Tuesday, August 22, 2017

The Eclipse Yesterday.

Yesterday was the Solar Eclipse that tracked its way across the US; another one won't cross the country until the year 2045. Anyway, here in New Orleans we didn't get a total eclipse, but a 75% coverage eclipse.  Between about 1:10 and 1:45 the sunlight--even the daylight--was noticeably weaker and the atmosphere was comfortable and not broiling like it usually is, and was yesterday, before and after the times indicated. Anyway here are some pics I took of the eclipse--not directly but indirectly.

This is a photo of the eclipse--north is at the top--as interpreted through the leaves of a couple of trees onto a wooden plank deck behind the local public library. Note all the crescent shaped splashes of light. The effect is wicked cool, like a Japanese painting of the leaves of a tree. This was taken close to the time of maximum exposure.  Note too that the gaps in the shade acted as pinholes so that the light-rays land in opposite positions (toward the north-northeast) than they were upon entering the gaps (from the south-southwest).

This next was also taken during the time of maximum coverage but the damned iPhone camera made it appear like the eclipse was just ending and the moon was departing to the north-northeast after travelling from the south-southwest over the sun. A pinhole transposes the light to land in opposite direction from the direction it enters the pinhole.

And this last is a close-up of the image through the pinhole. As you can see, one of the corners is obviously rounded, the other corner less so. But it’s fucking annoying when you want a sharper image of the object you’re taking a photo of and the camera can only make it only so sharp—that is, up to a point, and worse (more blunt) when taking an image made by light going through a pinhole.

Friday, August 18, 2017

America Is Finished.

Morris Berman is right, America is finished!

With the ever-increasing mutual backlash between the white supremacist alt-right, the Christian right, the libertarian right, the establishment center a.k.a. the government, the politically correct left and the Marxian-anarchist ultra-left, we are on a vicious (virtuous?) circle toward Civil War 2.0. Actually, like the War Between the States, this will be no real civil war (two factions competing for power like the War of the Roses, the English Civil War of the mid-Seventeenth Century and the Russian Civil War of 1917-1921) but an uncivil war between multiple cultures with irreconcilable differences with each other. Madness!

From The Daily Signal---although I don't agree with the writer's politics I do for the most part agree with this:

  I Went to Charlottesville During the Protests. Here’s What I Saw. (Jarrett Stepman)
In a country of 320 million people of stunningly diverse ethnic backgrounds and philosophies, this is a fire bell in the night for complete cultural disintegration. The end result will be uglier than the already sickening events that took place this past weekend.

The Federalist’s publisher, Ben Domenech, rightly noted what this means for the direction of the country: “[I]t is the open conflict of a nation at war with itself over its own character. This war will end badly, no matter how it plays out. And the way this story ends is in demolishing [Thomas Jefferson’s] Monticello brick by brick.”

There is no arc of history bending perpetually on its own toward justice. History is instead a series of twists and turns, influenced by cultural and social forces as well as individuals and communities.

America has never been a perfect nation. It has benefitted from great ideas advanced by imperfect men, and almost miraculously formed a great and good national community
[Ed-M: really!?] out of widely disparate elements.
A great national community, true, not necessarily a good one.

From Liberty's Blitzkrieg via The Automatic Earth:

  Americans Are Rapidly Descending Into Madness (Krieger)
I don’t live in an echo chamber, partly because there aren’t enough people out there who think like me, but also because I constantly and intentionally attempt to challenge my worldview by reading stuff from all over the political map. I ingest as much as I can from a wide variety of intelligent sources, picking and choosing what makes sense to me, and then synthesizing it the best I can. Though I’m certainly grounded in certain key principles, my perspective on specific issues remains malleable as I take in additional information and perspectives. I try to accept and acknowledge my own ignorance and view life as a journey of constant mental, emotionally and spiritual growth. If I’m not growing my capacity in all of those realms until the day I die, I’m doing it wrong. Life should be seen as a battle against one’s own ignorance, as opposed to an obsession with the ignorance of others.

You can’t legislate morality, nor can you legislate wisdom. The only way the world will improve on a long-term sustainable basis is if more of us get wise. That’s a personal journey and it’s our individual duty to accept it. While I’m only in control of my own behavior, this doesn’t mean that the behavior of others is irrelevant to my life. Unfortunately, what I see happening to the population of America right now seems very troublesome and foreboding. What I’m witnessing across the board is hordes of people increasingly separating themselves into weird, unthinking cults. Something appears to have snapped in our collective consciousness, and many individuals I used to respect (on both sides of the political spectrum) are becoming disturbingly polarized and hysterical. People are rapidly morphing into radicalized mental patients.

What’s worse, this environment is providing a backdrop for the most destructive people of my lifetime – neoconservatives and neo liberals – to preen around on corporate media as “the voices of reason.” This is one of the most perverse and dangerous side-effects of the current political climate. If in your disgust with Trump, you’re willing to run into the cold embrace of these destroyers of the middle class and the Middle East, you’ll get what you deserve. In contrast, if we really want to deal with our very real and very systemic problems, the last thing we need is a population-level mental breakdown that leads to a longing for the criminally destructive political status quo, yet that’s exactly what seems to be happening.
Why do the Gods hate America? 😉

Wednesday, August 16, 2017

Trump's let loose again.

OMG, this guy is an embarassment! 😲

From The New York Times:

Trump Defends Initial Remarks on Charlottesville; Again Blames ‘Both Sides’

WASHINGTON — President Trump reverted Tuesday to blaming both sides for the deadly violence in Charlottesville, Va., and at one point questioned whether the movement to pull down Confederate statues would lead to the desecration of memorials to George Washington.
Abandoning his precisely chosen and carefully delivered condemnations of the Ku Klux Klan and neo-Nazis from a day earlier, the president furiously stuck by his initial reaction to the unrest in Charlottesville. He drew the very moral equivalency for which a bipartisan chorus, and his own advisers, had already criticized him.
“I think there is blame on both sides,” the president said in a combative exchange with reporters at Trump Tower in Manhattan. “You had a group on one side that was bad. You had a group on the other side that was also very violent. Nobody wants to say that. I’ll say it right now.”
Mr. Trump defended those gathered in a Charlottesville park to protest the removal of a statue of Robert E. Lee. “I’ve condemned neo-Nazis. I’ve condemned many different groups,” he said. “Not all of those people were neo-Nazis, believe me. Not all of those people were white supremacists by any stretch.”
Well I'd like to know just who were there who were protesting the removal of the two statues of Robert E. Lee and Stonewall Jackson if they weren't all White Supremacists, Neo-Confederates, Nazis, and the like, because it sure looked to me like they all were, or at least that's the story the pics taken by the news media and others tell me. And that's the whole effect that these extremists groups wanted to convey, with their show of intimidation Friday night.

And where was the violence that Donald Trump alleges was committed by the counter-protestors, you know, those on the other side? I haven't seen it yet. And one alt-rightist meme that was working its way around the web that the motorist who plowed into protestors floored it because his car was being pummeled by big stick-wielding leftist protestors is easily disproven by a simple google search for raw video footage of the collision: it turns out that he, at high speed, rear-ended a white automobile and pushed it into a crowd of pedestrians in a crosswalk and then floored it IN REVERSE, dragging the white car's rear bumper and someone's personal effect with him.

And the statues honoring the Confederate side in the War Between the States? Their removal will probably now be expedited, thanks to the violence that went down in Charlottesville this past weekend. I'm don't like the erasure of history, mind you, better than to reinterpret it and explain it, but when this sort of issue sparks violence, it's the side that initiates the violence and is seen as the most violent that loses control of the argument.

Sunday, August 13, 2017

Civil War 2 Brewing?

Robert E. Lee Statue in Charlottesville, VA.
Source: Getty Images.
It appears that both sides overplaying their hand is going to get us all into Civil War 2.0 -- not the Second War Between the States, but everybody fighting each other like starving rats. This past weekend there was a show of intimidation Friday night by various white nationalists in Charlottesville, VA.

White Nationalists' march through the U of Va Campus Friday Night.
Source: dm.com.
White Nationalists surround counter-protestors at Jefferson's statue at the U of Va.
Source: Variety.com

Show of colors by White Nationalists Saturday in Charlottesville, VA.
Source: Slate.com.
White Nationalists confront Antifascists in Charlottesville, VA Saturday.
Source: CBSSports.com
This show was provoked by the city's misguided vote to simply remove equestrian statues of Robert E. Lee and Stonewall Jackson back in April. A judge had blocked the removal for six months in May, but somebody heard something through the grapevine and so white nationalists organised a rally for this past weekend to protest the incipient removal. Of course, the city revoked the Unite The Right rally that was supposed to take place yesterday -- apparently, it did -- because of the torchlight march Friday night and somebody was pissed off and now we have one killed and several injured because some disgruntled individual plowed his automobile into a crowd of counter-protestors.

Stonewall Jackson Statue in Charlottesville, VA.
Source: Getty Images.
Here are some facts about the statues:

1. The city council voted to remove the Lee and Jackson statues in April.
2. A State judge delayed the removal by six months so that the Virginia courts can decide or not to permanently block the removal.
3. The first torch-wielding protest march was back in May.
4. The R.E. Lee statue was commissioned in 1917 and completed in 1924.
5. The removal of both statues could cost the city upwards of $700.000.00.
6. There are over a thousand Confederate monuments in 31 states, twenty more than the eleven that actually seceded from the Union and formed the Confederate States of America.

There's got to be a solution other than just taking down these statues and the thousand-something others; they are a part of our history. Three Confederate monuments and one White Suprmacist monument got removed here in New Orleans this spring; our mayor said there should be "remembrance, not reverence." Judging by how the local removal proceeded and what the removers left behind and the condition they left the monuments' remnants in, it looks to me more like vandalism and forgetfulness. There's got to be a better solution: I say, leave the statues be, but put up some explanatory plaques that mention the mentality of the times when these statues were put up.


Tuesday, August 8, 2017

More Star Wars Scenes We'd Like to See.

This is a short photo essay.

Yoda knows!
Found off the web.

A little fun at Chewbacca's expense. 

A human-porcine relationship will never work.
Besides, she's already engaged.
But at least he's not dating his own sister! 😄

Monday, August 7, 2017

Russia, Chechnya and Ukraine.

I saw and browsed through a graphic novel at the town library yesterday. I wish it was just fiction I had flipped through. Instead it was a narration of eyewitness accounts of a tiny fraction of actual events of what went down in the Dirty War in Chechnya and the recent unpleasantness in Crimea and Ukraine. I wish I could now unsee it. It portrays the Russian military in a very bad light, acting as total brutes. But the Russian Military were the good guys in the previous Chechen War under Yeltsin and they got their hats handed back to them by the Chechens! I'll get the title up at the earliest opportunity.