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9/20, 9PM





Wednesday, September 11, 2002
5:48 PM      

I woke up this morning in Dallas. My sister-in-law was on her way out the door to work, and my brother was sitting on the chaise at the foot of his bed, watching TV. An Arabic- looking woman was recounting an incident that had happened to her shortly after 9/11 - a man had walked up to her, spat in her face, and told her she should go back to where she came from. He started shaking her. When she asked for help from some passers-by, the situation got worse. She ended up on the ground, getting kicked. When she tried to report the incident to police, she was encouraged not to pursue it. The ironic thing was that she was born in America.

Denise had this to say from New York this morning:
"...During my lunch hour I went to the photo exhibit in Rock Center. It's called 'The Faces of 9/11' or something like that. It was difficult, yet very moving to be there - especially today. As you know, one of my biggest pet peeves is people passing in front of others while they view art. Well, today I was stunned by the politeness of the majority of those in the tent. Many eyes were teary. The larger than life images (9 feet tall) of individuals who assisted, aided or took part in some way during the morning and aftermath of 9/11 are in living color. ..."


Denise and I are keeping touch by cell phone and e-mail. So far, it's been relatively easy to get to web mail from Kinko's or my training rooms, but I think it's going to be worthwhile to upgrade to a wireless solution. Probably the Palm i705. Blackberry doesn't talk to Mac. I'm also very interested to see how Apple's iCal talks to my Palm. I just downloaded it from the site before I started on the trip. Looks slick, and being able to publish on the web sounds like it might be a very good tool for Denise and me to keep our schedules in sync.

I can see now that the travelling is going to force me to make better use of my time at home, and to better appreciate the time Denise and I have together.


For the last several months, I've been binging on Photoshop. Where I once thought I had no use for a lot of Photoshop's features, I'm now at the point where I fire it up, even to create simple web graphics. That was a place originally held by Fireworks. I still don't feel as comfortable in ImageReady as I do in Fireworks, but I barely use ImageReady.

I am simply crazy about channels and quick masks. the tools are so powerful, it's almost mind-boggling what you can accomplish. The other day, I wa able to automatically separate the image of a person from the background, without resorting to a tedious and inaccurate lasso process. I duplicated one of my color channels, and refined that alpha channel by applying threshhold followed by Gaussian blur to soften the edges.Then, I turned the channel into a selection and deleted the background. The result required a tiny amount of clean-up around the hair, but the process was so clean, it seemed almost unfair. I'm experimenting with using Render Clouds to create uneven alpha-channel selections that can be used to make partial erasures and weathered effects.

Speaking of lasso, I really like the magnetic lasso tool, too. Did you know that you can redo the mag lasso's automatic anchor points by hitting delete, and redrawing that segment? But, perhaps my favorite tool is the history brush. Better than a sequential undelete. Lets me undo areas by painting them back in. Coupled with snapshots, this is a very powerful tool.

On this trip, I'm reading about Flash... Looking forward to posting some of those experiments, too.


Man, Dallas is flat! I'm sure we're at the fringes of town, but riding around with those guys last night and this morning makes it clear how wide-open the area is. Had no idea how much the tall buildings makes it easy for me to be oriented in Brooklyn and even more so in Manhattan. In Dallas, I can look off in one of many directions, and not really see much of a difference.

We're talking Franchises down here, man! Kevin and Tyra and I went out for ribs last night. We went to dinner last night, in an area where there must have been at least 4 competing places for ribs. And I'm talking national chains, not one-of-a-kind little rib joints. Later, we drove down another strip, where it seemed that almost every major national food chain had a location within a few hundred feet. Big signs. It's a city, but this area has a strangely suburban feel.

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Tuesday, September 10, 2002
10:33 AM      

September 11 a year ago, was an election Tuesday. It's Election Tuesday again. Lots of rhetoric, but I don't think I have any decent picture of who the candidates really are. I thought I'd make a point to post many of the pictures I took last year, but never posted. It would be a decent tribute on the anniversary of the catastrophe. But I didn't make the time.

How's this for a topic of barroom debate?

From Real Battles and Empty Metaphors By SUSAN SONTAG [NYT link - requires registration!]

...Even the horrendous, intractable conflict between Israel and Palestine will end one day. But this antiterror war can never end. That is one sign that it is not a war but, rather, a mandate for expanding the use of American power.

When the government declares war on cancer or poverty or drugs it means the government is asking that new forces be mobilized to address the problem. It also means that the government cannot do a whole lot to solve it. When the government declares war on terrorism ?terrorism being a multinational, largely clandestine network of enemies ?it means that the government is giving itself permission to do what it wants. ...

The American suspicion of foreign "entanglements" is very old. But this administration has taken the radical position that all international treaties are potentially inimical to the interests of the United States -- since by signing a treaty on anything (whether environmental issues or the conduct of war and the treatment of prisoners) the United States is binding itself to obey conventions that might one day be invoked to limit America's freedom of action to do whatever the government thinks is in the country's interests... Up to now, it has not been the avowed position of any respectable nation-state that this is a reason for eschewing treaties.

Describing America's new foreign policy as actions undertaken in wartime is a powerful disincentive to having a mainstream debate about what is actually happening. This reluctance to ask questions was already apparent in the immediate aftermath of the attacks last Sept. 11. Those who objected to the jihad language used by the American government (good versus evil, civilization versus barbarism) were accused of condoning the attacks, or at least the legitimacy of the grievances behind the attacks.

Under the slogan United We Stand, the call to reflectiveness was equated with dissent, dissent with lack of patriotism. The indignation suited those who have taken charge of the Bush administration's foreign policy. The aversion to debate among the principal figures in the two parties continues to be apparent in the run-up to the commemorative ceremonies on the anniversary of the attacks ?ceremonies that are viewed as part of the continuing affirmation of American solidarity against the enemy. ...

This is a phantom war and therefore in need of an anniversary. Such an anniversary serves a number of purposes. It is a day of mourning. It is an affirmation of national solidarity. But of one thing we can be sure. It is not a day of national reflection. Reflection, it has been said, might impair our "moral clarity." It is necessary to be simple, clear, united. Hence, there will be borrowed words, like the Gettysburg Address, from that bygone era when great rhetoric was possible.

Abraham Lincoln's speeches were not just inspirational prose. They were bold statements of new national goals in a time of real, terrible war... But when the great Lincoln speeches are ritually cited, or recycled for commemoration, they have become completely emptied of meaning. They are now gestures of nobility, of greatness of spirit. The reasons for their greatness are irrelevant.

I do not question that we have a vicious, abhorrent enemy that opposes most of what I cherish ?including democracy, pluralism, secularism, the equality of the sexes, beardless men, dancing (all kinds), skimpy clothing and, well, fun...What I do question is the pseudo-declaration of pseudo-war. ...

Speaking of metapors, I have this creeping thought. From time to time, news stories are run about people who are injured playing around with explosives of different kinds. Most often, those stories are hardly sympathetic. The Middle East is a powder keg, and extremely secretive boys are playing with it, claiming to be acting in our best interest... If it all blows-up, will the stories be sympathetic?


I'm off to Dallas and Austin. Running out of time, so no pix from Chicago yet... Later!

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