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Morning Moon over Kensington - Final

Earlier this year I created a small draft for this painting, which you can see here.

This is the final version. I designed it to be an outdoor painting, for a patio, entry way, by the pool, etc. So I painted it on a 48″ x 24″ piece of plywood I bought at Home Depot.

Now I just need to come up with a good solid frame. I am thinking barn wood or drift wood. Metal would be nice, but finding the right size seems impossible.

activists-gather-in-front-of-the-white-house-on-april-11-to-demand-the-closing-of-guantanamo-bay

[click for picture credit]

There are 149 prisoners still at Guantánamo. The youngest is 30, the oldest is 65. Over twenty of them have medical conditions that need monitoring and attention, just like any aging population would.

The military has tried to build up its medical capability at Guantánamo, with mixed results. Several years ago, when a detainee needed a stent placed in a coronary artery, the military spent $1 million on a mobile cardiac catheterization lab. The prisoner ended up refusing the procedure, and the unused equipment, packed up but stored outdoors, has since decayed, officials said.

– Charlie Savage

I am not saying we should just let all these people go. I am not saying that some of them are not terrorists. For instance, Khalid Shaikh Mohammed, the self-proclaimed mastermind of the Sept. 11 attacks, is there. However, it is well-known that there were innocent bystanders rounded up in the frenzy of arrests in 2002, some of them teenagers, who are now over thirty years old, that have been rotting away in Guantanamo.

The U.S. Government is spending $3 million per year per detainee to keep the camp open and operating. It has cost us 4.8 billion since the camp was opened.

We are not getting very good value for our tax money. Obama has been wanting to close the camp since his first campaign. Our dysfunctional Congress has been in the way. With nobody in charge making meaningful decisions, this is continuing.

The country should decide to close the camp, serve the prisoners due process (trials and executions) and let the rest go.

The government needs to stop this insanity it propagates in the name of the American people.

Check out this excellent article Decaying Guantánamo Defies Closing Plans by Charlie Savage for more information.

Burning Man 2014

The Burning Man 2014 festival in Northern Nevada is over.

Burning Man

Here is the same sculpture – burning:

burning man 2

Here is an informative article in NBC News that shows how much business this week-long festival brings to the Northern Nevada communities.

For more pictures and information, just google Burning Man and get your fill. I have never been – but the artist in me is intrigued.

 

The American media has effectively indoctrinated us that Hamas are terrorists and therefore Israel is justified in fighting back. When opponents of the war argue that Israel is killing innocent Palestinians, they counter that the Palestinians elected Hamas into power and therefore they are not innocent. They are terrorists.

Hamas are terrorists. Palestinians should overthrow Hamas and start the peaceful nation they proclaim they want. I am aware that I am asking for another civil war in Gaza.

It’s a complex situation, and I tend to agree with the argument from the side I listened to last.

But easy or not, Israel is terrorizing Gaza. Look at this video, for a change not by a slanted American media organization but by a slanted German one. Then look me in the eye and tell me that these children are guilty because they elected Hamas.

Don’t worry, you don’t need to know German. All the pictures are in English.

https://www.facebook.com/video.php?v=10152434676470838&set=vb.12084075837&type=2&theater

Portland you’ve been so beautiful, but I know that that’s the way the summer goes. Summer is when everyone forgets about the winter. The damp grey skies, the salad mister rain. The mornings so dark you have to turn all the lights on when you wake up. The way everyone struggles. Being here now makes me almost want to live in Portland again, but I know too that this is not the frumpy, disheveled city that I came of age in. This new city is full of beautiful, monied yuppies, who work tech jobs and spend their evenings “trying new restaurants”. Maybe, one day, when I’ve made my fortune, I’ll come back, and buy expensive products for my hair. Until then I’ll live in exile in the hinterlands, with all the other people who look like they got dressed in the dark.

by Carrot Quinn

Norbert Haupt:

Just yesterday at the airport in San Jose I bought a bread bowl with clam chowder and I wanted something to drink. I grabbed a bottle of water – I was thirsty. When I got only six dollars back for change to my twenty, I was surprised and looked at the receipt. I had paid $3.50 for a bottle of water.

I can go to Target and buy a 24-pack for $3.80 or so. This is insane.

And it is possible only because I am willing to pay. We all need to stop buying bottled water.

Originally posted on Why Evolution Is True:

While waiting in line at the airport this morning to buy coffee, I noticed that many people were buying plastic bottles of water—at $3-4 per pop (my coffee was $2.50). And this wasn’t fizzy water, but regular still water, like Dasani, that has been filtered and may have had a bit of minerals added. Other people were walking around with bottles of water in their hand, which always reminds me of infants carrying their bottles of formula or a bunch of Linuses with their blankies.

Why do people pay, and pay big, for water that is no better, and no better for you, than water you can get from the tap? Bottled water is energy-inefficient, uses fossil fuels to make, and costs more than gasoline! And it swells landfills with petroleum byproducts.

And the airport corridor was lined with water fountains, where you could swill very good Chicago tap water for free—as much as you want! I remember some years ago when

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I’ve been challenged by someone on Facebook to identify “10 books that have stayed with you in some way.” Instructions: Don’t take more than a few minutes, and do not think too hard. They do not have to be the ‘right’ books or great works of literature, just ones that have affected you in some way. Here goes:

  1. Magic Doors – by John Pearson
  2. Also Sprach Zarathustra – by Friedrich Nietzsche
  3. An American Tragedy – by Theodore Dreiser
  4. Pillars of the Earth – by Ken Follett
  5. The Brothers Karamazov – by Fyodor Dostoevsky
  6. Fathers and Sons – Ivan Turgenev
  7. Jeder Stirbt für Sich Allein – Hans Fallada
  8. Earth Abides – by George R. Stewart
  9. The Stand – by Stephen King
  10. Hawaii – by James Michener

 

Vulture

African Whjte-Backed Vulture

According to an article in The Scotsman, poison attacks kill vultures in mass.

The sight of vultures congregating high above the African bush is a sure sign of a recent kill. But the scavengers are hated by poachers because they alert rangers to their presence. Poachers lace the carcasses of elephants and other game with ­cyanide or pesticides such as temik so the birds die before they can take to the skies again.

Despite ever more conservationist measures all over the world, hundreds of thousands of elephants are slaughtered by poachers every year for their ivory. 65% of all elephant deaths are now attributable to poaching, up from 25% only ten years ago.

Similar statistics apply to poaching of tigers. There are only a few thousand left alive in the world.

We are witnessing a mass extinction of wildlife unlike anything seen in the history of the world right now, with the possible exception of the Chicxulub asteroid hit 65 million years ago.

It is incredible sad to think that humans think nothing of killing off entire species of animals for short term gain. Poachers are African poor people who just want to feed their families. Income inequality strikes in its own strange way in other countries.

One day, not too far in the future, there won’t be any wild elephants, wild tigers, and – what I would not have expected – wild vultures.

This article in Business Insider says in its headline: “Bill Gates Is Going Up Against The NRA”:

Bill Gates is opening up his considerable piggy bank in Silicon Valley’s fight against the National Rifle Association. The Microsoft billionaire donated $1 million to Initiative 594, which will require criminal background checks for firearm sales.

– Gregory Ferenstein

In this country, you need to pass criminal background check for many government service and private industry jobs. So what’s wrong with passing a criminal background check when you want to buy a weapon?

I just don’t get this. The NRA would garner much more credibility with me if its arguments made sense. This one, as well as the one that argues against a national registry of gun owners, just makes no sense to me.

We have a national registry for social security payers and recipients. We have one for taxpayers. We have one for the military. We have three (Experian, Equifax and Trans Union) for credit records. We have one for our baby pictures (Facebook). You can’t drive an automobile without having it registered with the state.

What again is the problem with a gun registry?

Sailing Stones

According to this blog post in Discover Magazine:

The Racetrack Playa — a barren lakebed in Death Valley National Park — is home to one of the world’s natural wonders: “sailing stones” that mysteriously meander across the dried mud, leaving tracks in their wake. Since the 1940s, these rocks have fueled wonder and speculation because no one had seen them in action — until now.

This looks real – but it’s “only” fiction, from the HBO series Newsroom. But definitely worth watching.

Watch on YouTube Here.

We lead the world in exactly three categories:

1. Number of citizens incarcerated

2. Number of adults that believe angels are real

3. Size of our defense budget, which is larger than that of the next 26 countries combined, 25 of which are allies.

 

I take my dress shirts to a laundry. They just never look right when I wash and iron them myself, and ironing takes me forever. So I don’t mind paying $2.75 per shirt to get them done. Besides, I only wear dress shirts when I visit clients and make presentations, and that’s not that often.

Then I read that Halliburton bills the government $100 per load of laundry in Afghanistan.

There are numerous instances that demonstrate some of the fraud, waste, and overcharging that occurs by private contractors. For example, KBR, a Halliburton subsidiary, bills the government nearly $100 per load of laundry, and charges about $45 for a 6-pack of soda.– Wyatt Merritt

Just examine your last pay stub, find the federal tax deduction, and calculate how many six packs of soda you have bought in Afghanistan. At Costco, you can buy a 6-pack for a couple of dollars. That’s about what Halliburton paid for that 6-pack. Then they shipped it to Afghanistan. That cost about as much as it costs the Chinese to ship our T-shirts to the U.S. — very little.  The rest is profit. Then think about your pay stub again, and how much of your federal tax deduction went to Halliburton profits.

Now do you still wonder why we are so anxious to put “boots back on the ground in Iraq?”

The news these days is full of pundits and saber rattlers who want the U.S. to go back to war in Iraq. The whole gang at Fox News, it seems, but also Senator Lindsey Graham and his cronies, are calling for war. Regardless of what former presidents did, it is not the job, or legal prerogative, of the president to declare war. The president has the authority to use military action if America’s safety is at risk, or American lives are under immediate threat. This is not the case here.

Why isn’t Congress cutting short its vacation, going back to Washington and engaging it the deliberative job it has, debating this issue and coming to the conclusion that it’s time to declare war – or not? Only Congress can declare war.

I am tired of listening to congressmen on TV spouting off about the president doing nothing. I want them to put their vote where their mouth is. I want them on the record. It’s easy to wage war from a comfy chair in the Senate.

I want them, and all the pundits asking for war, to send their own children and grandchildren to Iraq and Syria to do this noble job of defending the safety of America in the forsaken deserts of the Middle East. Let them take the first bullets shot by crazed, hypocritical zealots spewing medieval dogma, somehow protecting America.

Once their children are there, doing the shooting, they may just have a right to call up ours and send them there, too.

jack-ryan-shadow-recruit-dvd-719x1024

Anybody who has ever read any Tom Clancy knows Jack Ryan. Jack Ryan is the CIA operative who, seemingly in every book, saves the world through his cleverness and boundless fighting skills. Eventually, in the book Debt of Honor, Ryan rises politically and he is to be sworn in as Vice-President. Then a Japanese pilot flies his airliner into the Capitol killing off most of Congress, the cabinet, and the President, and Ryan is sworn in as President. That was actually a pretty good book. But I digress.

In this story, almost like a prequel to it all, we get to know Jack Ryan (Chris Pine) as a college student in London, England, the day when two airliners fly into the World Trade Center. Jack interrupts his Ph.D. studies and signs up for the military. In a whirlwind of introductory exposition, we witness Lieutenant Ryan shot down in a helicopter in Afghanistan, recover at Walter Reed, become a stock broker and economic genius, and discover a Russian plot to take down the United States by economic means and change the world order.

Aligned with his CIA handler Harper (Kevin Costner) and his doctor girlfriend Cathy (Keira Knightley), he fights a one-man war against the Russians.

A good thriller, Tom Clancy style, but a bit hard to follow as it often is with spy movie intrigues, Jack Ryan: Shadow Recruit is a good prequel to the entire Tom Clancy franchise – with some flaws.

Rating: **

Security services close to identifying jihadi killer of James Foley

I have no respect for cowards

When I write a post stating my opinion, I do so with my name above it. I cannot accept a “critic” who writes under a pseudonym, with the only exception being that their health and safety is in jeopardy because of the policies of the country they live in.

A person who has usurped the power to take another person’s life on video in front of the whole world to see, a person who parades in front of the people he supposedly wants to liberate and unite under God, should have the courage to do so with his face showing.

This is a coward who hides behind a mask and a bogus religion. He is a bully that can only be powerful because his is propped up by this buddies with guns.

Let him walk into any bar in America with this outfit on and see what would happen!

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