Sunday, October 31, 2010

Juarez Murder Record

As of October 30 there have been 340 killings in our neighbor city Juarez, Mexico. This is the most ever in one month.

I have been trying really hard to think of some intelligent comment. But I can't. Just what a waste of perfectly good human beings.

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Radical Republicans

Yes, I agree, President Barack Obama and his crew are timid and have no backbone. They keep trying to compromise with the right wingers, but the Republicans just kick sand in their face. Again and again. Obama can't seem to learn from his mistakes.

But lets think a moment about how it is going to be if these lunatic racist Republicans do manage to take over. They openly plan to undo even the very meager progress that Obama made on health care and re-regulation of the financial industry. They state quite openly that they intend to kill off the Environmental Protection Agency. Continued growth in the massive budget deficit is guaranteed after the Republicans lower taxes on the rich even further, while at the same time increasing spending on unneeded missiles and fighter jets. Military hardware that is made by their big campaign contributors of course.

These asshole Republicans don't even pretend to stand for “traditional values” anymore. All, yes really all, of the U.S. Senators are now millionaires. It is entirely about screwing the little guy so that the rich can get even richer. Greed is the only value that matters to these low life GOP bastards.

The low life Republicans will do even more vigorous union busting; get rid of most of that civil rights insanity and that basic human rights nonsense; and finally kill off that New Deal communist Social Security program by privatizing it. Privatized and deregulated Social security will end up looking just like the fraud driven home mortgage market. The GOP will keep spending trillions of dollars foolishly on ineffective intelligence and the military.
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These newly open and honest Republicans Tea Partiers make Cheny and Bush seem almost polite, kind, and gentle.
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The irony is that I see almost none of the American young people standing up and fighting this. Or even interested in talking about it. America has a history of people fighting against oppression like this. It came out in the open in the 1930s and again in the 1960s.

Maybe the American youth is permanently damaged. Spoiled brats who have taken too many drugs and spent too much time in front of video games, TV sets, computer screens, and cell phones. They show pure absolute apathy about injustice. Greed and avariciousness seem just fine to them.

In a Democracy the people get the kind of government that they deserve, and the young people of America who we are turning this over to are certainly going to be living a much more unpleasant life than what we have had. But I guess they will just take more drugs and try to avoid thinking about it.


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Saturday, October 30, 2010

Silbury Hill


I have visited Stonehenge many times over the years. The last time I went there I also visited Silbury Hill which is just east of the gigantic Avebury stone circle, about 25 miles north of the smaller but much more famous Stonehenge.
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Silbury Hill is Europe's largest man-made prehistoric mound. Composed mainly of chalk and clay excavated from the surrounding area, the mound stands 40 metres (130 ft) high and covers about 5 acres (2 ha).

There has been some archaeological work done on the hill since I was there so I tried to buy the book from Amazon.com in America. They said it was not yet available, but Amazon.co.uk had it available. Including freight and foreign exchange the price is the same within pennies.


LINK TO BBC ARTICLE: http://www.bbc.co.uk/news/science-environment-11621802

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Ansel Adams

I'm reading one of Ansel Adams' technical books. This one is called Natural-Light Photography and is from 1952. I just read a chapter on the miniature camera. This is his name for 35mm cameras. He is somewhat disparaging about the sharpness one is capable of getting in landscape photography when your negative is so small (36mm x 24mm), even when you are using the finest lens and the sharpest grained film.

He says that one should at least use a medium format negative of 2-1/4 x 2-1/4 or one sized 2-1/4 x 3-1/4 inches. Of course he likes a 4 x 5 or 8 x 10 inch even more.

It is true that size does matter. Anyone who has had a large V8 engine knows that. But with finesse we now see cars with much smaller engines actually going faster than the ones with big V8 engines. The same is true with digital photography.

A great many fine, expensive digital SLR cameras use an APS-C sized sensor. About 23.6mm x15.7mm. Almost all Nikon and Canon DSLRs use this size of sensor. This is well under half the size of a 35mm film negative, or what we nowadays call a “full-size” sensor in a professional level digital SLR. I have shot some great landscapes and then had great prints made from them in the 20 x 30 inch size with this APS-C size of sensor.

With the “full-size” sensor it only gets better. The noise (grain) gets better; low light levels (high ISO) are less of a problem, and the same lenses give one much better wide angle shots. And if one is willing to forgo any cropping, one can normally get good 8 x 10 inch prints even from the cameras using the really teeny tiny sensors. The advantage here is that as the sensor gets smaller, so does the lens. So many of these cameras will easily fit unobtrusively in your shirt pocket.

This all seems a bit incredible to me, but lets face it: It is now almost 60 years since this book by Ansel Adams was copyrighted. A lot of things have only improved slightly, but in the area of digital electronics the improvements have been incredible.

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Republican Tea Partiers – Like Nazis?

I've had the pleasure of having all different kinds of people as friends during the last 60 years. Mexicans, African Americans, Frenchmen, Germans, Cajuns, Jews, People of the Islamic faith, Christians, and people who ride Harleys. But I draw the line before I reach the Nazis and the KKK. I have no desire to associate with this kind of low life person. Sick, racist, and narrow minded.

I used to have friends who considered themselves Republicans. They believed in hard work, honesty, and fairness. They could be generous and would help a man who was down on his luck.

Things have changed now though. The Republican Tea Partiers have evolved into dishonest, greedy, racist, narrow minded, totally self centered people who want to cancel all laws (deregulation), and who will do anything to become and stay wealthy. They bow down to the military and the God of money. Because of their screwed up ideas America has declined on the world stage...substantially.

Just like with Nazis, life is too short for me to waste time associating with low life like this.

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CLL Friends

Ten years ago the internet was almost worthless, now it is tremendously useful. Thanks to the internet I have some wonderful friends who are about my own age, and who also have chronic lymphocytic leukemia (CLL). It really does help to have friends; and it helps even more to have friends who are fighting the same battles as you.

I have actually met IRL (in real life) a few of the CLL people I first met through the internet. But most of my friends I have not met in person. It doesn't really seem to matter though.

One of my internet friends is wonderfully funny and upbeat. Paul Whittle lives in the UK, and he seems to have found a way to continue to enjoy life, even with CLL. Betty Reynolds lives in New Mexico, USA and she is just plain great. Others live in Arizona and Australia.

It is really important to have friends. Especially friends with a commonality of interest, where you speak the same language and can easily relate to what the other person is going through.

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Thursday, October 28, 2010

Time Enough For Love


I just finished the 1973 Robert A. Heinlein book entitled Time Enough For Love. It has got to be one of his best. It is a science fiction novel which was nominated for the Nebula Award and Best Novel in 1973, and both the Hugo and Locus awards in 1974.

The Putnam version is 605 pages long, the paperback reissue edition which I read that was printed by Ace around 2003 is 589 pages long. I mention this because when you are reading a really good, very enjoyable book, it is nice to have it last as long as possible.

In many ways this one book weaves together many of his other books. Any Heinlein fan will certainly enjoy this book.


LINK TO WIKIPEDIA ARTICLE: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Time_Enough_for_Love

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Timid Obama Health Care

In the Jon Stewart interview of President Barack Obama yesterday, Stewart appropriately brought up the simple fact that the final version of the Obama health care legislation was very timid. President Obama defended it saying , “It gets discounted because we didn’t get 100 percent of what we wanted, we got 90 percent,” said Obama of the law, who lamented that people tend to focus on the “10 percent” that they didn’t get.

The final Obama health care cost reduction act does indeed implement some good consumer protections. Insurance companies now find it harder to cancel people's health insurance once they become sick. Annual and lifetime maximums in coverage are no longer allowed. These consumer protections could have been required by simple legislation.

The problem with Obama's no-backbone compromising is that his health law did not just give away 10% of the important abuses which needed to be corrected, the percentage is more like 55% or 60%, maybe more.

Many millions of people in America will still remain outside of the health care system. They will be unable to receive proper treatment if they develop a serious disease. This was the great opportunity to implement Universal Health Care. Obama's law still leaves many people with no access to health care. Especially people of modest means or those who are down on their luck. This is absolutely not acceptable.

A great many people were trying to get the government to honestly consider the “single payer” plan or at least the vastly weaker “vigorous government option.” But behind closed doors Obama and his team quickly and completely sold these ideas out to the rich, greedy Republicans. The Obama system siphons away many millions of dollars each year to health insurance companies unnecessarily. Each state and their insurance commissioners have different rules, health insurance policies, costs, etc. This may be the biggest failure of Obama's plan, and it may well be the one which will doom it.

There is also the major question of whether the government can demand by law (with penalties) that people purchase expensive health insurance from private corporations.

President Obama has become insulated from the normal people in America. His plan didn't give away 10% of what we wanted and needed. No, it gave away 55% to 60% of what was absolutely required to make sure that the American Universal Health Care Program would be successful.

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Tuesday, October 26, 2010

Digital Photography vs. Film

I've been taking pictures for well over fifty years now. A few film movies, some medium format still film, but until digital cameras overtook film I mostly used 35mm film. I was the nerdy kid who ran the movie projector in the 4th grade.

At the moment I own 25+ film cameras, including 35mm viewfinders, 35mm SLRs, and a medium format film camera I just adore. I've owned many digital cameras during the last 15 years, but the ones I regularly use currently are my Nokia smart cellphone camera, a Nikon P100 extreme point and shoot, and three Nikon DSLRs, the DX sensor sized D80 and D300s, and the 35mm full sized FX sensor D700. My little Leica digital point and shoot also takes stunning pictures.

For at least 10 years it has been clear that using digital SLR cameras results in at least as good photographs as 35mm film SLRs. And during the last five years DSLRs have without any doubt grown well beyond 35mm film cameras in virtually every important area that affects picture quality, sharpness, resolution, and color. The one area where 35mm cameras were and are clearly superior was in their size and weight. But by going to a much smaller sensor, and losing some of the image quality, one can easily get to a perfectly good camera which will fit unobtrusively in your shirt pocket.

In the bad old days I had a darkroom full of nasty chemicals. Now I have Photoshop on my computers. It does lots more.

There have been many improvements in these digital cameras during the last 10 to 15 years. Auto focus and letting the camera automatically set aperture, exposure, and sensor sensitivity (ISO) are among them. I have several friends who insist upon manually adjusting all of the settings above; but I think this is just silly (or arrogant) in most situations. I guess I go to full blown manual less than1% of the time. Using aperture priority or shutter priority can be very useful, while still letting your fancy, expensive camera do most of the heavy lifting for you.
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Automatic encoding of EXIF data with all important camera information often including GPS location and elevation and copyright information is wonderful. Lens technology has improved too. Most of my 30 year old Nikon lenses will work on my digital SLRs, but in addition to autofocus the new lenses have special glasses like ED low dispersion glass and various coatings which make them function better. Vibration reduction may be one of the finest improvements.

In photography the rule with me, National Geographic, and many others has always been quality through quantity. With digital this is easier than ever. I have a 32 gigabite memory card in my best digital SLR. Indeed one of the important skills one has to master with digital is how to review hundreds of pictures quickly, discarding shamelessly at least 95% of them, and then with the remaining 5% narrowing it down to one or maybe two per area of interest. So one particularly exceptional picture in 100 is still respectable odds. Often it is more like 1 in 250 or less.

Being able to instantly review your picture on the camera's screen, along with graphs and charts showing your exposure can be very useful.

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Monday, October 25, 2010

Famous Leica Shooters

During much of the 20th century Leica cameras were used by some of the world's best photographers.
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Leica cameras, manufactured by the German company Leica Camera AG, are very high quality cameras. Like Nikon, Leica is first an optics company, with cameras and photography equipment only a small part of what they do. Also like Nikon, Leica is famous for its lenses.

Much of its fame came from “street photographs” done by people like Henri Cartier-Bresson. The picture on the right is of his first Leica. He never used a flash, insisted upon using his unobtrusive 35mm viewfinder Leica with a 50mm lens.


Man Ray - 1890-1976 American
Leni Riefenstahl - 1903-2003 German
Margaret Bourke-White - 1904-1971 American
Henri Cartier-Bresson - 1908-2004 French
Diane Arbus - 1923-1971 American

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I have owned probably 15 or 20 digital point and shoot cameras...maybe more. My Leica D-lux 3 is hands down, no question, the best.


Saturday, October 23, 2010

Wikileaks War Documents

In the first batch of secret documents it turn out that the U.S. Government had kept a great many of them secret unnecessarily. There are some things which need to remain secret, but in general secrecy breeds dishonesty and corruption.

What we have found from these large leaks of war documents by Wikileaks is that our own government and military have been lying to us. Badly understating the numbers of people injured and killed, and certainly at all costs hiding the true cost of all this intelligence, defense, and military.

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Thursday, October 21, 2010

Conservative Party Budget Slashing in Britain

I have always sort of liked David Cameron, even if he is a Conservative. But this wild budgetary slashing of his is going to cause a major disaster.

Ministerial budgets have been reduced by an average of 19 percent. Almost half a million public sector jobs will disappear over the next four years. The military is being cut significantly. State expenditures will plunge by 83 billion pounds (€94 billion, $131 billion), and taxes will increase by 29 billion pounds (€32 billion, $45 billion). The retirement age is also set to rise.

It wasn't planned, it just sort of happened that in college and graduate school I happened to take almost enough economics courses that this almost could have been my major. Economists know more about how national economies work than the average undereducated Joe Plumber thinks. Economics, like political science, is greatly affected by people's attitudes, which makes the dismal science a particularly difficult field of study.

I can just about guarantee you that the Cameron cuts are a solid prescription for a massive and painful recession in England, maybe something far worse than that. And their economy is big enough that this might he contagious too.

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Wednesday, October 20, 2010

Clarence Thomas

This story is so juicy you would expect to read it in some chick romance novel.

A black man who sits on the radical far right wing politically. A guy who is well known for his sexual abuse and ill treatment of women. And this guy is a supreme court justice.

His latest wife, a white, middle aged, arrogant, radical right wing political organizer and general trouble maker, has now reopened his prior mistreatment of women. She did this by leaving a message on the answering machine of one of his prior victims, a black college professor named Anita Hill. She asked the victim to apologize!

Thomas and his loose cannon wife are behaving in a fashion that is wildly inappropriate for a supreme court justice. It is possible to fire him. Under our system of government this is done through the impeachment process. It is about time to get this started. Before he or his wife further disgraces America.

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Obama Slaps The Homos In The Face

I am a liberal democrat. I'm not gay; not even a little teeny bit. Sometimes I take the same position as the gays do, and sometimes I disagree with them completely.

What is happening right now is nothing short of shocking and shameful. A judge has said that don't ask don't tell (DADT) has to stop right now, completely, worldwide. Just like separate but equal for the negroes was ended. End of story. President Obama says very forcefully that DADT will end on his watch, period!!

But he keeps allowing the people who report to him to use every legal trick and tactic possible to try and continue DADT. Saying one thing and then doing something just the opposite. This is exactly how he has behaved on the other liberal-progressive issues of universal health care, re-regulation of the financial industry, ending the wars, and the environment.

Barack, people are committing suicide over this. Carrers and lives are being ruined. Yet you want to do the politically expedient thing, taking cover and waiting.

A friend warned me early on that Obama was just another slippery, ethically questionable Chicago politician. Thanks Clay. I didn't want to believe it, but after so much overwhelming evidence it sure is becoming hard to stay solidly behind President Obama.

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Chuck

The latest episode of Chuck on NBC called “Chuck Versus the Couch Lock” which aired on Oct 18, 2010 was very enjoyable.

In it the team must fake Casey's death in an elaborate ruse to capture his former special ops team members who've gone rogue.

LINK: http://www.hulu.com/watch/184805/chuck-chuck-versus-the-couch-lock

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Tuesday, October 19, 2010

The Purpose of Mass Public Education

Looking back at history and our country's founders we find that free public education was considered a vital part of establishing a properly functioning democracy.

People cannot vote intelligently if they have no idea about the constitution or how the government works. A knowledge of history is useful too. Maybe some philosophy. Certainly being skillful in reading is essential.

We have lost our way. Public Education has become all about science, math, and getting wealthy/greed. As individuals or as our country against other countries.

Many schools no longer even teach civics; at any level. So a kid can graduate from high school and college as well and still be outrageously incompetent as a voter.

A couple of Robert A. Heinlein quotes:

“Expertise in one field does not carry over into other fields. But experts often think so. The narrower their field of knowledge the more likely they are to think so.”

“Secrecy is the beginning of tyranny.”


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Desperate Pro-Gay Groups

In today's news I see that apparently various pro-gay groups are desperate for Obama to do something to help their cause. I can relate. Just a couple of years ago when he was campaigning we also thought that he was going to end the wars, try to implement universal health care, improve civil rights, that he was a progressive or liberal, and that he was pro-environment. Wrong on almost counts.

I am not pro-gay. In fact I am far from it. But I do not want to see thousands of troops being forced to leave the military just because of their sexual preference. It is unjustified and harmful to society as a whole. I don't want the morality police busting into people's bedrooms at night either trying to catch two adults enjoying their favorite perversion.

This does not mean I think that we should be bullied or intimidated into saying that homosexuality is “as good” as being straight; or that it can be viewed as being normal. It is not necessarily evil or terrible, although unprotected anal intercourse certainly is a health hazard. This certainly doesn't mean that I want the government to proactively subsidize gays and lesbians with my tax dollars. Social security survivor's benefits and health care for domestic partners are good examples.

Society subsidizes real marriage between a man and a woman just because raising a child is so very difficult. We need to encourage it and try to help out a little financially. Having children and raising them with both the mother and father present is good for society. But the same cannot be said about various sexual perversions. There is no reason that we should financially subsidize them.

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Short Night

I got to sleep a bit late last night, mostly due to some great TV shows.

Then I was up at 2:00 a.m. I had to make a few phone calls to Europe, and with the eight hour time difference it means that for me to talk to them during the middle of the workday morning (before lunch) I need to call pretty early from the Mountain time zone.

I'm glad I made the calls though. It was a real pleasure talking with friends who I haven't seen in four years.

Today will be pretty mellow, I hope. Early voting, I need to go by the post office, and both UPS and FedX are making deliveries later today if the tracking is correct.

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Monday, October 18, 2010

Immigration - Blast Furnace vs. Mosaic

For years there have been discussions about foreign immigrants integrating versus retaining the culture and language of their native country. Are they temporary guest workers or immigrants? Melting pot?

At the moment there are debates regarding immigration all around the world. In Germany the debate is becoming especially heated. There is a growing backlash about the Turks and Muslims who have moved to Germany, but after two or three generations still have not even learned to speak and read the German language, much less fully integrated themselves into German society. The discussion is about the ideas of parallel cultures living side by side (multiculturalism) vs. integration.
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The German newspaper Die Welt writes:

"No one has anything against the immigrants who live and work among us. But many people have something against the immigrants who want to bring their own system of justice along with them. Immigration means accepting the traditions of the chosen country -- and also respecting those traditions. Whoever lives here has to accept that honor killings are murder. Whoever doesn't want to do so, should stay out of the country."

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Sunday, October 17, 2010

Poll: Many Obama 2008 supporters defecting to GOP

In today's news the AP reports on a poll which suggests that MANY Obama supporters are defecting to the GOP. I don't buy it.

I do think that many Obama supporters are disgusted. Disgusted in his personal weakness as a leader, and disgusted at how watered down all his legislation has been. But I doubt that they will actually make the vast move over to the ignorant right wing.

I think the most realistic concern is that many Obama supporters will just sit the election out now that the thrill is gone. This will give the Republicans the opportunity to achieve big gains. I am still going to vote, just so I can vote against the tea party and the Republicans. But this isn't because I like or admire the Democrats.

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Saturday, October 16, 2010

Is Obama A Secret Closet Republican?

This is what Eric Alterman of The Daily Beast said today- “...just what the hell does the Obama administration think it is doing by kicking a key constituency in the teeth just as it appears poised to earn itself a shellacking at the polls because it can’t get its key constituencies to bother to turn out and vote?”

Key Obama staffers called progressives and liberals “retards” and they still never have apologized. He has greatly increased military activity and spending, rather than ending the wasteful wars. His actions are in direct opposition to environmentalists. In fact, environmentally he is a disaster. His performance on Universal Health Care, which evolved into a weak piece of crap intended mostly to lower expenses, was disgraceful. By refusing to endorse and support Single Payer or even the far weaker Vigorous Government Option he doomed his health reform. His Wall Street reform is tepid at best, and his economics are clearly not for the people, they are for the wealthy people.

Instead of capturing and then torturing the Muslims in Afghanistan and Pakistan like Bush and Cheney did, he has accepted the military's ideas that it is far cleaner and easier just to kill them. But doing so without a judge, jury, or trial probably is a war crime. I'm afraid that Barack Obama has very strong tendencies towards being a Republican wannabe. He also is socially inept, very surprisingly a rather poor communicator, and frankly not nearly as bright as he thinks he is. A bit arrogant actually.

None of this has anything to do with the color of his skin, his familial background, his religion, or where he was born. Lack of backbone is a big problem. He does not understand the concept of being loyal to the ideas his party and supporters stand for. He tries to pretend that he has accomplished great things when in fact they are weak and mediocre.

I am beginning to think that maybe he should in fact end up being a single term president.

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Friday, October 15, 2010

My Modest Firearms Collection

I really am not a gun phreak. I've shot and killed one living thing in the last 60+ years – a rabbit out in the desert when I was 12.

No that is a lie, a couple of years ago I had to put down a bunny that my dog had mostly killed but was very slowly dying and suffering horribly. I also blew the head off a rattle snake that my dog was very interested in, poor snake.

I did the same when our family dog Bonnie Belle McBeatle got so old and sick that my parents decided to put her down. I took her out in the desert. Her rear legs would no longer work, but she was happy just being outside with me again. Then quickly one shotgun blast to the back of her skull – instantaneous death. I have read that the emotional suffering for you is less if you do it yourself than if you force your dog to go to a Vet (which most dogs hate), and she dies in cold, unloving conditions with strangers.

I don't have any of them anymore, but I grew up with the following firearms around the house:
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.32 caliber semiautomatic pistol issued to the medical corps in WWII
.22 caliber long rifle semiautomatic rifle
.30-30 Winchester lever action rifle
.410 gauge pump action shotgun

In my twenties I bought a .270 bolt action hunting rifle at a gun show. When I moved to Europe I gave it and my old .410 to a friend in New Iberia, Louisiana.


Here is a list of the firearms I currently own:

.25 caliber semiautomatic Saturday Night Special. This is the original model P-25 by Raven Arms. It misfires real often, and is not at all dependable. Just an interesting bit of history.

.380 caliber semiautomatic LCP made by Ruger, with a Crimson Trace laser sight. My primary concealed carry weapon. The lightest handgun around. Very dependable, never misfired yet.

.38 special Cobra big bore 2-shot derringer. Barrel can easily be changed to a .32 magnum. Kept with my old geezer mobility scooter.

.38 special + P snub-nose revolver made by Taurus. Five shot, titanium frame, Crimson Trace laser sight. Kept in the car.


.40 caliber Smith & Wesson semiautomatic with a Crimson Trace laser sight. Each magazine holds 14 rounds, and I have several extra magazines. This S&W so much like a Glock that S&W Glock sued them and they lost the court battle. S&W had to pay some money to Glock. This is an excellent pistol, but it is too big for most concealed carry situations.

.44 magnum Tracker 5-shot revolver made by Taurus. Crimson Trace laser sight. Kept around the house. Remember the Chuck Rule; never more than 30 feet away.

.44 magnum six shot Super Redhawk revolver made by Ruger. Pistol type telescopic sight and a Crimson Trace laser. I call this my Dirty Harry Special. It is the first gun I bought when I moved back to America from Europe and the one I used to qualify for my concealed carry permit. Bedroom, home protection/self defense.

12 gauge pump action shotgun, shortest barrel allowed by law, loaded with buckshot for home safety/self protection.

.30-30 lever action rifle. Telescopic sight and laser.

.30-06 bolt action rifle. Telescopic sight and laser.


Note that I own no cop-killers, M16 simulations, AR-15, AK-47, or other assault weapons. These are the types of guns that lunatic right wing fanatics own and also the drug mafia hit men (Sicarios) in Juarez...who of course actually do use them to kill human beings.

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Ladies Who Are Competent

I have always preferred lady-like women. Polite, sweet, soft spoken, sexy, motherly types.

I have also always liked ladies who also knew how to be practical. Do some minor home repair, fix a leaking faucet, change a flat tire on their car, or maybe ride a motorcycle or a Vespa scooter.

As civility dwindles and society continues to degrade, knowing some form of self defense becomes increasingly important. Maybe karate, biting, and fingers in the eyeball sockets; but also being familiar with safe and responsible firearm use.

My Dad taught me to shoot as a young boy. I have owned a collection of firearms my entire life, but I have only shot and killed one living thing in the last 60 years. A rabbit, back when I was about 12 years old. I have never had the desire to intentionally kill since watching him slowly die.

But if some drugged up lunatic wants to hurt me (or if I were a woman perhaps rape me) then the small concealed firearm that I always carry with me might help. And it might not be just self defense, it might involve defending a loved on. But a gun won't do you any good at all, in fact may be worse than nothing, if you are not trained in advance. I heartily encourage all ladies to get some training in safe gun use.

Just like learning to drive a car or motorcycle: It probably is not a good idea to have your hubby be your teacher. Assuming of course that you do desire to remain married. Go to take a professional course designed specifically for ladies at the local gun range.

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Thursday, October 14, 2010

WikiLeaks Funding Blocked

WikiLeaks seems surprised that the governments of Australia and the USA have black listed them, so their funding agency has dropped them. Unfair they yell! Duh, I guess so.

Bobby Fuller understood it when he sang, “I fought the law and the law won.”

That carpenter from Nazareth openly took on the power structure 2,000 years ago. The Romans had him brutally killed.

When you pick a fight with the big guy, you really should understand that the chances are very high that you will get your ass kicked; heavy duty. Some people can't seem figure that out, and there is a word to describe them: Delusional.

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Predator Drones vs. Capturing Terrorists

Under Bush and Cheney terrorist suspects were captured and evidence was then tortured out of them. Unfortunately due to the petty little problem of the U.S. Constitution judges keep saying that this evidence cannot be used in a criminal trial against these bad guys.

It is all so frustrating to the military types.

Under the Obama watch they figured out that taking care of these bad guys after capturing them was just too much work. So they began summarily executing them without a judge, jury, or a conviction in the courts. Much simpler, and more permanent a solution. But maybe a war crime.

A great many countries now have unmanned drones almost as capable as ours. If this way of waging war were to become common it would result in mass chaos. Someone you have pissed off accuses you of being a terrorist or having some anti-government thoughts. Suddenly a missile from an unmanned drone levels your house.

And Obama supposedly was a constitutional scholar? Tell me another one like he is a liberal, or a good leader, or has strength of character and backbone.

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Ethanol


Raising corn to produce ethanol to power cars and trucks is unwise environmentally. Using ethanol blends actually increases some air pollution.

Ethanol contains less energy per gallon than gasoline does, so fuel economy declines. Ethanol can damage many cars, and for those made prior to 2007 it can do very serious damage to various seals, resulting in large repair bills, fuel leaks, and fires.

And of course dedicating all that corn to ethanol production rather than the food supply results in big price increases for food grade corn and horribly worsens famine in poor countries.

The answer for America to get off of foreign oil is to consume less. Raise fuel economy standards, greatly increase fuel taxes, thus encouraging people to drive fuel efficient cars. Ethanol is not part of the answer. In many ways it is like “clean coal.” There is no such thing, it is a total myth, just a nice sounding marketing phrase.

The only thing green about ethanol is the color of all that money the corn farming industry is contributing to the politicians.

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Gays and DADT

I have known a number of lesbians and homos over the course of the last 60+ years. For the most part the ones I have known were decent people. Almost without exception they had some emotional problems, particularly as related to their own self image.

I admit that in general I have felt more favorably towards the lesbians than the gay men. This idea of anal intercourse between two gay guys just strikes me as dead wrong. Butt fucking is a very good way to pass along sexually transmitted diseases like ADIS/HIV. Stupid.

In Israel, Britain, and dozens of other advanced democracies gays and lesbians are allowed to serve in the military. I see no justification for giving these lifers in the military a pass on this. In the civilian world it is considered wildly improper to be homophobic. The military should adhere to at least as high a standard as the civilians.

When you put all the lesbians, homos, and their fellow travelers (transgender, etc.) together, you still have far less than 10% of the population. In a way these people who are confused about their gender do comprise a minority of sorts, and it is improper for everyone else who does have a clear idea about their gender to be unkind to these folks. Plus with these continuous wars, the U.S. military is having a hard time getting enough volunteers. Giving exceptions to policy so that conviced felons and other unsatisfactory people with "moral" problems can serve in the military is becoming more and more common.

In the military of course it will still be improper behavior to come on to someone against their wishes.

I think the big problem here is that especially since the all volunteer army was initiated our military has consisted increasingly of lower social class, intolerant, prejudiced, and poorly educated people. I grew up in a military town, and I served three years in the Army during the Vietnam War. So most of my life I have known lots of military people. They are nice enough, for sure. But high levels of intelligence or education are not part of the culture until you get up to the social class of General Officers. It has been my experience that even though the officers for the most part are really quite pleasant, they are strikingly narrow minded and prone to racial prejudice. No doubt they feel genuinely outraged by gays and lesbians.

When racial discrimination was prohibited in the military did the Generals wait to make a decision until they had done a complete survey of all the troops regarding their feelings towards serving alongside of negroes...as EQUALS? - No of course not. The military is currently playing a dishonest game of delaying tactics; intentionally not doing what their civilian bosses want; hoping that in a short time the political climate will change.

It is too bad that these lifers don't like queers. That is exactly how they used to feel about people of color. This homosexual “problem” is with us to stay, so they must get used to it, or these closed minded people will just have to get out of the miltary.

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Wednesday, October 13, 2010

Nikon D700

The Nikon D700 is what is called an FX camera in Nikon-Speak. This means that the sensor is full sized, or the same size as a 35mm negative. It sports the same number of megapixels as the D300, but since the sensor is a good bit larger, so are the pixels, which means better resolution. And great performance at low light levels.

In his review of the D700 Ken Rockwell says,



“The Nikon D700 is Nikon's, and the world's, best serious digital camera. The old professional D3 costs more and runs faster for sports, but the D700 is newer, smarter, smaller and lighter.

The D700 has image quality indistinguishable from the klunky old D3, both in terms of sharpness and at high ISOs. The D700 has the same superb 3" LCD, but handles even better than the old D3 better due to a new INFO button and smarter firmware. I own a D3, and I prefer the D700 except that the D700 lacks the 5:4 crop mode I often use (most people don't care).


Even at $8,000, the overpriced D3X isn't an improvement over the D3. Sorry rich people. The D3X is the same as the D3, except that it only has the same frame rate as the D700 (maybe even a little slower), and the D3X lacks the high ISO performance of either the D3 or D700.”




The world's best serious digital camera. Wow. And he likes it more than the D3 or the D3X. That is some recommendation!

This is Ken Rockwell's picture comparing the size of the D300 to the D700. It does have a built in flash with commander mode, and uses the same batteries and accessories as the D300.
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If things work out properly my D700 should arrive tomorrow.


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Why The American Government is Out Of Money

Yesterday David Brooks of the New York Times published an editorial whose thesis was that we can no longer afford to fix roads, bridges, or sewer pipes because the government was out of money. And the reason they were out of money was because the government workforce had become so bloated.

Although his arguments seem reasonable, I would suggest that for the most part he is completely off base.

The reason that we cannot afford to fix existing or build new infrastructure projects, are having to fire cops and teachers, and all of the other normal governmental functions is four fold. First, we have continued to foolishly spend billions and trillions of dollars on defense, intelligence, and the military. President Eisenhower warned us about the military-industrial complex, but no administration since then has had the backbone to stand up to the military. These continuous wars and conflicts have done nothing to make America safer, but they have led us down the path of national bankruptcy.

Second, we have continued to lower taxation, especially on the wealthy and the super wealthy.

Third, through our nation's tax laws we have actually encouraged companies to move their production out of America, and to countries which do not have any, or as rigorous, laws regarding child labor, workplace safety, and environmental protection. Actually making/producing something is what creates and maintains strong national economies. Shifting funny money around on Wall Street only creates the illusion of wealth. What is really happening is the destruction of the middle class.

Fourth, we have refused to enact laws or rules which appropriately tax senseless energy waste. So the average fuel economy of our cars and trucks is no better now than it was in the 1970s. Instead of taxing gasoline and other fossil fuels so as to encourage conservation and energy efficiency, we have allowed a vast transfer of wealth from the U.S.A. to the unstable Arab and Muslim countries in the middle east where we are widely hated.

In many ways we have done this to ourselves through greed and largely unregulated business. Why the form of democracy as practiced in America is not able to make these important and difficult decisions anymore is a critical question. Many other democratic countries around the world have governmental systems which are capable of doing what is necessary to insure self preservation, but it appears that the USA no longer is able to.

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Tuesday, October 12, 2010

Delusional Palestinians

The Israelis have proposed stopping their building of settlements in the West Bank in return for the Palestinians unequivocally recognizing Israel's right to exist. The Palestinians have rejected this out of hand as absolutely absurd.

How can it be possible to negotiate a peace honestly with someone when they refuse to back off on their long standing statements that do not recognize your right to exist, and that they intend to destroy you?

Of course in the meantime Israel continues its development of the good and useful land in the West Bank. The longer the Palestinians delay the peace process, the less they will end up with. They still seem to think that the right of return to their old lands is realistic; or that Israel is going to somehow deliver them Jerusalem on a platter.

Over the years the Israelis have become increasingly ethnically biased against the Palestinians. They openly discriminate against them. With each incoming Palestinian missile, the unreasoning Israeli hate for the Palestinians, the Arabs, and the Muslims grows stronger.

But whoever is giving the Palestinians advice is doing them a gross disservice. The longer that the Palestinian delusional refusal to accept reality continues, the less good land or resources will be left for the state of Palestine.

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Monday, October 11, 2010

Arzerra

My path through the chronic lymphocytic leukemia (CLL) disease is letting nature take her course. Yes, I am eating healthy, don't smoke or drink, etc., but nothing like chemotherapy or any of the other “therapies” which are normal.

My friend Betty also has CLL but she has taken the other road, being treated by virtually all of the standard drugs as well as trying new and unapproved drugs through trials. She just finished her 12th and last round of Arzerra.

Some days (especially the nights) are so bad for me that I have even considered taking my own life.

From her latest Facebook report it looks like getting the treatments may well be just as bad. She reports, “feeling positively crappy...chills, fever, delirium, fatigue, sleeping long hours in a daze, just plane punky. Plus my walking is getting worse all the time.”

If anyone tells you how lucky you are to have CLL, just punch them squarely in the nose.

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Sunday, October 10, 2010

Highly Alkaline Red Sludge


The red sludge pond at the aluminum processor in Kolontar, Hungary which recently burst its dikes is readily visible on Google Earth.


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Friday, October 08, 2010

Worldwide Pessimism

In the United States there is widespread pessimism on all sides of the political spectrum. America has lost its way. To quote Paul Krugman, “All vision of a better future seems to have been lost, replaced with a refusal to look beyond the narrowest, most shortsighted notion of self-interest.” There are more people excluded from the health care system every year, handgun ownership continues to skyrocket, and the middle class is disintegrating. Obesity is increasing worldwide, as are diseases which are resistant to antibiotics. The generation getting out of school right now has far fewer opportunities than their parents did. The American Dream is fading; and suddenly it all seems to be happening quite rapidly.

Worldwide religious extremism and terrorism are on the rise. Even the more conventional and middle of the road churches, like the Christian Catholic church, are following a path of blind self destruction through sexual molestation of their youth, disabled, and less fortunate parishioners. Greed and a purely self centered view are becoming the norm. Alcoholism and drug addiction are increasing; altruism is frequently laughed or scoffed at.

When talking about climate change each country has spoken lofty words in public, while at home not doing much at all. Global warming and climate change now appear to be completely unstoppable and inevitable.

Mankind seems to be sliding down a chute of negativity. I wish I could paint some kind of an optimistic solution at this point. But I cannot.

I'm thankful that my own personal life mostly took place back when people believed both that a better future was possible and and that it was coming. I have been very fortunate to have led the life I have. It is a little sad to see this period coming to an end however.

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Private Security Contractors in Afghanistan

At some point the federal government decided to replace U.S. soldiers with private contractors or mercenaries.

The people who did this figured that this way the government wouldn't have to pay medical bills, disability pensions, or retirement benefits to these people. It was brutal and unethical but it fit well with their belief in deregulation, outsourcing, downsizing, privatizing social security, etc. In other words the greedy and dishonest Republicans, with some very real help from many Democrats, especially the Blue Dog Democrats.

The security guards for the convoys of trucks bringing in supplies (like fuel) became private contractors instead of American soldiers. Mostly Afghan citizens. As we find now when the fuel convoys are burning, these private security contractors often didn't even report for duty, so nobody was guarding these trucks. Of course us taxpayers paid the bill whether anyone was on duty or not.

Now that this whole thing has literally blown up we find that many of these Afghan private security contractors were drug addicts or criminals, or even more shocking members of the Taliban.

So our young soldiers are being sent back to Afghanistan for tour, after tour, after tour of duty. They are dying and they are being permanently damaged. All in the name of fighting and destroying the Taliban. And behind their backs our own corrupt and incompetent government has been hiring the Taliban, and paying them good money, probably more than the soldiers make, with these bungling and ineffective private security guards many times being the exact same enemy we are trying to defeat.

This whole deregulation, privatizing, let-the-market-rule ideology is horribly sick and evil. It helps the super rich get even wealthier, but it is anti-Democracy and is destroying the viability of the American middle class.

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LINK TO ARTICLE: http://online.wsj.com/article/SB10001424052748704011904575538423731306064.html

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Monday, October 04, 2010

Get Him To The Greek

I like Jonas Hill and I really, really like Russell Brand.

This movie has plenty of crude, sexual, immature male humor. I like that kind of humor.

This picture also has several of the key characters constantily behaving very rude and condescending. I don't like that sort of behavior. Didn't even finish the DVD. Sorry, not for me.

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Convenience Store Robbery

video

Sunday, October 03, 2010

Saturday, October 02, 2010

Foreclosures Suspended in 23 States

It is worth noting that the three largest home mortgage companies in America, Bank of America, J.P. Morgan Chase, and GMAC have each suspended home foreclosures in 23 states. They had expedited the foreclosures so much that their paperwork was not being prepared accurately or honestly.

The reason they are only suspending foreclosures in 23 states, rather than nationwide, is because in those 23 states there are good state laws and regulations intended to protect the consumer from fraud.

And if you live in one of the other states? Tough luck Mr. Consumer. Big business wins, you lose.

The point to be made is that it is important for states to have strong laws in place trying to protect the consumer from fraud. Because you can be sure there are always plenty of really smart people doing their best to defraud people.

Deregulation is just theft from the poor to give to the rich.

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Rough Night

It has been a rather difficult night. I finally gave up on sleeping around 3:00 a.m. Prior to that there were a number of episodes when involuntarily, half asleep, I was making all sorts of rather loud verbal noises signaling great distress. Me sort of screaming out in pain like this really upsets my sweet little loving and empathic dog Inu.

Because of the leukemia the defective white blood cells have continued to grow to such an extent that they are now crowding out other blood components like red blood cells & hemoglobin. The hemoglobin level is now well below the normal recommended minimum. So even if the heart, blood vessels, and lungs were all in the tip top condition of a 20 year old, and my total weight was a little lower, it would still be difficult to supply enough oxygen to the the body's important tissues.

There is another element to add in to this chronic lymphocytic leukemia (CLL) puzzle. The lymph nodes around my neck, in the groin area, and especially under the arms have grown very large and hard. The ones under the arms are the largest and are also the most troublesome. No doubt my spleen is very swollen also and maybe the liver. A little while ago I tried going back to bed, but found that almost immediately I was having problems breathing. I think that these swollen lymph nodes and other organs have actually gotten so large, and they are physically occupying so much space in the chest cavity, that they are making it difficult for the lungs (and maybe the heart) to operate properly. When I lay down in bed it seems to get worse.

I'm in my 60s. I don't think there is any question that sometime in the “near” future I will die from the combined adverse effects of this CLL. Maybe a heart attack or perhaps pneumonia. The question is, how do I know when it has all gotten so hopeless, and the suffering has reached the point where suicide is a better option than suffering? There are still lots of days where I am fairly happy and am enjoying life. Taking Inu on walks around the neighborhood, with me riding on the geezer mobility scooter. I'm reading a couple of books which I'm enjoying greatly. The days are not bad, it is the nights that are the big problem.

That poor 18 year old gay kid who jumped off the bridge because his roommate took videos of him having sex with another guy and sent them out over the internet. I guess that he felt so humiliated that he thought he had to end his own life. Stupid decision for an 18 year old. I feel bad for him and his family. A young person committing suicide is completely different than an old man who is suffering constantly from an incurable malignant cancer.

In a way I envy those ignorant religious fanatics who strap on a suicide vest and martyr themselves for Allah. Of course I guess plenty of these Muslims who do the suicide bomber routine are forced to do so. Perhaps even most of them don't do it because of some deeply held religious beliefs; who knows? I think all organized religions are a bunch of crap, so this won't work for me.

Some gutless bastards don't have the strength of character to commit suicide, so they threaten a cop with a gun. Maybe even shoot a cop. Knowing full well that the other police will then kill him. They call it SBC, suicide by cop. There is no excuse for them to take the life of another person (like a cop) just because they want to end their own life.

I have gradually fulfilled or gotten rid of almost all my duties, obligations, and responsibilities. I am no longer married; I owe no money to anyone. My child is in his mid 30s, and he is far beyond my owing him anything further. He will inherit a little bit from my estate, and money seems to be all he wants from me anyway. The only obligation I have left is to my dog Inu, but it is clear that my sister and brother in law will take good care of Inu if I die before he does.

In the last six months of her life my aunt Friede Garland talked a lot about how she was tired of living and just wanted it to end. I first learned about Do Not Ressucitate from her. I didn't understand at the time, but I am beginning to now as I get near the end.

I'm still thinking this through. I know that suicide is a very permanent solution; you certainly don't want to exercise that option lightly. I guess the answer is that if I am still questioning it, the time to shoot myself in the head has not yet arrived. Maybe it won't ever, and I'll get lucky and die quickly and naturally.

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