Tuesday, September 30, 2003

Don't Read This

Chum George at A Fool in the Forest comments on Aaron Haspel's What Not to Read posting, and quotes this graph...

"The biggest spread on Wall Street is reputed to be between your current job and your next one. The biggest spread in the universe, mothers, is between your own and everyone else's interest in the doings of your precious darling. As for the Father of all Mother Bloggers, am I the only one who skips the Gnat parts?"

Now perhaps it is the fact that I enjoy Lileks writing style but tend to disagree with his politics, but I must admit, while I would never read most "mother bloggers", I do read this "father blogger".

Yes, Futurballa is a Gnat reader!

Oh the shame, the shame.

And by the way, I agree with Aaron that Lilexia is a perfect term for this malady. But we also need a term for excessive Frank Lloyd Wright blogging. Wrightism perhaps?
A Thousand Clowns

It has been a bad month. Zevon, Cash, Ritter to start. Plimpton and Palmer the other day (two guys who knew how to wear a suit). This one however did not seem to get much press. Herb Gardner passed away.

If you don't know who Gardner was, he was the playwrite who penned such hit Broadway comedies as "A Thousand Clowns" and the Tony-winning "I'm Not Rappaport".

I remember the movie of "A Thousand Clown" with the great Jason Robards, and when I was a high school drama student it was a favorite piece for scene studies.

Rest in Peace, Herb.

Here is a link to the original Robert Novak piece that started this story (click here).

And this is the paragraph at the heart of the scandal, "Wilson never worked for the CIA, but his wife, Valerie Plame, is an Agency operative on weapons of mass destruction. Two senior administration officials told me Wilson's wife suggested sending him to Niger to investigate the Italian report. The CIA says its counter-proliferation officials selected Wilson and asked his wife to contact him. "I will not answer any question about my wife," Wilson told me."

Seems to me that Novak's current argument that Plame was not a covert operative, but an analyst and that this was common knowledge, is not supported by his own column, and if that was the case, why would the CIA ask for an investigation in the first place?

Stay tuned.

Edit: Josh Marshall makes a similar point here and here.
Blog on Blogging

Via Wired News, links to two separate stories on Blogging.

The first from The UK Guardian takes on the subject of business blogging and how, while information longs to be free, many businesses shudder at the idea. Personally, I am required by my employer not to discuss business matters on any public forum, of which this blog arguably is one (though my site meter might disagree with the characterization "public"). While blogging may have a place in business as the article states, "It's not that weblogging is, as some might tell you, suited only to the self-indulgent whining of young, middle-class technocrats. Long after the term "weblog" is forgotten, the impact of what the word means will live on.", businesses have to be cautious with the legalities and business strategic imperatives of information leaks. Read the rest here.

The second link comes from the NYT and discusses a subject that has had a bit of life around the blogosphere, the editing of Dan Weintraub's California Insider Blog by his editors at the Sacramento Bee. Interestingly the article quotes Dan Weintraub as saying "I think this is more of a logistical issue than a editing issue,'' Mr. Weintraub said. "I've written nearly 500 columns for The Bee; all of them have been edited, and I can count on one hand the number that have been changed in any substantial way. I expect the same to apply to my blog entries." He said his blog had been edited since about Sept. 10. "It might be slightly more difficult to be immediate and spontaneous, but the editors are committed to being available whenever I am ready to post." I cannot say if this is his honest feeling or he is being a good soldier, but I'd be curious to see some of those who were most offended by the idea of a blog being subjected to editorial poicy, such as Mickey Kaus, reply to this quote. Click here, for the whole story.

While this whining, self-indulgent, middle class technocrat, does believe whole-heartedly in the freedom of information, there is a relationship between these two stories. Many of us in the blogosphere have responsibilities to our employers and impose limitations upon ourselves based on those responsibilities. I, for one, do not discuss my company's business, products, schedules or stock in this space. It begs the question, why is blogging inherently different than other public or private forums? Mr. Weintraub is an employee of the Bee, writing on their dime, hosted on their site. Why should what he puts in his blog be different than what he might put in the editorial or opinion pages of the paper? We all accept that op-eds are edited, so why not a blog? The one argument that truly holds water for me is that a blog needs to be immediate, but Dan indicates that his editors are available and prompt, so it looks like that is taken into consideration.

What is clear from this discussion is that blogging raises some questions that need to be resolved. Journalism certainly needs to reevaluate editorial policy in light of new media and the imperatives that this new form brings.

Monday, September 29, 2003

Blow Up

Brian Micklethwait posits a digital version of Antonioni's Blow Up with his Canon A70. We here in digital imaging land always have a good laugh when Scully and Mulder blow up a picture to its resultant pixels and then by some computer magic "enhance" those pixels back to a high resolution image blown up thousands of times. Trust me, to the extreme that you see it in the movies, it ain't happening.

If you are following the Joseph Wilson story, in which the Whitehouse is accused of leaking Wilson's wife's identity and position and thereby outing a CIA operative to the Prince of Darkness (Robert Novak) and 5 other journalists (who had the integrity not to run with it), please make a trip over to Talking Points Memo. Josh Marshall is on this story in a big way. No perma link as it spans a whole series of postings.
Conan the Male Model?

As a blog that is dedicated to photography but often digresses into politics, it always gets my attention when the two subjects intersect. While I don't usually post "gotcha" stories, this article is basically just a factual account that these photos exist and the Schwarzenegger campaign is not happy about it. And besides, I actually like Mapplethorpe as a photographer and am glad for the opportunity to post the below link.

The article from thislondon.com (The Evening Standard's website) can be read here. (link via Buzzflash)

More on Robert Mapplethorpe can be found here.

Friday, September 26, 2003

Mmmmm Churros

Kevin Drum of Calpundit thinks the California Legislature does some good things. I agree! (click here)
Mister... Ander...son

The Matrix Revolutions trailer is online and it looks like there are even more Agent Smiths this time around.

Thursday, September 25, 2003

These are some of my favorite things

What a day for culture bloggers, 3 of my daily stops had articles that touch on my favorite pet subjects. Usually when browsing these blogs, I find myself skimming lengthy discourses on Wagner, Ballet, Frank Lloyd Wright, or dare I say Poetry. But today was a day that rang my proverbial bell.

Terry Teachout touches on archival quality of color photographs at his Arts Journal. Quoting a story from The Art Newspaper, "The Cesar Foundation is proposing a two-part solution. First, photographs should be stored in digital form, so that a new copy can be printed when the original fades. Second, the foundation’s scientists have invented a software programme and device that scans non-digital, "normal" colour photographs which have aged, and then prints off a version which restores the original colour." This is an excellent point that I would add to that when storing the images digitally, it is very important that a file format be chosen that is not compressed. Compression is a form of encoding that requires a key. Assuming that archeolgists might be digging up our digital media, you don't want to have them requiring some kind of Rosseto Stone to decrypt the data. Of course Teachout manages to morph the posting to a discussion of Frank Lloyd Wright's Fallingwater, but I have grown accustomed to this sort of thing. Read the whole thing here.

Brian's culture blog waxes poetic over his new Canon Powershot A70. For a 3 megapixel point and shoot I give Brian kudos for his choice. If I was looking for a camera that I could fit in my pocket for those on the go, photo blogging days, I'd go with the A70 as well. Personally, I am more interested in higher resolution cameras that shoot in the Raw format with more optical zoom than the A70 offers. Under the $1000 price mark I would recommend the Canon G5 and the Digital Rebel, also from Canon, but these tend to be bulkier and in the case of the Rebel require an investment in lenses. Good on you Brian!

And returning to the debate over digital vs. film moviemaking, guest poster Adrian Hyland scores some excellent points at the Two Blowhards. Using David Lynch's Mullholland Drive as an example of artistic film making using HD, he concludes, "Is film dead? It seems it’s too early to say. Perhaps artists such as David Lynch will eventually provide us with the answer. Meanwhile the global marketing war continues. As I write this there are probably Kodak executives in Hollywood, gathered around a desk in a boardroom not unlike the one in “Mulholland Drive”, plotting a way to ensure Lynch never gets his hands on Digital cameras again."

Herbal Viagra for Recall Fatigue

I was just starting my recall links roundup when I discovered that it is a pointless exercise. Virtually every news outlet and blogger has agreed. From Dan Weintraub at California Insider to Mickey Kaus to Salon to the Chron to the LAT are pretty much like a Greek Chorus, reciting, "no winner".

My favorite take so far on the whole circus comes from cartoonist Mark Fiore, who says we may be suffering from Electoral Dysfunction.
(Re)Call of the Wild

First of all, my sincerest apologies to Jack London for the above.

Now on to the recall. I thought I'd take a few moments to run down the list of candidates and give them the futurballa rating of how they did. Perhaps later this morning if I come across some particularly pithy comments in the blogosphere, I might share some links. So, without further ado, from left to right (or right to left, depending on how you look at it).

Arnold - Still no substance. Continues to talk in generalities, platitudes, and sound bites. Took the bait from Arianna, which showed his need to dominate and some general testiness. If we are using the GWB debate standard of exceding lowered expectations, then this was a good outing for Arnold, but if we hold him to the same standard as other candidtates he was weak. I'd call it a wash for Arnold.

Tom - Best performance for a guy I don't agree with on virtually anything. He affirmed his straight shooter creds, knew his policies, expressed them well. His closing statement was an honest statement of why he probably can't be elected to state wide office in California. Anti-Abortion, Pro Gun, too conservative for California. He most likely helped himself with his base and maybe picked up a few conservatives who were holding their nose while intending to vote for Arnold.

Peter - The Green candidate is the McClintock of the left. He knows his issues and policies. Was agressive without getting personal. All in all Camejo did a great job, but the Greens just aren't ready for state wide office. Probably didn't win too many votes because I think most Democrats are still stinging over Nader, but he cemented his creds with the far left. Good performance.

Moderator - Didn't like this guy. A bit too much in love with his own voice and trying to be amusing.

Arianna - Just there to steal the spotlight, and showcase her pet issues. Trying to score points on her opponents. Probably hurt herself as far as getting votes, but I think she may be more about promoting herself and her causes than about getting votes, so that may not matter to her.

Cruz - Passive, tried to stay above the fray. A bit patronizing to Arnold and Arianna. Overall, I think it was a wash for Bustamante. Didn't hurt himself, may have slightly helped himself by just seeming like a reasonable guy, but I would have liked to hear more from him.

The Format - Free for All is the term the news media is using. I think a better moderator would have helped.

The Coverage - Switched between local news (KRON), CNN and Fox for the after debate wrap-ups. Fox, as would be expected was pumping up Arnold. CNN was a bit more balanced (go figure). Both Fox and CNN cut away to Arnold's press conference giving him an extra 10 minutes uninteruppted to spin his performance. To my feeling he came off arrogant and teutonic. The biggest laugh was his spin on why he is only doing one debate. He stated that he did this one because it got high ratings and didn't do the others because nobody was watching. Of course if he had participated more people would have watched. A Catch 22 of course.

I'll be interested to see if there is any movement in the polls in the next few days. I think the man who wasn't there might have been the real winner.

Wednesday, September 24, 2003

Here and There

First of all, get thee to Salon this morning and either subscibe or get a day pass. It is one of those days that Salon is known for, when intriguing subject matter and good prose intersect. I'll make a couple of recomendations to visit while you are there.

The lead article, Bad Moon on the Rise, is a scary read on the power being exerted by the Moonie Unification Church and their ties to conservative politicians, religious leaders and the Bush administration.

The always excellent Eric Boehlart takes on Bush's trip to the UN.

I hardly need to mention that Joe Conason's Journal is a must read, as he is virtually every day, but it's a good one today. He leads with a point that I am in total agreement with, "Weary of providing free entertainment to the world, Californians of all persuasions seem relieved at the 9th Circuit's decision to let the recall election go forward as scheduled. At least it will be over soon, they reason. (Perhaps even the American Civil Liberties Union lawyers who brought the challenge secretly feel that way.)"

Robert Scheer contributes his take on Arnold's soccer mom problem.

And finally at Salon, Andrew Leonard has an early review of Neal Stephenson's Quicksilver, which has been mentioned in this space numerous times, and is availble today. (This futurist is heading over to Amazon as soon as he is done blogging).

Over at Slate, Tim Noah concludes his 2 part piece on why the Republicans are so enamoured with a potential Hillary run in '04.

Josh Marshall in his Hill column compares the Bush administration to Nomad or V'ger, take your pick.

Via Crooked Timber we find that Neal Stephenson has set up a wiki site for Quicksilver. How geeky can you get? Gotta love it.

Congrats to the A's for clinching the AL West last night, and joining my Giants as division champs. Can a futurist dream of a bay bridge series?

And don't forget, tonights the night of the big debate. Should be fun.

Tuesday, September 23, 2003

It's a Mystery

Michael Blowhard this morning discusses the PI novel as a form and Jack Kelly's Mobtown in particular, which got me to thinking about the mystery genre. I've been a lover of the hardboiled PI novel, a la Chandler and Hammett for years, along with their various filmed versions. I tend to alternate my reading between political non-fiction (left leaning), popular science, science fiction, literature lite, and mysteries. But when it comes to mysteries it's gotta be a good one. My sister devours mysteries and often culls the wheat from the chaff on my behalf, and occasionally I'll stumble across something that rocks my mystery house.

A couple of recommendations in the genre...

John Dunning's two Cliff Janeway novels. Cliff is an ex cop turned book dealer who gets embroiled in literary mysteries. These are a book lover's delight full of literary backstory and are well paced potboilers at the same time. The first, Booked to Die introduces Janeway and gives an excellent introduction to the world of antiquariat book dealers. The second novel, The Bookman's Wake, centers on a rare copy of Poe's The Raven.

My other recommendation in a lighter vein is Ayelet Waldman's Mommy Track Mysteries. Ms. Waldman, who happens to be married to Michael Chabon (The Amazing Adventures of Kavalier and Clay) is the author of a series of books that follow the life of an ex prosecutor who is now a stay at home mom, but can't stop getting herself enmeshed in a bit of crime solving. The first in the series (of which there are 4 to date) is Nursery Crimes, but the best in the series is The Big Nap, which involves a murder in the LA Hassidic community.

Read Michael Blowhard's take on Mobtown here.

Monday, September 22, 2003

404 Error - Page not Found

Strongbad's 404 Page

Fun with Statistics

Kevin Drum at Calpundit asks, "I keep hearing that the Ninth Circuit court is a "rogue" liberal court because it's constantly being overturned by the Supreme Court. So I'm curious: there must also be a circuit court that's the least overturned, right? So does that make it a rogue conservative court?"

I actually heard a report on this very subject on a local bay area news station this weekend. It would seem that the 9th is the largest circuit court and last year sent about 24 cases to the Supreme Court of which about 18 were in fact overturned. This indeed makes it the "most overturned court", as angered conservatives often declare. However other courts send between 4 and 8 cases a year to the supreme courts, and the average overturn rate is about the same as the 9th at 73%. In fact with 6 cases upheld last year, one can argue that the 9th circuit is the most upheld court in the country.

So perhaps one could posit that the 9th circuit is all things to all people and a good canditate for Kevin's rogue conservative court.

It's all how you look at it.

Note: The above statistics are from my memory of the report, and may be slightly off, but they definitely convey to spirit of the report and are well within the ballpark.
The 1st Amendment is a 2 Way Street

As my regular readers will note, I've touched on the subject of the controversy surrounding Mel Gibson's film, The Passion before in this space (here -scroll down to Strange Bedfellows post). This morning Frank Rich, who has previously taken this subject on, only to be threatened by Mr. Gibson, along with a threat against Mr. Rich's housepets, has returned to the subject. It is an excellent piece and I commend the entire article to you (Click here).

One of the points he makes is that in this controversy, Mr. Gibson and his supporters, such as Bill O'Reilly, have been very quick to argue that critics of his movie are somehow violating his first amendment rights. This is something that I am seeing more and more in political discourse. I liken it to what Eric Alterman calls "Playing the Refs". Accusing the other side in advance of any actual foul. (Think Vlade Divac).

What does the first amendment guarantee us? Not protection from criticism by other citizens. That is what the first amendment in fact grants us. Actually it should be just this, the right to criticism without fear of retribution, that we are guaranteed. It is neither libelous nor is it in any way limiting Mr. Gibson's rights to express himself for people to criticize his film. Mr. Gibson has received a massive amount of free publicity for this movie. Mostly from his detractors. One can argue what the best tactic would be in this case, let it quietly die the death of a film with limited interest that few people would be able to sit through, or oppose it vociferously as anti-Semitic. And Gibson can make whatever counter arguments he likes. But to cry censorship in the face of criticism should be considered laughable.

Sunday, September 21, 2003

Bigger and Better

Futurballa.com, the site for all your Futurballa Photography needs, is back on line. I switched from using my personal space at my ISP to actually having the site hosted. So my available disk space and allowable bandwidth has grown exponentially. Exciting news for all you Futurballa fans out there, eh?

Not much has changed at this time. Added a link back to this blog and a short bio. I'm starting a new photography course next week, which should lead to some interesting projects that will surely find their way to Futurballa.

If you have never been to Futurballa, or haven't been in a while, feel free to browse around my work. And be sure to watch this space for new additions.


Saturday, September 20, 2003

Futurballa Photography

Just a quick note that my photography site, Futurballa.com is changing hosts and will be down for a day or so.

Friday, September 19, 2003


No not you, him!
(link via Calpundit)

Straddling the Digital Divide

Michael Blowhard has a rather longish rant this morning on the subject of Digital movie making, and in particular Once Upon a Time in Mexico, the Robert Rodriguez flick currently in a cineplex near you. In the course of the piece Michael morphs his subject matter to still photography, iTunes, and CDs vs. Vinyl. While, as someone who straddles the digital divide himself, I disagree with much of what Michael says, it is very hard to argue with him, since he offers the counter arguments himself and is so delightfully curmudgeonly about the whole thing.

Couple of points though about developing technologies. In the area that I am most expert, still photography, I've already seen a ton of improvement in just a few short years. Perhaps because this is a technology that has a large consumer base, combined with a large enough professional base to spur development, we are seeing consumer level digital SLRs in the sub $1000 level (Canon 300D) that offer the full SLR experience to a hobbyist. Creative use of ASA, Aperture, Shutter Speed and interchangeable lenses, are all possible for the digital photographer, giving the kind of focus, tone and depth of field that previously would only be possible with film, in a digital environment. And this is all before going into Photoshop to do any post-processing. And while Photoshop can be used for "digital art", it is also a great digital darkroom, and with restraint a talented Photoshop user can enhance in all of the ways (and more) that a photographer could previously do in the darkroom. The one thing that is missing from digital, which can be faked in Photoshop, is grain. Grain can be something a traditional photographer seeks to emphasize or minimize, depending on the effect they desire, but it always there.

Returning to movies and digital film, I think this is still, to a large extent, new technology. Rodriguez is also an early adopter who works outside the studio system, which he certainly should receive kudos for. Take a look at Star Wars Episode 2 with digital projection to see what digital can look like when it has the full power of ILM behind it. Unfortunately the movie is not very good, but that has nothing to do with it being shot digitally.

I think that as the technology develops many of Michael's complaints about blown out highlights, pixellation (what he calls jaggies), over emphasized detail and color, will be solved. The grain issue will probably not be solved, but a smoother look without the overemphasis on detail will be achieved, and our expectations will also change as digital becomes more ubiquitous. And, as Michael points out, like with CDs, the artists will adapt to take advantage of the strong points of the medium.

Personally, I too am a lover of film, and certainly would consider myself a film buff. I would hate to see film replaced, but I do see digital as a new medium that offers a different palette for the filmmaker.

Read Michael's whole posting here.
Uh Oh!

Why does this worry the hell out of me?

Thursday, September 18, 2003

Dazed and Confused

raises a subject that has been bothering me for a couple of days. Why the turnaround? As recently as last Sunday on Meet the Press, Cheney was still hinting at a Saddam/al Qaida connection, but in the last couple of days the rest of the administration has done a 180 on this subject. When I first heard Rummy contradict Cheney, I figured his days were numbered, but with Condi and Bush on the "Saddam has no ties to al Qaida" bandwagon, I am just plain perplexed.

Josh Marshall makes a similar point here.

And Tom Tomorrow poses the same questions. Are we all too suspicious of some kind of Machiavellian conspiracy behind this, or is it indeed, as Tom asks, "Are they just so insanely short sighted that they're reacting solely to criticism of Cheney's Meet The Press appearance, without any thought to the larger implications of what they're saying?"
Home Sick

The dreaded bug that has been going around my office has caught up to me. So I'm spending the day Working From Home, or WTH as we call it. We have acronyms for everything where I work. OOTO - Out of the Office. GFTD - Gone for the day. And the ever popular PTO, Personal Time Off, just to name a few.

You do get to discover some interesting things when you are sick. Like, did you know that SciFi channel reruns old Dark Shadows episodes in the mornings? I used to rush home from Hebrew School to watch Dark Shadows. Being sick always makes me feel like a kid. So I guess my inner child is 12 today.

But alas, I'm trying to get some work done, without infecting my coworkers, so off with the TV and back to emails.


Wednesday, September 17, 2003

Another Amusing Diversion

Via the Volokh Conspiracy I found this amazing tidbit.

Aoccdrnig to a rscheearch at Cmabrigde Uinervtisy, it deosn't mttaer in waht oredr the ltteers in a wrod are, the olny iprmoetnt tihng is taht the frist and lsat ltteer be at the rghit pclae. The rset can be a total mses and you can sitll raed it wouthit porbelm. Tihs is bcuseae the huamn mnid deos not raed ervey lteter by istlef, but the wrod as a wlohe. Fcuknig amzanig huh?

I Smell Purple

Whatever you do man, don't take the blue acid.

That's "Favorite High Falutin Nude Oil Painting".

The nominees are in at the Blowhards. Click here to take a look. I've placed my vote for L. Laserstein, Traute Washing, c. 1930. It has a futurist look, reminiscent of some of the Russian propaganda art, but then in a decadent way that the Stalinists would have rejected. I thought it an appropriate choice for Futurballa.

Tuesday, September 16, 2003

In which Futurballa answers his own question

Via Daniel Weintraub's California Insider Blog, we link to this Sac Bee article which answers a couple of questions posed here and elsewhere.

First of all in answer to my question of will delaying the recall simply add to the bill that the taxpayers are footing for this circus, the Bee says, "Monday's court ruling postponing the Oct. 7 recall vote left elections officials confused and frustrated as they suggested they may have to throw away tens of thousands of absentee ballots already cast by voters.

"Barring a legal decision that restores the Oct. 7 election date, voting officials said they likely will end up throwing away the thousands of absentee ballots that already have been returned by voters."

And in reference to the suggestion posted by George Wallace, in which some of the untenable candidates might take this chance to withdraw their names from the ballot so as to alleviate the chaos, the Bee has this to say, "Election experts also said they believed the counties, which are spending an estimated $70 million preparing for the October vote, will have to prepare new ballots for a March vote and would have to include the names of all candidates who have qualified, even if they did not want to be listed.

"So, for instance, Republicans Bill Simon and Peter Ueberroth, who both are on the ballot but have scrapped their campaigns, would still be listed in a March ballot, experts said."

As I know at least one of my regular readers (and there aren't that many) is a fan of Neil Gaimon, I thought I would share the AICN review of the BBC Miniseries that was recently released on DVD.

An interesting bit of trivia is that the miniseries actually predates the book, but when it got mixed reviews and a second season was cancelled by the BEEB, Gaimon decided to adapt his scripts into a novel.

The review is also fairly brutal in pointing out the flaws in the production, but for the hardcore Gaimon fan it sounds like all can be forgiven. Read the whole thing here.

On a side note, I came across this tribute site to American Gods, my favorite Gaimon novel. Great info on all of the Gods in the book, from Allvis to Zorva. And a nice section on The House on the Rock. Makes you want to hop in the car and head for Wisconsin.

Looking for Culture in all the wrong places

On my morning perusal, I was pleasantly surprised to find a mention of one of my favorite authors on Eugene Volokh's blog. Go figure.
The Choir will be heard from

One more note in this ongoing discussion between myself and Monsieur Fool. First of all, thanks to him for linking to this posting from Electionlaw Blog, it seems that he who lives by Bush v. Gore, dies by Bush v. Gore.

The other thing that I wanted to toss in the pot, that is yet to be answered in this, and probably won't be answered until any appeals have been granted or rejected by the 9th and the Supremes, is what will this cost? While signatures were still being collected one of the main objections I had to the recall was that why spend 60 or 70 million dollars when our state is already strapped for cash on a recall election that might result in a) no change in government or b) Davis to be replaced but the reasons the State is a mess turn out to be beyond the control of the governor's office and we see no benefit from replacing Davis. Of course, when the recall was approved that argument became moot, but now that the recall may be delayed I would like to know what additional costs will be incurred in reprinting and remailing voter information and absentee ballots?

The rest of this discussion can be read here, here and here.

Monday, September 15, 2003

Undemocratic, Indeed

My dear, but somewhat more to the right, friend, George, at Fool in the Forest, makes a very plausible argument of why the California recall, in spite of protestations from the Davis camp and President Clinton, is in fact a very democratic process. In the spirit of full disclosure and so as not to unfairly summarize his argument, I quote the entire graph in question...

"All of which is by way of working back to my pet peeve in the recall campaign: those who insist that the process is "undemocratic." (Mr. Clinton, of course, rolled that one out, as do all of Governor Davis' anti-recall adverts.) "Undemocratic" would be Arnold's Army marching in the streets of Sacramento, demanding Davis' resignation or his head. "Undemocratic" would be an effort to oust Davis without using the procedures, involving an election and the casting of ballots, that have been incorporated in the laws of the state for nearly a century. "Undemocratic" efforts by "right wing" groups would presumably have included a single approved Republican candidate to replace the Governor, rather than the large field (rather more of whom are self-designated as Democrats than as Republicans, and notably missing the key source of funding for the original recall petition) that the process has actually yielded. "Undemocratic" would more likely incorporate the idea that when you approach the ballot box on October 7 (or thereafter, depending on the 9th Circuit's next decision) it is your duty as a citizen to vote in only one way - against recall - as Davis' proxies urge in his Advertisements That Dare Not Speak His Name. Messy this process may be and is, but undemocratic it is not."

The arguments he makes are completely reasonable and correct in so far as the arguments he makes. Yes if we contrast the idea of a Democratic election with something totally undemocratic, such as jackboot thugs telling you who you can vote for, then the recall is democratic and the other option not. But the jackboot thug scenario is a pretty extreme analogy. What about the analogy of a recall that takes 25% of the electorate who cast a vote in the previous election to place their signatures on a petition? Which is the method that Nevada uses. And what about a recall election that calls for a runoff between the two candidates that get the most votes? Would that not be more democratic than replacing a candidate that was elected within the last year with a majority of votes by a candidate with a slim plurality of the votes? Would these options not be considered to be a more democratic method of allowing the people to replace an unpopular official, but in a way that the democratic majority actually got the chance to have their voice heard. While it is extremely unlikely that a 15% candidate will get chosen, it is mathematically possible. Is it not undemocratic to have 45% say no to recall and a replacement picked by a lesser number, meaning potentially that the replacement has less democratic support than the current Governor?

I will concede that to contrast Democratic with Undemocratic, by the very use of the prefix "un", invites black and white contrasts. But my contention is that one can take a more nuanced approach. And besides, an ad that flashes, "Vote NO on Recall, it is kind of undemocratic", would make for a lousy ad.
A Little bit of Politix

Cheney's performance on Meet The Press yesterday, and some of the more than questionable statements made therein are all over the political blogosphere this morning, but Josh Marshall does his usual excellent job of dissecting his appearance here.

Calpundit also has some related postings, in particular of Cheney here. And more general of the administrations "forthrightness" (read honesty) here.

And Kevin has another excellent piece on religion in American and why liberals should pick their battles here. I tend to agree with him in his basic premise of "don't sweat the little stuff, but some things are worth fighting for" thesis. As a member of a minority religion, I am very sensitive to having Christianity stuffed down my throat by the majority, but things like the Pledge controversy or "In God We Trust", seem pretty innocuous and are not going to lead to a theocracy, or at least haven't up until now.

Why doesn't Blogger.com's spellcheck function include the word Blog in its dictionary?

Just seems kinda odd.
Why am I such a coward?

Having spent an hour wandering the aisles of my local Tower Records yesterday, a niggling anxiety burrowed its way into my stomach in a way not unlike some furry creatures in a cave grooving with a pict. What was wrong? What was it that was eating away at me? Ah yes, I'm getting fricking old! I had picked up at least a half dozen CDs by artists that I never heard of, CDs with cool cover art, and band names that said, "I'm hip, give me a listen, you whanker". But each time I put the CD back on the shelf, feeling that $13.99 or $17.99 was too much to spend on something I'd never heard of.

The old Rick, the Rick who wandered the stacks at Berkeley's Rasputin's back in the late '70s would have taken the chance, but not the mid-forties Rick, who seems to only buy stuff by artists he has been listening to for years. Yes, records were $3.99 back then, but I earned a lot less, so that is no excuse. Yes, experience has taught me that I brought home some real stinkers, but I also brought home Pere Ubu. Also true that back then I was hanging out with friends that would put Henry Cow or Gong on the turntable, but I was also putting interesting music on the turntable for them.

Have I become my father? Is Elvis Costello my Frank Sinatra? Please help! Send your suggestions. I promise to give a listen.

Oh, and what did I finally walk away with? Spearhead's "Everyone Deserves Music". And I'll recommend it to my readers that may have never heard Spearhead before.

And on slightly related notes. Brian Mickelthwait of Brian's Culture Blog has an extremely interesting posting about biological fractals effect on the sounds produced by your Nine Inch Nails CDs. Just smear some yoghurt on them and see what happens. Read it here.

And CNN's Showbuzz informs us that The Pixie's may be reforming. Here.

Saturday, September 13, 2003

Mmmmmm... Googie

Or if you like Googie like I like Googie.

It seems lately that some of my favorite artblogs have been on a bit of a Frank Lloyd Wright kick, which I believe was started by this posting at 2Blowhards and picked up here and here and here. FLW is a perfectly noble thing to blog about, but I must admit my ignorance and would not deign to put in my proverbial 2 cents on the subject of Wright.

My favorite comment in this discussion came from Michael Blowhard via Aaron Haspel, "As Michael Blowhard reminds us in his discussion of Frank Lloyd Wright, nobody wants to live or work in Art. Art's roof leaks. Art's chairs tip. Art doesn't have enough parking." Which by a circuitous route led me to think about posting about architecture that had enough parking (and still might be called Art). In fact Googie was a style that you might see at a drive-in restaurant or a drive-in theater, both renowned for adequate parking.

I've mentioned my love of Roadside Vernacular Architecture and in particular Googie before. Googie is the Tomorrowland style that began in Southern California in the '50s and '60s. Some call it the "Jetsons" style. Googie actually finds its origins in the late '40s with some Dan's Restaurants designed by John Lautner. Space age city's Googie site explains how it got its name, "Professor Douglas Haskell of Yale was driving through Los Angeles when he and architectural photographer Julius Shulman came upon Googie's. "Stop the car!" Haskell yelled. "This is Googie architecture." While Haskell was dubious about the style, he made the name "Googie architecture" stick by using it in a 1952 article in House and Home magazine. Unfortunately, the term soon came to be a slur in "serious" architectural circles."

An excellent Googie resource as mentioned above is Space Age City. You may also want to check out Googie Art for prints of Googie style landmarks. In fact I used to eat at some of these places. Roadside Peek also has a very nice Googie section. And this fellow is also known to have a soft spot for roadside architecture.

Friday, September 12, 2003

One more note on the Man in Black

Stephanie Zacharek at Salon has a wonderful tribute to Johnny Cash that is well worth clicking through the ad for a daypass. A couple of snippets that are worth sharing here...

If you took every note that Johnny Cash didn't quite hit and laid them end-to-end, they'd probably reach clear around the world. And so what? His was one of the greatest voices of both country and rock 'n' roll (he's one of the few artists to be elected to both halls of fame), a voice that was beautifully suited to heart-wrenching romantic ballads but that was just as often, or perhaps more often, used to speak up for the downtrodden and the forgotten -- or for anyone who may have simply made a mistake in life. Low and dark, devoid of cream and especially sugar, Cash's voice was the sound of black coffee, a sound you didn't know you needed until you got that first sip. And by then you were hooked.

But Cash's most lasting contribution may be his rough-and-ready sense of social justice. He wasn't political in the strictest sense of the word. But when something in the world struck him as unfair or wrong, he spoke up with an urgency unmatched by nearly any other artist. His "Singin' in Viet Nam Talkin' Blues" is a rambling account of the trip he and June took there in the late '60s to perform for the troops; the song is rambling not because Cash's thoughts are unorganized, but because even as he's telling us the story of what he and June saw there, he still can't make sense of it -- there is no sense to be made. In "The Ballad of Ira Hayes" (written by Peter LaFarge), he tells, with unvarnished bitterness, the story of a whisky-drinking Marine, a Native American who helped raise the American flag at Iwo Jima, only to return home to a country that couldn't care less whether he lived or died.

Read the whole thing here.
Rick's Picks

Purusing new and future DVD releases at Amazon the other day, I found that Criterion will be releasing a box set of Fassbinder's BRD Trilogy. His portraits of 3 women in post-war Germany consist of The Marriage of Maria Braun, Veronika Voss, and Lola. I'm sure Criterion will do their usual excellent job of presenting these essential works in Rainer Werner Fassbinder's canon.

A Few Good Links

Disney will be releasing a 6 minute cartoon based on the works of Salvador Dali. This unusual collaboration began in 1946 and was shelved due to financial problems at the time. Dali wrote to Andre Breton in 1937, "I have come to Hollywood and am in touch with the three great American surrealists -- the Marx Brothers, Cecil B. DeMille and Walt Disney," The film is called Destino. Read the whole article here (via Wired).

SFGate has this piece about Dave Barry's revenge on telemarketers. Hard to feel sorry for them.

Nice piece at Salon on "the Action Figure President". Read it here.

CNN has this article on the British filmgoers poll of the best movie year ever. The winner was 1939 (Gone with the Wind, Wizard of Oz), with 1974 (Godfather II, Chinatown) as runner up. '39 has always been thought of as a great year in film making, but as decades go, and not just in American cinema, it is the '70s that win the Futurballa prize for best decade. I promise a more detailed discussion of '70s cinema on some other day.
The Man in Black

Johnny Cash has passed away. He had been ill for quite a while and with the death of June Carter Cash recently it is not surprising that he followed his "mama bear".

Cash was a bit of an anamoly. A deeply religeous man, an outlaw, hard living, and deeply in love with his second wife June, a country music icon who covered Nine Inch Nails Hurt on his recent album American IV, who worked with Bob Dylan on the Nashville Skyline sessions and according to his daughter Roseanne was against the Iraq invasion. Through June, who was the daughter of Mother Maybelle Carter, Cash was tied to the roots of country music, he was part of the Country Supergroup the Highwaymen with Kris Kristofferson, Waylon Jennings and Willie Nelson, and through his work with Dylan and later through his work with rock producer Rik Rubin bridged the gap to Rock. Johnny defied definition and was always his own man.

His voice could make a grown man cry and often did. Even in his final works, his voice was not strong as it used be, but you could hear a man who had lived. Every hurt, every success, every moment of joy or sorrow could be heard in his deep gravelly baritone.
Cash was a man who always spoke for the poor man, the downtrodden, the convict. He sang the songs that told their story, like a modern day Woody Guthrie. In many ways he embodied America, what we are and what we aspire to be.

When I was a kid Cash was at the height of his stardom producing a string of hits, I Walk the Line, Folsom Prison Blues, Ring of Fire, Jackson (with June) and A Boy Named Sue (with lyrics by Shel Silverstein), to name a few. And he had probably the best line in all of country music in Folsom Prison Blues, "I shot a man in Reno, Just to see him die".

Read John Gerome's AP report here.

And here is the NYT's obit by Stephen Holden.

Thursday, September 11, 2003

The Wedding Anniversary

Just a short posting this a.m., as I'm off to the dentist. Will try to come up with something more this afternoon.

September 11th today, and a melancholy day, as one might expect. My wedding anniversary happens to be September 11th, and the attack on the WTC happened to coincide with my second one. That night we felt like we couldn't let our anniversary go by without at least a dinner out, so we went to what is usually a very crowded fish restaurant here in San Jose, and sat in what seemed like an empty cave with one or two other couples, dining quietly and sadly, in celebration of our wedding.

I am a bit too young to remember in great detail the death of President Kennedy, but my whole life, persons slightly older than myself have used that as a signpost of their life. "Where were you when you heard that President Kennedy was shot?", they ask of each other. I do clearly remember as a 9 year old child, watching the California primary coverage on TV when Bobby was shot. I remember Rosie Greer tackling Sirhan Sirhan, and am certain that it is not the archive footage that is imprinted in my mind, but the actual broadcast that I saw live at that very moment.

Where we were when we heard that the towers had been attacked and what we did that day will also be one of those indelible signposts in our lives. Where you can see it in your minds eye as if it happened yesterday. Those events are gratefully few. So that is why my wedding anniversary will always have a melancholy twinge.


Wednesday, September 10, 2003

Douglas on Adams

My favorite fool has brought to my attention, AC Douglas' blog on Ansel Adams. As I've mentioned Adams several times before in this blog, I could not refrain from linking this posting.

Douglas is absolutely spot on. His assessment of Adam's skill and artistry and the effect it has on any aspiring photographer is about as good a description of Adam's work as I've read.

"So what's with that photograph?, you may ask It's simply a pretty picture. And indeed it's nothing more than that -- until, that is, one has seen at first hand an original Adams print of that pretty picture, whereupon the pretty picture immediately becomes something infinitely greater; something almost unimaginable for one with no prior experience of an original Adams print. The initial experience is one of aesthetic shock; or better, aesthetic arrest, to use Joyce's language. One even has some difficulty seeing the print as a photograph so physically different does it appear from an ordinary black-and-white photographic image. The blacks are impossibly deep; the whites, impossibly radiant; the gradation of tones from deepest black to most brilliant white, impossibly rich, subtle, and delicately detailed; and the lambently luminous whole so seemingly three-dimensional one imagines one could reach one's hand beyond the print's surface and deep into the image itself."

Adams teaches us that to complete Artistry you need technical skill, but all the technical skill in the world will not make you an artist.
The Harvey Pekar Interview

Having discussed the film American Splendor before, I could not fail to mention that The Onion AV Club has an interview with Harvey Pekar today. In typical Pekar fashion he describes his experience on the set, " I just used to go down to the set and hang around and mooch free meals and talk to the people there that I liked."

Read the whole thing here.
Cinema and Art

Let me recommend to you today a visit to The Two Blowhards. Two excellent pieces that touch on interests shared by Futurballa. The first (in chronological, or reverse blog order) is this posting, posted by Michael Blowhard, is on French cinema and in particular Jacques Becker's Touchez Pas Au Grisbi. Yet another example of the French fascination with gangster movies. If it was not for Jerry Lewis and American gangster movies, I venture to say there would be no French cinema to speak of. Other examples worth watching, off the top of my head, Godard's A Bout de Souffle. To a lesser extent Godard's Alphaville also plays on the hardboiled detective genre, although in a Science Fiction setting. Jean-Pierre Mellvilles's Bob le Flambeur, which I have discussed previously in reference to the recent remake, The Good Thief. Jean-Jacques Beineix's stylish, but essentially empty Diva. Just to name a few.

The second posting which was contributed by Freidrich Blowhard, asks the question, what is your favorite nude painting? Freidrich nominates Ingres' Woman Bathing. Definitely a worthy choice. I had to give this a lot of thought, on one hand having a prejudice towards photography, I'd probably go with a Man Ray or a Manuel Alvarez Bravo nude or possilby Imogen Cunningham, but I wanted to stick to the rules and pick a painting. After much thought, I went with another Ingres. Venus Anadiomene - 1808. Very reminiscent of Botticelli's Birth of Venus, but more modern and with more humanity. Runner up would be Courbet's Sleep.

Tuesday, September 09, 2003

Have Spacesuit, Will Travel

This has been around the blogosphere for a few days, but it is well worth repeating. They've uncovered Robert Heinlein's unpublished first novel and the word is that it is good.

The Heinlein society reports, "As of this writing, August 31, 2003, there are only about half a dozen people in the entire known universe who can accurately claim that they have read every novel Heinlein has written.
For those of us who thought there would never again be another new Heinlein novel, the impossible has become reality . "For Us, the Living," is a brand new, never before published novel by Robert A. Heinlein. It is going into print now for the first time and will be in bookstores by the end of November, 2003.

"For Us, the Living" was written by Heinlein about 1938-9, before he wrote his first sf short, "Lifeline." The novel, "For Us, the Living," was deemed unpublishable, mainly for the racy content."

Reading Heinlein as an adolescent is what hooked me on Science Fiction, starting with Stranger in a Strange Land and the later works, and working backwards.

Pre-orders are being taken on Amazon.

via BlogCritics
Pick of the Moment

Check out the video for Fountains of Wayne's Stacy's Mom. Great pop hooks, hilariouis lyrics and Rachel Hunter in the Video. What more could you want?

Very early 80s, kind of Fast Times at Ridgemont High without Spicoli.

Watch it here.
Everybody was Kung Fu Fighting

There seems to be a glut of Kung Fu and martial arts films right now, whether it is still a continuing response to Crouching Tiger or it is getting on the Tarantino bandwagon ahead of the release of the much awaited Kill Bill, or a last ditch attempt to get some Matrix mojo, Futurballa does not know. But right now you have:

Kill Bill
Shaolin Soccer
The Medallion
The Last Samurai
Matrix Revolutions
So Close

Maybe it's me, but this seems like a fairly large number of mainstream releases at one time.

I actually like martial arts films. The mix of grace and action and humor and the absolute suspension of disbelief required, usually make for a fun time. Not undiscriminating though so won't be in line for Shaolin Soccer or the Medallion, but the rest look like they might be worth seeing.

But when are they going to release my favorite Kung Fu movie of all time on DVD? The Silent Flute (AKA Circle of Iron)
Around the Web

Joe Conason's Journal on what was missing from Bush's address.

At Slate, Dahlia Litwhick says that the Chief Justice was getting kvetchy. Click here for her piece on Campaign Finance Reform.

And Tim Noah discusses how the neo-cons have turned on Rummy. Read it here.

Via the NYT we hear that Leni Riefenstahl has died at 101. Who is Karl Rove going to get to film the Republican Convention now?

Also at the paper of record, Krugman gets to say "I told you so", which he in fact did.

Education and Politcal Correctness are the pet peeve of my friend George, but I couldn't resist sharing this piece from SFGate. PB&J banned from the schoolyard, what next?

The NY Daily News has an odd story on Mel Gibson. With quotes like these I think he is going to have a hard time arguing that he is not anti-semitic (and possibly psychotic).

"Why are they calling her a Nazi? Because modern secular Judaism wants to blame the Holocaust on the Catholic Church. And it's revisionism. And they've been working on that one for a while."

and referring to a quote from the book of Matthew about the culpability of the Jews, he has this to say, "I wanted it in," Gibson tells Boyer. "But, man, if I included that in there, they'd be coming after me at my house, they'd come kill me."

And to Frank Rich of the Times, who commented on Gibson's defense of his father as being "PR spin to defend a holocaust denier", Gibson had this to say, "I want to kill him. I want his intestines on a stick. ... I want to kill his dog." (Rich told us, through a Times spokeswoman, "I don't have a dog.")

Read the rest here.

CNN has a very nice bio piece on Al Franken. I just finished the book and it is a fact filled fun fest.

The Thin White Duke is still staying ahead of the curve technologically.

Monday, September 08, 2003

Life'll Kill Ya

One more parting note on the death of Warren Zevon. Via ESPN's Page 2, here is Zevon's close friend, Hunter S. Thompson's 2001 column on Zevon.

Dr. Thompson said of Zevon,

"Warren Zevon is a poet. He has written more classics than any other musician of our time, with the possible exception of Bob Dylan."


"Warren is a profoundly mysterious man, and I have learned not to argue with him, about hockey or anything else. He is a dangerous drinker, and a whole different person when he's afraid. "

Sleep Well, Warren

Warren Zevon died Sunday at the end of 56. As regular Futurballa readers will note, I've mentioned Zevon a number of times and the fact that he was living with lung cancer while finishing, and releasing a final Album, The Wind.

Zevon was the Hunter Thompson of Rock, moving from gonzo humor like Werewolves of London, Roland the Headless Thompson Gunner, and Lawyers, Guns and Money, to the poignancy of songs like Hasten Down the Wind and Carmelita.

You can read the AP obit here.
And the Geoff Boucher's piece from the LA Times (via sfgate.com) can be read here.

Zevon was able to see the birth of his twin grandchildren and the release of his critically acclaimed final album. He once wrote "I'll Sleep When I'm Dead", all I can say is sleep well. I and my compatriots will drink a Pina Colada in his honor.

Sunday, September 07, 2003

The Bunuel Martini

The great Spanish, surrealist film director, Luis Bunuel was also a connoisseur of the Gin Martini, with an olive of course, being a Spaniard and all. So as a Sunday treat I thought I'd share a small excerpt from his autobiography, The Last Sigh, which is unfortunately out of print. Don Luis was a great director with a razor sharp wit, and as mentioned before in this blog (see the last part of the "About" posting), defined in some ways both the Spanish and French cinemas, not to mention Mexican film. His scathing criticism of the Catholic Church, always with biting humor and his satirical portraits of the bourgeoisie, along with the surrealist concepts and images that permeate his films define Luis Bunuel's work from his earliest silent film, "Un Chien Andalou" (made in collaboration with Salvador Dali) to his final film, "That Obscure Object of Desire".

So without further ado, the Bunuel Martini...

"To provoke, or sustain, a reverie in a bar, you have to drink English gin, especially in the form of a martini. To be frank, given the primordial role played in my life by the dry martini, I really think I ought to give it at least a page. Like all cocktails, the martini, composed essentially of gin and a few drops of Noilly Prat, seems to have been an American invention. Connoisseurs who like their martinis very dry suggest simply allowing a ray of sunlight to shine through a bottle of Noilly Prat before it hits the bottle of gin. At a certain period in America it was said that the making of a dry martini should resemble the Immaculate Conception, for, as Saint Thomas Aquinas once noted, the generative powers of the Holy Ghost pierced the virgin's hymen 'like a ray of sunlight through a window - leaving it unbroken.'

"Another crucial recommendation is that the ice be so cold and hard that it won't melt, since nothing's worse than a watery martini. For those who are still with me, let me give you my personal recipe, the fruit of long experimentation and guaranteed to produce perfect results. The day before your guests arrive, put all the ingredients - glasses, gin, and shaker - in the refrigerator. Use a thermometer to make sure the ice is about twenty degrees below zero (centigrade). Don't take anything out until your friends arrive; then pour a few drops of Noilly Prat and half a demitasse spoon of Angostura bitters over the ice. Shake it, then pour it out, leaving only the ice, which retains a faint taste of both. Then pour straight gin over the ice, shake it again, and serve.

"(During the 1940s, the director of the Museum of Modern Art in New York taught me a curious variation. Instead of Angostura, he used a dash of Pernod. Frankly, it seemed heretical to me, but apparently it was only a fad.)"

-- Luis Bunuel
from My Last Sigh (1983)
Translation copyright 1983 by Alfred A. Knopf, Inc.

You can also see the Bunuel Martini mixed in his "The Discreet Charm Of The Bourgeoisie"


Friday, September 05, 2003


Tying in nicely with my earlier Gibson post today, Friend George brought this to my attention, via Crooked Timber....
Things to do with Google.

*The answer to the question: What is the answer to life, the universe and everything?
Friday Roundup

At Salon is an interview with Garry Trudeau about the Masturbation strip.

And Boehlart on Clark.

At Slate, Will Saletan summarizes the Democratic Debate from last night. I was very disappointed to see that it was not broadcast live here on the west coast, but shown at midnight on PBS. Well past Futurballa's bedtime.

Also at Slate, Chris Sullentrop has his take on the Debate. This graf caught my eye.

The buzz among the press corps before the debate is that John Kerry is finally going to go toe to toe with Dean, in an attempt to close the double-digit lead that the former Vermont governor has opened over Kerry in New Hampshire. But it's wallflower Joe Lieberman who pummels Dean instead. Rocky showed up to fight Apollo Creed, but somehow he ended up in the ring with Paulie.

Don't miss the great Molly Ivins as she confronts the administration with their own words. Click here.

Away from politics, Freidrich Blowhard goes Lileks on us with a nice piece on boys and tools.

The real James Lileks has some suggestions for Sony, and some amusing comments about Macworld (a publication that Futurballa also enjoys).

The mailbox was full of magazines today - Macworld, always welcome. I've been subscribing to it since 1989 or so, and occasionally I wonder: what did they put in the mags in those early years? No internet, no video, no digital photography - all they had was Freehand vs. Illustrator pt. 34, or Laser Printer Shootout - which of these $19,000 printers should you buy? The motto should have been: Macworld, the magazine for people who put out Macworld.

Read it here.

Terry Teachout at About Last Night whets our appetite for a Criterion release of Jean Renoir's Rules of the Game next year.


No Maps

Futurballa recently saw the movie No Maps For These Territories, which follows author William Gibson on a car trip from Los Angeles to his home in Vancouver, though he never seems to completely leave Los Angeles. If you are not familar with William Gibson, he is the author of the seminal Cyberpunk Science Fiction novel Neuromancer. His most recent work Pattern Recognition sits at this moment in the stack of books that exceed the time Futurballa has for leisure reading, but it is near the top.

Gibson is the man who coined the phrase Cyberspace, and is considered something of a visionary. The conversations in the film are wide ranging, discussing the sixties, drugs, William S. Burroughs, technology, pornography, and his writings. At one point Gibson says, (and I probably paraphrase) "The internet is where we go to find things". This got me to thinking, could the internet be our I Ching? Is Google the Map for this new territory? What if I plugged in the concepts that man has been searching for for all eternity and hit, "I'm Feeling Lucky"? Would this be the map for this territory? Or would it lead me to more penis enlargements, herbal viagra, and working at home schemes?

The list I came up with, in the highly scientific manner of making it up is as follows; love, sex, food, happiness, peace, health, companionship, and God. I rated them on a scale of 1 to 10 on my Map Index, with 1 being No Map, and 10 being a Map for this territory. Let's go...

Love: The Love Calculator, enter the name of two persons and Dr. Love will tell you if they are compatible. I'd give this a 8 on the Map index.
Sex: Safersex.org. To my surprise, not a porn site, but a site on using condoms. A fairly postive rating on the Map Index, shall we say a 7.
Food: The Food Network. Give it a 9, chock full of recipes.
Peace: Greenpeace. Make a donation while you are there. An 8.
Happiness: Happiness.com. The site of a magazine that seems to feature white, southern, blonde, christian people being happy and moral etc. Did not particularly make me Happy, but might be someone's cup of tea. I'll give it a 2.
Health: The National Institute of Health. Some useful info, not commercial, run by government, reminds me of The Secret of the Nimh. Give it a 6.
Companionship: This article on Mastiffs as companions. Not much help for those of us not looking to purchase a Mastiff. I'll give it a 3, because this might be the map to companionship for any Mastiff lovers amongst us.
God: Redirects to an MP3 site called wippit.com, where supposedly, according to the redirect message, you can download the New Testament on MP3. The home page does not have a readily visible link to religeous texts on MP3. Gotta give it a 0. God is better sought within.

The average score of this highly scientific survey was 4.7, which seems pretty average and makes Google's I'm Feeling Lucky method, no better or worse a Map for These Territories than any other fairly random device for decision making.

Thursday, September 04, 2003

A Visual Haiku

Via Fool in the Forest, Duchamp's In Advance of the Broken Arm.
Obligatory Matrix Posting

I've actually seen this before, but only in a postage stamp size version, so I thought this one was worth passing on.

Matrix Ping Pong

And remember those portraits of JFK you did in typing class?

ASCII Matrix

Via Wired we find this NYT article, to which I say Duh!

Fiore brings us candidate Arnold in Pumping Irony

At Working for Change, Joe Conason looks at how the right has embraced Arnold. Can you say relativism? Read it here.

This article on CNN came via a link that read "One Dead in Amish Tomato-Tossing Prank". I couldn't resist.

Terry Teachout enjoys a Monday Matinee of The Adventures of Robin Hood over at About Last Night. Futurballa is also a big fan of the Swashbuckler, and Errol Flynn movies in particular. The sword fight between Flynn and Basil Rathbone on the beach in Captain Blood being a favorite movie moment, followed closely by the sword fight between Rathbone and Tyrone Power in The Mark of Zorro and the fight between Rathbone and Flynn in the aforementioned Robin Hood is also a ton o' fun. It's all about Basil Rathbone. And by the way, Futurballa has also been known to sneak out and catch a matinee on a weekday.

In the "news of the wierd" department, Aaron Haspel has this rather odd story of Ivy League Oddness. Glad I was in the public university system.

And finally this little snippet via Crooked Timber

"From a Guardian article bemoaning the decline of national cinematic traditions comes the following catalogue of national characteristics as revealed in film:

The Japanese, haunted by feudal warlords and ancestral ghosts. The Italians, preoccupied with fascism, communism and huge family meals. The Spanish, grappling with catholicism, beggars and a taste for the surreal. The repressed, puritanical, Swedes. The French, who adored infidelity, bourgeois dinner parties and murders in provincial towns. The British, engaged in an interminable class struggle. The Russians, the Poles and the Czechs, evading the communist censors with sophisticated comedies and metaphorical allegories. And, of course, the Americans and their obsession with rugged individualism, the wild frontier and the 'American dream'."

Did you notice that the characteristics of both Spanish movies (grappling with catholicism and a taste for the surreal) and French movies (bourgeois dinner parties) actually are both attributable to Luis Bunuel?

Minor White

In a continuing series of Photography postings.

Minor White was the man who developed the Zone System along with Ansel Adams, and managed to condense it in to a thin manual instead of Ansel Adam's three volume opus. The Zone System is hard to describe in a couple of sentences, but suffice it to say that it is the concept of previsualizing your photographs before shooting and by use of metering, developing and printing achieving a desired neutral tone. It is particularly geared towards Black and White photography, though I believe that some have adapted it to Color. And it is also more useful when using a View Camera that works with a single plate or negative, so the whole process can be geared towards a single shot.

Where Adams was shooting highly realistic landscapes and portraits for the most part, using the Zone System to key a desired tone and gain amazing tonal range, White was using the Zone system to push the tones of his images towards the abstract. Often he shot close ups of objects in ways that concentrated on texture and tone, so that a piece of wood or stone would be barely recognizable for what it was.

White was a cofounder of Aperture magazine along with Adams, and was a controversial instructor at MIT, who mixed large doses of spirituality with his lessons in photography.

Here are some interesting links if you are interested in learning a bit more about Minor White.

Bio from MIT's website
Another Bio from ProPhotos
Gallery from Masters of Photography
Excellent Gallery from Joseph Bellows Gallery


Wednesday, September 03, 2003

Knock Knock

Can't take credit for this one, but the morning crew at Kfog mentioned this yesterday and it tickled my funny bone.

Arnold Schwarznegger has said that he will be going up and down the state knocking on doors.

Can you imagine opening the door and there stands the Terminator...

"Are you Sarah Connor?"
Rocky 2004

David Talbot at Salon compares Al Franken and Howard Dean to Rocky today. Really... click here.

Coincidentally, a good friend of Futurballa's sent me a link to Dean's website today. I haven't really picked my candidate yet and see good things in Dean, Kerry, and am still intrigued by a possible Clark entry into the race. But the more I see of Dean with his staunch antiwar stance and his moderate to progressive stance in other areas, I like what I see. But what is beginning to catch my attention the most is that he seems to be the candidate that scares the Republicans the most.

The Republicans and by extension the Administration are very good at playing a game of misdirection. They smirkingly praise and welcome the candidacies of unelectable persons like Al Sharpton, while they deride as unelectable those candidates that are the biggest threat. Dean has been drawing the most fire, and if he can withstand the heat and emerge stronger, he just might be the guy to take on Bush next year.

Tuesday, September 02, 2003


Michael Blowhard, today, has his take on American Splendor. He is much less enthusiastic than Futurballa, but he does give links to David Edelstein's more appreciative review, along with Terry Teachout's take, and to Harvey's own site/blog.

I think the main point that Michael misses and that Terry Teachout sums up so well, is that the film is not about Harvey Pekar. Paul Giamatti plays the character in the American Splendor comic books, with scenes taken straight from the books and even framed in comic book style. Certainly Pekar writes about himself in his comix, but it is a fictionalized self. Perhaps it would have been interesting to get a biopic about the real Harvey, but it would be a very different movie. Teachout compares the movie to Terry Zwigoff's Ghost World (also a great flick). I think if this had been a more realistic movie the comparison would be with another Zwigoff film, Crumb.
They Really Do Just Make Stuff Up

Daniel Benjamin's piece over at Slate caught my eye this morning. It seems the Bush Team has been at it again. Not only are Condi and Rummy going out telling the same stories with the same spin points at separate appearances, they've got their history wrong. Who was it who was complaining about "revisionist historians"? The story that the national security team is spreading is that the Iraq occupation is not so much different than post-war Germany, where bands of Nazi resistance fighters called Werewolves were busy sabotaging the occupation. But reality is a bit different.

It's hard to understand exactly what Rumsfeld was saying, but if he meant that the Nazi resisters killed Americans after the surrender, this would be news. According to America's Role in Nation-Building: From Germany to Iraq, a new study by former Ambassador James Dobbins, who had a lead role in the Somalia, Haiti, Bosnia, and Kosovo reconstruction efforts, and a team of RAND Corporation researchers, the total number of post-conflict American combat casualties in Germany—and Japan, Haiti, and the two Balkan cases—was zero.

Read the whole thing here.

Edit: On the same subject, Josh Marshall on Bush's revisionism. Here.

Monday, September 01, 2003

New Blog Showcase

Futuballa has won the New Blog Showcase for this week over at The Truth Laid Bear. A big Mahalo to those who linked to my Kid's Stuff post. There were some great postings from other bloggers that I hope you take the time to check out. You can read about it here.

To any new readers who might stop by I'd like to say welcome. I haven't been blogging very long, but hope that from time to time I will post something that is of interest to you.

Futurballa gets its name from the Futurist Manifestos and is really just a place for me to talk about art, politics and culture.

An interesting post on Art and Photography can be found here on David Hockney, and a nice post titled Back to Cultcha about DVDs can be found here. And scroll to the Strange Bedfellows post for my take on Mel Gibson's The Passion.

Also visit Futurballa.com to view some of my photographic works.