Tuesday, December 28, 2004

Point Lobos

Cypress Grove at Point Lobos State Park

Wednesday, December 22, 2004

Misson Carmel III

Gate to the graveyard at Mission Carmel
Canon EOS 20D - ISO 100 - f/11 @ 1/6 sec - 17-40L

Tuesday, December 21, 2004

Happy Holidays

Taking some time off from work over the holidays, so blogging may be a bit light over the next couple of weeks.

Thanks for your interest and I wish all of my visitors to Futurballa, a happy holiday season and all the best for the New Year.


The Futurballa Gnome wishes you a happy solstice
Mission Carmel II

Detail from Mission Door
Canon EOS 20D - ISO 100 - f/8 @ 1/40 sec - 17-40L

Monday, December 20, 2004

Mission Carmel

From inside the Chapel at Mission Carmel.
Elsewhere in Photography

Wired News reports on iPod fans getting their own iPod ad. For $20 you can have someone "ipodify" a digital snap, converting you into one of those duotone silhouettes that you see in the iPod ads.
IPod My Photo is a new web-based service that transforms any digital photo into a signature iPod silhouette-style ad.
Customers upload a digital snap, choose a background color and pay. In about five days, the "iPodified" image is e-mailed back to them. A white iPod and earbud wires will even be added to the picture, if so desired.

"It's mostly pets, a lot of children and tons of married couples," said iPod My Photo co-founder Kevin Muoio. "There's lots of new babies, too. Straight out of the womb -- bang, they've got an iPod on them."
My first response was to agree with other graphics types who think that $20 is a lot of money for something I could do in Photoshop in 5 minutes (even at my rates), but the creator of the site responds to these criticisms, "If you work in design, it's really friggin' easy," Muoio admitted. "But ask someone who is over 50 to do it, and it's not easy. It's not easy unless you've got the skills."

At Salon (daypass or subscription required), Katharine Mieszkowski reports on Flickr, a new (still in Beta) photo sharing site that has a novel way of organizing images. She calls it the Friendster of photo sharing sites. The concept being that images are organized by keywords, not galleries, so your cat images might get interspersed with other photographers cat images. Makes for an interesting community. She writes...
On most sites, you create your own album or page of photos, and invite your friends to look at them. But on Flickr, you can mingle all your photos with similar images, creating an endlessly beguiling cross-pollination of photos that spark a host of unique communities.
Personally, I participate in Dotphoto and Photoblogs.org, and as a somewhat more serious photographer, prefer to control my galleries, but for the avid catbloggers and their ilk, this sounds like a great idea.

Friday, December 17, 2004

Thursday, December 16, 2004

Mission Window

Window at Mission San Juan Bautista
Battle for Earthsea

Author, Ursula K. Le Guin speaks out at Slate on the shoddy treatment of her Earthsea books by the SciFi channel. She writes,
They then sent me several versions of the script—and told me that shooting had already begun. I had been cut out of the process. And just as quickly, race, which had been a crucial element, had been cut out of my stories. In the miniseries, Danny Glover is the only man of color among the main characters (although there are a few others among the spear-carriers). A far cry from the Earthsea I envisioned. When I looked over the script, I realized the producers had no understanding of what the books are about and no interest in finding out. All they intended was to use the name Earthsea, and some of the scenes from the books, in a generic McMagic movie with a meaningless plot based on sex and violence.
I loved these books as an adolescent, and it is a shame that they've been literally "whitewashed" for television consumption.

Tuesday, December 14, 2004


Changes at Futurballa

You may have noticed that I've adjusted the template. The purpose is to make a better home for larger pictures. Futurballa will be focusing more on Photoblogging in the coming time, and the 400 pixel columns just didn't cut it. There will still be text postings on photography, culture and links to other blogs. The focus though will be more on images and photography.

Futurballa has also joined photoblogs.org. Check them out to see some other great photoblogs. There is some amazing work going on out there.

Monday, December 13, 2004

Photoblogging @ Coyote Creek

The Coyote Creek trail runs near Monterey Highway in South San Jose, just a couple of miles from my home. The shots were taken around Parkway Lake, just north of the trailhead.

Friday, December 10, 2004

Spreading Chanukah Cheer

If you are looking for a great gift for Chanukah, Arthur Yorinks' The Flying Latke has been a festival of lights tradition in our household for a few years now. Wonderfully illustrated by the late William Steig, with appearances by children's book publisher David Saylor; famed artists Maurice Sendak and Vladimir Radunsky, William Steig, and the publisher Judith Rovenger, playing the roles of the family.
I've set my Tivo

The Screen Savers
is the last good show on what used to be Tech TV, since getting bought out by Comcast's G4TV, it is mostly a gaming network, instead of the channel for mature tech geeks that it used to be. But with a series of host changes, and some format tweaking, as well as a move to LA, the Screen Savers continues to offer some pretty cool interviews, gadget reviews, hacks, tweaks, and tips.

And to top it all off, assuming some things there are true, Tony Pierce will be making an appearance on the Screen Savers to talk about his book, How To Blog.

Wednesday, December 08, 2004

Have a Latke

Happy Hanukkah
Up on the Roof - Photoblogging

Taken from the roof of my office building, high above downtown San Jose.

a different view of Christmas in the Park

coming in to Mineta International

the HP Pavillion

suburban sprawl

roof object 1

roof object 2
Girls are Evil

A friend passed along this Craig's List posting. You can't argue with math.

Tuesday, December 07, 2004

Book Titles I'd Like to See

Ventriloquism for Dummies

Monday, December 06, 2004

Christmas in the Park

San Jose is celebrating 25 years of Christmas in the Park, a holiday tradition held each year at Cesar Chavez park in downtown San Jose. May I recommend the Mexican hot chocolate and the Churros. A tasty pair of cinaminny treats.

Send Me No Roses

There are few things that you can be certain of in life. Death, taxes, the corned beef at Canter's, but let me add a couple. It's hard being a Giant's fan or a Cal supporter.

After the Giants made it all the way to the series, only to choke against the Angels, and then fail to make the playoffs on the coattails of another NL MVP season by Barry (and don't talk to me about BALCO), now it is the turn of my Cal Bears to get the proverbial shaft.

Read about it here.

Good grief, Charlie Brown.

Thursday, December 02, 2004


The new sweatshops, it's in the game. Salon (subscription or daypass required) reports on EA Games and conditions in gaming software development. I, happily, am not in gaming development.

Salon also profiles the best cooking shows. My personal favorite, America's Test Kitchen, is one of the two that they rate as tops. Christopher Kimball is a rock star.

If you are considering a digital camera for the holidays, DPReview has a slew of reviews that they just posted.

At About Last Night, Our Girl in Chicago has a very amusing anecdote about a certain Chistmas with the Algonquin Round Table. Now that's my kind of Christmas Special.

Wednesday, December 01, 2004

In the Village

Some older shots from a previous excursion to the town of San Juan Bautista.

Darn Useful, Indeed

This may only be of interest to a very limited number of my readers, but I had to share it because it is so handy, and a fairly nice use of JavaScript as well.

It's your very own Depth of Field Calculator!!!

Tuesday, November 30, 2004

You Think You're Pretty Smart, Don't You Trebek

As all of you Jeopardy fans know, Ken Jennings has ended his run at over $2.5 million. The Final Jeopardy answer he missed was, "Most of this firm's 70,000 seasonal white-collar employees work only four months a year."

This is being reported all over the place, but I thought it was entertaining that H&R Block has offered him free tax preparation for life.

Monday, November 29, 2004

Hope Yours Was Too

Back from the Thanksgiving festivities; they were festive.

In the Moore's Law department, LG has come up with a 7 megapixel camera phone.

And for Canon users, updates to Digital Photo Professional, EOS Viewer Utility and EOS Capture are available.

Weekend watching (too much to list) included Fassbinder's Veronika Voss. I hadn't seen this in many years. It is a visual marvel, recalling Billy Wilder's Sunset Blvd. Highly recommended.

Tuesday, November 23, 2004

Monday, November 22, 2004

Can't Ever Find Wynn When You Need Wynn

I am rarely caught without a camera, at the very least my point and shoot digital, but this weekend we took a whirlwind trip up to Reno to see family. Since we planned on driving up Saturday to see my sister, do a bit of shopping, go to dinner, and lastly on Sunday stop with them in Sacramento to do a bit more Xmas shopping and go home from there, I figured, this was one weekend when there would be little time to be taking pictures.

My first clue that I'd made a tactical error was when we reached Donner pass and it was a bit of the old winter wonderland. Later that evening, driving to dinner, we encountered one of the most glorious sunsets over the Sierras, complete with majestic clouds. And shopping in Sacramento the following day, we ended up in Sac's restored oldtown, which sits along the mighty Sacramento River, and is certainly picturesque. But alas, you'll just have to take my word for it.

On the brighter side, however, on Saturday we made a stop at the Nevada Museum of Art in Reno, which has turned into a fine little art museum. The permanent collection includes a few very fine Edward Westons and some nice western pieces, but they seem to do a pretty good job of attracting some very nice touring exhibits. You may remember that I saw the Frida Kahlo show there back in the early days of this blog (here). At the moment they have an excellent Ansel Adams show, featuring a few pieces I had never seen before, along with some very fine prints of more familiar works, like Moonrise over Hernandez, New Mexico.

Also appearing at the moment were selections from the Wynn Collection. Consisting of 14 selected pieces from Steve Wynn's private collection. The NMA website describes it,
Highlights of the exhibition include Pablo Picasso’s Le Rêve (The Dream) (1932), a painting depicting Pablo Picasso’s mistress Marie-Thérèse Walter and Vincent van Gogh’s Peasant Woman Against a Background of Wheat (1890), perhaps the most important portrait of a female sitter in van Gogh’s oeuvre. Works by Impressionist painters include Pierre-Auguste Renoir’s Among the Roses (Madame Leon Clapisson) (1882) and Claude Monet's Camille a l'Ombrelle Verte (Camille with Green Parasol)(1876)as well as Post-Impressionist paintings such as Henri Matisse’s The Persian Robe (1940), and Paul Gauguin’s Bathers (1902). Other noted works are a Self Portrait with Shaded Eyes (1634) by Rembrandt van Rijn; a landscape by Jan Brueghel the Elder; and a portrait of Robert Louis Stevenson and his wife (1885) by John Singer Sargent. The exhibition also features a triptych portrait of Steve Wynn created in 1983 by Andy Warhol. After its presentation at the NMA, the collection will be permanently installed at Wynn Las Vegas, scheduled to open in spring 2005.
So, I apologize for the want of a camera and the atrocious pun by which I began this posting, but I heartily recommend a trip to the NMA. The Wynn Collection will be appearing until March 30, 2005, and the Adams Masterworks exhibit can be seen until January 30, 2005.

Friday, November 19, 2004

If Pigs Could Fly

Hidden Meanings

Went to see the Incredibles after work yesterday, and it is aptly named. Being, indeed, incredible. Brad Bird and Pixar team up to produce a funny, bright, exciting, and technically astounding, animated adventure that will definitely hold up to repeated viewings (in fact, several of my geekier coworkers have been to see it multiple times already). A cross between one of those Marvel "what if" storylines, a Bondian villain (and villainess with the requisite heart of gold) and some 60s kitsch a'la Thunderbirds designed to appeal to we 40-plussers.

But it did strike me that there was a bit of an agenda (warning, minor spoilers follow), and in fact it might even be a conservative agenda. Sir, you must be on crack, you say. That is besides the point, I respond. Please bear with me for just a moment.

The film begins with what can only be seen as a call for tort reform, a favorite whipping horse of the right wing. The Supers (as the super heroes are referred to) are placed in a relocation program because their daring-do, or the results there of, have lead to a series of frivolous lawsuits, and the government has found the cost/benefit ratio of underwriting the Supers heroics to be too expensive. So Mr. Incredible (Craig T. Nelson), his (strangely sexy) wife Elastigirl (Holly Hunter), and their three incredible children are placed in the 'burbs, he to live as a low level insurance company functionary.

The recurring theme played out especially with the male heir to the incredible superpowers, young Dash, can be summed up thusly. When everyone is special, no one is special. Is this not nothing more than a screed against PC attitudes in modern society, and a call for a meritocracy based on genetics. Can eugenics be far behind? OK, I'm going over the top here, but you get my point.

Seriously, I think there might be a bit of a "point of view" here, but it is mild and in good humor, as is this screed. I would say that the filmmakers are at most poking fun at some of the extremes of our society. The movie is a delight. Go see it.

On a side note, moviegoers were treated to Pixar's short film Boundin', which was a lot of fun as well. There was also teaser trailers for Pixar's next (and final Disney) outing, Cars. And finally, it is that time again. The teaser trailer for Star Wars Episode 3: Revenge of the Sith has been unveiled. My prediction... It will stink as much as Episodes 1 and 2.

Thursday, November 18, 2004

Cannery Row

In his prologue to Cannery Row, John Steinbeck wrote,
Cannery Row in Monterey in California is a poem, a stink, a grating noise, a quality of light, a tone, a habit, a nostalgia, a dream. Cannery Row is the gathered and scattered, tin and iron and rust and splintered wood, chipped pavement and weedy lots and junk heaps, sardine canneries of corrugated iron, honky-tonks, restaurants and whore-houses, and little crowded groceries, and laboratories and flop-houses. Its inhabitants are, as the man once said, "whores, pimps, gamblers, and sons of bitches," by which he meant Everybody. Had the man looked through another peep-hole he might have said: "Saints and angels and martyrs and holy men," and he would have meant the same thing.

John Steinbeck

Monday, November 15, 2004

Try the Soup

This weekend's excursion lead to San Gregorio State Beach, Pescadero, Duarte's Tavern (of the aforementioned soup, get the half/half, Artichoke and Green Chile with the hot sourdough bread) and Pigeon Point Lighthouse.

Wednesday, November 10, 2004


I have a gallery of some images I took in Monterey yesterday. Have a look.

Pink Floyd album cover?
Like a Candle in the Wind

A very interesting story at the New York Times on digital archiving. Short version: Those pictures on CD or on your hard drive aren't as safe as you think.

Read it here.

Monday, November 08, 2004

I'll Sleep When I'm Dead

Going to be a light week for blogging. Work obligations will have me on the road and in meetings a large portion of the time. There is a trip to Monterey as part of these responsibilities that might allow a bit of time for photoblogging.

So stay tuned.

Currently on iTunes, the Warren Zevon tribute album Enjoy Every Sandwich. Recommended! And next up in the DVD player (time permitting), Festival Express.

Thursday, November 04, 2004

Back to Pictures

Just to keep some balance in life. I took this picture a while back on a photo excursion with a friend and fellow photog. It is a bit of a mishap, but there is something I like about it for some unknown reason.

Futurballa on the Future

My dear friend and (sometimes) political counterpoint George Wallace, has a thoughtful piece on the future of the democratic party and the political landscape in general, over at his blog, A Fool in the Forest. I think he makes some very fair and reasonable statements, and reading his posting had the further benefit of nudging me into writing about some of my own thoughts on the subject of, what next.

My thoughts are nothing new in the post 2/11 world. Amy Sullivan, over at Washington Monthly has written on similar subjects for quite some time. However, I think I have an unique perspective, because I'm a Jewish, died in the wool Democrat, born and raised, pro-choice, pro-union, pro-environment, and happen to be married to an evangelical Christian. My wife is a very reasonable woman, and we agree to disagree on many subjects. She is actually not one of the 51% who voted for Bush, though I'm not sure if she supported Kerry or abstained.

She has a great heart and is deeply troubled by every death in Iraq. Both our soldiers and every Iraqi life being lost for a war that seems to be a personal matter for the persons in charge at the moment, and not a part of the war on terrorism, strikes her as a tragedy. And while she agrees with Bush on a number of social issues, she does accept my premise that social justice in society is also a moral issue.

One point that she has made to me numerous times is that Democrats need to learn to talk to people of faith. She says that she often feels that the left is condescending and often downright insulting to people who hold her viewpoints. Democrats need to understand this, going forward. We certainly can have common ground with people of faith, as my marriage is living proof. And don't misunderstand me, I would not compromise on our core values regarding Choice, for example. But there is so much that we can have in common with many of our church going brethren. There are many religious Christians who do struggle with the war in Iraq, who struggle with tax cuts for the wealthiest, and who struggle with the rape of the planet.

What we need to do is frame the debate on these issues as a moral issue, which it is. And we need to accept that people can differ with us on issues like abortion without calling them stupid. To me, as a Jew, issues of social justice, caring for the earth, fighting for peace, do resonate with my religion. And they can resonate with Christians as well, if only we can learn to not be afraid to talk to them on equal terms, and not be afraid to use the language of faith when discussing these issues.

This question came up at my office quite a few times yesterday. Along with, which floor is it best to jump from? (We have 18.)

How To Move to Canada.

Wednesday, November 03, 2004


For lack of anything better to say regarding last night's events, I'll just post some pictures I took of my halloween pumpkins.

Jack Skellington


Jack and Sally

Come in...

Thursday, October 28, 2004

Politics Are Scary

Have a safe and fun Halloween.

[Link via Tom Tomorrow]

I meant to post a few of these yesterday, but blogger was, well... bloggered.

Yes Virginia, Hobbits did exist.

What do you call a guy who trys to run down Katherine Harris and misses? [Ed. Punchline redacted.]

Your President. What a guy.

Long lost Ed Wood film found. Necromania.

Congrats to the Sox. Who believes in curses anyways.

Let's keep this a Qa Qaa joke-free zone. But if you want the real skinny on what's going on around this story, Josh Marshall has the lowdown.

On the nightstand... The Plot Against America.

Tuesday, October 26, 2004

Jewish Haiku

Lacking fins or tail
the gefilte fish swims with
great difficulty.

Beyond Valium,
the peace of knowing one's child
is an internist.

Left the door open
for the Prophet Elijah.
Now our cat is gone.


After the warm rain
the sweet smell of camellias.
Did you wipe your feet?


Her lips near my ear,
Aunt Sadie whispers the name
of her friend's disease.

Today I am a man.
Tomorrow I will return
to the seventh grade.


Testing the warm milk
on her wrist, she sighs softly.
But her son is forty.


The sparkling blue sea
reminds me to wait an hour
after my sandwich.

Like a bonsai tree,
your terrible posture
at my dinner table.

Jews on safari --
map, compass, elephant gun,
hard sucking candies.


The same kimono
the top geishas are wearing:
I got it at Loehmann's.

The shivah visit:
so sorry about your loss.
Now back to my problems.

Mom, please! There is no
need to put that dinner roll
in your pocketbook.

Seven-foot Jews in
the NBA slam-dunking!
My alarm clock rings.

Sorry I'm not home
to take your call. At the tone
please state your bad news.

Is one Nobel Prize
so much to ask from a child
after all I've done?

Today, mild shvitzing.
Tomorrow, so hot you'll plotz.
Five-day forecast: feh

Yenta. Shmeer. Gevalt.
Shlemiel. Shlimazl. Meshuganah
Oy! To be fluent!

Quietly murmured
at Saturday services,
Yanks 5, Red Sox 3.

A lovely nose ring,
excuse me while I put my
head in the oven.

Hard to tell under the lights.
White Yarmulke or
male-pattern baldness.

And if that whet your appetite, read some real haikus.

[Update: This was one of those anonymous things that one gets sent in emails. It has come to my attention that some persons thought I might be the author. Please let me dispel that notion. I am not he. It has further come to my attention that the actual author has a book of collected verse from which these have been excerpted. So, credit where credit is due. David M. Bader, Haiku for Jews.]
Hiphop 911

Eminem's new video, Mosh. Very cool animation.
Watch it.

Thursday, October 21, 2004

Fear and Loathing, Here and Now

Tony Pierce is good enough to share an extensive excerpt of Dr. Thompson's latest Rolling Stone piece. In which the good Doctor rates the debates and finds some parallels with the Clay v. Liston fight.
Immediately after the first debate ended I called Muhammad Ali at his home in Michigan, but whoever answered said the champ was laughing so hard that he couldn't come to the phone. "The debate really cracked him up," he chuckled. "The champ loves a good ass-whuppin'. He says Bush looked so scared to fight, he finally just quit and laid down."

Ali has seen that look before. Almost three months to the day after John Fitzgerald Kennedy was murdered in Dallas, the "Louisville Lip" -- then Cassius Clay -- made a permanent enemy of every "boxing expert" in the Western world by beating World Heavyweight Champion Sonny Liston so badly that he refused to come out of his corner for the seventh round. This year's first presidential debate was such a disaster for George Bush that his handlers had to be crazy to let him get in the ring with John Kerry again. Yet Karl Rove let it happen, and we can only wonder why. But there is no doubt that the president has lost his nerve, and his career in the White House is finished. NO MAS.

Wednesday, October 20, 2004

With Friends Like This

This is probably the most bizzare endorsement I've ever seen.
"You remember Mark Twain said, 'He looks like a contented Christian with four aces.' I mean he was just sitting there like, 'I'm on top of the world,' " Robertson said on the CNN show, "Paula Zahn Now."

"And I warned him about this war. I had deep misgivings about this war, deep misgivings. And I was trying to say, 'Mr. President, you had better prepare the American people for casualties.' "

Robertson said the president then told him, "Oh, no, we're not going to have any casualties."
Then again, Preznit Bush got the endorsement of Iran today as well and some of his cousins have endorsed Kerry.

Tuesday, October 19, 2004

Vote Now, Vote Often

A Message from Florida's (impartial) Governor.
My Favorite Wine, or Daddy can I have a Pony

Finally, a show for me. I like wine. I shop for wine, mostly at Trader Joe's. I make use of the Frequent Flier (TJ'S bulletin), and recommendations from my more knowledgeable friends. But I know pitiful little about wine, and please don't ask me to describe the bouquet.

Well at last there is a show for me. Monty Python's very own John Cleese will be presenting Wine for the Confused, beginning October 23rd on the Food Network. Sounds like it will be both informative and entertaining.

Monday, October 18, 2004

Now 2 Ways to Buy

Prints of many of my photographs are available through Futurballa.com. That remains the way to purchase limited edition, custom framed prints. But for unframed prints, posters, and things of that sort, a number of images are available at DotPhoto.com.

Click here to visit my Gallery.

Teachout has a very entertaining piece today on blurbwhoring policies of the rich and famous. Or, when do you agree to blurb the back of a book, and when do you politely demur. His concluding graphs include a pointed quotation from Evelyn Waugh, who was a bit of a specialist when it came to pointed quotations.
Evelyn Waugh had a Wilsonesque postcard of his own (“Mr. Evelyn Waugh deeply regrets that he is unable to do what is so kindly proposed”), but he could occasionally be persuaded to supply blurbs, usually for friends and/or fellow Catholics. Strangers rarely fared as well.

In 1961, for instance, Waugh sent this characteristic letter to a Simon & Schuster publicist who was looking for blurbs in all the wrong places:

Thank you for sending me Catch-22. I am sorry that the book fascinates you so much. It has many passages quite unsuitable to a lady’s reading. It suffers not only from indelicacy but from prolixity. It should be cut by about a half. In particular the activities of “Milo” should be eliminated or greatly reduced.

You are mistaken in calling it a novel. It is a collection of sketches—often repetitious—totally without structure.

Much of the dialogue is funny.

You may quote me as saying: “This exposure of corruption, cowardice and incivility of American officers will outrage all friends of your country (such as myself) and greatly comfort your enemies.”

Me, I’d have printed it, but Simon & Schuster thought otherwise.
I was recently asked to write a foreword (together with my collaborator) to a book on a particular piece of graphics software, of which I am somewhat familar. I've also been informed that a quotation from that foreword will appear on the back of the book, which I guess makes me a blurbwhore. So I guess I need to come up with a witty and disdainful policy of my own.

Friday, October 15, 2004

Would you like some Hummus on that?

I used to like falafel. Damn you O'Reilly!

James Wolcott has a very funny piece on the Bill O'Reilly saga. Read: Loof to Loofah, Baby

And if you haven't been following the story, read the complete transcripts at the Smoking Gun, here and here.

Ah schadenfreude. The gift that keeps on giving.

Thursday, October 14, 2004

Bush and JC

No not that JC. I'm referring to what we used to call Junior Colleges or is now referred to as Community Colleges. In his answer last night to the question on outsourcing, Bush mentioned making it possible for workers to return to Community Colleges to retrain. Here is Bush's answer in full..
BUSH: I'd say, Bob, I've got policies to continue to grow our economy and create the jobs of the 21st century. And here's some help for you to go get an education. Here's some help for you to go to a community college.
We've expanded trade adjustment assistance. We want to help pay for you to gain the skills necessary to fill the jobs of the 21st century.

You know, there's a lot of talk about how to keep the economy growing. We talk about fiscal matters. But perhaps the best way to keep jobs here in America and to keep this economy growing is to make sure our education system works.

I went to Washington to solve problems. And I saw a problem in the public education system in America. They were just shuffling too many kids through the system, year after year, grade after grade, without learning the basics.

And so we said: Let's raise the standards. We're spending more money, but let's raise the standards and measure early and solve problems now, before it's too late.

No, education is how to help the person who's lost a job. Education is how to make sure we've got a workforce that's productive and competitive.

Got four more years, I've got more to do to continue to raise standards, to continue to reward teachers and school districts that are working, to emphasize math and science in the classrooms, to continue to expand Pell Grants to make sure that people have an opportunity to start their career with a college diploma.

And so the person you talked to, I say, here's some help, here's some trade adjustment assistance money for you to go a community college in your neighborhood, a community college which is providing the skills necessary to fill the jobs of the 21st century. And that's what I would say to that person.
Now that hardly answers the the issue I see in my own field. What does a highly educated software engineer do when his $50 to $60 an hour job goes to India. According to Bush he goes to community college and learns what? Beginning Web Design.

Atrios has more to say on this subject.

Wednesday, October 13, 2004

Rumors and Rumors of Rumors

The Preznitdential Debates have spawned some good conspiracy theories and rumors lately. In fact it brought to mind the infamous Ibogaine rumor started by Hunter S. Thompson, in Fear and Loathing on the Campaign Trail.
Not much has been written about The Ibogaine Effect as a serious factor in the Presidential Campaign, but toward the end of the Wisconsin primary race - about a week before the vote - word leaked out that some of Muskie's top advisors had called in a Brazilian doctor who was said to be treating the candidate with "some kind of strange drug" that nobody in the press corps had ever heard of.

It had ... long been whispered that Muskie was into something very heavy, but it was hard to take the talk seriously until I heard about the appearance of a mysterious Brazilian doctor. That was the key. I immediately recognized The Ibogaine Effect - from Muskie's tearful breakdown on the flatbed truck in New Hampshire, to the delusions and altered thinking that characterized his campaign in Florida, and finally the condition of "total rage" that gripped him in Wisconsin.

There was no doubt about it: The Man from Maine had turned to massive doses of Ibogaine as a last resort ... It was noted, among other things that he had developed a tendency to roll his eyes wildly during TV interviews, that his thought patterns had become strangely fragmented and that not even his closest advisors could predict when he might suddenly spiral off into babbling rages, or neo-comatose funks.

In restrospect, however, it is easy to see why Muskie fell apart on that caboose platform in the Miami train station. There he was - far gone in a bad Ibogaine frenzy - suddenly shoved out in a rainstorm to face a sullen crowd and some kind of snarling lunatic going for his legs while he tried to explain why he was the only Democrat who can beat Nixon.

It is entirely conceivable - given the known effects of Ibogaine - that Muskie's brain was almost paralyzed by hallucinations at the time; that he looked out at that crowd and saw gila monsters instead of people, and that his mind snapped completely when he felt something large and apparently vicious clawing at his legs.

We can only speculate on this, because those in a position to know have flatly refused to comment on rumors concerning the Senator's disastrous experiments with Ibogaine. I tried to find the Brazilian doctor on election night in Milwaukee, but by the time the polls closed he was long gone. One of the hired bimbos in Milwaukee's Holiday Inn headquarters said a man with fresh welts on his head had been dragged out the side door and put on a bus to Chicago, but we were never able to confirm this.
This little video is quite illustrative of the change in George W. Bush's speaking style over the last 10 years. Whether it is presenile dementia as purported or Dubya's attempt at faux bubba populism, I'll leave it to you.

And Salon has been on top of the mysterious bulge on Bush's back (subscription or daypass required).

[Update: Tom Tomorrow has an idea what that might be on Bush's back.]

Monday, October 11, 2004

Photoblogging From Moraga

Saturday the wife and I attended a graduation ceremony at St. Mary's College in Moraga, California. It is a lovely campus located in a beautiful part of the East Bay near Walnut Creek and Lafayette.

St. Mary's College

The Campus

What a heel

Play that funky music, white boy

A lady

Friday, October 08, 2004

Hard Work

Harry Shearer flexes his well known musical chops with a jazzy remix from the Presidential Debates.


Thursday, October 07, 2004

Adam Had'm

Via Crooked Timber we learn that it is National poetry day.

A Fool in the Forest
has some fine poetical blogs in his blogroll, if you seek to pursue the subject. Or spend some time perusing the verse section at Bartleby.com.

Wednesday, October 06, 2004

I Left My Heart in San Francisco

Air America Radio finally comes to the Bay Area and in a moment of supreme irony, it is Clear Channel that brings them here. Always seemed odd that Air America couldn't find a home in one of the biggest liberal bastions in the country.

They can be heard on 960 on your AM dial, KQKE, the Quake.

Read the whole story here.

Monday, October 04, 2004

"This is My Happening and it Freaks Me Out"

I normally wouldn't do a cut and paste of an entire article, and I probably shouldn't do it this time, but there is some odd redirect at the Chicago Sun Times site. When I go to this link, I'm getting redirected to Roger Ebert's site, and a search of that site does not bring up this essay.

A quick hand on the Stop button in my browser and a cut and paste later, I offer you Roger Ebert's essay following the passing of his friend Russ Meyers.
King of the funny skin flicks

September 22, 2004


Russ Meyer is dead. The legendary independent director, who made exploitation films but was honored as an auteur, died Saturday at his home in the Hollywood Hills. He was 82, and had been suffering from dementia. The immediate cause of death was pneumonia, said Janice Cowart, a friend who supervised his care during his last years. She announced his death Tuesday.

Such bare facts hardly capture the zest of a colorful man who became a Hollywood icon. Meyer’s “The Immoral Mr. Teas” (1959), hailed by the highbrow critic Leslie Fiedler as the funniest comedy of the year, created the skin flick genre, and after the box office success of his “Vixen” (1968) he was crowned “King of the Nudies” in a front-page profile in the Wall Street Journal. His “Beyond the Valley of the Dolls” (1970), for which I wrote the screenplay, represented the first foray into sexploitation by a major studio (20th Century Fox).

His films were X-rated but not pornographic. Meyer told me he had two reasons for avoiding hard-core: (1) “I want to play in regular theaters and keep the profits, instead of playing in porn theaters and doing business with the mob.” (2) “Frankly, what goes on below the waist is visually not that entertaining.” For Meyer, what went on above the waist was a lifelong fascination; he cheerfully affirmed his obsession with big breasts.

Meyer was the ultimate auteur. He not only directed his films, but could and often did write, photograph, edit and distribute them, and carried his own camera. In a genre known for sleazy sets and murky photography, Meyer’s films were often shot outdoors in scenic desert and mountain locations, and his images were bright and crisp. He said his inspiration was Al Capp’s “L’il Abner” comic strip, and his films were not erotic so much as funny, combining slapstick and parody. He once told me there was no such thing as a sex scene that couldn’t be improved by cutaways to Demolition Derby or rocket launches.

Meyer was born March 21, 1922 in San Leandro, Ca., and raised in the Oakland area by a mother who gave him his first 8-mm movie camera. He enlisted at 18 in the U. S. Army Signal Corps, learned motion picture photography in an Army school at MGM, and found World War II “the greatest experience of my life.”

He was often assigned to Gen. George Patton, and told of being taken along one night late in the war, to shoot the newsreel footage when Patton assembled a strike force to dart across the lines and capture Hitler - who was believed to be visiting the front. The report was false, Hitler was not captured, Patton issued dire warnings to anyone who spoke of the raid, and Meyer was denied the greatest newsreel scoop in history.

On another assignment, he filmed the original Dirty Dozen before they were parachuted into France, and E. M. Nathanson’s best-selling novel credits Meyer as its source. “In the real story,” Meyer said, “they disappeared and were never heard of again.”

In peacetime Meyer and other Signal Corps cameramen found themselves frozen out of the cinematographer’s union. He made industrial and educational films, and then drifted into cheesecake. More than half of the first year’s Playboy Playmates were photographed by Meyer. Observing Hugh Hefner’s success at retailing nude images of young, wholesome-looking women, Meyer tried the same approach in “Mr. Teas.” Films exploiting nudity had been consigned to marginal theaters and burlesque houses, but “Teas” won mainstream distribution, played for a year in some of its first engagements, and defined the rest of Meyer’s career.

He made one film after another, all of them involving unlikely plots, incongruous settings and abundantly voluptuous actresses. “Where do you find those women?” I asked him. “After they reach a certain bra size,” he said, “they find me.” He disapproved of silicone implants: “They miss the whole point.”

Meyer’s titles were entertaining in themselves: “Faster, Pussycat! Kill! Kill!” and “Mud Honey,” both made in 1965, were taken as names by 1990s rock bands, and director John Waters said “Pussycat” was the greatest film of all time. Other directors who praised his work included Jonathan Demme, who always uses Meyer’s favorite actor Charles Napier in his movies, and John Landis. Mike Meyers used music and dialog from “Beyond the Valley of the Dolls” in his “Austin Powers” pictures.

Other titles included “Motor Psycho” (1965-a busy year), “Common Law Cabin” and “Good Morning…and Goodbye!” (both 1967), “Finders Keepers, Lovers Weepers!” (1968), “Vixen” (1968), “Cherry, Harry and Raquel” (1970), “Blacksnake” (1973), “Supervixens” (1975), “Up!” (1976), and “Beneath the Valley of the Ultra-Vixens” (1979), which I co-wrote. In the 1980s he announced an epic film to be called “The Breast of Russ Meyer,” but it was never completed. He did publish a massive three-volume, 17-pound, 1210-page, $199 autobiography, (ital) A Clean Breast (unital) (2000). “It keeps you turning the pages even when you can’t lift the book,” wrote Time magazine film critic Richard Corliss, who called “Beyond the Valley of the Dolls” one of the 10 best films of the 1970s.

After I wrote a letter to the Wall Street Journal praising Meyer’s work we met and became friends, and when he was summoned by Fox to make “Beyond the Valley of the Dolls” he asked me to write the screenplay. We produced it in six weeks, making it up as we went along, laughing aloud, although in directing it Meyer urged the actors to perform with complete seriousness. The film cost $900,000, grossed $40 million, and became a cult favorite; the Sex Pistols punk rock band saw it in London in the late 1970s and hired Meyer to direct and me to write a film for them. “Who Killed Bambi?” (1978) shot for only one day before the Pistols’ production company went bankrupt.

Russ Meyer made X-rated movies, but he was not a dirty old man. He didn’t use the casting couch, prohibited sex on his sets (“save it for the camera”), and was a serial monogamist. He married Eve Meyer in 1955, and later photographed her as a Playmate; they had a friendly divorce in 1970 and continued to work together until her death in an airplane crash. His 1970 marriage to starlet Edy Williams was not so happy, and inspired a scene in “Supervixens” where the hero’s wife attacks his pickup with an axe. In later years his most frequent companion was Kitten Natividad, who starred in “Ultra-Vixens.”

He was a loyal friend. He stayed in lifelong contact with his Signal Corps comrades, organizing local and national reunions and sending tickets to those who needed them. He worked with the same crew members again and again. In a field known for devaluing women, he treated the actresses in his movies with affection and respect. Haji, Uschi Digard, Tura Satana, Kitten Natividad and the “BVD” stars Dolly Read, Cynthia Myers, Marcia McBroom and Erica Gavin stayed in contact and attended reunions.

His films were unique in that the women were always the strong characters, and men were the mindless sex objects. The film critic B. Ruby Rich called him “the first feminist American director.” Meyer took praise with a grain of salt. After “The Seven Minutes” (1971), an attempt at a serious mainstream big studio picture, flopped at the box office, he told me: “I made the mistake of reading my reviews. What the public wants are big laughs and big tits and lots of ‘em. Lucky for me that’s what I like, too.”

An excellent obit of the recently deceased Richard Avedon, over at Slate.

Read: Portrait of the Artist as an Old Man - The long career of Richard Avedon.

Friday, October 01, 2004

Faces of Frustration

The Democratic National Committee has a little video posted from last night's debate. Oh so amusing.

Click here.

Wednesday, September 29, 2004

Got Mooned

Yesterday evening did not work out quite as I planned. My shooting partner was taken ill, so I went scouting on my own through the hills south of San Jose, but did not find an unobstructed location to catch the moonrise. So to the Lake I went, where I got this shot of a kid's playground at dusk.

I'm always intrigued by these kinds of kidz play apparatuses. They would make a great set for a Planet of the Apes movie.

Finally I ended up at the city park on the corner of my block and on my own street. Here is a composite of a few shots of the harvest moon.