With occasional reflection on the perpetual absurdity/intrigue of life and society in general.

Friday, July 29, 2011

Nuclear Waste - Image of Intrigue

Michael Mariant/AP
Above-ground casks at the Diablo Canyon nuclear power plant store some of the utility's nuclear fuel.
 Because of a lack of a central repository, nuclear waste is piling up at individual reactor sites across the United States.

Thursday, July 28, 2011

Meet the Black Squirrel: The Ark in Space - Images of intrigue and Blog of Interest

This is the black squirrel. Out of the squirrel population of the United States and Canada perhaps only one in ten thousand is black. However, this is not a separate species in itself. It is in fact a sub-group of the grey squirrel and, little by little their numbers are growing. In fact in some areas they outnumber the greys. However, this black coloring is not a recent trend among the squirrel community – research indicates that in the days before the European settlement of the America the black squirrel was probably much more numerous than the grey. 

I think that it has become apparent that i am slightly, and inexplicably, intrigued by squirrels. However, these little guys are pretty interesting regardless. On another "squirrel" note, i have discovered that the squirrels in Texas are the toughest, most independent, seemingly intelligent squirrels around - they have my full respects. I will post a few pics of our local gang soon.
And, yes, i am quite aware that this post has absolutely nothing to do with film, media, music, or even social/political affairs - maybe justified as photography. Oh well, i like squirrels. Follow the link below for more pictures and information on these fascinating critters.

Link/Blog of Interest:  The Ark in Space: A Compendium of Creatures

Tuesday, July 26, 2011

Where Is Now? The Paradox Of The Present - NPR Blog

The European Southern Observatory's Very Large Telescope in Chile captured this striking view of the nebula around the star cluster NGC 1929 within the Large Magellanic Cloud, a satellite galaxy of our own Milky Way separated by a mere 179,000 light years.

The night sky is a time machine. Look out and you look back in time. But this "time travel by eyesight" is not just the province of astronomy. It's as close as the machine on which you are reading these words. Your present exists at the mercy of many overlapping pasts. So where, then, is "now"?

As almost everyone knows, when you stare into the depths of space you are also looking back in time. Catch a glimpse of a relatively nearby star and you see it as it existed when, perhaps, Lincoln was president (if it's 150 light-years away). Stars near the edge of our own galaxy are only seen as they appeared when the last ice age was in full bloom (30,000 light-years away). And those giant pinwheel assemblies of stars called galaxies are glimpsed, as they existed millions, hundreds of millions or even billions of years in the past.
We never see the sky as it is, but only as it was.
Stranger still, the sky we see at any moment defines not a single past but multiple overlapping pasts of different depths. The star's image from 100 years ago and the galaxy image from 100 million years ago reach us at the same time. All of those "thens" define the same "now" for us.
The multiple, foliated pasts comprising our present would be weird enough if it was just a matter of astronomy. But the simple truth is that every aspect of our personal "now" is a layered impression of a world already lost to the past.
To understand how this works, consider the simple fact, discussed in last week's post, that all we know about the world comes to us via signals: light waves, sound waves and electrical impulses running along our nerves. These signals move at a finite speed. It always takes some finite amount of time for the signal to travel from the world to your body's sensors (and on to your brain).
A distant galaxy, a distant mountain peak, the not very distant light fixture on the ceiling and even the intimacy of a loved one's face all live in the past. Those overlapping pasts are times that you — in your "now" — are no longer a part of...
We live, each of us, trapped in our own now...
The reality that even light travels at a finite speed forces us to confront the strange fact that, at best, the present exists at the fractured center of many overlapping pasts.
So where, then, are we in time? Where is our "now" and how does it live in the midst of a universe comprised of so many "thens"?
For the full post, follow the link below.

Thursday, July 21, 2011

Flaming Lips Debut Three New Songs Inside Gummy Fetus - Songs for the Day (Listen/Video)

First Posted: 7/20/11 - Huffington Post
Oklahoma psychedelic rockers the Flaming Lips have unveiled their latest madhatter scheme: gummy fetuses that contain USB drives preloaded with three new tunes. We're all familiar with gummy bears? Yeah, well these are gummy fetuses and, presumably, they are quite a bit more disconcerting to eat.
Though the band has been known to play shows under giant spaceships, and Wayne Coyne often sings from an orb suspended above the crowd, these somewhat disturbing confections might be crossing several decorum lines.
This comes on the heels of releasing four songs in a life-size gummy brain last April, which itself was encased in a gummy skull. The band has either fallen head over heels with edible gummy treats or is riding a massive sugar high. That and they have literalized the role of “music consumer.”
No information yet on where the gummies can be found, though frontman Wayne Coyne recently tweeted "Just dropped off 6 gummy fetuses at GuestRoom Records" in Oklahoma City. 
Take a listen to the songs online via @FutureHeartDay, if you feel uncomfortable eating the packaging.
Link: HuffPost Culture 

The Flaming Lips: "Enthusiasm for Life Defeats Existential Fear Part 2": 

The Flaming Lips: "Steven's Moonbow":

The Flaming Lips: "Squishy Glass":

Wednesday, July 20, 2011

Bill Maher - Why Liberals Don't Like Bachmann & Palin

Link:  HuffPost Comedy - Bill Maher Calls Bachman & Palin Boobs

Bonus Maher Video - 07/09/11 - Wake up from the slumber...

LucasFilm Shuts Down Small Star Wars Marathon

LucasFilm Shuts Down Small Star Wars Marathon
Of course they do. Why is he such a...? You can fill in the blank. Growing up, the Lucas name was always synonymous with positive associations of justice and moral honor, like Obi-wan, Yoda, Luke - the Force (for god's sake). We all assumed that he was creating these great fantasies from that perspective. Never did I realize, until I was much older, that he was actually writing with sympathy for the Emperor. What a goon! Then again, we are all big enough Star Wars fans to truly care, so...

Monday, July 18, 2011

Portugal drug law shows results ten years on... AFP Reports - Progressive Resolutions #01

LISBON — Health experts in Portugal said Friday that Portugal's decision 10 years ago to decriminalise drug use and treat addicts rather than punishing them is an experiment that has worked.
"There is no doubt that the phenomenon of addiction is in decline in Portugal," said Joao Goulao, President of the Institute of Drugs and Drugs Addiction, a press conference to mark the 10th anniversary of the law.
The number of addicts considered "problematic" -- those who repeatedly use "hard" drugs and intravenous users -- had fallen by half since the early 1990s, when the figure was estimated at around 100,000 people, Goulao said.
Other factors had also played their part however, Goulao, a medical doctor added.
"This development can not only be attributed to decriminalisation but to a confluence of treatment and risk reduction policies."
Portugal's holistic approach had also led to a "spectacular" reduction in the number of infections among intravenous users and a significant drop in drug-related crimes, he added.
A law that became active on July 1, 2001 did not legalise drug use, but forced users caught with banned substances to appear in front of special addiction panels rather than in a criminal court.
The panels composed of psychologists, judges and social workers recommended action based on the specifics of each case.
Since then, government panels have recommended a response based largely on whether the individual is an occasional drug user or an addict.
Of the nearly 40,000 people currently being treated, "the vast majority of problematic users are today supported by a system that does not treat them as delinquents but as sick people," Goulao said.
In a report published last week, the European Monitoring Centre for Drugs and Drug Addiction (EMCDDA) said Portugal had dealt with this issue "in a pragmatic and innovative way."
Drug use statistics in Portugal are generally "below the European average and much lower than its only European neighbour, Spain," the report also said.
"The changes that were made in Portugal provide an interesting before-and-after study on the possible effects of decriminalisation," EMCDDA said.

Monday, July 11, 2011

Reason and Faith? - Image of Intrigue #02

Since the Reason and Faith? posting with the image of a church marquee reading, "Reason is the Greatest Enemy that Faith Has," i have received a few responses from friends. Actually, they are just sending pictures of equally interesting, funny, or ridiculous church marquees from around the states. In the original post, i mentioned that it would be an interesting photography shoot/collection - well, maybe i can just make a little collection of my own right here on the blog. It may not have the high-art meets americana aesthetic that i had in mind, but it should still be interesting.
With that said, i would like to encourage anyone that has pictures of interesting church marquees, or stumbles across them while holding a camera, to please send them my way and i will post the ones that i find suitable (whatever that means within my subjective, twisted judgement). Whether they be philosophically/theologically intriguing, humorous, down-right ridiculous, absurd, or beautiful and thought provoking, please send them. I am not looking to mock, necessarily - just exploring a quirky intrigue that happens to mock itself from time to time. If it happens to be funny or hypocritical then so be it. Thanks.

Below are two of the images recently sent by friends:

Bressonian Quote #19 - Notes from a Master Filmmaker

'... sans manquer de naturel, manquent de nature.'
['... without lacking naturalness, they lack nature.']

"Nature: what the dramatic art suppresses in favor of a naturalness that is learned and maintained by exercises."  - Robert Bresson

Sunday, July 10, 2011

The Story of Stuff - Media with Purpose - Video

Link:  The Story of Stuff Project

Middle-Class Suburbanites Fail to See Irony in Their Lives

These parents (left) work constantly to make money to provide a better life for their children, yet in so doing, see them an average of one hour per day. In a recent study, this family reported "no irony whatsoever" in its lifestyle.
Princeton University’s renowned Institute for Advanced Studies revealed yesterday that the middle class, known to French social theorists as the “petit-bourgeoisie,” failed in over 98 percent of measured cases to notice the inherent irony in their lives. Though their very existences are riddled with the   exact opposites of intended meanings that define irony as we know it, the middle class roundly failed to notice it in a barrage of tests conducted over the past six months by IAS.
“There are countless examples of irony evident in the lives of suburban consumerism-based nuclear families,” Institute spokesperson Jody Clewes said. “These ironies, however, are totally lost on the fatuous, unthinking middle class.”
The IAS released over 75 sample questions and answers to demonstrate its findings, ranging from irony evident in social and political agendas, all the way to personal lifestyle choices.
Most striking was the middle class’s predominant self-definition as “socially liberal,” with regard to equal civil rights and fair treatment for society’s impoverished. This stood in marked contrast to the middle class’s recent trend toward gated, exclusive communities as well as voting for lower property taxes in high-income areas and higher taxes for those living in low-income communities with racially exclusive public schools. Of those polled, 100 percent saw no irony in this.
Similarly, the suburbanites were asked if the frequently cited justification of “wanting to provide my children with a better life” stood in contrast to working seven days a week to accumulate money. Despite the ever-widening gap between parents and children, and the skyrocketing divorce rate resultant from a lifestyle focused not on family but on careers, all those polled responded, “I have no idea what you’re talking about.”
As for middle-class suburban lifestyle, there was a similar lack of “irony recognition” among the respondents.
When quizzed about the familiar practice of “saving money” by purchasing retail items “on sale,” when the items are not needed even under non-sale conditions, only one of the 68 housewives polled reported noticing slight irony. It was later confirmed that the woman had recently been “chewed out” by her husband for spending too much on extravagant, fashionable hats.
“What we’re seeing here,” UCLA sociologist T. Hubbard Meyer said, “is that these people sincerely do not see how absurdly comic and borderline pathetic their lives are. Of course, as part of academe, I live on campus and do not have to deal with such societal trifles.”
Middle-class Americans also failed to see the irony in avoiding physical activity by driving everywhere and using elevators instead of stairs, and then joining an expensive health club. The study also queried the logic of drinking diet soda for health reasons, despite the fact that soda is universally defined as a non-healthy “sweet,” with “diet” merely representing a lower-calorie version of soda with no inherent nutritional value...
For the full report follow the Link:  The Onion

Absurdity of the Moment - #03

absurdism |əbˈsərdˌizəm|
the belief that human beings exist in a purposeless, chaotic universe.

I think this sums it up pretty well. Hmmm? No need to add much input.