Archives

January 2003

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Jan 30

Seems like we’re getting to a good definition what the “old” and “new” Europe are suppsoed to be. The “old” Europe, that’s those pesky countries who still think international law holds. The “new” Europe, that’s those countries which are only too willing to follow Bush jr whereever he wants to go - regardless of what the actual populations think (see The Poodle and the Puppies). The only problem with this kind of definition is that the supposed “new” Europe are following the path of what Europeans had been doing for hundreds of years, namely waging wars against each other and other nations, under the most suspicious pretexts. If that’s the definition of a “new” Europe then I think it’s quite good to be part of an “old” Europe. Some people wrote that Germany has become internationally irrelevant - I think that’s good progress. If we allow ourselves to measure the Germany’s relevance by its willingness to engage in warfare we’re back to some pretty dark ages.
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Jan 29

Of course, they’re different. (^_^) And you don’t even have to turn your head! \(^o^)/
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Jan 29

Being one of those pesky foreigners (worse still, being one of those Germans who just don’t want to go to war any longer) has a bunch of advantages. You’re viewing things in a different way. In a sense, it’s easier to see through things - at least through things in other countries. I bet I have no clue about all the crap going on in Germany because I’m so used to it. But as I live in the US I’m mainly dealing with all things American now, and, frankly, it’s quite amazing. Take that “State of the Union” speech last night. The president enters the room and there’s applause. From everybody. How can that be? Doesn’t the US have an opposition? When the German Chancellor (or any other leader of any other democratic country I know of) gives a speech like that the opposition doesn’t applaud. Quite on the contrary. So that’s weird to me. And then they have the camera which shows Bush jr *below* what seems to be his waist level. So Bush jr looks really big. That’s just some cheap manipulation. Anyway. So Bush jr. gives this speech - which I duly didn’t watch coz that’s the thing to do I learned. It suffices to read the main points the next day and, no surprise, no surprise, there’s nothing new in it. Well, you have that in any country I suppose. But there are some funny bits to the whole thing. For example, Bush jr continued claiming all those really weird things - like that really bad math about how “on the average” all the people get so much money back (hey, if Bill Gates is in the same room as me that makes me a billionary - on the average), and about Iraq’s links to Al Qaeda (for which we haven’t seen and - let me predict - will not see any solid evidence). And what does the press do? They just keep buying it. It’s like watching a commercial where they tell you all that stuff which obviously isn’t true at all but if they repeat it often enough you (literally) buy it. And the longer Bush jr is president, the more efforts are made to explain that he’s not really dumb or stupid - as if we all didn’t know how to spot somebody who’s dumb. So the latest explanation - courtesy of the New York Times - is that Bush is just “anti-intellectual” or not interested in details. Well that might well be but with those kinds of qualifications they wouldn’t let you run a kindergarten here, right? And the New York Times isn’t worried or rather *very* worried?
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Jan 27

In the US, politicians and economists like to brag about how the US is the engine of the world economy. In a sense, it’s true. In another sense, it’s wrong. And it’s quite interesting that all those investments being made in the US have repercussions as far as the political role of the US is concerned, argues Will Hutton in today’s Guardian. Excerpt: The US’s economic position is far too vulnerable to allow it to go war without cast-iron multilateral support that could underpin it economically as well as diplomatically and militarily. The multi-lateralism Bush scorns is, in truth, an economic necessity. America may be a superpower that spends more on defence than the next nine countries combined and is preparing to increase defence spending this year by an enormous $48 billion, equivalent to Britain’s entire defence budget, but it is a strategic position built on economic sand. On latest estimates, its net liabilities to the rest the world are more than $2.7 trillion, nearly 30 per cent of GDP, a scale of indebtedness associated with basket-case economies in Latin America. Its industrial base is so uncompetitive that it consistently imports more than it exports; its current-account deficit, the gap between all its current foreign earnings and foreign spending, is now a stunning 5 per cent of GDP, continuing a trend that has lasted for more than 25 years and which is the cause of all that foreign debt. As a national community, it has virtually ceased to save so that government and individuals alike live on credit. To finance the current-account deficit, a reflection of the lack of saving, the US relies on foreigners supplying it with the foreign currency it can’t earn itself. The Old Europe that Donald Rumsfeld mocked last week has been helping to prop up the US economy, buying shares and bonds on Wall Street, taking over American companies and investing in real estate, compensating for the saving that the Americans aren’t doing themselves.
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Jan 24

Very good article about whether Europeans are anti-American or just anti-Bush.
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Jan 19

“Neat Image is a digital filter application designed to reduce visible noise in digital photographic images. It is a tool for owners of digital cameras, flatbed and slide scanners; and is for use by both professional photographers, and digital image processing enthusiasts.” Of course, you can do all that with Photoshop but Neat Image just looks somewhat easier to use. I’ll have to do more tests to see how good it really is but the tests I did looked all very promising.
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Jan 18

“Pdf995 is the fast, affordable way to create professional-quality documents in the popular PDF file format. Its easy-to-use interface allows you to create PDF files by simply selecting the ‘print’ command from any application, creating documents which can be viewed on any computer with a PDF viewer.”
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Jan 18

Need some investing advice in these hard times? Why not buy stocks of those companies which benefit the most from Bush jr’s policies? Check out the Perpetual War Portfolio.
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Jan 15

The laws governing ‘intellectual property’ have grown so expansive in recent years that artists need legal experts to sort them all out. Borrowing from another artwork— as jazz musicians did in the 1930s and Looney Tunes illustrators did in 1940s—will now land you in court. If the current copyright laws had been in effect back in the day, whole genres such as collage, hiphop, and Pop Art might have never have existed. The irony here couldn’t be more stark. Rooted in the U.S. Constitution, copyright was originally intended to facilitate the exchange of ideas but is now being used to stifle it. The Illegal Art Exhibit will celebrate what is rapidly becoming the ‘degenerate art’ of a corporate age: art and ideas on the legal fringes of intellectual property. Some of the pieces in the show have eluded lawyers; others have had to appear in court. Click here for the web site. It has a nice list of articles plus mp3’s of songs which never got published for various reasons.
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Jan 14

I refused to participate in the [journalists’] pool system. I was in the Gulf for many weeks as the build-up of troops took place, and then sat out the ‘air war’, and flew from Paris to Riyadh as soon as the ground war began. I arrived at the ‘mile of death’ the morning the day the war stopped. It was very early in the morning and few other journalists were present. When I arrived at the scene of this incredible carnage, strewn all over on this mile stretch were cars and trucks with wheels still turning, radios still playing, and there were bodies scattered along the road. Many people have asked the question ‘how many people died’ during the war with Iraq and the question has never been well answered. That first morning, I saw and photographed a U.S. Military ‘graves detail’ bury in large graves many bodies. Journalist Peter Turnley in the introduction to a grisly series of photos from the first Gulf War.
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Jan 12

It is a matter of personal taste - as pretty much anything related to photography - but Polaroid transfers are probably the watercolours of photography. And this is not necessarily meant to be a compliment. Done well, Polaroid transfers are … well, let’s say interesting. Take, for example, Melinda Carvalho’s gallery. Those are some very good examples of Polaroid transfers. It’s easier to find plenty of not-so-good ones. One of the main problems of Polaroid transfers could be that most people seem to be too interested in the technique itself rather than in the actual result. Means they show you some Polaroid transfer and expect a “Wow! Cool!” - regardless of the actual photographic merit of the photo. It’s like seeing the usual beach-lighthouse watercolour. But maybe I’m being unfair, maybe you could say that about many artistic techniques. Anyway, this is not to deny that Polaroid transfers are actually quite tricky to do. It’s a steep and expensive learning curve. If you want to do your own check out Holly Dupre’s (free) online manual (downloadable as pdf file).
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Jan 8

It’s quite amazing to see how the Bush administration has turned that weapons inspector business into a modern equivalent of a witch inquiry - with only slight modifications. In the old days, there was basically no way for people to show that they were no witches. If they survived whatever was done to them that was proof that they were witches. If they didn’t survive… Well, that was too bad. For instance, people used to tie up a suspect and throw her into the river. If she drowned… You get the idea. Bush’ way of dealing with those weapons inspectors is basically the same. First of all, like the witch inspectors, he assumes he’s dealing with somebody who’s guilty (which, btw, is not exactly the kind of behaviour you’d expect from somebody whose jurisdiction follows democratic rules…). And the inspection will just show that Hussein is guilty. If they don’t find anything bad that’s just sign that he’s guilty because he’s hiding the stuff. If they find something he’s guilty, too. Of course, we shouldn’t feel too sorry with somebody like Hussein but I think we should expect slightly higher standards and a more civilized behaviour from the person who is supposed to be the leader of the free world. And I’m not even going to mention all those double standards involved here. So expect a war on Iraq. The decision has been long made and as Bush’s approval ratings haven’t been that great lately there would be a nice side-effect. Plus, for a while people will stop wondering why all those grandiose tax cuts schemes won’t help the economy (hint: check out Economy 101…).
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Jan 7

How many bits do you need to make some good music? If you believe the audiophiles you need zillions. The more the better. Nonsense, of course. Try 8bit first. If you want to listen check out the fabulous Kohina site - “old school” video game music!
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Jan 5

Alternativephotography.com has all about cyanotypes and other “alternative” types of photography and/or photo development. It’s a very cool site with lots of examples and also some pages with tutorials.
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Jan 5

Most people have probably never heard of Polaroid’s Instant Slide Film. Thing is most people will also probably never hear of it because I heard it is not being produced any longer now that Polaroid is heading for bankruptcy. It’s a pity! By chance, I found the little processing “darkroom” for those slides at a local thrift store. I started looking into the film doing a Google search. I found a very nice page about the film by Mark Meyer. I also found a few dealers which claim they (still) sell the film. I think what I’ll do is to try to get some film while it’s still around and play with it.
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Jan 5

James Luckett not only runs the fabulous consumptive.org weblog but also one called spitting image - which is all about images and whatever else is cool. The other day, he asked me whether I wanted to sign up - there are a few more contributors already. I certainly wanted to, so if you find the time go and look at it. It has a lot of cool stuff. If, however, you found your way to this weblog via either consumptive.org or spitting image - which is way more likely given the obscurity of this one here - then I certainly hope you’ll enjoy ‘conscientious’, too!
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