Monthly Archives: February 2009

Kubla Khan Book Paintings

Well, I’ve passed the 50% mark on this project — all the sketches (other than the cover) for the book pages are complete… Now I need to go over them all and get them perfect… I think I’ll pick a wall and set them all up at once so I can do it more quickly. Below is how they’ll fit together. They’ll still look quite a bit different from this iteration, which is a little “shallow”.

To the makers of music — all worlds, all times

I was reading an article on the value of Facebook$3.7 billion right now, which seems completely ridiculous, let alone past values as high as $15 billion in value. How is that possible? To me, it seems like the dollar value of a business should be somehow related to their profit. Facebook has a negative cash flow, and somehow manages to get a valuation that’s in the realm of $500 per user. Good luck banking that kind of money on a site that can’t generate a meaningful click-through rate (and really, no site that’s a valuable destination will ever manage a good click-through rate since the users come for what the site offers, not what their ads offer).

One of the things that I’m proud of on a business level from when I managed BME, is that BME scaled well as a business (ie. it was profitable as a small site, and profitable as a large site), and never operated with a negative cash flow due to its basic business model — ensuring that members paid their way, either by buying a membership, or by adding value to the site through contributions of content. I still think this is the best way to run a large website, and once a more effective and universal system for micropayments is unveiled, I think we’ll see Facebook-type sites move to such a model, and I think we’ll also see content become valuable again… Which is another problem I have with the “free” internet right now.*

On a completely different subject, I read about some new study to guess at how much intelligent life is in the universe, a la the Drake equation, which can produce such a wide range of answers dependent on the probabilities that you feed it that it might as well be useless. My personal take on the probabilities in the Drake equation make me think that intelligent life is rare to the point of uniqueness — all the more reason for us to spread across the galaxy. That said, I am still overcome with the beauty of the Voyager Golden Record, a collection of music that was attatched to the Voyager probes, along with “directions” (using distances from pulsars) back to Earth, in the hope that one day it would be found by another civilization. Carl Sagan, who headed the project, said, “the launching of this ‘bottle’ into the cosmic ‘ocean’ says something very hopeful about life on this planet.”

It includes some great pieces of music:

Queen of the Night
Dark was the Night
Jaat Kahan Ho
Johnny B Goode

Thus the old SNL skit where the first message from aliens is


An interesting sidenote — Sagan tried to get permission for “Here Comes the Sun” by the Beatles, but even though the Beatles wanted their music to head out into space, EMI blocked their music from being included. What, because they’re concerned that some civilization that collects this music a billion years from now (or at least 40,000 years, which is when it starts to reach other stars) doesn’t want to pay licensing fees on their copyright? Ludicrous. I really do find the whole concept indescribably beautiful though, and have spent too much of my time dreaming about both this message being discovered, and us discovering such a message ourselves… I mean, Blind Willie Johnson as our embassador to the stars…

I am working on prepping the last in the series of paintings for the Kubla Khan book, having finished off the rough of Prophecies of War this afternoon… Working on an interior scene of the Pleasure Dome right now, and when that’s all done, I tackle them all again and retouch them all and then start glazing them.


Well, I’m sure I’ve rambled long enough. Tomorrow is a school holiday so I get to sleep in, and then I’m taking Nefarious to the airport so she can visit her mother for the weekend.

* They used to say “content is king”, which is the other concept that I tried to maintain with BME (and with my other sites) — if you have good and abundant original content, your site has value as a destination of repeat visitors. However, creating this content takes time, effort, and expense, and these days, it’s often blogs and content aggregators rather than producers that generate higher profits. I think that the long-term result of this has been deeply damaging to content producers, many of whom are moving along on inertia as much as current profitability. A micropayment system that paid content producers and well as those who promote that content would do wonders for the Internet.

Going Swimming

We’ve been playing too many video games (Nefarious is working her way through MySims), so today we went swimming instead.


PS. Google proves…


“The entire city of Columbus is instantly vaporized… The state of Ohio and its 11 million inhabitants cease to exist in the blink of an eye…”

I was talking this morning to Nefarious about how important it is that humans start to migrate across the solar system and then the universe, and we watched some asteroid videos. Several times before in our planet’s history the biosphere has been remade by an asteroid, and a few smaller asteroids at least (1999 RQ36, Apophis, 2007 VK184) are making quite close passes to Earth in the immediate future. Here’s a National Geographic video on a slightly larger asteroid hitting us:

It gets scarier when a big asteroid — say 500 km across — hits the Earth. On one level, the odds of us getting hit with something this big are slim to none, but on the other hand, all you have to do is look up at the Moon with a pair of binoculars and you can see by its scars that it does happen enough times over the life of a celestial body.

Our Artifacts

Reading Metafilter this morning, I came across this beautiful gallery of WWII bunkers.


Something about them reminds me of places like Angkor Wat — eternal objects created by humanity that rise up through the nature that has tried to reclaim its space.


In a moment of synchronicity, Someone sent me this photo of an Astra GT kit car in a similar state of decay-slash-suspended-preservation.