Somewhere In Utah

a one-stop shop for Jason Piccolo's photography updates. fine art color and black and white photography.

Monday, June 30, 2008

bond 2.0 #2 - looking tight

Wednesday, June 18, 2008

slo-mo baby=awesome

Tuesday, June 17, 2008

Empire or Democracy: Are We Ready for the Fall?

came across this on HuffPo...and being 1/2 Italian, I've always had a sick fascination with Roman history and politics.

(if you are, get these podcasts ASAP, they're great.)

i tend to agree with the Hedges idea that we are smack dab in the middle of our fall based on one note he points out; the lack of intellectual curiosity.

how do the likes of George Bush, Rick Santorum, and Luella and Joe-Bob in Who-Gives-A-Fuck, TN get the right to tear down MY nation?



John W. Whitehead: Empire or Democracy: Are We Ready for the Fall?
from by John W. Whitehead

"There was once an ancient city. The ancient city fell."
-- Virgil, The Aeneid

Increasingly, parallels are being drawn between the Roman Empire and the current American Empire. Yet while some may look to Rome as an inspiration, others believe it casts a dark shadow over us and our supposedly imperial aspirations.

Indeed, the comparisons to the Roman Empire are rarely favorable. For example, Cullen Murphy, author of Are We Rome? (2007), argues that the most alarming parallels are "the blinding, insular culture of our capitals; the debilitating effect of corruption; the paradoxical issue of borders; and the weakening of the body politic through various forms of 'privatization.'" Murphy sees the eventual decline of the American Empire as inevitable, describing three possible scenarios for the future: there is the "Fortress America" scenario, where everything revolves around national security and the power of the president expands to near dictatorial strength; the "city-state scenario," where the central authority weakens and city-states emerge; and finally the "boardroom scenario," where corporations privatize all crucial functions of the government and essentially rule -- what is commonly called fascism.

David Walker, former comptroller of the United States, has also drawn daunting comparisons between America and Rome. Walker believes that the American economy is standing on a "burning platform" of "unsustainable policies and practices with fiscal deficits, chronic healthcare underfunding, immigration and overseas military commitments." Today, America is in a "$53 trillion hole," which translates to $455,000 per household.

Undeniably, spending is out of control. This irresponsible spending has resulted in the devaluing of the dollar and untold damage to the economy. As acclaimed historian Chalmers Johnson points out, America's misguided economic policy, with its emphasis on frequent wars and military spending, has led to the decline of vital domestic areas, including the education system, manufacturing capabilities and health care. At the same time, the Department of Defense's planned spending for 2008 is "larger than all other nations' military budgets combined and will exceed $1 trillion for the first time."

With more than 500,000 military service people stationed abroad in more than 130 countries, America has become what Johnson describes as a foreign imperialist. This poses its own dangers, such as massive standing armies, an almost constant state of war, an increasing dependence on the "military-industrial" complex, the dramatic economic drain of military spending and an excessive military budget. If left unchecked, these will lead to the eventual decline of democracy. And as resources are drained, the republican nature of American government will break down, and the principles inherent in a democratic society will necessarily be compromised by what is needed to sustain such a militaristic empire.

The breakdown is already underway. Until recently, David Walker served as the head of the Government Accountability Office, Congress' chief investigative and audit arm which investigates waste and fraud in government programs and also details the long-term budget problems facing the government. Walker warns that "declining moral values and political civility at home, an over-confident and over-extended military in foreign lands and fiscal irresponsibility by the central government" all helped to contribute to Rome's downfall and are prevalent in America today.

One of the worst contributors to today's problems is what Walker calls "a leadership deficit" where today's leaders are shirking their responsibilities. They are concentrating on providing political quick fixes for the present, while giving little thought to how to create a better tomorrow. And with such irresponsible spending, America is "mortgaging the future of our country, our kids and our grandkids" and leaving a legacy of a future of "lower standards of living and with some major, major financial burdens."

Moreover, we face "a growing intellectual bankruptcy that is one of the symptoms of a dying culture," writes author Chris Hedges.

"In ancient Rome, as the republic disintegrated and the Caesars were deified, as the Roman Senate became little more than an echo chamber of the emperor, the population's attention was diverted by a series of frontier wars and violent and elaborate spectacles in the arena. The excitement of entertainment consumed ancient Rome's emotional and intellectual life. It poisoned civic and political discourse. Social critics no longer had a forum in which to speak. They were answered with ridicule and rage. It was not the prerogative of the citizen to think."

But we are not Rome -- at least, not yet, and it is still our prerogative to think and to act. In this regard, we have been woefully negligent. One of the most untenable political positions for a nation is in its attempts at preserving a domestic democracy while promoting a foreign empire. Additionally, vast resources are required to maintain an empire, as we are learning the hard way, to the detriment of our domestic economy.

"We the people" have not held our government accountable and have been content to lose ourselves in television, the Internet, cell phones and the technological gadgets that distract us from reality. We have, in the words of author Nicholas von Hoffman, become "bobbleheads in bubbleland."

Clearly, America is at a crossroads. Thus, we have a decision to make: Do we want a democracy or do we want an empire, because as history has shown, it's not possible to have both.

John McCain, as classy as Hillary...

Wednesday, June 04, 2008

Dammit Jim!

So, my guy...Jimmy Carter, The Man From Plains...Officially endorsed Obama Tuesday night...


Why so late?

I can't find any answers to that. I wish he got off his ass and did it MONTHS ago...

(CNN) — A host of prominent Democrats are pushing for an Obama-Clinton unity ticket — but Jimmy Carter isn't one of them.

The former president, who publicly endorsed Barack Obama shortly before polls closed Tuesday in the final two primary states, told a London newspaper that a joint ticket between the two former rivals would be "the worst mistake that could be made."

"That would just accumulate the negative aspects of both candidates," Carter told the Guardian, saying that both candidates' vulnerabilities could overshadow that the ticket if the two team up together.

"If you take that 50 percent who just don't want to vote for Clinton and add it to whatever element there might be who don't think Obama is white enough or old enough or experienced enough or because he's got a middle name that sounds Arab, you could have the worst of both worlds," he said.

This is not the first time the former president has expressed doubt in the success of a unity ticket. Speaking at a Houston event late last month, Carter called the prospect "highly unlikely," and said other potential picks could better serve the Illinois senator.

"I think it would be highly unlikely for Obama to ask her to take it," he said then. "Because I don't see how it would help his ticket. I think he needs somebody like a [former Georgia Sen.] Sam Nunn, but I won't name others. But I think if he asked her, she would take it."

Carter largely stayed on the sidelines during his party's prolonged presidential nomination fight, though the Georgia Democrat had long hinted his preference for Obama. Speaking with Sky News last month before he made his endorsement, Carter said that once the final two contests had been held June 3, it would be time for Clinton to give up her presidential bid.

Monday, June 02, 2008

Fire at Universal Studios

i caught the news this week that there was a horrible fire at Universal Studios in California.

i fondly remember hitting up that tourist trap in the height of Back To The Future popularity and saw the clock tower, and the delorean, and the King Kong, and the Jaws...and mostly the Cylons from the (then defunct...LONG defunct) original Battlestar Galactica...

So, a lot of that history burned this week...Some of it is a shame, some of it was total crap...but all of it was a part of cinema history, for better or worse.

here is a little blog post from that touches on that 'magic'...

13 Movie Mementoes Lost In the Universal Studios Fire That Nobody Will Miss
by Toon, Lydon, & Rutledge Monday June 2, 2008 2:30 PM

The fast-moving, early morning blaze destroyed several movie sets and the King Kong exhibit..."Fortunately, nothing irreplaceable was lost," said Ron Meyer, chief operating officer of Universal Studios. -, June 1, 2008

1. The next-to-last Starfighter
2. Granny Klump’s prosthetic breasts
3. The pie from American Pie
4. Sting’s codpiece from Dune
5. Jim Belushi
6. Howard the Duck’s copy of Playduck magazine
7. The new cut of American Graffiti featuring an all-CGI Wolfman Jack more in line with the original vision of George Lucas
8. The rarely seen Satanic cauliflower from Veggie Tales
9. Body glitter washed off of Michael Beck after shooting Xanadu
10. Nick Nolte’s accent from Lorenzo’s Oil
11. The X-rated footage cut from Problem Child 2
12. An extensive collection of various vials, syringes, and scraps of scorched aluminum foil recovered from Robert Downey, Jr.’s trailers over the years
13. All prints of the secretly completed surprise sequel to Firefly