Friday, November 28, 2008

Shoppers trample clerk to death

This is absolutely disgraceful. What is wrong with these people?

A Wal-Mart clerk was actually trampled to death by shoppers this morning. They actually broke down the doors and poured into the store like locusts. What the fuck is wrong with these people? They wouldn't even leave when the police demanded everyone clear out because someone was killed. They were indignant.

It's sick. This is murder. Who is held responsible?

Monday, November 17, 2008

Why not an actuary?

I'm thinking of changing my occupation to actuary. From what I've read it's a very rewarding job and there is a shortage of applicants. There are two guilds associated with this profession, and they require certification by examination to join. The practice exam I looked at reads like a discrete mathematics test. Right up my alley! I think it could be fun, and there are opportunities here in St. Louis.

I will need to graduate first.

Monday, November 10, 2008

The Earnest Politician

This hand gesture, first brought to my attention by President Clinton, has got to be the most ridiculous hand gesture ever invented. I call it the Earnest Politician. It strikes me as something contrived by political strategists as a gesture to demonstrate the strength of a closed fist, but without the menacing impact.

I noticed it again when Sarah Palin started using it during the Presidential races this year. Note the limp thumb cradled firmly and straight by the index finger. Also note the broken wrist. A straight wrist would be too intense. In the photo, I'm wearing my sleeves rolled up to show that I am a politician who likes to "go to work."

Here is a better view of my rolled up sleeve, to reassure all you Joe Sixpacks out there who might be afraid that I'm just another desk jockey. As you can see I'm a non-threatening politician who is earnest about what I'm saying, and I'm not afraid of rolling up my sleeves.

Have you ever seen anyone who is not a politician in front of a camera making this gesture? It is a stupid bit of political correctness. It conjures up nothing but images of test groups to me. "So, how does this hand gesture make you feel? Threatened? Assured? Do you feel like you can trust this person? Now let's compare this hand gesture with an open palm and a closed fist." Blegh!

And woe betide any man who stands before the power of the DOUBLE Earnest Politician, where both hands are poised sternly to deliver a firm but non-threatening message! It's difficult to imagine a more impressive display of patriarchal strength without feeling overwhelmed.

Next topic: the politician's "thumbs-up," which is actually only half of a thumbs-up, with the thumbs pitched forward at a 45 degree angle, for some reason. This one I truly don't even understand. Is a thumbs-up somehow threatening? Why does it need to be modified? See examples...

That one by Obama where he's wearing the jacket has got to be the weakest thumbs-up I've ever seen. That's shameful.

A proper thumbs-up requires a strongly clinched fist with the thumb vectoring orthogonally away from the arm line. What is with these people? Maybe it's that clinched fist they think would just be too much for the public to handle. Could be. Whatever. Seems pretty lame to me.

Sunday, November 09, 2008

Unrefined thoughts on b&w photography

Black and white photography tends to make me focus on shapes and spaces more than I would with color. B&W seems more concerned with layout and design than content.

Karl Benjamin shows that color can add a crucial element to the space/shape melange, even when space and shape appear to be all that matter at first.

Karl Benjamin is my favorite of the hard-edge painters. It is his work, in fact, that has raised my awareness of what differentiates B&W photography from color. He focuses on rhythm, space, and shape, as well as contrast, but in a way that B&W work cannot approach. It's like introducing a new dimension to B&W composition.

Black and white photography remains a vital tool in the artist's toolbox. It's an instructive tool. Sometimes a composition cannot be appreciated as readily by the viewer if he/she is distracted by the colors of it. When colors are introduced, the viewer can't help but consider them immediately, like whether or not the palate is agreeable, or how the flesh tones work, or the shades of light. With B&W all this distraction is stripped out so that only the shapes and spaces remain. The subject itself might even become secondary in some cases.

How well would Benjamin's work work if it included anything more than abstract shapes? Not very well, I think. This seems like a flagrantly obvious statement. What is a Karl Benjamin painting that includes an organic figure in it? It must include hard-edge objects. I guess that cubism, which preceded him, included this element. It's as if cubism came first, then its decomposition by different movements into its constituent parts. I guess this is true for all art, as realism came first, then its study by decomposition, which ultimately fell to abstract minimalism.

Unlike painting, photography started out in a decomposed state. Monochromatic photography was invented long before color photography, and the evolution continues with digital photography and supernatural, in the sense of surrealism, additions to realistic compositions.

Wednesday, November 05, 2008

Change has come to America

We dare to hope.

"To those who would tear the world down: We will defeat you.
"To those who seek peace and security: We support you.
"And to all those who have wondered if America's beacon still burns as bright, tonight we have proved once more that the true strength of our nation comes not from the might of our arms or the scale of our wealth, but from the enduring power of our ideals: democracy, liberty, opportunity, and unyielding HOPE."