Sunday, November 30, 2003

Thanksgiving notes

This year, I especially enjoyed Thanksgiving. It started out badly--a bad accident and a detour, then, when we arrived, some scary news that turned out to be ok. But we got to essentially finish listening to the latest Harry Potter book, which we've been trying to do since September. So that was the good part of the trip--which is only the two or three hours it takes to get from Norwalk to Natick, MA.

The feast was a joint effort this year between my niece, Stanley, my sister, and me. It was kinda fun, though I never again want to start an endeavor like that without a cuppa Joe or two before I start. The food was very good, and one of the guests was an amazing woman from Israel--a teacher--who told us about living on a Kibbutz and the history of her family and how she was born before the UN gave the land to the Jews to create Israel and on and on. I could've listened to her and asked questions for hours. And it was interesting to be able to talk with someone who actually lives in Israel and does not have the automatic knee-jerk response to the Israel-Palestine conflict that my Jewish friends and relatives comfortable here in the United States have.

Monday, my nephew took us to see Scary Movie 3 because he loves it so much. It wasn't as bad as I thought it was going to be--and I loved watching Ben watch the movie. And we got some work done on Friday and Saturday.

Saturday evening, my sister and brother-in-law took us out to dinner in Boston to celebrate my birthday. We went to no name on Fish Pier, then to a French restaurant for coffee and dessert, where we proceeded to argue about politics, of course. It was fun, except I again realized how thick-skulled Republicans can be in the face of all evidence to the contrary (my brother-in-law, who I think is a Republican only because his father is a Democrat). No name was fun, but not nearly as good as I remember it being 25 years ago when I used to go there often. The latte was good at Salt a la Terre (or whatever it's called), but the dessert I had (three little pies it was called, which should have been called three little bites of three mediocre pies) was nothing special. But it was comfortable and we didn't get thrown out in the middle of our arguments.

Coming back here was an easy trip. Last night the power went out, so I managed to get eight hours of sleep and feel pretty good, which is a good thing since we now have a push to finish up a site that will launch by early Tuesday morning. The only thing is Ginger gets very mopey for a day or two when we come back from visiting family because she misses people.
posted by lee on 11/30/03 at 06:46 PM

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Sunday, November 23, 2003

here and there

The Greatest Album Covers That Never Were: an interesting collection of quite a bit of good art -- often with links to the artist's own website. Besides, it's fun.

And from the above, I got here: Kurt Vonnegut's website.

Where it began: Urban Legend Magazine. All because I clicked the link in WebDesign-L. Especially when the discussion is making my eyes cross.

I'm in the process of making an entire news-oriented website in MT. It's interesting. More about this as I do it -- the links that were most useful to me, etc. (such as this from Brad Choate ... )
posted by lee on 11/23/03 at 04:09 PM

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Friday, November 21, 2003

graphic design anal-ysis

I stumbled upon Design Observer: writings about design & culture -- not sure from where, must've been Xplane's xBlog ...

At any rate, while I haven't read very much of this blog yet, the authors (Jessica Helfand and William Drenttel from Winterhouse Studio, Rick Poynor who founded Eye and writes for Print, and Michael Bierut of Pentagram) seem to make it a point to be extremely opinionated going out the gate -- very refreshing. That's not to say I AGREE with everything said (I think Helfand does not understand Tufte's work or sociology or the ultimate futility of an ad hominum attack, for example), but it's clear these people are at least thinking. I don't mind reading graphic design navel gazing rants if they're articulate.

I'm not all that crazy about graphic design as applied to the web these days -- I've yet to see good print graphic designer make the leap to good web graphic design, at least in the corporate communications sphere. They all seem to be straightjacketed by print experience and don't genuinely understand the web as a different medium or the purpose of a corporate website (or almost any website for that matter). Oh how I'd love it if I were given examples showing me that this observation is bullshit. Please.
posted by lee on 11/21/03 at 11:50 PM

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Wednesday, November 19, 2003

If you aren’t afraid for our country, read this

Whatever you may think of Bobby Kennedy, Jr., you need to read this article in Salon. In this interview, he clearly articulates what is going on under Bush and his cronies -- why this administration is undertaking a liquidation of our country's assets and what the consequences are in the not-so-long term. He also clearly lays out why protecting the environment matters by summarizing what happened as a result of General Electric dumping PCBs into the Hudson River in order to bolster its bottom line -- and who ultimately ends up paying for this both in terms of the suffering caused by health problems and the suffering caused by the decimation of a regional economic base.

If nothing else, Save the Earth--dump Bush will make you think, and will probably make you angry.

Here's a taste of just one answer:
In Rolling Stone, you use the term "corporate fascism" to describe what's happening under Bush. Do you think that's excessive rhetoric?

No, I don't. When I was growing up, I was taught that communism leads to dictatorship and capitalism leads inevitably to democracy. And I think that's the assumption of most Americans. Certainly if you listen to people like Sean Hannity or any other voices of the right, there's an assumption that capitalism in any form is beneficial for democracy. But that's not always true. Free market capitalism certainly democratizes a nation and a people. But corporate capitalism has the opposite effect. The control of the capitalist system by large corporations leads to the elimination of markets and ultimately to the elimination of democracy. And we desperately need to understand that point in our country -- that the domination of our country by large corporations is absolutely catastrophic for our democratic process.

Corporations don't want free markets, they want profits. And the best way to guarantee profits is to eliminate the competition; in other words, eliminate the marketplace, through the control of government. And that's what we're seeing today in our country. There is no free market left in agriculture. The free market has almost been eliminated in the energy sector. These are two of our most critical sectors, and the marketplace has disappeared. We're seeing the same process underway in the media industry now. So there's very little consumer choice and Americans aren't getting the benefits and efficiencies that the free market promises us.

Under Bush we're seeing the complete corporate domination of the various departments of government. The Agriculture Department, which was created to benefit small farmers, is now a wholly owned subsidiary of big agribusiness and the principal instrument of their destruction. The Forest Service is being run by a timber industry lobbyist, Public Lands by a mining industry lobbyist. Virtually all Bush's Cabinet secretaries, department deputies and agency heads come from the very industries that those agencies are supposed to be regulating.

The same thing happened in Germany, Italy and Spain during the fascist takeover in the 1920s and '30s -- you had industrialists flooding the ministries and running the ministries, and running them in many ways for their own profit. If you read the American Heritage Dictionary definition of fascism, it says "the domination of a government by corporations of the political right, combined with bellicose nationalism." Well, we're seeing that today.

Of course the first people who start talking about this connection are going to be derided for it. Even though Rush Limbaugh calls feminists "Nazis." The right wing for years has tried to discredit anyone who believes in the idea of community as a "communist" or a "pinko." But it's time that people started telling the truth about what's going on in this country. And start realizing that democracy is fragile, that corporate cronyism is as antithetical to democracy in America as it is in Nigeria.

The other day I got something in the mail from a farmer -- small farmers in this country understand better than anyone how markets are being stolen and democracy is being eroded. He sent me a quote from Mussolini that said fascism should really be called "corporatism" -- because it's the control of government by large corporations.

Another farmer sent me my favorite quote. This one was by Lincoln, in 1863, during the height of the Civil War, when he says, "I have the South in front of me and the bankers behind me -- and for my country, I fear the bankers most." Lincoln, Jefferson, Teddy Roosevelt, FDR, Eisenhower and all of our great leaders have warned our nation that the greatest threat to our democracy is from large corporate interests.
posted by lee on 11/19/03 at 07:01 PM

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We need this here, too, wherever he shows up

posted by lee on 11/19/03 at 04:59 PM

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Saturday, November 08, 2003

matrix revolutions—oh my

niobe.jpgAt the end of Matrix Revolutions, Stanley said, "There's $300 million down the tubes." Which pretty much sums it up.

Though we were both somewhat disappointed with Reloaded, we thought, nay hoped, maybe the best stuff was being saved for this one, so paid our $9.00 per ticket to see it.

If you haven't seen Reloaded, don't spend big bucks to see Revolutions, because you won't understand a thing.

Here's my question. If the "real world" is dirty and dingy and beset with danger and nasty machines and you have to live in this big underground bubble and where ratty looking sweaters (that all look the same), why would you ever take the red pill? Gimme the blue pill, thank you very much.

If you're hoping for answers, forget it. There are no answers, mainly because the questions keep changing. Neo isn't even in half the movie, and the fight for Zion goes on and on and on and on ... and gee whiz, Sarge, I can do it, golly gee I can. The gruff captain part that serves no purpose, The Kid that serves no purpose, the council questioning that serves no purpose, the "Neo trapped in between" that is never explained and serves no purpose. The stuff that could be intensely interesting given very short shrift: the Trainman, the Ghost, the Machine World. But not the Frenchman, played by a very shitty actor.

Why are the Zionists and the Machines at war? No answer to be found here.

Not much time spent in the world above the world--which is what made Mx1 so interesting to begin with. The whole point of the Matrix was the Matrix.

The Wachowski Brothers should have spent some of that money on good writers. They should've waited until Reloaded played before starting on Revolutions--they probably would've made a much better movie. What Revolutions reveals is how shallow and sophomoronic the Wachowski Brothers really are--they're comic- book- movie creators, not philosophers, fer cryin' out loud.

The silliest things in the movie were the battlebots. What moron designed these? Any soldier strapping in to one of these would be dead of internal hemorrhaging after just "walking" a few steps.

And Agent Smith--good grief. I could never figure out why he developed into such a threat, especially to the machines--what, exactly, was the problem, anyway? This is not a trivial question, as the resolution of the whole trilogy hinges on dealing with the threat Agent Smith has become. His lines were among the stupidest of the movie (in a movie with many, many stupid lines).

And what about all the people in the Matrix? I thought Neo was supposed to "save" them. Maybe the WBs finally figured out that there was no way the planetary infrastructure that they'd set up could support a billion or so pod people if they finally woke up and demanded some dinner.

All in all, Revolutions is a huge disappointment. Definitely do not pay full price to see it--even matine prices are a little on the steep side for what you get.
posted by lee on 11/08/03 at 07:43 PM

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Friday, November 07, 2003

Picked a good day for playing hooky

My sister visited from Michigan. We wanted to take a day trip and debated about which day to go, but we figured if we didn't do it Monday it would be harder to break into the workweek to do it later. We made the right choice: on Monday, the temperature was in the 70s and it was sunny, though with a haze that made the sky not quite the bright blue of Autumn. A gorgeous gorgeous day. On Tuesday and Wednesday, the weather was downright nasty. So, yes, a good choice.

We went to Stonington to see the lighthouse there, which was very pretty. What an interesting town--we'll go back there in the spring to explore it more. Then to Mystic, where we wandered downtown for a while, then went to Mystic Seaport, which is a museum reproducing a fishing (or whaling?) village from days gone by. Wish we would've had more time, but we didn't get there until about 2:00 and dark comes early these days. We'll go back there, too. Stanley took this picture as we were leaving:


chuckie.jpgMy sister, Carolyn, brought her little dog Chuckie, a cross between a pug and a lab (Stanley says it's a pugador. I like that). I don't even want to think about which one was the female. Chuckie is a funny little dog, quite a character, and his face looked to me like Richard Nixon during his darkest hours. We were sorry to see them go.

My dad turned 75 on Wednesday. And my parents celebrated their 49th anniversary. Time accumulates. Or, as Stanley sez, tempus keeps fugiting.


posted by lee on 11/07/03 at 05:39 AM

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