Sunday, November 28, 2004

mindFrame PhotoCanvas Series: "Fingerprints from the Battleground"

mindFrame PhotoCanvas Series: "Fingerprints from the Battleground" Photographed in Valparaiso, Chile (2003) "What difference does it make to the dead, the orphans and the homeless, whether the mad destruction is wrought under the name of totalitarianism or the holy name of liberty or democracy?" - Mahatma Gandhi, Non-Violence in Peace and War

Tuesday, November 23, 2004

mindFrame PhotoCanvas Series: "Una Chica en Providencia"

mindFrame PhotoCanvas Series: "Una Chica en Providencia" Photographed in Santiago, Chile (2003) Modified with Adobe Photoshop

Sunday, November 21, 2004

Google's New Toy: "The Ultimate Interface to the Planet"

This is quite fascinating! Last month Google acquired Keyhole Corp, a company that provides a 3D digital model of the entire earth via the Internet. Users can enter an address or other location information and Keyhole's software accesses the database and takes them to a digital image of that location on their computer screen. Keyhole's downloadable interactive comes with a large number of "bells and whistles", including the ability to zoom in from space-level to street-level, tilt and rotate the view or search for other information such as hotels, parks, ATMs or subways. Unable to resist the tagline on Keyhole Corp's website,
"Fly from space to your home town. Visit exotic locales such as Maui, Tokyo, Rome and Paris. Satellite imagery makes it real. Explore restaurants, hotels, parks and schools. Think magic carpet ride!"
I quickly downloaded a 7-day trial version on my laptop and went on my own magic carpet ride. Here are a few snaps. I started my trip in Oakland and I was quite surprised at the detail resolution available in these images - I could see my building, rooftop, carport, and even some of the windows when zoomed in enough (for those of you who know us, click to see if you can find our place). The details were astonishing. Continuing on my journey, I flew over to the Golden Gate Bridge and found the satellite images revealing the surface below the water level clearly -- notice the elliptical ring below the bridge tower (image). You could also see the terrain profiles below coastal waters around the area. Then, I took a trip to the nearby Candlestick Park (image) to find a packed stadium and one can almost see the scrimmage on the field when you "zoom" in, although it is pretty blurry. Finally, I went to Paris and included a snap from their here as well - it's just as beautiful from an ariel view as it is when walking the Parisian cobblestone alleys. On my way back, I stopped in Manhattan, St. Louis and Washington DC and then called it a night. While in some ways these images conjured up a frightening sense of Big Brother watching us, at the same time, I cannot deny the feeling of overwhelming joy I sensed from seeing our planet from a bird-eye view in distance space. Check it out for yourself. This is pretty amazing for $29.95/month.

Wednesday, November 17, 2004

mindFrame Photo Canvas Series: "Allende"

mindFrame PhotoCanvas Series: "Allende" Photographed in Chile (2003) Modified with Adobe Photoshop "Let those who want to turn back the clock of history and ignore the will of the majority of the people realize that even though I am not inclined to being a martyr, I will not retreat." - Salvador Allende First in a series of photocanvases I am hoping someday I will be able to print. Hopefully, that day will come soon when both time and money will permit furthering this interest. Laura and I moved into a wonderful apartment earlier this year in Oakland, CA and I have yet to do something with the hundreds of photographs we took when we were travelling in South America last year. We have been wanting to print a series or two for our hallway walls to share with friends and family when they visit. Another project yet to be completed. In the meantime, I thought I'd post some of them here as part of this scrapbook. I would love to get some feedback from some of you.

Wednesday, November 10, 2004

"Food For Thought": The Draft in The New American Century

An excerpt from an in-depth, thought-provoking article via on the possibility of a military draft in 2005: "Here are the facts on the Skills Draft, an account confirmed by (1) the internal Agenda document recovered through the Freedom of Information Act, now posted on the Web and acknowledged as real by the SSS, and (2) the statements of the Pentagon, Selective Service Congressional liaison Richard Flavahan, and Acting Director Lewis Brodsky. We now know that on February 11, 2003, Charles Abell, the Deputy Undersecretary of Defense for Personnel and Readiness, and William Carr, Deputy Undersecretary for Military Personnel Policy, met with Lewis Brodsky, the Acting Director of the Selective Service, Flavahan, and some other officials. This is the highest-level meeting you could have about the draft, outside of Rumsfeld and his inner circle. The proposed changes discussed in this meeting include:
  • Allow a non-combat draft for shortages in critical skills, without calling a combat draft. This non-combat Skills Draft would induct men and women ages 18 to 34.
  • Fill labor shortages of all kinds throughout not only DoD but the Dept. of Homeland Security and other agencies as well, especially high-paying professional positions like computer networking specialist or linguist. However, truck drivers, cooks, and several hundred other skills are also considered "critical."
  • Create a single-point, all-inclusive database, in which every young person would be forced to send in a "self-declaration" -- like an IRS form -- of all of their critical skills, chosen from a long list of several hundred occupations, similar to the Air Force Specialty Code with Skills Identifier. The usual penalties of imprisonment and/or a $250,000 fine would apply to all non-registrants.
  • Upgrade the Medical Draft so that it collects data on skill sets and other information in the same way the Skills Draft would.
  • Reduce induction time from being able to deliver all inductees in 193 days down to just 90 days for skills and medical inductees..." (source:
NOTE TO ALL READERS: I strongly urge all interested readers to entire original article (full article) on The website also has many other intriguing articles, sources and links on a variety of political issues.

Tuesday, November 09, 2004

History doesn't repeat itself, but it does rhyme.

There is much discussion in the news about Election 2004 and the "Old Confederate States". A recent article, published day after the election on their website, quotes: "No section of the nation received Mr. Bush's values-laden message more enthusiastically than the Old Confederacy." (full story) Even the speaker on this mornings KQED Perspective: Look Away, Dixieland shares a candid and humorous perspective on this same subject. Although, I admit it seems a bit outlandish to draw such literal parallels between two historical events separated by almost 140 years, it still intrigues the mind. I wonder if Mark Twain was referring to such historical analogies when he wrote: "History doesn't repeat itself, but it does rhyme."

Friday, November 05, 2004

Cartoon: George Bush's re-election

The Guardian cartoonist, Steve Bell, on George Bush's re-election (November 04 2004).

Friday Morning: A Citizen Born

irony /arni/ noun (pl. -ies) 1 [U, C] the amusing or strange aspect of a situation that is very different from what you expect; 2 [U] the use of words that say the opposite of what you really mean, often as a joke and with a tone of voice. (Source: Oxford Advanced Learner's Dictionary Online) Friday mornings - a fulfilling blend of a sense of conclusion and hope so perfectly delivered each week. Besides I get to work from home, a convenience that I am fortunate to have been able to negotiate with my work over the past couple of years. As a result, it is also the only weekday that I get to eat my favorite meal - Breakfast. A cup of tea, toast with butter and jam and an egg - nothing too extravagant or gourmet, but quite satisfying nonetheless. As ridiculous as it sounds, breakfast on a weekday resonates a sense of liberation of some sort that I cannot express easily in words. Fridays also present a rare opportunity to catch up on sleep (although only a hour or so extra), the news and any other tidbits that I may have missed out on during the other weekdays. The closest feeling I can relate to this "Friday morning bliss" is the feeling one gets waking up late on the first days of summer vacation when one's a school kid, except that this feeling for me comes every week of the year, all 52 weeks, all fours seasons. A point to note, however, is that I do work hard on this day, although I can understand if some of you are not so easily convinced. So I won't try, but continue with what I wanted to share in the first place. This Friday I decided to take some time out of my work schedule to start something new -- this weblog. But how does one start something like this? What does one write as his or her first words? As easy as I thought this would be -- to write again (while traveling in South America last year I kept a weblog (, but it has been a while since I updated that) -- I found myself struggling as I began. Much of the morning had passed already and not a single word occupied the naked page in front of me. I felt like a tumbleweed battling up a steep hill in San Francisco as I tried to pen down my first scribbles in this chronicle. The morning was quiet as I sat alone in the unintended silence that seized the surrounding air. The occasional sound of random keystrokes often broke the silence as I attempted to compose a new sentence each time, but was quickly followed by several furious taps on a single keystroke returning me to the original state of desolation. This pattern repeated itself as the clock on the wall ticked away, while I desperately tried to grab on to the fading shadows of words I wished to share before I had begun. Discouraged, I stared at the emptiness and zoned out. As seconds passed, I slowly felt my mind ridding itself of all thoughts and emotions, almost a physical sensation was felt inside my head. All that remained was one word, carefully preserved, perfectly chosen: Irony. So I began this chronicle with just that word. Somehow it seems to fit well considering this week's events here in the United States. The election is over and a nation stands ever so divided. Since the outcome of the elections in 2000, over the last 4 years, I have tried (like many of you) to further my awareness and understanding of social, economic and political issues on this planet. I have tried to be a more informed citizen, anxiously waiting for November 2nd 2004. And, it was here finally. This election day, I promised myself that I would make informed and comprehensive decisions on the ballot. I investigated each proposition and measure on the ballot in great detail for days and proudly made my markings on the ballot sent to my residence. Early Tuesday morning, my girlfriend and I walked together to the polls, two proud and energized young voters, ready to cast our votes. The rest of the day, I spent in great anticipation of what I believed, like many around the world (not just the nation), as the inevitable outcome -- the end of Bush regime. This was to be a final halt to this madness caused by the likes of Richard Cheney, Donald Rumsfeld, Paul Wolfowitz, Richard Perle, William Kristol, Fox News, Bill O'Reilly, Project for New American Century, Iraq War, extravagant tax cuts for large corporations and the rich at the cost of the working class, education, health care, social services, and the list goes on, was almost here. There was no way the they could win, I thought. People will rise and their voices will be heard. It was time for change, time to move forward and not backward as we had been heading for a while now. As we all know, the outcome was not so. President Bush had been re-elected. The results shook me, disappointed and discouraged me. I cannot deny that over the last couple of days, my emotions were overwhelmed with thoughts of gloom and doom, taken over by an almost irrational sense of dismay. The results, in my mind, reaffirmed President Bush's convictions and actions, giving him and his peers an official mandate to do whatever they please and stripping them of almost any sense of accountability that may have held them back over the last four years. This thought frightened me. Grasping on as tight as possible to any thread of rationality and hope that remained, I tried to re-energize myself after two days of depression that followed the election. I realized that fear and frustration got me nowhere, just dragged me back into dark recesses of inaction. While many political analysts stressed that President Bush won the largest popular vote (59.4 million according to CNN) in history, it is also true that 55.9 million people on this election day voted against the George W. Bush (not including those who voted for candidates other than the Democratic Candidate, Senator Kerry), highest number of votes against any presidential candidate in history. As much as the victory of George W. Bush brought grave disappointment and frustration, the voice of 55.9 million others brings strength and hope. The President of the United States may still be the same man, but I sure know that I am not -- this election and all that has led to this day, has strengthened my desire and motivation to get more involved in one way or another, even if starting with something small such as attending talks on social and political issues, getting involved in community events, staying continually informed about current affairs (local, national and international) and volunteering in local organizations. I haven't figured out exactly what I am going to do, but I know that this is the beginning of something new in my life. As I see it, this is the birth of a new citizen in me. Finally, why did I decide to start this blog? Well, definitely not for political reasons alone. There are many political blogs, websites, media out there -- a plethora of information scattered for all of us to frisk through and process. This blog is just one man's chronicle of thoughts -- an exploration to learn, share and grow. It is the closing of one chapter in American history and the opening of a new chapter in one man's life. And, keeping with the tradition of Friday mornings, seems like this day has served yet another "fulfilling blend of a sense of conclusion and hope".