Picture Pages

A bandwidth-crushing compilation, a few snippets that illustrate the various projects I’ve been bitching about lately.

I go to Reno… de Janeiro

I’m going to Reno tomorrow. Believe it or not, this will be my first weekend trip since I moved to California.

Livin’ Average

Holy crap.

(08-29) 09:13 PDT San Jose, Calif. (AP) –
Northern California’s largest city is also the wealthiest urban center in the nation, with a median household income of $74,000.

Santa Clara County, epicenter of Silicon Valley and home to some of the world’s most successful technology companies, was California’s second richest. Santa Clara County’s median household income last year was $80,838, while Marin County, just north of San Francisco, topped the list at $81,761.

I live in San Jose, in the heart of Santa Clara county. And I live as if I have that kind of household income — even though I don’t. That’s because one has no choice but to live at that level here, where rents are outrageous and mortgages are worse. And this is why when I finally run out of money and leave Silicon Valley, I’ll most likely end up in the poorest urban center in the nation.
How in the world do so many people afford to live here? Is everyone on the cusp of losing it all like I am? Or do they have more luck at finding work?

Glad he’s not gay, we don’t want him

It’s another example of a politician choosing words carefully and diverting attention. Senator Larry Craig (R, duh) is strenuously denying… that he’s gay.
Here’s the thing: he wasn’t arrested for being gay. He isn’t in disgrace because he’s gay. All this is because he cruises for sex in men’s rooms.
But by subtly changing the focus he is creating a framework that allows him to then claim discrimination, “witch hunts,” and the like. Because if he was strenuously denying allegations that he cruises for sex in public places, he couldn’t hide behind those excuses. There’s no politically correct way to deflect criticism for that kind of thing.
And we as a society need to stop focusing on the gay part. I am gay, and I don’t cruise bathrooms or any other places; I don’t molest people, hit on interns, take drugs, get massages from male prostitutes; and I certainly don’t rail against and vote against equal rights from everyone. Being gay is not the reason that people do these things, if evidenced only by the fact that straight people do it even more.
No, we should be focusing on the moral shortcomings of a man who purports to embody such high morals. It’s the hypocrisy of it all that we should note, and not let “I am not gay!” dominate the issue. It’s a red herring, once again, designed to deflect our attention and, incidentally, set us up yet again for a divisive election cycle where gay people will be portrayed as the great threat to America, painted with a broad brush designed to convince voters that they’d better never use a public toilet again.

At least he kept his mouth shut

(08-29) 08:03 PDT NEW ORLEANS, (AP) –
President Bush commemorated Hurricane Katrina’s devastating blow Wednesday with a somber moment of silence.

Well, I suppose that’s progress: a moment of silence rather than the days of silence when the actual disaster happened, eh?

Leopard Speculation

I’m going to make only one prediction for Apple’s upcoming revision of Mac OS X. And here it is: I think that the system font, currently Lucida Grande, will be changed to Helvetica Neue everywhere — not just in application windows, but in menus and the entire system.
End communication.

Schadenfreude: less filling

You’d think that after years and years railing against the Bush gang I’d be taking some pleasure in the deterioration of it. But I feel oddly unphased. It could be because Bush and Cheney are still there; but it is most likely due to the depressing realization that it’s all too late. The damage has been done, and if it is possible to undo what they have done, it will certainly take decades if not longer.
There’s also the realization that all of these reprehensible people will most likely get off scot free, that the rising power of the Democrats will not translate into the sort of political courage it takes to bring real change. As usual, people voted for change, but they got more of the same thing.
One of the positive spins people are putting on the resignation of Alberto Gonzales and Karl Rove is that they had the loyalty of President Bush. Who the hell doesn’t? “Brownie,” anyone? And doesn’t the fact that Bush has surrounded himself by an unchanging entourage for decades just drive home the fact that he doesn’t tolerate dissent or differing opinion?
I’m too tired, exhausted from the Bush years to write daily political missives anymore; I’m grateful that so many people have now woken up to what I and many others realized before the 2000 election but things still aren’t moving fast enough for me and I’m afraid that it doesn’t matter anymore. We’re in a miles-deep hole with no means of escape for most of us. The Bush gang is climbing up the only rope and the last one up will pull that rope up behind him.
I will give this administration props for one thing: they make other detested conservatives look good. Because of them, I now really miss Richard Nixon, Ronald Reagan, John Ashcroft… those were the days, eh?

Glutton for punishment

You’d think I’d have learned by now — when my filmmaker friend Jon calls to ask “Is it possible to do XXXX?” I should just say no.
But I love a challenge.
There are something like 20 more shots left to do in this film, and each one has anywhere from 2 to 10 different CGI elements which must be painstakingly keyframed into the action by hand, and oftentimes they also require hand-drawn mattes because of things and people moving in front of them. I tried using computer-estimated motion analysis, but once something moves out of the field of view of the camera the computer can’t estimate where it moves to and it goes crazy. So, hand work. All of it. Silly me, I thought the computer could do it automagically when I said yes to Jon.
Well, at an average of 2 hours per second of footage, I’m flying right along and should be finished some time in October. Unfortunately, there’s a film festival coming up next month that he wants it shown at. (Not our own festival, DC Shorts, which is also taking up incredible amounts of my now non-existent time.)
This is the kind of situation when I want to zip out to McDonald’s because I don’t have the time for anything else. No wonder Type A people get more heart attacks.
I want to show you what I’m doing, if only to elicit sympathy for the painstaking work, but I think I’d better wait until it is finished and premieres somewhere. I’m a little paranoid to be sure, but there is a certain amount of indie-film espionage out there, you know?

How does he know? He wasn’t there.

Wow… George Bush is comparing his Iraq fiasco to the Vietnam fiasco. I guess he means that in 20 years we will all firmly agree that we never should have been there in the first place.
I don’t think he thought through the whole comparison scheme very deeply. Not that he seems to think anything through very deeply. The problem with him opening his mouth on this issue is that now everyone and his dog is going to come up with dozens more comparisons between Iraq and Vietnam, and damned few of them will bolster Bush’s position.
Some of the comparisons that immediately leap to mind are:

  • Never should have gone in to begin with
  • Bogged us down for 16 years
  • More than 1.5 million dead
  • We lost

The thing is, the Vietnam war was sort of a gradual thing, it grew and grew after World War II and Korea and was fed by our insatiable need to have a stark enemy — the communists, much as today’s stark enemy is al-Qaeda. Iraq had no al-Qaeda, no weapons of mass destruction, and was no real threat to us whatsoever. Yes, Saddam Hussein was a dictator who murdered his own people, but he was content to posture and present a false front to the Arab world and couldn’t back it up with real power. Of course, this is a perfect reason to invade: I’m certain that the Project for a New American Century thought that toppling Saddam Hussein would take only a few days and the Iraqis would cheer us in the streets. They knew that Iraq was not the power it portrayed itself as and it would take little effort to take the country. Oops!
Thirty years after the end of the Vietnam war, Americans trade with Vietnam and visit on vacation. I quote: Vietnam, without the presence of the United States, showed itself to be of little economic or strategic value to anyone.
Here’s one more comparison to Vietnam that the president didn’t mention:

As the number of troops in Vietnam increased, the financial burden of the war grew. One of the rarely mentioned consequences of the war were the budget cuts to President Johnson’s Great Society programs. As defense spending and inflation grew, Johnson was forced to raise taxes. The Republicans, however, refused to vote for the increases unless a $6 billion cut was made to the administration’s social programs.
Almost 3 million Americans served in Vietnam. Between 1965 and 1973 the United States spent $120 billion on the war. This resulted in a large federal budget deficit. The war demonstrated that no power, not even a superpower, has unlimited strength and resources. But perhaps most significantly, the Vietnam War illustrated that political will, as much as material might, is a decisive factor in the outcome of conflicts. [Wikipedia

It’s not surprising that George Bush once again has completely failed to learn anything from history other than what he cherry-picks and chooses. Gee, just like people who thump the Bible, but only stress the passages that underscore their own prejudices or beliefs, and ignore the rest.

We don’t care. We don’t have to. We’re the phone company

Years back, after the big breakup of AT&T and the appearance of independent phone companies I switched over to a dinky phone provider. When I called them with a question or concern, one person took care of it for me, and it was dealt with quickly.
Today, we’re back to the behemoth phone company. I don’t know if it is out of malice or simply because they are too big and unweildy, but their customer service is, frankly, non-existent.

Design should be for function

Calistoga mineral water, my favorite, has redesigned their labels. Ordinarily I would applaud this because their previous look was getting a bit stodgy. However, the new look is entirely wrong. Completely wrong. Totally wrong.

There are no more Johnny Carsons

It was inevitable, I suppose — the steady decline of quality in television. The days of Edward R. Murrow, Walter Cronkite, Jack Paar, Johnny Carson, and Sid Caesar are gone, and if the Emmys reflect the current state of television then today’s announcement will go a long way toward explaining where television is today:
Ryan Seacrest will host the Emmys this year.
‘Nuff said.