Thursday, March 30, 2006

Cat Stencil

I am always on the lookout for Stencil Graffiti. I found this one on a trashcan at a KFC in Carson. The restaurant staff kept asking my why I was shooting pictures of their trashcan. My explanation did not make much sense to them. They thought I was loco.

I have two other shots here and here.

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Carson Ugly # 22 - Get that man a level

We find ourselves in Carson yet again. This time, we notice a brand new sign, in a brand new commercial development, stuck in the ground at a very odd angle. Of course, in Carson, there are no standards for how one places a sign – just pick a spot and pluck it down.

The Carson Ugly index is located here.

I've put a Carson Ugly bonus picture here.

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Carson Ugly # 21 - The weeds of Spring

It has been a while since I’ve posted a Carson Ugly photography. Since its now Spring, I thought it would be a good idea to see what new and interesting atrocities are visible in America’s ugliest city. This weed caught my eye, or maybe it was the off color warning sign. Either way, it is in Carson and in keeping with the theme – ugly. By the end of summer, the weed will cover the sign. Only a traffic accident will cause the city to trim it.

One gets the sense that Carson borrowed stuff from other cities. Or maybe they hang out around the dump when Torrance upgrades.

The Carson Ugly index is located here.

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This is just evil

Video Catches Hospital 'Dumping' Incident

I dont' even know what to say here. This pisses me off on so many levels.

Wednesday, March 29, 2006

Water Drops

It has been raining here in LA. The water is everywhere.

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Tuesday, March 28, 2006

ah hem - this is odd

random link surfing brough me to Jesusland. I think they might just be nutballs. is the official web site for Jesusland, the right-thinking and god-fearing part of North America, so clearly defined by the election results of 2004.

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Monday, March 27, 2006

Even an Atheist Can Pratice Christian Virtues

I don't believe Jesus Christ was the son of a God that I don't believe in, nor do I believe Jesus rose from the dead to ascend to a heaven that I don't believe exists
This is a quote from an article by Robert Jensen, an atheist who recently affirmed that he (1) endorsed the core principles in Christ's teaching; (2) intended to work to deepen my understanding and practice of the universal love at the heart of those principles; and (3) pledged to be a responsible member of the church and the larger community - in front of the congregation of St. Andrew's Presbyterian Church in Austin, TX.

Jensen has become a secular Christian, or a non-believing believer, or something that I can’t quite put a name too. I am a little confused. Why would an atheist do this?

Jensen’s rational – his decision was political. As in, Jensen wanted to engage people in discussion about politics and their underlying values. This seems well… interesting. He holds the same moral perspective as the parishioners, he wants to talk about it with like minded people, and he feels that perhaps the bible can be read symbolically and not literally. It is a complicated argument.

I wonder, does his membership in a Christian church imply that he cannot find this same sense of community and moral grounding among his fellow atheists? My guess is the answer is yes. My experience is that Atheism is essentially a very lonely experience. I don’t know many other atheists personally, except for 2.5 people I work with (one has a foot in both camps). I certainly do not share the same moral position with any of them, and more importantly, besides are work relationship, there is not such thing as a community. What I a saying? Well… Based on Jensen’s definition, I would have to call myself a secular Christian too – I prefer the Atheist title, my morally does not need to be purchased by the blood of a martyr, no matter how well meaning.

The big question is, would I take the step of attending a church like Jensen has done? Would other atheists? No, I would not. Although I find my life grounded in Christian values, in general, I find Christians to be people I try to avoid socially. I cannot imagine becoming a member of a church, it would drive me crazy. In fact, I am having a hard time understanding why Jensen did it. If I am going to invest my time and energy in building a community, I’m going to do it with people who share my disbelieve, my skepticism, and my goals.

Jensen’s decision to join a church was not without controversy. Jim Rigby answers the question, Why We Let an Atheist Join Our Church, in a well written response to membership criticism. Rigby’s main justification:
Neither the church nor Jensen views his membership as surrendering anything, but instead as an attempt to build connections. Such efforts are crucial in a world where there seems not to be a lot of wood to build the bridges we need. And the shame is, while we fight among ourselves, the world is burning.

Jim Rigby makes a strong statement: while we are fighting among ourselves, our world is burning. - Jim, are we on the same team? If so, can you talk to the guy who just sent me a death threat for criticizing the Willard Preacher?

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Saturday, March 25, 2006

Big sky and mirrors

The OC Marketplace has at least ten vendors selling giant mirrors. I do not have a wall in my house big enough to put even a medium sized mirror on. Then again, I do not live in an Orange County mega mansion. like most of the perky OC wives prowling the marketplace. Like bright colors, I am intrigued by mirrors, especially when they are outside and pointed at the sky. I shot a few photos, and then noticed I was attracting attention, so I moved on. I liked this one best.

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colored beads

For some reason, I love these brightly colored, glow-in-the-dark beads. So did the fellow pictured here. I think it is because I am colorblind and find overly bright colors hypnotic. I managed to escape without buying a set. I am not sure what my wife would have thought if I had tried to buy any. I don’t even want to think about it.

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Hannibal Lector

Hannibal has a ketchup basting hot dog friend too. See the full set of these pictures at my Flickr account.

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Utility Cart

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Belt buckle nirvana

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hippee pottery shrooms

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lens culture: buddha project

Wow - the lens culture: buddha project - I have a few pictures to contribute to this project. It is time to break out my slide scanner. I took a few good shots during a trip to Japan in the pre-digital mid 80's.

on the road to mecca there are many stops

Muhammad and Me, a blog dedicated to Bobby Wheelock's Cartoons of the Prophet Muhammad, is interesting in its abject dullness. Why is anybody offended by this? Well, when Bobby is found dead, I am guessing that the police might think an Islamic fundamentalist might have been offended by these innocuous cartoons.

The comments are a crack-up.

Another good reason to avoid religion all together - if people will kill you for a cartoon, something is wrong with the religion or its adherents.

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Friday, March 24, 2006

View of the bund

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This street sponsored by Pepsi

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Man on Bike

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Dirty Window

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Meeting Refuse

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Waiting for dumplings

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Influences – Martin Parr

Friends have been asking me who my photographic influences are lately. I would love to respond with Ansel Adams, however, although I love Adams, I do not gravitate towards beautiful landscapes. I prefer the odd, the ugly, and the absurd. I have several influences; Martin Parr is at the top of my list. Parr’s work has inspired me for years. His ability to capture the essence of the mundane suburban experience has pushed me to turn my camera on friends, family, strangers, and even myself at times. I aspire to take photographs that are as boring insightful. Parr's website is a great place to get to know his work. There are several other online resources as well:

Mobil Phones is a flash enabled installation showing Parr’s obsession with people who talk on cell phones. It is outstanding.

Martin Parr We Love You is a flickr site devoted to his work.

Martin Parr Photographic Works 1971 – 2000 is a NMPFT site from an 2003 – 2003 show of his work.

The Martin Parr profile at the BBC

A Lens Culture 10 minute interview with Parr (it is worth a listen)

The photograph shown above is called Common Sense. It is my favorite Parr photograph.

Wednesday, March 22, 2006

a fear of moral decline

It seems that Americans trust atheists less than any other segment of the population; lower even than Muslims, recent immigrants, gays and lesbians. Thankfully, atheists are not compelled to wear the scarlet letter “A” on their breasts. A study scheduled for publication in the April issue of The American Sociological Review will portray this completely depressing picture. According to UMNnews, Atheists, 3% of the population, are shunned because of the majority’s "fear of moral decline". The last time I checked, America’s prison population was replete with internees calling themselves Christians. Moral turpitude is acceptable as long as one has religion.

I prefer to fault Christians for American’s moral decline, and so do other Christians. Karen Horst Cobb authored America's Moral Decline and the Rise of False Christianity for the Common Dreams News Center. Her insightful essay captures the essence of the challenge facing American religion today. Modern mega churches are transforming American Christianity into something immoral. Cobb's supposition demonstrates authentic insight into the morality issue. I recommend reading it.

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Tuesday, March 21, 2006

my picture of the day

I had one of those mind numbing workdays where when you’ve finished for the day, you think everything, no matter how mundane, is magnificent. I was stuck in traffic when I beheld this carroty amalgam of graffiti suppression and thought – wow, how pretty.

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The Carnival Of The Godless

I don’t know where my head has been lately, but apparently I missed out on a valuable Atheist resource - The Carnival Of The Godless. I followed a comment back from a post somebody made and found this wonderful website full of interesting links to Atheist oriented topics. Well, better late than never. I wonder if they will let me host a Carnival?

Monday, March 20, 2006

A different visit

The weekends are typically the most common time for the various religious groups to pay a house call. We get the Jehovas Witnesses about once a quarter, the Mormons less frequently, the odd local church from time to time, and then the alternative nutball outreach church one or twice a year. I know the nutball church well; they are the ones with the biker dude and drug addicts that make you want to pretend you are not home. The one church I never see is the local Korean church. The message is clear, if you are not Korean, you are not welcome. I’m ok with that – churches and I don’t really get along.

It is normally a crapshoot when it comes to religious doorbell ringers. They all have the same underlying urgent message; are you a Christian? They get right to trying to pin you down, and then they start the conversion rhetoric. Most of these people don’t get past hello with me or my family. When my son Jon was living with us it was a different story, Jon did not like to be rude.

When my doorbell rang (actually they knocked) I was surprised to see a Korean man standing on my porch. He handed me a door hanger that introduced Ambassador Church. I expected the standard “are you a Christian" line. Instead, he introduced himself and launched into a brief explanation about his visit. He was a member of a new church in the area. Services we open to all. They were trying to form a community. They were within walking distance and wanted to let the neighborhood know the news. That was it – no pestering, no pressure, no judging. Just a friendly guy inviting anybody who opened their door to a community based service. Based off my interaction, if I were a Christian, I would pay a visit. Perhaps they should visit the local Mormon temple?

I visited their church website. They seem very solid – not a whiff of nutballs or the peoples temple. They are a group of Koreans who formed a church open to all. They play music, worship, and pray in a converted office building on the corner of Valley View and Orangethorpe. I think my pastor friend Brad would get a big kick out of this church. Their mission seems completely in harmony with his vision for Christianity. Hmm….

Why did I post this? Well… I found this door hanger in the grass outside my backdoor this morning. I liked the play of the dew and light on the paper. I took a picture and decided to blog about it.

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Sunday, March 19, 2006

Restoring the dignity of atheism

Slavoj Zizek wrote an insightful essay for the International Herald Tribune on Tuesday. Atheism is a legacy worth fighting for is a compelling argument for the celebration of atheism as an ideal under which all religions can flourish. Zizek touches on a truism with this statement:
When I do a good dead, I do so not with an eye toward gaining God’s favor: I do it because if I did not, I could not look at myself in the mirror.
When religious people ask me the “how do you live without morals” question. I laugh to myself. Because, much like Zizek, I know the right thing to do when presented with an ethical dilemma. The most compelling argument Zizek makes is along this line. The right thing to do – is to adopt the relativist stance of multiple “regimes of truth”. All religions are free to worship in their own way as long as their own way is not imposed as the absolute truth on others. Atheism is in the best position to mead out fairness.

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Saturday, March 18, 2006

Untitled #1

I shot this in the Bund sightseeing tunnel in Shanghai, China - March 2006.

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Friday, March 17, 2006

urban ugly

Dukes has been on this corner for at least 30 years. It’s been ugly the whole time. The ubiquitous burger shack defines urban ugly. They do make a mean chunky beef burrito though!

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Cat signage

For some reason, this type of sign fascinates me. I don't even know what this guy is selling, blue kitties maybe?

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I'm still stuck in the 70's

Don't mind his ugly elaphant ears, just adminre his cool ride.

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Thursday, March 16, 2006

I lost my voice

It’s hard to write about things like this, but I’ll take a chance here tonight since so many of my regular readers have asked what the heck is going on.

A few months ago, I had a good day at work. The good day was followed by an even better day spent in conversation with a close friend. On the third day… well, I got the crap kicked out of me in a very public way. Just when I had started to think things are going well, I felt a tug on the rug that normally signals a bruising fall on my ass. I went from high to low in the space of 72 hours. It has been all down hill since then. I don’t know if my career is salvageable. I’ll work through this problem in the months ahead. It may be, or it may not. I am not afraid of this, but it is part of what has occupied my mind these past few months. The other piece of the puzzle is my conversation with my good friend. He is smart and constantly challenges me. This time he challenged my atheism with the best argument I have ever heard. He shook me to my roots. I lost my voice.

I’ve found my voice again. People might not like what I say, and judging by the occasional hate mail I receive, some may wish to do me harm. I know a few things better now and I have a better sense of my own thinking. Here are a few things I hold dear.
  • The existence of God cannot be proved or disproved.
  • What other people believe is none of my business – what I believe is my business.
  • Religion and Science are mutually exclusive; one cannot be used to explain the other.
  • A moral compass is standard issue equipment for each of us. Some people can follow a compass on their own while others choose to ignore it. Still others spend a lot of time talking about their compasses while telling others how to use theirs.
  • Whom you love is your own business.
  • Love is what life is all about.
  • Friendships are important to your mental heath. True friends are hard to make and even harder to keep. I can count my true friends on one had. I married my best friend.
  • Life is fragile and much too short.
  • Stupid people suck the life out of you – dishonest people simple suck.
  • Betrayal often masquerades as friendship – this is particularly true in the politics of the workplace.

More to follow….


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Wednesday, March 15, 2006

Feost for the eyes

This "Feost for the eyes" is a tourist draw on the Bund in Shanghai. Pay RNB150 and a slow people mover takes you under the river to the modern side of the river. I saw these types of spelling errors on many signs - or, I should say, somebody who could spell pointed it out to me!

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Shanghai street scene

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What is wrong with this picture?

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Tuesday, March 14, 2006


For those of you into neat science oriented websites AntWeb is worth keeping. It is dedicated to Ants, including a Google Earth version of Antweb that tracks all of the known ant species. I think this site also qualifies as a good home school resource. Check it out if you have a chance.

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Friday, March 10, 2006


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Juno Hair

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watermelon man

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Bike Repair

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The kite dude

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Chinese Anime

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Marsha and a Cohiba

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Shanghai from above

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Shanghai detail

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Tuesday, March 07, 2006

Mojoey is in shanghai

…and here is my picture of Mao to prove it. I am having the worst time trying to post on Blogger. I do not think the government here is very blogging friendly. For instance, I cannot hit my own blog unless I go through a redirector site. It really is quite a pain. It makes me wonder too – it does not take too much skill to get around this stuff, so why do they put it up in the first place. I tried to hit google when I initially logged on and was redirected to the I could not get to google any other way than through this url – then I used my Google toolbar and guess what – that’s right, I shoot right over to Google. It really makes no sense to me.

I've got some time to kill tonight before I go to sleep so I will struggle through the bureaucracy to try and post a few pictures. I shot this picture of Mao Sunday while walking on the Bund. I can truly say that I was the object of many stares, a dozen belly rubs, and one good hard pull on my beard. I later found out that the Chinese rub the belly of pregnant women for good luck I don’t think they were being flattering. The whole beard pulling thing appears to be just some crazy homeless dude making a play for attention – at least that is what my friend told me.

I’ll try to post more tonight, but this one took an hour. Wish me luck.

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