Wednesday, December 24, 2008

A Few Thoughts On Bernard Madoff Fraud

Can't help but think what might have led to the biggest investment fraud in all of history, the Bernard Madoff scandal. Loose SEC regulation certainly played a role along with the climate of let business self-regulate their activities. But the more I think of this, a Ponzi scheme requires a very essential element, no matter how big or small the scheme is. And that is greed on the part of the investors who think they can make a quick profit by investing with a Wall Street legend, with little questions asked. Do I feel bad for multi-millionaires and billionaires losing half or more of their assets? I seriously doubt they'll be worrying about next month's bills so the answer is no. Do I feel bad for non-profits losing everything? Maybe, but again, they elected or appointed financial directors who they feel can make them the most profit. So I think the Obama administration will change this culture of non-oversight fairly quickly within the financial industry but at the same time, I don't think any amount of reform can change the way the majority of Americans think about greed and the accumulation of wealth.

Monday, December 1, 2008

The Other California

I'm trying to understand where people are coming from. Literally. Spent Thanksgiving Thursday and Friday in Lake Isabella with my brother-in-law's new house. Anyway, at the grocery on Friday morning, while waiting for everyone to get their items paid for, a bearded man, maybe in his mid 60's approached me. What country were you born? Excuse me, I said. What country were you from? Seriously, this man had never seen a Filipino before or what. The Philippine Islands, I said. Oh, we had some Filipinos in the Seventh Day Adventist church and they are very nice, he stated proudly. I try really hard to be non-judgmental but I suppose with a population of 3300 people, 90% are white, the odds of finding a non-Caucasian is really low so I must really stick out like a sore thumb. Come think of it, I did not see a single black, Latino, Asian or non-white these 2 days. Except for my 2 hapa haole boys. I don't know what to say to this gentleman other than "Oh, that's really nice." Thank goodness, the checkout lines were fast so he ended the conversation with "Well, we welcome everybody!" I guess you really don't have to go too far from Los Angeles to see that not all of California is a melting pot. In the past, I used to feel very Filipino when visiting places like Michigan, West Virginia or Ohio but in this case, I only have to travel a hundred miles. Nonetheless, I think that he was truly sincere in stating that he welcomes me to his part of America. And in this case, while I was driving home, I felt bad for feeling so defensive at being asked where I was born. Race relations is a two-way street indeed.

NPR Shapes American Culture

I can't even remember how many times I've bought something (book, movie, CD, toy, etc.) after listening to a feature of that particular item on National Public Radio (NPR). Most of Los Angeles is pretty lucky to have two NPR stations, namely 89.3 KPCC and 89.9 KCRW. Used to be a KCRW listener when I lived in West LA but had been a KPCC loyalist since moving to Pasadena in '95. Anyway, I did it again recently, buying a non-fiction book titled "The Outliers" by Malcolm Gladwell and a novel "Infinite Jest" by David Foster Wallace. I dare say that if it weren't for NPR, I would spend less money of books, music, film and the like but then again, what's life without these necessities? (Thank goodness, those podcasts are free.)
So I figured out why conservatives hate NPR. It educates the masses and an educated population is not to the benefit of conservatives who want as narrow a definition of American culture as possible.

Saturday, November 15, 2008

Precursor Of Things To Come?

It did not occur to me until hours after I took this shot. All I wanted was to measure their height at the playground at Encanto Park. However, the look on their faces is not so different from someone on a police lineup. Is it too early to start saving bail money for my kids?

Tuesday, November 4, 2008


... to President-Elect Barack Hussein Obama! That is right America and the world. He is black and his middle name is Hussein and he is my president!

Monday, November 3, 2008

Eugene Delacroix Journal Entry, Paris, September 14, 1852

I had been reading the journal of French artist Eugene Delacroix for the past 2 weeks and this particular passage struck me for it is most relevant to where I am today.
"Towards three o'clock I went down to take my last look at the sea. It was perfectly calm and I have seldom seen it more lovely; I could hardly bear to tear myself away. I spent the whole time on the beach and didn't go near the pier all day. How passionately one clings to things when one is about to leave them. The sketch I made from memory was of this sea: golden sky, boats waiting for the tide to return to harbour."

Monday, October 13, 2008

Vernacular Photograph of PCH

PCH being Pacific Coast Highway. This is the area west of Santa Monica before pedestrian bridges were built that allowed people to cross safely to the beach area. Interstate 10 ends just south of where this photograph was taken. Close inspection of the cars place the photo around the 1940s or even earlier. Follow the curve of the coastline to the left and one ends up in Malibu, about 10 miles away.
Below is a modern day color photo of the same area showing the road Angelenos call the California Incline -- connecting Santa Monica streets to PCH. What is revealing is that those palm trees are a new addition to the landscape.

Sunday, October 12, 2008

Eleven Essentials

The American Express commercial says "Don't Leave Home Without It". My essentials, circa 2008. This is not the same set that I carried 5 or 10 years ago nor will it be necessarily the same set next year.
1) Blackberry 8700 (email/phone)
2) Hands Free Headset - driving in California without a handsfree phone has been illegal since July 2008
3) USB Drive - 2 gig is usually enough for sneaker-netting files
4) Wallet - has a set of essentials within
5) Trader Joe's Bag - to put all this junk since guys don't really carry purses
6) Moleskine Notebook - phone numbers, directions, random notes, sketches
7) Car Keys - vroooom
8) Ipod - cause LA radio sucks
9) Faber Castell Pen - quick sketch or note taking
10) Canon G9 Camera - for additional distractions while driving
11) $2 in Quarters - always, always needed for feeding parking meters

Friday, October 10, 2008

We Need To Keep Guantanamo Open For A Few More Years

Yes. That old, unconstitutional prison that W puts all terror suspects in for indefinite and unspecified reasons. Oh, and on top of that, keep the domestic spying program running as well for a few more years. Here's why.
The last 24 hours have been pretty clear to me that the Bush Republican base from the red states will not leave President Obama (I like the sound of that) alone to govern the nation out of the clusterfuck-after-clusterfuck that George W. Bush left him. These Bush Republican base had been videotaped at McCain and Palin rallies shouting "kill him", "cut off his head", etc. in reference to President Obama. So, President Barack Hussein Obama should direct the intelligence services to listen in on every trailer trash, uneducated racist in the red states for anyone who's uttered threatening words about President Obama. That is the perfect use of the Bush-initiated domestic spying program. Oh, and without a trial, issue an orange jumpsuit to every single one of them on their way to Guantanamo prison. Threaten my president, go to prison. No trial.
(My other option would have been to ship them to some iceberg in Alaska with Sarah Palin but they would still be technically under US laws there.)

Glimmer of Hope in the L.A.P.D.

The most notorious police department in the country (Rodney King, Rampart scandal, OJ and countless others) is actually making an honest effort to be more in touch with the citizens that they are supposed to protect. When not riding their black and white squad cars, studies have shown that both citizens and police benefit in terms of a sense of community. I caught this this shot of a squad of ten L.A.P.D. officers on bikes about to deploy to the beaches around LAX. I've rode this stretch of bike path a lot when I lived in Santa Monica and it's actually fairly crime-free except during the summer months when Dockweiler Beach is crowded with tourists and locals. Nonetheless, the L.A.P.D. is trying to be both community-oriented and green (10 less 8-cylinder Ford Crown Vics on the road) and ought to be applauded.
(Personally, I wouldn't mind getting paid riding my bike at the beach on a perfect Southern California day.)

Monday, October 6, 2008

Found Iturbide?

I am convinced that this is an original silver gelatin print (5.5"x7.5") by Mexican photographer Graciela Iturbide. She did a series on Oaxacan women called "Juchitan de las Mujeres". I was introduced to her work in a major survey at the Getty last year. The subject, the composition, the exposure all spoke Iturbide to me -- just like the dozens of prints I saw at the Getty.
Paid Price: $5.00
Below is an Iturbide image from the Juchitan series titled "Chismosas" (The Gossipers).

Rescued Print

Diana Lui is an artist, filmmaker and photographer based in France but studied at UCLA and Art Center College of Design in Pasadena. She moved to practice her profession in France in 1993 but not before her works permeated the Los Angeles art market. Her web site is below:
This is an 11"x14" silver print by the artist of a ghostlike image of two Asian girls titled "The Procession II" (1989). This is most likely one of her works as a student, which obviously early on, showed a lot of promise.
I rescued this amazing print from the Pasadena City College swap meet yesterday. The print has a label on the back with a price of $125 dated 1989. The dealer wanted $15 but I talked him down to $10. I do wonder what artists think when their works are sold at a mere fraction of what they are worth.

Wednesday, October 1, 2008

...Like A Fish Needs A Bicycle

Don't know exactly how that phrase (title above) originated but I think it means that you don't really need it, i.e. fishes don't need bike to swim. I found out to fix my Raleigh mountain bike (front, rear derailleurs + shocks, etc) cost more than a new bike so to get something to just ride around town for errands, I went looking for one. Beach cruisers, fixed gear bikes, other mountain bikes...I can't make up my mind...until I saw this Bianchi. In celeste green color, of course. A 3-speed job with fenders and chain guards! It rocks and it's a work of art as well. It's so cool even a fish would want (not necessarily need) one.

Java Sketches

Nothing like a leaking Starbucks cup sets me off in the morning especially if it gets on my shirt while I'm at work. So I usually set it down on a 3x5 inch index card -- I never really found the time to bring drink coasters to work. After a while I realized that I can make some interesting drawings with these leaky Starbucks cups. Here's 16 of the dozens of stained cards I've collected over the years...

Monday, September 29, 2008

Why The Presidential Debates Don't Affect How Americans Vote

The key operative word is "Americans". In 2004, I watched John Kerry argue with a chimp on the first debate and with a fifth grader on the second one. Yet, for some reason, Americans rejected the articulate and intelligent arguments of Kerry hence, the mess we are in today. (I cannot prove it but Europeans would probably have voted for a different president in 2004.) I say we already live in an idiocracy. I refuse to waste any more time watching these debates although the vice presidential one on Thursday probably has some comedic value.

Friday, September 26, 2008

Idiocracy (2006)

This is a stupid yet very creative (and funny) movie about what life would be like based on the assumption that those with higher IQs procreate at a significantly lower rate than those with below average mental capacity. The movie starts with an average person Joe Bauers, played by Luke Wilson who is frozen as part of an Army experiment but is awakened 500 years later only to find out that in this future world, he has the world’s highest IQ. The movie is pretty harsh in its portrayal of the not-so-smart population throughout the story line. (I can’t help but think of the red states in this country) but seriously, I doubt it will take 500 years. I say the country is well on its way there. The fact that the half the country (yes, people who cling to their guns and religion) cannot draw the distinction between lies and truth in the current presidential campaign is an indicator. Coupled with the appointment of a Vice Presidential candidate who not only is unqualified but is clearly of lower IQ than the other party’s VP nominee, it’s not going to take 500 years. Going back to the movie, everything in the future is run by corporations who had long decided mankind’s fate. There is a version of the warehouse giant Costco that is several square miles big. A Gatorade-like drink, Brawndo replace water as the liquid of everyday life. So as soon as they found out that Joe is the smartest man on earth, they put him on the most difficult problem they have – the lack of plants. Well, they say "it does not take a genius" to know that plants need water to grow. And the reason plants are not growing is that they are being irrigated with Brawndo. Doh! So when Joe tells the country to do this, the company who makes the Brawndo, of course, loses money and goes after him. Sound familiar? We are there now. Anyway, justice gets administered in a public arena where he has to fight, guess what? Monster trucks. Am I to deduce that people of lesser intellect enjoy monster trucks and beating that crap out of helpless people? Like I said, the movie is not kind. But hey, if the shoe fits…

Saturday, September 20, 2008


$700,000,000,000 of the people's money to save corporations. I suppose I can say I live in the USSA. The United Socialist States of America. Who's the socialist now, Mr. Free Market, Corporations-Have-As-Much-Right-As-Humans, Socialized-Medicine-Is-Evil, Republican Party?
I want to see the financial CEOs, board members and every executive jumping from their 40th floor offices, right now. At least the Japanese have the honor to off themselves.

Thursday, September 11, 2008

Man On Wire

Being September 11th and all, I want to reflect on how life had changed by way of a written note on a postcard that's been sitting on my desk advertising the new documentary "Man On Wire".
Below: Back of card

Wednesday, September 10, 2008

My Conservative Friends, Colleagues and Family

So I did a quick survey of the conservatives that I personally know and I can pretty much pigeon-hole each one into any of the following categories:
1) Pro Business - A free-market advocate who wants to privatize everything the government does including fire departments, schools, police, etc. The same people who will want to privatize profits but socialize losses. (e.g. Fannie Mae, Freddie Mac and other failed financial institutions.)
2) Religious Fundamentalists - Jesus-everything. Those who want the bible to be the basis of all education, science, law, media, internet, elections, governments, etc. Fundamentalist, Muslim or Christian have no business running a free society. Single-issue (abortion) voters fall in this category. These are the people who want creationism in biology textbooks.
3) FOTBs - Fresh Off The Boeings. The new (and sometimes, not-so-new) immigrant wanna-be who are so blinded by speeches of patriotism, the American dream and everything American. People who easily want to identify with Caucasians and thinks America can do no wrong. A lot of Asians I know who view themselves as honorary whites vote very conservative. People who will unknowingly forward emails that Obama is a Muslim are usually FOTBs.
4) The Uneducated. A lot of working class types who are threatened by everything progressives stand for. Mostly just a high school education, wants to preserve the American way of life, whatever the hell that means. Those who want a president who speaks in simple terms. Very emotional voters; thinks all immigrants should go back to where they came from.
Mind you, these are my closest friends, colleagues and immediate family who fall in one of these four groups. I think that demographically, they make up the bulk of the conservative base in this country as a whole. Thankfully, they are a minority in California.

Is It Too Much To Ask For...

... that Hurricane Ike skips New Orleans and instead head straight to Crawford, Texas as a Category 7 storm?

Sunday, September 7, 2008

Definition of Cultural Elite

As the November elections approach, all the right wing in this country will most likely make an issue of Obama being an elitist, as someone only the cultural elite will vote for. But what defines a cultural elite exactly? For the uneducated red state residents, it's anyone who lives on either coast, East or West. Which of the these activities is considered elitist? Going to the Museum of Contemporary Art (MOCA), going to a Philharmonic concert or going to an LA Lakers game. Most will say going to MOCA or listening to Mahler's 5th at the Disney Hall are elitist. More will probably say Mahler's 5th Symphony is the most cultural elitist activity as very few really listen to 100 year old music. Besides, you need to somewhat dress nice. Going to the Laker game, on the other hand is the intuitive "common man" activity -- as most sporting events are. However, if one compares the cost of each of these, going to MOCA is the cheapest at $8, followed by a Philharmonic concert starting at around $30 but good luck going to a Laker game for less than $100. Thing is, in the mind of these simple-minded right wingers, anything not related to watching a stock car race or going hunting is elitist so all three, MOCA, Philharmonic and Lakers are activities Obama voters do for leisure.

Collateral (2004)

I was never a Tom Cruise fan but I would have to admit, I've seen Collateral (2004) about a dozen times. There is just something about that movie that makes the City of Angels a dreamscape of sorts as Cruise drops in from out of town for a job (as a hitman). The movie is set mostly at night as Jamie Foxx drives Cruise around in a cab working down a list of targets. Any other director would not have done as good as job as Michael Mann did in Collateral (as well as my other favorite "Heat"). Both Collateral and Heat are set in LA but Heat's actions are mostly during daylight hours. On Collateral, I did read recently that the original script or plot calls for New York instead of LA. It's also a nice movie to just put in the DVD player (at night, of course) while doing other things around the house since I already know what happens in every scene in this movie. It would be interesting to see if someone can put together a tour of LA, where for a minimal fee, a guide can take you through the various locations from the flick. And yes, LA has a subway system -- the final scene where Cruise is killed.
No disrespect to New Yorkers, but Michael Mann made the right choice in filming in LA.

Saturday, September 6, 2008

I Know Gas Is Not Cheap These Days But...

I realized today that my Infiniti G35 is a gapfiller until the Nissan dealership has more of the GT-Rs available. I saw the first ever GT-R on the road yesterday in Arcadia and I know that my G35 is headed for trade-in sometime in the next year or two. From what I've read, the GT-R will eat my brother's Carrera for breakfast. GT-R 480 horses to the G35's 300. As an added bonus, the GT-R is a 4-seater so having to lug 2 kids around should not be a problem.
Top: My Soon-to-be-Traded-In Black 2007 G35
Bottom: The G35's Cousin, the GT-R, My Next Car

Thursday, September 4, 2008

Isn't It About Time This Country Elects Someone Competent?

Eight years of incompetence and half the country still think Sarah Palin should be in the Oval Office as VP. I'll let the talking heads debunk what the MILF had to say at the RNC last night. Scary to think most of middle America would vote in a woman who thinks God wants the US to go to Iraq and that God wants to build a gas pipeline in Alaska. All the religious fundamentalists should just move to some iceberg in Alaska... and if there is a God who can hear what these dumbshits are saying in his name, he will break off the iceberg and sink it.

Tuesday, September 2, 2008

(More) Unintended Consequences

Although gas has dipped below $4 a gallon, people still seem to be making lifestyle changes to avoid the direct transfer of wealth to already fattened oil companies. A couple trips to the grocery store today punctuated the trend. When I dropped off a prescription, I saw this mother and her 2 daughters (maybe 8 and 10 yrs old), getting ready to ride their bikes, each carrying a bag of groceries. She seems to have solved my problem of how to carry multiple bags on a bike -- bring along your kids and let them each carry a bag.
An hour later, I picked up the prescription and I saw this French-speaking man and his 2 sons setting up their bikes with grocery. I would not have paid too much attention to them except he was strapping on a 12-pack of Corona beer on his bike rack! I know cycling is big in France but I thought they only carried wine bottles and baguettes on their bikes. A 12-pack of Mexican beer. On top of that, he has a child seat near his handlebars. Point being, another family electing to leave their car at home. I had trouble finding a spot to lock my bike as well since there were about half a dozen bikes there already so the eucalyptus tree sufficed. This would have been unthinkable a year ago.
I just hope people continue to use their cars less even as gas prices dip. In addition, maybe Americans will get rid of the "fattest people in the world" label.

The Gold Standard of Point-and-Shoot Cameras?

I know several people who always carry a camera everywhere they go and are faced with the tough equipment choice between convenience and image quality. I've had a few 5-7 MP point-and-shoots over the years but I never liked the grainy pics and often wished I had one of my digital SLRs with me after I process the shots. But when I'm riding my bike or on travel, a DSLR is annoyingly bulky and there's never a good default lens I'm comfortable with. Then the Canon Powershot G9 came along. I bought this one sometime in April and I've used it often enough to say that it meets 90% of what I shoot with the bonus portability of a cell phone. I am extremely happy with the G9's user-interface and all short-cut keys are intuitive enough to become familiar with in a matter of minutes. The G9 even has the panoramic shot tool that assists in taking sequential images for digital stitching. The other feature I use quite a bit is the 16:9 aspect ratio (as well as raw image capture).
I highly doubt it will replace the DSLR I always have handy in the passenger seat of my car but the 12.1 megapixel G9 is small enough to fit in my pocket when I'm on my bike.
(Why I always carry a camera when I ride my bike is two-fold; first, I never know when something interesting will present itself but more importantly, in case some nutcase tries to run me down with their car, I can take a good zoomed in photo and hunt 'em down.)

Monday, September 1, 2008

Overheard At The Comics Factory (1298 E. Colorado Blvd, Pasadena), Friday 8/29/08 7:30pm

Cashier (behind the counter): Dude, which is a better Venom symbiote, Spider-man or Eddie Brock?
Store Manager (arranging products on rack): Eddie Brock.
Cashier: Yeah, but would Spidey have influenced the way the symbiote evolved into not such a dark force.
Store Manager: Maybe. Venom did some vigilante work on the side but still hated Spider-man. Although given the symbiote's appetite for adrenaline, only Eddie Brock would have been able to sustain the demand.
Cashier: Yeah, dude.
Store Manager: Did you get a copy of Ryan Kelly's sketchbook at Comic-Con for a buck? I brought some in but we're down to our last copy in the store.
P.S. After the store manager moved on, I searched for Ryan Kelly's sketchbook, still a dollar and I bought the last copy. Ryan Kelly is a very good artist and if it weren't for me listening in on what seems like two adults employees talking geek stuff, I would not have been exposed to Kelly's art. His blog is at...
I'm new to this whole comic book scene and I am slowly picking up who the key players are. Every time someone asks me what I'm doing at the comic book store, I tell them I'm with my kids who like reading the stuff. Yeah, right. Seriously, they were both with me :)

Saturday, August 30, 2008

I Can Think Of Only One Name Worse Than This One...

Los Angeles Times, California Section, Aug 30, 2008. Parents with these last names ought to think twice when naming their kids.
Oh, a worse name would be Seymour Butt.

Friday, August 29, 2008

Frida Kahlo at SFMOMA

Frida Kahlo is always complex subject for anyone and SFMOMA's show (closing on Sept. 28th) is no exception to that statement. With so much press she's been getting over the last 25 years, it's almost more challenging to put together this show -- in a way, I feel like asking SFMOMA "Show or tell me something I did not know or have not seen before." Well, they did. There is a gallery's worth of Kahlo and Rivera photographs from the Vicente Wolf collection that apparently have never been shown or published before. There is also a gallery showing the relationship between the City of San Francisco and Kahlo/Rivera but for the most part, one just needs to turn to the 50 some odd paintings to realize how amazing her art (and life) was. The torture, the suffering and the heartbreaks are very well documented in her painting and I actually feel that the small size of most of them is what gives me this voyeuristic feel when looking at them. It's as if I am looking directly at her painful account of her miscarriage, her complex relationship with Diego and her back injury. In short, it's pretty difficult to screw up a major show like this given the artist and the material the curator has to work with and as expected, SFMOMA delivered the goods (again).
BTW, the small scale of most of her paintings is a reminder that art does not have to gigantic in order to be impactful. Modern artists, I feel, need to be reminded of this every once in a while.

Monday, August 25, 2008

AVT (Kubrick Style)

Alien vs Terminator, Terminator vs Alien. It's only a matter of time before Hollywood comes up with this fictional battle. After the smashing success of the Alien vs Predator franchise, why not AVT?
Nevertheless, these Kubrick toys are pretty fun.

Thursday, August 21, 2008

In Search Of The Cranberries

Well, I'm not really searching for The Cranberries. However, I can't help but think of several of their CD covers where the band posed with their famous couch. As I drive through the City of Angels, I see abandoned couches and recliner chairs at least once a week. And at times, I have a camera handy or traffic allowed me to stop my car, shoot a picture and imagine the next Cranberries CD with the band sitting in the ever present couch.

Thursday, August 14, 2008

Reject Obfuscation (Part IV)

This is the next installment of a recurring theme where the real issues are being deliberately clouded beyond recognition by those intent on influencing opinion, public or private, to their favor. The recent spike in oil prices has brought several proposals on the table for alternative sources of energy, conservation techniques, lifestyle changes and others. But leave it to the George W. Bush and the Republican Party to figure out a way to pollute the issue in the hopes of getting business interests of the petrolium industry ahead of everything else. Their proposal -- lift the ban on off-shore oil drilling, which ironically was put in place by the elder George Bush.
So why am I against putting more oil rigs off California's coast? Actually for selfish reasons. The picture on the left is the view from El Capitan State Beach, just 10 miles west of Santa Barbara. The state beach is my family's annual campsite for the last 10 some odd years. On this daytime shot, one can see two rigs off the horizon over to the left. So it's not as obvious during the day but at night (below), one can see these oil rigs ruin my otherwise pristine photograph of the half moon reflecting on the calm waters of the Pacific. So what's the alternative to lifting the ban of new off-shore oil drilling? Simple, drill on existing land that is already leased to these big oil companies. I want my kids (and all future generations) to be able to look out and not see the horizon dotted with lights from oil rigs.

Besides, it would be devastating to all marine life as well as the annual family camping event.

Wednesday, August 13, 2008

Michael Phelps Is Really A Dolphin

There has only been one athlete (who does not play hoops) that I truly enjoy watching in these Olympics and that is Michael Phelps. I swear, he's not human -- a dolphin is more how I would describe him. His races are the only ones I really look forward to (again, beside Kobe and Lebron) in this pitiful coverage on network TV. (Check out one of those underwater camera shots for proof of his marine mammal origins.)

Thursday, August 7, 2008

A Record Of Our Existence

Quote from an article I read today...
"But is that really what makes people blog? After all, online, you're not even competing for 10 grand and a Kia. I think most people who maintain blogs are doing it for some of the same reason I do; they like the idea that there's a place where a record of their existence is kept -- a house with an always-open door where people who are looking for you can check on you, compare notes with you and tell you what they think of you. Sometimes that house is messy, sometimes horrifyingly so. In real life, we wouldn't invite any passing stranger into these situations, but the remove of the Internet makes it seem OK." - Blogger Emily Gould on New York Times Magazine article "Exposed"

Sunday, August 3, 2008

Do-It-Yourself Physics

The ad in the Smithsonian magazine was very well written. But this guy, Terence Witt, is an absolute hack. He is developing, on his own this theory called Null Physics. Actually, the ad is selling a book as well. So I checked out the website to see what it's all about. Turns out he's got an electrical engineering degree and is pursuing Null Physics on his own -- without peer review. None of the dozen colleagues at work I talked to (all with physics degrees) take Mr. Witt seriously. I'd hate to waste money to read something that should be available in scientific journals anyway.

"For quite some time now, anyone who wanted to understand the universe's inner workings had only two places in which to turn. The first is an eclectic cast of "scientific" paradigms, which includes, but is not limited to, string theory, the Big Bang, and quantum reality. While these make valiant attempts to describe the universe and come to grips with their own glaring incompleteness, in the final analysis they can't even begin to answer questions that any child might pose. Regardless of how many popularized versions of these theories find their way into bookstores, the important questions remain unsolved because the current scientific approach lacks any trace of an underlying natural philosophy. The other option available to the inquiring mind is a disorganized quagmire of "alternative" theories. These decry the reigning scientific models but provide absolutely nothing of substance in their stead. Alternative theories seldom identify their own premises unambiguously, let alone provide quantitative tests for them.
At long last, a theory has emerged that addresses the foundation of reality logically, rationally, empirically, and completely - Null Physics. The universe it reveals doesn't rely on unknowable precursors in the ancient, untestable past. The universe it reveals won't collapse, or grow old and die. Null Physics tells us why the universe exists, how the universe exists, and why it is the way it is. The mystery of our existence has beaten scientists and philosophers for so long that they are utterly convinced that reality's underpinnings are beyond human comprehension. They are wrong. Anyone with a basic familiarity with high-school physics can, by reading this volume, understand the universe with a greater depth and clarity than is currently believed possible. Welcome to 21st century physics. "

Saturday, August 2, 2008

Relic Of An Analog World

Bought this today at a yard sale about a half mile away for $10.

Friday, August 1, 2008

Remembering War Games (1983 Film)

I vaguely remember watching this in the movie theater during the initial release and how relevant it was at the time, i.e. Cold War and all. I've seen the movie half a dozen times over the years and it's interesting to watch on several points. First and most obvious, is the diminished threat of nuclear annihilation between the US and USSR since the last 80s. This movie would not have existed without that context and playing off that fear is what made people, including me, watch Matthew Broderick wreak havoc on the US Strategic Command. The other aspect that is interesting to note, is how personal computers had evolved over the last 25 years. Back then, state-of-the-art was dial-in acoustic modems and monochrome, text-only computers. Old Radio Shack type models were used in the movie and with text-only, the 9 bps (or maybe even less) was realistic. And last of all, the way computer geeks are portrayed by Hollywood then and now, seems to have changed little. Film makers have this urge to perpetuate the stereotype and I guess that sells movies (or DVDs, in today's vernacular). Overall, the lessons of War Games still hold true today as it did 25 years, ago. No one wins in tic-tac-toe (or nuclear war).
P.S. The one thing I appreciate a bit more now is the realism of the operations inside Cheyenne Mountain, the headquarters of NORAD, which is the joint American-Canadian set of eyes watching for incoming ballistic missiles into North America. I've was fortunate enough to actually take a tour inside NORAD, or as the residents of Colorado Springs call it, "The Mountain" sometime in the 90s while working for Hughes Space & Communications. On one of the 30+ trips to Colorado Springs, we convinced one of the colonels to arrange for a tour and they obliged.
Here's a group shot with Cheyenne Mountain in the background.

Thursday, July 31, 2008

Bob Marley's Message

Don't worry about a thing
Cause every little thing is gonna be alright
Don't worry about a thing
Every little thing is gonna be alright
Rise up this morning
Smiled with the rising sun
Three little birds
Pitch by my door step
Singing sweet songs
Of melodies pure and true
Saying, this is my message to you:

Don't worry about a thing...
I've driven by this spot numerous times on the way to San Diego and but never took the time to stop and take in the view. Today, this last day of July, I did and was lucky enough to have my camera handy when these three little birds landed in front of me as I watched the waters of the Pacific. Maybe Bob Marley is sending me this simple message that every little thing is gonna be alright.

Wednesday, July 30, 2008

Now Family Calling Starts At 7pm

I did this assemblage back in 2006 as this nutcase John Hagee was making a lot of noise about the end of the world. It was also the height of tensions in the Middle East and I can't help but notice the advertising at the bottom of the LA Times article for a cell phone plan. It reads "Now Family Calling Starts At 7pm". Is this a subconscious attempt to convince these religious apocalypse groups that their time is coming soon? These Christian warriors believe in blood and oil spilling in order to facilitate things along.
Hagee made the news cycle again this year when John McCain hesitated to label him a certifiable looney.

Tuesday, July 29, 2008

Edamame Shots

A crowded Japanese restaurant is fertile ground for creativity due to boredom while waiting for the main dish. A couple weeks ago, JJ and I decided to invent a game of edamame shots. Basically, all participants need to order a bowl of miso soup and a plate of edamame (in shells) for the entire table.
Basic Game: The object of the game is to propel the edamame seed across the table into the opposing players miso soup bowl. First player to "pinch" 3 seeds into the miso bowl from across the table wins the round. Play as many rounds as needed until the food arrives. Miso can also be consumed and just use empty bowl.
Variant: For each round, player who loses buys a round of sake for all participants. (Can't play this variant with my 8-yr old, JJ. Yet.)

Gaff's Origami Link