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Monthly Archives: April 2006

Grey sky wet concrete  §

It’s raining.

It makes me feel better.

Rain seems to be the one and only thing these days that makes me happy, that makes me feel alive.

I . love . rain .

How does one avoid despair?  §

So many things are broken… The entire world follows our government into not merely pervasive, but taken-for-granted corruption and imperial violence. As a government “of the people,” it reflects well the universal human zeitgeist, an uneasy mix of willfull ignorance, greed, and wanton abandon. The culture of the self and the mass-id spreads across the globe, as does the culture of avarice and the culture of disintegrity. Everything is hollow, everything is evil, and unless you are prepared (and able) to be those things, too, you cannot prosper—though you are free to observe the cannibalism in every quarter from beneath whatever lonely rock you can find.

You cannot even eat; soon you will not even breathe; the other species will join you in your death.

How do you avoid despair? What is to keep you from suicide, homicide, patricide, genocide? Has the world always been like this? Is something different, magnified, accentuated with the coming of modernity?

I want to vomit. I open my eyes and I want to vomit. Everything is so disgusting, so ill, so twisted, so venerated in its moral vacuousness. I look at the Cultural Revolution almost romantically. I won’t presume to argue about all of the factors that “really” precipitated its advance, but I can tell you why the common man has historically participated in movements that were seen by later (and usually lesser, though also paradoxically more innocent) men to be tragedies.

It is all despair and the will to power that comes only from the deepest of injuries and even deeper moral purity. Indeed, moral purity is the greatest cause of violence, as ultimately nearly all violence ever done in the history in the world has been, at the most ruthlessly bare level, nothing other than just.

That is the dirty truth of all of this. That is the crux: tyranny and murder are, more often than not, the highest justice. Tolerance and mercy are in truth the greater moral crimes, though they are of course at the same time the more human of virtues. It is human to end suffering, but it is also unjust if such suffering is well-deserved. Humanity and morality, in essence, are diametrically opposed.

Even as an atheist I must thus posit original sin and it its unyielding intelligence. Higher thought is the gum that spanners the all works, and, as is the case with pop music and the oroberous, it will eventually eat itself. I only hope I am among the first to be digested.

yow  §

2006 continues to really, really suck. I’ll be so glad to see the back of this one…

Thankfully, it seems to be moving quickly.

Done recently:

– Nothing, somehow
– And nothing else, either
– And yet I am SO BUSY
– And fairly lonely

What am I working toward? Hard to tell. Not even sure anymore. I really just want to sit down and watch college football in between bouts of raking leaves.

Playing catch-up  §

I am a hard worker. I have been all my life. I have accomplished so much and yet I am still not financially successful. Why? Because I started farther back than many people. I know, I know, a lot of people say that only whiners complain about starting with no money, uncle Jeb pulled himself up by his bootstratps, started from nothing, built an empire, I must be lazy, lazy, lazy, and ungrateful that I live in a free market economy and too stupid to leverage it.

Wrong.

Take a look at three hypothetical photogrpahers and imagine that they all have equal talent and shoot identical scenes with identical technical skill. One starts wealthy and has an unlimited photography budget and can afford to work on photography full time because he doesn’t have to do any other work. One is upper-middle class and starts with a $2,000 budget and can only afford to work evenings and weekends. The third is lower-middle class and starts with only $200 and has to pay his rent by working most evenings and weekends, so he only has half of every Saturday and Sunday to shoot.

The wealthy photographer buys a $16,000 medium format digital camera that delivers 20+ megapixels. He buys Adobe CS2 for nearly $1,000 to “digitally develop” them. He begins shooting on day one working full time (8 hours per day). While shooting and not editing, he takes two good photos per hour. Every hundred photos, he submits a batch to the copyright office, where the registration fee is $30 per batch, plus the cost of a blank CD and shipping. At the end of every year, he submits that year’s take to agencies. Because he has 20+ megapixels and a top-grade editing system to work with, he can crop and resample problem images and still maintain enough technical quality to get 80% of his work accepted at top agencies with an average comission of $1000 per photo per year while only spending 20% of his time on editing. The remaining 20% of his work go to less picky agencies with an average commission of $100 per photo per year. Five years later, at two good photos per hour while shooting and working eight hours a day from the start, he has earned $2,712,080 gross or about $2,694,060 over five years net from photography.

The upper-middle class photographer can only afford a $1,000 digital 35mm SLR that delivers 8 megapixels. He, too, buys Adobe CS2 for nearly $1,000 to “digitally develop” them. He begins shooting on day one working only nights and weekends (3 hours per day). While shooting and not editing, he, too takes two good photos per hour when shooting and not editing. Every hundred photos, he also submits a batch to the copyright office at $30 per batch. He too submits the yearly take in photos at the end of the year. Because he only has 6 megapixels, though his $1,000 image editor helps to some extent, he has no crop or resample room and is often resolution limited. As a result he only gets 20% of his work accepted at top agencies, another 50% at less picky agencies, and fully 30% of his work goes nowhere because the technical quality isn’t good enough thanks to his lower-end gear. The lower quality “digital negative” means that he has to spend 40% of his time editing to get good results. Five years later, at two good photos per hour while shooting and working three hours a day from the start, he has earned $302,220 gross or about $298,240 over five years net from photography.

The lower-middle class photographer can’t afford a pro digital camera at all, nor can he afford Adobe CS2. Because agencies want digital but he can only afford to buy a film camera, he has to invest in a $50 scanner to go with his slow computer. The remaining $150 he spends on an Olympus OM camera and a 50mm lens. He begins shooting on week one but can only afford to shoot for five hours each on Saturday and Sunday. Because the MF camera and 50mm lens severely limit his subject matter, he only manages to take one sellable shot per hour, which is fine becuase he has to buy and pay for lab development of slide film at a total cost of $20 for the 36 exposures he takes every our. He can’t afford to submit photos on an ongoing basis to the copyright office at all. Becuase film scans are difficult to work with but he could afford no digital editing software to speak of, he gets 20% of his work accepted at more film-tolerant top agencies, but only 20% of his work accepted at lower-end agencies. The remaining 60% of his work is just burned film. On the upside, he only has to spend 20% of his time scanning. Five years later, at one sellable photo per hour and working weekends from the start, he has earned $26,288 gross or about $15,688 over five years net from photography. And because he hasn’t managed to afford always submitting his photos to the copyright agency (since sometimes he has to make ends meet), someone has stolen two of his photos and used them in a major ad campaign, earning $600,000 for themselves and nothing for him. He can’t afford a lawyer to pursue it, and might not win anyway since he didn’t register.

These calculations don’t even include the enhancements to earning that come from the prestige of shooting regularly for a top agency, or having time to network evenings instead of work, or being able to travel in order to do better shoots, or additional photographic equipment like lighting and lenses that can increase the shot-to-shot success rate, or eventual intangibles like fame and name recognition.

In short, even though the poor guy is working harder and shooting the same scenes with the same talent level, he is earning almost nothing and even after five years of hard work he doesn’t have the budget to buy in where the rich guy began.

It’s like this in every industry and discipline to one extent or another. The rich make money with (literally) exponential growth due to the free capital and time they can throw back into the process. The more capital and time they invest, the more capital and time they have to invest. Meanwhile, the poor person at the bottom works on a linear plot for years on end and doesn’t even get to where the rich guy started, nevermind the stress of middle class life and trying to make ends meet.

Six odd things  §

1 I hate buying new shoelaces (HATE)
2 For almost five years I slept in a tree for hours every day
3 Apart from the six published books, I wrote three that haven’t been published (yet)
4 The romance of the deserts calls to me across years and miles
5 All of my best work has been done to music
6 I don’t ever tag anyone for any reason

I’m with them  §

How many people out there are born, live, and die utterly and completely devoid of hope forever, just so that the top ten percent can play golf, have lots of square feet, and own a plasma television set?

There is very little that is defensible about the western lifestyle or institutional structure. If there is any justice in the world or in human beings as a species, the west will ultimately fall, rather than spread as it seems to be doing.

If there is no justice in human beings as a species, then it isn’t such a travesty to lose them.

Surreal, certainly  §

I just did a Google search on myself for the first time in several years.

My God I’m old.

Also, I’ve done a huge number of things and done them relatively well.

At times, it’s hard to even realize that all of those people are me.

Yeah  §

I really don’t have any patience for anything right now. I need to turn this PC off and take a chill pill before bad things happen. It’s one of those nights.

In the meantime, I suppose I did get rather a lot done today, so that’s a good thing. But the big things remain to be done. The big things remain.

Somehow the afternoon suddenly turned lousy  §

I was sitting here not doing much of anything and then one or two people said one or two stupid things and now all of a sudden I’m really, really bothered. B-a-d m-o-o-d.

Sometimes it happens. Someone shoots their mouth off and you just run out of patience. Then you snap at them. Hard.

The problem with our society  §

A CNN anchor just referred in a story to the “mae-yo-ist guerrillas” in “knee-paal.”

I don’t know if she can’t think when the teleprompter is running or just has no idea about anything in history or politics or geography in general, but in any case it doesn’t help the general public when this is the state of our news media.

Okay, let’s be honest. This is the first time she’s ever hear of either term. I can’t decide whether it’s better to have clueless, uneducated newspeople (CNN), blatantly fascist propagandists for newspeople (Fox), or bifold tabloid stars as newspeople (MSNBC).

We need to fund PBS enough to have a national nightly broadcast.

To those who don’t know their history or political science  §

Because this comes up too often when I’m chatting with people and China’s in the news:

– China is not communist, nor is it a republic
– The United States is not capitalist, nor is it a democracy

Both are strongly related fascist states, i.e. state capitalist/corporatist with nationalized economies, like Hitler and Mussolini only much more mutually complicit and entangled.

P.S. In case you were thinking “wait, the U.S. economy isn’t nationalized,” realize that we’ve just spent $400+ bn to wage war under a national flag and go see the CBO’s data on the percentage of GDP/GNP that are directly tied to the military-industrial complex.

Woohoo  §

Power’s back on. I’m too much a post-20th century city kid to know what to do without electricity on a snowy day. Hurm. Snow is still falling at a crazy rate.

Ta-da  §

It’s time for a raging snowstorm in late April.

Old wounds new scars red eyes black smile  §

Nevermind. The solution is, as always, Neubauten. If I could make it the soundtrack of my consciousness I would be twice as successful as I am now. Blixa’s voice and the Neubauten Zen are the glue that bind my molecules together.

Walking on the Hyde Park quads  §

Time marches. And it marches. And you get older, and everything real isn’t real after all, it’s just a memory and you didn’t realize it until you couldn’t touch it anymore.

Sometimes I think Ben Folds is some kind of genius, and I get sad that I didn’t bother to watch him perform when he visited us in Chicago.

God, I can’t listen to this any more. I’m gonna break down. 🙁

Sometimes I think I was never in Chicago, or Vancouver, or Santa Barbara. Sometimes I think I’m not here now. Sometimes I think I don’t want to be here now.

Time marches.

“Sometimes I get the feeling
That I won’t be on this planet
For very long
I really like it here
I’m quite attached to it
I hope I’m wrong

All I really wanna say
Is you’re the reason I wanna stay
I loved you before I met you
And I met you just in time
‘Cause there was nothing left

I sat here on my suitcase
In our empty new apartment
Until the sun went down
Then I walked back down the stairs
With all my bags and drove away
You must be freaking out

All I know is I’ve gotta be
Where my heart says I oughta be
It often makes no sense In fact,
I never understand these things I feel

Don’t change your plans for me
I won’t move to LA
The leaves are falling back east
That’s where I’m gonna stay

You have made me smile again
In fact, I might be sore from it
It’s been a while
I know we’ve been together many times before
I’ll see you on the other side

Don’t change your plans for me
I won’t move to LA
The leaves are falling back east
That’s where I’m going to stay…”