Thursday, August 30, 2012

I pulled into my driveway and was surprised to see this.

Wednesday, August 29, 2012

Not really a Marxist, actually not even close. Maybe just a backyard socialist, the kind of person that says "sure" when his neighbor asks to borrow a tool instead of giving that neighbor a long lecture on American self-reliance and how the economy would be so much better off if everyone owned their own stuff.

Now some of you know convict 9653. Labor Unions are an interesting Rorschach test. Either they are quasi criminal organisation that extort money out of corporations or they're part of a social movement that makes the Middle Class possible. As Labor Unions disappear in America, it will be interesting to see if the Middle Class survives; it's already smaller and still shrinking.

There have been several discussion groups talking about influential books. For me the three most influential books on politics are all written by George Orwell. Whenever I mention George Orwell people immediately jump right to 1984 or sometimes Animal Farm. Both well known books but Orwell wrote so much more.

My three recommended books are:

Down and Out in London and Paris  1933

The Road to Wigan Pier  1937

Homage to Catalonia  1938

You can change around a few names, locations and dates and all three of these books would hold up today. In some ways it's sad to see that the historical players have changed but the game remains the same.

So what are your political principals? Also a Backyard Socialist -or something else?

Tuesday, August 28, 2012

Nothing can get the fur flying like a conversation on faith. In my own disjointed world I know many moralist atheists, hard core Bible thumpers, non-traditional and caricature spiritualists, and wide swath of people that recognize faith almost the same way they recognize pornography -they know it when they see it.

So what am I? Everyone seems to need a label just to let everyone else know where they are coming from. If pushed on the issue I would label myself as a agnostic theist, which means I believe in God (or a god) but everything else is up for questioning. I have no problem with the 10 Commandments and the Golden Rule; and I will not bother with or mock anyone else's tenets of faith as long as they leave me alone.

Now if you come to my door you become fair game though learned the most effective way to deal with the itinerant evangelist is to smile and politely say -no thank you, I'm already happy and not interested. Even this ploy isn't perfect, I had a couple refuse to go away and demand that I come out and confront them. The situation had all the loopy logic of a Monty Python routine.

Every neighborhood has at least one profoundly religious household. My neighborhood is no exception and that household firmly believes I'm on the fast track to hell. For years, maybe to remind me that the ultimate punishment awaits, they would vandalize mailbox. In an odd twist of psychological jujitsu the more I ignore them the more evil I became.

Going back to a good Latin quote "credo quia absurdum" or I believe because it is absurd. I know many a good historian and theologian would argue how this is really a misquote but I like it just the way it is. Life is absurd and I'm willing to accept it all as a mystical journey and an adventure through the unknown. 


Friday, August 24, 2012

I hope this is more than just a gimmick. Olive was filmed on smart phone cameras, the Nokia n-8 in particular.

It's obvious they're trying to be quirky. And yes, I did notice the IMZ motorcycle in the trailer. The IMZ is the Russian copy of the BMW. It's a little less polished but the IMZ has a reputation for being bullet proof.

Enough about motorcycles. Other than action/adventure or Superhero stories, there aren't enough movies for the rest us. Though who knows I'll probably have to wait until Olive gets released on Netflix before I can see it.  

There's a lot perfectly ordinary stuff to see on TV, cable and in the movies -so I like odd and unusual. A movie like this might be in and out of the theaters before you even notice it.

One of my friends shared The Cloud Atlas trailer with me. From the trailer it looks like a richly produced complex story that could turn out to be one of those magical movie moments or totally pretentious flaming chunk of art house crap. This is one of those movies that asks Clint Eastwood's famous question, "do you feel lucky punk?".

Holly Berry looks hot, Tom Hanks looks weird and this might be just right film if you're dating a woman with a degree in Fine Arts.  

"You can believe some of the stuff, some of the time. But when it comes to the internet, you can't believe all of the stuff, all of the time" - Abraham Lincoln

I like it when older people smile or laugh at that quote and younger people seriously nod their head ans say that's so true.

Thursday, August 23, 2012

I think one of the most important attitudes for an artist is to keep a childlike sense of wonder about the world. Yes, there is sadness, cruelty and tragedy all around us but isn't that the purpose of art? -to create a way to transcend the ugly, even when it highlights it? I love this book. It was also a favorite of my kids.

When everything seems hopeless I'll think of the cover art and smile. Like the old joke of two children where one was a pessimist and the other an optimist. The pessimistic child was put in a room full of toys; hours later he was sad because none of the toys were his. The optimistic child was put in a room full of horse manure; hours later instead of being miserable the child was happily digging and exploring. When asked how he could be lighthearted? -the child said "with all this horse manure, there got to be a pony here somewhere".

 I am a cautious pessimist at heart but beauty tends to spring from optimism -and life without beauty sucks.

Wednesday, August 22, 2012

The Mechanical Slave

There is no profit without exploitation. At some point in the creation or extraction of wealth one party has to take advantage of the other. If both parties are fully aware of the total costs and the other party's perceived value of the trade then it's pretty difficult to make a profit. Humankind has exploited domesticated animals, enslaved their fellow beings and now tears up the planet on an industrial scale with machinery not powered by muscles but instead by fossil fuels.

The coming age of the robot means the owners of machines can have tireless workers who can not perceive value or make demands. The robots only need energy and maintenance. The robots will not look like metal plated people but they will be used in place of the average worker and eventually replace entire classes of workers. It's already happening, human beings no longer paint automobiles for the assembly line or for that matter do most of the welding. It might be only a few years in the future before the voice on the phone that places your order, takes your customer complaint or handles your account is an automated program and not a living breathing person.

Maybe the future of humankind could end up being a debilitating dependency on robots. Or robots could bring freedom from drudgery. When you have machinery that can be exploited beyond any human endurance  then the society could be facing a radical change between the owners of wealth and the large masses of people who are not needed or are at best under employed.

I only wonder what happens when the robots start creating art and producing original design.