photo: midnight succulent, impressionist’s private lives, history photos

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No one even looks at these little photography/Photoshop experiments, but I keep putting them up because I like them. If I was running a commercial blog I guess it would behove me to at least try and please most visitors most of the time, but this isn’t a commercial blog. Anyway the photo was originally in color and I used the paper tone filter in Nik Color Effects to give it a midnight effect.

From a book review, The Private Lives of the Impressionists  by Sue Roe 

Manet was an elegant, handsome, dandified boulevardier whose father the judge naturally kept a mistress but would not permit his son to marry his own life-long mistress. When a son was born to Manet and Suzanne he had to be given a neutral surname. Manet also had an affair with the demi-mondaine Méry Laurent, the maîtresse en titre of the American dentist Thomas Evans who had once smuggled the Empress Eugénie out of danger in Paris to the safety of England. Manet died of tertiary syphilis but not before he had had a gangrenous leg amputated in his own house.

His brother Eugène married Berthe Morisot. Sisley had his parental allowance stopped when he moved into his mistress’s flat. Pissarro set up house with one of his mother’s maids, and had several children by her, but was not allowed to marry her. Monet was, for a time, kept moderately solvent by his principal patron Ernest Hoschedé. He also conducted a long affair with Hoschedé’s wife, and there are doubts about the paternity of the last Hoschedé child. Hoschedé went bankrupt, thus effectively ruining Monet whose wife died leaving him free to marry Alice Hoschedé, but he could not do so till Hoschedé died.

Only Degas seems not to have had a typically Bohemian personal life, seeing women only as the vital ingredients of his paintings, as models but not as companions: “What would I want a wife for? Imagine someone who at the end of a gruelling day in the studio said ‘that’s a nice painting dear’.”

Cézanne also was always under threat of losing the paternal allowance, and he too lived in secret with Hortense and their son marrying only after the death of his uncomprehending father.

There are occasional charming serendipities. Bazille, like Berlioz, was a continually failing medical student whose letters to his distraught father, while not as literate as those of Berlioz, offer similar excuses. We know that Manet’s Olympia and Déjeuner sur l’herbe caused scandals but the worst scandal was his painting of the shooting of the Emperor of Mexico, Maximillian. So great was the political, as opposed to sexual, outrage that the censor ordered the picture to be confiscated and had it torn into three pieces. That we can still see this wonderful painting is due to Degas, who not only salvaged it, but painstakingly put it back together.

I’m not sure of the deep seeded psychological reasons, but for the last couple of years I’ve wondered if there isn’t some deal that the creative psyche makes i wth the universe. The universe says that yes you can be talented, so talented that you influence art for centuries, but in return your personal life or even your personality will be screwy, if not screwed up. Though as a southerner I look around and see quite a few people that have nothing like earth shattering talent whose lives are  not exactly a shining example to all. So maybe when it comes to the lives and personal demons of artists they are no more cursed then the average person, only that the lives of the gifted are under more scrutiny then everyone else. One thing I just can’t comprehend is the influence these great artists fathers had over their personal lives. Wonder why Freud focused on women with all the paternal obsession going on in the late 19th century.

Its turned into a visual arts posts, Picture History. This photo of president Martin Van Buren is just funny, a few more inches and he could have achieved flight with those mutton chop sideburns. A whole portfolio of dignified photos of American Indians.

sienna miller’s star tattoo, habeas corpus we knew you well, garrison keillor interview

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One of rare instances where someone became famous in a very short time and it was based on talent rather then wealth or getting thrown out of a succession of night clubs. If you can handle the violence the movie that really started the buzz for M’s Miller, Layer Cake (2004). I thought it was excellent and Daniel Craig was charming and tough enough in Cake that he was probably chosen to be the new Bond based on his performance.

Even though you can still go out and buy a pizza and some cheap beer, yesterday America’s freedoms took a cheap right hook to the jaw. There are plenty of good news reports and blog posts out there so I thought I’d post a brief story off the beaten track that explains some of the basics of what happened, Tortured Justice 

“This provision would perpetuate the indefinite detention of hundreds of individuals against whom the government has brought no charges and presented no evidence, without any recourse to justice whatsoever,” Vermont Democrat Patrick Leahy declared at the start of Wednesday’s Senate debate. “This is un-American. It is unconstitutional and it is contrary to American interests.” Congressional critics argued that, coupled with an expanded definition of “enemy combatant,” the legislation would permit the government to indefinitely imprison any non-citizen – including a long-time resident of the United States who holds a green card — without review by the courts

If you have the time this is also well worth a read, Habeas Corpus, R.I.P. (1215 – 2006) by Molly Ivins

 With a smug stroke of his pen, President Bush is set to wipe out a safeguard against illegal imprisonment that has endured as a cornerstone of legal justice since the Magna Carta.

I’ve been through the mid-west though the closest that I have lived there is west Tennessee. So in some ways it is still a little bit of a mystery. Garrison Keillor explains some things about his current corner of the mid-west in this interview, THE MIDWESTERNER’S ALMANAC: GARRISON KEILLOR (UNABRIDGED)

Stop Smiling:  Schoolteachers will always be thankful for Minnesota, which produced the stapler, Scotch tape and F. Scott Fitzgerald. What must your home state do to assure a continued excellence in education and a thriving interest in the humanities?

Garrison Keillor:  We are saddled with a charming idiot of a governor and a fleet of assistant idiots in the legislature who are killing education in this state, simply slicing its throat. We are on our way to becoming the Mississippi of the North. A high school teacher told me the other day that 10 years ago, his largest class was 29 students. Now his smallest is 34, of whom 8 have special needs and for whom he must draw up individual lesson plans. The starting pay for a teacher — once you subtract taxes, Social Security and health plan payments — is around $14,000 a year. This is a scandal. The state is in the hands of rednecks who want to bring back capital punishment and kill off public education. If there is excellence in education, it’s no thanks to Republicans.

Garrison has a reputation for his wit, with this piece he may also get a reputation for being blunt and to the point.

photo:green apples, vintage STD posters, what are they reading down at the NSA

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“Damaged Goods, One Moment of Ecstasy – A Lifetime of Sorrow” vintage STD advertisements. Shocking , just shocking.

Do you stay up at night, fingers stained with nicotine, empty cans of Redbull littering the floor and fingernails bitten down to the nub wondering what they’re reading down at the NSA besides those torrid e-mail exchanges between you and your latest crush? Wonder no more, NSA Bibliographies

 This page contains indexes of four periodicals published by the National Security Agency, plus a listing of publications from the NSA’s Center for Cryptologic History. These indexes haven’t been publicly released until now, and many of the Cryptologic History publications weren’t previously known to the public. Researcher Michael Ravnitzky has discovered a huge cache of information about the NSA, intelligence, and cryptography

Just a list of some of my favorite titles:

The BS Attitudes: How Things Work in Bureaucracies

Influence of U.S. Cryptologic Organizations on the Digital Computer Industry

Meteor Burst Communications: An Ignored Phenomenon?

NSA in the Cyberpunk Future

Translating by the Seat of Your Pants

Cranks, Nuts, and Screwballs – Just a guess, this one is about Bill O’Reilly, Dick Cheney, or Mel Gibson.

Extraterrestrial Intelligence

Key to the Extraterrestrial Messages 

I’m pissed now, those conversations between me and that Martian were strickly confidential.

This last article is encoded so only the readers of inkbluesky can read it, or maybe not – Lake Punawai, Hualalai Resort, the Big Island, Hawaii 

 The lake is built on the “living machines” principle. Living machines are contained, manmade ecosystems made up of thousands of species of living organisms specifically chosen to perform certain functions. A good, working living machine, like Lake Punawai, digests sediments, manages nutrients, and uses little energy—it is an example of phytoremediation, the treatment of environmental problems using plants.

It seems that in the southeast city planners and developers have done a terrible job of replacing wetlands and creating artificial lakes so hopefully some of this knowledge will spread out that way.

calm in gold and blue wallpapers, environmental racism

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I might be wrong, but when people think of the environment for the most part they seem to think of saving our wetlands or endangered species. There are other environmental problems and they affect our urban environments and as usual those problems have the biggest impact on people that cannot afford to do something about it, move away or stop the degradation of their environment in the first place, Harlem’s Hazards, A ‘toxic tour’ gave me an up-close look at environmental racism 

When people in positions of power intentionally build something that’s dangerous to the environment and the health of residents in a low-income and minority neighborhood, that’s environmental racism, Cadore told us. “We all have prejudices,” she said. “But once you attach power to your prejudice, it becomes racism.”

One place you can see the effects of environmental racism is in Harlem, a predominantly black and Latino neighborhood in Manhattan.

Now, there are beauties in Harlem that mustn’t be overlooked-the Apollo Theater, historic homes and countless other landmarks. Even on the tour, Cadore pointed out treasures like the Madame Alexander Doll Factory and the abandoned piers on the Hudson River that are being turned into Harlem’s first waterfront park.

But there are also several hazardous sites in Harlem within 10 blocks of each other. WE ACT’s full “Toxics and Treasures Tour” shows participants 15 sites above 96th Street.

The Right to Clean Air

Cadore said that there’s a myth that people of color don’t care about the environment. But they just live in a different environment, she said-not one with lots of trees and bald eagles, but an urban one where they live, work and breathe.

She encouraged us to pay attention to what’s put in our environment, and to fight against environmental racism. “It’s a right, not a privilege, to breathe clean air,” she said.

We took an abbreviated tour of the West Harlem sites to see for ourselves how environmental racism affected the community.

Odd how a sewer in Harlem was built to handle the waste from half of Manhattan and part of the Bronx, especially when doing so required special engineering to handle pumping sewerage up hill. Wonder how Westside residents off Central Park would have felt about a large sewer plant built there. Harlem residents at the grassroots have had some success, they organized and stopped a garbage transfer station from reopening in 2002.

cool under pressure president clinton out foxes fox, House of Sugar comics

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Outfoxed

Bill Clinton’s outburst on “Fox News Sunday” with Chris Wallace (….here at Crooks and Liars) was not just great TV, but a brilliant display of indignation and clarity from the Democratic Party’s biggest name. Despite whatever qualms one may have about him, it’s always a pleasure to watch Clinton at work–as TPM notes, we sometimes forget “not just what a tremendously effective communicator he is but how much he just plain gets it.” (Another thing I am in awe of: it looks so easy for him.) Clinton’s response to Wallace’s transparent set-up was angry, yes, but articulate and intelligent as well, a performance that should serve as an inspiration to Democrats who still refuse to adopt a more pugnacious stand in the face of the right’s shameless tactics.

The Clinton-Wallace showdown was valuable for a handful of reasons. One, while the right-wing noise machine is common knowledge to many progressives, vast numbers of the public likely have neither heard of it (or, worse, think those who posit its existence are delusional). Clinton’s breaking of the fourth wall–and his invocation of a “serious disinformation campaign” and suggestion of Fox’s softball approach to Republicans–gave eloquent voice to the progressive media critique, something that Democratic elites don’t harp on enough.

I inserted the Crooks and Liars video because it is my understanding that Fox had the Youtube videos removed, even though they left hundreds of other videos from Fox up. Not unexpected that Fox would try and ambush president Clinton when he was there to talk about his Initiative, but it is hypocritical. Since 9-11 Fox hasn’t exactly grilled conservatives who during the nineties blocked or slowed President Clinton’s anti-terror legislation, Republicans Sabotaged Clinton’s Anti-Terror Efforts

“In August 1998, President Clinton ordered missile strikes against targets in Afghanistan in an effort to hit Osama bin Laden, who had been linked to the embassy bombings in Africa (and was later connected to the attack on the USS Cole). The missiles reportedly missed bin Laden by a few hours, and Clinton was widely criticized by many who claimed he had ordered the strikes primarily to draw attention away from the Monica Lewinsky scandal. As John F. Harris wrote in The Washington Post:

In August 1998, when [Clinton] ordered missile strikes in an effort to kill Osama bin Laden, there was widespread speculation – from such people as Sen. Arlen Specter (R-Pa.) – that he was acting precipitously to draw attention away from the Monica S. Lewinsky scandal, then at full boil. Some said he was mistaken for personalizing the terrorism struggle so much around bin Laden. And when he ordered the closing of Pennsylvania Avenue in front of the White House after domestic terrorism in Oklahoma City, some Republicans accused him of hysteria.

See: “Claim: The Clinton administration failed to track down the perpetrators of several terrorist attacks against Americans. Status: False.” http://www.snopes2.com/rumors/clinton.htm. See also: Bill Press, “Don’t blame it on Bill Clinton,” CNN.com, October 18, 2001: http://www.cnn.com/2001/ALLPOLITICS/10/18/column.billpress/index.html

Also see: Lauria, Joe. “U.S. Embassy Bombers Get Life Sentences.” The Ottawa Citizen. 19 October 2001 (p. A5). As well as Randolph, Eleanor. “4 Guilty in Bombing of World Trade Center,” The Washington Post: 5 March 1994 (p. A1) and “Trade Center Bombers Given 240 Years Each,” The Washington Post: 25 May 1994 (p. A1).

Republicans typically couldn’t decide whether President Clinton was too blasé or too “hysterical.” In reality, his response was appropriately focused on bin Laden and al Qaeda according to top anti-terror officials of the Reagan and Bush I administrations. What did Bill Clinton do?

Issued January 23, 1995 his Executive Order 12947 “Prohibiting Transactions With Terrorists Who Threaten To Disrupt the Middle East Peace Process,” provided for prevention and punishment of efforts to fund terrorism and authorized the FBI and Treasury Department to investigate and prevent financial support of terrorism. It read in part:

“By the authority vested in me as President by the Constitution and the laws of the United States of America … I, William J. Clinton, President of the United States of America, find that grave acts of violence committed by foreign terrorists that disrupt the Middle East peace process constitute an unusual and extraordinary threat to the national security, foreign policy, and economy of the United States, and hereby declare a national emergency to deal with that threat.”

This executive order provided for prohibition and punishment of transactions to support terrorism including transfer of “property and interests in property of … the persons [found] to have committed, or to pose a significant risk of committing, acts of violence that have the purpose or effect of disrupting the Middle East peace process, or … to assist in, sponsor, or provide financial, material, or technological support for, or services in support of, such acts of violence….”

There is more at the link. Some far right wacky web sites are already putting out their own distorted version of history, ‘Fact Sheet’ On Clinton Interview Gets It Wrong

Today, the right wing is circulating a “fact sheet” on President Clinton’s Fox News interview. Here is one item, published on the Hotline Blog:

MYTH: President Clinton Said No One Knew Of Al Qaeda In 1993:

Former President Bill Clinton: “[No one] even knew Al Qaeda was a growing concern in October of ‘93.” (Fox News’ “Fox News Sunday,” 9/24/06)

FACT: Osama Bin Laden And Al Qaeda Were Well Known By The Time Clinton Was Inaugurated

The sole backup for this claim is a 2003 Q&A session with conservative author Richard Miniter, published on the National Review’s website. The interview doesn’t even rebut Clinton’s assertion.

Miniter says that Bin Laden was known to the Clinton administration after the 1993 World Trade Center bombing. That’s true. What wasn’t known for several years was that Bin Laden had a terrorist network called al-Qaeda. The 9/11 Commission report makes that clear on page 341:

In 1996-1997, the intelligence community received new information making clear that Bin Laden headed his own terrorist group.

Clinton was right. The “fact sheet” is wrong.

And because everyone needs a break from seriousness, House of Sugar by Rebecca Kraatz

Where ladies are beautiful, babies have perfect round heads and men shine handsome and strong like Excalibur, the sword! Updated weekdays.

Slow to load on a dial-up, but worth the wait if you like offbeat comics.

no parking fantasy composite

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I found this composite the other day. Might be the best I’ve ever seen. For me anyway it takes digital art (outside of Hollywood studios) to a whole other level. I don’t know the original artist, but all credit to him or her whoever they are.

Slave Labor, Poisoned Toys Give Global Capitalism a Black Eye 

And then there are the poisonous products–the killer toothpaste containing diethylene glycol found at a Dollar Store in Miami. The questionably “organic” herbs and food products. William Hubbard, the former deputy commissioner of the FDA who now runs an organization called Coalition for a Stronger FDA told NPR about the Chinese food shipments FDA officials turn back at ports after labeling them as “filthy”–that’s the term of art for smelly, decomposing, chemical-laden and otherwise obviously unfit food. On NPR, Hubbard described how an inspector found an herbal tea factory where herbal tea was processed by driving trucks over it: “‘To speed up the drying process, they would lay the tea leaves out on a huge warehouse floor and drive trucks over them so that the exhaust would more rapidly dry the leaves out,’ Hubbard says. ‘And the problem there is that the Chinese use leaded gasoline, so they were essentially spewing the lead over all these leaves.’”

And, “That lead-contaminated herbal tea would only be caught by FDA inspectors at the border if they knew to look for it, Hubbard says.”

As food imports to our country have exploded, with China leading the way, the FDA’s food inspection unit is shrinking. Hubbard estimates that 1 percent of food imports are actually inspected by FDA officials. And funding for food inspection has shrunk from half to one-quarter of the agency’s budget since he started his career in the 1970s.

photo: typewriter in the grass, best skate photos on flickr, iTunes and importing artwork

typewriter in grass

I had been doing some work on a kind of pop art grunge photo and couldn’t find it. Those ghosts in Windows PCs are at it again. This typewriter might be part of MSoft’s wallpaper package for Vista. I’d be surprised if it made the final cut as its just a little innovative, artsy and in a subtle way makes a statement about how quickly technologies can become obsolete.

I’ve read two articles recently that advised people that want to increase their blog traffic to do a list now and then…Ten Ways to… Top twenty…. The best 5 ….. or whatever. I’m about listed out, though once in a while I come across one that is a little different, The 100 Best Skate Photos on Flickr!

Somewhere around the middle is a photo with a yellow cast and a very effective blur effect that belongs to Maurice Jay Bruneau’s photostream.

From Twisted Melon, iTunes and artwork

iTunes 7 Apple has introduced a feature that allows the downloading of decent quality artwork for any of your self-imported music (music you didn’t buy from the iTunes Store). But I’ve seen a number of people complaining lately that when you download covers they are only cached and stored in a proprietary format. This means that if you copy/move some music the artwork will not be attached to the song. In other words it’s not part of the ID3 tags of the MP3 file. This doesn’t affect loading music onto an iPod however.

Here’s an easy way to get the artwork into your song files (it’s so simple I’m surprised I haven’t seen anyone mention this yet)

Very easy to follow instructions at the link.

Bad Feith

What exactly did Feith do that made Powell single him out? For starters, in the run-up to the Iraq War, he headed at the Pentagon the Office of Special Plans, an outfit that distorted intelligence to hype the Saddam-Al Qaeda connection and to insinuate that Saddam had Weapons of Mass Destruction. “The ideologically driven network functioned like a shadow government, much of it off the official payroll and beyond congressional oversight,” reported the Guardian in a 2003 story. “But it proved powerful enough to prevail in a struggle with the State Department and the CIA by establishing a justification for war.”

It is this aspect of his tenure at the Pentagon that has made Feith the focus of attention in recent days.

A report released February 9 by the Pentagon’s Inspector General accuses Feith of providing “reporting of dubious quality or reliability” and states that his office “was predisposed to finding a significant relationship between Iraq and al Qaeda.”

Feith is claiming vindication because the report doesn’t conclude that he did anything illegal. Talk about clutching at straws.



Republicans Tortured to Justify War

Dick Cheney keeps saying “enhanced interrogation” was used to stop imminent attacks, but evidence is mounting that the real reason was to invent evidence linking Saddam Hussein to al-Qaida.In one report after another, from journalists, former administration officials and Senate investigators, the same theme continues to emerge: Whenever a prisoner believed to possess any knowledge of al-Qaida’s operations or Iraqi intelligence came into American custody, CIA interrogators felt intense pressure from the Bush White House to produce evidence of an Iraq-Qaida relationship (which contradicted everything that U.S. intelligence and other experts knew about the enmity between Saddam’s Baath Party and Osama bin Laden’s jihadists). Indeed, the futile quest for proof of that connection is the common thread running through the gruesome stories of torture from the Guantánamo detainee camp to Egyptian prisons to the CIA’s black sites in Thailand and elsewhere.

Perhaps the sharpest rebuke to Cheney’s assertions has come from Lawrence Wilkerson, the retired Army colonel and former senior State Department aide to Colin Powell, who says bluntly that when the administration first authorized “harsh interrogation” during the spring of 2002, “its principal priority for intelligence was not aimed at pre-empting another terrorist attack on the U.S. but discovering a smoking gun linking Iraq and al-Qaida.”

In an essay that first appeared on the Washington Note blog, Wilkerson says that even when the interrogators of Ibn al-Shaykh al-Libi, the Libyan al-Qaida operative, reported that he had become “compliant” — in other words, cooperative after sufficient abuse — the vice-president’s office ordered further torture of the Libyan by his hosts at an Egyptian prison because he had not yet implicated Saddam with al-Qaida. So his interrogators put al-Libi into a tiny coffin until he said what Cheney wanted to hear. Nobody in the U.S. intelligence community actually believed this nonsense. But now, al-Libi has reportedly and very conveniently “committed suicide” in a prison cell in Libya, where he was dispatched to the tender mercies of the Bush administration’s newfound friends in the Qaddafi regime several years ago. So the deceased man won’t be able to discuss what actually happened to him and why.

Wilkerson’s essay was followed swiftly by an investigative report in the Daily Beast, authored by former NBC News producer Robert Windrem, who interviewed two former senior intelligence officers who told him a similar story about a different prisoner. In April 2003, U.S. forces captured an Iraqi official named Muhammed Khudayr al-Dulaymi, who had served in Saddam’s secret police, the Mukhabarat. Those unnamed officials said that upon learning of Dulaymi’s capture, the vice-president’s office proposed that CIA agents in Baghdad commence waterboarding him, in order to elicit information about a link between al-Qaida and Saddam. Evidently that suggestion was not enforced by Charles Duelfer, the head of the Iraq Study Group who controlled Dulaymi’s interrogation.

The same kind of demands were directed toward interrogators in Guantánamo, according to the testimony of former Army psychiatrist Charles Burney, who testified that he and his colleagues interrogating prisoners at the detention camp felt “pressure” to produce proof of the mythical link.

“While we were there, a large part of the time we were focused on trying to establish a link between al Qaida and Iraq and we were not successful in establishing a link between al Qaida and Iraq,” he told the Army inspector general. “The more frustrated people got in not being able to establish that link … there was more and more pressure to resort to measures that might produce more immediate results.” In other words, they were instructed to use abusive techniques, as recounted in the investigation of torture by the Senate Armed Services Committee.

Looking back, we now know that coerced confessions — and in particular the questionable assertions by al-Libi — were highlighted by administration officials promoting the case for war with Iraq, in the landmark Cincinnati speech by President Bush in October 2002 and in Colin Powell’s crucial presentation to the U.N. Security Council in February 2003, the eve of the war.