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Woohoo...my grandson, Raiden turned one today.

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Sadly none of my submissions made it into Issue 11, but I am not letting that stop me from trying again for one of the themes in issue 12. Thank you to all of you that made the effort to go, and vote for my last submissions. It really means a lot to me to have your support.


With that in mind, please go and vote for my submission to the "Creative license" theme, P Loop. If you haven't already created an account there, it will only take a couple of minutes, and there are no long profiles, or forms to fill in to register, just a few basic fields, and then you can vote for my submission, and show your support. Having my submission for this theme selected would be huge, as the theme is sponsored by Adobe. The voting is open for 35 days, and I am asking all my friends, and family to help.

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There are only seven days left to help me out by going and voting on my Submissions at JPG Magazine for the upcoming issue. I need every vote to have a chance to get my submission published. There are two entries at my Blogger blog, WickdArts: Vote For My Photo essay and WickdArts: Vote For Me which have a little more info, and the fancy scripted image links that take you directly to the voting pages. Or you can just go directly to those the pages at JPG Mag via the following links, and vote from there:
http://www.jpgmag.com/stories/790
http://www.jpgmag.com/photos/144077
http://www.jpgmag.com/photos/144080

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So I finally got around to posting some of my images to some of the groups I joined here. I would love it if you would go take a look, and leave me your comments letting me know what you think.

manipulation Tattered Remnants Of A Childhood Dream

abstractphoto First Post To Group

art_expressions Feeding Frenzy

ruralphotos East Texas Ranch In Late Spring

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So I have completed my work for both publishing projects now. I had sent off the stuff for the photo essay a couple of weeks ago, and got a positive reply, but she sent me an email yesterday, asking if I had a photo of me she could add to the interview. I was happy to provide one, and attached it to my reply. I then realized it might be to big to go through that way, and sent an email letting her know that, and to tell me if she had problems. I got three emails back from her in a space of 15 seconds. The first telling me there was no attachment. The second saying to disregard the previous, as it was there. Then went on to tell me it was a gif, and unopenable. The third told me to forget the previous two, as it was a tiff, and opened fine. I have days like that all the time.

I also resized, and saved to multiple formats the photo for the textbook. I printed, and signed the agreement, and then toodled off to the post office to send them to the prof via priority mail. I also took the opportunity to send my mom some photos of my grandson, as she refuses to buy a computer, yet bitches non-stop about never seeing photos of him. Mail chores done, I called the prof, and left a voicemail to let her know the stuff is on the way.

Now I just have to wait for my work to actually be published. The photo essay will come out on July 1, and the textbgook in October.

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I will be having a photo I took at my cousin's Bar Mitzvah published in a textbook being written by Professor Elizabeth Bell, for a new course she will be teaching. I am still finalizing the details of it, and should know the specifics in a couple of weeks. The book will be coming out in the fall, so that means I will be published twice this year, both printed publications. I am astounded that two people found my Flickr Photostream out of the hundreds of thousands of photostreams, and chose something there over the millions of images to be part of their publication. Evidently, my photo will be part of classroom discussion too.

You can read some more about it all in my latest post over at MySpace. That post has the link to the website where you can purchase the issue of the journal on July 1 which will be featuring my photo essay.

There is also this brief post WickdArts: Being Published A Second Time talking about it as well.

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Leave a comment and I'll give you a letter. Then you list ten things you like starting with that letter. Post them in your journal and give out new letters to your commenters in turn.

My letter is A, and here is my list:

1) Adrenaline - I love almost anything that can give me a good adrenaline rush. While this makes me a big fan of roller coasters, and other good thrill rides, they pale in comaprison to those things that involve real risk of death, or serious injury. Nothing like a high speed close call while driving to make you feel very alive.

2) Artichokes - My favorite vegetable. Best steamed, and served with drawn butter, and a squeeze of lemon. A pain to eat, but well worth the effort.

3) Appreciation - Who doesn't like to be appreciated for the things they do.

4) Art - Art offers endless means of expression. It is the purest way for me to say things that words can't really say. It offers me the comfort that someone else felt what I feel, and I am not alone. It offers us a glimpse of the beauty in even the darkest of visions. It gives hope, and offers us the world viewed through another's eyes.

5) Asistance - We all need, and love real help in those times when we can't handle it alone.

6) Anchovies - No pizza is complete without them.

7) Apples - Nothing like crisp slices of a Granny Smith apple, with cheese, or by themselves.

8) Aji - One of my absolute favorite sushis.

9) Antidisestablishmentarianism - A totally cool, and completely useless word.

10) Ability - I love being capable of doing something, because I was born with the genetic structure to do it.

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I want to preface this post by stating clearly that I am not only no fan of Don Imus, I find him to be annoying, and in many ways just another example of many of the things that are wrong with entertainment, and society in general. This aside, I am totally outraged, and disappointed by his suspension, though not really surprised.

What ever happened to free speech in this country, let alone the right of comedy, and satire to be limited only by the willingness of those doing it to accept the ire of their subjects, and in having an audience for their material. How have we come to this terrible place where a few people, or at least a few people who are minorities, can dictate what we can listen to, what is acceptable humor, and have the apparent power to force their opinions on everyone. As I prefaced this post saying, I don't like Imus, and I really don't like lowest common denominator humor, especially when it is insultingly racist, miscogenistic, or cruel. I am not a racist, or bigoted, and have little tolerance for those who are. I do however, respect their right to be that way, and say whatever they want, as long as they don't mind me making fun of their ignorance. That aside, I have a pretty dark sense of humor, and find some very offensive things funny in the right context, and when done in a clever, or intelligent manner. 

I understand that certain things are not just offensive to some people, but are also hurtful to some, and when used as elements of humor, or what passes for humor, are at best thoughtless, and often indicative of bigotry, or ignorance. The fact  that he in this case had not only used racially derogatory statements, but had effectively used them to insult specific people was insensative at best, and deserving of general scorn, and because directed as it was, something which he owed those people an apology, though that apology should have only been uttered out of remorse, and not under threat as it was. If the women of the basketball team were hurt by his words, they had every right to speak out about their feelings, and to let everyone know their feelings about what was said. Anyone else who was bothered, or offended, also has the right to never listen to Imus, call his show, and let him know how they feel, even write an editorial, blog, or whatever. What no one has the right to do, is demand with an expectation that Imus be fired for doing what he does, to in effect blackmail the station, and parent company into suspending him, and refuse to accept his apology, and also demand that policy be changed to prevent any possible form of racial slurs, even when used as obvious comedy, parody, or satire. Especially when those who were the injured parties don't want more than an apology, and are not interested in changing station policy, or firing anyone. 

Despite that, somehow, those like Sharpton, can make demands like this, and actually expect that they will be met, every time they scream racism. Though being the hypocrites they are, only scream it when it involves a white person being the racist, or saying something offensive. It's also strange how the media just laps this crap up, and will be quick to demostrate their outrage, as long as the target of that outrage are a group which finds it politically incorrect to do more than hang their heads in shame for doing wrong, even if they weren't doing wrong so much as being thoughtless. It is the worst sort of social insanity, and leads to the loss of anything resembling real freedom of speech, and if those like Sharpton had their way of thought as well. What is truly tragic is that most of this mindless, rabid decrying of anything deemed offensive to a group, religion, sex, or class started off under the best of intentions. If people had not spoken out at the injustice, and how wrong using speech as a tool to continue oppressing people by denigrating them, a lot of good changes may not have happened. Unfortunately very few seem to grasp that once those goals had been accomplished, it was time to stop, before the cure became worse than the problem.

We are becoming trapped in a world where people are afraid of saying anything, because it might result in losing their job, being sued, or getting savaged by the press, no matter the context. We become afraid to tell a joke, to ask someone out, or be friendly for fear of being labeled as racist, sexist, harassing, or a molester. The actions of a very small percentage of vile people, form the assumed motives of every person of a group. We are all assumed to have the worst possible motives in any situation, and even if proved to not have done anything wrong, are often treated as if guilty anyway, can have our lives ruined, and forced into debt defending baseless accusations. By now, I am certain some readers will be certain i am racist, or worese, because I defend the right to be offensive. It's a risk worth taking. I have been called many nasty things in the past, have been labled unfavorably for my opinions, and generally incorrectly, as people tend to assume a single statement, belief, or opinion is enough to predict my opinions on everything. 

We must stop the narrow minded, hateful, and short-sighted from stealing our right to speak freely, and to listen to what we want. It's not a matter of whether or not the things people say is actually right, wrong, or despicable, but that no matter how wrong, we must protect the right to say even those wrong things. The result of not protecting all speech is losing the freedom to speak anything that disagrees with with the status quo.

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I love Sundays.

I'm sure many people feel this way, and some for the same reason I do. Why do I love them you ask(or maybe you didn't, but I am gonna tell you anyway)? The Sunday paper, that's why. All the extras sections, make reading the paper something to occupy a couple of hours or more of the day in a pleasant way. It gives me a chance to drink a pot of coffee, and smoke several cigarettes, while learning new things, reading what is going on, and amusing myself by getting various opinions on recent events. What I really love the most though, is the comic section on Sundays. It gets it own section, and has a couple of comics I love, not published daily. Not only that, but they are all in color, and most of the writers tend to deliver their very best on Sundays, due to the larger audience, more/larger panels to work with, and getting to work in color. The Sunday comics never disappoint me, and usually at least one will make me laugh out loud(which drives my g/f nuts), and sometimes, like this last Sunday, almost all my favorites are dead on, perfectly illustrate why I love them, and had me laughing all day.

So which comics do I read? Surprisingly enough, almost all of them, though some I skim unless they look to be unusually good. I don't read them all for the same reasons, nor to get the same things out of them, and some are not so much funny, as they are entertaining, but the ones I love most are all funny, at least to me, and tend towards the satirical in some way, and tend to poke fun at current events, or life in some amusing way. 

My very Favorites:
Pearls Before Swine - This has been my favorite since I first saw it. It is consistently the funniest, and has a dark edge to quite a bit of the humor. It is also one of the few to throw out some really vile puns, which I love. It pulls no punches, and can be very weird. The simple drawings let you focus on the dialog, but can still convey sophisticated humor on it's own at times. The characters are great, and provide no end of possible interactions. While I love when Rat writes Angry Bob stories most of all, because they are always dark, sarcastic views into life, the absolute best comics are ones like this past week, where the elements combine to form a level of humor that is truly sublime. 
Bizarro - The best one panel twisted view of things since The Far Side went away. Always strange, and often leaves me not only laughing, but in awe of the thought process that created it.
Get Fuzzy - While not as consistent as some, when it is on, as good as it gets. Some of the jokes are so strange, and gross, but very funny.
Non Sequiter - Always amusing, and often laugh out loud funny. A great mix of satire, drawn from current events, politics, and life in general. Very thoughful humor.
Dilbert - needs no explaination
Foxtrot - Great art, and often hysterical situational humor. Pokes fun at nerds in a clever way, and offers a twisted spin on family life.

Two more not in the Sunday Comics:
Lio - A strange little comic offering some very funny visual humor. Uses no dialog at all, and does just fine without it.
Red and Rover - Life through a young boys eyes, and the best thing since Calvin and Hobbes.

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I really hate this vapid belief that offering an apology for things, not matter how wrong, can make it all better. even worse is the implication that by apologizing, especially when obviously insincere, in some way unsays those things, and makes you a nice person again.

The particular thing I am referring to here, is the deplorable antics of TXU over the last week. It's bad enough that they were so fucking greedy, that they had to manipulate energy prices last year in order to make an extra $70 million, because evidently $2.53 billion in profits wouldn't do, they had to make $2.6 billion. They were able to do this, because they own most of the power plants in Texas, which is not connected to the rest of the world, supposedly making us energy independent, but in reality, cementing TXU's control over the price of electricity for the entire state, despite deregulation. After all, if you produce almost all of the power, then no matter who sells it to the consumer, you still control what it really costs. So they took advantage of our heat spell last March, and inflated short term power costs when the demand went up, by not bidding to supply until the price rose above a certain point, in effect, ensuring they could squeeze more money from everyone.

It took almost a year for the PUC to even bother investigating it, and only because the Dallas Morning News stirred up enough public outcry, which added to the attempt by TXU to shove a bunch more coal plants down our smoggy throats forced the lapdog, our esteemed governor to have his appointed comissioners do something. It only took a couple of weeks for the PUC to figure out the scam, and decide that it was a violation, and levy a real fine, which is a first. They not only fined TXU the $70 million they stole, but demanded another $140 million in penalties. Of course not one cent will be repaid to the customers who actually got robbed, the $70 million goes to the other power companies forced to pay excessively high rates to buy the power, and the rest goes to the state, no doubt to line already fat pockets.

For those not living here, or who are, but are oblivious to things, TXU owns the Govenor, and a large part of the legislature in the state, and also quite a few congressmen, most notably Joe Barton, who is shared by TXU, and TXI, and was until the last election running the commitee theat ensured those companies would never be troubled by regulation. Check public records if you don't believe me. TXU was the largest donor in quite a few campaigns, though the owner of the largest homebuilder comes close.

Anyway, TXU's response to the ruling, and fines was to deny they had done anything wrong, and to state they would fight the ruling, in effect telling the PUC to stick it, and that they weren't paying a dime, except to their lawyers. Then to add insult to injury, the next day they stated that due to this ruling, they would have to reconsider keeping all of the plants used to supply short term demand in operation. In other words blackmailing, or at least attempting to blackmail the state into not fining them by causing electrical outages.

Surprisingly, a couple of state senators took umbrage at this, and basicly demanded a retraction, and let TXU know that any attempt to follow through would result in the state seizing control of their power plants. In addition, the people wanting to buy YXU let the comapny know that they would withdraw their offer. So yesterday TXU apologized for threatening to deny electricity, and said we didn't really mean it, but also said again they deny manipulating rates, and that they are still fighting the fines.

The apology is the worst kind of bullshit. They don't actually mean it, as it was issued under threat effectively, and besides no one except for the most gullible, and the governor, could possibly believe that saying they didn't mean it, means they didn't mean it. Or for that matter, that they still aren't thinking it. Alas all I can really do is bitch here, and tell TXU to stick their apology up their tight greedy asses, and hope that maybe enough other people will agree that this is too much to let lie, and force the PUC to levy some real punishment, like throwing every member of the board of directors, and all senior management at TXU into the Dallas County Jail, which by the way just failed their 4th yearly inspection in a row for not meeting any of the mandated minimum standards required to fix their severe overcrowding, lack of medical care, and other things.

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