22 May 2015

Picture of the Day


(Click on picture for a big version)

Here's a link to the website / on-line studio of the photographer, wherein some great pictures are to be found.

20 May 2015


Know your wines fairly well?

Of course you do.

Here's a nice article (with video) on the subject.


This remains one of my favorite pictures. I've shown it on these pages before, but just came across it again and am thereby posting it again. See if  you can spot what makes it so special.

14 May 2015

Understanding Capitalism, part 17

Room for Improvement

A great tweet from Blobert Ironside ‏@blobert :

Breaking News: American CEO-to-employee pay ratio rises paltry 16% to 373:1 because workers still being paid.

24 April 2015

I Always Knew It

I took one of the many internet IQ tests this morning, and scored an impressive 190.

And since we know that IQ doesn't change over time, I thought it was perfectly appropriate to take a test designed for third graders.

15 April 2015

Voting Made Easy

This may be the most important post I've written in a while, in that it may—and arguably should—influence people's behavior. Please read it carefully and thoroughly.

Following is an "edited quote" from a respected journalist who I'm not naming so as to avoid as much bias as possible. I thought this was an excellent and unusually clear assessment of the American political situation and voting options, so I'm passing it along more or less intact.


There has never been a time in American history when the alleged personal traits of candidates mattered less. As we head into 2016, each party is quite unified on major policy issues, and these unified positions are very far from each other. The huge, substantive gulf between the parties will be reflected in the policy positions of whomever they nominate, and will almost surely be reflected in the actual policies adopted by whoever wins.

  • Maintain the basic U.S. social insurance programs — Social Security, Medicare, and Medicaid — in essentially their current form, while also preserving and extending the Affordable Care Act.
  • Retain the tax hikes on high-income Americans that went into effect in 2013, and possibly seek more.
  • Preserve the 2010 financial reform laws designed to rein-in big financial firms
  • Move forward on climate policy, through executive action if necessary

  • Destroy Obamacare, make deep cuts in Medicaid, and probably try to convert Medicare into a voucher system.
  • Cut taxes on the wealthy while slashing programs that aid low-income families.
  • Roll back 2010 financial reform laws, eliminating both consumer protection and the extra regulation applied to large, “systemically important” financial institutions.
  • Block efforts to limit greenhouse gas emissions.

The differences between the parties are so clear and dramatic that it’s hard to see how anyone who has been paying attention could be undecided even now, or be induced to change his or her mind between now and the election.

One thing is for sure: American voters will be getting a real choice. May the best party win.


So what the pundit is saying is that you, Ms/Mr voter, have a very clear choice. It does not matter who becomes the candidate: the position above are those of his/her party, and those are approximately the things that will happen under the next President.

So make your choice based on the above. It's simple, clear, unambiguous. Which set of actions or reactions do you think best serve the interests of America and/or yourself?

Please use Comments, below, to say if you think any of the above positions are mis-represented or biased, or if other points of difference or similarity between the parties should be included.

14 April 2015

Aurora Again

Another great aurora picture.

After the picture is displayed, click on it to change background to black, which is preferred for best viewing. Do NOT view on phone, screen is to small.

The Devil Makes Three

I just "discovered" a new musical group which I really like and thought I'd share with you. They've been around for quite a while

Here's a YouTube version of the song that caught my attention.

And here's one of a concert they did in 2009. It's 33 minutes long, but (a) is very good quality, (b) you don't have to view/listen to the whole thing, (c) you can listen while doing something else, and (d) it shows the performers performing very well and clearly.

Here's their website in case you want more info.

I'll be going to see them in concert the next time they're in Southern California.

Rejected Political Slogans

I expect that this didn't get much traction in the Hillary campaign meeting to come up with a good slogan:

Hill and Bill in 2016

Tough Decision

(This post is political, but it's clearly not partisan.)


Paraphrasing the civil rights / human rights reporter Glenn Greenwald:

A serious debate is going on inside the State Department and White House these days.

Should our response to people in the Middle East who we think might be terrorists, or have some sort of connection to organizations or suspected terrorists or other people we won't like, be to:

  1. Continue Obama's policy of using drones to kill them, their families, the associates and other bystanders without any sort of trial or legal framework/recourse.


  2. Re-initiate Bush's policy of kidnapping them from their homes and indefinitely imprisoning them in Guantanamo without any sort of trial or legal framework/recourse.

11 April 2015

With It

Just heard the following on a local radio station, which a little research revealed to be from a 1996 episode of "The Simpsons:"

I used to be with it, but then they changed what *it* was.

Now what I'm with isn't *it*, and what's *it* seems weird and scary to me.

It'll happen to you...


Talking now to baby boomers:

Is there ANYTHING at all that we learned about American history that was/is not an orchestrated set of lies designed to shape our thinking and our attitudes?

This New York Times article on Appomattax and the aftermath of the formal end of the Civil War shatters yet another myth.

06 April 2015


Here's a particularly great picture of the aurorea borealis I was sending to friend LC, then decided to share with everybody.

Same viewing tips as always:

  • View on as big a screen as possible (although small high-resolution screens may be better than large low-resolution ones).
  • After getting the image displayed, click on it to switch to a black background, which is generally better for viewing and seems to be preferred by the photographer comments I've read.

04 April 2015

The White Silence

Click on the image for a full-page view, and then click on that to change background to black (better for viewing).

At the bottom of the image-display page, there are thumbnails of additional pictures from this photographer. You might want to scroll through them, they are pretty impressive.

02 April 2015

Minimum Wage by State

Another great map.

America’s Angriest White Men

The following is a long and tough read. I'd suggest trying a few paragraphs to see if it interests you enough to continue reading.

It calls to mind the quote I posted here a couple days ago: "The false God turns suffering into violence." So tragically true here.

Salon article on "America’s angriest white men"

Thanks to JD for the link.

30 March 2015


Here's a really great resource: Webster's Revised Unabridged Dictionary—from 1913!

And here's a nice article on why you should use it.

Thanks to son Kyle for the connection.

Simone Weil

I don't know much about Simone Weil, and what little I do know I found here on WikiPedia. But a friend quoted her in a recent conversation, and I was really taken by this quote:

The false God turns suffering into violence
The true God turns violence into suffering

Simone Weil
Gravity and Grace

27 March 2015

Rainfall Map

I like maps in general, especially those that combine great graphics with good information. Here's one of the best in that category. It would be great if this were on the wall of every school classroom and city council in the America West.

The one problem with the map is that it doesn't have a good legend. The scale goes from purple (more than 100 inches) to blue, green, yellow, orange, red. The darkest reds in Southern California are less than five inches.

For a bigger version that also is interactive ("click on your state to get state data"), go to this site at Oregon State University.

Treating Soil Like Dirt

As you may know, I've lately been paying more attention than usual to soils and land-restoration issues. It seems that in general, we are doing to the actual land/dirt upon which we live and farm the same thing we're doing to our air and our rivers and our oceans and our climate—i.e., destroying them little by little. Fortunately, there are some "voices in the wilderness" pointing out the stupidity and futility of our ways, and even more fortunately, taking steps to stop/reverse the destruction and improve the land.

Here's more commentary on that same general subject.

26 March 2015


We all know people—including, perhaps, ourselves in certain contents or at certain times—who seem just a little too attached to their opinions about politics, economics, social affairs or whatever. "A little too attached" is not exactly a precise term, but there's definitely a difference between "here's my best guess at understanding the world, though I reserve the right to change my mind if/when additional or new information come to my attention" and "I know for certain that this is the way the world works and that's all there is to it."

Is it reasonable to define the holders of those two opinions respectively as "interested observer/interpreter" and "ideologue?"


A friend sent me the following quote this morning, which helps me understand why the ideologue's arguments have a zeal and determination that I never seem quite able to match.

One might say that ideology is the construction and presentation of mirrors to meet certain predetermined purposes, none of which is  the valid self-understanding of the viewer.

24 March 2015


I saw this cool picture on a photo site that I monitor, where there are lots of great / interesting / unique pictures. I'm linking to this one because (a) it is cool, and (b) the subject matter may be known to some of our readers. Try to figure out where the picture was taken before scrolling down and finding out. (And click on the picture once it is display, and the background will turn black for better viewing.)