Saturday, May 2, 2009

Colbert: The Irony of Satire

Don't You Know The Joker Laughs At You?

Ohio State's Heather LaMarre, Kristen Landreville, and Michael Beam asked 322 individuals what they thought of Stephen Colbert:
There was no significant difference between the groups in thinking Colbert was funny, but conservatives were more likely to report that Colbert only pretends to be joking and genuinely meant what he said while liberals were more likely to report that Colbert used satire and was not serious when offering political statements. Conservatism also significantly predicted perceptions that Colbert disliked liberalism.

The Irony of Satire - Political Ideology and the Motivation to See What You Want to See in The Colbert Report.

2009 Time 100

Time Magazine's annual supplement of Most Influential People is out.

Among the profiles is Michael Moore's take on Bernie Madoff and General Chuck Yeager (the first pilot to break the sound barrier) on Chesley B. Sullenberger (who landed safely in the Hudson River): "It sure is nice to be able to stand up in front of people and tell them what happened."

It Used To Be Called 'Tripping'

Conflated senses with chemical assistance:

And without:

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videobordercolor="0" videoborder3d="0" animationatstart="0" volume="true" showdisplay="0" showaudiocontrols="1" url="1" currentmarker="1" currentposition="0">

Audio: BBC, PRI & WBUR's Here & Now, May 1st. Host: Robin Young.

Light Writing

The members of LICHTFAKTOR, an artists' collective in Köln (Cologne, Germany), use light to give expression to their creativity. Since 1997 they've take advantage of a variety of light sources to produce photos and videos in cities by night.

Photo: Atlanta Falcons QB Matt Ryan by Lou J. Vega from ESPN and Christoph Lenz from Glanzkinder.

What's Miss USA Really Like?

Short, blonde, ambitious, diplomatic, hungry...

State Pageant paid for 1st runner-up Miss California's implants.
Former Miss USA & co-executive director Shanna Moakler confirms.

Before & After

Photo: The Improper dot com

Friday, May 1, 2009

Van Gogh

Video: Vincent Van Gogh Dutch Artist 1853-1890 "Self Portraits"
by Philip Scott Johnson (2007)

Video: sundroid (2006)
Music: Edvard Grieg - Holberg Suite

Video: Albert Bethcourt (2007)
Song: Vincent
Artist: Don McLean
Album: American Pie (1971)

Computer Competition

"I'll take 'OMG, We're Screwed' for $600, Alex."

The producers of Jeopardy! and IBM are in discussions to allow an IBM supercomputer known as Watson to compete on the show against human competition. According to The New York Times, if Watson is able to beat the human competition the field of artificial intelligence will have made a leap forward.

IBM has had success in the past building super computers that were able to best human competitors. In 1997, IBM's Deep Blue supercomputer was able to defeat chess world champion Garry Kasparov in a match.

The difference between chess where all pieces have a known value and Jeopardy! is that the trivia questions asked in the game show have a wide and greatly varying range of relationships. These relationships are open to interpretation and the interpretations have to be made very quickly.

The IBM researchers who created Watson -- an homage to IBM founder Thomas J. Watson Sr. -- have said that they are not confident yet that their creation could compete well on the show. The New York Times reports that human champions are able to provide correct response 85% of the time to questions asked.

David A. Ferrucci, an AI researcher at IBM said, "The big goal is to get computers to be able to converse in human terms. And we’re not there yet.”

The contest is an effort by the IBM engineers to choose "grand challenges" that will help them make significant technical progress in AI. The rules proposed for the contest will force Watson to emulate all human qualities. Questions posed to Watson will be in text format while players will see text and hear the questions spoken by the show's host.

The computer will offer answers to the question via a synthesized voice and will choose its own follow up categories. IBM says that for the show, the computer would not be connected to the Internet. How Watson will be presented and what gender the computer will be are under consideration. A screen and a projected avatar are one consideration.

Jeopardy! executive producer Harry Friedman said, "We’ve only begun to talk about it. We all agree that it shouldn't look like Robby the Robot."

From: DailyTech & Geekologie blogs

Photo: Morpheus & Robby from Forbidden Planet (1956)

Extremism in the Wind

It played right into the left's sense of smug superiority. It played right into the right's paranoia about persecution. And it all happened too fast for anyone to have actually read the report.

The Federation of American Scientists thinks you should read it first:
Right wing extremism in the U.S. can be broadly divided into those groups, movements, and adherents that are primarily hate-oriented (based on hatred of particular religious, racial or ethnic groups), and those who are mainly anti-government, rejecting federal authority in favor of state or local authority, or rejecting government authority entirely. It may include groups that are dedicated to a single issue, such as opposition to abortion or immigration.

From the DHS report on right wing extremism

And yes, DHS also compiled a report on possible left wing threats.

Although released after Obama's inauguration, both reports were commissioned by the outgoing Bush administration.

Dear Red States

Back before he had to ask for a share of the feds' flu vaccine, TX Gov. Rick Perry's rant about sovereignty & secession brought to mind the "Letter to the Red States," where the Blue States said they would split (en mass) to form "New California."

I went looking for the letter's origin and found it dated back to 6/24/2005 as a posting on SF Bay Area Craigslist. The 2008 campaign version seems to have grafted the opening line (If you manage to steal this election too,) to 2005's opening "We've decided we're leaving."

Dear Red States...

We've decided we're leaving. We intend to form our own country, and we're taking the other Blue States with us.

In case you aren't aware, that includes Hawaii, Oregon,Washington, Minnesota, Wisconsin, Michigan, Illinois and all the Northeast. We believe this split will be beneficial to the nation, and especially to the people of the new country of New California.

To sum up briefly: You get Texas, Oklahoma and all the slave states. We get stem cell research and the best beaches. We get Elliot Spitzer. You get Ken Lay.

We get the Statue of Liberty. You get Dollywood.
We get Intel and Microsoft. You get WorldCom.
We get Harvard. You get Ole' Miss.
We get 85 percent of America's venture capital and entrepreneurs. You get Alabama. We get two-thirds of the tax revenue, you get to make the red states pay their fair share.

Since our aggregate divorce rate is 22 percent lower than the Christian Coalition's, we get a bunch of happy families. You get a bunch of single moms.

Please be aware that Nuevo California will be pro-choice and anti-war, and we're going to want all our citizens back from Iraq at once. If you need people to fight, ask your evangelicals. They have kids they're apparently willing to send to their deaths for no purpose, and they don't care if you don't show pictures of their children's caskets coming home. We do wish you success in Iraq, and hope that the WMDs turn up, but we're not willing to spend our resources in Bush's Quagmire.

With the Blue States in hand, we will have firm control of 80 percent of the country's fresh water, more than 90 percent of the pineapple and lettuce, 92 percent of the nation's fresh fruit, 95 percent of America's quality wines (you can serve French wines at state dinners) 90 percent of all cheese, 90 percent of the high tech industry, most of the U.S. low-sulfur coal, all living redwoods, sequoias and condors, all the Ivy and Seven Sister schools, plus Harvard, Yale, Stanford, Cal Tech and MIT.

With the Red States, on the other hand, you will have to cope with 88 percent of all obese Americans (and their projected health care costs), 92 percent of all U.S. mosquitoes, nearly 100 percent of the tornadoes, 90 percent of the hurricanes, 99 percent of all Southern Baptists, virtually 100 percent of all televangelists, Rush Limbaugh, Bob Jones University, Clemson and the University of Georgia.

We get Hollywood and Yosemite, thank you.

Additionally, 38 percent of those in the Red states believe Jonah was actually swallowed by a whale, 62 percent believe life is sacred unless we're discussing the death penalty or gun laws, 44 percent say that evolution is only a theory, 53 percent that Saddam was involved in 9/11 and 61 percent of you crazy b*****ds believe you are people with higher morals then we lefties.

By the way, we're taking the good pot, too. You can have that dirt weed they grow in Mexico.

Peace out,
Blue States

PostingID: 80714812

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Thursday, April 30, 2009

Specter - Defector

Cartoon: Mike Lane, Baltimore Sun, April 28th
Political Cartoons dot com

By John Fritze, USA TODAY, April 29th

WASHINGTON — Hours after telling President Obama that he would be no automatic vote for Democrats — even though he had just joined their ranks — Pennsylvania Sen. Arlen Specter proved the point.

In one of his first major votes since defecting to the Democratic Party, Specter sided with Republicans and voted against a $3.4 trillion budget Wednesday night that laid the broad groundwork for policies championed by Obama's administration.

"I am not a member of any organized political party...
I am a Democrat." -- Will Rogers

See also: Senator Olympia Snowe's NY Times Op-Ed.

Flu, Floozie, Doozie

Self Portraits

500 Years of Male Self Portraits in Western Art

How many artists can you name?

Video: Philip Scott Johnson (2007)
Music: Bach's Bouree 1 & 2 from Suite for Solo Cello No. 3, BWV 1009
Performed by: Antonio Meneses

A Coke and an Economist

How Many People Know Coke’s “Secret Formula”?

By Steven D. Levitt, April 28th
Photo: DeusXFlorida

Coke has a new ad that declares that only two people know Coke’s secret formula, and if something happened to one of them, the formula would be lost forever. It then goes on to talk, facetiously, about all the terrible things that would happen to the world if something bad happened to one of the two men and the formula was lost forever.

Perhaps I’m just losing my sense of humor, but every time I see the ad I get aggravated.

First, and this is not so important; if two people know the formula, then if something happened to one of them, the formula would not be lost. So what they don’t say, but must mean, is that there are two people who each know half the formula, and nobody who knows the whole formula.

More fundamentally, there is no way in the world that only two people know Coke’s secret formula. If that were really the case, then the shareholders should be filing suit against management. Are firms allowed to just blatantly lie in their advertising? Not that it matters, but I find it strange that a firm would knowingly say something like this when it is completely untrue.

Steven Levitt is co-author of "Freakonomics", and a regular contributor to the Freakonomics blog at the New York Times.

Wednesday, April 29, 2009

Swine Flew!

Did we call it on April 18th, or what?

Not exactly a pig that flies, but this pig got some big air at the 2009 Royal Easter Show in Sydney, Australia.

Photo: Mark Kolbe/Getty Images

But seriously...

Women In Film

How many movie stars can you name?

Video: Philip Scott Johnson (2007)
Music: Bach's Prelude from Suite for Solo Cello No. 1 in G Major, BWV 1007
Performed by: Yo-Yo Ma

Low Flying Fish!

Worn by a NW tourist in a Las Vegas drug store:

T shirt from Zazzle
Zazzle dot com features the design as a t-shirt, mug & poster... Close, but not an exact copy of the original: from Seattle's Pike Place Market, which also inspired artist Rose Jaimison, who admits she's no Leonardo... She paints under the pseudonym "Leone Ardo."

Tuesday, April 28, 2009


Photo Op Flyby triggers Flashback/Freakout/Firestorm/Fall Out

Uncharacteristically angry, Brian Williams blogged: "Someone should pay for this." He then appeared on "Countdown" to explain...

Men In Film

How many can you name?

Video: Philip Scott Johnson (2008)
Music: Bach's Allemande from Suite for Solo Cello No. 3 in C Major, BWV 1009
Performed by: Antonio Meneses

Nice Rack (of Ribs)

Her boss is no dummy...

This prompted Rebecca Cullers, contributor to Adweek's Adfreak blog to wonder: "Could all business be that simple? I mean, I think of sticking a woman with big [ones] in front of your store as pathetic, cheap, hack advertising—tantamount to a GoDaddy ad. But isn't the chorus always: 'If it works, that's all that matters'? "

And "i do declare" replied: "If I have to be a 'hack' in order for my advertising dollars to convert into sales, I'll gladly be a hack over an award-winning creative any day of the week."

Meanwhile back in Reading, OH...

Video: WCPO TV, Cincinnati

CraigsList Killer Controversy

Professor Diane Juliar, who teaches the prosecutor clinic at Suffolk University Law School and also has a background as a defense attorney, joins New England Cable News for a discussion about flood of possibly prejudicial information leaked about the alleged Craigslist killer.

(NECN: Boston, Mass.) - The wedding appears to be off for the man accused of the Craigslist killing in Boston. That's what the leader of the band that was supposed to play at the wedding tells People magazine.

He said one of the bride's family members told him there is "no possibility" Philip Markoff will wed Megan McAllister in August. McAllister has publicly defended Markoff, since he was charged with killing one woman and attacking another in two Boston hotels earlier this month.

Police say the Boston University medical student met both victims on Craigslist.

Meanwhile, court papers say Markoff owes more than $130,000 in student loans and cannot afford an attorney.

Monday, April 27, 2009

Love Them Little Guys

"The biggest thing is getting the courage to go."

Photo: Winslow Townson (AP)

Boston Red Sox's Jacoby Ellsbury steals home under the tag of New York Yankees catcher Jorge Posada during the fifth inning of their game in Boston on Sunday. The speedster surprised left-hander Andy Pettitte with his dash in a three-run fifth inning that gave the Red Sox a 4-1 victory, sweeping the series, sweeping a 9 game home stand, giving the team their 10th straight win, and fans far beyond Fenway an image for the ages.

Across the street, sales of #46 jerseys soared.

Meanwhile, on the field of battle...

American League MVP Dustin Pedroia of the Boston Red Sox enhances performance with a turbo-shot-infused Dunkin' Donuts iced coffee. Perfectly legal.

Video: Hill Holiday Advertising

¡Gripe Puerca!

Emergency in Response to Swine Flu
A precautionary measure, the move allows federal and state governments easier access to flu tests and medications

SUNDAY, April 26 (HealthDay News) -- U.S. health officials declared a public health emergency Sunday in response to the swine flu outbreak, as the number of confirmed cases nationwide rose to 20.

Homeland Security Secretary Janet Napolitano said the declaration was a precautionary measure, and did not mean that the threat posed by the outbreak was worsening. But, the move allows federal and state governments easier access to flu tests and medications, she said.

"That [a public health emergency] sounds more severe than it really is. This is standard operating procedure, and allows us to free up federal, state and local agencies and their resources for prevention and mitigation. It allows us to use medication and diagnostic tests that we might not otherwise be able to use, and it releases funds for the acquisition of additional antivirals," Napolitano said during a press conference at the White House.


In Mexico

Women in Western Art

500 Years of Female Portraits

Video: Philip Scott Johnson (2007)
Nominated as Most Creative Video, 2nd Annual YouTube Awards

Music: Bach's Sarabande from Suite for Solo Cello No. 1 in G Major,
BWV 1007
Performed by: Yo-Yo Ma

For a complete list of artists and paintings visit here.

Michael Jackson's "Black or White" video employed George Wendt, Tess Harper & Macaulay Culkin (before we knew about the creepy stuff) at beginning and a young Tyra Banks as #2 in the midway morph montage of the full 10:43 version which includes the black leopard's (extended violent vandalism rage against hatred & crotch-grabbing) dance.

Director: John Landis (more info)
Album: Dangerous (1991)

Teach Your Children Better

Handle With Care

Composer: Neil Young
Artist: Buffalo Springfield
Title: I Am A Child
Album: Last Time Around
Year: 1968

Sunday, April 26, 2009

It's A Bird, It's A Plane, Oh No!

Airplane 'bird strikes' have climbed dramatically... FAA database records voluntary reports by airlines.

Birds damaged planes at SFO 45 times since 1990 Canada geese graze on the Bay Trail in Millbrae, California as planes taxi out to runways behind them at nearby San Francisco International Airport.

The newly available FAA database lists 112,387 reports of aircraft striking wildlife, including reptiles and mammals, at 2,008 airports in the United States & Canada from January 1990 - November 2008.

Many airports are built near coastal wetlands which have seasonal influxes of migratory birds, but the problem also occurs inland with airports near agricultural areas.

Dallas / Fort Worth International ranks second among the country's airfields for reports of planes colliding with birds and fifth for collisions in which planes sustained serious damage, according to an analysis of the newly released federal data... A total of 1,529 wildlife strikes, usually birds, second only to Denver International.

A Christian Science Monitor article on the top ten US airports reporting wildlife-aircraft collisions includes YouTube video of a British jet's 'bird strike' at, and return to, Manchester England.

Photo: Lance Iversen - San Francisco Chronicle
Sources: Los Angeles Times & Dallas Morning News

Can You Say Sequel?

NEXT!The local theatre has an electric sign board to list movies and show times. But there's only room for so many characters per line.

Times for "Monsters vs Aliens" looked just fine... but the title had been truncated to:

"Monsters vs Ali."

Go get 'em, Champ!

Übermensch & menschette

Michael Phelps says he's not dating California's controversial conservative Miss USA runner-up Carrie Prejean.

Smokin' hotties still have a chance with him...
Marriage-minded lesbians don't with her.

New York Daily News, April 24th.

Country First

Pat Buchanan has warned any comprehensive investigation of Bush era torture of Afghan/Iraq war captives would blow the country apart.

Jim Warren disagrees.

The former Washington Bureau Chief and Managing Editor of The Chicago Tribune signed on as a political analyst with NBC News, with regular appearances on MSNBC, CNBC and the McLaughlin Group (co-produced by Chicago's PBS station and NBC's in DC.)

On the group this weekend he suggested that President Obama will eventually come around to appointing an inquiry commission... chaired by John McCain.

Genius, pure and simple.