Saturday, January 26, 2008


It's all the same picture, just evolving over time.

In the digital age, anything is possible, when it comes to images.

The paint on paper starts the process.

The camera has its way with the "art."

Functions like "image correction" allow the pilot to adjust virtually every vector of the painting's photographic image.

As the piece evolves, there comes a point when what you "see" no longer exists in the physical world.

We've departed the physical limits that for so long have contained art (and life). Suddenly, there are no limits; as if the soul of art has left the artist's body. Death and rebirth.

All that remains is whatever image moves the viewer. Welcome to a virtual world, the first of many...


p.s. Here is the end result, i call it Big Bang:

Party Pics: Wired's 15

Long live Wired, Wiredlings, and the Digital Revolution!

It was a rainy night outside on Ritch alley, but the party-goers inside #330 were all smiles.

San Francisco, January 25, 2008.


Friday, January 25, 2008

Birthday Party: Wired is 15

Tonight, I attended a party celebrating the origin of Wired and Wired Digital, the epicenter of Web 1.0. This photo is an image of Louis Rossetto, my friend and the founder of Wired Magazine.

Happy Birthday, Wired!


Today's news from the Gulf Coast:

By SHELIA BYRD, Associated Press

JACKSON, Miss. - The federal government on Friday approved Mississippi's plan to divert $600 million in hurricane housing funds to a port improvement project, angering critics who say tens of thousands of people made homeless by Hurricane Katrina still need help.

So the Republican governor in his wisdom has decided to divert hundreds of millions of dollars that were intended for victims of Katrina to improve the port at Gulfport. An his Republican counterpart in the Bush administration has written one of the most wimpy bureaucratic approvals of all time:

In his letter to Gov. Haley Barbour, Housing and Urban Development Secretary Alphonso Jackson said that although he's concerned about using the housing money for the port project, congressional language associated with the use of block grant funds "allows me little discretion."

"I'm sure that you share my concern that there may still be significant unmet needs for affordable housing, and I strongly encourage you to prioritize Gulf Coast housing as you move forward," Jackson wrote.

Then, the two men, no doubt shared a guffaw off-stage.

You may recall that I've recently posted the contact info for 12 grassroots groups working to get help for the tens of thousands of low-income residents who still do not have adequate housing. (I am reposting this list at the end of today's post.) From these groups, working on the scene, one gets a strong impression that the state government is acting virtually as a criminal gang, diverting FEMA money to their buddies who build casinos and run the port.

Gulfport-Biloxi used to be a rare example of prime coastal land occupied by a mixture of races on lower incomes, wit a strong sense of the history of their community. What we are witnessing is the systematic dismantling of that community by a corrupt gang of politicians.

Yet there appears to be no counter-force in the state or national government willing to stop them.

(Note: By clicking on the headline of this post, you can read the entire AP story quoted above.)

This saddening, maddening news emerges on a dark, cold day when the rains, which have been falling for days, continue with a new intensity.

There's no wind gusts, so the damage to trees this time seems marginal, unlike the monster storm earlier this month. But driving is terrible, eespecially out alone Highway 101, which connects San Francisco north and south with the rest of the West Coast.

Around 2 pm this afternoon, I heard a crash out back. Soon, a fire truck was out front, with a tall ladder stretched three floors up into the wet sky. It was too stormy for me to go out and see what had happened, but apparently part of the roof on the next building south of mine may have collapsed, or gotten damaged, perhaps by a broken limb or an accumulation of rainwater, or both.

The only words I could hear the fire captain say as they left were, "You should be okay for now. You know, mold is an issue you'll have to deal with."


Nov. '05 East Biloxi I only got to mention these worthy grassroots groups on the Mississippi Gulf Coast briefly before the holiday. Now, we are into the new year, please consider helping one or more of them if you can. In such a poor area, gifts as small as $20 go a long way! Although there has been some progress toward rebuilding casinos and homes for the rich post-Katrina, these groups represent the many people left out -- the working poor, disabled, ill, and those virtually without hope. Claywork by Julia 1. Mercy Housing and Human Development Utilizing integrated strategies to provide housing, community and economic development for low-income families of Mississippi. 2. North Gulfport Community Land Trust Dedicated to providing permanently affordable homeownership to residents in North Gulfport. 3. The Steps Coalition The mission of the Steps Coalition is to promote an equitable recovery and healthy, just, and sustainable communities in South Mississippi. 4. Back Bay Mission Founded in 1922, the mission has always kept the impoverished and marginalized at the center of its concern. 5. Mississippi Center for Justice An organization dedicated to advancing racial and economic justice. 6. NAACP Biloxi Branch 7. Living Independence for Everyone (LIFE) The Southeast's Regional disability resource center offers a wide range of resources, education, and advocacy to the community to help level the playing field for people with disabilities. 8. Moore Community House MCH works with the east Biloxi community assisting low-income neighbors with quality child care, family services & local economic development. 9. Sierra Club Mississippi My informant tells me: "All environmental orgs are really struggling down here, kind of hung out to dry. With oil and chemical companies making the people down here die of cancer, confused by intractable poverty/need for "job creation" and the good ol' boys' billfolds, local George Bush-style denial, it's a hard case to make. 10. St. Rose Outreach and Recovery Operates under the premise that no family can recover from Katrina until it has a safe and secure home in which to live. 11. Gulf Restoration Network Works on a variety of issues in keeping with its mission of protecting and restoring the natural resources of the Gulf of Mexico. 12. Visions of Hope This traveling exhibit is an interactive and educational display that travels around the country to provide visitors, including breast cancer survivors and their families, with the most up-to-date information on breast cancer, detection, and treatment options.

Thursday, January 24, 2008

Tree Full of Robins

Click on this image, and you'll see what I saw, early this chilly morning. Over a dozen Robin Red Breasts hanging out in my apple tree.

Later today, in the Safeway parking lot, I shot this photo of the steam from General Hospital seemingly unleashing our stormy sky. But of course it did not.

Among the most intriguing news stories moving tonight, AFP is reporting that "U.S. scientists have taken a major step toward creating the first ever artificial life form by synthetically reproducing the DNA of a bacteria..."

"Oh no," I say. SciFi meet Future Shock.

Meanwhile, one of my favorite little mags, has posted a great interview tonight with the genius behind one of my favorite websites: Found Magazine.

Found Magazine's Editor Tells Us His Secrets

This excellent piece is by Elisa Albert. I really like her style.


How bad ideas succeed

So the President, the Congress, and the candidates running for President all agree that the impending recession justifies a tax rebate to virtually all Americans. They will haggle over details, but the cost will be $100,000,000,000 or so. More quietly, they will provide another $50,000,000,000 as business tax breaks.

Listening to the Democratic candidates' debate the other night, it was striking how lock step they sounded, cynically worshiping at the feet of the great tax rebate concept. Who's going to be in opposition?

Certainly, $600 for most taxpayers ($1,200 for couples) sounds like free money to most of us. Add in, say, three kids (at $300 per), and that's $2,100 for a family of five. The money should arrive by June.

The justification for this, of course, is that by sending us free money, Uncle Sam calculates that we will go right out and spend it. I don't know about you, but I'm not built that way. After all, I'm part Scottish. My cousin Dan sent me this photo of our Grandma and her bike. He also included some hilarious details about her (lack of) driving skills, which maybe I can post at a future date.

In any event, if I get a check, I'll be depositing it or paying off debts. I suspect a lot of other Americans may do the same.

You see, the entire Keynesian idea that we will continue to spend, spend, spend has long since become the dominant feature of our world-dominant economy. That's right. Every pack of batteries, every gadget, every vacation, every everything you choose to spend money consuming directly stimulates the massive U.S. economy.

It is like a ravenous beast now, an addict, requiring us, its pawns, to consume ever more and more, but is this what we really want to do?

I've become a fanatic at recycling and composting lately. I cannot bear to waste one scrap of uneaten food or discard anything reusable. The kind of national leadership I would like to see would talk honestly to us citizens about our moral responsibility to reduce consumption, not expand it.

Even though I am unemployed, personally, and running straight into a rough patch from a cash-flow perspective, I don't want my government to print more money, send it to us, and bank on us spending it on more needless gadgets made of unnatural toxic plastics plus scarce natural resources.

Nevertheless, I will accept this dinky check and do what is right. I won't buy anything. I hope you'll consider doing the same.


Wednesday, January 23, 2008

Blogging as Community

Dylan drives to the basket for a layup under the watchful eyes of his coach, Sogolon

I'm preparing a course on the topic, Blogging as Community, to teach at U-C, Berkeley's adult education center, OLLI*, later this spring.

Meanwhile, this blog has gone through many stages, but I am proudest of it when it is an exclusive source of information on something that matters.

At times, that has been the awful aftermath of Hurricane Katrina. Search as I might, I could not find any other blogger who was trying to stay on top of the unending post-storm disaster that is the Mississippi Gulf Coast.

More recently, the passing of my dear friend, Ken Kelley, strangely remains unreported elsewhere. Therefore, those wishing to find out details about the end of Ken have nowhere else to turn but here, for now.

I can tell you that a group of us are gathering Ken's work with an eye to staging a retrospective, or publishing an anthology. There will be more news about that here, once our plans solidify.

After their victory, the JVs sit

I'm also proud of our political coverage. You could do worse than to check in with us on election days. We sort the data from exit polls, pre-election polls, demographic information, previous voting patterns, and other sources to provide early predictions, when we can. Our record is about 95% accurate to date.

The Varsity boys watch and hang out with girls

I wish our ability to forecast the stock market was even close to that figure. Alas, now that the press, public, and politicians have all decided we are going to have a recession, I suppose we have no choice, collectively, but to go ahead and have a recession!


My favorite stock, Apple, has nosedived from the heady territory of $200/share to (at one point today) $126, though it later recovered to ~$139. My second favorite, Amazon, has dipped from the $90s to the $70s.

More fans

If, like me, you are at or near retirement age, you probably are scared. After all, the average IRA seems to have lost around 20% of its value in just the past month. At this rate, our net worth will be better described as "net worthless," right?

Sogolon sends Aidan back into the game

Don't fall for it, my friends. Here's what to do, in three easy steps:

1. Ignore your accounts. Just don't look, for now.
2. Get ready to buy. What? That's right, think of what a bargain Apple, for one example, is right now. It will certainly go back up once this market correction reverses course.
3. Diversify into bonds. The older you are, the more bonds and bond mutual funds you should hold.

If you follow this advice, which is synthesized from the best financial experts I can find, you'll ride out the market storm we are witnessing right now.

There is one cardinal rule -- don't panic. Don't sell anything now; if you do, you will be selling low, and later on, no doubt, buying high. This is how the rich get richer off the rest of us -- because we panic when a market correction occurs. Let's not do it this time, okay?


It is a great time to cut your monthly expenses and stick to a strict budget. Combine it with dieting and our planet will be the better off for it, as will your heart.


As for the other narrative running through this post, the kids' basketball games, our JV's are headed to the playoffs after another win, but our Varsity, at 1-6, will have to wait for next year.


*OLLI = Osher Lifelong Learning Institute

Tuesday, January 22, 2008

An Artist's Final Days

The late Ken Kelley, photo by Anita LoCoco

The winter storms keep sweeping in from the Northern Pacific, bringing us cold weather, rain, and even snow in the Bay Area's higher peaks.

Those of us who count ourselves FOKs (Friend of Ken's) continue to inquire as to how he died, and who might be responsible. It is a mysterious death, suspicious even. Then again, Ken's life was mysterious, even suspiciously unlikely in the extreme.

The photo at the top of this post, by our mutual friend Anita LoCoco, former art dealer and now a resort operator in Bali, includes one of Ken's paintings in the background. In his later years, Ken turned to painting, and produced a number of pieces. He once told me that the head of S.F. MOMA was considering exhibiting his works at the museum, but as with so many of Ken's claims, this one could not be substantiated.

In fact, probably it was not true.

Talking with Ken's friends in recent days, I've come to realize what an unlikely life he led. Always uniquely a character, and a symbol of the youth rebellion of the Sixties, Ken also was a talented journalist, a great interviewer, and a terrific source of information for many other reporters.

His fiercely intelligent, bright blue eyes were perhaps his signature physical feature. He couldn't keep a straight face, however, and was a terrible liar, which is ironic because lying came much more naturally to Ken than telling the truth.

But his mouth was his weakness; he could never control the muscles around his lips, alternatively about to break into a devilish grin or issue a sputtering rant.

Ken just wore us all out, that's all. He was so hard to be around, yet his kindness and generosity on occasion was just as much truly Ken as was his scheming con side.

A conundrum, that's the word. Ken was a conundrum.


Monday, January 21, 2008

Has anyone seen this boy?

As I think back to over a half century ago, I often wonder what happened to the little boy who was me. Probably the main thing I was known for was my carrot-eating habit. If ever there was a candidate to disprove the beta-carotene poisoning hypothesis, you're looking at him, or rather his photo.

I used to easily put away an entire bag of carrots at one sitting. Mind you, this was long before the gourmet offering of peeled "baby carrots" we feed our young today. Nope, I ate 'em, skin and all, the bigger the better, in very large quantities.

My favorite carrots were the ones I pulled from our back yard garden, fresh and firm and ready to be be consumed -- the way rabbits eat them. I'd wipe off most of the dirt, but what was left didn't bother me at all; it was part of the raw, organic experience of munching a sweet orange carrot.

Only when I was living in Afghanistan, and teaching English, did I encounter the many other types of carrots that grow in this world. Red carrots, yellow carrots, white carrots.

My Japanese friends seem surprised that I love raw daikon so much, but to me, it is just another radish, the little round, red sister to the big brother, elongated carrot.


As time has its way with us, as we all know, we wrinkle and gray, we sag and we sway. Our memories become foggy; our night vision deserts us. If we are lucky, our digestive systems adapt, albeit slowly, to our shifting dietary habits.

Yet the old and the young share many traits. Maybe we can be most ourselves at the extremes of life. Today, I was blessed by the company of a lovely young woman, aged 29, trying to figure out the next moves in her life.

That she trusts me to be her adviser is one of those precious aspects of growing older -- certain younger people sometimes ask you for advice. The thing about this friend is the struggle I sense around the corners of her lips when she speaks of her self-confidence.

Like many of her contemporaries, she is struggling with the reality of a world that is changing so fast, she worries whether her skills, her education, her experience will truly qualify her for the opportunity to earn a living doing something more closely related to her passions and dreams than has yet been the case.

It always breaks my heart, a little bit, to talk to a person in that state. What she feels internally and what I see externally are two different beings. She expresses doubts; I see a leader.

I know, given the benefit of age, what she still must learn -- that she can be anything she wants to be. Nothing can stop her, once she puts her mind to it.

The good thing is I suspect she knows, deep inside, that she has what it takes to achieve her dreams. Now the hard work begins, however: Which among her passions and skills might yield a career path that will allow her both to support herself and live a life with meaning?

Looking back to that carrot-eating boy in the photo, I wonder how successfully he made these transitions, and how many of his dreams remain unrealized, let alone how many strategic choices remain to help him do what he must do now. In this way, my younger friend and I stand at the same crossroads of life.


Sunday, January 20, 2008

This is dedicated... my late buddy, Ken Kelley.

You might call this Kitchen Art.

Whatever, I'm quite sure Ken would understand.