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Showing posts from June, 2008

To continue a theme.

A quick sketch, entitled, 'In Good Humour'.

The president is a figurehead.

It is often said the president gets the credit or the blame for the ways things are (or are perceived) in America, even when he doesn't deserve either.

Many people do not recognize the president as a figurehead, but at least some of them will apparently vote for a candidate on the basis of whether or not one is expected to function well in that capacity.

I am not saying the President of the United States is merely a figurehead, but that job is implicitly a part of the position. Which is why supposed lack of experience didn't stop Bill Clinton or George W. Bush from winning the office; why people whose best interest and politics ran counter to Ronald Reagan voted for him; and why Nixon was forced out not over engaging in illegal and unauthorized wars or for destabilizing countries and plunging them into decades of tyranny, but for having some of his staff break into a hotel. It is also why Barrack Obama will beat John McCain.

"I'm just a happy camper!"

Rockin' and a rollin'.

The (sideways) Japanese script, which translates, "Isn't it," was in response to something written on the facing page of my sketchbook. I don't remember what.

What are moral claims?

I have often wondered how to distinguish moral rules or claims from other normative statements (being statements about right or wrong, or what one should or shouldn't do). The subtle differences between 'should' and 'ought' (where 'ought' alone is thought to be objective or to lack contingency) are not enough, because there are many moralities and moral systems which intelligent people of goodwill can differ on, and because it is not clear that morality is something which can escape contingency.

So, what implicit difference is there between the normative statements, "It tends to be bad to sacrifice your queen early in a chess match," and, "It tends to be bad to lie, cheat, or steal"? --You can substitute 'one shouldn't' for 'it tends to be bad', if you like.-- Without simply saying, "Well, one is obviously about morals," which self reference does nothing to help distinguish moral claims, the only thing I am a…

Sisyphus, as Per Camus:


Is it just me, or are Parliamentary systems way cooler than what the US has?

See this? If that sort of thing could happen in the states, Bush would have been gone at least two years ago. And, yes, I know, David Brooks, that would mean we probably wouldn't have had the surge in Iraq, and that country would very likely be worse off today. Meanwhile, the rest of the world (and the United States in particular) would have benefited from two fewer years of benighted leadership in almost every area the President touches.

Exactly what advantages can the American system boast? Nominal independence of the chief executive from the legistlative branch, I suppose, though I'm not sure how much of a boon (or how real) that is considering America's last 3 years.

"I got ramblin', I got ramblin' on my mind."

Some kinda mood.

Determinism is a 'scientific' parody of Liebnitz's 'best of all possible worlds'.

And it lacks the flair of Voltaire's Candide.


Any philosophy formed in response to determinism finds itself working on the terms of the determinist, or else endorsing its basis but denying it has any hold on our ethereal spirits that somehow are not of this world but manage to manipulate it. I therefore shrug off questions of free-will along with the concept of will altogether.

Addendum (6/25):

For concepts of will and volition are unnecessary.
For choice can be had where (what we intuitively call) the will is constrained.
For the concerns which lead to such questions and follow from them are absurd and have no bearing on life.

What is essential, if not tea?

The Japanese have a word, 'mucha', which can be roughly translated to mean a thing or a situation which is 'unworkable', 'pointless', 'worthless', 'meaningless', 'no good', or 'hopeless', depending on context. Directly translated, it means 'no tea'.

Man, I could really go for some tea right now.

On Good Taste

In response to something somewhere else:

I consider 'taste' as personal, but 'good' as intersubjective. What appeals to any one person is largely dependent on their circumstances and exposure, and may not be readily changed by reasoning. But it is not necessary to base one's idea of 'good' wholly upon one's tastes.

After all, one can be told how and why slices of sharp cheddar and tart apple complement eachother, and thus recognize this as a good combination worthy of recommendation to others, yet still not enjoy it (much, if at all) personally. One can recognize a good banjo player without especially enjoying the sound a banjo makes. And so on.

Of course, not everybody is capable of or interested in being able to appreciate or understand things which do not particularly appeal to or please them. It is something of an acquired taste, and bias can get in its way. Everybody has their limits. I still cannot quite hear why Charles Mingus is so revered in jazz …

I Hate Everybody Who is Not Here.

Tell Your Friends They Suck.

With some exceptions, like this post, I think I've been putting together something pretty cool ever since I got back to posting in April. And yet, in all that time, how many people have commented? Six. Even if one in ten people who read this blog respond to it--don't ask me where I got those numbers, they're completely arbitrary--that would mean only 60 people have read anything here in three months. The rest of you not reading this don't know what you're missing. You make me cry angsty tears of almost justified sadness. I hate you all.

A Rough Sketch

The background is much darker (and so more readily apparent) and a little more homogenous than in the original. Other than that, what you see is a good approximation of a quick sketch: one of the first I made using Pentel brush pens for inking. As such, it could be worse.

The dude in this reminds me (faintly) of a scene I witnessed years ago while on my way to deliver some furniture. First, some set up.

The neighborhood of Ballard used to be composed of working class folks and Norwegian retirees. There are still a number of retirement homes, fabrication shops, and small ship yards in certain parts of Ballard, but it is now considered trendy. It is filling up with condos, bars, and hip eateries where houses, dives (mostly pubs), and specialty shops used to exist. If you wander off from some of the major thoroughfares, you'll run into micro-breweries and more popular restaurants, but you'll also see old warehouses, a couple scrap yards, and decrepit roads running alongside disuse…

Any resemblance to persons living or dead...

Shelly had spent 20 years in Second City. Almost her whole life. She loved her hometown without reservations, but she absolutely had to get away and only return for brief--very brief--visits.

There were plenty of places to go: Cities with pleasurable summers, liveable winters, fewer corrupt officials, less brutal cops, a dearth of gangs, a sense that toughness wasn't the only important human characteristic. Towns that didn't remind her of her childhood. States her parents didn't live in. Vast expanses of land she'd yet to see. Like another world altogether.

And that's what Sammy offered. A near total break from her past. Her man.

The Artist's Prerogative

Artistic license is just such that one may ignore the truth, the facts, even the way things are and still escape prosecution.

John Cusack's roles follow the life of one man.

This one man is living out a Choose Your Own Adventure on film.

Can you seriously look at the characters he's played in Better Off Dead, Say Anything, and High Fidelity, and tell me he's not playing the same character at different points in his life? There's not that much in terms of background story that distinguishes these characters. Sure, names change, and some events differ (or are perhaps omitted), but Cusack's characters in these are all quirky, charming guys with overactive imaginations, a self deprecating sense of humour, and a romantic (if sometimes jaded) view of dating and dealing with the opposite sex; all with the same diction, and the same good looks. With a little work, we can even include his appearance in 16 Candles as one of Anthony Michael Hall's nerdy buddies as a prelude to this guy's later adventures.

If this character had walked a slightly different road out of high school (say, missing out on his last big date with his high school sweet…

A moment of action!

In thinking about it, that's the wrong hand to defend with in that situation. But so what? Maybe this dude's really quick, and he'll transfer hands before you even notice. In the next drawing, that is.

Not that there is going to be a next drawing. What do you think this is, a comicbook?

To draw things together...

and make a stupid atheist point I should be above (while playing on equally foolish religious assumptions, no less):

Why couldn't that stupid correspondent for CNN have kicked the bucket instead of Tim Russert? Whaddupwiddat, God? Why you gotta be so unfair, man? ...Unless you don't exist!

I feel as dirty as a stupid lady standing in the middle of dangerous, oily flood waters.

Meanwhile, Tim Russert has died.

I was shocked. I remain shocked. Those with an interest in politics and the goings on at the capitol were well served by Tim, at least as much as by anyone else in recent memory. America has lost a great figure and a great service in Tim's death.

At the national level, at the world level, it's just one man, just one heart attack. Perhaps not the epic tragedy his colleagues at NBC feel it is. But it is disheartening.

I try to be, if not cynical, pragmatic and realistic about how things are in life. I find it easy and preferable to be more rational than emotional (though I admit there are strong ties between those modes). But I'll tell you something.... Unlike much media coverage on the demise of some important personage, little of the reaction seems staged or forced. Knowing how personable Russert could seem, even when dealing with the most important issues of our times, it is easy to believe people were attached to him. Tim Russert had a lot of friends. People are proud to t…

CNN has idiot correspondent cover floods.

So, I'm not really watching TV, but I have CNN on as background noise while I'm reading. They're covering the flooding in Iowa, and there's a lady standing in the water. I don't care, so I go back to reading. Then I hear her say she had just run into a National Guard unit warning her and others to stay out the water. This gets my attention. The screen flicks from this waterlogged correspondent to an earlier interview, where a guardsman explains that dangerous chemical and biological contaminants make entering the water a bad idea. The view shifts back to CNN's correspondent thigh deep in the floods, telling us, "Yes, stay out of the water." During the segment, I must have heard her, CNN's anchor, and the guardsman repeat this phrase at least 6 times altogether. Stay out of the water.

Okay, I figure, she must be wearing some pretty good water proof clothing for this assignment. Then she says, "Earlier, I saw a couple walking through this in the…

Your humble author some months ago.

If you're humble, you can escape humiliation. The same is true if you simply develop an impenetrable ego bubble. You can even combine tactics and pretend to be humble while remaining dangerously egotistical. Then no one can belittle you. Or, well, that's the theory.

Click on the pick and read, if you want some context.

Gah! What does that squigle in the corner mean?!

That is a signature I've been using for a while now alongside fingerprints, cursive initials, and my own singular style. No, not the giant, freaked out eye. The squigle in the corner. The eye speaks for itself, metaphorically.

Yes, I casually admit I am a nerd.

I do it readily and without shame. This bothers my youngest brother, Benny, who is just 15. That's understandable. In most high-school settings--and pretty much everywhere until somewhat recently--'nerd' is a serious insult. This amuses me.

Benny asks me, "Why do you call yourself that?" Well, why lie?

That could just as easily be me sitting there...

...instead of whining in the background. (This is your cue to click on the picture, and read its text. I know, it's a lot of reading. You can put up with it. You're a sport.)

Ah, that eternal question: Scotch or Anime? I can enjoy both, but only one seems appropriate in any given situation. Not that that's stopped me before.

For those wondering what anime this drawing alludes to (thanks to my splendid salesmanship), the Japanese cartoon being referenced is Legend of the Galactic Heroes. The scotch I'd be looking for would be Laphroiag, but I'd probably end up settling for Glenlivet or a bourbon. --No matter what anyone else tells you, the whiskey you're drinking makes a difference. Never, ever even consider purchasing whiskey from the bar's well drinks. Always, always specify your brand. And, for God's sake, stop drinking it 'on the rocks'.--

Mafia materiel

I can't vouch for the dude, but the mask's okay. The mask's a paisan. And genuine, handcrafted leather, too.

Or, in slightly more accessible terms, the mask there is loosely modeled off one my parents bought in Italy. It currently decorates my folks' condo. I believe the face and background are original creations. But who knows?

Contre Las Vegas

I've never been to Vegas, and I don't particularly want to go. Nevermind the obnoxious, chintzy side of a town founded by the mob. Having lived in Tempe, Arizona, I can tell you, the desert ain't meant for people.

That said, there's something cleansing about an open sky and an empty vista.

Freshly painted with hardwood floors:

No, it's not actually a painting, just pastels, markers, and inks run through Photoshop. That's not the point. What you should be asking, is, "Isn't that uncomfortable?"

Break yo'self, foo!

The Puget Sound as seen from the promontory of Sunset Hill in Seattle. Landscapes are somewhat new to me, but since my dad used to have an apartment that faced out onto the same body of water, this is probably my most practiced view. As with any practice, it's easier to loosen up and just draw when familiar with your subject. 'Sides, watching yachts go by is almost as relaxing as being on one, and with zero chance of motion sickness. Somehow, the whole thing is almost as comforting as warm down blanket.

And that's the sort of feeling you've gotta grab when the world seems to be spinning too fast, man. That's it. Just don't settle in too snuggly.

Processed art

If the method is the message, or can be, what do digital and fractal art tell us?

The Kooks' Konk

A little over a year ago, I said the Kooks were alright. That was indeed true of their first album, Inside In/Inside Out. Their second LP, Konk, is not strong. While my last post on the band held there to be nothing wrong with good pop-rock, this new release isn't good. Focusing on the pop, they lose a bit of the rock, and seem to throw away that (post) Brit-pop thing they had going on. Not one track stands out as anything but inane background music for some primetime drama. It's a shame, and a loss to fans of accessible rock. Here's hoping their next effort takes them back to their roots.

"I shocked the world!"

Yes, boxing is ethically questionable. Else why would Don King and the mafia be involved? You know, other than the money. >_>

Obama first presidential nominee to give daps.

Nevermind this whole 'first black man' thing. I think Barack is the first serious presidential nominee to give someone daps on live TV. The senator shared a fist-pound with his prospective First Lady just before stepping to the podium and delivering his victory speech following the close of the primary season. Giving daps is nothing new, but I don't see Bill and Hillary sharing a secret handshake on stage. Does anyone else think this is a bit like Kennedy refusing to wear a top hat to his inauguration?

I'm speaking more to the generational shift, than the effect on popular culture...I think. But it would be interesting if Obama were to have the same sort of impact the Kennedys did at their height.

--A Correction--

I have been informed rather forcefully that Kennedy actually wore a top hat to his inauguration. Fair enough.


Does anyone else think this is a bit like James Bond not giving a damn how his martini is made?

"Don't just stare at it. Eat it!"

I'm not so sure that's a proper salad fork, either.

Ahem. For those wet noodles who don't want to click on the pic for a larger version, today's friendly reminder is, "Even when they are very rude, it is not okay to stab dinner guests in the eye. This may even be a crime in your locality."

"You're all alone, you know."

Citizens, hear me out. This could happen to you:

Trying to come up with a title for this post, I was looking up the lyrics for the Kingston Trio's rendition of 'Zombie Jamboree' (from which this post's title was culled). The first link Google came up with said it had what I needed, so I clicked on it, and started reading. Sure enough, the page itself said it offered the lyrics for the relevant song, as follows.

"Cause he gets up in the morning, / And he goes to work at nine, / And he comes back home at five-thirty, / Gets the same train every time. / 'Cause his world is built 'round punctuality, / It never fails."

As I read, I had the growing fear that someone had confused
a Kinks song about a young bourgeois Brit for an American ditty about a zombie dance-party. By the end of the stanza, I was convinced. I understand the Davies brothers can seem be creepy, but really.

Ah, the Internet age, an era with misinformation ever at your fingertips. To make a…

In the Study, with the Candlestick

But what is his right hand doing?

"Boot to the head."

Because I often threaten people in jest, they think it is okay to kick me in the head, or to say they will. I have news for them:

It is not okay.

Atmosphere's latest a bit of a disappointment.

Listening to When Life Gives You Lemons, You Paint that Shit Gold. Not only is the title stupid, the raps are tired, and the production is incredibly poppy for a supposedly underground hip hop act. Boring. Slug, Atmosphere's MC, has been done for some time now, and it seems rumours of his resurrection have been greatly exaggerated.

"So, let's sink another drink..."

Part of a series of five things everyone should know, but often forgets, which I will be posting up once per day. This one goes out to all those kids out there wondering how to impress their hot cousins on the dance floor--you know who you are--with an extra hint in print:

Find some other way, foo'. Or, you know, do the gene pool a favor, and stop.