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Saturday, April 24, 2004
11:58 AM      

I finally took Internet Explorer out of the dock on my desktop machine today. In the early days of Safari, IE was my fall-back application when I'd encounter sites with scripts that didn't “play nice.” Safari works with most stuff extremely well, now.

Of course, there are exceptions. Flash MX 2004's online help might work properly with Safari, but the original MX help system doesn't redraw properly on Safari. Recently, I tried to log in to the Keyspan Energy website, and was surprised to find out that neither IE nor Safari are supported; in fact, nothing on OS X is supported; but Mac IE under OS 9 is.This all has to do with their implementation of 128-bit encryption.

I imagine their only idea of the state of Macs comes from their graphics department, who may well be stuck booting into OS9 because they're standardized on Quark. Those guys took a very long time to come out with a so-so port to OS X, and slowed a lot of graphics professionals from upgrading to a vastly superior tool set.

One day, for kicks, I might have to see if I can access the Keyspan site through IE under Classic, though I'd be just as happy to never launch classic again.

[ link | e-me ]

3:50 AM      

The Images Dubya Doesn't Want You to See

In a move reminiscent of the Watergate “plumbers,” the Defense department has made it clear that photos like these won't be released to the press again. After all, images like these helped turn public sentiment against Vietnam. The opening paragraph of the article shown below begins “America's war dead lie in plain 7-foot-long aluminum cases filled with ice, each draped with an American flag...”


I only have 4 more drawing sessions. The process has produced some significant changes in my drawing and my approach to drawing. I'm at an interesting place where it's easy for me to either focus on the space around the model, or almost exclusively on the model, but putting the two together is hard work. I am getting less confused by all the reference lines, though. Paying attention to the space produces better drawings, but I often have a hard time finding the limits of the model when I'm in “spatial mode.”

Last week, my instructor said “you're resolving an argument you're having with yourself,” which echoed the left brain/right brain duality of “Drawing on the Right Side of the Brain,” and still rings true.

This week, he had another tidbit for us: many successful artists have significant problems representing space in two dimensions, and in some ways the sensibility that he's working to develop in each of us is “useless” in the mainstream of contemporary art and design.

You could say contemporary visual culture, and perhaps internet culture, doesn't give much relevance to the concept of space. But space and time are a continuum, so if you render space insignificant, worrying about time goes beyond neurotic...


Manhole covers look like flapjacks

Ever feel like this?

Remember when?


I wrote to Lou Dobbs tonight, expanding a little on the thing I posted here the other day. I don't know if it'll get any response:

Thanks for your steadfast and thorough coverage of the outsourcing phenomenon, which is just one dimension of what appears to be the expanding hubris of the "corporate entity" in America. To use a Star Trek metaphor, our economic philosophy has turned markedly Farengii.

It seems that microeconomics are irrelevant to our increasingly macro/global - obsessed leadership. Consider this interesting contrast (both aspects were covered in a recent Lou Dobbs show): The Administration has no problem allowing big companies to cut expenses (i.e. boost profits) by buying labor in cheaper markets. At the same time, they are loathe to allow CONSUMERS to purchase prescription drugs in cheaper markets. That option could slash a potentially budget-wrecking expense for people who must have medicine. The co-pay provision of the new prescription drug benefit program is another budget-buster for seniors who can ill afford it.

My guess is that if Americans were allowed to buy their prescription drugs in the market of their choice, drug companies would quickly adjust the pricing differentials between markets. While drug companies' profits might shrink a bit, that money would continue to flow in the economy; after all, Americans tend to be better at consumption than savings.

As the current economic policy is rooted in a fundamentalist belief in trickle-down theory, I'm curious how long those of us in the lower tiers of of America's financial ziggurat should expect wait to get "wet" with the prosperity that this recovery is producing.

With the airwaves so saturated with spin, it's refreshing to get a dose of perspective every weeknight from you. I wish you a long and prosperous run.


The naked girl cards always go first

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Thursday, April 22, 2004
7:27 AM      

This Just In...

Date: April 22, 2004 5:02:49 AM EDT
Subject: Cannes Picks Michael Moore's "Fahrenheit 911"

April 21, 2004


I just got word that my new film, "Fahrenheit 911," has been selected by the Cannes Film Festival to premiere there in competition next month!
This is only the second time in the last 48 years that a documentary has been chosen to be in the main competition (the first being "Bowling for Columbine" in 2002) -- and, in fact, another documentary has also been chosen for this year. The non-fiction film revolution rolls on!

I am deeply honored by this announcement, considering it comes from our mortal enemy, the French.

This year's jury in Cannes is headed by Quentin Tarantino and also includes director Jerry Schatzberg, Kathleen Turner, Tilda Swinton and others.

"Fahrenheit 911" will be in theaters across the U.S. (and the rest of the world) this summer. More info, gossip and all the juicy details to follow...

Thanks everyone for your support.

Michael Moore


Keep an eye out for The Corporation – in American movie theaters starting in June. It's reputed to be “The Next Bowling for Columbine.”

“ In the mid-1800s the corporation emerged as a legal 'person.' ...

“To more precisely assess the 'personality' of the corporate [entity,] a checklist is employed, using actual diagnostic criteria of the World Health Organization and the DSM-IV, the standard diagnostic tool of psychiatrists and psychologists. The operational principles of the corporation give it a highly anti-social 'personality': It is self-interested, inherently amoral, callous and deceitful; it breaches social and legal standards to get its way; it does not suffer from guilt, yet it can mimic the human qualities of empathy, caring and altruism. Four case studies, drawn from a universe of corporate activity, clearly demonstrate harm to workers, human health, animals and the biosphere. Concluding this point-by-point analysis, a disturbing diagnosis is delivered: the institutional embodiment of laissez-faire capitalism fully meets the diagnostic criteria of a 'psychopath.'” - from the synopsis

[ link | e-me ]

7:08 AM      

Spring is (finally!) in the air. Having tended to a garden of my own, I realize that everything blooms at a different time, and most things don't bloom for long. The forsythias are already done, the crocuses are long gone, the magnolias are past their peak, but the wisteria are barely showing signs of life.

Some cherry trees are already shedding blossoms – it looks like pink snow when the wind blows – and some won't peak for nearly a month. A this time of year, the Botanic Gardens are dramatically different every time you visit.

...which makes me wonder about the cut flower industry. I know the seasons are reversed in the southern hemisphere, and that you can force some plants to bloom when they wouldn't naturally, but how many sources do those flowers that end up in the little convenience stores come from? How much land is dedicated to growing those flowers? Do they grow any other crops?


Very hetero. There's something here for each gender.

What if the FCC deemed clothing to be a broadcast medium?


You have my completely divided attention


On Lou Dobbs last night, they ran two stories: in one, some jokers were making a feeble argument about how “insourcing” offsets jobs lost to cheap overseas markets; in the other, it's clear that there is a big problem with drug companies' pricing models. It gets interesting, because it seems that the same people who are arguing that big corporations ought to be able to buy cheaper labor overseas to remain competitive (i.e. increase profits), don't believe consumers should be able to buy cheaper drugs from Canada to reduce their expenses. To use a Star Trek metaphor, the driving economic philosophy seems to be Ferengii – everything in service of profits.

The government's claim is that they're more concerned with consumer safety than profitability for major drug companies. (Question: how many of the major drug companies are headquartered in the US?) I don't doubt that there may be isolated cases where storage and handling may affect the quality or even the safety of the drugs, but that isn't the case for the vast majority.

The Ferengii thing made me wonder again about the book “Rise of the Vulcans: the History of Bush's War Cabinet,” especially since their philosophy seems more Klingon or even Cardassian. It turns out that the war cabinet named themselves the “Vulcans,” and the name refers to the Roman god of fire, not the alien species in Star Trek.

...Mann illuminates the administration's rationale for the Iraqi war with impressive clarity. ...the foreign policy, devised by Vice-President Dick Cheney, Secretary of Defense Donald Rumsfeld, Assistant Secretary of Defense Paul Wolfowitz, Secretary of State Colin Powell, Deputy Secretary of State Richard Armitage and National Security Adviser Condoleezza Rice, was 35 years in the making and has its roots in the Republican Party faction that opposed detente with the Soviet Union. Vulcan philosophy has three major tenets: the embrace of pre-emptive action, the notion of an "unchallengeable American superpower" and the systematic export of America's democratic values. Implicit is the rejection of both the notion that transatlantic relationships are the natural focus of U.S. foreign policy and the Kissingeresque realpolitik* that dominated much of 20th-century policy.

*a ruthlessly realistic and opportunist approach to statesmanship, rather than a moralistic one, esp. as exemplified by Bismarck [ETYMOLOGY: 19th Century: German: politics of realism]

This stuff is transparent to citizens of other countries and denied by our own. Worse, if you ride the streets with the owners of some pricey luxury cars or SUVs, you quickly get a sense of Americans' personal expression of the same philosophy: the highway is my way.


New toy

Nature always wins

New York eagles

[ link | e-me ]

Sunday, April 18, 2004
9:46 PM      

Jaleel, on the left

Jaleel lives around the corner from me. He saw me taking pictures, and asked me to take a shot. When I showed him the view screen, he asked for a print. I told him I'd give him one and he told me somebody else had promised him a print of a shot he'd taken, but he never came back. I told him I'd definitely give him a print, and he asked for a delivery date. I think we have a future business man in the making.



• Powell Leads Offensive to Placate Arabs

Is that headline oxymoronic, self-contradictory, or just plain nonsense?




With messages like this all around the city, it should be no surprise that the latest Quinnipiac poll shows Kerry beating Bush by 14 percentage points with a margin of error of plus or minus 3 percentage points. Pataki has been bragging that Bush would become the first GOP candidate to carry New York since Reagan. Yeah, that could happen! Hmmm... I wonder if he's been hitting the pain killers again.

Sorry about the flash glare - the lighting was terrible. The bottom reads “Air America Radio/ News, Talk & Satire/ New York Won't Hear/ Anywhere Else.”


Semiotic Smoke
A lot of the spin on the airwaves has been about manipulating what people in the field of semiotics call signs. Signs have two parts: signifier and signified; for example the letter “f” is a signifier for a particular consonant sound, which would be the signified. A red octagonal sign with the letters STOP on it is a signifier for a mandatory driving maneuver.

Signs have three modes: symbolic, iconic, and indexical. Symbolic mode is where the signifier is arbitrarily assigned to the signified by convention. An example is any language. In those cases, the signifier/signified pairs need to be learned. Iconic mode is where the signifier resembles or imitates the signified. Cartoons, paintings, and movie sound effects are all examples. In indexical mode, the signifier is directly connected to the signified in some way. Examples of these are smoke (signifying fire), a knock on the door, and a photograph.

In today's political hype maelstrom, we're deluged with loaded signifiers: terror, Hitler, government, responsibility, coalition, globalism, “The Right Thing,” security, homeland, polls, liberal, conservative, and patriotism, to name a few.

Understanding the nature of symbols can be a very powerful skill. The most powerful symbols (e.g. “God”) can be used to motivate people to act without thinking, but like drugs, I think their effects can diminish if used too frequently.

Stay tuned for November 2.


First it was Pictures, Now...
I read today that AT&T Wireless has introduced a “Name That Tune” service. When you hear a song that you don't recognize on the radio, you dial a number and put the phone up to the speaker for 15 seconds. The system captures the signal and matches it against a database, then sends a text message back to your phone with the title and performer. A successful search will set you back 99¢. While it shows technical prowess, I'm not so sure this is the must-use service for the masses that cellular carriers have been dying for.


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