As we travel throughout the world or the country in which we reside (some of us farther than others), we inevitably end up with tchotchkis. Little knick-knacks. Oftentimes plastic nonsense. Sometimes delectable in their kitschiness. Very often forgettable.
That is why Michael Hughes' recent photographic collection entitled "Souvenirs" makes me at once laugh out loud and swoon.
He managed to combine the plastic hilarity that is instant kitsch along with practical design: melding it to the landscape, to the built environment, to public art. It's as if the definition of fleeting (junk crap) is married to the permanent (the built world around us), if only for a moment.
It's sublime stuff.
Check out his gallery at FILE Magazine.
Thursday, March 29, 2007
A three trillion dollar Federal budget: that's what the U.S.A. is running on. Or will run on, according to an interesting story on National Public Radio.
A $3,000,000,000,000 budget.
That's a lot of change.
Imagine that the image above is a pie chart. How much of those dollars are used for what we consider the government, i.e., the "everyday" government? I am talking about services we all know and love, such as transportation, environmental regulation, education, etc.
Look at the image above, and then divide it into four (25% each slice). Now take three of the four slices, then a little more. Eighty percent of the Federal budget is NOT for the typical government services we all think about (like those above):
- Social Security, Medicaid and Medicare (about 40%)
- Military (about 20%)
- Homeland Security, National Security, and veterans' care (about 20%)
Take one-fourth of the pie, then split it four ways. Of those four pieces, take three. That gives you 18.75%.
In reality, of the projected $3 trillion budget, only 17% will be dedicated to the actual day-to-day functioning of the United States. That's about $510 billion dollars.
Here is a re-worked version of the image above, complete with a simple pie chart.
I don't know about you, but this boggles my mind.
When the Baby Boomers begin to retire en masse, the shit is going to hit the fan.
Tuesday, March 27, 2007
Are we going into another dimly lit tunnel?
Iran has captured fifteen British sailors. Supposedly they were in Iranian waters; the Brits and Iraqis contest this. Not surprisingly, it is in Iraq's interest to lay claim to this waterway, also known as the Arvand River by Iran or the Shatt al-Arab by the Iraqis. It is largely because of this that the Iran-Iraq War started, by Iran laying claim to the only waterway that Iraq has to export its goods. After Iran finally took this waterway in 1987, Iraq had to look toward Jordan and Kuwait for help. We all know what soon came afterward: Iraq's nationalistic possession of Kuwait (a convenient way of bypassing the billions of dollars Iraq owed to them).
It's incredible where hyper-emotional geopolitics can lead a country.
Friday, March 23, 2007
Promoting abstinence in college is a silly thing. I'm talking about sex, by the way - not from coffee like one of my supervisors is doing for Lent, much to my chagrin (no office coffee pot anymore) .
An AP news item in today's CNN.com talks about two Harvard seniors, Sarah Kinsella and Justin Murray, who are tired of being surrounded with what they deem a hive's nest of sexual activity. This is probably because their holier-than-thou chastity heightens their sensitivity to anything remotely titillating. Their solution was to form True Love Revolution, a group dedicated to including the discussion of abstinence in Harvard health programs.
The group has been roundly criticized for various reasons, and one of the founders has complained that such a diverse and open college community would be so closed-minded toward them. There may be a reason for this criticism.
The Virgin Kinsella says that the University promotes sex by giving out condoms to freshmen, by scheduling "racy" lectures (OH NO, a racy lecture!!!...MUST....HAVE....FILTHY....SEX!!!), and - GET THIS - by not discussing abstinence in the freshman seminar about date rape.
I say again: according to the Virgin, abstinence should be discussed in the seminar about date rape. Last time I checked, rapists don't normally ponder the virtues of abstinence.
The fact of the matter is, the University wants to maintain a clean, healthy environment for its students, and to promote clean, healthy relationships. If you want to have sex, please do so intelligently. Don't get pregnant and don't get a disease, and certainly don't pass on this disease to others. The only way to do this is through adequate contraception, not through recanting Hail Marys or remaining true to your "convictions." Convictions change, often right before the shit hits the fan.
For more skeptical analyses on abstinence programs, go to Penn & Teller's show Bullshit! (Show #49, Seasons Four). Here is a clip from that episode.
Wednesday, March 21, 2007
President Al Gore (oh, snap!) had a heart-to-heart with Congressional panels today about global warming and the need to respond, in an aggressive manner, to this incoming "planetary emergency."
Now, don't get me wrong: I do believe that global warming exists, and I do think it is - at least partly - the cause of human beings. However, I am a little troubled with the following paragraph in the article:
Evoking the hit movie “300,” about the ancient Spartans’ stand at Thermopylae, Mr. Gore called on Congress to put aside partisan differences, accept the scientific consensus on global warming as unambiguous and become “the 535,” a reference to the total number of members of the Senate and the House of Representatives.
The original 300 were mostly Spartans, and they eventually got wiped out by the Persians. It is interesting to note here that as we prepare for a response to global warming (either passively or aggressively), the Bush Administration is complaining and cawing on about Iran/Persia and their attempts at enriching uranium.
Will the "535" fall to one of the Axes of Evil?
Will Senator Robert Byrd of West Virginia have digitally enhanced abdominal muscles?
Will President Mahmud Ahmadinejad wear glamfabulous jewelry?
These are important questions and must be answered!
Tuesday, March 20, 2007
I was reading a recent New York Times article about how the GOP candidates are trying to hone their political platform on immigration. These guys (and Democrats do this, too) tip-toe around the right word or idea, sometimes highlighting the fact that they are more conservative than the other candidate. McCain is an easy target since he co-sponsored a bill with - gasp! - Ted Kennedy. So silly. Why not just be honest?
Consequently, I had a quick chat with my friend Walt (a.k.a., tokydiablo; a.k.a., countertrend), about what our political platform would look like:
[14:22] dr122372: dude if you or i would run for govt office, our platform would be the first of its kind, it terms of unabashed liberalness
[14:22] tokyodiablo: yeah
[14:22] tokyodiablo: more left than chavez?
[14:22] dr122372: hell yes...
[14:22] dr122372: Chavez is populist, really
[14:22] tokyodiablo: govt take over of all mcdonalds and catholic churches
[14:22] tokyodiablo: liberal how?
[14:23] dr122372: you are ctholic
[14:23] tokyodiablo: only gays in the military?
[14:23] dr122372: you cant be trusted with the takeover
[14:23] tokyodiablo: only gay marriage?
[14:23] dr122372: yes only gays
[14:23] tokyodiablo: 99% taxation?
[14:23] dr122372: 89.99
[14:23] dr122372: give em a bone
[14:24] dr122372: citizenship to whomever can walk/swim/run/climb over/fly into country
[14:24] dr122372: JOL
[14:24] dr122372: I am blogging this
[14:24] tokyodiablo: ok
[14:25] tokyodiablo: confiscation of all guns?
[14:25] dr122372: No, not that
[14:25] tokyodiablo: grover norquist declaired enemy combatant with geneva protestions
[14:25] dr122372: i am pro-ownership actually
[14:27] dr122372: You can't have a revolution with essays on post-modernism
[14:27] tokyodiablo: ok
[14:28] dr122372: although talking about Lyotard ad nauseum would kill a million fat-cat capitalists in one fell swoop
Sunday, March 18, 2007
I'm super happy this evening. Why? Because I managed to salvage all my photos (over 5,000 of them) from my old Apple laptop, the one with the wheezing hard drive. I am still transferring everything over: photos, music, documents, maybe even the DMG file that contained Photoshop CS. It's going to be a long night, but well worth it. The photo above is from Sarah and David's wedding back in Seattle; they're two of our closest friends.
Friday, March 16, 2007
The last few days have been joyful: warm days, and a sunny disposition throughout. Until the latter half of yesterday, which brought sheer dreariness.
"Today: Windy and much colder with rain. High, 40F/4C."
Time to go home and huddle with my bebehs.
Thursday, March 15, 2007
What do Snow White, Sleeping Beauty, and Cinderella all have in common?
Well, they're White, of course.
For close to a century, the Disney Company has promoted European ideals of beauty: usually blond, sometimes not, but always white. Even as our own ideals of equality have nurtured, matured and become more true to society, Disney kept churning out the milquetoast. Even Ariel, half of a friggin' fish, was a pale redhead!
I read a short little story today about how Disney has finally discovered Modernity and will have a black princess as the lead in one of its animated movies. Good for them. Now I only hope that maybe one day young black youth will stop believing bullshit ideals of beauty.
Warm(er) days and the breaking of the figurative ice is what makes me love Spring. Sure, it's going to dip into the 30's ocne again this Saturday (wreaking havoc on those Cherry Blossoms in D.C.), but I don't care. The fact of the matter is, this Winter has been unseasonably warm; we had a spell of cold wintry days, but overall, it's been warmer than it should have been.
Lilacs will soon be blooming, Spring breezes and the smell of earth will permeate all around us again.
Wednesday, March 14, 2007
I awoke at 8:45 am thinking, What a lovely morning! . . . Why the hell do I see the sun?! . . . Oh, shit!
I overslept, by three hours!
Then I showered and dressed quickly, hurried and bought coffee, then took the Beltway, in the opposite direction: Beltway West toward Silver Spring. Goddamnit! There was a huge traffic jam: accident somewhere ahead. No movement. I took the right-most lane/shoulder and found my way back onto the northern exit toward I-95, and made a huge detour to get back onto East Lanes of the Beltway. I got into work at 10:00 am.
Now the heating of the place where I work is on, and it's about 70 degrees outside.
I am discombobulated.
I saw the movie "300" last night with a friend, and some of his friends - cool guys. Anyway, the movie is pretty good, even though it was panned by the New York Times. Now, I don't view films according to what is said in film reviews, but I thought that the review for "300" in the New York Times was surprisingly harsh. OK, so what: it's a big dumb action movie, with all the requisite muscle groups on chiseled display. It also takes liberties with what "Persian" really means (plus Xerxes I looks like a beefcake RuPaul with less swagger, but more jewelry). Also, I doubt Greeks back then were so Caucasian in appearance. The overall themese in the movie are wrong, too. It makes Spartans and Sparta out to be glorious defenders of "freedom." We all know, or maybe we should all know, that although Greece was the center of vibrant ideas of what democracy would later become, freedom was NOT for all. Kind of like....ehhhh....the United States of America, perhaps?
But, eh. It's escapist drivel, but fun escapist drivel.
That picture above kind of looked like the typical Persians in the movie, although Spartan soldiers - who lived their entire life as soldiers and were always in a fight - would look just as beat up and gnarly.
Tuesday, March 13, 2007
General Peter Pace, the Chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff, said that gays are "immoral." Therefore, they shouldn't be in the military. Like adulterous heterosexuals, gays should be removed from service immediately.
I just wanted to clear something up. Pound for pound, the following gays did more on the battlefield than this guy could ever dream of:
Richard I (1157-1199)
A towering man and his mother's favourite, the third son of Henry II earned the sobriquet the Lionheart for his campaigns in France and crusades in the Holy Land. He married but never had children.
TE Lawrence (1888-1935)
The novelist and soldier hailed as Lawrence of Arabia was renowned for his heroic role as a British liaison officer during the Arab Revolt of 1916-1918. He was also subject to rumours about other liaisons, particularly after a military colleague said he was hired to give Lawrence masochistic beatings. Poems include dedications to male friends while his writing, including his autobiographical account of his struggle in the Middle East, Seven Pillars of Wisdom, also contains richly homoerotic passages.
Alexander the Great(356BC-323BC)
The conqueror of the Persian empire and King of Macedon sported eyeliner and a leather miniskirt in the recent Oliver Stone film, which outraged audiences in the US. Alexander has long been claimed as a gay hero, although controversialists and revisionists have also variously portrayed him as a Freemason, a diabetic, a madman and the inventor of chess.
Field Marshal Montgomery (1887-1976)
Howls of outrage greeted claims by his authorised biographer that Britain's most famous commander in the second world war was a repressed homosexual. According to Nigel Hamilton, Monty, who was married, wrote letters to young boys he befriended betraying his homoerotic urges. Nancy Mitford recorded the surreal experience of meeting Monty at a postwar fashion show in Paris. Revisionist accounts of the lives of war heroes, including Lord Nelson, General Gordon and Robert Baden-Powell, have also made claims that they were homosexual.
We all know there are thousands more throughout history.
Sooner rather than later, we will discover that homosexuality is, in fact, a genetic variation.
Monday, March 12, 2007
From the BBC:
Israel is replacing its ambassador in El Salvador after the envoy was found outside the embassy, drunk, wearing only bondage gear, officials said....He was inebriated, his hands were tied and he was gagged with a rubber ball in his mouth.
Ummmm....I am speechless.
Sunday, March 11, 2007
Oy vey, identity politics. Now, don't get me wrong: I love cultural theory and critiquing the hegemonic discourse of the day, but at least have an interesting or relevant point to make.
Today's Washington Post Magazine cover story is called "Fade to Blonde," about a "hyper-ethnically aware" Latina changing her hair color from jet black to some quasi-blonde (not quite blonde, not quite orange). Do blondes really have more fun? How will my empowered/fierce/brown-and-proud Latino friends from Columbia University react? Tee-hee, such scandal!
C'mon now. It's all so . . . fifteen years ago.
Someone at the Washington Post should have told her that the entire thesis is trite.
So, basically: most Latina women want to look different, but oftentimes come off too orange, or unkempt. A precious few want to actually "pass" as European. Thanks for the update.
Really, this article sucked, and now I will never see those thirty minutes ever again.
By the way, I wanted to put in a picture of what the author considered cheesy blonde Latinas, but typing in "blonde Latinas" in Google Images gave me results which I couldn't possibly upload to my wholesome blog. Let me just say this: the carpet doesn't match the drapes.
Friday, March 9, 2007
The Republicans love to bloviate about how much they love and support the troops, while Democrats just want them out of harm's way: harm that was brought on by deception and vengeance.
If stories of ill-equipped soldiers out in the field of battle weren't enough to make you realize that jingoistic Republicans could care less about the soldiers and about how a war is run (all of this maximizes cannon fodder), maybe the series of Washington Post articles about Walter Reed Army Medical Center's piss-poor service to our soldiers will. Or, how about this article in today's New York Times detailing an uneven and dare-I-say discriminatory attitude toward Army National Guard and Army Reserve soldiers, making them wait much longer for medical help and allowing their disability claims.
War is Hell. Republicans knew this going in. Oh, wait: this was supposed to be a "cake-walk." Maybe that is why they only readied themselves for an "easy" adventure in the desert. Otherwise, they would have realized that war is a cycle: you put soldiers in, you get soliders out. And oftentimes, this "output" of soldiers are disabled, crippled both mentally and physcially. They need help.
Republicans: Loving Soldiers to Death Since 2003.
Thursday, March 8, 2007
Walter and I were chatting on IM today (whilst we were slayin' the dragon), and he began copying and pasting the latest American Voices from The Onion. Those always make me laugh out loud. Check them out, won't you?
Also, I am tired of winter. I thought that stupid effin' rat, Paxatawney Phil, said we were getting an early Spring. Well, where is it? That overgrown nutria lied to us. I demand vengeance. Interestingly, as I write this, I see that I misspelled Punxsutawney. The spellchecker suggests "Mulligatawny." I agree: Kill the Bastard! Let's make him into delectable Indian soup!
Anyway, here...enjoy this:
There are so many things in this New York Times article that makes me laugh.
First of all, we humans have three - count 'em - three species of lice: the head louse, the body louse, and the pubic louse. Meanwhile, those damned dirty apes, the gorillas, only have one: the gorilla louse . The gorilla louse is genetically most similar to our pubic louse, and I am using the "Royal We," people because - trust me - I don't have 'em.
Scientists in Salt Lake City took a bunch of pubic lice from a clinic there and compared the DNA to the gorilla lice. How did the coarse-hair loving gorilla louse evolve into the coarse-hair loving pubic louse? Was it sexual contact? As the article states, there must have been some really close contact here.
Anyway, I just love the fact that Mormon public lice were used for the comparisons.
Today is March 8th, and it's International Women's Day all over the Earth, except in the United States.
None of the following websites have any mention of the significance of this day: the Los Angeles Times, the New York Times, the Washington Post, and CNN.com. Not even BBC News had anything on their website.
To learn more about International Women's Day, go here. It's all about honoring your mother, your sister, your wife, your colleague. Do it.
UPDATE: It is absolutely ridiculous that this happens. VAGINA is NOT a dirty word!
Wednesday, March 7, 2007
Poor Carolina had to deal with a very colicky Julieana today. Well, maybe it isn't colic - a mysterious ailment which occurs in otherwise healthy babies. Still, it seems like Julieana is really uncomfortable.
I managed to get her asleep and in her bassinet. I wonder what is in store during the Witching Hour. . .
Maybe I could keep her quiet with the Japanese version of the Rocking Elmo.
This just in, the New York Times said that there are two winners in the $370 million MegaMillions lottery.
I'm not one of them.
If I were, this is what I would have done with the money:
* Bye bye debt (for me and family)!
* Hello Tahiti!
* Bye bye interest-only mortgage!
* Hello financial advisors!
* Bye bye 1993 Buick Century with one hubcap missing!
* Hello small business loan to become a wedding photographer using cheap plastic cameras and utilizing the LOMO aesthetic!
Not to mention the education and savings galore for me and my family.
Tuesday, March 6, 2007
How can a country with such fab cuisine be so goddamned shit outta luck?
If it isn't a ruthless dictator, it's one of your provinces seceding, or if it isn't one of the most devastating earthquakes in the planet's history (causing one of the most devastating tsunamis of the planet's history), then it's other "milder" earthquakes "only killing" tens of thousands. This morning: a mild earthquake doing just that. Now it's an Indonesian airliner bursting into flames upon landing. See more here.
Sometimes I have thoughts in my head. Usually I discuss these with people: the wife, the friend(s), or to no one in particular; hence, l'Blog.
Sometimes these thoughts are visual; at least, to me.
Big shout out to Phantom Kitty because I want my blog to be as cool as hers.
At times you will see some photography, but not always. For instance, I have submitted the photo on the right to JPG Magazine for publication. It may get accepted. Click on the image for more information how.
At other times, I will get my self-righteous cap on and be a big liberal whiner. No big whup.