Jealousy and fatalism

I've been reading War and Peace for what seems like an eternity. One of the things I've noticed (because it'd be impossible not to) is Tolstoy's insistence that "great men" of history haven't really controlled the course of history. He says it's the collective spirit of many that controls things. And while I think he may go a little overboard with his historic fatalism, it's interesting to view this year's presidential election in such a light. The more I think about it, the less power I think the president has. We can all blame Bush for the war in Iraq, sure. That's the exception. But this current financial crisis wasn't his doing. It was the collective will of Wall Street execs, legislators, and homeowners that did it.

Likewise, how much difference (apart from declaring another unilateral war on Iran) could the next president make? Aren't we, the collective masses, the real holders of power? Shouldn't we affect the zeitgeist to some degree? I think so. So while Obama is sliding away from his policy of change, while I don't trust McCain now that he's so obviously in the neocons' pocket, while Palin is leading by several lengths in the People Who Should Never Have Power Derby, I don't think the world will fall apart on November 5th. It's a nice feeling.


Ten years ago

This Saturday is my 10-year high school reunion, which I will not attend. But it did get me thinking about ten years ago. In September 1998:

1. I was just starting college.
2. I had an 8-o'clock anthropology class.
3. I thought I would be a statistician.
4. I was seeing Amanda every weekend.
5. I watched Sifl & Olly religiously.
6. I was on the bowling team.
7. I discovered mp3's.
8. I was electrified as a Vikings fan by some kid named Randy Moss.
9. I thought drinking was the most fun thing ever.
10. Almost nothing was the same.


Amen, Gregg. - III

From this week's Tuesday Morning Quarterback:

"It took the United States 209 years, from the founding of the republic till 1998, to compile the first $5 trillion in national debt. In the decade since, $6 trillion in debt has been added. This means the United States has borrowed more money in the past decade than in all our previous history combined. Almost all the borrowing has been under the direction of George W. Bush -- at this point Bush makes Kenneth Lay seem like a paragon of fiscal caution. Democrats deserve ample blame, too. Harry Reid and Nancy Pelosi, Democratic leaders of the Senate and House, have never met a bailout they didn't like: Harry and Nancy just can't wait to spend your children's money. Six trillion dollars borrowed in a single decade and $1.5 trillion borrowed in 2008 alone. Charles Ponzi would be embarrassed.

"If you borrowed, borrowed, borrowed, you could afford to live high for a while -- then there would be a reckoning. Hmmm … that sounds a little like what many Americans did with gimmick mortgages in 2005 and 2006. They were only imitating their political leadership! Why is it both parties in Washington think the United States can borrow, borrow, borrow without a reckoning ever coming? Bush, Reid and Pelosi seem poised to transfer hundreds of billions of dollars of borrowed public money to political insiders on Wall Street and in banking, whose bonuses will now be tax-subsidized. The capitalist maxim is, 'She who reaps the gains also bears the losses.' Now Washington wants those who reaped the gains to shift the losses to those who lived humbly. The young will pay and pay for these cynical ploys to insure the luxury of the powerful old. Why aren't the young outraged?"

I, for one, am. Read the item entitled "Gimme! Gimme! Gimme!" (1/3 of the way down) and you will be, too. Any suggestions on what we personally could do to vent anger and affect change, let me know.



The CEO of United Healthcare makes more in an hour than most Americans make in a year. Think about that. Do you think this comes into consideration when they ponder whether or not to raise premiums?

The CEOs of major investment banks get millions on top of their ludicrous salaries when their company gets bought out by taxpayers. Somewhere to the tune of several hundred years' worth of my salary. What's the difference? I haven't endangered the economy.

Crooks and swindlers. I'd say it's time to get our pitchforks and torches, but we'd never get inside their gated communities.


I am lost.

Adrift, suspended in a primordial soup of stylistic globules. Forced by my own ambition to strain away what disappoints and unwaveringly accept what remains. Running dangerously low on coffee.

Now playing: Mogwai - Kids Will Be Skeletons



I anticipate winter unlike anyone I know. At the first sign of fall I rejoice. Even this week, in the midst of summer-like weather, I sun myself in the glorious light from the newborn football season. All is magnificence for the next few months.

I also feel like I should start doing things from imagination if I'm ever going to get anywhere as an illustrator. This is a lot less terrible than I thought it would be, frankly. I find that I'm afraid of painting from imagination not because I think I lack the skill, but because I'm worried my imagination might be stupid and boring. Pondering greatly helps the process and decreases the stress.

I need to make some stylistic changes, methinks. Pen instead of ink and twig, more painterliness on foreground figures, and stop making the clothing look so dang poofy. These are tangible steps I can take.



What I may or may not have resembled on the day I turned twenty. The photograph has the right date on it, only some of the details don't line up with my memory. To be fair, though, my memory wasn't in top gear in those days. I remember it was also Easter Sunday, and I skipped out of family stuff early to catch "The Matrix" for a second time before I drove back to St. Cloud in the Geo. I had just been given the Geo and I listened to Blur. It was sort of the start of clawing my way out of the hole into which I had put myself. Sort of.

Now playing: The Get Up Kids - Out Of Reach


Sea of Leaves

The thing about living in Colorado is that the leaves don't quite gain the same spectrum of colors in the fall here. I miss seeing oranges, reds, and browns. Here, it's all yellow. Darn aspens. Last year I raked the leaves in my lawn for the first time since I was a little kid. I wanted to jump into the pile, but my neighbor was watching from across the street. I should've done it anyway. Maybe I will this year.


An open letter

To the members of mainstream American media, including but not limited to:

NBC, CBS, ABC, MSNBC, CNN, Fox News, their local affiliate stations,

and to the presidential candidates of both major parties and all members of their respective staffs, every concerned citizen who finds it necessary to pass on hateful email forwards to everyone they can, Focus on the Family, political bloggers, and anyone else I may have missed:

We need to talk about the issues, and nothing but. We need to realize we all love this country and want what's best for it. We need responsibility, courtesy, and respect for each other. Stop feeding me with rhetoric and spin. Stop the tantrums, stop the hackery, stop the name-calling. If we don't work the actual issues out in an adult way, nothing is going to get better. You're all acting like a bunch of children.

That is all.


Amen, Gregg. - II

From this week's Tuesday Morning Quarterback:

For cars, SUVs and light trucks, there are two forces at play in oil-addiction trends, but only one is generally recognized. Everybody knows the fad of big vehicles increases petroleum needs -- according to the EPA, the average weight of passenger vehicles has risen 30 percent since 1988, while average MPG is down. The other factor, little acknowledged, is horsepower, which has risen even more sharply than weight. Twenty years ago, the average new passenger vehicle sold in the United States had 120 horsepower. For this model year the figure is 230, almost double. There will be no fundamental change in oil import levels until horsepower numbers change.

Like weight, horsepower depresses fuel economy. Simply knocking a third off the horsepower of new U.S. passenger vehicles would, in about a decade -- as efficient new vehicles replace wasteful old ones -- eliminate approximately the amount of oil the United States imports from the Middle East. Yes, it's that simple. Race cars need lots of horsepower; suburban family cars do not. Excessive horsepower causes the United States to be dependent on Middle East dictatorships, engages military commitments to those dictatorships, drives up the price of oil and pushes down the value of the dollar. Horsepower is also the enabler of road rage -- rapid acceleration allows cutting off, drag racing and sudden lane changes. Road rage entered national consciousness as a problem in the mid-1990s, exactly when the horsepower ratings of new vehicles began to spike.


Parisian Coffee

I was about to ask for the check when suddenly my coffee exploded!!! Whoa!

Otherwise it was a pleasant meal.

Everything is pleasant in the fall. I even love the warm days, when they have that undertone of the coming coolness. I love doing laundry on Sundays in front of a non-stop barrage of football. Soon it will all be falling leaves and pumpkin pie and fires in the fireplace. Summer can suck it.



Another Rion photo turned into something else.



Rion Nakaya is a fantastic photographer. You really need to check her stuff out. I've never wanted to live in Paris more, and that's really saying something. Also, Sigur Rós is unbelievable painting music.


Amen, Gregg. - I

From this week's Tuesday Morning Quarterback:

It is Congress, after all, that from 1988 to 2007 repeatedly refused to raise fuel economy standards for cars, trucks and SUVs, thus guaranteeing U.S. oil imports would rise, and helping push up global oil demand, increase the price of oil and channel more dollars, euros and yen to the Persian Gulf dictatorships that support anti-Western and anti-Israel terrorism. Under Republican and Democratic leadership alike, for 20 years Congress was warned and warned and warned again regarding trends in U.S. petroleum use, and for 20 years did nothing. With an election coming, how about we throw these unctuous rascals out, and to play on a suggestion by the late William F. Buckley, replace them with 535 names chosen at random from the nation's telephone books?