Wednesday, December 28, 2005

Sticker Overload

A fully loaded street sign. Every sign in the area was also covered.

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Shirtless dude - Hollywood

It was cold for LA, in the 50s, with a light rain. I have no idea why he was prowling the street. Crackhead?

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Street Meter

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Vinyl bins at Amoeba

I feel my addiction picking up again. I love music, always have and always will. Amoeba has a great selection, and all for a buck.

This is a shot of a cutout in the store window. I like the mood.

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Redhead in Amoeba Music

I happened across this girl in Amoeba Music today while I was trying to take a picture of my son (and shopping for music). I think it came out well.

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Stencil Art 2

I found this on the side walk off of Sunset in Hollywood today. Stencil art in the form of a group of eyeballs (I think). It would look better if the sidewalk was clean

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Stencil Art 1

Indecline - yep, it sure looks like it. The videos on this site are disturbing.

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Tuesday, December 27, 2005

And this year's Christmas Princess award goes to...

My cousin Jello. What a little charmer.

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Never Forget

Wayne’s other tattoo – a commemoration of the loss of his Great Grandmother, is the better of the two tattoos he is sporting these days. Wayne is a great kid, full of life and enjoying every minute of his youth. I hope to see him playing pro baseball sometime in the future. By all accounts, he has the talent for it.

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Strive for Success

I guess you can file this one under “it seemed like a good idea at the time”. But, I think it went down like this, my nephew Wayne + a large quantity of the alcohol + plus girlfriend/peer presser, resulted in a tattoo Wayne Jr. can be proud of the rest of his life.

I was faced with the same decision many years ago while in the service. I sobered up before it was my turn under the needle. And… no regrets here.

I promised Wayne That I would not make fun of him - so I'm not. Did I mention he was sporting a new tongue piercing too? Oh, to be 20 again!

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Jingle Dog

This is my dog Thor. He was Jingle Dog this year. I took him for walks wearing his Santa collar – the cats laughed at him. Thor is a dumb dog, but I love him anyway. He is supposed to be a Min Pin, but I think he has a little Basset Hound in him, his tummy likes to drag along the ground. His life consists of sleeping - eating - begging for more food - and sleeping. He responds to two words (besides his name) Walk - lets go for a walk & Outside - stand in front of the fridge and beg for sausage. He was more active and weighed a lot less before we had him fixed a year ago. Losing his stones seems to have taken a lot out him.

I took a small break from blogging, but now I’m back. I will be focusing on photography and on Atheist issues this year – but I won’t forget to highlight the nutballs. I hope everyone had a happy Christmas holiday! I sure did.

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Thursday, December 22, 2005

The spray killed it - really

Apparently, Workers killed the statehouse Christmas tree by spraying it with fire-retardant after drying it with industrial fans. I love bureaucracy in action. Rhode Island is tripping over its knee jerk reaction to a fire that killed 100 people a few years ago. Now they have onerous laws meant to protect the public but in fact ruin what the law was intended to protect. They cannot even cut a new tree without having a fire marshal present to certify the tree's freshness (prior to drying it and spraying it with fire retarding chemicals of course).

I'm laughing so hard it hurts..

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id link dump

Kitzmiller v. Dover Area School District Wiki
The Judicial Decision as a PDF
Kitzcarnival at The Questionable Authority
Delicious news and blog links: Mine - Everyone

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Wednesday, December 21, 2005

Intelligent Design is not science

Well Duh...

It is nice to win one. Judge John E. Jones, a republican appointed by President Bush delivered a crushing blow to the Intelligent Design movement yesterday. Intelligent Design is not a scientific theory; it is simply repackaged creationism. Critical thinkers the world over have been saying the same thing for years. On the strength of a precedent setting judicial opinion, we may be able to roll back the idiotic decisions made in Kansas and other states.

The funny thing is, I have not actually run into an old school creationist in a long time. On Monday night, the night before Judge Jones’ decision, I ate dinner with a friend in the Virginia town of Herndon. During our meal, my friend disclosed (I think they call it witnessed) his conversion to Christianity. It was a compelling story, as most are, yet his story fell on deaf ears. The two other members of our dinner party were an atheist and an agnostic. At one point, my Christian friend turned to me and asked if I knew how old the Grand Canyon was. I responded with not really, but I know it’s really old. He replied with, “What would you say if I told you it was only a few thousand years old”. I nearly choked – here I was talking to a man with a Ph.D who was also a logic-defying creationist. I listened to his arguments and offered a few counter arguments, but it was hopeless. Any idea that countered the Bible’s story of creation was “Darwinism” and to him, completely evil.

There is no hope that a judicial decision will influence a creationist or id proponent. They are true believers. Logic and reason do not penetrate blind faith.

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Sunday, December 18, 2005

Nutball Alert: Peter Popoff

I cannot believe Peter Popoff is still around, especially after James Randi exposed him as a complete fraud in The Faith Healers. Yet here I sit in my hotel in Virginia watching a pseudo Christian infomercial where Popooff attempts to get viewers to order a free sample of Miracle Spring Water, which is supposed to evoke a Divine Transfer of economic good fortune to your Divine Bank Account. Sounds like gibberish to me.

His infomercial is full of testimonials from people saved from bankruptcy or awarded unlooked for economic gifts. The problem is that most of the people in the infomercial look dirt poor and dwell in the lower economic classes. You can read some of these unbelievable testimonials at

So – get yourself a small packet of free Miracle Spring Water, use as directed, and then order a monthly supply at the all time low price of - whatever Peter Popoff can take you for.

Peter Popoff is a total nutball and quite possibly a criminal too.

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Atheists love Christmas, too

The Boston Harold hits it right on the head (for me anyway) with the article Atheists love Christmas, too. I've said it before, and I imagine I will say it again. I have no trouble celebrating secular Christmas while ignoring religious Christmas. I love Christmas. It is a great time for getting together with friends and family while eating, drinking and having fun. I wish everyone Merry Christmas without a shred of religious thought because I celebrate Christmas and not Chanukah or Kwanza or the Winter Solstice. Of course, I do this because I was raised in a Christian culture. I consider it my cultural imprinting. I am not about to switch over to Happy Holidays.

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Religious Discrimination Continues in the Military

I am not sure the title of this article is accurate. It implies the U.S. Military is discriminating against religion when in fact the U.S. Military is discriminating against servicemen who do not have a religion. But, it is a minor point, so, I’ll let it pass.

Wayne Adkins is a former Christian turned Atheist who was in the military and stationed in Iraq. He claims to have experienced religious discrimination during his tour of duty because he was an Atheist. I think he is right, this kind of discrimination is common in the military. And more telling, some of what he describes can actually be interpreted as coercion. If offered the choice between attending Church and extra duties, one tends to go to church. I encountered this type of coercion in the early days of my military service. During basic training, we were offered the choice between attending religious services and cleaning our barracks. I declined to attend the first week along with a dozen others, I declined to attend the second week along with four others, and on the third week, well… I was by myself. The military did the same thing with regard to smoking (although I hear it has stopped now). Soldiers were allowed to break formation to smoke. At first only a few took the 10 minute smoke break. By the end of basic training, everybody took the smoke break. I think the training instructors got a piece of the action on tobacco products at the commissary.

Adkins goes on to describe how soldiers must either choose a religion, or put “no preference” on their ID tags. Declaring a religion is meant to assist those who will be recovering your remains in determining how to follow the appropriate religious death rituals. For an atheist, this is a moot point. However, is not being allowed to put Atheist on your ID tag overt discrimination or the manifestation of bureaucratic inefficiency. I am sure the military has a list of approved religions for use on ID tags and that Atheism, which is not a religion, is not included on the list. My personal experience with this is funny. I was an atheist and Dungeons and Dragons enthusiast at the time of my enlistment. When faced with choosing a religion (I was not allowed Atheist), I choose “Lawful Good Cleric” after a successful D&D character I like to play. The military dropped the “Lawful Good” and left the “Cleric”.

Adkins makes a few good points. Military Chaplains are notorious for their anti-Atheist viewpoints. Spirituality tends to be tribal in the military, especially when facing death. An Atheist will always be the outsider.

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Saturday, December 17, 2005

I've wanted to see this my whole life

Words alone cannot express how disappointed I was to see this. I had dreamed of seeing the Lincoln Memorial since I was a child. Dispute a very long walk, and a chilly night, I was not going to let it get me down. However, I lost my spark after this disappointment. Especially give how unfriendly D.C. is to tourists. Parking is horrible – most monuments are blocked off from vehicle access. Security is everywhere. Amenities are few. Unless you are very lucky, it is a long walk to see anything. But a long walk to see Lincoln’s eyebrows?

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Model Trains

I had trouble with the scale of the Washington Monument. It was larger than I ever imagined. Even from a distance, it is imposing. Of course, when offset by Dime Sstore model trains, it does not look so impressive. I must apologize for my sarcasm, but the whole Christmas display was so bad looking that I became a little embarrassed. It’s 250 yards from the White House – you would think they might put a little more effort into it.

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lovers enjoying the view

I shot this hand held - it is not my best work. But, it captures the feeling I felt while walking around the monuments. Everyplace I looked, lovers were enjoying the view together. It was really quite nice. Except for freezing my butt off that is.

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The National Christmas Bush

I was really expecting more. This tree is fugly and misshaped, and well... the whole thing seemed kind of Texas county fairish. The dam thing looks like a big ugly bush. The tree by Capital Hill is much better.

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Now wtf is he saying?

Another example of a nutball protestor walking the streets in front of the White House and handing out very freaky weird pamphlets. The only problem, there were a total of 15 people gawking on the sidewalk. No one except me paid him any attention.

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A nutball protestor in front of the Whitehouse.

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Jet blues

I traveled from Long Beach to Dulles on Jet Blue yesterday. What started as a bad trip, ended even worse. I was the last person on the plane, because security insisted on field stripping my carryon luggage. I ran to the plan to find that there was no room for my bag. Since it held my computer, Nikon, and lenses, I was not about to let it out of my sight. I stuck it under the seat ahead of me and squeezed into my window seat. For one miserable hour I tried to be a small as possible; it did not work. The man sitting next to me took pity. He found another seat and moved. Things were looking up. The next hour passed with no incidents. At the halfway point, the pilot came on and asked if there was a doctor on board. A young lady was having a seizure. We eventually landed in Saint Louis. We were on the ground for almost 1.5 hours. We lifted off when I had expected to be at my hotel. By now, I was really hungry. I had not picked up any food because had been detained in security. The food on Jet Blue is not really food, they are snacks. After a pack of almonds and a some cheese and crackers – I was ready to eat a water buffalo.

The flight crew was great. The pilot even walked the cabin offering his cell phone to people who needed to make calls. He engaged the passengers in conversation and even gave us a run down on how the whole emergency decision making process worked. The one thing that stands out about the whole mess is how inconsiderate people can be. The flight crew made if very clear that we needed to remain seated so that the paramedics can board and remove the sick young girl. Of course, the minute we landed a man a few seat behind the sick young girl jumped up and grabbed a book and some water from the overhead. People can be so stupid – all he needed to do was wait another five minutes.

I finally got to my hotel room, after walking what seemed like two miles at Dulles only to find my meal options Taco Bell or Wendy’s. Burgers and Chili - yum.

I shot this picture from my seat while grounded in Saint Louis.

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Thursday, December 15, 2005

A funny story about CIA

I took this picture on my way to work this morning. I had noticed CIA or “Character Integrity Accountability” as window stickers on several SUVs recently. I knew it must be a new religious movement because most cars had other Christian related bumper stickers prominently displayed. This morning, CIA almost became imprinted on my front bumper. The driver of this mega sized Cadillac Escalade cut across two lanes of a highway causing me to panic stop. I honked my horn in irritation, but not in anyway that would be considered abnormal. The plump woman driving the Escalade jumped out of the SUV and flipped me off. Then she shouted and pointed at me as if I had done something wrong. I pulled back and then drove around her fearing a further confrontation. She followed, at times very close to my truck's rear bumper, honking and flipping me off all the while. It was great fun. My guess is that I embarrassed her; There were others in the car.

It turns out CIA or “Character Integrity Accountability” is a Christian movement. It goes under the name Character that Counts. The purpose:

To communicate the unique and critical message of character (doing right), integrity (being whole through Christ) and accountability (honestly reporting to one another) into our daily lives.

Their mission seems sound. I do not detect the dark side of religious mysticism here, only an effort to improve the lives of others through the teaching of moral values. Of course, some people may need a little more training.

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Nutball Alert: David "Darwin" Bedford

The world is full of nutballs. I normally find nutballs affiliated with religious movements becasue nutballs abound in in the presence of faith. However, sometimes I find nutballs among the ranks of my fellow Atheists. Like my newest nominee, Darwin Bedford, a hate filled and delusional Atheist activist. Dawrin is a Canadian, so he is already suspect, when you add the fact that he has proclaimed himself to be the Atheist Messiah, well… I think he might be nutball.

I came across Bedford by chance; a news story came through my news reader documenting some of his antics. Apparently, he is doing his best to disrupt the upcoming Canadian elections. A quick review of his website shows his absolute hatred for Christianity. As an Atheist myself, I find his position repulsive. I have no desire to challenge the faith of any other person. Atheism is my choice – I am not evangelical about Atheism.

One of Bedford’s websites contains this warning. “Warning: If you vote for Stephen Harper and the Conservatives you would be voting for religious extremists with a hidden agenda.” Within this quote – Bedford links to a sexually oriented anti-Harper site. Does this promote a healthy view of Atheism?

At, Bedford pulls out all of the stops. His favorite slogan “If Jesus returns, kill him again.” The site is full of overtly offensive material – it is the very incarnation bad taste. No wonder that some Christians fear us.

Bedford penned several essays which are available on his poorly designed website. These include: Jesus is a no-show, the Pope is Humpty Dumpty, and Why god is siding with bin Laden. One of his links actually claims to link to a nude picture of Beford – for some reason I could not bring myself to look.

Bedford is clearly a nutball. He preaches hate and intolerance. I cannot say that I support his efforts in any way. I don't undestand why people do this kind of thing. The only explanation I can come up with is that people like Bedford are damaged.

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Google Music Search

Google just released a search feature for music. I've poked around a little bit and can see this will only further my music addiction. I searched for Sublime, Google returned an impressive listing - all linked to a site where the music can be purchased. How do you say cool in googlish?

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Wednesday, December 14, 2005

Stop Expecting Respect

I saw this on the side of the road near a freeway onramp in Long Beach this morning. I have no idea what the intended message is. My initial thought was - "how stupid". I did not see anything that would have identified the person who posted the message, plus it was 15 feet above the ground. These are the little riddles that drive me to drink.

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Tuesday, December 13, 2005

Answering the questions at "Challenging Atheism"

hat tip to I'm the Mama for this stupid set of questions:

The questions we, at The Refiner's Fire, would like to pose are as follows:

"Since you are an atheist, why do you celebrate Christmas or Easter? Why do you take vacations during that time? Why do you sing Christmas carols?"

There is a clear delineation between religious Christmas and Easter and Secular Christmas and Easter. As an Atheist I do not celebrate the religious aspects of either. Christmas is strictly the Santa Clause version and if I sing a Carol it’s “holly jolly Christmas”. I don’t pretend to believe for the sake of believers, nor do I sing songs to celebrate Christianity. I sing about Rudolf - and quite poorly.

Christmas is a time to get together with friends and family. If religion comes up (and it does at times), I check out and pour a good Scotch.

I take vacations for practical reasons. Last years trip to Hawaii during my plants holiday shut down was expedient. Employees at my company are of nearly every race, religion and creed on the planet. We celebrate our hard work every year by shutting down for a week ( I took a month off last year – it was great). I take a vacation in summer too – but normally around other secular holidays – because they are free days.

Easter is the official ham eating holiday. I don’t get time off for Easter except for “golf day”, which is the Friday before Easter ham day. Easter tends to be social pain, but we combine it with other events like birthdays. We eat a bunch of chocolate, drink beer and spend a lot of time talking. Some in my family choose to observe religious services – they do so without impinging on our secular pursuits.

"Nearly every American partakes of the pagan holiday of Halloween. As an atheist, do you allow your children to partake of this "fun" holiday? If so, you are, in essence, bowing down to pagan gods!"

Halloween is great fun – but my atheism does not discriminate between the Christian god and the pagan gods. I don’t believe in anything. So in essence I am bowing to no god. Halloween is just another great secular holiday, second only to the 4th of July in overall secular goodness.

"Why do you take a "day of rest"? Do you take off Saturdays and Sundays, or some other day of the week? Why? It was YHWH who commanded us to rest on the seventh day. Since you're an atheist, why bother taking a day off from work at all?"

I can see the “gotcha” in this question – only it does not take much common sense to realize that after working hard, one enjoys time off. Perhaps you should try working – honest work is good for the soul “they say”.

A 40 hour work week is the law of the land. If my 40 hours covers a Sunday, well then, I work a Sunday. Industry stops for most weekends, only the service sector is 7 x every-day of-the-year. So, like a soldier, I take my rest when I am able. God, YHWH, and/or the sabbith have nothing to do with it. If I were able to work every day –that is if somebody would pay me to work an extra 16 hours. I would work more. Money = good - No money = bad.

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Tookie Williams was executed

Tookie Williams is dead. Justice is served. I fell asleep last night right about the time they announced his death on TV. I awaoke curious to read Governor Arnold Schwarzenegger rejection of Tookie’s request for Clemency. I found it on Schwarzenegger's website. It makes great reading. The Governor said there can be no clemency if Tookie has not accepted responsibility for his role in the murders he was convicted of 24 years ago. The Governor also questioned the sincerity of Tookies alleged redemption given that he honors other murders in the dedication sections of his books. However, most telling was the dismissal of any question as to if Tookie Williams was mistreated by the legal system. Tookie had 24 years of legal appeals - the court consistently found that he did not have a case. Tookie deserved to die for his crimes.

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Monday, December 12, 2005

Hate lives in Kansas

I was reading I’m the Mama this evening when I noticed a post referring to the Westboro Baptist Church. I’m normally on the lookout for what I call nutball religious sects. I am sure that these folks are the real thing - Nutballs. These people are responsible for two overt act of hatred. A website called (NWS) and a campaign of hatred aimed at the United States Armed forces. They actually protest the funerals of our fallen service members in an effort to draw attention to the militaries don’t ask/don’t tell policy. Their virulent brand of hatred is incomprehensible. They cannot call themselves Christians, their entire ministry is based on hate. it is a case study in Paraphilia.

The Westboro Baptist Church is a fundamentalist nightmare. Run by Fred Phelps, his Wikipedia entry is un-friggen-believable. Basically, he is everything a good upstanding Christian is not. The “real fundies” must hate him.

Fred Phelps, the Westboro Baptist Church, its members and anybody who shows up a funerals protesting our military by telling them they are going to hell – are nutballs. In fact, these people may actually define the term. My only consolation is that this creep is old - and at the end of his life and influence.

I’ve had a running discussion with my pastor friend Brad. He always tells me (every time I find a nutball), that a real Christian would never act like this or do that. He always trys to paint his faith in the best light. My concern is always the same – How long will it be before the hate shows up on my doorstep? He tells me not to worry, but people like Fred Phelps make me nervous. The only real course of action is to band together with other like-minded individuals and watch Fred Phelps closely.

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A work day in Willminton

In keeping with my desire to try and take photos every day, I drove around the port of Los Angeles looking for something interesting. It was noon. Lots of people were out and about. I took this shot because I could see three or four layers of work.

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Schwarzenegger Denies Clemency for Williams

According to the Washington Post, Schwarzenegger Denies Clemency for Williams. It looks like justice will catch up with Tookie in about 10.5 hours. I cannot imagine what it must be like knowing you will be executed for crimes committed 25 years ago. The wheels of justice turn slowly.

The families of Albert Owens, Yen-Yi Yang, Tsai-Shai Yang, and Ye-Chen Lin should find some closure tonight. Tomorrow morning, this vicious monster will be gone. – Maybe.

Beautiful Atrocities has a Tookiemeter - I’ve got to get me one, some many death sentences, so little time.

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Atheist surfers hijack Christian website

I read this headline from The Times Online and thought – Really? What evidence does The Times have that Atheists would do anything so brazen? As an atheist, I an incensed by The Times’ mean-spirited and stereotypical slander. As expected, the headline is conjecture and wishful thinking. The negative responses posted to the Christian survey do not collect the religious orientation of respondents. Unfavorable responses could have come from anybody, Christians, non-Christians, Muslims, or Jews. Not everyone is a fan of Christianity these days.

What really kills me about all this is the ease by which Atheists are painted as the bad guys.

I dug a little deeper and found the website referenced in the article, Hello Jesus. It features a picture of the baby Jesus’s head affixed to the famous Che Guevara "Revolutionary" picture. The montage is horrific – Che Guevara was a repressible communist and hedonist of questionable moral fiber. Why would anybody morph a picture of the baby Jesus onto Guevara’s head? Talk about a mixed message!

When asked: Why is it modelled on Che Guevara? The Churches Advertising Network resonded:
“A challenging face, a hero, a real revolutionary. It's Jesus who changed the world, not Che. And it's not "gentle Jesus, meek and mild" - it's modelled on the unmistakable image of Jesus with the crown of thorns.”

One can take the Christmas: Jesus: Hero or Zero poll here. The questions are weird enough to make one think all sorts of unkind things. Vote with your heart!

  • Jesus: hero or zero?
  • Jesus: baby or revolutionary?
  • Jesus: black or white?
  • Christmas = baby Jesus or turkey?
  • Jesus: God or refugee?
  • Get rid of Santa or Jesus?
  • Jesus: swear word or name?
  • Did Jesus bring peace or war?

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Sunday, December 11, 2005

Transit Street Photography

A photobog I read, or I should say look at, called Binary Los Angeles, has posted an interesting question: “Why isn't there more transit street photography in Los Angeles? New York has some of the greatest photography of this sort, which is perfectly understandable, but in LA there appears to be an almost complete absence.”

I think the answer is obvious, Los Angelinos drive cars instead of ride trains. We have a few trains, but it must be a 10,000 to 1 ratio of car drivers to train riders.

My contribution to transit street photography is pictures taken while waiting in traffic, normally taken through my windshield on the 91 freeway. For the most part, they really suck.

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Saturday, December 10, 2005

Oh no, Richard Pryor has died

I opened my newsreader this afternoon to find that one of my favorite entertainers has died. Richard Pryor passed last night of a heart attack. I came of age listening to Pryor secretly in the 70s. My parents did not approve. Of course, this resulted in my becoming a raving fan. My favorite is his movie, Richard Pryor Live in Concert from 1979.

R.I.P Richard Pryor

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Band Sticker - Fervent Hub

The great thing about my photography addiction is that it feeds my music addiction. I shoot band stickers whenever I come across them. They are normally affixed to the backsides of public property – by teenagers I think. Fervent Hub is a great representative example. They are an all bass “outside the musical bounds” club band. I’ve listed to three droning music clips so far, they all seem O.K. Yet somehow, I do not expect to hear them on the radio. I would buy a CD if it were possible, just to stump my musical friend Richard on obscure rock bands. Fervent Hope has a myspace page where samples of their MP3s can be played. They are playing at The Pitcher House in Hermosa Beach on December 15th.

Trapped in Hell
The Soda Junky
The New Thing bonus

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Friday, December 09, 2005

A photo that was too good

Every now and then, I stumble across a picture that evokes a primitive and frightful emotional response in me. In this case, I visited It’s a Matter of Opinion for a quick look at Patrick's blog. I found a post describing Kevin Carter's award winning photo and the story of his suicide - it hurt me. I would put a copy of the photo here on my blog if it were legal, but I suspect it is copyrighted, you can see it here.

I understood instinctively why Kevin Carter eventually killed himself. I am not sure I could have taken the photo – but I would have regretted not taking even more.

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Graffiti on a train

I shot this today on this yesterday on the way home from work in Carson, the ugliest City in America (IMHO). Every car was heavily colored with various bits of graffiti.

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Death or life for Tookie

Governor Schwarzenegger has spent an hour hearing arguments for and against granting Stanley Tookie Williams clemency. I have a few thoughts on the subject.

Williams murdered four people: Albert Owens. Yen-Yi Yang, Tsai-Shai Yang, and Ye-Chen Lin in the coarse of two armed robberies. The take from both robberies was about $220.

  • Albert Owens was shot twice in the back at point blank range with a shotgun while he lay on the ground. Williams did not want a witness to his $120 dollar robbery.
  • Yen-Yi Yang, a 76 year old man, was killed by a shotgun with shots to his arm and chest.
  • Tsai-Shai, a 63 year old woman, was killed by a shotgun blast to her face.
  • Ye-Chen Lin, a 43 year old woman, was killed by a shotgun blast to her naval and again to her tailbone.
  • All shots were from a few inches away. His victims never had a chance. They were all executed. Williams got $100 for his efforts.

Stanley Tookie Williams has never accepted responsibility for his crime. He still claims his innocence. Is this a redeemable quality? I’ve heard people describe his predicament as not being able to admit responsibility because it will lessen his chance of appealing his conviction. Of course, this is the stance of a coward, A man you could shoot a woman in the face and then decline to take responsible, for whatever reason, is a coward and therefore unredeemable.

Stanley Tookie Williams has apologized – for creating the Crips street gang. However one should consider the death toll linked to the Crips – an average of about 500 gang related deaths a year in Los Angeles over the last 20 years. That’s at least 10,000 people who have died as part of his street gang legacy. Surely he bears some responsibility for this evil legacy.

What is clemency anyway? It is the lessening of the penalty of the crime without forgiving the crime itself. Should the death penalty be removed from Tookie’s future because he has made an effort to redeem himself? I don’t think so – many people convert when faced with execution. It is a game, where those convicted must come up with something in order to extend their lives.

Some may think that Tookie’s death will serve as a better deterrent to gang members than his various books published while on death row. But I have never seen the death penalty as a deterrent – only as a punishment. The State is punishing Tookie with the ultimate sentence – taking his life. Tookie wants to live.

Tookie has a website – A quick perusal will show that he and his supporters feel Tookie is innocent of his crimes. It seems unlikely; in fact, the evidence is overwhelming against his innocence. Tookie is a murder of worse sort, his website is a weak apologetic meant to mislead the public.

His supporters have exhausted every appeal. He has lived on death row for 25 years while his various appeals have worked their way though our legal system. Tookie holds out hope that he will live free again. After all, he is a cause celeb, with supporters from around the world. He has even been nominated for a Noble Peace Prize. Should a man of his character have hope?

Where do I stand? I am not a supporter of the death penalty, not for humanitarian reasons as one might think, but because I think punishment should be about deigning criminals their freedom. Tookie Williams should spend the rest of his life in jail with no chance at rehabilitation or release. If I had been on the jury, I would have pressed for Tookie spending the rest of his life in hole in Pelican Bay. However, I am also a strong supported of the rule of law. Tookie Williams has been convicted and sentenced to death for heinous crimes. He is a mass murderer. His efforts towards stopping gang violence are commendable, but without accepting responsibility for his role in four murders, his actions are insincere. They represent a token repayment only. Tookie Williams should die.

If you don't agree with me, drop a comment and then sign the online petition to grant Tookie clemency.

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Weight or wait

I took this some time ago but could not post it to my blog. It hit way to close to home. Now I'm 33 pounds lighter, so he's not quite my doppelganger.

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Thursday, December 08, 2005

25 years ago I cried

I was 19 and in the Air force when I learned of John Lennon’s death. It was 5:00 a.m. The local radio station interrupted Rush’s "The Trees" to announce that John Lennon had been murdered in New York. I pulled off the road, stepped out of my AMC Concord, and vomited. The tears started to flow soon after. It is 25 years later and I am still moved by Lennon’s death.
I tried to explain it to my 10 year old son this morning. He asked me if John Lennon was a hero like Abraham Lincoln or Martin Luther King. I tried to explain that it was different; Lennon was all about love…. and tragic loss.

The MSM is all over the story this morning, I like this one from th SF Chronical. There will be candlelight vigils in Los Angeles and New York. I imagine in other places too. I heard four Lennon tunes on the way to work this morning and a small news story on NPR. The world will morn Lennon for another day – while Mark David Chapman continues to live.

The best essay I have ever read on Lennon’s death is by Harlan Ellison in his book of essays: “Sleepless Nights in the Procrustean Bed”. Give it a read if you ever get the chance.

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Tuesday, December 06, 2005

Nutball Alert: The Great Deception Video

Hat tip to AnonymousCoworker for his post Jesus Wept. The video he links to tries to convince the world that Santa Claus is Satan. Of course, the makers of the video are completely off kilter. They rely on the old standby, the etymological fallacy, to pull some bit of historic nonsense from our collective past in an attempt to paint a harmless secular icon as the devil himself. What rubbish. What utter nonsense. Where do people come up with this stuff? Don’t they get it – normal people do not have trouble separating secular Santa from the celebration of the birth of Christ. One may open gifts on Christmas morning after attending midnight mass or prayers, or whatever, without mixing the two. People manage to do this without evil Santa stealing their souls every Christmas.

I celebrate the secular Christmas – not the religious one. But then again, I am an Atheist. And, you won’t find me at any winter solstice celebrations either; those celebrations are for the Wiccans and Nature Nutballs.

I hereby nominate Blow the Trumpet, the makers of The Great Deception Video, as Nutballs. I think they deserve it.

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How to make an enemy

How to make an enemy? To start, try having twelve-foot tall metal crosses erected on public land to honor fallen peace officers removed from highways in Utah. Add a little insensitivity towards the families of these same fallen heroes, and then incorporate a negative media campaign timed to coincide with the holidays, and Atheists can be assured of a ride out of town on a rail the next time they visit Utah.(Photo: The Salt Lake Tribune / Ryan Galbraith)

Of course, American Atheists, Inc. have a point. What government body in America could honestly think that erecting twelve-foot high crosses on public land would be a good idea? I’m willing to bet that Utah’s legal advisors were not involved in this decision. I think the crosses are inappropriate – but what they were intended to do was fantastic. We should honor our fallen heroes, but do so in secular manner, like many monuments and memorials found throughout America.

In California, it is common a freeway overpass or highway rest stop dedicated to a fallen peace officer. These types of memorials are appropriate given our multitude of religious beliefs and secular form of government.

Another point of contention I have is that State governments are going out of their way to clear unofficial roadside monuments known descansos. Why the State would clear these little personal mementos of tragic loss while at the same time erecting large State endorsed crosses is a mystery to me. It seems likely that the State endorsed crosses will eventually come down – I hope the Utards (what do you call somebody from Utah?) forgive us.

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You’re all dark sided

I've been sitting on this story for a few weeks because I promised my buddy Brad that I would stop making fun of nutball Christians. However, time passes and I grow restless. The Fox network aired a very funny episode of Trading Spouses in November. Episodes 201 and 202 focused on the Perrin family. At first glance they seem normal enough, but as the show progresses, Marguerite Perrin, the mother of the Perrin family unit, becomes a start raving Christian Nutball.

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  • I was praying for Mary, Jesus and Joseph to help me, and you look like Jesus, so I'm comfortable.
  • Find me a church to go to! I need peace in my heart! I need it now! This is a test! I feel so uneasy and I'm so alone!
  • Get the hell out of my house!! In Jesus' name I pray!" (Yelled at Fox camera crew)
  • "No more! I rebuke this in the name of the Lord!
  • I'm a God warrior!

You can watch her unbelievable tirade here or a shorter version here. The best of the best is a bobble head Marguerite Perrin found on ebay.

Marguerite Perrin is a nutball of the highest order. She is the type of Christian that haunts my nightmares. Most importantly, what she does in these videos is child abuse. It is frightening to behold. Christian my ass.

Parting shot: Marguerite makes a big show of tearing up the 50K she received for her efforts – as the shows credits roll we find out she changed her mind and will use the money for gastric bypass surgery. I think the money may be better used on therapy.

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Students trade bibles for porn

There is a line I do not like to cross concerning Atheism. I do not interfere in the beliefs of others. I think it comes from my days as a Born Again back in the late 70s. I interjected myself in to so many other people’s beliefs that I grew sick of it. Today, I will talk about Atheism with friends, but only if asked. I respect what others believe; this extends to my wife and children. So when I found a link to an Atheist group from the University of Texas San Antonio trading Bibles for pornography on Boing Boing, I was pissed. These young Atheist's are not helping the casue. Because even though I respect the beliefs of others, the same does not hold true for the other team. When Christians get wind of this, it will add fuel to the Atheist = immoral argument that Christians love to use.
The group responsible for this, claims that they meant to equate any religious scripture with pornography, so... they were out to offend all religions. They published a flyer stating their goals. It actually had a statement that reads “Exchange your religious scripture for our scripture (porn magazines).”

Predictably, news coverage has not been kind. The students come off a immature and insensitive hate mongers while Christians play the victim and express their concern that this sacrilegious activity be allowed on college campuses. Group Collects Bibles, Passes Out Porn
MSNBC: Trading bibles for porn in San Antonio
Xbis – Students trade bibles for porn

I am sure the blogsphere is going nuts; Technorati shows 112 links and counting so far. Including Kele's Journey, where I vented a little, and a few others where I dare not vent.
The Barnyard
Proud to be a Canadian

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Monday, December 05, 2005

I found a nice t-shirt

I just don't know if I can wear it in public. I think it would draw people the same way a Jews for Jesus t-shirt repels them. If you are brave enough, you can order it here: Atheism Cures Religious Terrorism.

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The Chronicles of Narnia - thinly disguised allegory of Christianity

Well... so what? I fondly remember reading The Chronicles of Narnia as a child. They were simple and direct, yet very entertaining. If I remember correctly, I tore through all of the books, one after another, in a period of ten days. I loved them. Of course, I was about 12 at the time. On a lengthy car trip last week I had occasion to listen to the four hour unabridged audio book. I hung on every plot point as did my 10 year old son. As an adult I found the Chronicles of Narnia simple – as if written for a 12 year old. It did not stop me from enjoying the story, if fact, it was great fun.

The Guardian finds that “Narnia represents everything that is most hateful about religion”, even though I am an Atheist, I could not disagree more. Narnia is a Christian allegory, it painfully obvious. That does not make it bad by itself. In fact, it falls into category of prejudging. If the film is anything like the book, my son and I will love it. The films Producer even says that Disney effort toward marketing directly to Christians was a small thing. If the movie is a Christian allegory – why shouldn’t it be marketed to Christians?

The Chronicles of Narnia hits the big screen in a few days. I’ll take my son, I can’t wait. Will it affect my atheism – no. Will it affect my son’s faith – I dunno, did Star Wars?.

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Anne Rice loses her voice

Whenever a famous atheist artist converts to Christianity or any other religion, I always shutter. I know that what is to follow, be it a book, movie, or music; will always be tainted by their new faith. Take Ann Rice for instance, she converted (or reverted) back to Catholicism and has turned her back of the craft that made her famous, righting about death, sex, and vampires. Now she writes tripe. The Guardian nails it in their review God Almighty.

"In Christ the Lord, Anne Rice has conscientiously taken all the drama, elegance and urgency of the Gospels and the Apocrypha, and flattened them into a tedious and mediocre potboiler."

I don’t normally read Anne Rice, my tastes run towards Tom Clancy when I read trash novels. But my guess is that Anne Rice will find a new audience, an audiance that loves her work, while her old fans will continue to read her vampire writings.

I wonder why she joined the other team - I'll have to keep an eye on her, I would hate to think of her heading towards nutball status.

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Cross Shaped IPOD

Imagine getting that perfect Christmas gift, a cross shaped iPod designed with the devout in mind, as a Christmas gift. Well, now you can own one. Of course, you will need to hire a body guard if you head to the club.

Other items include: a Mosque clock with an alarm that sounds like the call to prayer, a nativity kitchen timer, adorned with Mary, Joseph and the baby Jesus, "Jesus" gambling chips, a light display depicting the scourging of Christ and, from an evangelical clothing company, a thong designed to deter casual sex by carrying the message: "Traffic Control: Wait for Marriage".

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Saturday, December 03, 2005

Bus Bench - Hawaiian Gardens

There is a yellow wall. It is an ugly wall. I see it every day. No one is ever sitting on the bench.

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Vapor trail in Cerritos

It was my good fortune to glance up at the sky this evening. I was greeted with a beautiful Southern California sunset and a jet's vapor trial. I love LA.

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Punk Rock Girl Walking

I saw this girl walking to the local Starbucks for a caffeine fix a few days ago. She was one of a punk rock tribe of 15ish girls, but trailed the pack. I remember thinking, was I that awkward looking in High School? Nah, I was cool.

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Thursday, December 01, 2005

Life Hack - Repairing water damaged photos

I used to restore old photographs using non-digital techniques before the advent of Photoshop. The number one task I was asked to do was to repair water damaged prints. The uneven application of water and the subsequent drying process causes paper to curl, ruining photographs. The best method for repairing damaged prints is quite complication, but it can be simplified.

Find a container large enough to allow the photograph to be fully immersed while it is laying flat (think photography tray). A large brownie pan is perfect. Fill the pan with water and let the photograph sit in the water until the paper is flat. Do not touch the photograph after placing it in the water; if necessary, agitate the pan gently.

Gently take the photograph out of the pan and place it on a flat surface (a large piece of glass is best). Use a clean window squeegee to remove excess water

Prepare a space that can be used for drying the photograph by putting ten layers of absorbent plain paper towels on top of a flat surface. Place the photograph in the center of the paper towels away from edges. It is important that the photograph not be placed across a paper towel edge as it will leave an impression when it is dry. Take an additional ten sheets of absorbent plain paper towels and place them on top of the photograph. Wrap a book in plastic and place it on top of the paper towels. Make sure that the book is larger than the photograph by at least an inch on all sides. Place a weight on top of the book (I use two or three more heavy books). Wait at least 24 hours (I normally let it set for two days), the photograph will be dry and perfectly flat.

One last warning - resist the urge to touch. It will ruin the photo.

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Don't ask me why

Sometimes I come across a website and say... what? In this case, a website dedicated to Gasoline Signs. I've got a bumper sticker fetish myself, but gasoline signs; well it just seems kind of weird. Like something you might see in Waco.

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Conan O'Brien Outsourcing bit

My boss sent me this link to a hilarious Conan O'Brien IT outsourcing bit. Watch and enjoy.

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