Monday, February 28, 2011

Iconic Shot: Hetfield

© 2011 Metallica, all rights reserved.  Click to enlarge.
Respectfully borrowed from the "2007-2009" pictures section of Metallica's website, this is simply one of the greatest pictures in the history of photography.  TEC hopes the mighty Hetfield doesn't sue me (or beat me up) for featuring this pic without consent.

Sunday, February 27, 2011

Sunday's Quote: Oscar ®

The Academy Awards are being handed out as I write this.  So with that in mind...

"The Oscar is the most valuable, but least expensive, item of world-wide public relations ever invented by any industry."
-- Frank Capra, director of numerous all-time classics such as It Happened One Night, Lost Horizon, Mr. Deeds Goes to Town, You Can't Take It With You, Arsenic and Old Lace & It's a Wonderful Life.

Exactly when Capra said this appears to be a matter of dispute.  The above-statement was made on either March 5, 1936 when he hosted the 8th Academy Awards, or March 4, 1937 at the 9th Academy Awards when Capra won the Oscar statuette for directing Mr. Deeds Goes to Town.

Friday, February 25, 2011

From My Own Camera: Wandering, pt. 2

Continuing a post from about a month ago...

(click to enlarge)

(click to enlarge)
A ravine alongside Mudville Rd. somewhere between Arlington and Rosemark, TN.

Thursday, February 24, 2011

Just Thinking Out Loud: Race, or something

The Pepsi Max "Love Hurts" Super Bowl commercial didn't ruffle any feathers until the cute 2520 showed up at the end.

Iconic Shot: Christchurch

(Click to enlarge)
A view of the devastation from the 6.3-magnitude earthquake that rocked Christchurch in the Canterbury region of New Zealand's South Island on February 22.  A slightly larger quake also hit nearby last September.

Shot taken anonymously, per Lucilu

Monday, February 21, 2011

On This Day in History

1543 – Outnumbered by nearly two-to-one, Ethiopian and Portuguese troops defeated the Adal Sultanate of the Ottoman Empire at the Battle of Wayna Daga in northern Ethiopia.  It was the final battle of the 14-year Ethiopian-Adal War, in which a potential Islamic conquest was quelled.  Some historians trace the present and longstanding hostility between Somalia and Ethiopia to this war.

1848 – Featuring a bunch of bad ideas regarding how capitalist societies would be replaced by socialism, and then eventually communism, Karl Marx and Friedrich Engels published the The Communist Manifesto.

1862 – The Battle of Valverde was fought near Fort Craig in the New Mexico Territory (present-day central New Mexico) between Confederate units from Texas and Arizona, and U.S. Army regulars and Union militia from northern New Mexico.  The South won.

1878 – The first telephone book was issued in New Haven, Connecticut.

1885 – The Washington Monument was dedicated in commemoration of our first President.  It remains both the world's tallest stone structure and the world's tallest obelisk, standing just over 555 feet.

1947 – Edwin Land demonstrates the Polaroid Land Camera, the first "instant camera," to a meeting of the Optical Society of America in New York City.

1948 – The National Association for Stock Car Auto Racing (NASCAR) is founded by William France, Sr.

1952 – The British government, per Winston Churchill, abolished identity cards throughout the United Kingdom to "set the people free."  Remember that when the issue of a nation identity card is brought up by our government.

1953 – Francis Crick and James D. Watson co-discovered the structure of DNA, for which they both received the Nobel Prize nine years later.

1958 – Designed by British artist Gerald Holtom, the Peace Symbol [pictured] was commissioned by the Campaign for Nuclear Disarmament, in protest against the Atomic Weapons Research Establishment.

1962 – David Foster Wallace was born in Ithaca, New York.  Once called "one of the most influential and innovative writers of the last 20 years," Wallace was best known for his '96 novel Infinite Jest, which TIME magazine included in its "All-Time 100 Greatest Novels" list (from 1923-2006).  Having suffered from severe depression, he ended his own life in 2008.

1965 – Malcolm X (born Malcolm Little forty years earlier in Omaha, Nebraska) was assassinated at the Audubon Ballroom in New York City by members of the Nation of Islam.  The movie about his life remains Spike Lee's magnum opus.

1979 – The bubbly and vivacious Jennifer Love Hewitt was born in Waco, Texas.  I think she's wonderful.

Sunday, February 20, 2011

Sunday's Quote: The Kennedy mythos

A recent Gallup Poll revealed that John F. Kennedy still maintains the highest approval rating of any U.S. President, which once again proves the far-reaching appeal of the Camelot legend beyond any question.  One of my generation's more polished thinkers took issue with that:

"The most amazing aspect of the History Channel's decision to cancel The Kennedys -- apparently under pressure from the family itself and no doubt informed by the Hollywood Left's paranoid hatred of Joel Surnow, the ultraconservative cocreator [sic] and the driving force behind the series -- is how badly that decision misjudges what everyone, including liberals, already knows about the Kennedys: that the aristocracy of the family was polished gangsterism; the supposed rude young all-American health hid cigar-chomping and constant drug-demanding back pain; the Harvard education hid a respectful, gentlemanly avoidance of real learning; and as for the Kennedys' family life -- pity is the only decent emotion for women who got involved with those boys.

"As for JFK's achievements in office, particularly in foreign affairs, you don't have to be conservative to be skeptical.  His prevarication and his cynicism led not just to the Bay of Pigs but to Vietnam.  And yet history has not been kinder to any American leader; he is an icon of peace who did more to foster war than any American president until Bush."
-- from "Is This (Finally) the End of the Kennedys?" by Stephen Marche; Esquire, March 2011

Just Thinking Out Loud: Elvis wouldn't live here anymore

I don't abhor my hometown like a number of people I've known, but the stats don't lie: Memphis currently ranks as the fifth-worst city for men, according to Men's Health magazine.  The Bluff City also ranks as the sixth-most dangerous, according to U.S. News (per Onboard Informatics) and the sixth-most depressed according to Forbes.  As a 30-year native, it is nearly impossible to dispute these claims.

Friday, February 18, 2011

Iconic Shot(s): The F-14 Tomcat

I was born and raised just a few miles from the once-bustling Naval Air Station in Millington, Tennessee (now NSA Mid-South), so I was very much in awe of the Grumman F-14 Tomcat several years before "Goose" and "Maverick" announced their need for speed to the world.

Each of our fighters are beautiful in their own way, but the Tomcat is perhaps the only one that has earned the right to be called majestic. Retired by the Navy in 2006 after 35 years of blasting our would-be aggressors out of the sky, the F-14 will always be among the standard bearers of American air superiority. Below is a humble tribute to our fly boys, highlighted by the legendary Jolly Rogers of Strike Fighter Squadron One Zero Three {VF-103}.

Note: Each shot was pulled from a file I hadn't looked through in probably a couple of years. The source of the individual pics were not recorded as a result, and any possible copyright infringement is completely unintentional.

Wednesday, February 16, 2011

Just Thinking Out Loud: "Cry me a river"

I used to be a "hater," if only a mild one, because my fellow Memphis native has been living an impossible dream for well over a decade.  Indeed I've heard it said, more than once, that Justin Timberlake is the luckiest son-of-a-you-know-what to have ever come out of Shelby Forest.  But his seemingly effortless ability to sing, dance and act makes him an undeniable triple threat who isn't worth hating at all.  And to top it off, the man has spent some quality time, as it were, with the likes of Britney Spears, Stacy Ferguson, Alyssa Milano, Scarlett Johansson, Cameron Diaz, and now Jessica Biel.

The wonderkid may as well be a trillionaire.  And now he's my hero (sort of).

Sunday, February 13, 2011

Sunday's Quote: Another difference between Right & Left

Some may be surprised to find that the ever-evolving struggle between Conservative and Liberal is not new, nor is the battle itself confined merely to politics.

Related to the "On This Day in History" post nine days ago, the following is something I recently came across about a humble Christian's path between opposite sides of the same spectrum:

"Around [1924], he discovered the writings of Karl Barth, the eminent Swiss theologian whose pioneering work in neo-orthodoxy was a reaction against liberal theology.  Barth believed that 'liberal theology' (understood as emphasizing personal experience and societal development) minimized Scripture, reducing it to a mere textbook of metaphysics while sanctioning the deification of human culture.  Von Harnack cautioned Bonhoeffer against dangers posed by Barth's 'contempt for scientific theology', but the younger Bonhoeffer became increasingly critical of liberal theology as not only too constraining but also responsible for the lack of relevance in the church."
-- from the "Academic Training" portion of Wikipedia's entry about German pastor, theologian and martyr Dietrich Bonhoeffer

Friday, February 11, 2011

Just sayin'

Left Wing pundit Ron Reagan, son of our 40th President, couldn't resist throwing his Conservative icon father under the bus with his recent assertion -- quite possibly partisan in nature -- that Ronaldus Magnus suffered from Alzheimer's while in office.  Although one is compelled to take the high road, another sort of reply/comparison feels more appropriate...

Tuesday, February 8, 2011

Did You Know (or Care): A lapse of otherworldly proportions

The Star Wars franchise is predominantly defined by characters with whom people throughout the entire world have held a special affinity for over three decades.  Although never infatuated like the myriad of devotees I've encountered since childhood, understanding its cult-like allure was somehow never difficult.

Science fiction has maintained a following since the earliest days of cinema, but the unyielding enthusiasm (and resulting mass appeal) inspired by the vision of one George Lucas is, in and of itself, a love story between the practitioners of what ultimately grew into a pseudo-religion and their idealized heroes who live "in a galaxy far, far away" for which the mere fantasy of their existence makes these noble knights quite real to the hardcore loyalists whose hankering for more is never satisfied.

Among the most revered of these benevolent warriors, by far, is Obi-Wan Kenobi.  And like Master Yoda, his counterpart on the Jedi Council, little was known of Obi-Wan's home planet.  But that all changed last August during Celebration V in Orlando, Florida.  While being interviewed by The Daily Show's Jon Stewart, George Lucas revealed that Obi-Wan Kenobi's home is now known as "Stewjon" -- a tuckerization of Stewart's name.

As if Lucas purposely intended to anger even the most nostalgic fans, a man for whom money is no longer an issue threw his own franchise under the proverbial bus and named Obi-Wan's home after a guy who is best known for making strange faces and profanity-laced jokes.  And from this, I don't know what else there is to add to the story.

Sunday, February 6, 2011

Sunday's Quote: Reagan

There have been six U.S. Presidents in my lifetime.  I've liked one of them.  Initially a Liberal Democrat who supported FDR's New Deal policies, Ronald Reagan ultimately turned Right when he declared, "I didn't leave the Democratic Party.  The party left me."  This was never more evident years later when then-Governor Reagan ordered more than 2,000 troops from the California National Guard to occupy Berkeley for two weeks to quell some of the characteristic rowdiness we have come to expect from many in the Bay area.

A Liberal rarely dares to do such a thing.  A Conservative rarely hesitates.

Reagan's two terms as our President -- both of which he won with unprecedented dominance -- saw a notable increase in our national debt, but dramatic decreases in unemployment, inflation and income taxes.  He also played a key role in winning the Cold War, once unthinkable, thanks largely to the "peace through strength" mantra of what became known as the Reagan Doctrine; a motto that is now central to the aircraft carrier that bears his name.

Over 100,000 people paid their respects to President Reagan (over a nonstop 34-hour stretch) as he laid in state in the Capitol Rotunda when he died over six years ago.  Over 100,000 more walked past his casket several days later as Reagan laid in repose in the lobby of his presidential library in Simi Valley, California.

He wasn't perfect; no President ever was.  But he was authentically American.  Possibly among the last of a dying breed -- Lord, I want to be wrong about that -- and some people hated him for it.  Today our 40th President would have turned 100-years-old, and part of me is glad that he's not around to see our current state of affairs.  So, for his committed detractors, I'll allow the Man to speak for himself:

"And how stands the city on this winter night?  More prosperous, more secure, and happier than it was eight years ago.  But more than that; after 200 years, two centuries, she still stands strong and true on the granite ridge, and her glow has held steady no matter what storm.  And she's still a beacon, still a magnet for all who must have freedom, for all the pilgrims from all the lost places who are hurtling through the darkness, toward home.

"We've done our part.  And as I walk off into the city streets, a final word to the men and women of the Reagan revolution, the men and women across America who for eight years did the work that brought America back.  My friends: We did it.  We weren't just marking time.  We made a difference.  We made the city stronger.  We made the city freer, and we left her in good hands.  All in all, not bad, not bad at all."
-- from Ronald Reagan's Farewell Address; January 11, 1989

Friday, February 4, 2011

On This Day in History

1703 – In what is now Tokyo, Japan, 46 of the legendary Forty-seven Ronin committed ritual suicide (seppuku) as part of the samurai honor code (bushidō) for avenging their master's death.

1789 – George Washington was elected the first President of the United States.

1844 – Discovered by German Biblical scholar Constantin Tischendor, the Codex Sinaiticus -- ancient portions of both the Old and New Testaments -- was uncovered at St. Catherine's Monastery in Egypt's Sinai Peninsula.

1861 – Delegates from South Carolina, Mississippi, Florida, Alabama, Georgia, and Louisiana convened in Montgomery, Alabama to form the Confederate States of America.

1902 – Charles Lindbergh was born in Detroit, Michigan.  Having initially risen to prominence with his solo non-stop flight from Roosevelt Field in New York's Long Island to Le Bourget Field in Paris, France (May 20-21, 1927; nearly 3,600 miles), Lindbergh was named TIME magazine's first Man of the Year.  Later in life he also became a prize-winning author, explorer, environmentalist and inventor.  Few have ever accomplished so much in a lifetime.

1906 – Dietrich Bonhoeffer [pictured] was born in Breslau, Germany (present-day Wrocław, Poland).  A master theologian of the Evangelical Lutheran faith, Bonhoeffer became critical of the Church's general insensitivity to the needs of secular society as he witnessed social upheaval, a decline of traditional values and international financial crisis -- much like the events of today.

Opposed to circumventing Christ in "religiosity," Bonhoeffer's time at Abyssinian Baptist Church in the Harlem borough of New York City (where he taught Sunday School) inspired a world view that would ultimately lead him to establish the Confessing Church, which became one of the few opposing voices to the Nazification in Germany.  It also led to Bonhoeffer's two-year incarceration and eventual martyrdom at the Flossenbürg concentration camp, less than a month before the Nazi regime collapsed.

In short, his influence and the example he set by speaking and standing for Truth cannot be overstated.

1945 – "The Big Three" -- Churchill, Roosevelt, and Stalin -- open The Yalta Conference at the Livadia Palace in Crimea (present-day southern Ukraine) to discuss Europe's postwar reorganization.

2004 – Mark Zuckerberg launched "Thefacebook," the forerunner to Facebook, from his dorm room at Harvard University.  Seven years later, boasts of 600 million users and only trails Google as the world's most visited website.

Thursday, February 3, 2011

That's how they roll

I'm pretty sure this is requisite posing for all football players at Berkeley (except Aaron Rodgers).  Stanford, of course, would never allow for such a thing:

© University of California
Sandy Barbour, Athletic Director

Did You Know (or Care): A comparison among the U.S. & the rest

Although differing slightly from World Bank estimates, the 2009 edition of the CIA World Fact Book, per the International Monetary Fund, lists the United States GDP (Gross Domestic Product: market value of all goods and services) at just over $14.6 trillion, which is surpassed only by the combined $15.9 trillion GDP of the 27-nation European Union.  Yet perhaps most interesting is how individual American States stack up against the rest of the world.

California, for instance, with a statewide GDP of over $1.9 trillion, would be the ninth-ranked economy in the world -- nestled on the list between Italy and Brazil -- if it stood as an individual nation.  You've probably heard that somewhere before.  However you likely didn't know that Texas and New York, with GDPs around $1.1 trillion each, rank 15th and 16th respectively, ahead of Mexico and South Korea, and just behind Spain and Australia.

Other States in the international top 50 include Florida, Illinois, Pennsylvania, New Jersey, Ohio, Virginia, North Carolina, Michigan, Massachusetts, Washington, Maryland and Indiana, each of whom boast of GDPs anywhere between $265-735 billion.  With GDP's ranging from $245-263 billion, Minnesota, Arizona, Colorado, Tennessee, Wisconsin and Missouri just missed the top 50.  Yet they ranked well ahead of international powers such as Finland, Portugal, Ireland, Israel and the Czech Republic, among many dozens of others.