Wednesday, November 26, 2008

They're Not Really Polar Opposites

Apparently, zookeepers in Japan have a difficult time RECOGNIZING THE GENDER of their polar bears. After all, they are rather furry creatures. It wasn't until 4 months after the two were brought together to mate that zookeepers became suspicious that the scheduled mating would not lead to anything fruitful:
"[O]ne day we realized that the two bears urinate in the same way, and we thought, is that how males do it? And once we started to look at things that way, we weren't quite so sure."
Wow. And these are the professionals? Apparently zoology 101 isn't quite so difficult to pass after all. But what peaks my curiosity the most is whether the manual inspection or the DNA tests came first. Surely it's not an easy task to manually inspect a polar bear for anything.

They are currently seeking an annulment for the bears citing the realities of a poorly thought out arranged marriage. Until then, they are living a Josephite marriage.

Tuesday, November 25, 2008

Hindsight is 20/40

I just ran across THIS article from way back in 2000. Prophetic. It's unfortunate that most everyone wasn't paying attention then. But that's what this post is about...making sure we still learn the causes, not effects. It's a long article, but you should read it. Lot's of anti-ACORN and anti NACA stuff in there. That should make Fr. Barry 'happy'.

But the nice thing is that while the author clearly lays out the blame due to the Carter and Clinton administrations, as well as by ACORN and its activists, and especially Congress and the Community Reinvestment Act, he is also very clear and insightful about human nature. Rather than simply bitching about the government, he's willing to actually say that individual citizens should be responsible for their poor decisions and bad economic habits:
A no-down-payment policy reflects a belief that poor families should qualify for home ownership because they are poor, in contrast to the reality that some poor families are prepared to make the sacrifices necessary to own property, and some are not. Keeping their distance from those unable to save money is a crucial means by which upwardly mobile, self-sacrificing people establish and maintain the value of the homes they buy. If we empower those with bad habits, or those who have made bad decisions, to follow those with good habits to better neighborhoods—thanks to CRA's new emphasis on lending to low-income borrowers no matter where they buy their homes—those neighborhoods will not remain better for long.
The reality of predatory lending practices seems to scream out at you, though, when you hear Bruce Marks talk about foreclosure rates due to low down payment loaning:
If we had a foreclosure rate of 1 percent, that would just prove we were skimming," he says. Accordingly, in mid-1999, 8.2 percent of the mortgages NACA had arranged with the Fleet Bank were delinquent, compared with the national average of 1.9 percent. "Considering our clientele," Marks asserts, "nine out of ten would have to be considered a success."
10% foreclosure rate amongst risky subprime borrowers a success? Stupid. (and 'ouch') ((and 'oh, yeah. We're already there))

Simply put, the CRA is only effective in making things worse. Banks do NOT need regulations and involuntary compulsion to make loans that would be profitable. They'd do that anyways, because it's profitable. But the CRA does require that those banks also aggressively loan to those whose loan will be potentially (and now we see actually) very unprofitable. Banks shouldn't have to do that.

Bush called for a change to the Community Reinvestment Act TWENTY SEVEN times. But still, some serious blame is also due to the Republican Congress that could have fixed this when they had a chance. I just don't understand why they didn't.

I need more hindsight. I found a little bit from Stan Liebowitz HERE. I'm still looking for more. Please help.

Monday, November 17, 2008

8 1/2 Heads High

In my LAST POST, I showed that the male figure is generally 8 heads high. While the general rule of thumb for figure drawing is that the whole body is 8 heads high, male or female, I would take issue with this. Today we look at the proportions of women...and note the female figure is 8 1/2 to 9 heads high. (This one drawn at 8 1/2 to 1)

Of course, all people fall within a range of proportions. And these variances of proportion can carry different connotations, meanings...

Saturday, November 15, 2008

8 Heads High

By Ray Gunner's request, and since I've not been writing regularly, but have been drawing instead, I'm going to post some of the sketches I've been working on. Lately, it's been proportional studies of the human figure, where I'm trying to learn the (almost always) simple whole number ratios that govern the relationship of parts of the body. In this case, the male figure is shown to be 8 heads tall (taking the figure's own head height as the modulus/unit)

Friday, November 14, 2008

The Mouth of a Generation

I just can't find the desire to write lately. There's either too little that's interesting to catch my eye, or way too many important news items to choose from. Either way, I'm bored with ranting, and so I've just been drawing more. Sorry.

But I just couldn't pass up the egotistical remarks by rapper Kanye West, at the tail end of AN INTERVIEW where he claimed to be the 'Michael Jordan of music'. Heh.
West, 31, said life has been difficult since his mother's death. Donda West died last November after having plastic surgery... "I'm just going through balancing that. And I always used to have that support system, you know. My mom would be there; no matter what, she was there before everything," he said. "We were together for like 30 years.
Like 30 years? No way! That's, like, your whole life!

But then again, he just might be the voice of this generation. And maybe that's why I'm so tired of the news that I can't even muster the energy to write.

O! Wait! That's not why. THIS is why. I can't decide if it's really supposed to be Generation Zero. Why is there a new 'generation' every 5 years? Please.

Friday, November 7, 2008

Within the Framework of Boundlessness

I'm seeing a lot of art nowadays in museums and for sale that is frameless. Well, it's not exactly frameless, it's GALLERY WRAPPED.

A gallery wrap is usually chosen by young people and it is often use for modernist paintings rather than classic style painting. Even when a 'classical' theme or style is utilized, a gallery wrap will give a contemporary feel. There are 2 major benefits for using a gallery wrap, the first is the price which is much cheaper than a classical frame. The second is the weight which is much lighter in compare to any other frame style. The downside of a gallery wrap is that it can be used only for oil paintings and for acrylic paintings. These are the two major mediums that are painted on canvases that remain stretched on wooden bars (the underframe). Watercolor washes, Charcoal & Pencil drawings, and Pastel paintings are usually done on different kinds of papers which don't lend themselves to this kind of wrap. Additionally, these papers need glass, which is difficult to impossible to pull off when there's no outer frame.

All this being said, I am not a believer that all design decisions are economically based. While it's true that it has become very common to print photographs on canvas and then gallery wrap them because it makes the print editing process easier and cheaper, and many undiscerning beginners paint this way because they fail to ask themselves why they're doing it, there is nevertheless an ideology at work here and I'm going to take a stab at describing it.

Modernist artists don't like boundaries. They don't like being told that their art should be confined within a certain framework, because they see the metaphorical distinction of a cosmological view which determines reality within a 'framework ' of known or at least understandable principles.

Simply put, modernist artists don't want to give the impression that they are saying "look at this particular scene", which is what happens when a piece of art is conventionally framed. What they want to say is 'The subject or mode of representation of art should have no boundaries, so my piece of art should not have boundaries. The sides and back of the painting are just as important as the front, even if you can't see them'.

So the next time you see a gallery wrap, know that it's tipping its hat to modernist cosmology.

Thursday, November 6, 2008

A Rhetorical Question

Of course, we're all asking 'Why?' and 'How?'.

Because of perception. Perception is very important.

Perception is why actors often go into politics-and do well- for they understand the power of perception. It doesn't matter how weak or strong the economy is. What matters is consumer confidence. It doesn't matter if America is safe or not. What matters is whether America feels safe and strong enough to kick ass.

It's why little guys win fistfights against big guys, and why bumbling fools are capable of running countries-because they project the image of greatness.

Aristotle said that all men seek the good. I say all men seek the perceived good.

Where Obama really lacks refined speaking skills--in the impromptu Q & A-- he has done a brilliant job of masking. He has (and here I mean HIS MINIONS have) developed this persona of a scholar...a good writer, a good speaker, a good thinker, a good leader. You and I know this is not true, but just listen to NPR faun over him for 30 secs and you'll see that this is the image that is being thrown out there for the unexamined mind to settle upon as an unarguable fact.

So his stuttering comes across to you and me as a bumbling fool who needs his teleprompter, but to everyone else as a disheveled intellectual whose words are not fast enough for his thoughts.

If right reason governed people's actions and thoughts, countries would only be run by guys like Alan Keyes. But the reality is, guys like Alan Keyes will never get elected. They don't pay enough mind to 'passion'. They pay too much attention to 'reason'. Yes, humans are essentially rational animals, and it would be aweful nice for people to seek the 'truth'. But we are disordered by the punishment for original sin. We are ruled by our passions. This is especially dangerous when we fill our minds with entertainment rather than philosophy. Besides, people seek the perceived truth. And if it's palpable, they rest there and seek no more.

An uneducated electorate who spends its time watching America's Got Talent and Desperate Housewives will choose to be ruled by the politicians who most conform with what those shows project as 'intelligent leaders'. An educated electorate who spends its time reading Alexis de Tocqueville and Cicero will choose to be ruled by the men who most conform with what those thinkers project as 'intelligent leaders'.

Right now, 90% of America chooses to fill their imaginations with the musings of the former. It's easier. Philosophizing is hard. Daydreaming is easy.

Wednesday, November 5, 2008

Cicero Was Right

It's all about friends.

Generally, I have a hard time keeping them. But a few patient souls have stood by me no matter how depressed and moody I get, and lift me up with their hope. My wife is amazing that way, whose first concern this morning was getting me out of the depressed funk she knew I'd be in after last night. She sent me THIS from the Priests for Life. I shudder to think where I'd be without her.

Another true Ciceronian friend is Father Barry, whom I have known for a decade but have only gotten to know recently, a fact that is a testament to the good of Instant Messaging, as it allows friends to remain so even when living 1000s of miles away, a situation Cicero advised against not having had the technology to chat.

Today, Fr. Barry once again PUT IT ALL IN PERSPECTIVE, and for that I thank him again. As he says, look to today's reading for an eerie feeling of appropriateness:
My beloved, obedient as you have always been,
not only when I am present but all the more now when I am absent,
work out your salvation with fear and trembling.
For God is the one who, for his good purpose,
works in you both to desire and to work.
Do everything without grumbling or questioning,
that you may be blameless and innocent,
children of God without blemish
in the midst of a crooked and perverse generation,
among whom you shine like lights in the world,
as you hold on to the word of life,
so that my boast for the day of Christ may be
that I did not run in vain or labor in vain.
But, even if I am poured out as a libation
upon the sacrificial service of your faith,
I rejoice and share my joy with all of you.
In the same way you also should rejoice and share your joy with me.

Time To Peel Off the W Bumper Sticker

h/t Fr. Barry

Tuesday, November 4, 2008

It's Prom Night, and Somebody's Gettin' Some

I am very depressed today. Having chosen a career in an 'artsy' field of architecture was a known issue-- it is full of liberals--I knew I'd be surrounded. Having moved to California was a family choice, not a political one, and while I have grown to love my little town in this horrible state, I really can't stand my fellow (Coastal) Californians. But I knew it was coming. Apparently, I am a glutton for punishment.

Regardless of how things turn out today in the election, I will continue to be depressed tomorrow. I will be happy if Prop 8 passes, as well as Prop 4. (As well as the similar props in other states). But only for a time. I will still have to live with changed fellow countrymen. Change is not coming if Barack wins. Change has already come. Barack is only the manifestation of what has become a more liberal society. Even just a couple years ago, the vote on marriage being between only a man and a woman won easily. Today, not so much. Change has been in the air. And it's choking us. We have turned our backs on God.

I envy my friends who work amongst fellow conservatives. I have none. I can't even get a good AM station on the way to work, and am forced to listen to either the hum and whine of static that corresponds to my engine interspersed with blips of speech from angry conservatives, or NPR on FM. Blech.

Today the liberals around me are like wanton, lascivious high school boys the morning of prom night...they are giddy with the titillating prospect of what they think is coming for them after the requisite dinner and dancing has been dispensed with. So, they're bouncing around, full of excitement and energy at the presumption of political intercourse with...anyone. The person doesn't really matter. What matters is that they think they're gettin' some tonight. They're willng to overlook that the one their about to mate is not who she says she is. Sadly, they don't really know what the ramifications are to what they're about to do. They think it'll be all pleasure, but don't see what they're doing to their souls or those around them, and that their moments of awkward self-gratification are more than likely going to be followed with years of suffering and sorrow.

I suppose it shouldn't be surprising that in a society that no longer values marriage and the lifelong commitment it entails, hopping into bed with any ideologue that happens to appear articulate is just another thing one does. If this ideologue turns out to be misleading, I can just divorce him. Nevermind the fact that ideological offspring have been spawned and that a whole other generation has been and will continue to be effected.

The electorate is incredibly uneducated. Rather than filling their minds with the truth and wisdom found in books, they fill their mind with the imaginings of T.V. and Film. We have become a people who is no longer working from the liberation of reason, but the confines of imagination--an imagination whose phantasmagoria is handfed to us by others.

We can no longer see that when we sleep with our prom date, we are sinning. We are preparing ourselves for a habit of sleeping with anyone and everyone. We are bringing ideas into the world through the invalid marriages of imagination and opinion- ideas that we cannot possibly care for or raise properly to full maturity.

Rome was truly great, but she still fell.