with suggestions to cultivate personal happiness. It is short but very insightful.

Personally, the messages of creating quality time & the idea of simplification both resonate strongly with me. These are of supreme importance for a healthy psyche.

One thing that will not inevitably bring happiness is money. Is saw this article linked on Mindhacks:

"Why Money Makes You Unhappy"

Wealth may bring certain comforts - but as rap legend Biggie Smalls proclaimed "Mo' Money Mo' Problems." On the other hand, a severe lack of money is obviously not a situation that helps anyone's happiness in our society...

The only thing usually blocking a person's access to a happy attitude is paradoxically the person's own mind.