All kinds of special stupid.

Forty-seven year old woman documents her battle with covid and loses. We can learn from her.

This video is a tragic lesson for the rest of us. Amy Briar Bement was anti-vaxx. At just 47 years old, Covid took her so fast that she barely had time to process it. Luckily, she left the world with these videos documenting her demise.

She left behind lots of people who loved her, including five children, four of which were still living at home, and one is just 8.

This death is completely avoidable and unnecessary. We are watching in horror as people orphan their kids. For what? To own the libs? To show how big of a jerk Anthony Fauci is?

We gotta turn this ship around.

The gift of not knowing

We work with an agency on several commercial interiors projects. The owner is super cool guy. Let’s call him Mike.

Mike has experienced a growth spurt with his company and he can’t keep up with all the hiring. Which is a great problem to have.

Mike and I have a very similar background. Both of us grew up in very evangelical homes and have since left the fold. He also considered going into seminary and becoming a pastor.

We both feel our knowledge of the Bible is pretty high compared to the average bear. When I told him about a recent conversation I had with someone who told me that they pray the scales will be lifted from my eyes and the veil from my mind, he can relate a 100% with hearing the same thing in his world and shuttering from it.

We were talking on a recent project together and I couldn’t help but be moved to whatever the non-believing version of “Amen, brother!” is.

The tendency for friends and family in the faith to say to us non-believers is that they wish we could see the light, know what they know, understand what they understand.

As if their certainty is a badge of honor. They cannot fathom how pretentious it is.

I, too, hear things like, “I thought I was right all the time when I was your age.” But that’s the thing, I don’t know. I don’t know if there is or isn’t a God. I don’t understand how I can be criticized or misunderstood to think I’m the one who’s right about God. I don’t think anyone can know yay or nay, and have taken the position that not knowing is okay.

The only party in a discussion about God who claims certain knowledge is the one who says God exists, he lives all around us and he will reward that mental approval with a lifetime in the blissful version of eternity.

I was listening to this episode of the Atheist Experience and couldn’t help but be moved to write this out (again). Ha.

Election Officials read death threats.

This is sick. Sick sick sick. Election officials reading death threats against them. Holy shit.

I was thinking last night about this Jordan Klepper video (or any of them featuring Trump cultists) and there’s a part where Jordan asks who were the rioters on J6. The answers ranged from Antifa to “the Deep State”.

There’s that old trope that the insiders know the difference between “real” and “not-real” members. We saw it cliched as kids. “Those aren’t real Christians” was a common finger point. Even in the atheist movement, you have similar finger pointing.

As if you can determine one’s mental allegiance to God via anything measurable. And if “actions” are the measure, I don’t know one perfect Christian who hasn’t embarrassed themselves with the highest form of some blatant sin.

But it was that elusive language that struck me as I was trying to get some winks last night. That the perpetrators on January 6 were the deep state. What’s the deep state? A cabal of evil doers, right? They point at the Clintons, the Obamas, the Tom Hanks-es. But it’s an immeasurable goal.

Or they play the Antifa card. I know my rightwing readers will call it “fake news,” but lots of reports surfaced after BLM, including eye-witness accounts from friends who live downtown Chicago, including ones like this from AP.

But why would anyone believe my friends or AP when so much has done to discredit the latter and my conservative friends go out of their way to not support healthcare for me and my wife, so why would I think they care about the rest of my associations or welfare?

The challenge is how to help steer people away from this dangerous rhetoric and violent threats. My personal goal is to figure out how this divide can be decreased. We owe it to ourselves to push away these divisions.

The challenge is weird, because when I read criticisms of Joe Biden, I get that they are criticisms, but I don’t think they warrant levels of disgust that they get. But hey, I’m a libtard and don’t know what I’m talking about.

Let’s do better.

Rachel Hamm sent a murderer next door

This is 2021. This person prayed away an intruder who broke into her next door neighbor’s house, killed them and burned their house down.

Twenty Twenty One.

Continue reading “Rachel Hamm sent a murderer next door”

Dr. Demon Semen says satan’s sendin clones to git ya!

The interviewer in this piece is the guy who claimed a Delta pilot died in-flight after taking the covid vaccine.

Dr. Stella Immanuel claims here that satan is sending clones who are killing those who refuse the vaccine.

Continue reading “Dr. Demon Semen says satan’s sendin clones to git ya!”

The Slow-moving Coup … and there’s nothing that can be done to stop it

It’s terrifying that a long-form coup could happen, but for all intents and purposes, there seems to be very little that could be done to stop it.

Also see this assessment from Yale History professor Timothy Snyder.

One thing that gives me a bit of hope is that one of my best friends works in D.C. for the government. He claims often that conspiracies to game the system are incredibly challenging, because D.C. can barely tie its own shoes.

The thing is, someone infiltrated the party with the idea that authoritarian rule is what we need in America. Otherwise, reasonable people seem to almost suddenly think this. Propaganda moves quickly within their movement. It’s tough to keep up with it all.

Criticizing Critical Race Theory

I love how talking points get thrown into the media cauldron and some stick like shit on a wall and some don’t. Well, Critical Race Theory stuck for a lot of people, and it’s laughable how the term is thrown around without so much as a general understanding of what it is and who’s learning it.

I was recently with friends of ours whom we love and look up to. Quietly in fall 2020, they sold their Chicago condo and moved out of the state. One of the reasons they were thrilled to move was that teachers at their son’s school were teaching third graders Critical Race Theory, specifically teaching that white people were responsible for slavery.

“Well, who else was responsible for it?”

Continue reading “Criticizing Critical Race Theory”

Martha Graham’s advice to Agnes de Mille

I found the below text at Wikipedia. But below that is a JPG of another version of it that I found more profound. I’ll include that below the fold. It’s a conversation between Martha Graham and Agnes de Mille, two dancers/artists/creators. I only know Martha Graham’s name from the scene in the Bird Cage when Robin Williams’ character is chastising the young dancer for being bored during Nathan Lane’s character’s cross dress routine. I had no idea Agnes de Mille came up with the musical Oklahoma.

Their conversation moved me to tears.

I emboldened parts that moved me the most.

The greatest thing [Graham] ever said to me was in 1943 after the opening of Oklahoma!, when I suddenly had unexpected, flamboyant success for a work I thought was only fairly good, after years of neglect for work I thought was fine. I was bewildered and worried that my entire scale of values was untrustworthy. I talked to Martha. I remember the conversation well. It was in a Schrafft’s restaurant over a soda. I confessed that I had a burning desire to be excellent, but no faith that I could be.

Martha said to me, very quietly: “There is a vitality, a life force, an energy, a quickening that is translated through you into action, and because there is only one of you in all of time, this expression is unique. And if you block it, it will never exist through any other medium and it will be lost. The world will not have it. It is not your business to determine how good it is nor how valuable nor how it compares with other expressions. It is your business to keep it yours clearly and directly, to keep the channel open. You do not even have to believe in yourself or your work. You have to keep yourself open and aware to the urges that motivate you. Keep the channel open … No artist is pleased. [There is] no satisfaction whatever at any time. There is only a queer divine dissatisfaction, a blessed unrest that keeps us marching and makes us more alive than the others.

The struggle that Agnes de Mille expresses seems universal within artistic communities. It often is the target of my insecurities and dissatisfaction with my own work. I can look at an image that I took and know its value as possible good and satisfactory to our clients. But I think it absolutely sucks.

There are hardly any jobs that I release to clients that I’m happy with. Sometimes years down the road, I’ll look at work and think, “Oh, that’s pretty good.”

But there’s rarely a feeling of my own work that reaches a level any higher than mediocrity. Finding worth in my stuff is forever a challenge. When Tina asks me how much I want to charge for intensive edits to photos, I’ll freeze up.

Just last week, we were contacted by a commercial architect who wasn’t happy with the way the sign on a building he designed was appearing in photos. The logo was raised white type on a beige surface back lighted with tungsten light, that’s to say the temperature of the light appears yellow to the human eye.” They wanted the light to match the inside light, which was appearing “white” which is something I did in post. The interior lights are florescent which is “green” to the human eye. So the white light behind a white sign on a beige building? Who knew that that would be illegible?

They also wanted the glow behind the sign to scale back some 60% to 70%. Something I could only do in camera by taking photos of it 60% dimmer.

The problem was the plates of the sign are the plates. Plates are exposures of an image that we use to blend together to make a final image. Typically that means I take a regular exposure followed by a very bright one and a very dark one. That way my shadows and highlights can find the right balance. Our eyes do a pretty good job of capturing balanced imagery, and we don’t tend to know the difference within in the limitations of modern cameras.

I had to recreate the sign from a logo, erase the existing one, and replace it to look realistic. I was, in a real world scenario, providing them with documentation for how their sign really appears in real life.

The torment and the time it took to recreate the sign to “look realistic” was painstaking. The client kept using terminology like, “Just make 50% less glowing” which didn’t mean I could flip a switch and bring down the glow. That required a completely new, built from scratch logo, including three dimensions and a new application of a glow that wasn’t white, but wasn’t yellow.

What I heard was how I’d failed to capture the sign in an impossible way, a way that does not exist in photographic techniques. They exist only in re-touching techniques. And sometimes my brain only wants to express reality and not what, say, happens in one’s imagination.

And by the end of it, I was screaming at my screen that I wanted to give up all things photography. I loved my original work and thought it was solid.

At the end of it, I created a much better version of the logo on the side of the building. Something the designers needed to have done in the first place. But I digress.

Said and done, I thought Martha Graham was talking to me, directly, when she said, “You do not have to believe in yourself or your work.”

Hard stop. Wow. There are so many things that either I do not create because fear prevents me from doing so or I create and am paralyzed to share with the world what I created.

But if no one ever sees it, no one may ever be inspired by it.

We are bombarded right now with information from all directions. And sometimes that knowledge prevents me from contributing something on top of that.

It’s not my job to be celebrity or well received by all people. It’s a bit pretentious to assume that I could be that to other people. I read an article recently that at no time in history are so many people this well known thanks to social media.

Thousands of people might see something I’ve done and see my name attached to it. And that, in some ways, that’s celebrity-esque. I don’t even blink when someone has a byline next to a piece of art. I rarely know the name associated with much that’s out there. But if you go to a museum, you may recognize more names, because there used to be far less to choose from (even though there were likely budding artists who we’ll never know about).

Anyway, I hope this quote inspires you like it did me.

Create! Just do something. Even if it sucks. And share it. Someone somewhere will appreciate it.

Continue reading “Martha Graham’s advice to Agnes de Mille”