Sunday, March 30, 2008

Tolstoy, Bush, and the Horsethief

The Tolstoy Syndrome is also know as Confirmation Bias: In psychology and cognitive science, confirmation bias is a tendency to search for or interpret new information in a way that confirms one's preconceptions and avoids information and interpretations which contradict prior beliefs. It is a type of cognitive bias and represents an error of inductive inference, or as a form of selection bias toward confirmation of the hypothesis under study or disconfirmation of an alternative hypothesis. Confirmation bias is of interest in the teaching of critical thinking, as the skill is misused if rigorous critical scrutiny is applied only to evidence challenging a preconceived idea but not to evidence supporting it.

So what's this got to do with anything?

Well, every time I think I have heard something weird about President Bush some other wierder fact comes along. My daughter sent me this one.

Now it is his favorite painting.

George W. Bush is famous for his attachment to a painting which he acquired after becoming a “born-again Christian.” It’s by W.H.D. Koerner and is entitled A Charge to Keep. Bush was so taken by it, he took the painting’s name for his own official autobiography. And here’s what he says about it:
I thought I would share with you a recent bit of Texas history which epitomizes our mission. When you come into my office, please take a look at the beautiful painting of a horseman determinedly charging up what appears to be a steep and rough trail. This is us. What adds complete life to the painting for me is the message of Charles Wesley that we serve One greater than ourselves.

The only trouble is, that it is a lie. Another Bush lie to Bush.

Here is the whole story:

The sadness of this is almost overwhelming.

Saturday, March 29, 2008

Pentance Candles at the Shrine of New Hope

These candles have been place upon Yoda's Shrine of New Hope
on behalf of all those misguided souls at the blog of the
Who have in their haste chose the Dukes of Hazard as a better
show that the Star Wars Movies.
Although this will not redeem them, it is hoped that Yoda will help
them see their way back to the source of the Force and keep them
from wandering further into the Dark Side of the Dukes.

Please click the picture for the full blessing of the Shrine!
Thanks to Junior The Bear for access to his shrine:

Tuesday, March 25, 2008

My Father Was Born 100 Years Ago

My father was born in March 1908 in Indiana. His parents and two brothers were on their way to somewhere from their old family home in southern Virginia. That some where turned out to be the new state of Oklahoma, where they settled on a 160 acres in the little town of Quannah Parker, Oklahoma next to the Kemp and Kell Railroad out of Wichita Falls Texas. After a few years their top soil had washed down into someone else's creek and the town burned down. So they bought some more land down on the flats by a rutted road that eventually turned into U.S. Highway 70.

Here is my Dad (middle kid) in his final year of school. It is the Cameron School in rural Tillman county (it burned down too).
It is his last year because his father decided that he needed to take one of his three older boys out of school to work the land. He decide my father didn't need go no further than the 8th grade so out he came and behind the mules he went until he was old enough to walk away on his own. One other brother, later, was taken out too, but two were left to finish high school. His Dad was a selfish old fart.

During the depression he left his Dads farm, married a girl down the road and went to work for his uncle building roads in Texas. He worked as a foreman on double shift 16 hours a day 6 days a week where he learn Spanish (sort of) and how to handle dynamite(which he said was easier than handling my mother).

He and his bride spent a couple of years living in a tent on construction sites until they had twin girls. Being lonely for home, and having two babies, my mother talked him into going back to work on her Dad's farm. That didn't last long.

Here is their young family about 1942. Dad looks a little wild eyed there. Living with four women might make a man have that look. Later they had me and my brother for a total of five children.

Dad was a share cropping farmer. He farmed other peoples land, with his own equipment, fuel, and seed. He kept 2/3rds of the gross they kept 1/3. After costs, that meant he got only half of the profit for his labor, time, expertise,and wear and tear on his machinery. In his whole life of working the land he never owned more than a small city lot of it.

He lived long enough to see my three children born. By then however he had 13 other grandchildren, and a passel of great grandchildren and a great-great grandchild or two.
Like all fathers he was the best man ever born and a christian saint who never did no wrong and never laid a hand on me, was fair and just to everyone he ever met, beloved by animals and children, and of course I've grown up just like him.
He was a special man, well I mean he was special to me. It is just, how could it be a hundred years since he was born? He died a quarter of a century ago. That doesn't seem right either. I mean, dang it, it seems like he just left. I don't look nothing like my Dad. My youngest son does however. Me, I look like my mother but somewhat fatter and in drag. About time to divest my home of mirrors I think.
Well, I just thought I would note this small event of a man's 100th birthday even if he weren't here for the cake. Happy Birthday Pop!

Kristen's Photographers and GSK's Pick as well

In a previous post I talked about photographers and photos that I put at the top of my best list.
Kristen mentioned two photographers that I have had an interest in as well. Here are my picks of what I like best by these two.

Rollingstone's photographer Annie Lieovitz's 'Poor Monkey's Lounge'
has made me want to open a franchise ever since I saw it.

Again this photo of my all time favorite writer and singer,
Emmylou Harris, is a favorite by Leiovitz.

Margarete Bourke White's self portrait on
one of the eagle heads projecting from the Chrysler
Building is my number one favorite by her.

GKS chose this one of the firefighter and the baby from the OKC bombing in 1995.
It won a Pulitzer prize for Charles H. Porter IV.

Monday, March 24, 2008

4000 Passed Away In Iraq Causing The President The Biggest Burden

RE: 4000 Killed in Iraq

Interview of the Vice President by Martha Raddatz, ABC News
ANKARA, Turkey
Q: Mr. Vice President, I want to start with the milestone today of 4,000 dead in Iraq, Americans, and just what effect you think that has on the country. Your thoughts on that?

A: VICE PRESIDENT: Well, it obviously brings home, I think for a lot of people, the cost that's involved in the global war on terror in Iraq and Afghanistan. It places a special burden, obviously, on the families. We recognize, I think -- it's a reminder of the extent to which we're blessed with families who have sacrificed as they have. The President carries the biggest burden, obviously; he's the one who has to make the decision to commit young Americans. But we are fortunate to have the group of men and women, the all-volunteer force, who voluntarily put on the uniform and go in harm's way for the rest of us. You wish nobody ever lost their life, but unfortunately it's one of those things that go with living in the world we live in. Sometimes you have to commit military force, and when you do, there are casualties.

During a briefing with reporters Monday, White House press secretary Dana Perino said the president "definitely feels the loss.""He gets a report about every single soldier who passes away," she said. "And he always pauses a moment to think about them and to offer a prayer for their loved ones and their family and friends."

Did I hear:

1. The President carries the biggest burden, obviously; he's the one who has to make the decision to commit young Americans.

2. He gets a report about every single soldier who passes away,"


Soldiers don't "Pass Away"! They are Killed in Action! Sacrifice for their country! Die in the line of duty! Seventy year olds "pass away" in their sleep, 24 year olds on the battle field don't pass away. IEDs do not make you "pass away", they make you "Go Away".

Oh, yes and the V.P says the families of those killed in Iraq bear a "special burden" but the President carries the "biggest burden"!

By the way, the phrase "passed away" does not appear on the official White House briefing transcript. It has passed away its own self.

My mind Boggles......

Yes We Can!

"OK, Harrington, it is your turn!."

"Now for God's sake, Harrington, don't let him convince You!"

Sunday, March 16, 2008

Walk Into Paradise Garden

When I was 18, I decided that I would become a photographer.
Things, life, intervened.
The year was 1966. I had only been a serious photographer for a little over three years. I was in the military living in Northern Virgina and had daily access to Washington D.C.. One trip into the Capitol I discovered a photo exhibit at the Smithsonian. It was the 'The Family of Man', an exhibition by Edward Steichen for the Museum of Modern Art in N.Y.C. on loan to Smithsonian. I was blown away. I went back several times and spent hours of awe and envy. That was the greatest photographic learning experience of my life.

Up to this point 90% of my own photography had been in black and white. My two favorite pictures were by Dorothea Lang. At the top of my list was her "Migrant Mother" and second was her 'White Angel Bread Line, San Francisco'.

After seeing this exhibition, in which both of those prints were superbly displayed, my favorite photograph changed. Lang's masterpieces dropped down to number 2 and number 3. The were replaced by a photograph by Eugene Smith: 'Walk Into Paradise Garden'.

Walk into Paradise Garden

Smith had been a photographer in WWII. I had seen his work and liked it. But I had never run across this picture. Smith was taking pictures of Marines on Okinawa when he was seriously wounded by mortar fire. It took two years of operations and pain before he could function as a photographer again. The story was he was in a hammock in his backyard working with his cameras when he saw this scene of his children. This was his first photograph published after his war experience.

It was like Smith had crawled into my soul. A child was being led by a child from the dark though a tunnel into the light. A child leading a child towards....home. Smith's own title says that he saw the mystical memory himself.

There are hundreds of photographs and photographers, black and white, color, abstract, you name it, that I love. This one has never been pushed from my first place.

Migrant Mother

White Angel Bread Line

So, what photograph has grabbed you or haunted your mind? Share with me.

Friday, March 14, 2008

NO COUNTRY FOR OLD MEN: Last Black Dog Standing

When the cowboy sniper Moss is blood tracking his botched kill, he crosses the path of another blood trail perpendicular to that of the antelope. He looks left and then right. On his right is a black something moving far away. Looking through what looks like 60+power binoculars he can see the blood trail is from a black dog. The dog is a mastiff type animal, and is limping away on an injured left fore limb. The dog stops and looks back towards Moss with his soulless black eyes, as though he knows he is being watched. Do you see me, he seems to say. Then he moves on away.

Moss leaves the antelope blood trail and back tracks to where the dog came from. It is the bloody mess of a drug transaction gone bad. Moss finds a badly wounded hombre in a pickup cab. he ask him, where is the last man standing. Where is the last guy that survived all of this? All the dying hombre wants is agua. Moss doesn't have any to give.

Except for the fact we have already met Chigurh in the movie, the face of death himself, I would think that the black dog, that last living thing from the massacre, was Chigurh in his "animal" form, or maybe Chigurh was the dog in his "human" form. I say this because the last scene in which we see this purveyor death, he is dressed in all black with his black helmet of a haircut, limping away from a car wreck, with a bleeding, bone protruding, left arm. you don't see me, he tells two young boys who have stopped to help him.

Thursday, March 13, 2008

NO COUNTRY FOR OLD MEN: Ellis the Oracle

I have decided that this movie is a Greek morality play...maybe.
I'm working on the interpretation so indulge me for a while.
Let's start near the end.
After the Sheriff discovers that the Ghost like assassin (a shade perhaps) has gotten the money and bested him and got away, the movie cuts to his truck driving up a long road in empty country to a house setting off by itself in the absolute middle of nowhere. It turns out that the Sheriff is on a pilgrimage to his oracle to "confer" with him as to what he should do. The oracle lives alone out in this isolated place. He is The Sheriff's Uncle Ellis, who is a wheel chair bound old man. Now how do I know Ellis is an oracle. Well the name Ellis is the Anglicized version of Elijah who of course was a prophet. Then there are all those cats. The Cat Goddess of Egypt, Basset, was know as the mistress to the oracle. The Sheriff tells Uncle Ellis that he is going to retire. When the Sheriff says that he always thought that when he got older he would get closer to God. But I didn't, he says. God doesn't want me. Ellis the oracle says now you don't know what God is thinking. but that is not the oracle bit. The oracle bit comes when when Ellis is telling the Sheriff about his lawman great grandfather , I think it was, who was shot down on his own porch by five Indian outlaw types.
People like that have always been around, Ellis says, they ain't nothin new. You think they are going to wait until you catch up with them? They are not going to wait on you.

So we have the classic going to see the oracle scene. Not as interesting as say the writhing young woman oracle in the movie 300 but of the same genre.

Next time, the Fates.

Wednesday, March 12, 2008

NO COUNTRY FOR OLD MEN: a rumination

As an actual activity, I don't do many movies unless they are free on basic cable. That puts me a decade or so behind the culture in some ways. On the other hand, I occasionally pick up on a exceptional buzz about something, like 'Serenity' or '300'.

So I'm in a discount electronics type place yesterday with my youngest adult son obtaining printing papers for two of my printers and he comes up with the new made for DVD, an SG-1 movie. That reminded me that there was a movie that had just been put out that I wanted to see. It had Tommy Lee Jones in it. So I find an on sale copy of 'No Country for Old Men' by the Coen brothers. I have been a fan of the Coens ever since I first saw 'Blood Simple'.

So last night I slipped it into my computer and watched it.

Dang! Did that hurt. I don't have my mind stretched that far often.
Now it will be a few years before this film is wrung dry of its meaning.
But at first try, my review goes like this:

1. No Good Deed Will Go Unpunished.
If he hadn't taken the agua back to the suffering survivor, the hunter would have been home clean and clear.
2. We Owe God a Death.
Chance might save you once but in the end, death will be there like a ghost.
3. There Is Nothing New under The Sun.
Just because you haven't encountered it doesn't mean it hasn't been here.
4. The True Killers Among Us Are Seldom Who You Think They Are.
The sniper from Nam was more dangerous than those you thought were.
5." You Don't Have To Do This.":
Yes he does, or he won't be.

So for those of you who have seen this movie, What say you about it?
For those who have not seen it. Do so.

Saturday, March 1, 2008

Close Enough

Sunday was a nice day. Kind of windy but it got up to 76 degrees. We were well into Sunday dinner (supper to some of y'all). Wife had made her special spaghetti for us and and we were chowing down pretty well when the tornado siren went off. Being hungry I kept eating. Being sane my wife grabbed her cat, and our son who was eating with us turn on the TV. Seems there was a large circulation forming over western Oklahoma City. In fact is it was forming about four miles west of my house. As I proceeded to gulp down my meal they showed the hook and intensity on dopler radar and the location. The sucker was now less than three miles from my house. My wife was already in the basement and my son then grabbed his cat and joined her. So with my wife and son in the basement with two of the cats, I of course grabbed my camera and went out the front door. I could see the lowering and that it was moving fast. The city lights and the lightning gave a fair view of it. Then there was so much scud, that I lost it for a while. Then it cleared off again and it was straight down the street and about a mile south of the house. So I of course started taking pictures with my super duper new camera that I just barely know how to use yet. It was set on "dark of night" and 1600ASA. So I thought I 'might' get lucky. The picture above is the best of the lot.

The top picture shows what was happening, but of course you could see it much better than the camera can. The bottom picture is a print of the top one marked up to show where stuff was. The interested parties and storm freaks of my acquaintence will be able to pick out the particulars on the top photo.
Now lest you think I be totally stupid, stupid maybe, but not totally, there is something missing from the photo and from the event. The cyclone has not dropped a tornado to the ground, because there were no power line or transformer flashes. Inside a city a tornado on the ground would be producing those constantly. So I knew I was safe, and besides I could see the animal itself.

After a bit, I went in checked the TV radar and map and could see it was clear of us. So I hollared down into the basement to my people that they could come up now. So Wife took her cat out of the clothes dryer where he had been put for safety's sake (and because he wanted to come outside with me) and came up. We went back to the cold meal, but kept the TV on just in case.

Now you see this near miss of the whole downtown Oklahoma City by a cyclone full of funnels is not a story because (1) It didn't actually get low enough and no funnels came down, thus no destruction. (2) Nobody could get any real good pictures of it because it was too dark and it was covered in scud. (3) And anyway they already had some footage of some minor tornados from an hour of two before west of OKC that were better visuals. So the dragon flys over the town but does not breath fire and it means nothing.

Trips From Hell, and Other Lower Places

It is 1993, Summer, July, these are three teenagers who have driven from Oklahoma to Washington with extreme togetherness in the back seat of a Ford Taurus. Now we can't park, the metro is crowed, the food places are crammed, it is hot, and people are EVERYWHERE! One of the most interesting places in the world and, "it sucks daddy"! How much art can one person appreciate anyway? You mean we have to walk that far? How much longer do we have to stay here? Wright brothers, So? Can we go now? Do we have to go to that museum? But I wanted to go up to the top of the Washington Monument. Why can''t I take a tour of the White House today? Surely you are not going to make us go by Tennessee and see YOUR relatives on the way home are you? They were 13-16-19, what was I thinking?
So what trip from hell do you have to share?