February 2006

American History&Book Review&Politics27 Feb 2006 09:05 pm

Presidents Nixon and Bush

Conservative columnist William F. Buckley recently wrote It Didn’t Work in which he states, “One can’t doubt that the American objective in Iraq has failed.”

This implies the overall theme of the past 6 years of the Bush Presidency: he is learning on the job and we are paying for his education. This administration ignores scholarly research and planning, basing policy upon envisioned hopes, croney theories, and faith. More dangerous is their negligence and reluctance to admit mistakes until too late.

Another conservative voice echoing this sentiment is Bruce Bartlett. Mr. Bartlett served in the Reagan administration in the Office of Policy Development and in George H.W. Bush’s Treasury Department as deputy assistant secretary for economic policy. The title of Bruce’s new book, Impostor : How George W. Bush Bankrupted America and Betrayed the Reagan Legacyto speaks volumes.

On recent radio interviews Mr. Bartlett has compared President Bush’s style to Richard Nixon’s, with the obsessive secrecy that often accompanies corruption, and the avoidance of accountability. Former White House counsel to Richard M. Nixon, John Dean, has also makes a similar case in his book, Worse Than Watergate: The Secret Presidency of George W. Bush.


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Animation&Media27 Feb 2006 12:23 pm

Hifi Dreams Picture by Spot Draves

Computer animation artwork based on fractal flocking logic by Spot Draves. From his Dreams In High Fidelity web site:

A Painting that Evolves:

Physically Dreams In High Fidelity consists of a small computer driving a large liquid crystal or plasma display. The computer creates a continuously morphing, non-repeating, abstract animation.

This work stretches the definition of “painting,” in this case, a computer rendering math logic onto electronic displays. I believe the legion of painters from Picasso on back to the cave dwellers might argue in favor of the hand rendered definition of painting, whereas this is a robotic automaton spitting electronic fire.

Internet23 Feb 2006 09:45 pm

Chet Helms Banner

Chet Helms was part of the inspirition behind the art and music of San Francisco’s Haight-Ashbury community, Summer of Love and Avalon Ballroom. Joel attended the concert in his memory last October, and we’ve put some photos up on the site. Somehow the Rock Pix Gallery feels completely blessed, and blissed too, by the presence of a tribal leader.
Detail from Psychedelic Poster by Rick Griffin

Humor&Internet&Movie TV DVD Review22 Feb 2006 06:43 pm

Peepers PuppetSo I’m goofing off, browsing Google Video and come across this silly Bollywood Comedy video… a cute idea, mouthing the words and aping to one of those syrupy Hindu pop songs. Then the comedian throws in an added feature, a strange little finger puppet. Hey, wait a second! That looks like something a friend, puppeteer Hobey Ford, showed me 4 or 5 years ago… a toy that he developed and patented, the Peepers Puppet. Small world, even if you’re not a puppet.

Turns out, it’s a cheating world too. Hobey tells me the peepers in the video are knock-offs, with enlarged pupils… the tell-tale sign of drug using finger puppets from the underworld.

American History&Book Review&Movie TV DVD Review20 Feb 2006 09:17 pm

George Washington portrait by Gilbert Stuart

Last month I caught glimpses of early American history in the two part PBS series The War That Made Americanarrated by Graham Greene, an Oneida Indian. The program shows young George Washington, a 22 year old Virginia militia officer leading men west into the uncivilized Ohio country. He is an powerful six foot two inch woodsman, who understands the value in learning wilderness survival skills of the native Americans and forms alliances with Indian leaders in order to defeat the French’s ambitions to possess their share of the new frontier. Washington faces many dangerous battles with the French, Indians and Nature itself west of the Blue Ridge Mountains between 1754 and 1759, accompanied with legendary characters such as Daniel Boone at the Massacre at Monongahela.

Exhilarated to learn more of the dashing young Mr. Washington, I found just the right book, His Excellency: George Washingtonby Joseph J. Ellis. Published in 2004, the author is a scholar of the many Washington biographies and collections of letters, and therefore crafts a character study of George Washington the boy, the young man, and on through his life. The author’s goal is to tell the story of how great leaders such as Benjamin Franklin, Alexander Hamilton, John Adams, Thomas Jefferson and James Madison each acknowledged Washington as their unquestioned superior.

In this book I learned George Washington’s father died when he was only eleven years old, and the old tale about “I cannot tell a lie, I chopped down the cherry tree,” is baloney. At 16 he was working at his fist job, on surveying expeditions in the Shenandoah Valley. Out in this country Washington kept a journal of the primitive conditions and sightings of Indians on scalping parties. The story continues to describe numerous encounters and battles where Washington is surrounded by dead and wounded, and miraculously comes out unharmed. By only age 23 his remarkable capacity to endure had marked him as a man of destiny.

“I may point out to the Public that heroic youth Col. Washington, who I cannot hope Providence has hitherto preserved in so signal a Manner for some important Service to his Country.” – Reverend Samuel Davies.

Prophetic, and yet who then could imagine the legacy of our founding father would be inherited by what we have now?

Animation&Money&Movie TV DVD Review16 Feb 2006 04:23 pm

Hindu Mickey Mouse CartoonHey kids, what time is it? If you’re an experienced animation professional, then it’s time to move up as a CG Supervisor all the way to Mumbai, India where the flattened world’s new “baby Pixars” are sprouting up. If you’re really big and smart, you can stay here in the U.S. and recruit someone to do this for you, like Alligator Planet is doing.

Idea merchants producing low cost fresh computer generated feature films are popping up like weeds. Threshold Entertainment with Foodfight! (fall 2006), and IDT Entertainment Yankee Irving (August 2006), who also appears to have bought a piece of Vanguard Animation Happily N’Ever After (fall 2006), Space Chimps (2007) and Ribbit (2008).

The bosses of these studios are lean and mean, reflecting the reality of the working animation professional. A few sample quotes from The Attack of the Baby Pixars article:

“What do we care if a guy is in Van Nuys or India?” says Kasanoff, Threshold Entertainment.

“The studios we deal with are like call centers but with very talented artists. The next Pixar isn’t going to be a big building in Emeryville. It’s going to be groups around the world, networked together.” – Ralph Guggenheim, Alligator Planet

The obvious trend is for less employment opportunities in the United States, especially of the high paying kind unless you start your own venture. Otherwise, better pack your bags and head to the new lands of opportunity: India, South Korea, Australia, Canada or any location where labor costs are cheaper than in the US.


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Internet&User Interface15 Feb 2006 02:07 pm

German Yellow Pages map, before

German Yellow pages map - after

One of my current projects is working with geocoding and problems of graphic expressions and user interfaces on maps. The above example is from the German Yellow pages, and is a fairly wide view of southern Germany with the Alps at the bottom. The second picture is the result after selecting “Services” at the left. A myriad of services appear, which can only be made sense of when zooming closer into a city.

Another map from Topix.net an online chat forum, shows the areas of the country indicating the quantity and recency of their forum activity. This has caught the attention of marketing mavens, who make a study of consumer trends and behavior.

Topix map

Internet&Politics15 Feb 2006 12:02 pm

Joining in Robert Scoble’s blog search test getting volunteering bloggers to post the word brrreeeport and see how various blog search engines perform.

Another top blog word is Cheney, because of his tempest in a teakettle hunting mishap. We all know Cheney is tight lipped and private, so this is pretty much a non-story. Bush is probably glad it deflects from the bigger NSA eavesdropping story. Then there’s the distorted uproar over Al Gore apologizing to Saudi Arabians for racial profiling seems to have gotten typically blown out of proportion by the NASCAR heads. People will continue to believe what they want to believe, without doing their own research, so meanwhile let’s get back to what the science of search engines will pick up.


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