We interrupt this blog to bring you the World Series of….


“What do you want to be a sailor for? There are greater storms in politics than you will ever find at sea. Piracy, broadsides, blood on the decks. You will find them all in politics.”–David Lloyd George 
Sailing?  Really?!!  If you know me, you were expecting baseball, golf, poker–anything but sailing.  What do I know about sailing?  Put it this way: when I arrived in the San Francisco Bay area Saturday night, I had no idea that the first event in the  America’s Cup World Series 2012-2013 season was going on here this week.  But leave it to my 90-year-old stepmother, Elizabeth, to know exactly what’s going on in her territory.  We hopped on the ferry from Alameda to pier 41 in San Francisco harbor Sunday morning,  found a great and uncrowded vantage point at the end of pier 45,  and watched the final race in the first of 4 series events leading up to next year’s  Louis Vuitton Cup and America’s Cup final.   It was surprisingly colorful and fun to watch, and during the two legs of the race that came right by us, we had a better view than anyone other than the helicopters and seabirds overhead.
The results:  Defending champion Oracle Team USA–Spithill came on with a rush at the finish of the 11-boat  fleetrace but fell three seconds short of the winner, Italian  Team Luna Rosa–Piranha;  but the second place finish was good for a one point victory for  Sptithill over Piranha in the week-long final standings.   The Vuitton cup held here next summer will determine the challenger to Oracle USA for the  34th America’s Cup final in September 2013.

Timeout: This is Not a Pipe

“I am two with nature.”–Woody Allen

This is not a pipe

The Treachery of Images, by Rene Magritte, 1928-29
Ceci n’est pas une pipe. This is not a pipe.

René Magritte’s message is rather unambiguous.  An image of a “thing” is not the thing itself.  But don’t worry, I’m not headed toward a heavy ontological discussion here.  I have a simple question which, believe it or not, my overly opinionated philosophical mind has virtually no idea how to answer.   Maybe one of you out there can help.

I love nature photography.  Flowers, birds, wildlife, oceans, lakes, clouds, mountains, landscapes–you name it, I like looking at these images and they are my favorite to photograph.  Good grief, I’ve even photographed mud puddles and insects.  And yet I am not, by any stretch of the imagination, what one would call a nature lover.  I hate gardening and yard work.  I won’t even mow my own lawn as I am allergic to grass pollen. I haven’t been camping in 30 years and only rarely go hiking.  I do spend a good bit of time outdoors, but this is almost entirely involved with playing or watching sports.  It seems that I prefer a well framed image of nature to the actual experience of nature itself.  And to add to the conundrum, this only applies to photographic images.  My preferences in other visual arts tends towards styles or schools–Surrealist (Miró), Social Realist (Hopper), Post-impressionist (Seurat, Rousseau, Van Gogh), Geometric Abstraction (Klee, Mondrian).  (Here is a link to my favorite contemporary artist, Yanick Lapuh.)

I have only just realized this–and really have no strong ideas about why this should be.  A preference for a well-composed image?  Remnants from a childhood anxiety of physical reality?  Or, like Woody, am I just at two with nature?   All you amateur psychologists please provide your opinions by email, snail mail, or pony express.  (Comments herein are OK, too)

Below, three of my personal favorite landscape photographs from my own travels, as well as a couple of representative pieces by Monsieur Lapuh.

(Click on images for full size)

Sideways tree

Sideways Tree. Looking out from the Great Wall of China. Copyright 2006, Mark Sackler


Costa Rica Coastline. Copyright 2008, Mark Sackler


A Scottish Loch. Copyright 2010 Mark Sackler

Objection Your Honer, Yanick Lapuh, 1993

Envisioned Solution, Yanick Lapuh, 2006


“Women marry men hoping they will change. Men marry women hoping they will not. So each is inevitably disappointed.”– Albert Einstein

Copyright Used by permission.

Hmmm.  Ol’ Albert may have known more about everyday life then he is commonly given credit for.  After 34-years, my wife still hasn’t learned this lesson.  She is still trying to change me.  I keep telling her to leave me alone as I am a finished product;  I couldn’t possibly get any worse.


Conjecture #2: Inevitability (Part 2)

I Conjecture:  In an infinite multiverse we must exist.

Part Two: The impossibility of non-existance

“Needleman was rarely out of public controversy. He published his famous ‘Non-Existence: What To Do If It Suddenly Strikes You’.”–Woody Allen, ‘Remembering Needleman’ (short story)

Image credit: (click image for link)

If you think imagining infinity is difficult,  try imagining nothing.  No, I don’t mean blank your mind.  I mean imagine nothingness.  NO!  I don’t mean a vacuum–empty space with no matter and energy.  I mean absolutely nothing:  no space and no time.  I’m betting you can’t do it, even if you think you can; you’re not, even if you think you are.   I merely conjectured that the concept of infinity could not exist in a finite universe, but I am firmly asserting that a conscious entity is incapable of imagining absolute nothingness.  It’s an oxymoron. By the mere fact of imagining you have to imagine something.  And while it might be pure philosophy to suggest it couldn’t be because we are incapable of imagining it, there is strong scientific argument for the “something out of nothing” impossibility of non-existence.  From Hawking on down, physicists have come to the conclusion that there is no such thing as absolute vacuum, that space is full of quantum foam, seething with instability and particles of energy and matter popping in and out of existence.  If matter plus antimatter equals nothing, than by commutation, nothing equals anti-matter plus matter.  (Yes, I know. The intelligent design crowd will reject this and tell us that it is all too perfect.  God must have done it.  Really? So God can exist out of nothing but the universe can’t?  When they can tell me where god came from and offer some form of empirical evidence, I will consider their arguments; but they can’t, so I won’t.)  Final proof: we do exist. Maybe all other arguments are moot.  And anyway I have an out, as the prerequisite for this conjecture is “in an infinite multiverse.”  Let’s rest our neurons for the next installment: The Conjecture of the Future.

(As an entertaining aside, here is a YouTube video of Neal Degrasse Tyson rambling on some cosmic questions.   It includes his conclusion that intelligent life is inevitable.)


Timeout: The Sackler Laws (Part 3)

The Law of Laws

“The major difference between a thing that might go wrong and a thing that cannot possibly go wrong is that when a thing that cannot possibly go wrong goes wrong it usually turns out to be impossible to get at and repair.”  Douglas Adams

The only law that works better in practice than it does in theory is Murphy’s Law.

Image Credit: Cartoon Used by permission.

Whomever said originally that Murphy was an optimist was at least hinting at this. But this blog is about cutting to the chase, cutting out the crap, and stating the obvious (or the “should be obvious”) as directly as humanly possible.  After all, it is Einstein who said one should make things as simple as possible.  So for all the countless corollaries, addenda and sub-clauses to the infamous milieu of Murphy,  I do not believe anyone has ever stated this obvious notion so directly.


“A child of five would understand this. Send someone to fetch a child of five.”-Groucho Marx

Now if I could only find a child of five to write my next post, I could get out of here for the weekend.

Forever five years old

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