Thursday, January 24, 2008

Hipgnosis- Exquisite Album Art

Hello again fellow travelers. Have a seat here on my couch, take your shoes off and make yourself comfortable. Theres a fire dancing in the wood stove, how would you like a nice Irish Coffee? I've got my own twist on it, a bit of Appleton Estate Special Reserve, some Tia Maria, and a bit of Sangster's Jamaican Rum Cream mixed with Blue Mountain Coffee. I even have a fresh cinnamon stick to top it off. What's that you say? Oh sure, I will have a bit with you. We have a different sort of article here today. An art exhibit of sorts, a feast for the eyes. Though I bet as we stroll through this "exhibit" you will indeed hear strains of some beloved music echoing about the halls of Shambala in your mind's ear. As a creator of music myself, I have come to understand I dream a lot, I do more composing when I'm not playing. It comes from the subconscious. As a musician and composer I see the art of Hipgnosis (actually all visual art I enjoy) as similar, as rising up from somewhere in the sub conscience.

One of the great losses to music fans as we go to smaller and more compact mediums is the album art which developed to such a high degree with LP releases. The packaging of LPs, one could argue, became an integral part in the overall experience of the listener. Today I'd like to spotlight one of the best design teams in this field. Hipgnosis. All the art on display here was created by this design team.

Hipgnosis, the British design team consisted primarily of Storm Thorgerson, Aubrey Powell, and later, Peter Christopherson. The group dissolved in 1983, but Thorgerson still works on CD designs. Their style was lavish, relying on photographic techniques and darkroom magic. Their 1st commisioned work was the cover of Pink Floyd's "Saucer Full Of Secrets". Being film and art school students, they were able to use the darkroom at the Royal College of Art, but when they completed their education, they had to set up their own facilities.

They built a small darkroom in Aubry Powell's bathroom, but shortly thereafter, in early 1970, rented space and built a studio. Remarkably, many of the memorable covers of the era were done in the bathroom darkroom.

Hipgnosis' unique approach to designing album packages pioneered many innovative visual and packaging techniques. In particular, they elaborately manipulated surreal photos (utilizing darkroom tricks, airbrush retouching, and mechanical cut-and-paste techniques). this was perhaps the film-based harbinger of what would, much later, be known as photoshopping.

Many of their album photos told "stories" derived from lyrics to songs on the album, often based on puns or double meanings of words in the album title. Powell and Thorgerson were film students and they would often employ models as "actors" staging their photographs in a highly theatrical manner.

Seldom did band members actually appear on the covers, but 10cc made it to the cover on a few occaisions.

The logos on Hipgnosis artworks are actually pen and ink artworks in their own right. Most were done by celebrated graphic artist George Hardie.

How About This One... From XTC?

Hipgnosis used primarily Hasselblad medium format cameras for their art. The square film format was well suited to album cover imagery.

O great creator of being grant us one more hour to perform our art and perfect our lives.

-Jim Morrison

Friday, January 11, 2008

Debunking Creationist Claims

Painted in 1925 by Charles R. Knight under the direction of paleontologist Henry Fairfield Osborn,
this mural in the American Museum of Natural History rebuts antievolutionists' charge
that science was undermining human dignity.

"Evolutionary philosophy and evolutionary spirituality are based upon
the recognition that we are part of a miraculous process that has existed
and been developing for billions of years.
It reveals to us that our own personal experience of that process
in all its many dimensions—inner and outer, gross and subtle
—is only a very small part of an infinite unfolding.
Thoughts and feelings that arise in individual consciousness
reflect emotional and psychological structures,
or habits, that have slowly developed over tens of thousands of years."

- Andrew Cohen

Science and spirituality are not necessarily exclusive of each other,
evolution occurs in an environment composed of time, space and form,
where spirit if it does indeed exist, must be of a primordial nature, timeless and formless.
The realm of spirituality is outside of time and space and unless you too
are outside of time and space, you know no more about it than anyone else.

I suggest that anyone whose ideas about spirituality hinge upon the literal "truth"
of stories told and retold in numerous tongues (many long dead) since the advent of language has no concept of spirituality whatsoever. Evolution is cosmic, biological and human.

Galaxies, planets, life, human consciousness and culture evolve
regardless of ones belief or disbelief in the process.
When someone feels connected to this ultimate reality,
and knows themselves to be a part of it, existence becomes harmonious
with integrity, with love and compassion for the whole.
If your personal interpretation of religious philosophy can not encompass this,
I suggest you may be in need of some "evolution" in that area.
Both legitimate science and legitimate spiritual inquiry seek the truth of matters.
If truth becomes your enemy, what are you defending?

Intelligent design is unintelligent.
A charade attempting to cloak one's personal religious dogma in scientific threads.
The claims of creationism as a science are rotund and pregnant with disingenuousness.
The creationist's claim that many scientists reject evolution and support creationism
but are somehow thwarted by liberals and atheists who control science
from behind soundstage curtains like the Wizard of Oz is deceptive nonsense.

Among the scientists and engineers in the US, merely 5% are creationists,
according to 3 surveys (1991 Gallup poll Robinson 1995, Witham 1997).
But this figure includes those in fields not related to life sciences
(like computer programmers, civil engineers, etc.).
If we were to take into account only those working in the relevant fields
of earth and life sciences, there are about 480,000 scientists,
yet only 700 or so consider creationism a valid theory (Robinson poll 1995).
This means that less than 0.15 percent of relevant scientists
believe in creation theories. And that is just in the United States,
which has far more creationists than even the most forsaken
backwater 3rd world locale on the planet, let alone among industrial nations .
In other countries, the number of relevant scientists who accept creationism drops to less than one tenth of 1 percent.

Additionally, many scientific organizations believe the evidence is so overwhelming
that they have issued public statements to that effect.
The National Academy of Sciences, one of the most prestigious science organizations,
devotes a Web site to the topic . A panel of seventy-two Nobel Laureates,
seventeen state academies of science, and seven other scientific organizations
created an amicus curiae brief which they submitted to the Supreme Court
(Edwards v. Aguillard ). This report clarified what makes science different
from religion and why creationism is not science.

We also should examine not just how many scientists and professors believe something,
but what their conviction is based on.
Most of those who reject evolution do so because
of personal religious convictions, not because of evidence.
Evidence supports evolution.
And ultimately evidence, not someone's personal opinion
(even if they are an authority) is what objective conclusions are based on in science.

Quite often, the claims that scientists reject evolution or support creationism
are hyperbolized or outright fraudulent. All good scientists are skeptical.
Evolution (and literally everything else) must be open to the possibility, however remote,
that serious challenges to it may appear. Creationists seize such expressions
of healthy scientific skepticism to imply that evolution is highly questionable
in the halls of science. They fail to understand that the fact that evolution
has withstood many years of such questioning
really means it is about as certain as facts can get.

"God is not averse to deceit in a holy cause"
- Aeschylus (525 - 456 BC) Source: Fragment 162

Another opium pipe dream espoused by the creationist is that evolution is not falsifiable and is not a proper scientific theory. This is absurd. There are numerous lines of evidence that could falsify evolution. For example:
  • a static fossil record;
  • true chimeras, that is, organisms that combined parts from several different and diverse lineages (such as mermaids and centaurs) and which are not explained by lateral gene transfer, which transfers relatively small amounts of DNA between lineages, or symbiosis, where two whole organisms come together.
  • a mechanism that would prevent mutations from accumulating;
  • observations of organisms being created.
Now this particular argument is made even more absurd because creationism is nothing but unsubstantiated claims.

"It is inconceivable that (fill in the blank) could have originated naturally.
Therefore, it must have been created. "
This argument, is known as the argument from ignorance or "god of the gaps,".
It is behind a plethora of different creationist arguments.
In particular, it is behind all arguments against abiogenesis
and any and all claims of "intelligent design".
Obviously no one knows everything, so it is completely unreasonable
to conclude that something is impossible because you do not know it.
someone may find a natural explanation; in many cases, they already have.

Gods were responsible for lightning until we determined natural causes for lightning,
for infectious diseases until we found bacteria and viruses,
for mental illnesses until we found biochemical causes for them.
The fundamentalist's God is confined only to those parts of the universe we do not know about, and that keeps shrinking. Perhaps that is why they seek to deny science and reason.

An intelligent and reasonable person who may also believe in a God creator
perceives the observations of Darwin as a glimpse at the handiwork
and mechanism of that Creator.
The deniers must not believe their God is capable of such a feat.
Since these folks are by far predominantly fundamentalists who insist
their particular take on the Bible is literally true,
how do they reconcile their anti-evolution stance with
"And God said, Let the earth bring forth grass,
the herb yielding seed, and the fruit tree." -- Genesis 1:11?
Why that smacks of evolution!
After all "the earth brings forth" suggests a natural process does it not?

"And God said, Let the earth bring forth the living creature after his kind, cattle, and creeping thing, and beast of the earth after his kind: and it was so."
-- Genesis 1:24 also suggests that perhaps ancients did not mean
that a hairy thunderer in the sky went "poof" and life appeared in an instant.
Rather again, it suggests that the Earth brought it forth .

So where did this idea that evolution was not compatible with religion originate?
It seems Luther and Calvin's take on these things is the the source.

Calvin warns those who, by taking another view than his own,
"basely insult the Creator, to expect a judge who will annihilate them."
He insists that all species of animals were created in six days,
each made up of an evening and a morning, and that no new species has ever appeared since.
He dwells on the production of birds from the water as resting upon
certain warrant of Scripture, but adds, "If the question is to be argued on physical grounds,
we know that water is more akin to air than the earth is.
As to difficulties in the scriptural account of creation,
he tells us that God "wished by these to give proofs of his power
which should fill us with astonishment."
Why was Calvin the authority?
Because he said so.

Not much of a premise to base a vehemently adhered to dogma on.

Then of course Luther at the Reformation insisted on the literal acceptance
of Scripture as the main source of natural science.
He utterly rejected the allegorical and mystical interpretations of the earlier theologians .

"Why," he asks, "should Moses use allegory when he is not speaking of allegorical creatures or of an allegorical world, but of real creatures and of a visible world, which can be seen, felt, and grasped? Moses calls things by their right names, as we ought to do....I hold that the animals took their being at once upon the word of God, as did also the fishes in the sea."
Cause I said so!
Again not much to hang your hat on there folks.

It seems the premise of fundamentalism is a belief in Calvin, Luther,
or someone else's opinion about the intentions of writers many centuries ago,
in favor of what was actually written.

Perhaps we are witnessing evolution at work.
Perhaps there has been a split in the human race.
Most of us are moving forward intellectually, culturally, and spiritually.
The trajectory is towards inclusion, complexity, facilitation, and amelioration.
While some either simply can not or will not evolve.
Instead they seek to go the other way on the chart,
in the direction of Cro-Magnon man.
Choosing ignorance over knowledge, hate over love, war over peace,
autocracy over freedom, hegemony over cooperation, ideology over ideals,
egregiousness over egalitarianism, superstition over science,
encomberment over encouragement, fallacy over fact, entombment over enlightenment.
In our journey through human cultural evolution,
we see greater and greater spheres of cooperation,
of complexity and interdependence on an ever-widening scale.
At first we cooperated with family and clan; then at the level of tribe;
then, later on, at the level of the kingdom; and now, at a planetary level.
Our list of enemies keeps shrinking,
and the people with whom we have cooperation and compassion
like our universe keeps expanding.
On the other hand the contingent who are de-evolving
have smaller and smaller spheres of cooperation, narrowing vision,
distrust and fear on a wider and wider scale. Their list of enemies keeps growing.
And contrary to the trajectory of the rest of us their cooperation and compassion keeps diminishing.

Who among us would let a 14th-century dentist fix their or their children's teeth?
Yet every day some let 14th century theologians fill their and their children's brains.
Evolution is observable and sound science.
Creationism is not.
There is no reason to expect to have science classrooms turned into pulpits
for the de-evolving crowd.
At some point if their trajectory is not altered they will become paramecium!

Click this picture

Monday, January 7, 2008

Eat Well, Stay Fit, Die Anyway

This week Considerable Sounds offers sound advice to a greater extent than advice about sounds. The New Year has already been a surprise - the news from Iowa... conventional wisdom proves to be an oxymoron. Huckabee's win ( regardless of what else might be concluded) shows that money and fear mongering don't always mean votes. Obama's decisive win put some pep in my step for numerous reasons not the least of which was that race was obviously not an issue.
His literate oratory reminded me of an earlier time when men like Robert Kennedy or Dr. Martin Luther King stirred the very souls of those who heard their words. This is not a bad way to start a new year. Hopefully neither is reading this article.....

A few days ago someone asked in an article I read online "If you knew you were going to die who would you call and what would you say to them?" Followed by "what are you waiting for?" For some reason this stuck in my head for a few days. Yes, we all are very likely going to die, perish, cease to exist, kick the bucket and push up the daisies. I have been well aware of this for quite some time now, having grown up in the "atomic age". As a child I was told to duck and cover. To hide under my desk in kindergarten because the atom bomb was obviously likely to explode any second. Air raid sirens wailed bi -weekly and our community would go through it's civil defense drills. How any of us survived this madness without being extremely emotionally disturbed is nothing short of astonishing. So, since the tender ages of youth I have not counted on a future. I've gazed at every sunset as if it's ocher and vermilion hues well might be the last observed. Through calamity and circumstance rather than measured consideration, I live in the moment, the impalpable here and now, contemporaneous and synchronous with an elusive present. It seems to me I've been here a lot longer than I ever imagined already. Yes I know I'm temporary. So who would I call? What would I say?

My wife and children who would be numero uno on the list were within shouting distance, so I told each of them I loved them, they asked for money and I forked over a few greenbacks and focused my attention elsewhere. My lifelong friends, well I love them too, but I'm a little light in the purse after my heartfelt dispatch to my lovely wife and kids so I just emailed them some bad jokes which seemed like a better idea at least from a budgetary perspective. Then I thought maybe it would good to share some of the truths I have stumbled upon on this junket.
Somehow it became this article. To my Family, friends, and dear readers, here is the "crux of the biscuit".
(At least as of today).

Men are from Earth and women are from Earth too . Anyone who tells you otherwise is a liar.
Every one of us is a misfit having amputated something to fit in this world. Those who fit best have extracted the most. As a result of this, somewhere there is a huge repository of extracted eyes, ears, hearts, brains, hands, and souls that no one is using. Eventually some goon will devise a scheme involving the exploitation of cheap labor to harvest and sell them.
One thing I have observed is that those who are content with the way things are, never benefit mankind. All progress comes from dissatisfied malcontents . I have traveled much of the planet and in every place I have visited what I found was decent people. Don't believe anyone who tells you otherwise. One on one, we get along quite well. Why then is it when we congregate in groups, decent behavior is forsaken? Group mentalities create "us" and "them", imagined threats, enemies. Stay out of groups. Celebrate individuality.

Anyone who tells you they know what happens after your dead is a liar. No man is a god and no god is a man. ( Though I'm not sure if this applies to women). A loving person always lives in a loving world, A hostile person always lives in a hostile world. Be joyful when people tell you that you are going to hell while they are going to heaven because you don't want to spend much time in the same location with them anyway. Ignorance gives one a larger range of possibilities in this matter..

A balanced diet is when you cut your cheesesteak sub in half, and hold one of those subsequent halves in each hand. Those who forget the pasta are condemned to reheat it. According to theoretical physics the universe will end if pasta and antipasto ever meet. Many people claim red meat is bad however I think that green or blue meat are worse, red meat is actually pretty tasty. The first person to eat a lobster was a very brave soul. So was the 1st person to drink milk from a cow. One of the seldom cited theories in science states that for every expert's nutrition and diet recommendation there will be an equal and opposite nutritional and diet recommendation. Ignore them all. Anyone who treats waiters poorly is not only self defeating (revenge may be one of the ingredients soon ingested) but reveals the true nature of their malevolent character. Avoid these people at all costs. As Warren Zevon said "enjoy every sandwich". I would say that all things are good in moderation, especially moderation.
Bon appétit.

Value liberty, though it is fragile it is not weak. It has the peculiar property of being something that can not be had unless given to others. Be skeptical of any ideology that can not coexist with liberty. Do not trade your freedom for any other quality, liberty is far more valuable and hard won than the most treasured gem or the most precious of metals. You are truly an individual, as atoms have not convened in your particular configuration before nor will they again. Everyone matters. Oppose those who think some matter more than others. They have been misinformed.
Stay away from the March Hare. I have no idea what a March Hare is but I heard he was mad about something or other. Love may be blind, but so were 3 mice and they got their tails cut off with a carving knife. Remember that no act of kindness, no matter how small goes unpunished. If at first you don't succeed avoid skydiving. When it comes to seagulls, one good tern deserves another. A bird in hand may be better than 2 in the bush ( at least according to Larry Craig), but he who feeds the gulls soon stinks. The pen is mightier than the sword but not a Howitzer. Before you criticize someone, you should walk a mile in their shoes. That way, when you criticize them, you're a mile away and you have their shoes. Where there is smoke there is Willie Nelson. It's always better late than severed. And it is better to give than to recede.

If you ever do find yourself at ground zero in a nuclear explosion, don't worry about finding a desk to hide under, I don't think it will help matters much. Everything you need to know about life can be learned from Monty Python, the Beatles, and Baseball.
Music and Art bring more light to the world than any policy or religion could ever even fathom. Experience as much of it as possible. Books are the standard bearers of civilization. Without them, history is silent, literature dumb, science crippled, thought and speculation blinded. The burning of the library of Alexandria was even dumber than allowing George W. Bush to become a President. In the fabric of the universe we are 2. (watch out for those tailors!) Life is neither a bowl of cherries nor is it the pits. It 's a party and your invited! Bring some hors d'oeuvres.


One Of the finest bands ever in my humble opinion. I liked them so much I would see them in N.Y., Phila., and D.C. when they toured. A mix of baroque, jazz, rock and 20th century music placed them in a category which they alone occupied. Playing more than 30 instruments during their shows, Gentle Giant created some of the greatest music of the 1970s progressive rock era. The only thing I can think of to follow a Gentle Giant piece is another one. Enjoy "Knots".

1972 - Minnear, Shulman, Shulman and Shulman

All in all each man in all men
All men in each man.
He can see she can't, she can see
she can
see whatever, whatever.
You may know what I don't know,
but not that
I don't know it and I can't tell you
so you will.
To tell me all man in all men
All men in each man.
He can see she can't, she can see
she can
see whatever, whatever.
You may know what I don't know,
but not that
I don't know it and I can't tell you
so you will have to tell me all.
It hurts him to think that she is
hurting her by him being hurt to think
that she thinks he is hurt by making her
feel guilty at hurting him by her thinking
she wants him to want her. Her wants
her to
want him to get him to want him to get
him to want her she pretends.
He tries to make her afraid by not
being afraid. (permutations)
You may know what I don't know, but not
that I don't know it and I can't
tell you so you will have to tell
me all.
I get what I deserve. I deserve what I
get. I have it so I deserve it. I deserve
it for I have it. I get what I deserve.
What I deserve - what I deserve what
I get.
I have it so I deserve.
He tries to make her afraid by not
being afraid.

NEWS- Jordan Rudess covers the Gentle Giant classic "Just The Same" on his upcoming album. Hear a sample at

"Just the Same"
composed by Ray Shulman, Derek Shulman and Kerry Minnear 1975

See me, what I am, what I was, what I'll be,
Hear me, understand that I'm not what you see
Take this, take the man, middle term, common me
Don't you see that I'm just doing what I want to do
Nothing more and nothing less than you
Read no thoughts I didn't think myself
Just the same as anybody else

Make me someone else, put me up on a stand.
Something that I don't really want on my hands
Use me, idolise all you can understand
Don't you see that I'm just doing what I want to do
Nothing more and nothing less than you
Read no thoughts I didn't think myself
Just the same as anybody else

Change it, what you think, what you thought, what you say
Look for something more than you sought yesterday.
I don't want to be part of your life to-day.
Don't you see that I'm just doing what I want to do
Nothing more and nothing less than you
Read no thoughts I didn't think myself
Just the same as anybody else

ASCII Giant-

_/- ---_
__/ --__
-- \_
/ / -_
/ / | \
| | | \
/ | _________ | \
| | _________---_________ | |
| | __________ | |
| _ | \----------\ /__________/ | _ |
\| | \----------- ----\ |/ \|
|| | - /^^^\ \ | | / /^^^\- || ||
\\ | -< \__/\> - || /
|| | --__-/ __ \-__-- | |
/ \_\ - - / _|
| \_______/_ _\_______/ \
/ \_ \____/ _/ \
/ \ \ || __/ / \
/ \ \--_^^_--/ / \
/ \ \______/ / \
/ \__ / \ __/ \
/ \
/ \
/ \
/ \
/ \
/ \
/ \
/ \
/ \

“Live as if you were to die tomorrow. Learn as if you were to live forever.” -Mahatma Gandhi

Thursday, January 3, 2008

Election 2008 Poll

Apparently in Iowa money spent does not equal a win earned.
Based on the results of the Iowa Caucuses, we offer this survey.

If the U.S. Presidential election were to be held today which of these tickets would you vote for?

Obama - Edwards

Huckabee - Romney

niether, I will write in Sponge Bob and Squidward

results »

The Issues

A president Barack Obama will implement a 21st century economic agenda to help ensure that America can compete in a global economy, and ensure the middle class is thriving and growing. He will increase investments in infrastructure, energy independence, education, and research and development; modernize and simplify our tax code so it provides greater opportunity and relief to more Americans; and implement trade policies that benefit American workers and increase the export of American goods.

In today's Two Americas, it is no coincidence that most families are working harder for stagnating wages when there are nearly 60 lobbyists for every member of Congress. America's image overseas has been tarnished by the war in Iraq, our refusal to join the world in working to halt global warming, and repeated violations of Americans' constitutional rights.
Building One America will take strong, bold steps, not incremental steps and half measures. Edwards has proposed detailed plans to put Washington back on the side of regular families.


My faith is my life - it defines me. My faith doesn't influence my decisions, it drives them. For example, when it comes to the environment, I believe in being a good steward of the earth. I don't separate my faith from my personal and professional lives. I support and have always supported passage of a federal constitutional amendment that defines marriage as a union between one man and one woman. As President, I will fight for passage of this amendment. My personal belief is that marriage is between one man and one woman, for life.

We must strengthen our military by increasing the size of our military by 100,000 troops and dedicating at least four percent of our gross domestic product to defense. We must transform our domestic civilian international efforts to meet a new generation of global challenges and ensure that our intelligence and law enforcement efforts are able to address threats before they reach out shores.

Believes in a liquid economy, stronger fishing regulations and providing giant pineapples for the homeless. "Two Krusty Krab Krabby Patties in every crab pot!" is his campaign slogan. Spongebob is a supporter of equal chumbucket rights for all and stands for fully funding fish schools. Mr. Squarepants would appoint Larry the Lobster as head of swampland security and believes in a strong defense from shark attacks and programs that help the porous.

A strong supporter of bay rights and Roe v Shad. Squidward would appoint "the professor" from Gilligan's Island as the Sturgeon General and "Popeye" the sailor would become the Secretary of Defense. The former CEO of Halibut-on would funnel tax money to the company by employing them to build a fence around the entire ocean while siphoning fish oil from smaller developing bodies of water.