Friday, December 30, 2011

A History of God

A History of God by Karen Armstrong is one of the books I am currently reading. It is about the evolving and elusive idea of God in the three monotheistic faiths (Judaism, Christianity and Islam). It is almost impossible to follow the evolution of these ideas of god, through the wars, the infighting and the politics involved and not end up at the conclusion that it is an entirely human invention.

Wednesday, December 28, 2011

Mass fight breaks out between monks at Jesus’ birth site in Bethlehem

The Basilica of the Nativity in Bethlehem is the place where Jesus is believed to have been born. The site is shared by the Roman Catholic, the Greek Orthodox and the Armenian churches. Reportedly, dozens of Greek Orthodox and Armenian monks were cleaning with brooms when a fight broke out over encroachment of territorial boundaries within the church... Jesus must be so proud! Hmmm... This type of behavior over territorial disputes reminds me of something...

Saturday, December 24, 2011

To XMAS And Beyond!

From The Thinking Atheist:
Merry Christmas! People would be amazed that 1) many non-Christians celebrate the holiday season and 2) many Christians unknowingly implement pagan traditions into their commemoration of the baby Jesus.

Tuesday, December 20, 2011

Massive Cloud 'Waves' Roll Over Alabama

It's interesting when you are faced with real-world examples of how similar our atmosphere is to our oceans. The atmosphere is really just a less dense version of the the ocean and the same principles of fluid dynamics are at work in both. Ocean waves and currents can look remarkably like these cloud currents and flocks of birds can have the same ballet-like performances as schools of fish...
I guess that makes us humans bottom feeders.

Friday, December 16, 2011

Christopher Hitchens (1949-2011)

Christopher Hitchens was one of the great minds of our time. I feel sorry for anyone on the opposite end of an argument with him. This video is  a collection of some of his finer moments. He will certainly be missed. 

Thursday, December 15, 2011

Ethan Nadelmann: Opening Plenary Speech (2011 International Drug Policy Reform Conference)

One of the best speeches I’ve ever heard on the subject of drug prohibition policy.
 Ethan Nadelmann, DPA's founder and executive director, opens the 2011 Reform Conference with a sincerely rousing speech that captures the current state of the drug policy reform movement.

Monday, December 12, 2011

The Sense of Flying

These wingsuits that people have been designing are really intriguing to me. This video takes the viewer alongside the insane guy who jumped off a cliff and soared 2.5 Kilometers at speeds up to 250 Kilometers per hour and then landed safely exactly on a road where his ground crew was stationed.

SENSE OF FLYING from Goovinn on Vimeo.

Saturday, December 10, 2011

Krampus: The Anti-Santa

Now this is a Christmas tradition I can appreciate.

An illustration of the Krampus from an early 20th-century postcard.
From Wikipedia:
 Krampus is a mythical creature recognized in Alpine countries. According to legend, Krampus accompanies St. Nicholas during the Christmas season, warning and punishing bad children, in contrast to St. Nicholas, who gives gifts to good children. When the Krampus finds a particularly naughty child, it stuffs the child in its sack and carries the frightened thing away to its lair, presumably to devour for its Christmas dinner.
In the Alpine regions, Krampus is represented by a beast like creature, generally demonic in appearance. Traditionally young men dress up as the Krampus in Austria, southern Bavaria and South Tyrol during the first week of December, particularly on the evening of 5 December, and roam the streets frightening children with rusty chains and bells.

Tuesday, December 6, 2011

Sunday, November 13, 2011

One man, 100,000 toothpicks, and 35 years: An incredible kinetic sculpture of San Francisco

Outsider artists have always been a source of inspiration for me. The lack of the need for revenue from sales allows them to spend vast amounts of time, or even huge portions of their lives dedicated to a single work of art.

Original post from thisiscolossal.

Tuesday, October 11, 2011

Ben Goldacre: Battling Bad Science

Once again, Ben Goldacre delivers in his hyper-caffeinated speaking style an incredibly well researched and well spoken lecture on exactly why intense regulation and transparency is an absolute must in the for-profit health care and pharmaceutical industry.

Sunday, October 9, 2011

Richard Feynman on Beauty

You've heard the term, armchair quarterback... Well, I kind of consider myself an armchair scientist... Science and the images that come from science are some of the biggest influences on my artwork, but I am certainly no scientist. To be in the role of someone who can appreciate something, but can't actually do it is a bit frustrating... I think Dave Hickey put it best when he likened his role as an art critic to a music lover playing air guitar...

Tuesday, October 4, 2011

Wall Street Occupier Destroys Fox News Reporter's Questions

Of course, this never got aired on FOX news because this reporter was hoping for a much more air-headed interviewee who fit the narrative FOX News has been creating about the protests... But that is obviously not what he got...

Wednesday, September 28, 2011

Rusty Scruby

Rusty Scruby is one of my favorite Texas artists and I have had the honor of knowing him for the last few years. The first video is a trailer to a documentary about him; kind of an introduction to his work...
But the second video is one of the most heartbreaking things I've ever seen... I am an artist who also spends hundreds of hours on a single piece, so I completely empathize with the devastation he might have felt after having years worth of his hand-crafted meticulous work stolen by people who obviously would have preferred to have stolen a truck load of crappy Wal-Mart furniture.


Knuffingen Airport: The world's smallest airport

It's hard to believe that this entire thing is only a small model of an airport and not the real thing.

Wednesday, September 21, 2011

Miles Davis Quintet - 1967 - Footprints

The classic quintet, one of my favorite periods of Miles Davis' music with Herbie Hancock, Ron Carter, Wayne Shorter and Tony Williams... It is very abstract music, but is still completely acoustic with none of the electronics, effects and distortion of his Bitches Brew era music just one or two years later (which I also love.)

Monday, September 19, 2011

Saturday, September 17, 2011

Matthew Collings :: This Is Modern Art

When I was just beginning as a graduate art student in the late 1990's at the University of North Texas, the school hosted a lecture by the visiting art critic, Matthew Collings. I had never heard of him at the time, but because I worked as an art installer at the campus gallery, the gallery director asked as a favor for him to do a personal studio visit with me. I think if I had actually realized at the time that he was responsible for narrating these incredible documentaries and writing genre-defining art books such as Blimey and It Hurts, I would have been shaking at the knees and rendered completely mute in the presence of one of the great minds of the time. But instead, I think I probably came across as an overconfident, undereducated, thoroughly un-hip Texas asshole (Rick Perry?)... But my memories of Matthew Collings are entirely positive. He had nothing but good things to say about my artwork, which was not all that good, and was very friendly and wished me the best.

I haven't owned a television set since the early nineties and You Tube is a recent invention, so I've never got a chance to see these great BBC documentaries until now. This has been an excellent way to spend a Saturday afternoon. Please enjoy.

This is Modern Art -Episode 1: 1 of 5

Episode 1: 2 of 5, 3 of 5, 4 of 5, 5 of 5

This is Modern Art- Episode 2: 1 of 5
Episode 2: 2 of 5 , 3 of 5, 4 of 5, 5 of 5

This is Modern Art- Episode 3: 1of 5

Episode 3:  2 of 5, 3 of 5, 4 of 5, 5 of 5

Monday, September 12, 2011

Lee Cronin: Making matter come alive

Watch it on TED here.

Before life existed on Earth, there was just matter, inorganic dead "stuff." How improbable is it that life arose? And -- could it use a different type of chemistry? Using an elegant definition of life (anything that can evolve), chemist Lee Cronin is exploring this question by attempting to create a fully inorganic cell using a "Lego kit" of inorganic molecules -- no carbon -- that can assemble, replicate and compete.

Sunday, September 11, 2011

The Way of the Mister, Vol. 1: Reparative Therapy

This is the first of what will be a series of videos on differing topics. "The Way of the Mister" videos continue the ethos of the Mr. Deity worldview, but branch out in ways that would not work within the the Deity cosmography or with the Deity characters. Our desire is to do more videos like this, and the ideas are pouring out of me. But many of them require bigger budgets than we currently have. We're hoping to rectify that with a non-profit organization which will focus on this broader mission -- to educate with humor and satire.

Friday, September 9, 2011

Photos of Saturn Captured by Cassini Space Probe

This surreal photo was captured of the dark side of Saturn with the Sun's rays behind it by the Cassini space probe. It is hard to stand in complete awe of this photograph because CGI and Lucasfilm Studios have made such impossibly beautiful images almost mundane... But take a moment to let it soak in that this is an actual untouched photo from a space probe we launched from Earth to orbit the planet Saturn. This is not a product of the technology of Disney studios... This is the real deal...

The Cassini space probe has taken so many high definition photos of Saturn that NASA can actually string those photos together to create incredible fly-by animations of Saturn and its moons. Watch this one full screen.5.6k Saturn Cassini Photographic Animation from stephen v2 on Vimeo.

Sunday, September 4, 2011

New Sculpture

Posting has been light lately because I have been working on a few pieces for an upcoming show at the Art Museum of Southeast Texas. I am finally done with the work, it is documented and shipped out. Here are some images.

Curved Amber Rectangles 2011
Lexan, Ink, Steel Pins

Clear Frames: Grid Structure 2011
Lexan, Ink, Steel Pins

Thursday, August 25, 2011

Stan Vanderbeek-science friction (1959)

 From this 1959 cut up film, you can certainly see where Monty Python and countless others took some influence from.

Sunday, August 21, 2011

The Point - Think About Your Troubles

Harry Nillson wrote one of his best songs in this clip from the 1971 animated film "The Point"... Of course, I love the pre-digital hand-drawn animation. The imperfections in this type of animation are what makes it so personal...

Thursday, August 18, 2011

Tom Waits/Cookie Monster mashup - God's Away On Business

Tom Waits meets Cookie Monster. You know, they actually DO sound a bit like each other...
Thanks Rob for the tip.

Sunday, August 14, 2011

We Stopped Dreaming

Again, Neil deGrasse Tyson is one of the best public communicators on the subject of science I have ever seen.

Friday, August 12, 2011

Ask Sam Harris Anything #2

More and more, Sam Harris is becoming one of my favorite public intellectuals.

Tuesday, August 9, 2011

Scientific Visualizations

I am a big fan of looking at images that are meant to visualize scientific research. Everything from antique scientific atlas images to contemporary three dimensional animated modeling are big influences on my artwork. They can often be absolutely beautiful images without ever thinking about aesthetics. Wired magazine has put together a web gallery the top ten winners from SciDAC 2011's "Visualization Night" challenge.

From Wired magazine:
Active Galactic Nuclei Magnetism

Churning at the heart of roughly one in few thousand galaxies is a supermassive black hole that gobbles matter from a spinning disk of gas and dust. Astronomers call the most energetic of these objects active galactic nuclei, or AGNs, after the powerful jets of radiation they spew.

Monday, August 8, 2011

Human Echolocation

This person lost his vision early in life and has learned to navigate his surroundings as good as any seeing person using echolocation. By making clicks with his tongue, he can literally hear the objects in front of him in much the same way that a dolphin or a bat navigates.

From Neurophilosophy:
WE all know that bats and dolphins use echolocation to navigate, by producing high frequency bursts of clicks and interpreting the sound waves that bounce off objects in their surroundings. Less well known is that humans can also learn to echolocate. With enough training, people can use this ability to do extraordinary things. Teenager Ben Underwood, who died of cancer in 2009, was one of a small number of blind people to master it. As the clip below shows, he could use echolocation not only to navigate and avoid obstacles, but also to identify objects, rollerskate and even play video games.

Very little research has been done on human echolocation, and nothing is known about the underlying brain mechanisms. In the first study of its kind, Canadian researchers used functional magnetic resonance imaging (fMRI) to monitor the brain activity of two blind echolocation experts. Their findings, published today in the open access journal PLoS ONE, show that echolocation engages regions of the brain that normally process vision.

Saturday, August 6, 2011

English Pronunciation from the Time of Shakespeare

I love listening to the different accents and dialects of the English language. It turns out that the learned brand of Oxford or Cambridge English has very little to do with the way English was spoken at the time of Shakespeare. Apparently, at that time, the "R's" in the English language were much more pronounced. So a Shakespearean soliloquy in the time of Shakespeare would have been pronounced much more in line with the pronunciation of contemporary Irish, Australian or Appalachian than it would have been pronounced in the contemporary British dialect.

Friday, August 5, 2011

Mr. Deity and the Virgin

Larry is stunned by Mr. Deity's callous response to a grave crisis.

Wednesday, August 3, 2011

Governor Prick Error

Aaron Ra's great response to Rick Perry's call for a Day of Complete Inaction and Not Eating.

This is our Response to Rick Perry.
Here are his original videos.
Watch the one titled 'The Response'!

Saturday, July 30, 2011

Ayaan Hirsi Ali discusses Is Islam Compatible with Liberal Democracy?

Recorded is 2007, she is someone whose views I have been interested in for a while now, but I have never actually seen her speak about her views... This discussion was very enlightening.

Tuesday, July 26, 2011

Film psychology THE SHINING: spatial awareness and set design. Parts 1 and 2

Spatial awareness is something that has always been completely intuitive for me. I could probably sit down and draw from memory the floor plan of every house or apartment I have ever lived in with a fair degree of accuracy. So I was naturally fascinated by this spatial breakdown of the set design of one of my favorite films.

How Stanley Kubrick used Escher-styled spacial awareness & set design anomolies to disorientate viewers of his horror classic The Shining. This is a must for serious Kubrick fans and psychology students. Written, narrated and edited by Rob Ager

Visit my website for more film and psychology related videos

Sunday, July 24, 2011

Saturday, July 23, 2011

What The Word 'Compromise' Really Means

A very interesting linguistic breakdown of a word that is being used as well as avoided quite a lot in Washington lately.

Tuesday, July 19, 2011

Neil Tyson talks about UFOs and the argument from ignorance

We need more scientists like Neil deGrasse Tyson. He is not only one of the most prominent astronomers living today, he is also one of the best public communicators on the subject of science.

The argument from ignorance, also known as argumentum ad ignorantiam ("appeal to ignorance" , argument by lack of imagination, or negative evidence, is a logical fallacy in which it is claimed that a premise is true only because it has not been proven false, or is false only because it has not been proven true.

Monday, July 18, 2011

The Majestic Plastic Bag

The Majestic Plastic Bag from Heal the Bay on Vimeo.

An excellent spoof on nature videos... Please, just bring your own bag to the grocery store. Is that too much to ask?

Friday, July 15, 2011

Rebecca MacKinnon: Let's take back the Internet!

Artist's Statement

Requiring a visual artist to write an artist's statement about their work is a bit like requiring a writer to illustrate their own book... So naturally, reading an artist's statement can be a vomit inducing experience. This video translates the jargon into what the artist really means.

Sunday, July 10, 2011

RSA Animate - Language as a Window into Human Nature

I had seen this lecture by the linguist and philosopher, Steven Pinker on you tube before, but it was nice to go back and re-visit it in the form of the wonderful RSA Animate series.

Saturday, July 9, 2011

The Artist Formerly Known as Captain Beefheart - BBC

A great documentary about the life of Captain Beefheart narrated by the unmistakable voice of John Peel. This portion of the documentary is dedicated to the making of one of my all time favorite albums, Trout Mask Replica... The music is definitely not for everyone, but give it a chance... It sticks in your memory.

Thursday, July 7, 2011


  He puts it better than I ever could have hoped to express the sentiment.

Monday, July 4, 2011

Postmodernism: Good for the Arts, Bad for the Sciences

Listen to internet radio with Think Atheist on Blog Talk Radio

This was a really interesting interview with Ophelia  Benson, who writes the blog, Butterflies and Wheels, and hits on topics that I have been thinking about lately. Foremost among those topics is the reflexive stance of the progressive movement to accept the postmodernist idea that all ways of thinking are relative to the individual person and their cultural background. The idea that no one outside that culture can criticize that culture's practices... I think this kind of cultural relativism completely breaks down and is indefensible when it comes to real-world human rights issues such as female genital mutilation, honor killings and genocide.

But I also think the topic of postmodernism has a very divided good side and bad side...

I believe that when the philosophy of postmodernism tries to step into the sciences, such as math, astronomy, physics, sociology and biology it automatically gets itself into trouble... On this side, there really are facts and non-facts and things that are true and things that are simply not true. It doesn't matter what culture or socioeconomic background you come from; two plus two will always equal four, the speed of light will always be a universal constant, and killing an innocent girl because she was raped will always be a bad thing...

But on the other side are the creative arts, such as literature, poetry, music, film and visual art... These are the things that are derived purely from the human imagination.... I think the difference here is between what is knowable versus what is imaginable.

Early twentieth century modernism in painting began as an incredible leap forward. It was seeing the sciences of the time reducing itself to a very tidy series of laws and principles and was trying to do the same for the arts. The reductivism of modernist abstract art was trying to hone in on a similar abstract truth that Einstien was focusing on with his theory of relativity.

It is very interesting that postmodernism in the arts came about roughly at the same time that the unpredictability of quantum physics, but that doesn't change the fact that the sciences are in the quest for what is knowable in reality and the arts are in the quest for what is possible in the human imagination.

I think the crux of my argument is that the two are entirely separate endeavors. That doesn't change the fact that the arts can be greatly influenced by the findings of the sciences and, in turn, the sciences can see paths unimagined if it were not for the creativity of the arts... But the fact remains that one area is about what is real and natural, and the other is about what is imaginable.

The idea of postmodernism was like a giant explosion in the world of the visual arts. To a visual artist in the 1960s, modernist abstraction was a set of rules that was almost a tunnel that was getting smaller and smaller... The movement was literally painting itself into a corner. To us artists, the idea that references could come from comic books, from the point of view of another gender, from graphic design, other cultures, or even from grandma paintings was a completely refreshing idea. The ironic thing about it all is that the postmodern change that happened in the arts feels very similar to the change a country under dictatorial rule feels after a change to a democratic state... It does feel like the possibilities are endless...

Friday, July 1, 2011

The Stiffs - Fuck You (1978)

In keeping with my sentiment of the evening, I thought I would round off the night with the original version of a great punk rock anthem covered by the likes of the Subhumans, DOA and Overkill...

 This is the original version of the Vancouver punk anthem later re-recorded by the Subhumans (who featured ex-Stiffs Gerry Hannah and Mike Graham) and has been covered by DOA, Screeching Weasel, Overkill and many others

Recorded in May 1978 but was never released until 1991 when the song appeared on the double-CD compilation "Last Call: Vancouver Independent Music 1977-1988"

Fuck You

I had an old friend in town the week of June 19th through the 26th and I didn't post anything because I was actually interacting with a real person... I'm sorry about that brief vacation from the blog, not that anyone is actually reading it.... But if you were wondering why I didn't post anything during that time, it was because I had actual things to do.

Back to the Roots: Business model based on growing mushrooms from coffee grounds

I am truly impressed with these guys' willingness to create a very lucrative business around something most of us would consider trash.

Louis C.K. on the Daily Show

What's not to love about a good fart joke?

Ask Sam Harris Anything #1

Sam Harris, author of the New York Times bestsellers, The End of Faith, Letter to a Christian Nation, and The Moral Landscape, answers questions submitted by users on
Hear Sam talk about everything from meditation to religion, and see if one of your questions got answered!

Wednesday, June 29, 2011

Dear Mr. President

As the debate over deficits ramped up in Washington on Monday, Sen. Bernie Sanders laid out the compelling case not to slash programs for working families. Any deficit reduction package must rely on new revenue for at least half the reduction in red ink, he added in a major address in the Senate. Sanders spoke at length about what caused deficits (wars, Wall Street bailouts, tax breaks for the rich) and how to shrink them (more revenue from the wealthiest Americans to match spending cuts). He urged fellow senators not to yield to Republican congressional leaders who "acted like schoolyard bullies" when they walked out of budget negotiations. He summed up the situation in a letter to the president that had been signed by more than 16,000 people by the time he completed his speech.

Tuesday, June 28, 2011

Michael Shermer: The Believing Brain

On June 9, 2011, the Center for Inquiry-New York City and NYC Skeptics hosted noted skeptic and bestselling author Michael Shermer for a talk about his new book, "The Believing Brain: From Ghosts and Gods to Politics and Conspiracies—How We Construct Beliefs and Reinforce Them as Truths." The event was held at the Auditorium on Broadway. This is the full video, including both the talk and question-and-answer session.

Monday, June 27, 2011

Miss USA - Should Gravity be Taught in Schools?

 What if the word "gravity" were substituted for the word "evolution" in the interviews of the Miss USA pagent? After all, both of them are only theories...

Sunday, June 26, 2011

Rare: Sex Pistols Dallas News Reel (Longhorn Ballroom 1978)

In retrospect, it's easy to take for granted the impact that a band like the Sex Pistols would have on music for decades to come, but it's always much more interesting to get a glimpse into what people actually thought at the time they were still an up and coming band. At that time, there was no reason to think that this band wouldn't just be a blip on the radar screen of music history.

Thursday, June 16, 2011

RSA Animate - Choice

In this new RSAnimate, Professor Renata Salecl explores the paralysing anxiety and dissatisfaction surrounding limitless choice. Does the freedom to be the architects of our own lives actually hinder rather than help us? Does our preoccupation with choosing and consuming actually obstruct social change?

Conan O'Brien Delivers the Best Commencement Address Ever

I've suffered some setbacks recently. It's a bitch when things don't work out according to plan. Conan O'Brien talked about his recent professional setbacks in his commencement address at Dartmouth's 2011 graduation and made one of the most inspirational and funny speeches I've ever seen.

Tuesday, June 14, 2011

Powers of Ten

Thanks to Steve and Rob for this link.

Powers of Ten takes us on an adventure in magnitudes. Starting at a picnic by the lakeside in Chicago, this famous film transports us to the outer edges of the universe. Every ten seconds we view the starting point from ten times farther out until our own galaxy is visible only a s a speck of light among many others. Returning to Earth with breathtaking speed, we move inward- into the hand of the sleeping picnicker- with ten times more magnification every ten seconds. Our journey ends inside a proton of a carbon atom within a DNA molecule in a white blood cell. POWERS OF TEN © 1977 EAMES OFFICE LLC (

Monday, June 13, 2011

The Atheist Delusion

I've been on an atheist screed here with the last few posts, but this stuff is good...

How it all started


Saturday, June 11, 2011

Hackers And Clouds: How Secure Is The Web?

Hackers And Spies
Ed Pilkington, who covers hacking for the Guardian, tells Weekend All Things Considered guest host Rachel Martin that the overriding atmosphere in the hacker community is one of paranoia and fear as more and more of them join the other side to get out of trouble.

"They don't really who know who's doing what," he says. "It seems such an extraordinary contradiction. Here is this community which in popular vision is a community of anarchists, anti-establishment people, and yet here are so many of them actually acting as the eyes and ears, as virtual spies, on behalf of FBI and Secret Service."

There are those in the cyber-community who think even more than 1 in 4 hackers are in cahoots with the U.S. government these days. Former hacker and information security consultant Kevin Mitnick says that informants are essential to America's defenses.

"I don't know of any case that involves computer hacking where there were multiple defendants charged where there wasn't an informant on the case," he says.

PZ Myers on the Pharyngula at Glasgow Skeptics

If you haven't already seen this on Pharyngula, it is an excellent lecture by PZ Meyers about the stages of embryonic development and how creationists literally lie about the facts to make their case against Darwinian evolution.

PZ Myers discusses the evidence for evolution from development with the Glasgow Skeptics.

How ontogeny and phylogeny have been tangled from von Baer to evo-devo, with awkward detours to Haeckel and creationism.

Thursday, June 9, 2011

James Randi Debunks Peter Popoff Faith Healer

James Randi, best known as a skeptic of pseudoscience, debunked popular myths for "J.C." on the "T.Show". The second in the series of clips shows him blowing the lid off Peter Popoff Ministries and their so-called "faith healing."

Wednesday, June 8, 2011

The Bible Unearthed (2005)

This video is a four-part television series which looks at the old testament of the bible from an entirely historical and archeological point of view. As opposed to the early 20th century biblical archeologists who looked to archeology in order to prove the supernatural myths of the bible, current scholars are using archeology to reconstruct the history of what actually happened and then compare those facts to the stories of the bible, and then are able to separate the portions of the bible that are historic re-tellings of actual real-world events from the portions that are pure myth.

The Bible Unearthed (2005) from Rebel News on Vimeo.
The Bible is both a religious and historical work, but how much is myth and how much is history? When and why was the Old Testament written, and by whom? What do contemporary archaeologists know about the Patriarchs? The Exodus? The Conquest of Canaan? Kings David and Solomon? Where do the people of Israel originally come from? Why were the historical accounts of the Bible written down?

A masterful archaeological and biblical investigation, THE BIBLE UNEARTHED visits digs in Egypt, Jordan and Israel-- including Megiddo, the cradle of biblical archaeology, where 7,000 years of history have been excavated. This far-ranging exploration of biblical history also makes use of archival footage of previous archaeological excavations, maps, biblical illustrations and computer animation, revealing ancient architecture, cuneiform tablets and other rare artifacts.

Based on the best-selling book of the same name, this enthralling documentary features interviews with archaeological specialists and biblical scholars from all over the world, including experts from the Louvre, the Museum of Cairo, the Museum of Jerusalem, and the British Museum. THE BIBLE UNEARTHED does something which has never been done before: it reveals a still-unraveling revolution of what we know of the society, the history, and the men who wrote the Bible.

Saturday, June 4, 2011

BBC - Everything and Nothing

Another amazing BBC documentary about the expanding boundaries of science.

Tuesday, May 31, 2011

There's no such thing as a jellyfish

By all accounts, jellyfish are creatures that kill people, eat microbes, grow to tens of meters, filter phytoplankton, take over ecosystems, and live forever. Because of the immense diversity of gelatinous plankton, jelly-like creatures can individually have each of these properties. However this way of looking at them both overstates and underestimates their true diversity. Taxonomically, they are far more varied than a handful of exemplars that are used to represent jellyfish or especially the so-called "true" jellyfish. Ecologically, they are even more adaptable than one would expect by looking only at the conspicuous bloom forming families and species that draw most of the attention. In reality, the most abundant and diverse gelatinous groups in the ocean are not the ones that anyone ever sees.

Sunday, May 29, 2011

Surfers brave the "biggest day ever" at world's craziest wave: Tasmania's Shipstern Bluff

When skateboarding we might break an ankle or something mundane like that.... This is something completely different.

Friday, May 27, 2011

Albert van Veenendaal - The Spy & the Vampire

While we're on the subject of John Cage, here is a current artist named Albert van Veenendaal doing amazing things with a prepared piano.

A History of Silence

John Cage wrote the piece,  4'33" , in 1952, which consisted entirely of rests. The performers were expected to follow along the time signature diligently and turn the notation pages at the appropriate times yet not play a single note, the point of the piece was to showcase the ambient sound of the audience as music in and of itself.

Here is John Cage talking about the piece in an interview in 1982.

Apparently, the Beatles were very influenced by the book by John Cage titled Silence, published in 1961. His experimental  ideas on the blurring of the distinctions between sound and music were to have a big impact on the Beatles' later work. This piece, Two Minutes Silence is an obvious nod to John Cage's 4'33".

Ironically, Soundgarden included a song called One Minute of Silence on their album, Ultramega OK and credited John Lennon for "writing" it. The fact that John Cage is not credited , yet John Lennon could actually be credited for "writing" the piece speaks volumes for the broken copyright system we currently find ourselves in.

 And now it seems that the Hitler meme even has something to say about John Cage.

On a final note, did you notice that the elapsed time on each of these videos divided approximately in half as they went from one to the next? Does this say something about our attention span? Probably just coincidence...

Monday, May 23, 2011

RiP! A Remix Manifesto

This a full-length documentary spotlighting the abuse of copyright control. I am very interested in this topic and this is by far the most comprehensive thing I've seen on it.

After The Rapture

This video is a little bit snarky, but I found it funny.

Thursday, May 19, 2011

The Rapture

A bit of advice for those concerned about the 21st of May.

Wednesday, May 18, 2011

Newt Gingrich gets glittered by protester for his anti-gay politics

From NPR:
Saying that Republican presidential candidate Newt Gingrich needs to "feel the rainbow ... stop the hate, stop anti-gay politics!" a protester showered the former House speaker and his wife with glitter Tuesday at a book-signing in Minneapolis.

Tuesday, May 17, 2011

Stupid people - #@%& everything about them!

From the title, it should be pretty obvious that this is not safe for work.

Well, That Was Fast - Comcast/NBC Merger

Disney requests a trademark for the name "SEAL Team 6," and the FCC approves the Comcast/NBC merger.

Saturday, May 14, 2011

Flashes Light Up Sky Over Fort Worth

From NPR:
"I was really scared," amateur photographer Brian Luenser tells The Huffington Post about the footage he recorded. The local electric company tells Huffington that what you're seeing are flashes created when lightning hit "feeder" lines that carry electricity to neighborhoods.
There were hundreds of lightning strikes in the area Tuesday night, Fort Worth's Star-Telegram reports. And there were several thousand power outages, as you might imagine.

Is The Bible Still Relevant Today? (1/4)

I don't own a television for a very good reason (because 99% of it is crap), but this is a good illustration as to why British television is more interesting than American.

Sam Harris and Richard Dawkins: Who Says Science Has Nothing to Say About Morality?

 I finished reading the book "The Moral Landscape" by Sam Harris a few months ago, and initially I was very skeptical of the entire premise. At first, the idea that science could determine human values seemed entirely Utopian and totalitarian in the vein of "Brave New World" or even as bad as "1984"... But I think Sam Harris really does understand those fears and goes to great lengths to confront them head-on.

This video is a great short synopsis of what is contained in the book.

Friday, May 13, 2011

American Arts and Crafts Furniture

I've been more and more interested in the American Arts and Crafts style of furniture and architectural design in recent years. It seems the perfect synthesis between the baroque ornamentation of the Victorian era and the austere clean geometry of the Bauhaus movement.

Tuesday, May 10, 2011

Bin Laden Is Dead & We're Mad As Hell

Red State Update: Jackie and Dunlap celebrate the death of Osama bin Laden. OR DO THEY?

Friday, May 6, 2011

The Four Horsemen

I hadn't seen this video in a few years and it's been nice to go back and revisit some of the topics they discuss.

On the 30th of September 2007, Richard Dawkins, Daniel Dennett, Sam Harris and Christopher Hitchens sat down for a first-of-its-kind, unmoderated 2-hour discussion, convened by RDFRS and filmed by Josh Timonen.

All four authors have recently received a large amount of media attention for their writings against religion - some positive, and some negative. In this conversation the group trades stories of the public's reaction to their recent books, their unexpected successes, criticisms and common misrepresentations. They discuss the tough questions about religion that face the world today, and propose new strategies for going forward.

This video is provided free online by The Richard Dawkins Foundation for Reason and Science (RDFRS) and . If you would like to support our work and help us provide more videos like this, please purchase the DVD through our online store and/or consider donating to RDFRS:,donations

Books by these authors:
"The God Delusion" by Richard Dawkins
"The End of Faith" by Sam Harris
"Letter to a Christian Nation" by Sam Harris
"God is Not Great" by Christopher Hitchens
"Breaking the Spell: Religion as a Natural Phenomenon" by Daniel Dennett

Filmed and Edited by Josh Timonen

Friday, April 29, 2011

Three Fragments of a Lost Tale

John Frame creates dark, surreal stop-action animation that is very similar to the Brothers Quay, but the work that went into the intricately carved sculptural puppets help define this film on its own terms. It is also interesting to note that the score of the soundtrack was done by him as well.

Three Fragments of a Lost Tale from John Frame on Vimeo.
This animated/live film is a part of an ongoing project entitled, "The Tale of The Crippled Boy." There are currently thirty five hand made articulated characters along with several sets and a theatrical stage. This twelve minute film is the first segment of a complex and loosely narrated story of a lost culture where things have gone rather awry.

Nick Veasey: Exposing the invisible

Nick Veasey shows outsized X-ray images that reveal the otherworldly inner workings of familiar objects -- from the geometry of a wildflower to the anatomy of a Boeing 747. Producing these photos is dangerous and painstaking, but the reward is a superpower: looking at what the human eye can't see.

Friday, April 22, 2011

Supersilent 10.8

The beautiful eighth song from Supersilent's recent album "10".

The footage is from the aftermath of the San Fransisco earthquake from 1906. It kind of puts a historical lens on things that are currently happening in Japan and how catastrophes like this are viewed from those of us who are looking at it through the eye of the camera...

Wednesday, April 20, 2011

iPhones Track the Whereabouts of Users

If you own an iPhone that uses OS4, watch this...

Iphones keep a database of the latitude, longitude and timestamp of users when they move from one location to another, I'm assuming for marketing purposes. So your iphone knows everywhere you've been and when you were there for as long as you've had the phone. I know we are living in an increasingly privacy-free world and I'd better get used to it, but to me this is just plain creepy.

These guys who discovered this secret database have invented a free downloadable application where you can plug the contents of that database into the program and it will map out the points for you. So you can see a visual map of everywhere you've been. Kind of cool, but I still think it's creepy.

Pete Warden and Alasdair Allan talking about how they discovered the existence of the tracking database on the iPhone, and what it might mean. Also how they went about exploring and visualising the data once they knew it was there, and show how it could be used to track individuals movements over time.
 Here is a video of the application at work.

Washington DC to New York from Alasdair Allan on Vimeo.

Tuesday, April 19, 2011

China's Ghost Cities and Malls

I didn't know any of this was going on.

China just keeps building entire cities of apartments that no one can afford to live in and malls that stores are not occupying, so miles of this brand new architecture are just sitting gathering dust. The ongoing construction is apparently good for the GDP of China, but this is a real estate bubble of epic proportions and the laws of supply and demand tell me that we are going to see that bubble bust sometime soon.

Cordyceps: attack of the killer fungi - Planet Earth Attenborough BBC wildlife

Tuesday, April 12, 2011

David Christian: Big history Backed by stunning illustrations, David Christian narrates a complete history of the universe, from the Big Bang to the Internet, in a riveting 18 minutes. This is "Big History": an enlightening, wide-angle look at complexity, life and humanity, set against our slim share of the cosmic timeline.

'Morality: From the Heavens or From Nature?' by Dr. Andy Thomson, AAI 2009

Dr. Andy Thomson gives a talk on morality at the Atheist Alliance International 2009 Conference in Burbank, California. Dr. Thomson uses Francis Collins' claim that morality is proof of God as a jumping-off point to discuss what we know about how morality works and where it came from.

Friday, April 8, 2011

Tim Minchin's "Storm": The Animated Movie

I've posted the audio to "Storm" once on this blog before, but now someone has gone and put it to animation in that wonderful early 1960's future-mod style which perfectly fits with Tim Minchin's original idea to create a beat poem set to music. Ken Nordine is well known for popularizing that style which he calls Word Jazz.

Tuesday, April 5, 2011

Einst├╝rzende Neubauten- Sabrina

Some fairly disturbing late night listening from the best German rock band ever... You can disagree with me in the comments if you have a better nominee.

A Driverless Car

I apologize, TED Talks and Blogspot just do not seem to work well together. Blogspot always cuts off the right side of the TED talk screen and TED talks simply will not reduce down to the width allowable by Blogspot. So here is the link if you want to watch it fullscreen.

Sunday, April 3, 2011

The Lennon Sisters singing Dry Bones

Makes my inner goth smile.

Is my date religious?

I saw this entry today on OK Cupid: Best Questions for a First Date.
I had to share.

If you want to know...

Is my date religious?


  • Do spelling and grammar mistakes annoy you?
If your date answers 'no'—i.e. is okay with bad grammar and spelling—the odds of him or her being at least moderately religious is slightly better than 2:1.
As someone who is not himself a believer, I found it rather heartening that tolerance, even on something trivial like this, correlated with belief in God, although I should've figured out that religious people are okay with small mistakes. Next to intelligent design, what's a couple typos?
It's also nice when two completely independent datasets corroborate each other. Last summer, we analyzed the profile text of half a million user profiles, comparing religion and writing-level. For every one of the faith-based belief systems listed, the people who were the least serious wrote at the highest level.

Saturday, April 2, 2011

The Genius of Photography- BBC Documentary

The Susumu Yokota video got me thinking about the history of the moving image and of photography itself. I did a bit of research and stumbled on this great BBC documentary.
Episode 1- Part 1 of 4

Episode 1- Part 2 of 4
Episode 1- Part 3 of 4

Episode 1- Part 4 of 4

Susumu Yokota 'Kaiten Mokuba'

Friday, April 1, 2011

Handspring Puppet Company: The genius puppetry behind War Horse

TED Talks never cease to amaze. In this one puppet makers create an unbelievably convincing full scale horse, complete with movable legs, neck, ears and tail. At points you seem to forget you are only looking at a lifeless puppet.

Tuesday, March 29, 2011

Improvisations With Marc Ribot, Evan Parker and Han Bennink (June 2009)

This is a pretty funny clip of three of the great contemporary jazz players. Evan Parker on sax, Han Bennink of Clusone Trio fame on uhmm drums?, and Marc Ribot on guitar (if  you are at all familiar with Tom Waits, Marc Ribot is the studio guitarist on all of his work since the mid-1980's)

Psychedelic drugs return as potential treatments for mental illness

From The Guardian
Posted by Moheb Costandi September 2010
Moheb Costandi writes the Neurophilosophy blog 

New research confirms that psychedelic drugs are promising treatments for depression, obsessive-compulsive disorder (OCD) and schizophrenia

Long before hippie poster boy Timothy Leary invited the world to "Turn on, tune in and drop out", a group of pioneering psychiatrists working in Canada began to treat alcoholics with lysergic acid diethylamide (LSD), and reported unprecedented recovery rates.
Far from being at the fringes of medical research, their work was fully supported and funded by the Canadian government, and became a promising new area of research that played a role in modernising the field of psychiatry. But despite the encouraging results, studies of LSD therapy ended abruptly in the late 1960s, and did not resume again until some 40 years later.

Monday, March 28, 2011

ICP Orchestra in Austin

These guys are playing in Austin next Thursday. I would love to drive to Austin and see the show but sadly I'm teaching that evening. This is a great recent video of theirs.

The band is kind of an all star Dutch avant garde jazz band. Here is the lineup: Michael Moore, alto saxophone + clarinet; Ab Baars, tenor saxophone + clarinet; Tobias Delius, tenor saxophone + clarinet; Thomas Heberer, trumpet; Woller Wierbos, trombone; Misha Mengelberg, piano; Mary Oliver, violin; Tristan Honsinger, cello; Ernst Glerum, bass; Han Bennink, drums.  And here is the show information if you are in the area.  Thursday, April 78:00 PM (doors at 7:30) Austin Art + Music Partnership (AAMP)411 Monroe St. West
Austin, TX 78704

Brian Eno - By This River

Friday, March 25, 2011

Bending Plexiglass

I have been envisioning creating some sculptural work similar to the pin pieces I've been making in the past, but on a much larger scale. Instead of using the thin Lexan and insect-collecting pins I normally use with the small work, I would use plexiglass and steel rods. My problem is that I would need to get the plexiglass to bend so that the work could have the same nice curves that the smaller pieces have. I've tried a heat gun and that didn't work well at all, so I decided to consult the YouTube. Ask and you shall receive.

Saturday, March 19, 2011

My Other Job- College Art Teacher

I realized that in the entire time I've been writing this blog with all of the various subjects I've discussed, I have never talked about my alternative profession aside from that of a professional artist. I teach art. While not nearly as romantic in the minds of those who are not professional artists*, teaching art in college is only as exciting as your creativity and openness to change can make it.
(*Try spending 200 hours in the studio alone working on a single piece and see how romantic it is.)

Creating assignments for a class is very much like open-source software code. We're usually happy to share assignments and take assignments from other teachers, then try out changes to the assignment, experiment with it and make it your own, and then pass it along. That way the assignments are always dynamic and changing with the times and, in turn, they keep the students interested and learning.

When I first started college, 2D Design was always the boring entry level class everyone was required to take, and then in graduate school it was the boring class to teach as a student teacher... But it doesn't have to be that way. You are only trying to get across a few simple ideas as far as how to arrange a visual composition using line, shape, value, color and texture.

But how you get across those basic ideas can certainly change with the times. Those design ideas began in the 1920's with the Bauhaus school, and the assignments from that age seemed to become the new paradigm for teaching design. These geometric abstract projects certainly persisted when I was a student and I still see them in lots and lots of design classes today. I'm not saying that students can't still learn from those assignments, I am just saying that what was avant garde 80 years ago is antique today.

Let me show some student projects that I and other teachers have taken part in shaping some new ideas for a 2D-Design class.

(Note: I am keeping the identities of the students anonymous under the Family Educational Rights and Privacy Act)

Here are two assignments that were inspired by the artist Chuck Close.  Both are about pixelating a portrait down to a ten-step value (shade) scale, but the first focuses on line and value, and the second on value and choosing a color scheme. Thanks to John Pomara for the idea on those two great projects.
Ten Step Value Scale- Pixilated Portrait
Ink on Illustration Board

Ten Step Color Scheme- Hole Punch Portrait
Acrylic on Bristol pasted onto B&W Photo
The third project is the Three Panel Zoom Progression. Here they find a photograph and then use the "posterize" filter in Photoshop in order to break the image down into areas of solid color like the delineated areas on a topographic map. Then they crop the image twice, zooming into a smaller area each time. The third in the progression should be an abstract image if seen on its own. They then trace the images onto three canvases and paint them as faithfully to the chosen color scheme as possible. Thanks again to John Pomara for the idea for this one.
 Three Panel Zoom Progression
Acrylic on Canvas
Approximately 20"x52"
 The next is a project I call the Text as Image assignment. It incorporates what the students learned from the the previous assignments, but has them apply those ideas to the incorporation of text and font design into a visual composition. This student took the letters to a very abstract level, you almost can't see them until you look closely.

Text as Image Project
Acrylic on Illustration Board
Approx. 20"x30"
Detail Image Approx. 9"x12 of whole image

I often throw the design students for a loop when I introduce them to the crazy cubist world of Picasso and Braque, but then show them that it's not at all crazy when seen in the context of the photocollages of David Hockney. The visual world that your eyes are seeing right now seems like a simple two-dimensional picture plane in which straight lines look straight, but when you take a number of small photos from the larger space in which you are standing, you realize that the visual space you thought you were seeing is not as simple as you thought. Here are a few images of student works based on those cubist collages.

 David Hockney Influenced Photocollage Assignment
Individual Photos Mounted on Foam Board
Each Collage Approximately 30" Wide 

The final project goes back to basics and prepares them for classes such as Beginning Painting in a not so traditional way. It is influenced by the pop artist, James Rosenquist, who made paintings that were realistic but were duplicating collages made from found magazine photos.

I have the students cut out five images from magazines and four of those images must satisfy these requirements: #1 a reflective object, #2 a smooth blend from light to dark such as a sunrise, #3 an example of pattern on a curved surface such as a patterned shirt, #4 an example of texture such as tree bark or hair, and #5 is their choice.

The first four of those requirements were chosen because they are difficult things to learn to paint realistically and I can help them learn the techniques and tricks of how to paint them.

I have them create a collage from the chosen magazine images and then project that collage image onto a canvas using an opaque or a digital projector, tracing it with a pencil, and then afterward reproducing the colors and textures as closely as possible using acrylic paint. You would not believe the results I get from people who have never painted before.
Duplicate Collage Project
Acrylic on Canvas
Aproximately 24"x30"