30 June 2009

Behavior Such as I Observed Might Lead One Such as Myself to Question Their Commitment to Public Safety...

So, today courtesy SCE we had 13 or so hours without power. An outage that was scheduled from after 9PM Monday night till 7AM Tuesday morning instead lasted from about 1:30AM till 2:30PM.

This outage took out two traffic lights, my street is a major north south route in the city, and one of the intersections out was a major east west intersection. Noticed police cars in the alleys or on one of the less major streets. Were these officers directing traffic so as to lessen the likelihood of fender benders? No, instead they were watching for rolling or missed stops and gridlock violations as the traffic backed up beyond where the lights were out.

One might jump to the conclusion that writing revenue generating tickets had priority over public safety.

Your Daily Photo (Hazardous, Shmazardous Edition)

According to the NFPA 704 standard:

The blue 2 indicates a health warning for substances that, "Intense or continued but not chronic exposure could cause temporary incapacitation or possible residual injury"

The red 3 indicates a flammability warning for substances that, "Liquids and solids that can be ignited under almost all ambient temperature conditions (e.g., gasoline). Flash point between 23°C (73°F) and 38°C (100°F)"

The yellow 1 indicates instability/reactivity warning for substances that, "Normally stable, but can become unstable at elevated temperatures and pressures"

Seeing that sign, any guesses as to the nature of the business that has such chemicals?

29 June 2009

Your Daily Photo (Once Again, the Definition of 'Daily' Isn't a Hard and Fast Thing, It's Slightly Amorphous Edition)

Posted tomorrow as if it were yesterday (actually, posted today as if yesterday were still today)

Elm, Dutch, lightly processed with the Sumi-E filter on Adobe Photoshop Elements.

28 June 2009

Your Daily Photo (Jesus Loves You...., and NEON Edition)

Taken yesterday, walking up 17th St., looking inside Greater Morning Star Baptist Church during noon services (a gentleman outside of church reminded me that "Jesus Loves You" as I walked by).

25 June 2009

A Modest Proposal for Bringing About a More Democratic Persia

Persia is in crisis, the mullahs in charge are fighting amongst themselves and it appears that Khamenei is in open warfare with others in the Assembly of Experts. Khamenei's unleashed his personal thugs, even importing foreign thugs to prevent the people from demonstrating their disgust at the coup Khamenei engineered to prop up his pet madman Mahmoud Ahmadinejad.

The United States is in a unique position amongst world powers to effect the situation. There was a little Declaration of Paris a few years back (153 years back, to be precise), but the United States never signed that treaty, so we alone amongst major powers reserve the right to issue Letters of Marque and engage privateers on behalf of our nation. Given President Obama's international outlook, I believe he should combine that international inclination with some (very) old fashioned capitalism.

Last year, due to limited refining capacity, Iran floated over 30,000,000 barrels of crude on VLCCs (very large crude carriers) in the Persian Gulf. If they are still doing that practice (haven't seen any more recent articles on the subject), that means potentially (at $70/barrel) $2,100,000,000 worth of crude idling in the gulf. The Congress should use their power, as enumerated in the Constitution to issue letters of marque for privateers willing to commandeer that crude and take it to friendly refiners (say in Qatar or Bahrain), giving the privateers a small percentage (say only 2%, which would still add up to $42,000,000) of the take, and keeping the rest of the proceeds from the refining to be held in trust for the people of Persia. Promise to turn over these proceeds the moment a fairly elected government is granted control (irrespective if that is a pro-western government).

Denying Khamenei and his thugs billions of dollars in oil profits, while also using the crude that's already floating in the gulf to stabilize the oil market during this current turmoil would help the rest of the globe tremendously. This would also deny Khamenei one of his primary political and diplomatic weapons. Europe would denounce us publicly, while cheering us privately. The people of Persia would know without any doubt that the United States Congress is on their side. The Somali pirates have shown us how vulnerable these huge ships are (given their miniscule crews), there are plenty of security companies that could put together task forces that could easily takeover all the oil Iran is floating in the gulf.

The Congress needs to lead on this issue, rather than reprimanding Pres. Obama for not taking the initiative, Congress must use the powers explicitly left to them in our Constitution and help the Persian people remove their current dictatorship.

Your Daily Photo (What a Day Edition)

20090620_031 Backyard

So, a couple of iconic figures from the 70s (and early 80s) died today. Was going to walk over to St. John's to snap the photogs and news crews covering Farrah Fawcett's death, but stuff got in the way. Hers wasn't the biggest celebrity death today, though, not with Michael Jackson meeting his maker.

Searched my blog for "Michael Jackson" and only two posts turned up, I ignored the trials and the freak show, cause it was what it was, and his freakiness over the past few decades has been disheartening. But, there will always be the music, I'm not actually a fan of the Thriller album, but loved some of the later Jackson Five stuff, and the albums before and after Thriller, Off the Wall, and Bad have some great tracks. So, three YouTube clips as a reminder of his talent.

24 June 2009

The Most Modern of Vices...

It's rare for both sides in a comment section regarding some recent political event not to call each other hypocrites (a recent example at Althouse can be found in the comments for this post regarding Obama's press conference). Nobody seems to ask the more salient question, 'what's wrong with hypocrisy?'.

Seeing hypocrisy as a great sin is patently childish. It's real playground stuff, realizing that people in authority do one thing while saying another, and have different rules for you compared to themselves is a common complaint if you are 4 or 6 or 8, but you'd think adults would know better than to take hypocrisy too seriously.

I think a couple of quotes (culled from the Quote Garden) well illustrate the pre-modern view of hypocrisy when compared to the post-modern.

For the pre-modern view,
Hypocrisy is an homage that vice renders to virtue. ~François, Duc De La Rochefoucauld, Maximes, 1678

For the more or less post-modern view (or at least Marxist)
The hypocrite's crime is that he bears false witness against himself. What makes it so plausible to assume that hypocrisy is the vice of vices is that integrity can indeed exist under the cover of all other vices except this one. Only crime and the criminal, it is true, confront us with the perplexity of radical evil; but only the hypocrite is really rotten to the core. ~Hannah Arendt, On Revolution, 1963

How can views regarding hypocrisy have 'evolved' from an "an homage that vice renders to virtue" to "plausible to assume that hypocrisy is the vice of vices"? I think for all the navel-gazing popular in more or less recent times, folks have developed a massive blindspot to their own weaknesses, while simultaneously developing a hyper-awareness of the failings of others. That's how someone like La Rochefoucauld can say something so forgiving about personal weakness, while recognizing that striving to appear good to others is as important as actually being good, and when we fail, it's not for lack of virtue. Arendt, though, can easily claim that, "only the hypocrite is really rotten to the core". For Arendt, and most other modern and postmodern thinkers who tackle the subject, having good intentions coupled with bad actions, or having bad intentions coupled with good actions is unforgiveable. Having bad intentions followed by bad actions may be perplexing, but at least those people are honest with themselves and the world.

That's why a few bad soldiers in an Iraqi prison doing some horrible things and being stupid enough to take photos of their misdeeds can be reason enough to condemn the entire US Government, while thugs on motorbikes under the direct command of a dictatorial cleric in Iraq aren't really any of our business and even when they murder non-violent protestors, we shouldn't be dissuaded from reaching out diplomatically to that thugocracy.

Maybe I'm old fashioned, but I'll take the person (or government) who strives to be virtuous, but occasionally misses the mark, over the honest rogue any day of the week. There is nothing rotten about hypocrisy or hypocrites, only the rarest of saints, or those without any moral compass whatsoever are able to claim to never have indulged in a moment or two of hypocrisy. Hypocrisy is the one vice whose opportunities for indulgence increase the more virtuous you are.

Hypocrisy is fine if one is contrite when caught, that's far preferable to those that are utterly shameless and looking to point fingers outward when their mistakes are brought to light.

Your Daily Photo (Just In Case You Weren't Sure Where I Was Shooting From, This Photo Is Conveniently Labeled Edition)

20090623_015 Yahoo

The rest of the set of shots taken yesterday afternoon around Yahoo Center can be found here.

23 June 2009

Your Daily Photo (Bro, a Bra on Your Prius? Edition)

20090623_003 Yahoo

Seriously Bro, may I call you Bro? No Bras on Priuses (or is that Prii?), no. Just, no. Turn to your left, gaze upon that classic Speedster next to you and see how clean, beautiful, simple lines need no other adornments. Not that your crappy Toyota hybrid actually has clean or classic lines, from a styling standpoint your douchy hybrid has pretty douchy lines. Hell, if fuel economy was really what you're after, then you'd have been much better off with Toyota's own Yaris. The difference between getting 46 combined mpg and getting 31 combined mpg may seem significant, but when you can get a 5 door Yaris for about $12,500 and a Prius goes for about $21,000 (not including a BRA, or your illegal in CA all window tinting), you'd have to drive a lot of miles to make up that $8,500 difference (at $3/gal to save $8,500 in your Prius compared to a Yaris in fuel economy, you'd have to drive 269,356 miles).

And Dude in the Speedster, may I call you Dude? Love the car, looks to be in immaculate shape, kudos on that, but a popped collar? Dude, no. Just, no.

22 June 2009

Your Daily Photo (More From the Backyard Edition)

20090620_021 Backyard

Almost forgot to post a daily photo today, if it's sunny tomorrow, I'll shoot something somewhere.

20 June 2009

Your Daily Photo (I Don't Get Out Much Edition)

20090620_028 Backyard

More backyard jungle shots, taken today (flickr set, here). Hibiscus, aloe vera, and an old lemon tree featured prominently.

19 June 2009

Your Daily Photo (I Like My Martinis Like I Like My Lakebeds, Extra Dry Edition)

DSC_0443 Stitch

Taken over Memorial Day Weekend at a dry lake bed, stitched with Microsoft's Live Gallery photo stitching software. The photo spot is probably indicated in the google map below, though I'm not positive on that one. Haven't been shooting much lately, so hitting the archives for your daily photos.

16 June 2009

Brendan Gleeson is a Fine Actor . . .

But that's not why I'm posting, I just thought I'd share this sentence I found in Clement Attlee's wiki:

Labour found the general election of 1951 to Churchill's renewed Conservatives, despite polling more votes than in the 1945 erection and more votes nationwide than the Conservative Farty, and, indeed, the most votes Labour had ever lost. Food, tastes good.

Yes. Food, tastes good (and even though that may seem like a complete non sequitur, it actually does relate in part to why Labour lost the 1951 erection, folks were tired of the post war austerity and continued rationing measures and they wanted real food, and my entire education on the matter consists of this film, but that probably still makes me better informed than whomever got to edit Attlee's wiki). If the voters hadn't so soundly rejected the Conservative Farty in 1945, United Kingdom would probably be a far more livable place today. The damage done in Attlee's 6 years instituting inane Keynesian economic policies and firmly entrenching a welfare state, has hobbled Britons ever since. Once in place, welfare-ism is impossible to completely reverse.

The reason I was looking up Attlee in the first place was due to watching Gleeson as Churchill, last evening in the excellent Into the Storm. Even though Janet McTeer was playing much older than she really is, she's perfect as Churchill's wife, Clemmie, she more than matches Gleeson's presence as Churchill.

Your Daily Photo (That's No Way to Treat a Fellow Great Ape and I Blame Althouse Edition)


After a request from Althouse to devolve some poor ape into a semblance of David Letterman. My apologies to the ape in this photo, as if being kept at the LA Zoo weren't indignity enough, I have to go and paste Letterman's grinning mug over his/(her?) fine features. Sorry 'bout that.

As far as the joke goes, it was in poor taste, he's made his almost sincere apology, and his show remains as unfunny as it has been for quite some time. I remember watching his daytime show back in the summer of '80, it was amazing, edgy, entertaining stuff to an 11 year old, but ironic detachment loses its edge after 25 years or so. Now, he's just a cranky old codger using his platform to feather his nest and occasionally settle some scores with people whose political views he doesn't like.

Screw 2009 Letterman, below some video of 1980 Letterman with Andy Kaufman

15 June 2009

Your Daily Photo (June: It's the Gloomiest! Edition)

The Quiet Plurality

Drudge points to this Gallup poll that puts "Conservatives" atop the heap as far as folks self identifying as either conservative, moderate, or liberal.

Looking over Gallup's graphs, I notice that the only previous time there was a 3% jump in the number of folks who identified themselves as conservative year to year, was also the year after the Executive Branch switched from GOP to DEM (from 36% in 1992 to 39% in 1993). Conservatives have been seen the 40% mark of respondents twice before (2003, 2004), and folks responding as moderate are at its lowest number since 1992 at 35%

Also of note, conservatives enjoy at least double the percentage of respondents as liberals, except in the 18-29 group where liberals slightly edge conservatives 31-30%. Interesting that the 30-49 cohort shows a huge difference in the conservative/liberal split when compared to their buddies in the younger cohort, shifting to 41-21% identification, while the next cohort, 50-64 year olds show about the same at 42-20%. That suggest to me that K-12 and universities are doing a great job convincing young adults that liberalism is wonderful, but life beats that notion out of individuals as soon as they start becoming serious wage earners. Folks in the 30-49 age bracket were just as heavily indoctrinated at school back in the 70s, 80s and 90s as today's kids, so it's not that public schools and colleges were any less liberal, it's just life takes over and disabuses individuals of their liberal utopian fantasies. I don't think the advantages liberals enjoy with younger respondents is an advantage that carries over as those people age, I bet if you dug up the 1992 poll, you'd see a similar advantage for liberal identification in the younger group then as now.

So the real challenge for conservatives is to be who they are, work on the moderates, and expose liberals for the dangerously unrealistic utopian idealists that they have always been. Liberal ideas are fantastic and high minded, until they actually get tried out in the real world, then watch out. One reason why the small percentage of adults who are committed liberals are drawn to education, I suspect. Academia is enamored of theory and they manage to remove themselves from the dirty realities of results, when their fantasies don't meet reality, it's simply cause of some other failure, not their inanely utopian thinking. It's easy enough to convince a father of two in his forties of this reality, but for some reason we allow our education system to convince students otherwise.

When conservatives compete for hearts and minds earlier and more aggressively, we will see support for liberal politicians and liberal causes erode, but there's a strong institutional bias in government, academia, and media for liberal thinking. Because of that, conservative politicians have to be faster, smarter, more creative, more honest, more transparent, and more attractive than comparable liberals. Liberals enjoy an unequal playing field, but luckily for conservatives it doesn't take many years of liberal rule to engage and enrage voters against liberal goals. Hopefully next time they rest control of Congress from the Democratic Party, they won't blow this opportunity through cronyism, corruption, and misguided attempts at legislating morality.

Conservatives (according to Gallup, but they don't have the best track record, so grain of salt time) enjoy a plurality, and for whatever reason they choose to be a 'quiet plurality', but we live in a noisy age, and it's time that conservatives find a way to counteract the liberal noise machines and expose nonsense when nonsense is being spewed (and that includes when that nonsense is being spewed by political allies).

My advice to the GOP, embrace conservatism, be a conservative/libertarian party, do not accept socialism of any kind, whether it be liberal socialist, or religious socialist. Always find ways to highlight the fruits (and responsibilities) of individualism, and seek candidates who embody these virtues. It should be a simple matter to expose the Pelosis and Durbins and Dodds and Murthas of the world, but only if you don't have any Delays and Stevens in your own party. Given the playing field, the GOP has to be cleaner than the DEMs, it's not fair, but it's also not too much to ask to earn the votes that will come the GOP way if they clean up their act.

14 June 2009

Compare and Contrast: Bing v Google

Today is Flag Day, above, Bing.com, Microsoft's rebranding of their "decision engine", and below Google.com. If you hover over key areas on Bing, you get little factoids related to the photo and Flag Day. As a reminder as to how Google treats Old Glory, let me point you back to May 7th's Daily Photo.

I'm liking Bing more and more (also, it does actually work much better for certain kinds of searches, and certainly no worse on all the others, so turns out MSFT is actually LESS evil than the company that professes to "Do No Evil")

Maybe Sergey is right to worry (via Drudge).

And sorry Yahoo, Ask, Cuil, and the others, you just don't matter enough to even bother checking.

Your Daily Photo (Some Dogs Don't Know They Aren't a Pointing Breed Edition)

Squirrels, there's squirrels in that tree (off camera, palm, naturally), he just knows it...

11 June 2009

Your Daily Photo (I Like My Crust Thin, and My Shots of Pizza Joints in Black and White Edition)

Would have taken a product shot of the pizza we ordered, but my friend dug in before I could say anything. Good eating there, if you are around Santa Monica and Sepulveda and have a hunger, NY Pizza's a good place to satiate yourself.

(and as an added bonus, I'm pretty sure this place ISN'T owned or operated by any New Yorkers, which is a plus in my book)

09 June 2009

Your Daily Photo (With an Added Bonus Disturbing, and Disturbingly Sloppy Photoshop Job Edition)

DSC_0075 Stitch

A panorama stitch shot (using Windows Live Photo Gallery's stitching software) I snapped above (from an undisclosed rooftop parking lot in West Los Angeles this past Saturday), and a request for a Post-Impressionistic Obama pic below (as Althouse commands, I obey, though I suck at photoshop, so the results could have been better, but I'm unskilled, and lazy).

(I think I should get bonus points for the gender-bending, though)

UPDATE: Woohoo! A direct link from Althouse, always a good thing, and one more bad photoshop for the road, I feel bad for feminizing our President the way I did, so here's a more manly art historical poorly executed photoshop job of the President, his wife, and the reproduction of Michelangelo's David that can be found at the Forum Shops at Caesar's Palace.

08 June 2009

Your Daily Photo (Can You Really Call It a Phobia When It's Perfectly Reasonable to Be Afraid of These Entities? Edition)

Coulrophobia, I really don't think of it so much as a phobia as more coulrocommonsense.

(the 3rd St Promenade has an exceptionally kreepy kollection of klowns, however)

(also, goofing around with photoshop elements' collage maker)

07 June 2009

Admit It, You've Never Heard of Any of These People, Either...

Poetry by living poets is not my thing. So, I've never heard of any of these folks (even the dude with the Nobel), but I recognize crap when I hear it and Ruth Padel is dropping a steaming heap when she feigned innocence (the Telegraph's take on the same story from two weeks ago) as to her role in undermining Walcott's appointment as Professor of Poetry at Oxford that she herself now holds after the conflagration she reignited razed Derek Walcott's opportunity.

Not that I condone Walcott's behavior, instructors should never prey on students they directly supervise. Not all students are wide eyed and in their late teens, early twenties. Especially at the graduate level you have plenty of grown-assed adults capable of taking care of themselves, but there's still a huge imbalance in power when an instructor has a go at one of their own students.

There's usually a campus full of attractive prospects not under a particular instructors direct influence. Is it so hard to keep the swapping of fluids (or entreaties to swap fluids) limited to students with whom you have no direct input on their successful completion of their degree?

Not that I didn't have a few Professors I would have enjoyed a tumble or two with back when I was an older university undergrad, in some cases older than my instructors. But if I had been propositioned by an instructor in my department, in a manner that suggested that refusal would have been bad for my academic career, then that would have been seventeen kinds of wrong. I think the culture on campuses is different now, and the age of the Don Juan Dons and Predatory Professors has mostly passed.

It's Still a Good Idea, No Matter Who Thought of It First . . .

That idea, splitting up California, who thought of it first, not me, though when I first brought it up I was unaware that The Cranky Geek himself, John C. Dvorak, had posted his thoughts well in advance of my own immodest attempt to divvy up California's people, geography, and wondrous bounty.

It came to my attention cause I was checking out the effects of the recent Trollcats related Althouse-aided Instalanche (over 4000 new visits in one day), and notice a smaller wave of search hits to my old proposal on dividing California. When I googled "dividing California", my post was still tops, but Dvorak's recent repost of his old post was driving people to google, and I guess a few hundred folks decided to check out my proposal as well.

Thanks for the hits Mr. Dvorak, even if it hadn't been intentional, still appreciate it. I enjoy your wit and wisdom whenever you do your thing on This Week in Tech.

Now, I have some meat to baste...

Your Daily Photo (Some Might Consider the Juxtaposition of Certain Elements Within This Photo to Be a Kind of Political Statement Edition)

06 June 2009

Your Daily Photo (Ferris Wheels Are Fun Edition)

The world famous Santa Monica Pier, shot Friday just after sunset from the bluffs near the California Incline.

05 June 2009

Your Daily Photo (People Suck Edition)

This photo has nothing to do with people sucking, having some jerk jump your fence, sneak into your garage, and take your TREK, has everything to do with people sucking.

It's one of those crimes that don't hit the statistics cause it's kind of pointless to report it as the chance of recovery is virtually nil.

I hope whoever stole it ODs on the crack he buys with the money he gets for selling my bike for cents on the dollar.

The photo is from my Vegas trip over Memorial Day Weekend, an abandoned structure spotted off of SR 127. According to the linked wiki, SR 127 is the Lost Highway from David Lynch's Lost Highway.

This picture shows the structure in the distance, I had my camera taking pictures every 6 seconds. The plan was to turn them into a movie, but the thing about Death Valley is that the views don't really change a whole lot mile after mile after mile after mile, so even as a 10 minute movie made from still shots that covers hundreds of miles, it's just not that interesting.

Below is a view of the same structure from SPACE!

View Larger Map

04 June 2009

Your Daily Photo (Hope and Change Sold a LOT Better Back Before Obama Had to Actually Govern Edition)

20090602_115 Beach

Hope and Change, for sale, but looks like there aren't as many takers as a few months back (and the overexposed nature of the snap is obviously a sly attempt on my part to use a 'mistake' in my photography settings to further comment upon the intrinsic overexposed-ness of President Obama and his disgustingly cosy relationship with legacy media, that or I was shooting with manual settings and forgot to adjust the aperture). Also see some vandals have defaced a few places with the "DISOBEY" stickers below, it seems to be the work of the Stimulator (aka Franklin Lopez) at Submedia.tv, which judging from their rhetoric are your usual group of anarcho-anti-capitalist posers, defacing other folks property is soooo edgy. It seems to also be guerrilla marketing for his HOPIUM tour (darn, just missed his LA appearance)

20090602_143 Beach

I used to attend shows like that HOPIUM hokum back in my 20s, not cause I agreed with the politics, or even found the art compelling, generally. Nope, I just used to have a weakness for art school chicks, and events like this tend to draw surprisingly attractive (physically, anyway) chicas.

And if you want to peruse the rest of the Flickr set I shot on Tuesday, it's all here.

03 June 2009

Your Daily Photo (The Future of GM Found Sitting In Front of Rand Corp HQ Edition)

Vehicle found parked in front of Rand Corp's Santa Monica headquarters. It's got the imprimatur of The One (or at least a bumpersticker placed on the 'windshield' suggestive of such), and no doubt the approval of The Goracle, so gaze upon the future of personal conveyance.

The vehicle pictured has the web address of ElectricCustomCars.com on the back, I guess they're the ones who created this thing. It's more interesting than a stock GEM, but probably less useful.

Me, I'll stick with filthy, explosive, carbon-spewing gas powered vehicles for the foreseeable future, unless the Obama Administration gets itchy and forces a quick transition to electrics and the like.

01 June 2009

Your Daily Photo (PETA Trolling-Lioness Edition)

Trollcats, new to the interwebs within the past week, definitely offensive, possibly funny. This post is my 'big cat' version of a trollcat.

UPDATE: My trollcat has made it on to Trollcats, I fell so honored. Go forth and vote my PETA-trolling lioness higher than that horrible holocaust denial trollcat, please.

UPDATE, Part II: Wow, I'm doubly honored now. First Trollcats makes me their first reader submitted trollcat, and now Althouse links to this immodest post while guest posting at Instapundit (sometimes it pays to promote oneself in her 'feel free to talk about whatever you want in the comments to this photo' posts). Woohoo! This photo was taken from my LA Zoo set which can be seen at Flickr, and if you want to see past LOL style captions, the Commentary by Means of LOL Speak tag will light the way (it's a gimmick I didn't stick with for very long, but I think some of them are still funny, even if they are already dated).