Friday, February 29, 2008

Why We Fight

On my way to my classes I often see a minivan parked on campus with one single sticker in the window. Today I finally took a picture of it and thought I would share it with all of you.

Nothing like meaningless platitudes to, what? Show your support for the war? Explain why we're there? Just string together words that make us feel good?

I love that to "defend the freedom" we have to give up our civil liberties like expecting them to actually get a warrant before they listen to our phone calls.

Thursday, February 28, 2008

Don't call it a comeback

Well, looks like McCain has the "Left Behind" vote. You know, that segment of people that spends all their time analyzing Revelations and global events hoping that the End Times are finally here. "No, see the Great Bear is supposed to be Russia."

Anyway, McCain got the support from some leader of these people.
Hagee cited McCain's support of Israel and his opposition to legal abortion as reasons why he was backing him.

The pastor is best known in some Washington circles as a founder of Christians United for Israel and for his belief, as laid out in his book "Jerusalem Countdown" that the end of days scenario as spelled out in the Book of Revelation will occur after Russia, allied with the Islamic world, attacks Israel.

"Russia is going to get in that position and they are literally, with all that massive military force, going to attack Israel," Hagee told ABC News in 2006. "This is recorded in Ezekiel 38 and 39. God himself is literally going to destroy that army. Decimate it."

Duh, aren't you people paying attention? It's all laid out for you in Ezekiel 38 and 39! But, you didn't think we were done yet, did you?
Hagee added that the confrontation would be followed by a Chinese army of 200 million coming to the city of Armageddon, where they will meet British and U.S. forces in the Battle of Armageddon.

"At that point, Jesus Christ returns to Earth and sets up his eternal kingdom in the city of Jerusalem and there's 1000 years of peace," Hagee said. "The Jewish people are going to see the supernatural hand of God preserve them and deliver them while the enemies of Israel are crushed. That's the end-time story."

Oh, thaaaat's the end-time story.
Asked if he subscribed to this theology, McCain furrowed his brow.

"All I can tell you is I'm proud to have Pastor Hagee's support," he said.

Classic. Yes, I think furrowing ones brow is an entirely justified response to THAT scenario.

Oh, and the Catholics are none too happy either.
But Catholic League President Bill Donohue said in a statement today that Hagee has written extensively in negative ways about the Catholic Church, "calling it 'The Great Whore,' an 'apostate church,' the 'anti-Christ,' and a 'false cult system.'"

Oh, come on now, that's not cool.

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Enough!

After more than a year the campaign for president has reached the point where I just want to stab my ears. The two controversies this week were McCain apologizing because some conservative radio loser introducing him called Obama a "hack" and repeatedly used his full name "Barack Hussein Obama." While lame and childish and probably counterproductive it's about par for the course as far as conservative humor goes. I mean, these are the people that think Ann Coulter making jokes about poisoning Supreme Court justices is the pinnacle of modern political humor. They also probably think of Stephen Colbert as their patron saint and can't figure out why it's on Comedy Central.

Meanwhile Barack himself was once again under attack for not wearing a flag pin on his lapel. Clearly no flag pin means you hate America. How can you support the troops without wearing a flag pin? Well, besides not forcing them to stay deployed beyond the usual 12 months and providing them with adequate health care in veteran's hospitals and providing them with armor for their bodies and vehicles. He probably doesn't even have a ribbon on his car.

Why are these issues? This type of "gotcha" politics is created by a media environment that loves a good horserace and forces reporters to listen to the same damn stump speech for days on end until they can't help but blow something as ridiculous as this way out of proportion. Now, I don't want to claim that these things don't matter because in a lot of cases they do give us a glimpse into a candidate. When George Allen used a racial slur that was significant because he's also the same guy who had a hangman's noose in his office along with confederate paraphernalia. It showed a pattern.

The fact that conservative talk radio hosts are assholes isn't news and what the guy said wasn't even that bad. The fact that months ago Obama felt the flag pin was being co-opted into a symbol for those that supported the Iraq War and chose not to wear it anymore isn't news either.

Anyway, I'll end with this hilarious video of a Republican congressman from Georgia who goes on TV to rip on Obama for not wearing a flag pin only to have it pointed out that he's NOT WEARING ONE EITHER! TERRORIST!

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Monday, February 25, 2008

2007 World Press Photo Awards

This was one of my favorite posts of 2007 (tragically they redid the website and all of my links send you to the homepage) and I've been waiting for the winners of this year's contest to be released. They were a couple of weeks ago but I never had a chance to really go through them and write them up.

Well, here it is. This is the link to all of this year's winners if you'd rather browse on your own but I'll be pointing out a few of my favorites or thoughts on them.
First, the overall winner is this photo of an American soldier resting in Afghanistan. The look on face seems to sum up the country's weariness with these wars. I think it's a pretty good shot and, much like last year, I like it better the more I think about it.

There are three gripping shots of violent moments in the Spot News category. Benazir Bhutto's assassination and election violence in Zimbabwe and Kenya. In contrast to the fear and confusion in the first three is the almost beautiful imagery of rocket fire against the sunset in Gaza.

The 2nd place photo in General News had somewhat of a similar approach. The shapes in the dirt from the drawing and the shoes give an interesting abstract view but the reality of the shot is quite different. I also really like this shot of the German Army sniper practice target in Afghanistan. It reminded me of some of the street art (not the best example but you get the idea...) you'd see on Wooster Collective.

I loved this shot of Benazir Bhutto. Something about the hidden eyes and what it might say about the different roles she had to play as a female opposition leader in a muslim country.

The Contemporary issues category had some really powerful images. I remember this story from Newsweek on the slaughter of several mountain gorillas in the Congo, victims of anti-gay violence in Hungary, and an example of the struggle much of world faces with malaria.

Amazing use of silhouettes in this shot and this one. The 2nd also has some beautiful uses of color.

Old Vladimir wins the portrait category. Those are supposedly the eyes that Bush looked into a saw that his soul was good. I'm not so sure...

This one reminded me a bit of the Stankonia album cover.

Surreal nature shot. Great detail on this one.

There's a lot to talk about in the Stories categories.

First is an amazing series of images from before, during, and after Bhutto's assassination. It's interesting that so many winners were of her. It seems that and shots from Afghanistan were popular this year. I recently found out that my uncle had dinner with Bhutto several years ago and said she was absolutely brilliant. I also found that that one of my friends used to pick on Musharreff's nephew in school. So, with just two and three degrees of separation to those two maybe they should call on me to negotiate the transfer of power.

Heartbreaking shot from Kenya.

I really liked this black and white series from Afghanistan. A lot of them had a surreal quality about them.

Having never been in war I'm not sure I completely understand writing "4 Mom" and "9-11" on your mortar shells.

Anybody seen "Lord of War" or "The Last King of Scotland"? Love this shot. Another great shot but these start to bring you down after a while.

Tremendous beauty in an ugly place. Very artistic series from Colombia. Really scary image.

Birds! From a memorial of the Nanking Massacre.

Great series of the guys from Vanuatu that bungee jump from the towers tied to vines. The 2nd and 3rd place portfolios are great collections. From China and Utah.

I'd love to see what kind of lighting they used on these face shots from the finish line of the Copenhagen marathon.

What third-world country are these huts from? Immigrant dwellings in France.

All over the world we all watch TV the same. I liked this one.

Great shot of a mine entrance. Looks like heaven and hell to me.

The lesson from this story? Turkish schoolgirls are scary. Tough to get a great portrait with the eyes covered but this photographer does a great job with Iraqi detainees. Really interesting and beautiful portraits of Afghan women.

Intense photos of spiritual healing in Venezuela. Great job capturing the emotion and anguish of these ceremonies.

And finally, if anyone is still with me, National Geographic sweeps the nature category. Microscopic sea life, Narwhal, narwhal, what can you tell us?, and last gruesome polar bear killers or cute seals swimming?

Anyway, I hoped you took some time to check a few of these out. Photos from the camera of a skilled photographer can bring attention to a worthy subject and tell the story immediately in a way that words often can't.

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Imagery

I finally have a few moments with which to hammer out a quick blog post of things I've been meaning to get to. First, I was at the grocery store today and K-Arl from the future is apparently assimilating to the present quite well and has adopted the more traditional "Karl" nametag with no reference to when he was first employed by Dillons. He also seemed much more interested in his conversation about whether they carried different types of celery with the other employee than discussing the future.

Second, here's something you should check out if you're interested in design trends for things like logos because, well, it's all about design trends in logos. I thought it was pretty cool. Of course here's one logo that will never go out of style, right, Shawn? My favorites were Dos Helix, Rubber Bands, Urban Vinyl, anything with dots, and OpticaLine while my least favorites were Ribbons and Overlap. The Half ones were hit and miss for me. The cutcost.com was kind of lame but the others were well done, IMO.

And, finally...actually, I'm going to start a new post for this.

Thursday, February 14, 2008

Another win for Kansas

I like my home state and often try to defend it when others run it down but I have to admit that there are plenty of things that are just downright embarrassing. Fred Phelps, every off-election when people don't vote and let the fundies take over the state school board and ban teh evil evolution, Topeka...the list goes on.

This week I get the joy of adding TWO more things to the list. The first comes from the Republicans who have chosen to essentially eliminate all environmental control by the government in an attempt to spite the governor, continue to deny global warming, or maybe just be dicks in general. It's tough to tell with them sometimes.

The basic story is Sunflower Electric wanted to build two massive coal power plants in western Kansas but the Department of Health and Environment Secretary nixed the plan due to the corresponding massive amounts of carbon dioxide these things would emit. Estimates were 11 million tons per year.

This sent the corporate repugs into a tizzy because "woe is us, we're holding back progress" as if coal was the wave of the future or something. Granted western Kansas does need jobs but after the construction was finished the vast majority of the jobs would be gone. It also would be one of the cleanest coal plants out there but that's like saying you're the classiest woman on Rock of Love 2. You might not be a stripper but you're still a skank.

So, in their infinite wisdom the Senate passed a bill that says the state government can not exert any control over CO2 emissions. Earlier versions of the bill contained qualifiers like a (relatively tiny) carbon tax and requirements for investments in renewable energy sources like wind power (hello, we're in Kansas! It's windy like 360 days a year) but those were stripped out of the final copy. So, essentially they just put up a giant welcome sign for anybody that wants to come put in a giant polluting power plant. Hey, come on over, throw us a few bucks. We don't care about global warming or carbon dioxide! That sounds a lot like science and lord knows we don't buy into all that hootenany. If Jesus wanted us to take care of the Earth he would have put something in the Bible about it. Well, err...

Fortunately U.S. Representative Henry Waxman is attempting to save us from our own stupidity by letting everyone know that the state could be stuck with the bill if the federal Rural Utilities Services steps out from subsidizing it which would almost assuredly happen if the federal government enacted stricter carbon laws.
“If this plant is built, Kansas ratepayers may be stuck with billions of dollars in stranded assets and skyrocketing costs for power,” said U.S. Rep. Henry Waxman, D-Calif., who is chairman of the House Oversight and Government Reform Committee.

Waxman called for a comprehensive review of the federal government’s role in helping build coal-fired plants — and he specifically cited the project proposed by Hays-based Sunflower Electric Power Corp.

He questioned the federal Rural Utilities Service’s reasons for allowing Sunflower Electric to go forward with its plans, citing potential federal regulations on carbon dioxide emissions, and increased financial concerns about bankrolling such plants.

“I am concerned, however, that RUS may not have accounted for all the risk of substantial additional costs associated with the new plant’s massive greenhouse gas emissions,” Waxman wrote in a letter to James Andrew, the administrator of the Rural Development Utilities Program.

However, this will probably only strengthen the resolve of the state legislature. I swear it's like we elected a whole house full of Bushes.

The other example of enlightenment emanating from my state can be seen in one of the local Catholic schools decisions in referees. We'll pick the story up from Darin Putthoff, one of the referees selected to work that game.
"As soon as we walked through the door (during pregame warmup) we started getting stares and the cold shoulder," he said. "I thought that was odd, because usually they're very hospitable there. It's actually a pretty good place to work."

The reason for the climate change quickly became obvious to both referees when, just 10 minutes before tipoff, a clearly embarrassed school administrator asked that Campbell not work the game.

"He told us women were not allowed to referee there," said Putthoff, who was asked to work with two male officials from the just-completed junior varsity game.

"I was shocked, immediately caught off guard. I said, 'If Michelle has to leave, I'm leaving with her,' and we all walked. As far as I'm concerned, I'm never coming back."

Apparently the school said that "women are not to have authority over men" as their reason for the rule before clamping down and refusing interviews. You've got to be kidding me. Way to go, guys. Do they not have any female teachers at this school? That's just embarrassing that they would actually do something like that. Apparently they aren't technically a part of the Kansas State High School Athletic Association but are allowed to play members of the group so there isn't much the state can do about it other than revoke their right to play in sanctioned games.

Sigh. This really would be a great place if it wasn't for all the dipshits.

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Wednesday, February 06, 2008

I don't know if they're Alaskan King...

...but they sure feel huge.

America's biggest Giants fan posted his thoughts on the Super Bowl.

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Tuesday, February 05, 2008

Keep on Baracking in the free world

I decided to do my civic duty and help choose our next president by heading to the oft forgotten Kansas caucuses. My original location was music venue/movie theater Liberty Hall but they decided that since it had a capacity of just over 1000 they would need to move it to the Douglas County Fairgrounds.

Erin and Jesse picked me up and we headed out there. As soon as we turned off of Mass Street onto 19th all we could see was cars. There was a line stretching well over a mile just to get there. We cut through some side roads and came in the back way where we found a parking lot that was absolute chaos. It had been raining most of the day so there were big mud puddles everywhere and cars were parked in the middle of the aisles because there was nowhere else to go. We managed to find a spot behind some building and headed to the doors. Once we got there we found another huge line of people standing in the blowing rain. There were probably a few hundred people outside and once we got to the door the line snaked all the way through the building.

Once I finally signed in I was inside and found some other people I knew. They were splitting everyone into groups of 25 so I joined a group. We talked for about two minutes and then pretty much stood in awkward silence for the next 45 minutes until the candidates' representatives started the speeches.

Blah blah blah, eventually we all get into groups. Hillary ended up with 350 votes and Obama took the rest of the 2000+ for 9 delegates to Hillary's 2.

In the reports from the other sites in Lawrence they had to spread into another building because they were way over capacity. When I got back here I saw that this was happening in a lot of places throughout the state. It's awesome to see Democrats in this state so excited even though we might not have a chance against the swarms of Republicans in November. Either way we came out in full force tonight and everyone was loving it.

After it was over we headed out only to see that we were now in the middle of a blizzard. We were trying to get out and decided to find a Pathfinder that seemed to know a secret exit. Well, the secret exit turned out the be going offroad through the mud and snow and eventually through someone's yard and into their driveway. We looked behind and noticed that a bunch of cars were following us. Whoops.

We couldn't turn left so we went towards the traffic for a ways and then decided we had to turn around. On our way past the driveway there was a car stuck in that yard with 10-20 cars lined up behind them. Haha, someone's going to be pissed about that.

Anyway, Kansas went bigtime for Obama and Democrats are fired up for their candidates. I love it.

Hey, I stole a picture of my caucus site from the LJ World. As you can see, madhouse.

Contrary to popular belief that is NOT all of the Democrats in Kansas.

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