Thursday, February 19, 2009

1. The view I get everyday as I ride my bike home. This is a low fog bank around Orcas Island.
Orcas Island

2. I did a ski ascent of Mt. St. Helens a few weeks back. This was a lunch stop around 6000 feet. The winds were blowing hard. Mt. Hood in Oregon is in the background.

3. At the end of winter break I went on a short road trip around the edge of the Olympic Peninsula with my friends Ko and Cameron. The first night we slept in the Hoh rainforest, a few miles north of here. This is the mouth of the Hoh River.
Mouth of the Hoh River

4. That morning we saw the Roosevelt Elk herd wandering around the old growth rainforest.
Roosevelt Elk

Here is an article talking about the Hoh ecosystem.

5. We ran into some big trees on the way.
Oh, hello tree

6. Hummingbirds outside the window in Seattle.

7. Logan at Christmas, hamming it up for the camera.

Monday, February 09, 2009

MTV and Pop Culture

MTV makes me sick. When I watch it, I see glorification of violence, objectification of women, and consumption as the source of all happiness.

This is a list of the effects of mass (or pop) culture, from sociologist Ernest van den Haag.

1) Life is reduced to a spectator sport.
See Tila Tequila, My Super Sweet Sixteen (Spoiled rich girls getting lots of stuff), The Hills, etc etc.

2) Mass culture appeals to base instincts, distracting people rather than enlightening them.
As above.

3) In excess, it tends to isolate people from one another, from themselves, and from experience. Real life becomes trivial in the face of vicarious experience.

4) Distracts people from their lives, which they view as boring and thus generate obsession with ESCAPE. This deprives them of autonomous growth and enrichment -- lives become even more boring and unfulfilled.

5) Mass appeal needed to make mass culture profitable deindividualizes people, seeking one artist to fit all consumers as the most profitable model.

This is disgusting. It is the homogenization and packaging of art.

Saturday, December 27, 2008

Life Goes On

A few things have been on my mind a lot lately.

The first is the somewhat suspicious death of Mike Connell. Connell was the technical guru for Karl Rove, and as such ran Bush's online operations during the 2004 elections. He provided the same service for John McCain this election season.

The day before the election, November 3rd 2008, Connell was removed from his position as the administrator of a Ohio website responsible for providing live election results. This is part of a ongoing court case first brought against Connell in August 2006, which alleges racially based vote tampering, and voter fraud.

The case was brought by Clifford Arnebeck and Robert Fitrakis, two Ohio attourneys who have testified that Connell funnelled electronic voting data through private servers before they were processed. The servers belonged to SmarTech Inc., a Tennessee IT company that has done more than $5 million in business with the republican party, including hosting the 2004 Bush/Cheney website, and is listed as donating between $2,500 and $2 million to the New York City Host Committee, which organized the republican national convention in 2004.

What is very interesting here is that the whistleblower in the case in a man named Steven Spoonamore, a computer security expert who happens to be a very conservative republican. Spoonamore, who has worked with many large banks and credit card companies, says that anytime sensitive data goes through a private computer, it almost certainly means fraud has been perpetrated.

Connell also created the private White House email accounts that were used to discuss that illegal, politically motivated hiring and firing of US District attorneys under former attorney general Alberto Gonzalez.

This is where it gets crazy. In a letter dated July 24th, 2008, Arnebeck sent a letter to US Attonrney General Mike Mukasey, stating that "a source we believe to be credible" informed him that Karl Rove threatened Connell's wife, a washington lobbyist, with prosecution for lobbying violations unless Connell agreed to "take the fall."

The text of that letter is availible here:

On the 19th of December, 8 days ago, Connell died in a plane crash. The Velvet Revolution, a non-profit voter protection group, stated following Connell's death that he had recently said he was afraid George Bush and Dick Cheney would "throw [him] under the bus."

This is a quote from Mike Crispin Miller, proffessor of media culture and communication at New York University, from his interview on Democracy Now (link below).

[Miller] "Well, I cannot assert with perfect confidence that this was no accident, but I will say that the circumstances are so suspicious and so convenient for Rove and the White House that I think we’re obliged to investigate this thing very, very thoroughly. And that means, first of all, taking a close look at some of the stories that were immediately circulated to account for what happened, that it was bad weather.
That was the line they used when Wellstone’s plane went down. There had been bad weather, but it had passed two hours before. And this comes from a woman at the airport information desk in Akron. We’re told that his plane was running out of gas, which is a little bit odd for a highly experienced pilot like Connell, but apparently, when the plane went down, there was an explosion, a fireball that actually charred and pocked some of the house fronts in the neighborhood. People can go online and see the footage that news crews took. But beyond the, you know, dubiousness of the official story, we have to take a close look at—and a serious look at all the charges that Connell was set to make."

This whole thing stinks.
Read about some other suspicious deaths, like Karen Silkwood, a union activist, and Paul Wellstone, the senator from Minnesota.

Sources and Additional Reading:
The BRAD BLOG : BREAKING: Federal Judge Compels GOP IT Guru Mike Connell To Give Deposition in Ohio '04 Election Case

Democracy Now! | Republican IT Specialist Dies in Plane Crash

Washblog || Michael Connell, Rove's IT Consultant, Dies In Plane Crash

SMARTech Corporation - SourceWatch

This has been my break! So relaxing.

Sunday, June 22, 2008


This month has been quite eventful. First, I finished up with class at Western, and moved out of my house up there for good. That was a bit of a strange experience. I had settled in more than I realized, and it was a bit sad to go.

I stuck around a few extra days to take part in a parkour related training. This fellow Erwan Le Corre, the founder of MOVNAT, came from France to put on this workshop. MOVNAT is a retooling of le methode naturelle, one of the precursors of parkour.

This is an explanation of the MOVNAT way from Rafe Kelley's Blog, Natural Athletics.
"MOVNAT (MOUVEMENT NATUREL/MOVE NATURAL/MOVEMENT IN NATURE) MOVNAT is an outdoor functional training method designed to develop, maintain or restore the full range of the natural human movement capacities such as walking, running, jumping, climbing, moving on all fours, balancing, lifting, carrying, throwing, catching, swimming and defending.

Through practice, fundamental physical qualities such as speed, strength, endurance, coordination and flexibility are developed.

Training also necessitates and promotes the growth of essential mental and moral qualities such as, self-control, courage, will, focus, alertness, and respectfulness, solidarity, cooperation, and reciprocal altruism.

Last, just as MOVNAT promotes the return of the bodies natural physical capacities so it encourages respect and concern for nature. We train to be able to move naturally, we train in nature, and we train to connect ourselves with the natural world and to care for it."

Here is a short video of Erwan training MOVNAT in Corsica:

It was so much fun, I have started to change the way that I move after this class. I am planning on doing a lot of barefoot running over the summer, today was actually the first day. I went two miles or so with my dad through Seward Park and then went for a nice refreshing swim.

This is my favorite picture so far from the training, although I have only developed half of them. There was a children's session in the morning, and I snapped this:

A Wrinkle in Time

It looks a lot better in my opinion if you View Large On Black

Since then I have been settling back into Seattle. The Fremont fair was this weekend, I should have some pictures from that on flickr soon. Tim left for Spain for two months, he is going to teach english and photography. It has been great to see my friends. Possibly bread making with theo and abby tomorrow, and arayas with siena, brendan, and ab sometime? Oh, I started the Greenpeace job as well. It makes me feel good. Blah, I'm about to pass out and I've got to put the clean sheets on my bed. night!

Friday, June 06, 2008

The Emerging Police State

We all worried when the Patriot Act came into action, Habeus Corpus was suspended, and prisoners were held for years with no charge and no legal representation. Now DCist reports that the DCPD, in response to rising violence in the city, is creating Checkpoints at the entrance to the worst neighborhoods, where all people are stopped, questioned, and arrested if they don't comply.

The scoop is here:

An incredible video:

This climber Alain Robert climbed the New York Times building, all 52 stories of it, with no rope yesterday to bring attention to global climate change. This is his website:

Thursday, May 29, 2008

Slate grey mornings and spots of blue peppering the sky in the evening

Things that I am excited about:
Aquaponics; combining fish farming and hydroponics to remove the barriers to each while increasing productivity.

Vibram Fivefingers: This will be my next shoe purchase.

The Phoenix Lander on mars.

"In this sweeping view, the 10 kilometer-wide crater Heimdall lies on the north polar plains of Mars. But the bright spot highlighted in the inset is the Phoenix lander parachuting toward the surface. The amazing picture was captured on May 25th by the HiRISE camera onboard the Mars Reconnaissance Orbiter. Though the lander looks like it might be dropping straight into Heimdall, it is really descending about 20 kilometers in front of the crater, in the foreground of the scene. The orbiter was 760 kilometers away from Phoenix when picture was taken, at an altitude of 310 kilometers. Subsequently the orbiter's camera was also able to image the lander on the surface. The parachute attached to the backshell and the heat shield were identified in the image, scattered nearby. Of course, the Phoenix lander itself is now returning much closer views of its landing site as it prepares to dig into the Martian surface." from Astronomy Picture of the Day and NASA.

Mom and Meg on Kauai:

Zola and Tippie:

Saturday, May 24, 2008


This is just a brief update, a few things on my mind lately.

Firstly, this article explains how the military has concealed the magnitude of suicides among active duty soldiers and veterans since 2001. They found that up to 15,000 soldiers (not a typo) have killed themselves in the past 7 years.

Second, this article explains that between 25% and 33% of the world's wildlife has died since 1970, the greatest period of extinction in millions of years. Worst hit are marine species.

Lastly, here is a shot of my dad, taken on our recent Kauai trip. I like this one.
Hello father

Monday, May 12, 2008

It all comes together...

Its very easy to be pessimistic about the state of the world these days. Its easy to unload the problem on other people, and blame the Chinese, the rich, or the neighbor for the environmental crisis. But the fact is, every one of us is contributing to the problem, to some degree or another. It is supposed to be the job of the government to mobilize the people from all walks of life to take action, and thats why I am so excited about this guy.

On a bad side note, the oceans are being rapidly depleted of fish, and destructive techniques used in modern industrial fishing are ripping entire ecosystems to shreds.
This article details the problem, and this article tells you how to help.
If the current fishing practices continue, the world's major fish populations will be extinct within 40 years.

To quote Mother Teresa, from an interview with Time Magazine:

Q: Is materialism in the West an equally serious problem?

A: I don't know. I have so many things to think about. Take our congregation: we have very little, so we have nothing to be preoccupied with. The more you have, the more you are occupied, the less you give. But the less you have, the more free you are. Poverty for us is a freedom. It is not a mortification, a penance. It is joyful freedom. There is no television here, no this, no that. This is the only fan in the whole house. It doesn't matter how hot it is, and it is for the guests. But we are perfectly happy.

Q: How do you find rich people then?

A: I find the rich much poorer. Sometimes they are more lonely inside. They are never satisfied. They always need something more. I don't say all of them are like that. Everybody is not the same. I find that poverty hard to remove. The hunger for love is much more difficult to remove than the hunger for bread.

And a few of the latest photographs.

seen at WWU.

Whatcom Falls, Bellingham
seen at Whatcom Falls Park.

Thursday, May 08, 2008


I am taking a class this quarter on Religions of China and Japan. Its a pretty good class, and we are currently studying Buddhism, which is quite interesting. My teacher made an offhand comment today that caught my attention; he said that Monasteries and Churches were essentially the first corporation. That is, no one person held control of the property of the corporation, but it rather belonged to "the Church" as a rather amorphous entity, and the dominant institution of that age.

For anyone who has not heard of it, you should check out a movie called "The Corporation" (link). It is a documentary which psychoanalyzes the corporation as a human being, which it is under the law. The conclusion that is reached is that the corporation is a psychopath, an entity which is incapable of self-recrimination, and is by definition a blame-mitigating device.

This has some interesting parallels to organized religion... what do you think?

Uncurling for spring