Sunday, July 30, 2006

Art Show XI (or, do you see what I see?)

I love me some optical illusions... for instance:

Think blocks A and B are different colors?

Daggone. (click to see animation)

They're not.


An oldie but a goodie - flashing spots (or a "scintillating grid") where there aren't any! Avert your eyes if you get migraines, because this might set one off.

Find the green dot - just stare at the crosshatch:

Weird, huh?


And lastly, one that doesn't rely on your visual cortext to freak you out (though some would argue that for it to BE an optical illusion it must do so), but rather does so just by being freaky:

One person? 2 people? or 3? See the dog? The tree? Hmmm? Do ya? DO YA?

Saturday, July 29, 2006

Men are not potatoes.

"Are a thousand unreleased prisoners sufficient reason to start or resume a war? Bear in mind that millions of innocent people may die, almost certainly will die, if war is started or resumed."

I didn't hesitate. "Yes sir! More than enough reason."

"'More than enough.' Very well, is one prisoner enough, unreleased by the enemy, enough reason to start or resume a war?"

I hesitated. I knew the M.I. answer- but I didn't think that was the one he wanted. He said sharply, "Come, come, Mister! We have an upper limit of one thousand; I invited you to consider a lower limit of one. But you can't pay a promissory note which reads 'somewhere between one and one thousand pounds'- and starting a war is much more serious than a trifle of money. Wouldn't it be criminal to endanger a country- two countries in fact- to save one man? Especially as he may not deserve it? Or may die in the meantime? Thousands of people get killed every day in accidents... so why hesitate over one man? Answer! Answer yes, or answer no- you're holding up the class."

He got my goat. I gave him the cap trooper's answer. "Yes, sir!"

"'Yes', what?"

"It doesn't matter if it's a thousand- or just one. You fight."

"Aha! The number of prisoners is irrelevant. Good. Now prove your answer."

I was stuck. I knew it was the right answer. But I didn't know why. He kept hounding me. "Speak up Mr. Rico. This is an exact science. You have made a mathematecal statement; you must give proof. Someone may claim that you have asserted, by analogy, that one potato is worth the same price, no more, no less, as one thousand potatoes. No?"

"No, sir!"

"Why not? Prove it."

"Men are not potatoes."

-Robert Heinlein, Starship Troopers

I've been following recent events in the middle east in the news recently with a big-picture sense of unease and trepidation, but a small-picture sense of awe and admiration for the nation of Israel.

Hamas wins majority government in the Palestinian parliament. Israel is concerned, but limits itself to expressing those concerns and fighting the day-to-day battles against state sponsored terrorism. They do not invade with tanks and planes and foot troops.

Much later, after much gnashing of teeth back and forth, some Palestinian(s) takes a single Israeli soldier prisoner. And the hammer comes down on Palestine like something out of the Old Testament (pun definately intended). The message is unmistakably crystal clear: give us our man back, or we will continue killing you until none are left.

For reasons not exactly clear (perhaps in support of Hamas Palestinians, perhaps just to mess with Israel while they're laying the red-headed step-child beating down elsewhere), Hezbollah in southern Lebannon drops a salvo of rockets into northern Israel, including one or two into Haifa. While they are at it, they snag two Israeli soldiers as prisoners.

The Israeli war machine cycles up north without slowing down. Bombs are falling on Beruit and its harbor is blockaded before the last fires from the arab rockets are out. Once again, the word is out, and its as serious as a heart attack: give us our people back, or we will kill you all.

Its not my intention to wade into the 'right versus wrong' area of middle east politics. But I do want to say this: Israel seems ready to commit it's entire nation to war over the capture of one of its soldiers. Cynics would call this simple posturing, and that Israel was simply waiting for a 'moral' reason to declare war on their arab neighbors, provided neatly by the abduction of the Israeli soldiers.

I believe, however, that this is a powerful and poignant reflection of a fundamental jewish belief: that though you may persecute us, hate us, even kill us, we will endure. But should you take one of our people, one of the soldiers who protect our land and our nation, that we will not endure. We will come for them, whatever the cost, everything in our power we shall do to bring them home.

The Israelis are sending powerful messages to their antagonists, both current and future: they will attack those who strike at them, over interational borders, in spite of international sanction. Israel will be as humanitarian as it can be without compromising military effectiveness. And if collateral damage occurs (or is neccessary), so be it. Terrorists exploit their target nation's hesitation and unwillingness to embroil itself in fighting. Israel is showing no hesitation or unwillingness at all.

The Israelis are keeping faith with the men and women who safeguard their nation in a way I can't imagine western nations emulating. You think Canada would declare war and launch a major offensive on a sovereign nation because they snatched a couple of our soldiers? What do you think that says to our fighting men and women? What effect do you think that might have on the thinking and behavior of folks out there on the point of the spear? If you get nabbed, we'll try to negotiate you back, so hopefully your kidnappers are reasonable and not suicidally or homocidally motivated? And before any U.S. folks make jokes about Canadian Military (or the lack therof), please remember Chuck Norris paid his rent through the eighties and nineties doing a string of movies illustrating apparent American willingness to leave their own people in the hands of enemy forces in the name of political expediency.

If I were Steven Harper, or George W. Bush, would I be willing to commit the armed forces of my country to war for the sake of one soldier held prisoner? If I was the sort of leader who actually expected his men to fight bravely and die for their country, I sure as hell hope so.

Prayers going out to the folks in the middle east. Dear God, keep the innocents safe and moving away from the gunfire, and watch over the captured men and their families.

Friday, July 28, 2006

MB Gallery X

John Waterhouse- Circe Invidiosa 1892
Courtesy of Waterhouse: The Art and Life Of John William Waterhouse
This is a painting I have in my house, although mine is a canvas repro. There is something about this myth, and this painting of it, that has always struck a chord with me. I love all of his work, the romance and the lurid beauty of them. But this is
the one I had to have.

This is a picture that was done for me by an upstairs neighbor, when I lived in Portsmouth, NH. The woman who did it was named Sarah, she was young, married and a heroin addict. I saw her drawing this and asked if I could have it, because I couldn't stop looking at it. It hangs on my bedroom wall, and, over ten years later, I'm still fascinated by it.

This is an actual draft poster, that used to hang in my dad's recruitment office, when he was an Air Force recruiter. I love things like this; signs of all kinds appeal to me. I especially like advertisements, and military stuff.

This is only some of the stuff I find appealing, but definitely three of my favorites.

MB Gallery (IX)

When I was in 6-8th grades we lived near a library, close enough that I could write a bike there. I learned about women from three sources: Reading the entire collection of Sweet Valley High Books (which has to explain much about me), stealing 1970s Playboys from the library (since they wouldn't let me check them out), and then bringing them back (because I was a good chap), and The Savage Sword of Conan. One of my five all time favorite comic books, it stepped up in a major way my expectations of what a comic book could and would show. The sex and violence went much further than I ever thought a comic book could.

And the artwork was incredible. The covers especially were serious works of art, whether or not they landed in a museum. I haven't been able to locate the artists, but I'm still trying. In the meantime, please PLEASE click on them individually and take a closer look. The genius of these covers I could find is in the detail.

Issue #1 Not the greatest, but if you blow it up to look at the detail it's fairly daring for back in the day. (BTW, it's not Van Gogh or nothing, but this is worth about 1300 bucks)

If I had a nickel for every time I've fought a monster on a mountain-side while a smoking hot girl clung to me......

I think the second artist owes the first an apology. Even then, the ape is way better in #1, and um, the girl?

I like these because it shows that even Conan can get censored. Look at the original artwork and then what they used on the cover. See the difference?

I implore you to click and blow it up. The detail is just incredible.

To this day I remember that horse

MB Gallery (VIII)

Gustav Klimt

These paintings were found at

I can stare at these for hours. Klimt painted women so beautifully.








MB Gallery (VII)

Sara Jochums

#1, 1995

Winston Churchill

Swimming Pool at Mme. Balsan's, 1946

Jojo (an Elephant)

Meal Stampede, Thailand

Orangello ( a cat)

Beam Me Up

MB Gallery (VI)

Antibes by Claude Monet via

Golconde by Rene Magritte via

La Corde Sensible by Rene Magritte.jpg

ansel adams vintage phot beach -

MB Gallery (V)

Charles Demuth

I saw the figure 5 in Gold

Roy Lichtenstein

Maybe, 1963

Jackson Pollock

No 1, Lavender Mist, 1950

Frank Sinatra

Wolfsangle, 1988

Joshua Reynolds

Sarah Siddons as the Tragic Muse, 1784

Adolf Hitler


MB Gallery (IV)

All of the work is by Kim Sung Jun (Site:

My first collage I did men, the second women. These are sort of.....other, I guess. The detail is incredible, so please click on them to see individual pictures.

These last two are human of course, but seeing as who they are supposed to be I figured they needed to be in the other category. (Besides, Jesus loves chillin' with Lizard Men)

MB Gallery (III)

All of these paintings are by Kim Sung Jun ( Site:

In the last one I showed men. Here are his women. Sung Jun seems to vacillate between portraying them as delicate and sexual and powerful, closed off. This is a sampling:

This is by far my favorite

MB Gallery (II)

All of these paintings are by Kim Sung Jun ( Site:

I was so moved by them that I used a modified version for Hyperion Rants. I can't say why I am drawn to his art, exactly. Somtimes I don't really like them, but they just speak to me and I can't take my eyes off them. I have split them up into three sections: Men (more or less), Women, and "other"

I'm convinced these are the same guy. As I recently wrote a script about angels, I have been searching for a "look" for them.

I've met this man

These two pictures disturb me on levels I cannot begin to explain. I shudder every time.

I liked this one so much I used it as my profile for the longest time