Wednesday, November 30, 2011

Easy as Pi...

It seemed an exciting moment for a moment, a major news story about "aliens", that is if you call Al Jazeera mainstream, which for us around here it certainly is. Hello, FBI.

The recent SETI News Story.

The SETI program, the Search For Extraterrestrial Intelligence, went broke and wound up getting enough donations to start up again. The idea is to monitor space for radio signals that denote "intelligence".

As someone who keeps up with wacky stuff like The Disclosure Project and Crop Circles, looking for radio transmissions from Space seems like looking 180 degrees in the wrong direction, like maybe even intentionally. Many people in the know agree that they're already here.

Complex and intelligent communications.

If you think Crop Circles are hoaxed, for example, then either you probably don't know anything about them or the idea is too scary. There's a clear difference between stomping plants flat and seeing them bent over, unbroken and otherwise unharmed, by a force which is probably incredibly focused microwave radiation.

Can you really talk with pictures?

Then there's the mathematical content of the geometry, which communicates a good bit of stuff, as least as far as we can understand it. Some people call our own understanding of it "Sacred Geometry".

If you wanted to communicate with a backward race, you'd probably choose something like that, a quiet and polite notice that's subtle and slightly ephemeral, rather than landing at the White House or dropping off the saucer at Jiffy Lube.

You can learn all the details for yourself, and I recommend the following documentary.

Monday, November 21, 2011

Daughter Art...

My daughter did the following drawing of me as a kid for a recent birthday card, and I share it with you now.

Please ignore the size of my calves.

Yesterday's entry featured an uncredited T-shirt design actually made by me and offered on Soon after I'd visited there to grab that image, it came up again on an unrelated page--Youtube.

My own design is following me.

Is this eerie "marketing" coincidence an example of a corporate Big Brother watching my online activity?

Saturday, November 19, 2011

Hot Turkey...

I admit my PC is on for most of the day. Because I run a business with it, I am constantly fielding inquiries, filling orders, scanning artwork and doing pre-press production work. I'm not overjoyed about it and feel an acute nostalgia for rubber cement and huge copy cameras with built-in vacuum pumps to hold the artwork flat. I can't even find a picture of one of those online.

Basically, I feel that being wedded to an ancillary brain has robbed me of a good bit of my life, not to mention mental acuity. But many, many people have it a lot worse. They can't even leave the house without maintaining the connection. Plus, being online is habit forming, so don't believe people who say they can walk away at any time. Young people today are aware of the withdrawal symptoms, which is like being thrust into a featureless, motionless void. That void was once Reality.

But you can get all this from Marshall McLuhan, and his axiom that any technological "extension" atrophies the organ it replaces, like driving weakens your legs. That's why I refer to computers as "ancillary brains". They weaken our minds just by supporting their activities.

Al Jazeera English--my main news source.

So, I manage to keep it to an absolute minimum--my work activities, reading the News, selectively watching video on Youtube and lately some FB. The "comments" on Youtube are bad enough, like an infernal toilet-stall that stretches out to infinity for the scrawlings of faceless, unidentified juveniles, all contesting themselves with urinary yearnings.

Face it, there's no real "face" in Facebook, nor any actual "space" in Myspace. You couldn't even call it MyPLACE, even if you could identify the location of your account's hosting server. Even "in the clouds" is a lie when you get right down to it.

Why do these Social Networks grow and thrive so, and what makes users devote so much time and energy to contributing via pictures and postings? I know from my experience that some of my own friends must spend a good part of the day doing it. Probably, they fit the other non-addictive portions of their lives neatly around it. But would they admit it? Do Junkies "admit it"?

An unpopular T-shirt design from

No, they don't--and immediately you get rationalizations and excuses full in face of the facts. That fact being that using computers is habit-forming, i.e., addictive, but nearly no one is studying this or talking much about it. These Social networks don't deliver what they promise, a real connection to other people, only an excuse to be online--to use a computer.

I'll say it again: These Social networks don't deliver a real connection to other people, only an excuse to use a computer.

When was the last time you heard someone remark about how much they enjoyed Facebook, or how much better this technology has made their lives? I feel sure that on their deathbeds, people won't miss the years spent surfing the Internet, they will in fact realize their lives passed them by.

Art by Martin Fletcher.

I've enjoyed the content of much of Youtube, but I stay mainly with documentaries and interviews and far away from cute pet tricks. As I mentioned before, the typical "comments" there are truly beyond the pale, and I feel the existence of the system itself is one of the darker accomplishments of our age.

But on Facebook I can no longer tolerate being so close to what I call people's "privates". It's well know that at any given time millions--perhaps billions--of people are masturbating in front of their computers, and this activity is not one they'd advertise, right? But all those "private", personal thoughts they'd never say to another person in public all come right out online. And I'm tired not so much of the proximity but the banality.

I want to specify that I don't often partake in what Psychologist Albert Ellis calls "Musterbation", i.e., that if you don't behave as I think you should or "must" then I will be offended. I understand and accept common human faults, in fact, in a real sense I love them.

Kindness makes the World a better place.

Eastern spiritual traditions say that just as the Lotus grows out of mud, or, essentially, shit, so do people develop and grow. I believe that, but nonetheless I try not to step in it.

The last straw was the flurry of "Natalie Wood jokes" on Facebook.

The Outer Limits...

The other night at 3:00 PM I had a cathartic insight while lying in bed digesting perhaps 50 ounces of Pale Ale. I've felt pretty rotten since, but the message was worth it and was this: NO LIMITS. That means no limits you place on yourself, or your work, your life and activities.

Sure, exceeding some limits will land you in jail, but putting other limits on yourself are exactly the same thing as jail, and it's 100% voluntary.

A new painting "Countess Dracula".

Developing this idea further: every label you might apply to yourself, Liberal, Conservative, Libertarian, Christian, Atheist, or Packers Fan might create a sense of belonging and a comfortable "space", but you've still locked yourself in and thrown away the key, because you have severely limited yourself options, not to mention your potential.

But are people ready for "no limits"? I think I am. Just think about how many you apply to yourself every day, and how easy it could be to just walk away.

Tuesday, November 15, 2011

It's a Hit...

I think that the rise of the Internet may have done a lot to lower the quality of public discourse in our Society, and if it hasn't, it's certainly made some rather unpleasant speech more visible. We seem to be witnessing a torrent of thoughts and ideas that never previously were able to escape the human heads that contained them. Now they're all out there in the light of day.

A corporation overcharging for fashions you can find in any Thrift Store.

I'm not trying to be judgmental of people per se, but rather their actions, and I believe there is a big difference, because to me a person is not a "thing" but instead a process. The trouble begins when people's minds ossify and they think they are "a thing", because then all growth and development stops.

Personally, being in the business of making endless judgements while creating Art had in the past bled over into my personal and public life. I judged people like I judged my work, and so I've seen both sides. It seems to be far easier to judge than to understand, but really, shouldn't the latter precede the former?

And, if you really understand a person before you judge, then there's no longer any need to judge.

Oldster Hoffman worked hard not to judge the integrity of a pierced and tattooed "Scientist".

At any virtual venue where people can "comment", droves of egotistical males arrive with weapons in hand. Almost anything at all can serve as a club: a word, a creed, or even a DNA molecule. Youtube, for example, is a wonderful resource, but blighted by the sheer mass of negative and outright hateful "comments". It's enough to make you cringe at the mere prospect of "scrolling down".

The most popular subjects attracting these militants seems to be Religion vs Science, Science vs Pseudoscience, and Politics. Apparently, almost every person on Earth has in their mind a clear, easy solution to all our problems. You don't even have to ask to get them, they deliver. You'd almost think the problems weren't especially complicated.

Implicit and intuited design structure of a recent painting.

What particularly concerns me is the rampant name-calling, the most popular tag apparently being "idiot". If you're familiar with the psychological mechanism of Projection, you will likely understand that when someone uses an insult like "idiot" they do so because they are publicly promoting themselves as intelligent. But, if they were truly "wise" then they would know that insults don't teach anything and therefore can't ever bring a positive result. It's just knocking someone down to try and appear superior.

In other words, only someone insecure in their own mind calls others idiots, because ultimately no one is "a thing" that can be named but rather an evolving being on a particular and unique path, even if some are immobile on that path.

And as soon as you've named yourself anything, you've created a prison.

Sunday, October 30, 2011

Alley Economy...

We have poor folks searching the alleys behind the houses here in Riverwest, Milwaukee all the time looking for anything of value they can sell. Mainly they come from the "other side" of Holton Street. Some residents complain, but of course they have money and nice houses to live in. Me, I don't complain.

Vietnam--safer than Germany?

In fact I even talk to them, like one fellow the other day with a Vietnam Vet cap on. I said "My wife's half Vietnamese". He said he hadn't actually been in Vietnam but instead was in Germany, and that he suffered from PTSD and Anxiety, further volunteering that these were caused by a rape committed by a higher-up--a sergeant.

The story grew as he explained the suit against the rapist, resulting in a pension for him, the victim. He added that he got off better than another victim in the case, who got a settlement but was also fitted with a colostomy bag for the rest of his life due to the destruction wreaked on his intestines.

Rape in the military is still epidemic, affecting men and one in three women. Then they rape us by taking our wealth away and giving nothing back.

I think that after Wall Street, the Military Industrial complex will be the next focus of protests.

Friday, October 21, 2011

The Hard Lessons...

Did you know there is no word in the English language that is the equivalent of Karma? Not too surprisingly, that's why we use the word Karma.

I recently gave out copies of my two Octavia novels to someone, free, and I may have asked for an opinion or critique, I don't recall precisely what was said. What I do know is that an emailed "critique" did in fact arrive, and that it was neither kind nor positive. Instead of illuminating, it was negative and demeaning. In fact, it was clearly designed not be constructive and helpful but to be destructive and hurtful. You could call it a suckerpunch.

Nowadays I always respond positively when someone shows me something they've done, even if I aesthetically find it distasteful or just plain don't like it. If they ask me technical questions about what might need improvement, I try and give useful answers, and most importantly I try to be kind. I do this on a regular basis with the new online Art Academy that I run via my website, for example.

But it was not always so; in the past, I have given the same sort of cruel commentaries as I just received, disguised as "criticism" but in reality designed to tear down someone else and inflate my own ego.

In the recent Octavia affair, what really hurt was not the critique itself but the realization that I had done exactly the same sort of thing before myself.

And the shame I felt was intense as those Karmic Chickens came home to roost.

Thursday, October 20, 2011

Gone For Good...

I've deleted all 288 past Blog entries. I would have liked to have left them, as I do know some people like to read back through them, but as I've just released them in book form that doesn't make much sense, does it?

Confessions of a Comic Book Artist is years' worth of writing, a lot of thought, emotion and hard work. I've read through it myself and am quite impressed with the insights contained there--even if I hadn't written them all myself! It's also illustrated with all the images from the original entries.

A 330-page monster is born.

The main reason to make the book was for readability's sake. I will say that folks at the recent MCBA Fallcon who picked up the book and started reading it had a hard time putting it down. I keep a copy beside my bed, but it's just as good in the bathroom.

In future there will never be more than a few new entries up at a time. The rest will be archived for the next paper edition somewhere around 2014, if we survive that long...