November 27, 2012

trivium of the moment

total student debt in the US (including private and federal loans) is more than US$1 trillion.

source: consumer financial credit bureau

November 23, 2012

unusual vertical refraction

salinas, CA

it's remarkably difficult to get pix of subtle atmospheric phenomena.  meteors, sundogs, wispy clouds, triple rainbows, et al, all lose their detail thanks to the way the brain "focuses" on an object versus what a camera "sees."

what I like about this is the picture is actually just a touch better than what I was seeing.  this image is just before sunrise and the "object" is pointing (almost?) directly down where the sun is rising.

I'm not sure what I'm looking at here.  it's not a jet trail ... I THINK it's something like a sundog -- although everything I've always called a sundog has color to it (this looks like it almost does).  the feel reminds me very much of the lines in something like a cat's eye sapphire.

I watched through sunrise and it was still visible with sun over the horizon ... eventually disappearing sometime after the complete sunrise ... I didn't see the fade, so I don't know what that was like.

I've been lucky enough to live in big sky country the vast majority of my life and pay a lot of attention to it, but I've never seen anything like this before ...

... then again, I haven't seen that many sunrises.

November 19, 2012

asparagus quiche (color positive and negative)

mediterranean sea

volcano escarpment (positive and negative)

mt. teide, E

cheddar cheese sticks (color positive and negative)

mediterranean sea

mailbox slot (positive and negative)

la palma, gran canaria

the 3 misters

sign; phillipsburg, st. maarten
sign; charlotte amalie, st. thomas
bag; lanzarote, E

November 18, 2012

sculpture -- color positive and negative

lanzarote, E

cactus -- four color variations

lanzarote, E

shoreline (positive and negative)

málaga, E

towel with sunglasses

canary islands, E

November 07, 2012

quote of the moment

"smoking can cause a slow and painful death"

-- warning on a european winston cigarette carton

shoreline (positive and negative)

málaga, E

November 01, 2012

Obama has lost my vote

I voted for Obama the last go 'round, but he's not getting me this time ...

The reason has nothing to do with birth certificates, debates, health care, Frankenstorm or even the fact that the United States, for the first time in its history, has had its credit rating degraded ... Weirdly my reason deals with a topic that's fundamental to the underlying concept of the United States, but something that appears to be so removed from the Universal American Mind that no one even talks about it: civil liberties.

Politics in America -at least the way it's talked about online- has become so polarized that everything good that happens is explained by advocates of one party as completely due to their amazing work, everything bad is due to the nefarious nature of the evil other party...

Unfortunately in the case of civil liberties, it hasn't been so clean cut.  Thanks to an overreaction to 9/11, George W. Bush pushed forward the biggest threats to civil liberty since the internment of citizens during World War II, including such things as the Patriot Act, Guantanamo Bay, and an overly deep-reaching authority in the Department of Homeland Security.

Not only has Obama not struck down a single one of these items (although he promised to close Guantanamo in his 2008 campaign), he's done quite the opposite and strengthened every one of these concepts.  But the absolute worst, by far, was an assassination order to kill an American citizen by drone in Yemen.

This may sound complicated, or even histrionic, but it's not.  Here's the deal:

* You don't hold people without giving them basic constitutional rights.

* When you hold people, you give their names and publicly state the charges.

* You don't hold people off of proper American soil because you know you cannot conveniently give them the constitutional rights due on American soil.

* Regardless of how you feel about the death penalty, don't condemn citizens to death without due process.

All of these fundamental, basic, principles are currently being not only violated, but bolstered by the Obama administration today in the United States.

Obama seems to get a free pass from nearly everyone is because they confuse civil liberties and civil rights ... but, strangely, it's possible to be strong in one and not another.

I can hear the Obama apologists from my snack bar here in Spain ... "But Romney is no better!"

Without any way of knowing, I'll concede that that's probably true -- although there's no way of knowing ... civil liberties have never been talked about by either major candidate in this election.

Even though my residence is in a swing state, my degree in applied mathematics is more than strong enough to let me know my vote counts for nearly nothing ... but the vote isn't what's important here.  

What´s important is awareness and discourse.  If the United States wants to become exactly what the Soviet Union claimed it would be during the cold war (and we´re well down that path), that´s fine, I guess ... but I don´t understand how we get there without saying something.

So the something I say is this missive right here ... and a lack of check in the Obama box at the polls.

(If this topic interests you at all, here´s some additional background reading: