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.