Archive for the ‘freedom’ Category

Terrorism and privacy

January 26, 2010

Took me a while to get around to this, but it’s been percolating through the dark recesses of my troubled mind for some time now.  You have all heard of the Christmas Day Panty Bomber.

I don’t get it.  Since 9/11 there can be no doubt that the government is snoopy snooping to a greater degree in each of our lives.  If we fly we need to take off our shoes and belts.  I couldn’t even carry a little Swiss Army knife into my state capital.  You know the gubmint is capturing, tracking and analyzing all of our banking, phone, credit card and Internet activity.    Anyways, I feel as though the government is imposing itself into private aspects of my life since 9/11.

So the father of the Christmas Day Panty Bomber actually called up the authorities to alert them.  U.S. government officials tell The Associated Press that the Nigerian man charged with trying to destroy a jetliner came to the attention of U.S. intelligence in November when his father went to the U.S. embassy in Abuja, Nigeria, to express his concerns about his son.”

I just don’t get how if the government is collecting all of this information, our privacy is being diminished, we’re being watched and taped more often and more inconvenienced rather than less, how they let this guy get on board a plane.  I mean why the hell do we put up with Big Brother getting bigger every day, week and year if there if there is no benefit in it for us.   I want to know what the hell they are doing with all of this information that they are collecting if they can’t even use it for its intended purpose.   I know the government has infiltrated meetings of peace activists.  Maybe the information is being used to track political enemies or for commercial gain.  One thing for sure though, it doesn’t seem like it’s making us any safer.  When one is looking for a needle in a haystack I never got the point of making the haystack insurmountably large.  Privacy, with the ease and speed that information is transmitted,  is too easy to destroy.

Why do we stand for Government trespasses?

Those who would give up Essential Liberty to purchase a little Temporary Safety, deserve neither Liberty nor Safety. B. Franklin, 1759

GET OUTSIDE EVERYDAY!!!

It’s that time of year.  It was a beautiful weekend.  Saturday was cold, dry and sunny so there was maybe an inch or two of fresh snow on hard pack.  Sunday was 40 or so so the snow was all soft like mashed potaters.    I like skiing abandoned ski areas.  I like skiing through trees.  I like to walk up and ski down.   This is a picture of the trail where the t-bar used to run.  You can see the big rusty old pole with the wheel at the top that the cable used to run along.   The trail is a bit overgrown.  This trail is maybe five feet wide and, trust me, it is much steeper than it looks.  In fact if you don’t ski you may not even be able to see a trail running straight down the hill.  This truly was first tracks, not even footprints.

And here is another nice trail.  I am always literally dumbfounded that I hardly ever run into anyone else when I am recreating in the out of doors.  If you ski you gotta appreciate how nice this trail is.    If you look at the horizon you can see massive office buildings and neighborhoods of houses.  Amazing to find hidden little jewels like this in the center of suburbia.  There were some footprints, but I was the first person to carve some turns.

And there is not a less crowded , better or cheaper ski trail in all of New England.  So for your own mental and physical health GET OUTSIDE EVERY DAY!!!


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Nazi Checkpoints

October 4, 2009

Drip, drip drip.  Chip, chip, chip.  The frogs in the pot don’t realize that the water is beginning to boil.

Citizens of the United States are supposed to be able to travel freely and not be subjected to unreasonable searches or seizures.  Although the Constitution doesn’t specifically mention “travel,” the right to travel has been a firmly embedded right since the Articles of Confederation guaranteed that “the people of each State shall have free ingress and regress to and from any other State.” There is also a long line of case establishing that states can’t treat newcomers differently than long-time residents unless the state restriction is necessary to serve a compelling state interest.

And in the 1999 SCOTUS case of Saenz v. Roe, 526 US 489 (1999) Justice Stevens notes:

The word “travel” is not found in the text of the Constitution. Yet the “constitutional right to travel from one State to another” is firmly embedded in our jurisprudence. United States v. Guest , 383 U. S. 745, 757 (1966). Indeed, as Justice Stewart reminded us in Shapiro v. Thompson , 394 U. S. 618 (1969), the right is so important that it is “assertable against private interference as well as governmental action … a virtually unconditional personal right, guaranteed by the Constitution to us all.” Id., at 643 (concurring opinion).

Then we all know, or should know, of course that The right of the people to be secure in their persons, houses, papers, and effects, against unreasonable searches and seizures, shall not be violated…” The operative word being “unreasonable.”  Generally government can’t stop us or search our person without having some reason to do so.  Government can’t go on fishing expeditions.  Government is supposed to know what specific contraband it is looking to seize and particularly where that contraband is likely to be found prior to engaging in any search.  Government is not supposed to set up so called “dragnets” where it nets the innocent as well as the guilty.

If you are seized you are not free to go about your business.  What constitutes a seizure can vary from state to state, but generally if there is a show of authority (men in blue, orders to stop, guns, flashing lights, badges and other such acts/things) and you yield to that show of authority/force than you have been seized and prevented from going about your business.

This is a confusing area of the law.  On the one hand the cops can set up drunk driving checkpoints because of the immediate danger that freaking dumb drunks pose to the rest of us.   On the other hand Indianapolis v. Edmund, 531 US 32 (2000) made clear, at least for the time being, that cops can’t set up checkpoints with the purpose of interdicting illicit drugs.  Interestingly enough the so called “Conservative Justices” – Scalia, Thomas and Rehnquist were in favor of allowing random police stops of citizens going about their business. As Rehnquist noted in his dissent random law enforcement checkpoints are legitimate to “…checking for driver’s licenses and vehicle registrations, and because there is nothing in the record to indicate that the addition of the dog sniff lengthens these otherwise legitimate seizures, I dissent.”  Conservative my ass!!  He is a Republican.

My definition of a Republican: someone who thinks the government can do nothing right unless and until it comes to kicking in doors, searching, seizing citizens, legislating morality, law enforcement and the military and than the government can do no wrong. I’ve never been certain how some people can hold two mutually exclusive beliefs.  That’s me though.

Anyways, now that the foundation has been built: 1. we have the right to free intrastate and interstate travel and 2. we have the right to be free from unreasonable searches and seizures let’s look at some startling violations that are happening as we speak.  Tipping point?  You decide.

Tipping point?  You decide.  Chip, chip, chip, drip, drip, drip.  The water around the pot of frogs slowly comes to a boil.

GET OUTSIDE EVERY FREAKING DAY WHILE WE ARE STILL ALLOWED TO DO SO!!!!

How many campfires did you sit around this summer?  I know one thing, not enough!!

37Here I am catching a crappy wave.

17So GET OUTSIDE EVERYDAY © and rip it up!!


Eminent Domain

September 30, 2009

The Fifth Amendment to the United States Constitution states, “…nor shall private property be taken for public use, without just compensation.” This clause of the Fifth Amendment is known as the takings clause.  It empowers the government to take private property for public use.  Maybe you know someone who had a few feet taken from their front lawn to widen a road or build a sidewalk.   The Fifth Amendment also requires that when governments exercise their right of eminent domain that “just compensation” is given to the owners of the property.   It allows governments to take private property for “public use” as long as just compensation is paid.

So the natural outcome is that we are all left deciding and defining what is “private property,” what is “public use” and what is “just compensation.”

Well a few years ago there was a big eminent domain case out of Connecticut, Kelo v. New London, 545 U.S. 469 (2005). The long and short of it, the way I understand it, is that Big Pharma Giant Pfizer wanted to build a plant in New London.  The city established a private corporation to oversee development in the area.  The problem was that a bunch of people still owned homes and lived in the area.  The question became whether government can while exercising its power of eminent domain take private property from some people (the homeowners) and give it to other private parties (the New London Redevelopment Corp. that was representing private interests).  The big question became what was public use and whether generalized promises of future jobs and future tax revenues could qualify as “public use.”  The Court has slowly allowed “public use” to be redefined as public purpose.    If the effervescent promise of future tax revenues qualifies as a great enough benefit, just about any government taking of private property can somehow be rationalized as public purpose.

Or as Justice Thomas wrote in his dissent, “Once one permits takings for public purposes in addition to public uses, no coherent principle limits what could constitute a valid public use…”  Why not take any house or business if some developer or business is able to somehow show that by razing the existing home/business and replacing it with a new business that government may get sometime down the road the possibility of additional taxes?

I would ask, where is the public use?  How is the public able to use the plant that Pfizer wanted to build?  We can’t so there is no public use to my non-black robed eyes. The public has no beneficial interest in a privately owned plant.  To me it appeared that this was a land grab by government to further the interests of private industry.

Do you think that private entities offering the possibility of future jobs and taxes is enough of a public use to justify government taking private property? I don’t.

The City of New London won and the homeowners lost their homes.  End of story?  Not quite.

The case was decided in 2005 so what happened to all of the new jobs, new development and new taxes.  I want to know.

As Jeff Benedict wrote in the Hartford Courant,

A few weeks ago I visited the neighborhood, ground zero in the famous battle between the city and homeowners. Here’s what I saw: a sea of brown dirt littered with old rusty nails, broken bricks and slivers of glass — the only signs that people once lived there. Every home has vanished. Nothing has been built in their place. The neighborhood is a ghost town, a scarlet letter on the city’s forehead.

No new tax revenues have come.  No new jobs have come.  No new “public use” has come.

And in another follow-up story, AP writer Katie Nelson notes, “But what of the promised building boom that was supposed to bring up to 3,169 jobs and $1.2 million a year in tax revenues?”  There are no new jobs.  There are no new taxes.  There is no public use.  They took the land, kicked the people out of their homes and gave nothing back.  Government is controlled by monied vested interests.

Like I always say, if it can happen to them, it can happen to you.  On notice is on guard.

GET OUTSIDE EVERYDAY!! ©

p1010025Just a pretty summer pond.  In a couple more weeks these trees will be ablaze with color.  I was walking about and I saw some scraping at the base of a tree from where a woodpecker had gone to town.

p1010024So I thought to myself that these scrapings would be great tinder for a firesteel.  I didn’t get a fire going, but I guess the point is to always be aware and on the look out for what you may be able to use.

Now that summer is winding down I hope to get back a bit more to blogging.

Sole of the jackboot of Government

September 4, 2009

The police are the sole of the jackboot of Government.  But what was supposed to be a day of fun at an end-of-summer festival ended abruptly when police shot Grose with a Taser in a dispute about where to end the parade route.”

There is some sort of end of summer parade every year in Glenrock, WY.  So some old guy was driving his antique tractor through the parade.  tractor.jog The parade always used to follow one route, but for some reason this year the police wanted to change the route and end it sooner.  The elderly tractor driver had different ideas and one thing lead to another.  Cops being cops with the insatiable appetite to exert their Authoratay couldn’t let an old man get away with something so they tasered this 76 year old retiree.

Luckily the community did the right thing.  The incident nearly incited a riot as outraged neighbors rushed to his defense. Now residents of this tight-knit town of 2,400 are seething over what they see as police brutality, and town officials are scrambling to ease the tension.”

If things like this keep happening, that is rightly or wrongly, people perceiving that the police, those that are paid with our tax dollars, money coming out of our families mouths, are abusive to citizens cops will find themselves in greater danger.  That’s the breaks.  Every action has an equal and opposite reaction.

Then there is another hicktown in Arkansas where the police have been running amuck.   The town of Jericho, Arkansas has 174 residents and seven cops.  Apparently the cops like to give out tickets because it helps them to bloat the size of the force.   Everyone seems to agree that the fire chief was in court to contest a ticket and the town’s seven cops were at the hearing some sort of scuffle broke out and the fire chief was shot in the back.

Speed

“JERICHO, Ark. – It was just too much, having to return to court twice on the same day to contest yet another traffic tick et, and Fire Chief Don Payne didn’t hesitate to tell the judge what he thought of the police an d their speed traps. The response from cops? They shot him. Right there in court.

I guess that’s the breaks.  What do you expect.  The police are your enemies.  And if you are a minority you better watch your back and what neighborhoods you dare to walk through.

Just one more before I go.  So this guy was driving and got stopped by the police for suspicion of drunk driving.  They gave him a breathalyzer and he passed.  He was below the legal limit.  The cop didn’t like the result so they took this ostensibly “free” citizen to the hospital where they proceeded to chain him down to a gurney and forced a catheter up his Willie Wonka.  Pause.  Think.  Let it sink in.

“A Breathalyzer test showed Lockard was under the legal limit, but Officer Brian Miller doubted the findings.  Lockard’s attorney said his client was shackled to a gurney and had a catheter inserted against his will.”

catheterGot that the police stopped an innocent citizen from free travel took him to the hospital, tied him down and catheterized him in order to force him to give evidence against himself.  There are so many consitutional violations here that I hope the victim files a s. 1983 claim and bankrupts the community.  So much for the presumption of innocence aye?  Have no fear I’m sure that the police department’s IA division will investigate and find no violations by the cop in question.

Imagine the police tying down your grandma, mother, wife, daughter or sister to a gurney and forcibly catheterizing her.  Stop.  Pause.  Think about that.

WE NEED TO START HOLDING COPS ACCOUNTABLE!!!

So don’t ever forget that the police are your enemies.  They will ask you questions and use your answers against you in a court of law.  They will try to trick you like carnies on the midway.  They will seize your possessions given the chance too.  If you are a minority you already understand that.

Lesson is to interact as little as possible with the men in blue. Any interaction with the police is likely to turn out badly.  Avoid them like the swine flu.  They want a reason to interpose themselves in your life.  They like nothing better than to get involved with you.  That’s why they hide there on the side of the road behind bushes and bridges, like miscreants, waiting to spring out, seize you and keep you from going peacefully about your business.  Given the opportunity that police salivate over they will take you out of your car, beat you, lock you up and seize your property.  It’s what they want.  It’s why they do what they do.

Be careful out there.

BTW do yourself a favor and look at my post about purslane.  It’s a wild edible that grows everywhere, even in cities.

GET OUTSIDE EVERYDAY!! © Surf it, bike it, hike it, ski it, walk it, run it, swim it, watch it, ride it.  Just Rip It The Eff Up Every Single Day Of Your Life!!

Now it’s Labor Day Weekend go …

p1010029Just a pretty stream in Western Massachusetts.  There is something special about flowing water.

p1010031

T

Health care tort reform and yarrow

July 29, 2009

Part of health insurance reform is tort reform.  We hear a lot of people talk about tort reform and how tort reform is necessary.  I worked for three years in a very prestigious plaintiff’s litigation firm.

Three big points to make.

1. Everyone is against lawsuits until a battery explodes in their face, a stairway collapses under their feet, a surgeon leaves forceps inside your belly or a radiologist misses a radiolucent lump in your brain.  Then as soon as someone perceives that they’ve been hurt they come running to a lawyer to fix their problem.  My point is that just like government provided economic benefits, you are against the other guy’s, not your own.  You want tort reform for them, not for you.  Look at the example of Tom Delay (Scumbag-TX), when his own father was hurt they wasted no time filing a lawsuit. Not to be out done you also have the example of Rick Santorum (Dirtbag-PA),

“Sen. Rick Santorum, R-Pa., says that the No. 1 health care crisis in his state is medical lawsuit abuse and in the past he’s called for a $250,000 cap on non-economic damage awards or awards for pain and suffering. “We need to do something now to fix the medical liability problem in this country,” he declared at a rally in Washington D.C., this past spring.  But Santorum’s wife sued a doctor for $500,000 in 1999. She claimed that a botched spinal manipulation by her chiropractor led to back surgery, pain and suffering, and sued for twice the amount of a cap Santorum has supported.”

So just like I said everyone is for reform as long as it only restricts the other guy and not you personally.  You should see how people come running to lawyers as soon as they think they have “a case.”

2. The plaintiff’s bar accepts cases on contingency.  You know what this means?  Contingency means that a lawyer gets paid only if she wins.  The lawyer getting paid is contingent on them winning the case.   This is a big deal.  Expert witnesses in cases can cost $5,000 or even $10,000 for a single day!!  Plus they always want to be put up in the most expensive hotel rooms.  A big case can go on for two or three years.  There has to be depositions, which are expensive.  Maybe the lawyer wants some of his own testing done or he ma need to hire a PI to do some footwork.   Plus there can be tens, hundreds or even thousands of hours put into a big case.

The whole time that the case is pending the secretary needs to be paid, rent needs to be paid, insurance needs to be paid, utilities need to be paid.  You get the idea.  All of this money is out of the lawyer’s own pocket.  If he loses the case he not only is out all of his out of pocket expenses, but he never gets paid for his time.  ZERO.

So lawyers will only accept cases that have a very good chance of being successfully pleaded.  A lawyer will not accept a marginal case, because they can work for years and pay tens of thousands of dollars in out of pockets expenses and than never get paid because they lose the case.

Would you work on contingency?

3. It is very difficult to win a case.  The jury pool has been pretty well corrupted.  The insurance industry, big business and their paid servants in Congress have been sure to inform everyone of run away jury awards, the hot coffee case and every aberrant two standard deviations out of the norm award.  It is very tough to win a jury case.  Questions of doubt are answered in favor of the defendant.  The plaintiff needs to convince everyone.  The defense just needs to convince one.

Don’t easily give up your right to seek a redress for your injuries.  Those of you opposed to government involvement in the health care system, those who cry socialism, are you prepared tohave the same government set caps on lawsuit damages?  It’s a bad idea.

GET OUTSIDE EVERYDAY!! ©

This is yarrow.  It used to be called names like soldier herb or knight’s wort because yarrow can stop bleeding.  Yarrow is one of our most useful herbal remedies.  It is particularly good for women and the problems they may have related to menopause and menses.   It is worth reading up on.

02This is a nice shot to show you how you can identify yarrow.  Notice the leaves look fernlike.  Each leaf is almost feathery.  It’s latin name is something like millefoil.  The prefix mille means something like thousands, same prefix as millipede, because millipedes got 1,000 legs.  Well yarrow has 1,000 leaves, each leaf is like 1,000 sub-leaves.

Here is a pic of it blooming.

oDon’t confuse it with wild carrot.  The leaves and flowers are different.  A yarrow poultice is used to stop bleeding.  Yarrow tea is used for colds, fevers and internal bleeding.  It’s also known as an anti-inflammatory.  So get your own field guides and look up yarrow.  Yarrow is a must for your herbal remedy toolbox.

Gay marriage & wild grapes

July 22, 2009

This is a sensitive topic I know.  The grapes come after the waxing philosophical.  If you don’t want to be subjected to my mini-rant on gay marriage then skip below to the GET OUTSIDE EVERYDAY part.  Last chance to leave or skip down to the Wild Grapes part before you are subjected to the rant.

I knew that you couldn’t resist reading the rant.  You don’t even know if I’m pro or con gay marriage.  I’m not gay.  I don’t care who is.  I live in Massachusetts.  Gay marriage has been legal here for more than five years.  Massachusetts is the same now as before gay marriage was authorized.  That’s right, my straight marriage isn’t under attack.  The streets aren’t filled with militant gays and lesbians.  Things are as bucolic as ever in Massachusetts.  Heck, if you were a space alien visiting from another galaxy you wouldn’t have any clue that gay marriage is allowed.

A couple of points to make here:

1. Allowing loving people to marry each other doesn’t mean the end of Western Civilization.  The Commonwealth of Massachusetts is just as screwed up now as it was before gay marriage became legal.  NOTHING HAS CHANGED.  I think the present Speaker of the House is under indictment just like the last Speaker of the House.

2. What business is it of anyone’s which adults can marry which adults?  MYOB!! The gays want nothing to do with you or your kids.  I think they would like nothing better than to be left alone.  While I’m at it I think the Mormons got a bad rap too.  I don’t know why someone would want more than one spouse, but more power to you.

3.  Gays aren’t indoctrinating anyone into the lifestyle anymore than you were indoctrinated into being straight.

4. Your way of life, our way of life, the straight way of life is not under attack.

5. No one is going to force any church to solemnize a gay marriage.

6. Just like the American Revolution and Civil War were fought more over economics than principal, recognition of gay marriage has more to do with economics than anything else.  It has to do with access to health insurance, survivorship benefits, health care and pensions.

I’m not sure that this is a state’s right issue, any more so than if a state refused to recognize marriage between different races or ethnicities.    I do agree that marriage has always been relegated to the states.   However, just as laws against miscegeny were struck down by SCOTUS in 1967 in the landmark Loving v. Virginia case, so should state laws barring gays from marrying.

I like to mind my own business in the hopes that others will mind their own business too.  If the gays don’t bother me, which they usually don’t, then I won’t bother them. Deal?

After five years of legal gay marriage in Massachusetts I can tell you that you have nothing to fear from gays getting married.   At least to me life seems the same.

Hey you are free to disagree with me.  Reasonable people can disagree, as long as no one is getting hurt.  Oh, and in a survival situation no matter how you feel about gay marriage pro or con, I hope you know to keep your opinion to yourself.  Opinions can be dangerous things.  It’s usually much safer to be agreeable and bide your time.  Speaking out can get you killed.  It’s better to be a survivor than be right. In a survival situation  stop worrying about being right and focus on surviving.

GET OUTSIDE EVERYDAY! © Now for the wild grapes.  I was out walking the dog through the woods and saw some wild grapes in a little clearing.  It would have been easy to walk right past them, but like I always preach, you gotta keep your eyes and your mind open.   Your mind has to be open to observe what your eyes are seeing.  It is easy to look right past things without seeing them.

P1010004So what is there to say about wild grapes.  They’re pretty easy to ID.  You can see the stem is kind of reddish purple.  If you look closely the stem almost looks like paper peeling up in a few places.

Another good way to tell wild grape from Virginia Creeper is because grapes have a three lobed leaf. I don’t know if lobe is the correct word, but if you look you can see that the leaf is genuinely divided into three segments.

P1010008Virginia Creeper which looks like wild grape, but shouldn’t be eaten has a five or seven lobed/segmented leaf.  I think you can drink the water from cut grape vines too, but if wild grape is growing you know that there is water nearby.  Wild grapes don’t grow where it’s dry.

I liked this picture too because it looks cool, but also shows another good way to ID wild grape.

P1010007Isn’t this a beautiful picture the way the light is shining through the canopy of grape vines?  Go ahead and click on it to make it big.  So anyways another good way to ID grape is because its tendrils, those are the things that grab onto to other things to climb.  It’s the grape’s way of getting more into the sun.  Anyways, the tendrils on wild grape are binary.  See how there are like four or five pair?  Wild grape tendrils grow in pairs. Plus the fruit looks like grape and tastes like grape, tart grape, but grape.  I used to spend a fair amount of time hunting and picking wild grape and then making wild mountain grape wine – strong and sweet.  Oh, and watch those seeds.  I’ve yet to find a seedless wild grape.

There now you have a bunch of ways to positively ID wild grape: bark, tendrils, leaves and fruit.  You can see this fruit isn’t quite ready yet, But the race is now on between the birds and me.  BRING IT ON TWEETY!!

Deriving their just powers from the consent of the governed

July 4, 2009

Surfing up in Maine for the weekend so I figured I’d let some other people do the writing for me.

READ IT.  READ IT. READ IT.  READ IT AGAIN. You owe it to every person who has died in the name of the United States.

The unanimous Declaration of the thirteen united States of America

When in the Course of human events it becomes necessary for one people to dissolve the political bands which have connected them with another and to assume among the powers of the earth, the separate and equal station to which the Laws of Nature and of Nature’s God entitle them, a decent respect to the opinions of mankind requires that they should declare the causes which impel them to the separation.

We hold these truths to be self-evident, that all men are created equal, that they are endowed by their Creator with certain unalienable Rights, that among these are Life, Liberty and the pursuit of Happiness. — That to secure these rights, Governments are instituted among Men, deriving their just powers from the consent of the governed, — That whenever any Form of Government becomes destructive of these ends, it is the Right of the People to alter or to abolish it, and to institute new Government, laying its foundation on such principles and organizing its powers in such form, as to them shall seem most likely to effect their Safety and Happiness. Prudence, indeed, will dictate that Governments long established should not be changed for light and transient causes; and accordingly all experience hath shewn that mankind are more disposed to suffer, while evils are sufferable than to right themselves by abolishing the forms to which they are accustomed. But when a long train of abuses and usurpations, pursuing invariably the same Object evinces a design to reduce them under absolute Despotism, it is their right, it is their duty, to throw off such Government, and to provide new Guards for their future security. — Such has been the patient sufferance of these Colonies; and such is now the necessity which constrains them to alter their former Systems of Government. The history of the present [FILL IN THE BLANK] King of Great Britain is a history of repeated injuries and usurpations, all having in direct object the establishment of an absolute Tyranny over these States. To prove this, let Facts be submitted to a candid world.

He has refused his Assent to Laws, the most wholesome and necessary for the public good.

He has forbidden his Governors to pass Laws of immediate and pressing importance, unless suspended in their operation till his Assent should be obtained; and when so suspended, he has utterly neglected to attend to them.

He has refused to pass other Laws for the accommodation of large districts of people, unless those people would relinquish the right of Representation in the Legislature, a right inestimable to them and formidable to tyrants only.

He has called together legislative bodies at places unusual, uncomfortable, and distant from the depository of their Public Records, for the sole purpose of fatiguing them into compliance with his measures.

He has dissolved Representative Houses repeatedly, for opposing with manly firmness his invasions on the rights of the people.

He has refused for a long time, after such dissolutions, to cause others to be elected, whereby the Legislative Powers, incapable of Annihilation, have returned to the People at large for their exercise; the State remaining in the mean time exposed to all the dangers of invasion from without, and convulsions within.

He has endeavoured to prevent the population of these States; for that purpose obstructing the Laws for Naturalization of Foreigners; refusing to pass others to encourage their migrations hither, and raising the conditions of new Appropriations of Lands.

He has obstructed the Administration of Justice by refusing his Assent to Laws for establishing Judiciary Powers.

He has made Judges dependent on his Will alone for the tenure of their offices, and the amount and payment of their salaries.

He has erected a multitude of New Offices, and sent hither swarms of Officers to harass our people and eat out their substance.

He has kept among us, in times of peace, Standing Armies without the Consent of our legislatures.

He has affected to render the Military independent of and superior to the Civil Power.

He has combined with others to subject us to a jurisdiction foreign to our constitution, and unacknowledged by our laws; giving his Assent to their Acts of pretended Legislation:

For quartering large bodies of armed troops among us:

For protecting them, by a mock Trial from punishment for any Murders which they should commit on the Inhabitants of these States:

For cutting off our Trade with all parts of the world:

For imposing Taxes on us without our Consent:

For depriving us in many cases, of the benefit of Trial by Jury:

For transporting us beyond Seas to be tried for pretended offences:

For abolishing the free System of English Laws in a neighbouring Province, establishing therein an Arbitrary government, and enlarging its Boundaries so as to render it at once an example and fit instrument for introducing the same absolute rule into these Colonies

For taking away our Charters, abolishing our most valuable Laws and altering fundamentally the Forms of our Governments:

For suspending our own Legislatures, and declaring themselves invested with power to legislate for us in all cases whatsoever.

He has abdicated Government here, by declaring us out of his Protection and waging War against us.

He has plundered our seas, ravaged our coasts, burnt our towns, and destroyed the lives of our people.

He is at this time transporting large Armies of foreign Mercenaries to compleat the works of death, desolation, and tyranny, already begun with circumstances of Cruelty & Perfidy scarcely paralleled in the most barbarous ages, and totally unworthy the Head of a civilized nation.

He has constrained our fellow Citizens taken Captive on the high Seas to bear Arms against their Country, to become the executioners of their friends and Brethren, or to fall themselves by their Hands.

He has excited domestic insurrections amongst us, and has endeavoured to bring on the inhabitants of our frontiers, the merciless Indian Savages whose known rule of warfare, is an undistinguished destruction of all ages, sexes and conditions.

In every stage of these Oppressions We have Petitioned for Redress in the most humble terms: Our repeated Petitions have been answered only by repeated injury. A Prince, whose character is thus marked by every act which may define a Tyrant, is unfit to be the ruler of a free people.

Nor have We been wanting in attentions to our British brethren. We have warned them from time to time of attempts by their legislature to extend an unwarrantable jurisdiction over us. We have reminded them of the circumstances of our emigration and settlement here. We have appealed to their native justice and magnanimity, and we have conjured them by the ties of our common kindred to disavow these usurpations, which would inevitably interrupt our connections and correspondence. They too have been deaf to the voice of justice and of consanguinity. We must, therefore, acquiesce in the necessity, which denounces our Separation, and hold them, as we hold the rest of mankind, Enemies in War, in Peace Friends.

We, therefore, the Representatives of the united States of America, in General Congress, Assembled, appealing to the Supreme Judge of the world for the rectitude of our intentions, do, in the Name, and by Authority of the good People of these Colonies, solemnly publish and declare, That these united Colonies are, and of Right ought to be Free and Independent States, that they are Absolved from all Allegiance to the British Crown, and that all political connection between them and the State of Great Britain, is and ought to be totally dissolved; and that as Free and Independent States, they have full Power to levy War, conclude Peace, contract Alliances, establish Commerce, and to do all other Acts and Things which Independent States may of right do. — And for the support of this Declaration, with a firm reliance on the protection of Divine Providence, we mutually pledge to each other our Lives, our Fortunes, and our sacred Honor.

John Hancock

New Hampshire:
Josiah Bartlett, William Whipple, Matthew Thornton

Massachusetts:
John Hancock, Samuel Adams, John Adams, Robert Treat Paine, Elbridge Gerry

Rhode Island:
Stephen Hopkins, William Ellery

Connecticut:
Roger Sherman, Samuel Huntington, William Williams, Oliver Wolcott

New York:
William Floyd, Philip Livingston, Francis Lewis, Lewis Morris

New Jersey:
Richard Stockton, John Witherspoon, Francis Hopkinson, John Hart, Abraham Clark

Pennsylvania:
Robert Morris, Benjamin Rush, Benjamin Franklin, John Morton, George Clymer, James Smith, George Taylor, James Wilson, George Ross

Delaware:
Caesar Rodney, George Read, Thomas McKean

Maryland:
Samuel Chase, William Paca, Thomas Stone, Charles Carroll of Carrollton

Virginia:
George Wythe, Richard Henry Lee, Thomas Jefferson, Benjamin Harrison, Thomas Nelson, Jr., Francis Lightfoot Lee, Carter Braxton

North Carolina:
William Hooper, Joseph Hewes, John Penn

South Carolina:
Edward Rutledge, Thomas Heyward, Jr., Thomas Lynch, Jr., Arthur Middleton

Georgia:
Button Gwinnett, Lyman Hall, George Walton

Get outside everyday!!

Have you seen these before?  They’re Indian Pipes.  It’s also called the Ghost Plant. Boo!!

p1010009It’s a saprophytic plant, which means that it feeds on dead organic matter. Boo!!  Because it doessn’t have chlorophyl it doesn’t photosynthesize and that’s why it’s white and not green like most plants.  The Native Americans made some powerful potions from the root tea.  It was used for such things as: convulsion, fits and epilepsy.

In A Texas Town

April 30, 2009

This is the story of race, law, constitutional rights and incompetence.  Have any of you heard of Regina Kelly?  The crimes against Ms. Kelly took place in Hearne, TX, but they could have occurred in any city in any state against any of us.  If what you have seen out of your own government over the poast 10, or 20 years isn’t enough to convince you that it could happen to you, then you haven’t been paying attention.

In 2000 Ms. Kelly was a young mother of four, who was swept up in an illegal police raid.  She was told to either plead guilty and get ten years probation or face possibly being found guilty and face 99 years in prison.

But as can be heard in any of our Halls of Justice across this fine land every single day, “But I didn’t do it.”  And the defense counsel can be heard everyday saying, “It doesn’t matter.  You choice is to plead guilty to a lesser charge or risk trial and get who knows how much time.”

Like most city, county and state governments in Hearne, TX there was a drug enforcement task force.   Although drugs were available in all the neighborhoods of Hearne, TX the authorities made a conscious decision to only concentrate their efforts on the housing projects and poor, black people.

The ACLU complaint alleged that the the City of Hearne and Limestone and Robertson Counties engaged in racially motivated and targeted drug sweeps.   “Each sweep results in the detention of virtually every member of an entire, neighborhood, as well as the warrantless searches of many residents’ property and person.”  Also, “the African American community is held in a state of lockdown, with officers of the Task Force, City and Counties as well as officers employed by neighboring counties and cities, searching and detaining innocent residents, often in handcuffs, for lengthy periods of time without warrant or cause.”

So because it’s such a compelling story a movie was made about the events, American Violet.

Who among us can’t relate to the fear of getting railroaded by The Man?

The other interesting thing is that when the movie studio was trying to promote the movie and placed posters in stores around Hearne what do you suppose happened…

The premiere was well attended, though getting the word out was not easy. Father Robert Herald, who hosted the event, said someone dressed in a SWAT uniform advised local merchants to take down the movie’s advertisements.  “They were told it might go better if their poster was removed,” Herald said.

I am SHOCKED, shocked that The Authorities would use our tax dollars and send around guys in uniform to suppress free speech. NOT!!

Is the scourge of drugs so bad as to warrant the destruction of civil rights?  Are you willing to trade your civil rights in return for the false promise of the elimination of illegal drugs?

The War on Drugs and the War on Terrorism are nothing but great schemes put in place by the PTB to desensitize Americans to government abuse.  Now we are accepting of road blocks, having to take our shoes off to fly and warrantless wiretaps.

GET OUTSIDE EVERYDAY!

p1010105This shot is taken from the top of one of the little humps that I sometimes walk.  It may be tough to see, but that mountain in the distance is Mount Wachusett.  You can ski there in teh winter if you don’t mind ponying up 50 bucks.  It’s a ways away.

Went to a friend’s friend’s farm to get a load of manure.  I love manure.

p1010110Some horses that they own.  Are you friends with any farmers so you can get manure from them?  If not make friends.

Don’t get the flu.

p1010112

Oath Keepers

April 9, 2009

There has been a lot of brouhahah about the  Oath Keepers.  For those of you not familiar with the Oath Keepers it is a group of:

“Military, Veterans, and peace officers who will honor their oaths to defend the Constitution, will NOT “just follow orders,” will stand for liberty, and will save the Republic, so help us God. Our motto is: “Not on Our Watch!”

So these brave folks have vowed to defend the Constitution even if it means disobeying orders from their superiors.

I don’t believe it.  Not that I don’t believe their good intentions, but no one knows how they will act when faced with the unknown.  Many a brave man turned tail and ran at the first shot fired.

Shall we look at some evidence and why I feel that the vow of the Oath Keepers can’t be relied upon?

So no, while I appreciate the Oath Keepers warm thoughts and well wishes I don’t believe that when push comes to shove they will disobey direct orders to do whatever is asked of them.  Talk is cheap.

I don’t mean to be disrespectful and I’m sure that the  Oath keepers are well intentioned, but based on the evidence – shooting unarmed people, shooting people in he back, wide spread beatings of citizens, seizure of legally owned firearms when people most need them taking pot away from dying people and on and on and on there is only one conclusion that any sane person can come to; that the authorities can’t be trusted.

And some news of the day – “The US government has admitted the nation’s power grid is vulnerable to cyber attack, following reports it has been infiltrated by foreign spies.” Are you prepping to live in the pre-industrial age?

And the Fed released the minutes from its last meeting, the economy is much worse than they let on and as you hopefully know the Fed downgraded its forecasts – “Sixty-three experts butted heads openly and were unable to decide whether the economy has just simply slowed more than expected, or is in the toilet — where it will remain for years to come.”

Don’t depend on anyone else to do what’s right.

Get outside everyday!!

An old stone dam built in the woods.

p1010063It’s difficult to get a sense of scale but I’d say it’s maybe 10-12 feet from the water to the top.

p1010065A nice piece of quartz sitting in the woods.

Civil disobedience

April 4, 2009

I have been involved in a number of protests over the years.  I love a good march or protest. I’ll try to tell you what I know about how large groups of people react so if you ever g20decide to cowboy up and actually exercise your constitutional right to peaceably assemble to petition the government for a redress of your grievances as opposed to sitting on your butt pecking away at your keyboard you may know how to behave.  Then again you may be just walking past a demonstration and get caught up in it by either the demonstrators or the police with a giant fishnet.  That’s right during the 04 Repub convention in NYC the police used snow fence like a fishing net and scooped up everyone on the street.

g20-3Plus, I bet over the coming years we see more and more public displays of disaffection.  So even if you don’t plan on going to a protest you may nevertheless find youself caught up in one.

g20-1First, if you want to be safer you are better off in the center of the crowd.  More action happens on the edges and periphery.  Stay in the center of the crowd and you will be less likely to get grabbed by the cops or hurt by anyone.  You can see that the young gents to the left chose to disregard my advice and they are on the edges of the crowd.  The guy on the ground was obviously rewarded for his efforts with a thump and a lump on his head.

Always have an escape plan.  Be wary of being with a crowd in a narrow street or alley way.  A big crowd of people can act as one big wild animal if they get startled.  You do not want to be in the way of a stampede of people trying to escape teargas or rubber bullets.  Always have an escape plan.  Look for a doorway or even an alcove built into the side of a building that you can duck into.  Whatever you do do not fall down.  If you have to, look for a big planter or base of a statue that you can climb up on.

If you are there to protest don’t allow yourself to get herded into a Free Speech first_amendment_zone1Zones.   This is the free speech zone from Boston 2004.  What you thought the whole country was a free speech zone. Haha.  Like I said you better get off of your butt and cowboy up.  A Free Speech Zone is basically a cage where the authorities want all of the protesters to go.   Whether you are pro or con on whatever the issue is the authorities want to stick you in a cage.  Don’t let it happen.  You will be in a closed in area who are in favor of issues that you are opposed to and no one that you want to influence will be around to see you.

Look for the authorities.  Beware of who they are.  Cops and feds too will dress up in plainclothes and infiltrate the crowd. It’s not hard to spot them if you open your eyes.  They look like cops who are dressed as protesters.  Some of them will even have earbuds.  You know the look, short hair, overly muscled, shirt is untucked but looks very out of place, like it’s the first time the shirt has ever been untucked.   Cops have even been known to instigate a problem.  If you can, identify the plainclothes authorities.

7077744Marching takes a lot of energy and water.  Make sure that you bring your own bottled water to stay hydrated.    I’d also suggest bringing safety glasses,  a bandanna or better yet an n95 or n100 mask.  if the tear gas starts going off you can soak the bandana in water and cover you face.  Safety glasses will help with tear gas, mace or flying objects.  I’d also recommend bringing some easy food with you like granola bars or fruit.

I’ve seen quite a few citizens bloodied in the streets of London.  I’m not generally a fan of attacking the authorities and I do feel badly for the Bobbies, but I think it’s about time the citizens start to strike back.  It’s not right that the Bobbies bloody woman and hit folks in the head for being on the streets protesting.  Maybe a few rocks, sticks on molotov cocktails might put the balance of power back into balance.  That’s the breaks when the authorities hurt citizen, the authorities best expect to get hurt by said citizens.

I don’t know enough about William Ayers to condemn the guy.  I’m not sure how instrumental he was in the wicked deeds of the Weather Underground.  That being said the guy is now an academic.   Ayers was hired by a Boston College student group to speak on the state of democracy in America.  The Boston College administration canceled the event. Think about the irony. I’m not a fan of Ayers and I’m not going to defend what he did during the 60’s.

My point is, what does it say about the state of big D Democracy in the United States when someone who is supposed to speak on Democracy has the even canceled because it offends “The Administration.”  No need for a speech.  I think we were all taught a lesson.  Want me to teach it to you?  THERE IS NO DEMOCRACY IN AMERICA that the authorities don’t allow you to have!

BTW what do you call someone who destroys private property and shoots at uniformed officers of the state?

You know, you got that word in your head?  Do you?  What do you call folks who destroy private property and shoot at agents of the government?

Well how about our forefathers that threw cases of tea overboard into Boston Harbor and shot their muskets across the North Bridge in Concord, Massachusetts.

I don’t like Ted Stevens.  I don’t like his politics.  I don’t like his bridge to nowhere.  In my opinion he is a dirty politician.  None of that matters. Our government hid evidence and tried to prevent witnesses from testifying. That’s more than wrong.  It’s tyranny.

Get outside everyday!

p1010043Mmmmmm, gorgeous babling stream with moss covered rocks.  So lush.  So plush.  The sound was equally as pleasing as the sight.

p1010046I love the way the roots of this old birch are like tentacles coming up from the earth to grab the ground.  I like the way the roots have become covered in bark to protect themselves.  What a grand tree.

Protests

March 21, 2009

Hoo boy.

Just as winter falls down to spring things are heating up, figuratively as well.  Did you see or hear that farmers in Connecticut were out protesting the economic fallout on them?

farmers2

And come they did. Farmers left their spring chores, and vocational agricultural schools sent busloads of youngsters, to form a crowd of more than 100 (plus one cow) on the Capitol steps.

“Do you want a sticker,” called Hillary Woronik, a teenager from Lebanon, and a proud member of Future Farmers of America, as she waved a stack of green stickers at new arrivals. “Keep farms local.”

“Among the legislative proposals being protested is a bill that would eliminate the farm sales tax exemption and farm fuel tax exemption. The end to the tax exemptions is being proposed to help close a massive state budget gap, but farmers say it would put many of them out of business because their profit margins are so low.”

Protests are breaking out all over.  The pot on the stove is covered for now, but it is coming up from a simmer to a boil.  The bankers and government types are the frogs in the pot of cold water.  They don’t feel the temperature of the water that is surrounding them getting warmer.

That pot is going to boil over.  Groups in Massachusetts had protests the other day.  There were protests in a dozen communities.

boston

“Nearly a dozen protests occurred in Massachusetts alone, including in Worcester, Lawrence, and Andover.  Harris Gruman, executive director of the SEIU Massachusetts State Council, said his organization is hoping to push Congress to take action against companies like AIG, while also working to “restore middle-class purchasing power.” “We want Congress to build a recovery for everybody, and not just banks – especially after they have misused the money they were given,” Gruman said. Caraballo, the janitor and a member of SEIU Local 615, marched, in part, to represent several colleagues who had been laid off recently.”They lost their jobs, their healthcare,” Caraballo said, blaming Wall Street’s risky decisions that have hurt the economy. “That angers me.”

I don’t understand why poor and middle-class folks hate unions so much.  If you are poor or middle-class and you hate unions, you’ve been fooled by Republicans and charlatans like Limbaugh.

aigprotestpink__1237521674_8885

Gallery of some pictures of the protests in Boston.

I wish I heard about the protests in advance.  I’m surprised I did not.  There are few things I enjoy more than Civil Disobedience.   Engaging in Civil Disobedience isn’t only your right, it’s also your obligation.  It’s part of the advance payment each of us needs to make in order to live in an ostensibly free society.  Remember the First Amendment, MEMORIZE IT. Now this is from my memory, “the right of the people to peacefully assemble and petition the government for a redress of their grievances shall not be abridged.” I just checked.  I was admirably close, but I’ll keep it the way I wrote it rather than the actual words written because I like my ending more.

I expect we will be seeing many more protests over the coming months.  I also expect that the protests and marches will attract larger and larger crowds.  I wonder what will happen when the police or protesters get carried away and some people are bloodied, seriously injured or worse.  I wonder what may happen when people get really angry and resort to the destruction of private property, Molotov cocktails or toss newspaper machines through banks’ windows.

Imagine some economy related protest.  A window is broken.  A pregnant woman gets pushed to the ground.  The police are blamed.  The police call in backups in riot gear.  The clubs and gas come out.  Maybe the rubber bullets and tear gas balls.  The protesters start overturning cars and throwing things at the police.  A cop is hurt.  Maybe a group of cops are cornered by the crowd.  The cops end up using deadly force.  Maybe someone in the crowd is armed shoots at the cops.  Imagine seeing on the news and cell phone video a bunch of citizens getting shot by the authorities. “What if you knew her and found her dead on the ground? How can you run when you know?

How’s that quote go about the tree of liberty  needing to be refreshed from time to time?  BTW I know it, I’m hoping you know the quote too.

Another day I’ll write an entry about my experiences with civil disobedience.

Anyways, Get Outside Everyday! I thought the following two pictures were pretty nice.  Nothing special.  You do know what these are, right!?!?

p1010001It was a little muddy, but still this must have been a heavy creature to leave such deep prints.

Here’s another cool picture.

p1010007Look at the color of this blue jay feather.  It is so blue.  Amazing.  Proof of God?

Bits n’ pieces

February 21, 2009

I’m sure everyone has already heard that Obama throws $75 billion lifeline to homeowners with our tax dollars. I don’t like the bailout of homeowners.  I feel bad for them.   I really do.   If your house went down in value and now you owe more than the house is worth, well that’s the market trying to reach its equilibrium.  You bought at the wrong time or borrowed too much.  If you took out a home equity loan to buy toys and electronics and now can’t meet your obligation that’s not my problem . People need to be held accountable for bad decisions that they made so economic evolution can be allowed to run its course.  There shouldn’t be any general bailout for homeowners who got in over their heads. Homeowners should declare bankruptcy and try to get a workout.  Bankruptcy judges should be allowed to reduce the debt as I believe they can generally with any debt during a bankruptcy.  If some lenders broke the law or acted unfairly then punish the lender.  I don’t like the idea that people who bought houses they couldn’t afford may be able to keep them even though they still can’t afford them while I’ve done the right thing and bought a smaller house that I can afford.

And since we’re talking about tax dollars being spent how about some more corporate welfare for KBR so the can deliver poisoned food and water to our guys and gals overseas? WTF is wrong with our government. Is slopping the war profiteers more important than the safety of our own family members?    “Saying they want more answers, U.S. Sens. Birch Bayh, D-Ind., and Byron Dorgan, D-N.D., on Wednesday said Houston-based contractor KBR Inc. allowed soldiers to be exposed to the chemical for more than two months even though KBR knew the site was contaminated, according to The Associate Press.” Bastards all of them.  Is this the best we can do for our military? Piss me off.

I saw a good article in Newsweek that reflected what I’ve always said, ‘That the myth of upward mobility is just that, a myth.’  Mr. Kotkin writes a good opinion piece.

But from the 1940s to the 1970s, the American middle class enjoyed steadily increasing incomes that stayed on a par with those in the upper classes. Since then, wages for most workers have lagged behind. This disparity is strikingly evident in income data compiled by Citigroup, which shows that the top 1 percent of U.S. households now account for as much of the nation’s total wealth—7 percent—as they did in 1913, when monopolistic business practices were the order of the day.  Their net worth is now greater than that of the bottom 90 percent of the nation’s households combined. The top 20 percent of taxpayers realized nearly three quarters of all income gains from 1979 to 2000.Even getting a college degree no longer guarantees upward mobility. The implicit American contract has always been that with education and hard work, anyone can get ahead. But since 2000, young people with college educations—except those who go to elite colleges and graduate schools—have seen their wages decline.

And why when I point out the fact that government policies have lead to these disparities am I accused of waging class warfare?  I’d say the 1% of the folks who have 90% of the income are the ones waging class warfare, not the folks losing their jobs, homes, cars and health insurance.   WAKE UP PEOPLE!

Smart little kid developed a survival shelter made from packing peanuts, plastic sheeting, tubes and special connectors.  It snaps togethere like an erector set.  This kid won $10,000 for his design.  He wants to grow up to be a biomechanical engineer or a geriatric psychiatrist.  Me too.

iglooObviously shaped like a geodesic dome.  Here’s the link to the newspaper article survival shelter.

Not sure if you heard, but there are some economic related riots in Russia.  It seems that used car salemen import used Japanese cars.  Well the Kremlin didn’t like this so they slapped down some steep tariffs on therussia3_190 imports.   The Russian used car salesmen, seeing how their livelihoods were threatened organized protests.  The Kremlin responded with force.  This picture is the shape of things to come in the US. Prepare yourself to lay low and become anonymous.  Don’t be a big mouth or the government will push you to the ground and drive your face into the pavement with its knee.

BTW the 7.62 * 39 ammo that I was paying $4.99 a box for has jumped up to $6.95.  That’s a 20% increase!!

What do you folks think of this cartoon?

deadmonkeyI don’t think it’s racist.  Just me though and I’m not black.  If anything I think that I’m more sensitive than most about diversity and what not.  When I saw this cartoon I thought the artist was saying that the stimulus bill is so bad it was written by a monkey(s).  I thought that the tshirt with a monkey on it that said Obama 08′ was in terrible taste and was racist.  This cartoon, nope.  What do you think?

And an interesting op-ed on unchecked military spending.  We are all now reaping the rewards of the confluence of the mlitary, private industry, government and Big M Media.  Big M Media gets you right where they want you with shows like: The Unit, 24 and now Homeland Security.  It’s all BS.  It all boils down to getting money out of our pockets and abrogate our constitutional rights.  We have too many foreign bases.  Our fingers are in too many cookie jars.  Our military is too large.  Being the biggest on the block makes us a target, makes us more likely to resort to military force and drains our coffers.

And  what’s up with Republicans who voted 100% against the stimulus bill now touting the $’s that will be delivered to their home districts.  This is just degenerate politics.

Went skiing.  It was a beautiful day.  It usually is when you get to ski.

w4Ski trail.  Nice huh?  It was a warm day so the snow was soft and squishy like mashed potatoes.  The trail in the top picture is actually really steep, could be a 30+ degree grade.  When the snow is soft though it’s real slow so you have to ski the steepest trails going.  I had so much fun going down this trail I think I skied back up another one or two times.

w5This is looking up another nice hill that’s great to ski down.  It was the same warm day so it’s possible to steer around the trees.  Both of these slopes face more or less north or northeast so they tend to have snow on them more consistently.

City or country?

February 7, 2009

Bits n’ pieces –

Good piece on the Preparing for Tyranny blog about universal health coverage or single payer health care.  I am in favor of a single payer system.  Insurance companies are leeches standing between providers and consumers of services, sucking off resources that should be going to health care.  Anyways, read his thoughtful entry.  Here in the northeast we take freedom and liberty seriously.

Also, interesting article on the death/murder of 84 infants due to poisonous teething formula.  Imagine losing a baby because the teething formula was poisoned.

Okay then City or Country?

There was a letter on the Rawles’ website the other day from the owner of the the blog Surviving the Day After that basically chastised people for living in urban or suburban areas.  In other words if you didn’t live in the middle of nowhere than you were doomed. And if you didn’t head for the hills, leave the cities was the cry, then you’d be swept up in disaster and death.

Now seeing how this blog is Suburban Survival for the Simple I figured that I’d try to engage in some analysis.  Maybe we can look at some weaknesses and strengths of both.

I figure there’s maybe a handful of things that can happen that will cause total breakdown of society.  You got ya nuclear, biologic and chemical attacks.   I figure this would be over a limited area.  One, two, three cities?  Then you got ya plagues and flu epidemics, maybe throw in the Black Plague because those naughty boys have been playing with it.  Maybe fly in 5, 10 or 15 infected terrorists on different planes.  I guess that could spread and cause widespread panic, maybe martial law too. Than you got your EMP attacks.

All in all though I don’t see a complete breakdown.  Stores will be open, maybe with less selection, and definitely fewer stores.   I think mail will still be delivered.  Banks will still process payments.  The police, courts and jails will all be functioning.  Gas stations will be pumping gas.  What we do to put food on the table may change, but life will go on.  The medium of exchange we use may change, but the result will be the same.  Lawyers will definitely still be billing.  Carpenters building and teachers teaching.  World Keep On Turning.

Work > Earn > Build/Make > Buy/Barter

Most likely outcome is a continued slow economic slide lasting for years.  Maybe a decade before everything shakes out into our New Grand Economy.  More people living together.  More people working in agriculture and food production.  More local manufacturing.  Less driving and deliveries.  That’s all a different post though.

Like I said though if the mushroom cloud goes up, who knows.   Or if some pandemic spreads you wouldn’t want to be in population centers.  You can’t live your life in fear though.  Be prudent at all times, but we can’t make decisions based on fear.  Otherwise, if you jump in over your head too soon you could end up like those two in Montana.  They ran out of food.  She froze to death.  He was rescued by the sheriff.  He had lots of guns, but no food!!

Rule: if a nuclear bomb goes off in your city, town or village you don’t want to be there.

Rule: if there is a pandemic you want to avoid other people.

If you already live in the city or the burbs you already have a circle of friends and maybe family.  Having a support system is critical.  No way would you want to leave your friends and family during a time of crisis unless that location was dangerous.  In the city/burbs you have many more neighbors than you would in the country.   So you know your neighbors.  Hopefully they’re friends of yours.  Maybe you borrow tools from each other or can look out for each others stuff.   I think you’re better off staying where you know folks than running to a place full of untrusting strangers that probably won’t be too happy to see another refugee arrive to town.  No matter where you are knowing your neighbors is critical.  I know when I see strangers on my street I pay attention and am watching out for my neighbors’ houses, kids, cars and stuff.  I saw a neighbor’s car get hit and then the driver drove away.  I got the license plate and gave it to my neighbor who then called the cops.

Rule: It’s good to be where you know people.

Ditto for the neighborhood.  I’ve lived in this town for the better part of 45 years.   I know the streets, roads, sidewalks and deadends.  I know the hills and hollows.  I know the rivers and streams.  I could bug out of town and know how to avoid roads.  I know what rivers to float down  and where the falls are.

Rule: It’s good to know the terrain and geography.

I know the parks, libraries, hospitals, schools, stores and mechanics.  Better yet I know what merchants/doctors/restaurants/mechanics/stores/gas stations are good to go to and who to avoid.   You wanna run somewhere strange and not know where to get stitches, the best burger and beer, find town hall and police or get ripped off by some strange mechanic/dentist/lawyer/tradesperson that you don’t know?  Called the mechanic today, ‘you’ve been here before right?’ ‘yup, like 20 years.’

Rule: It’s good to know the people that you do business with.

Rule: It’s good to know where critical services are located.

Now let’s figure that you live in the middle of nowhere.  I’m not sure that the libraries will stay open.  How about that fire department, cops and schools.  Sure in the cities and burbs we’ll see a reduction in municipal services, but we won’t see the total disappearance of services.   The trash will still get picked up, maybe not as often, but it will get picked up.  How about snow plowing city v. country.   Then you got your medical services.  In the burbs and cities there is a large choice of providers.  Chances are they all aren’t going to fold up and close.  Out in the hinterlands if you only have one MD for 40 square miles then you ain’t too well diversified.  You don’t want your healthcare to get Madoff’ed.  The hospital here is close by and will stay open.

If the power lines go down, the telephone lines fall, the gas main break, the water pipes break which area will be fixed first?  I think you know the answer.

I can also see the delivery of food and other products breaking down the farther you move away from population centers.  I’m not sure if the tractor trailers are going to keep rolling quite as often anywhere.  So how often is that little country store that only 10 miles up from you going to get restocked, or the tanker trucks coming.  You can be certain the the majority of goods will be delivered to the more populated places more consistently.  It makes good economic sense doesn’t it?  That’s what I would do if I was in charge of logistics.

Rule: centers of population will get restocked more frequently, more resources will be allocated to them and municipal services may be more dependable than in rural areas

Boy if the price of gas ever goes up again… and I’d say the chance of that is a near perfect 100%, the further away that you live from where you need to go whether it’s the grocer, banker, USPS or your jay-oh-bee then the more the price of gas hurts.  When the cost of transportation is high then it’s good to live in close proximity to what you need.   Think where you’d rather live when gas hits $4, $5, $8 a gallon.  And it will.

I can walk to a hardware store, big grocery, church, a few small convenient stores, drug store, liquor store, sporting good store, USPS and so on.  I can ride my bike to just about anything you can imagine.

Rule: oil still has a world of upward potential as oil becomes more scarce driving may become a luxury for only the very rich.  Driving 30, 40 or 50 miles to the store, the job or the movies will be a rare event indeed.  I agree with Kunstler that the days of happy motoring are approaching an end.

If you don’t read Kunstler he is a must read.

My little town has its own bus that runs around.  Many urban/sub-urban places have buses, trains and subways that you can get around on.  Maybe even a cab service.  In the Hinterlands?  Not so much.

Then I imagine for the few jobs that do remain most of them will still be where most of the people are.  Lose you job out in the wild blue yonder and it make take a while longer to find a new one than in a more populated area.

Rule: the availability of public transportation is a large consideration.

Rule: the majority of jobs will continue to be where the majority of people are

Rule: if you want to develop your own business showing folks how to tie flies, plant gardens, repair bikes, watch/teach their kids or handy man business you will have a greater chance of success with a larger available market.

If you’re familiar with Ferfal’s blog then you know he writes with a first hand experience of what the decade long economic collapse of Argentina has been like.  A point he always makes is that there are home invasions in the city and in the country.  The difference is that in the country no one hears your yells so the criminals have more time to do the worst things imaginable to your family and you.  The city and country both have their advantages and disadvantages.

Rule: learn from the experiences of those who went before you and follow in their footsteps.  Learn from their mistakes.

Rule: the actual collapse of an advanced economy like Iceland or Argentina haven’t yet digressed in a Rabid Biker Zombie shoot em up.  Who knows about the future though.

Rule: due to concealability handguns seem much more useful during an economic collapse than rifles

It takes quite a few people to set up 24/7 guards and/or patrols.   The more you have and the more it’s spread out the tougher it is to protect.  If you own a large ranch or farm with equipment spread out over a wide area you may have a tough time protecting your crops, livestock, equipment and even metal pipes and fences from looters and thieves.

Rule: the more spread out you are the more difficult to defend

Rule: to defend a large homestead you would need a large number of people.

Rule: one or two families in a cabin in the woods can be waited out or burned out

Now ideally I think you’d have a number of places that you could bug out to if need be.  I live in the suburbs, but maybe it would be good to have some land, friends or family in a more rural area.  Ideally a few locations to run to in different parts of the country.  Be even better if you know some people in a foreign country that you could run to if need be.  That’s why I tell folks to Get Your Passport even if you don’t plan on going anywhere.  Better to have it and not use it then not being able to leave as quick as possible if the gates start slamming down.  You know how slow the folks at the USPS can move so get that paperwork moving along.  The regulations are changing in four months so get your passport now.

Rule: wherever you live be prepared to run to a few other locations

I don’t mean to rag on country places.  Having some land in the country and building a cabin is the dream of just about everyone isn’t it?  Although I have access to a trailer and some land in the North Country.  It’s not just to bug out too.  It’s a vacation place too.  I would like to buy some acreage and build my own low impact woodland home on it.  Check out the link there are plans.

Here is a pic of the front and the inside of what I’d like to eventually build.

front

wide2
I just want to point out that one setting may not be right for everyone.

Rule: And it doesn’t matter where you live as long as you Get Outside Everyday.

News and rants post

February 6, 2009

Just a general post of different news and thoughts.

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The Perp

Follow up to the no torture blog from a few days back.  Hey I’m in favor of the death penalty and vigilante justice if you can be 100% certain that you have the right guy.  Yesterday there was a story on the news about some jerk that started hassling and groping some young woman on a bus. Then when she got off the bus the jerk followed her.  Luckily the bus driver helped the woman and prevented anything worse from happening.  I am a strong supporter of the rule of law and due process, but here we know we got the right guy.  I say beat the hell out of him so he never will consider committing the same transgression again.  It saves time and money and will get the job done.  I know I would have liked to put my heels to his head.

Fortunately, if someone isn’t caught red-handed in the act we have to let the wheels of justice slowly spin and hope that the courts, judges, jury, lawyers and witnesses all coalesce correctly so that the guilty are punished and the innocent are freed.

Which gets me back to the torture policy of the last administration and some Americans too.  There’s the sorry story of Maher Arar, a Canadian citizen that was picked up in New York by the US government.  Because we can’t even manufacture paperclips any longer in the US, we also outsource torture, so We the People sent Mr. Arar to Syria where he was held incommunicado and was tortured for a year.  We The People illegally kidnapped some guy, sent him to a foreign land and had him tortured.

Or another legal resident of the US, Ali Saleh al-Marri who has been detained since 2001 AS A WITNESS.  Maybe he’s guilty of something and should be put to death, but we just don’t know because the government refuses to charge him or present any evidence.

Then there’s the case of another Muslim, Khalid El-Masri, a German citizen on vacation who was taken off of a tour bus, sent to Afghanistan and then beaten by CIA interrogators for a year.

That’s not the end of it, “In recent years, well over 100 people have disappeared or been “rendered” all around the world. Witnesses tell the same story: masked men in an unmarked jet seize their target, cut off his clothes, put him in a blindfold and jumpsuit, tranquilize him and fly him away.

And another, the CIA kidnapping a guy right off the streets in Italy.

No American should be pleased by these actions of our government.  How hard is it to imagine our government doing the same to any of us?  Believe me it’s a small step.  Today it’s Them.  Tomorrow it’s US. Trust me on this.

Don’t become desensitized to Our Government grabbing people, drugging them, sending them to some weird outpost and torturing them.  Today it’s Them.  Tomorrow it’s US.  Trust me on this.

Tomorrow it’s US.

Speaking of fascist Republicans, “Under a series of secret orders, Bush authorized the NSA for the first time to eavesdrop on phone calls and e-mails between the United States and a foreign country without any court review.  The law creating the court, called the Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Act, made it a federal crime—punishable by up to five years in prison—for any official to engage in such surveillance without following strict rules, including court approval.”  Here is a good story how a fascist government reacts to whistle blowers, “18 FBI agents—some of them wearing black flak jackets and carrying guns—showed up unannounced at Tamm’s redbrick colonial home in Potomac, Md., with a search warrant.

And since I’m on our country’s rapid slide into fascism, let’s not forget the treatment of Jose Padilla.  Not doubt Mr. Padilla is a despicable character, but he was held without being charged and then administered mind altering drugs.  Free countries don’t hold suspects indefinitely without being charged or administer  psychotropic or hallucinogenic drugs to prisoners or accidentally (of course) destroy tapes of the interrogation.

Read this, “Fascist America, in 10 easy steps.”

Are you worried yet, or do you defend these intrusions in exchange for an ethereal breath of fleeting safety?

Then I’m liking this Obama thing restricting the pay of the executives whose organizations receive taxpayer bailout funds.  “President Barack Obama on Wednesday imposed a $500,000 cap on senior executive pay for the most distressed financial institutions receiving taxpayer bailout money…”  I like that.  I don’t expect it to make a difference, but it feels good.  Ska-rew the banks.  If people that get welfare or food stamps lose their rights, told how to spend their money or give up their privacy rights, then inanimate corporations should be held to the same freaking standard.

I screwed up.”President Obama speaking about his nomination of that feckless and feeble Tom Daschle.  It’s nice to hear someone admit to a mistake so frankly.   Remember when a reporter asked President Bush to cop to a mistake that he made and Bush replied, I wish you’d have given me this written question ahead of time so I could plan for it,” Bush chuckled. After assuring the reporter that “something will pop into my head,” he finally gave up, admitting, “I’m not as quick on my feet as I should be in coming up with one.”

My thought has always been that you need to be able to recognize mistakes in order to take corrective action.  If it makes sense, someone that is never wrong can never be right.  Anyways, I like having a president that can say, “I screwed up.”  Talk about the buck stopping there.  It’s about time.

And then on the other hand I can’t tolerate the revolving door between the government/military/industry and media.  Raytheon lobbyist picked for deputy Defense post. WTF!?!?!  The guy who was Raytheon’s top lobbyist is nominated by President Obama to decide what military contractors will win the bids.  Doesn’t that just reek of corruption?  It’s wrong.  It’s thievery.  It’s piracy.

Add why does it seem like everyone Obama appoints has tax problems? WTF.  First there was Daschle or Dickless as I like to call him.  Now it’s his labor secretary. Why isn’t anyone doing any kind of due diligence and vetting on Obama’s appointees?  It doesn’t give me much confidence in the runnings of the new administration.  It’s just two weeks yester.

A few reasons why I believe in a graduated tax are because those who make more can afford more, sorry folks that’s the way it is.  Trying to pay 10% of $1,000,000 and live on the $900,000 is a helluva lot different than making $10,000 and trying to live on $9,000.  Also, those who benefit the most from our system should pay the most.  You’re free to disagree,

Now why does it seem that those who make the most are able to pay the least and cheat on their taxes the most?

Have you heard Billionaire Buffet lament that he pays a lower effective rate than his secretary and his cleaner.  Is that fair? NO! NO! NO!  He benefited more.  He should pay more.

Why should unearned income be taxed at a lower rate than wages?  Why should FICA have a cap at $80,000?

I’ll tell you why………….because the millionaires and billionaires can afford lobbyists, lawyers and tax accountants.  Why do you think Billionaire Steve Forbes is pushing the flat tax?  Do you think it’s because he loves the welfare recipient or the factory line worker?

The next time you listen to Rush and he’s pushing some tax cut or change to the system please call him and ask him how much $ he stands to gain then ask how much $ your family stands to gain.   Rush received MILLIONS in tax cuts while getting his hourly wage slave listeners to support them.  You’re a bunch of rubes.  More below.

The collapse accelerates.  Weekly jobless claims were released, 626,000 Americans were laid off last week. That’s ain’t just a number.  That’s 626,000 families whose lives were overturned last week.  Think about that.  People worried about paying rent/mortgage, putting gas in their tank, food in their bellies or shoes on their kids feet.  This is serious, serious stuff. Economics is more often the cause of revolution than politics and liberty.

Wasn’t the American Revolution v.1 fomented more by taxation and unfair market protection for the East India Trading Company then any grand experiment in democracy?  Thoughts?

Concerning the acceleration, The US president Barack Obama says more American banks will collapse as a result of the global financial crisis.”

Inflation/Deflation blah, blah, blah.  At some point inflation is going to come back worse then ever.   You can’t run the printing presses and sell bonds like the US has without a future inflation.  I liked this video that explains a good metric to use to track trends.  It’s a short video and worth watching. Got silver?  Got gold? I’m not saying to buy PM’s because they do seem historically high to me right now.  I wish I bought 10 years ago, but I do think there is a lot of eventual upside to them.

The market is currently up over 100 points and why not weekly jobless claims jumped and retailers are biting the dust. (sarcasm) If you have any money in equities I hope it’s gambling money or you know something the rest of us don’t.  Oh sure, it’s bumping up due to the wish of more federal bailout monies for the banks that now need a bailout after Years and Years and Years of record profits.  I’d say it’s time for the shareholders to take it on the chin not the taxpayers.   The stock market is irrational.

We have not hit bottom yet.  The Elliot Wave gang is saying that we may fall to 5,000.  I’m not sure how much stock (pun intended) I put into Wave analysis, but I don’t think we’re near bottom.  Still an interesting tool to use for analysis.

Cheney is back doing what he does best, and enjoys most, building fear up in the American people.  Boo! the bad guys are trying to kill us.  Be very afraid.

Doesn’t Cheney have anyone else to shoot in the face?  BTW I do hold Cheney accountable for shooting his hunting companion.  I don’t care if his victim forgave him.  When you shoot you have to know what’s behind your target.

Why doesn’t Cheney go back to what he does best and lay some people off.  Although the Republicans have done a great marketing job of painting the Dems as being responsible for defense cutbacks, as SecDef, “Over Cheney’s four years as secretary of defense, encompassing budgets for fiscal years 1990-93, DoD’s total obligational authority in current dollars declined from $291.3 billion to $269.9 billion. Except for FY 1991, when the TOA budget increased by 1.7 percent, the Cheney budgets showed negative real growth: -2.9 percent in 1990, -9.8 percent in 1992, and -8.1 percent in 1993. During this same period total military personnel declined by 19.4 percent, from 2.202 million in FY 1989 to 1.776 million in FY 1993. The Army took the largest cut, from 770,000 to 572,000-25.8 percent of its strength. The Air Force declined by 22.3 percent, the Navy by 14 percent, and the Marines by 9.7 percent.

Slowly now – under Bush 41 and Cheney the Marines were cut 10%, the Navy 14%, the Air Force 22% and the Army 26%.  Got that!?!

And Clinton got blamed!! And you believed the Republican Media!! Hahaha!! Marketing con jobs don’t equate with the truth.  Does the truth hurt you? The other side is that Clinton got credit for the peace dividend and the budget surplus that came about partly due to Cheney’s cuts as Secdef.  BTW I was in favor of the cutbacks and base closings.  I still think our military is at least 50% larger then it should be.

Yup, the military is too big.  It’s corporate welfare with hardly any return or multiplier effect to the common cause. There was a reason that the framers were against standing armies because, “Of all the enemies to public liberty war is, perhaps, the most to be dreaded because it comprises and develops the germ of every other. War is the parent of armies; from these proceed debts and taxes. And armies, and debts, and taxes are the known instruments for bringing the many under the domination of the few.

It’s my sincere belief that if the military is too large we will be too anxious to use it.

And of course the bailout of the banks got screwed up.  “The Bush administration received assets that were worth $78 billion less than the amount it invested as part of the massive infusion of capital into the country’s banks, congressional investigators have found.”

Let’s blame it on Obama and his Soo-shall-ism.

Let’s just give the richest 1% of Americans more of our hard earned money and call it a day.  We don’t need our government to do it.  “Not since the ’20s has income inequality been this great.”  It’s not a mistake.  This is what tax cuts do.  The richest 1% get filet mignon and you get tube steak.  And you bought it!

Glen Beck is a weird creature.  I don’t have an opinion on him.  I like some of the crap he spouts and dislike some of his spew.    I don’t think that Glen Beck is a great or deep thinker.  He’s more an opinion man and shoots from the hip.  I saw a transcript from his show the other night saying that Obama is fear mongering.  Maybe so, but I’ve yet to hear the vision of mushroom clouds or UAV’s spraying bugs over American cities used to lead us into the wrong war at the wrong time.  I’ll just rebut a few things that Mr. Beck spoke about.  To quote Dick Armey, ‘a jackass can bring down a barn, but it takes a carpenter to put one up.’  BTW I don’t like Armey.  He’s wrong about almost everything.  I wrote him a letter one time telling him that he was wrong about everything.  He actually responded with a thoughful, well-reasoned personal letter back to me.  For that I admire and respect the man, in spite of my disagreements with him.

1. The recession will last for years.  We may face a decade like the Japanese did or worse we may face an Argentinian or Icelandic style breakdown.  Fear mongering to point that out?  Would you rather have a president that tells you to go shopping and act as if nothing has changed?  Remember two weeks after 9/11 Bushie told us to go to Disney World and visit the malls?

Which do you want to be told to go shopping or that the country is facing big problems?

2. Beck complained about the cancellation of oil leases.   Good.  I would have canceled them years ago or charge the companies what they should be paying.    What lies on the people’s common land is for the common good.  It’s not to be sold or leased to private concerns at below market rates in order to enrich private ownership.  And don’t forget that the government overseers were doing coke and were actually in bed (having sex) with those they were supposed to oversee.  Cut the oil companies off from the leases is my opinion. Ska-rew them too!

3. I don’t begrudge the money for the WIC program.  This is money for hungry woman and little kids.  It’s better than bonuses for the guys that drove the banks into the ground.  More people need help now than a year ago.  These monies make a difference on the poorest streets of America.  Why do Republicans hate food, medicine and shelter for the hungry, sick and cold?

4. Money for jobs for people is okay with me.

5.  Money for university building projects is okay with me.  Educational facilities have a big payback to a society.

6. $500 Mill for the NIH is reasonable.  Think if some flu bug got going and the NIH wasn’t funded, do you think Beck would complain?

7. $1Bill for the Census seems good.  They Census hires lots of people and this money will be injected right back into the economy.  Seems like a better bet considering how we gave the banks much more than that and the banks aren’t making loans or even telling us what they did with the money.

8. $89 Bill for Medicaid.  I don’t begrudge money spent on healthcare.  Medicaid helps millions of people.  We need to remove healthcare from employment.  If you don’t agree with me now, you will when your wife or you loses your job.  And at least one of you will!

9. $36 Bill for COBRA coverage.  COBRA helps people who got laid off.  I know people that are making use of COBRA.  With unemployment spiking the way it it this seems like a good use of funds.  Any of you know someone making use of COBRA?  Money for kids’ healthcare is good too.  Look at number 8 again.

10.  $20 Bill for more food stamps seems good to me to when so many people are hurting.  Once again this is money that will be injected right into the corner store or bodega.  Twice again why do Republicans hate giving food to the hungry?

11.  Begrudge more money spent on Amtrak?  This is what I mean, is Beck just stupid?  Ahhh, due to Peak Oil we need to spend much, much more money on mass transit.   Why does Beck throw darts at more money being spent on mass transit?

12. Money spent on ice breakers.  Beck is like a six year old.  The ice doesn’t just disappear overnight.  Because the ice is melting many more ships are taking the short route through the poles.  There is a big race on to also claim resources under the ice. An icebreaker will help commerce to keep moving.  Just last week a ship was rescued by an icebreaker.

13.  $150 Mill for producers of livestock, fish and bees seems like a good investment to me.  What’s more important than securing our supply of food?  How fast do you think Beck would blame the government when the food supply dries up or the food chain breaks down?

14. Beck goes on to deride money spent on alternative energies, green technologies and conservation measures.  Sensible investments and the manufacture of high tech batteries  could employ thousands in the coming years.

He closes by asking if anyone else is insulted.  Yeah I’m insulted by Beck’s stupidity and shortsightedness.  It’s easy to throw stones and not so easy to come up with ideas to fix problems.  Beck is a moron.  Might be fun for entertainment, but it’s a good thing he’s not setting policy.  His thoughts are an inch deep and as wide as the Mississippi.

In the end we get the government that we deserve. Some good Mencken quotes on government.

Get outside everyday.  A healthy heart will do more for you than thirty 30 round mags.  You live how you want.  You polish your guns.  Hold them close like a 14 year old with his Playboys.  Meanwhile I’ll do my pullups, walk everyday or ski, eat well, sleep well because of exercise and not be a fat tub o lard sitting on the couch watching the tube.

i5Last Sunday we went back to that abandoned ski area again for a few runs.  Six times up and six times down.  Here is Running Bear skiing being chased by Green Eyed Dog through the beautiful birch forest.  Tough to see, but those gators that Running Bear is wearing were made at one of those stores that existed in the 70’s where you could sew your own outside and camping gear.  Anyone remember those stores?  You’d buy the kit and then use the stores sewing machines to make your own backpack, tent, sleeping bag or gators.  Running Bear still has his hand crafted gators that are 30 years old.  Notice those big office buildings in the background.  You can find nature anywhere if you open your eyes.

Another snowy day the other …

i9

Snowy woods on a snowy day.  Mmmm, mmmm, good.


It’s wrong.

January 26, 2009

Torture is wrong.  I know some may disagree with me.  I’m against torture for a number of reasons: I don’t think that it is effective, it’s illegal, I think that it lowers our moral standing around the world and I think it puts our service people at risk.  One day when I was driving I saw this sign and liked it.

p1010003Sign in front of the local Quaker Meeting House.

1. Torture doesn’t work.  I know that someone will say anything to end pain and suffering.  That’s the crux of it.  Even in an imaginary ticking timebomb scenario like you see on 24, a committed terrorist is just as likely to give bad info to end his suffering as accurate info.  Then we have a ticking timebomb and the good guys going off in the wrong direction.  It’s tough enough to find a needle in the haystack without making the haystack any larger.

2. Torture is illegal.  Our constitution forbids cruel and unusual punishment.  There is no doubt that torture is cruel and unusual.  We’re trying to get info by applying cruel and unusual physical and mental mistreatment.  Torture is also illegal under UN conventions and international treaties that the US is a party to.  Holding a gun to someone’s head or waterboarding are both forms of mock executions and therefore illegal under both US and international law.

3. Torture lowers our standing around the world.  At one time the US was the shining beacon of hope.  Not so much any longer.  Now our major export appears to be weapons and war.  At one time we would speak out against rogue regimes that practiced torture, now we engage in the same acts that we once decried.  It’s pretty tough to condemn others who torture when we do the same stuff and send our captives to places like Syria and Egypt to be tortured.  Now we even outsource torture.

4.  It’s a race to the bottom.  If we torture their guys than how can we legitimately complain when they torture our guys.  When we engage in torturing captives it places all US citizens at greater risk.  As someone who still carries the scars of torture, ask Senator McCain about torture.

Is there anything we won’t do?

winter24Taking a rest.

winter4It’s tough to see here, but this is what we call a bowl.  We like to ski bowls because you can go side to side and downhill the whole time.  It means a longer ride and more turns for less effort.  Right before this picture was taken I took a good spill.  I was skiing down one trail, crossed another trail, went over the lip of this bowl, followed the fall line where a little frozen stream runs and then did a face plant.  Oh well.  No falls, no balls.

Mr. Anonymous

January 8, 2009

Our government likes to spy on us.    Not only do they like to spy on us, but even worse, they DO spy on us.

Due to § 215 of the Patriot Act the FBI can just draft a National Security Letter, without any judicial oversight, and go into your local library or bookstore and demand all of your records.  http://www.nytimes.com/2005/08/26/politics/26patriot.htm

Fortunately the average librarian has more balls than the average congress person. Think about that.  Librarians care enough about your privacy to fight for it and congress people?  Ha!

Uhhh, in case you’re under 20 years old, in the old days OUR Government needed a search warrant, but that was before we were trying to protect our ostensibly free society’s freedom by chilling our very freedoms.

Or OUR  Government can get a “Sneak and Peek” search warrant under § 213 of the Patriot Act, again with very limited oversight, and search your house like creepy, crawly burglars and never even notify the property owner of OUR Government’s trespass.  http://www.lawsch.uga.edu/academics/profiles/dwilkes_more/37patriot.html

Or how OUR Government gets all hot and bothered listening in on all of our phone calls, checking all of our Internet activity and scanning our banking records.  http://www.pcmag.com/article2/0,2817,1966132,00.asp Seriously man, I’m not making this stuff up.

Then Our Government takes all of these petabytes of data that Our Government collects on us and they sort it and sift it.

The NSA is in charge of the data mining program that Our Government is running on all of us citizens. http://online.wsj.com/article/SB120511973377523845.html?mod=hps_us_whats_news

If you told me ten years ago what the coming decade had in store for our privacy rights I would have thought that you were out of your mind.  “Never in the United States!” I would have said.

So with that simple background you’ve been warned that you are most certainly being watched, recorded and analyzed.

I know that I’m already on some lists due to my associations with some groups and believe me I’m not talking anarchists, white supremacists or militias.  If you belong to any political group at all you are under suspicion. The Feds are doing it and as someone on another blog pointed out (sorry I forgot who otherwise I’d credit you) the states are doing it too.

So what to do?  Just as you should never voluntarily consent to a search, no matter how nice those LEOs seem, we’re usually better off by trying to cover our tracks a bit.  I mean why make it easy for Our Government to collect data on us.

I’m no computer wiz, but I know that it is easy to track my Internet history.    When you access a website it’s easy to tell where you are geographically located.  Every computer has an address/phone number associated with it and it’s tracked with no effort at all.

You leave little breadcrumbs everywhere you travel in cyber space.

I recommend using anonymizers.  An anonymizer will help to cover your tracks a bit.

You can pay $ to buy an anonymizer or you can download a free one.  Here are some free ones that I’ve used.

http://anonymouse.org/

http://www.hidemyass.com/proxy/

http://www.shadowsurf.com/

http://www.proxyforall.com/

Shhhh and keep it moving along please.  Nothing to look at here folks.  Keep it moving.

Pics- Just Get Outside Everyday.

33

About a third of the way up (click on the pic) in the center is some hawk that we saw.  It doesn’t look like a redtail to me, but I guess it could be his winter colors.  This bird was maybe 18-20″ tall.  That is one big MFR bird. Click on it to see him puffed up in all of his delicious raptor magnificence.

xc1Just a beautiful snowy field.   Those snow coverd pines are dreamlike.   Mmmm.  Mmmm.   Good.

The Police

January 5, 2009

They’re not there to help you.  The police are your enemies.    The police are the sole of the shoe of the jack boot of government.  And they like nothing more than putting it into the back of a citizen as they grind the citizen worker’s face into the pavement.

There was an armed robbery at a car wash in Portland, Oregon.  http://www.katu.com/news/36878034.html The car wash attendant shot the hapless robber in the face with a pressure washer and the robber ran off.  Hahaha.  All’s well that ends well, right?081230_robbery_best

the hero
chris_truax210
employee/victim

The men in blue are summonsed  I guess to take a report and they must have run a background check on the hero slash victim slash vigilante. Well it turns out that the victim/vigilante had his own run in with the law seven or so years ago for a DUI.   So what do the police do?

They arrest the guy, the employee who saved the day, who saved his boss from being robbed.  They arrest the guy who chased off an armed robber without hurting anyone or getting hurt.  They arrest the guy who practices a little atom of street justice.  They arrest the guy who did what the police are incapable of doing.

Blah, blah, blah if you defend it or enable you  are are just as bad.  Save your excuses for someone who cares to enable the growing black cloud of government intrusion.  It ain’t me babe. (B. Dylan 1964)

Jeesh, maybe next time our hero (and other potential heroes who read the story) may not be so willing to get involved.

The police are your enemies.  The police have one thing in mind and that is to *uck with us citizens.

Clang, clang, clang go the handcuffs.  Spray, spray, spray goes the mace.  Bang, bang, bang go the bullets.  Fist, knee, elbow to the citizen’s face.

Don’t speak with them.  Don’t answer their questions because it will be used against you.  All the modern day police care about is making their numbers, busting citizens, throwing people in the can, getting the fines and fees and seizing as much property as possible.  Did you know that your local police get to keep the proceeds gained from the sale of seized property? Then they get to buy more cool black police toys.  Oh, how they like to use all of their cool black police toys because it makes them feel like big men.  You know the black police boats, the black police bikes, the black police ATVs, the black $500,000 command centers, their cool black tazers and so on.

Man how the police love to trot out their cool black police toys.  How they love to put on their elbow and knee pads, bust windows and kick in doors.

I have regular interaction with law enforcement and the court system.

My advice-

Our Great, Grand and Glorious Constitution protects us.  The cops need a reason to search your house.  They need a reason to pull your car over.  They need a reason to get you out of your car.  They need a reason to stop and question you.  They need a reason to search your person.

If the police show up at your house don’t ever let them in unless they have a warrant.

If the cops want to speak to you step outside and speak to them on the stoop/steps of your pad.  Once you invite the cops inside they’re like rats, rodents and roaches looking around your house for some reason to hassle you.  (Come on angry LEOs reading this post.  You know it’s true.  Help your fellow citizens.) They’ll walk away from the front hall of you place to explore other rooms too.  While you’re talking to the cop they’ll walk down the hall to the bedrooms or go into the living room.  You can’t let this happen.  Never let em in unless they have a warrant.

Cops are like vampires.  They can’t come in unless invited.

If you get pulled over remain polite, but answer as few questions as possible and answer as simply as possible.  Don’t tell them anything.  One answer, even if said innocently, leads to more questions.  Don’t give them anything to use against you.  They are professionals.  Anything that you say will make it into their report and then recited in court to be used against you.

I read a police report the other day, “I activated my blue lights and the Mercedes SUV drifted over into the travel lane and then drifted into the breakdown lane.”  BS!! See this is what they do.  What happened was that the officer activated his blues and the SUV pulled over just as he should have.  The way the officer is framing the facts though is that the driver of the  SUV did something wrong by ‘drifting’.

Don’t argue.

They need a reason to pull you over.  Don’t give em any reasons.  Check the lights of you car – brakes, headlights, turn signals and license plate.  Make sure that they all work all of the time.  Just like a pilot walking around his plane for the pre-flight check.  You gotta do it.  If you live in a must wear seat belt state then wear your seat belt or risk interacting with Agents of Our Government.  The cops are looking for a reason to pull you over.  Don’t give them one.

The answer to the question, “have you been drinking?” is always NO!  It’s not I had just one.  One never means one.

Don’t give them a reason to get you out of your car.  “I only had one” is enough of a reason to remove you from your car.  Then it gets easy for them – “unsteady on your feet, swaying, bloodshot eyes, smell of booze, thick tongued, slurred words.” They can make it up.  And they do. And they do.

DON’T EVER CONSENT TO A SEARCH.  NEVER. EVER. NEVER.

The answer to the puke, crap, piss question, “well if you have nothing to hide you won’t mind having me take a look”  is always – “I’d prefer not” or “do you have a warrant” or “I do not consent to a search” or “I’d like to speak with my attorney before I agree to anything.”  If possible voice your non-consent loud enough for passerby and witnesses to hear you.

If they threaten to bring a drug sniffing dog out if you don’t consent then let them do their job.  Your lawyer can argue about it later.  They need a reason to stop you, remove you from your car, prevent your free movement and get a dog.  If their reason isn’t adequate your lawyer may be able to get any evidence tossed later on.  Even if you have nothing to hide never consent to a search. We have to keep Our Government honest.

The big thing in our putatively free democracy is “Custodial Interrogation.”  Once you are in “Custodial Interrogation” all of your Constitutional rights kick in.  In most states the key whether you are in “Custodial Interrogation” is whether you are free to leave.  Therefore, the question to always ask any cop who is preventing you from going about your business is, “am I free to leave?”  Always, ask the cops that question, “am I free to leave?”  If you’re not free to leave then they gotta read you your rights.  If they violate this you walk.  We gotta keep Our Government honest.

A lot of innocent people are locked up every year.  A lot of innocent people get beat up by cops every year.  A lot of innocent people are hassled, have their possessions searched or destroyed or have their sacrosanct rights violated by the police every year.

If the police hassle you without a reason or if you feel like you’ve been a victim of police abuse then call the local chapter of the National Lawyers Guild (“NLG”). http://www.nlg.org/

Interesting history with the NLG.  The American Bar Association didn’t allow black attorneys to join as recently as the early 20th century.  The NLG formed in response to that.  The NLG is the oldest national bar association that does not discriminate based upon race.

p1010110The view from the top of one of the little  “bumps.”

p1010112This is one of the trails down.  It is steeper than it looks.  This is expert cross country skiing.  Good times.

Talking about a revolution

December 31, 2008

Talking about a revolution.

Don’t you know you’re talking about a revolution
It sounds like a whisper
Don’t you know they’re talking about a revolution
It sounds like a whisper

While they’re standing in the welfare lines
Crying at the doorsteps of those armies of salvation
Wasting time in unemployment lines
Sitting around waiting for a promotion

Don’t you know you’re talking about a revolution
It sounds like a whisper

Poor people are gonna rise up
And get their share
Poor people are gonna rise up
And take what’s theirs

Don’t you know you better run, run, run, run, run, run, run, run, run, run, run, run, run
Oh I said you better run, run, run, run, run, run, run, run, run, run, run, run, run

Finally the tables are starting to turn
Talking about a revolution
Finally the tables are starting to turn
Talking about a revolution oh no
Talking about a revolution oh no

While they’re standing in the welfare lines
Crying at the doorsteps of those armies of salvation
Wasting time in unemployment lines
Sitting around waiting for a promotion

Don’t you know you’re talking about a revolution
It sounds like a whisper

And finally the tables are starting to turn
Talking about a revolution
Finally the tables are starting to turn
Talking about a revolution oh no
Talking about a revolution oh no
Talking about a revolution oh no

T. Chapman (1988) [smart lady, graduated from Tufts University.]

Get outside every day.

Bushy tail track

Bushy tail track

Just some bushy tail tracks in the first snow.

p1010096

Water and ice.

My 9/11 call

December 30, 2008

By now everyone has heard the story of that murdering, dirty, mad animal that dressed as Santa and then went to his in-laws house to shoot a little girl in the face and  murdered nine people in cold blood.

In case your house is the underside of a rock, “The embittered divorcee who dressed up as Santa Claus and murdered nine in a Christmas Eve massacre killed his ex-wife, former in-laws and three of her siblings, depriving 15 children of at least one parent.” http://www.telegraph.co.uk/news/worldnews/northamerica/usa/4000560/Santa-Claus-gunman-lost-job-and-wife-before-murdering-inlaws.html

So the news ghouls are now broadcasting the 9/11 calls that came in from the house as Santa used his homemade flame thrower. ‘my daughter was just shot in the face.’

I’d like to write how my 9/11 call would have gone-

“I just shot Santa in the head can you please send some elves to clean it up. HaHaHa!”

If you don’t carry a firearm and have the stomach, time and patience to do so you are not doing everything that your fellow citizens, city and country require of you.  Our civil rights are like our bodies, if you don’t exercise them they atrophy.

Concealed carry is a huge responsibility.  One needs to practice enough to become proficient.  You need to learn the law so you know when deadly force is or is not defensible. You need to prepare yourself psychologically and understand that drawing a weapon instantly makes you an enormous target.

I wish someone at that Christmas party was armed and ready.  Maybe it wouldn’t have turned out differently or maybe it would have, but at least someone may have given them a fighting chance or enough time to make an escape.

There are sheep, shepherds and wolves.  What do you choose to be?

I was out skiing and saw some deer tracks so I followed them. Why not, right?  Wouldn’t you?

deer hole

deer hole

There may be an official name for this.  If there is please let me know.  This is a hole that a deer slept in the night before.  If you look closely (click on the pic) you can see that the deer was aligned vertically in the hole.  Its butt was at 12 and head at 6.  If you look real closely you can make out where its ear may have laid in the snow.

And one more-

p1010093You can see where its legs were under it too, the little hoof prints.

Amortization

December 24, 2008

Not very exciting stuff, but you need to grasp the concept.  Stick with me.  Tough it out.

Forget about TEOTWAWKI and concentrate on your financial survival.  It’s good to pay attention to all the macroeconomic news out there, but if you don’t already know what I’m going to explain to you, what you are about to read could save you hundreds of thousands of $’s.

Don’t listen to the mortgage people.  You gotta run the numbers yourself.

Rates are falling to hysterical lows so many folks may be thinking of refinancing.  (If you still gots a job to go to that is.)

If you understand amortization then there is no need to read any further.  If you don’t then I’ve tried to put together a primer for you.

First some background.  I apologize if this is too elemental for you, but some people may not understand so we need to start at the beginning.  Let’s imagine that Billie Borrower borrows $10,000 from Libbie Lender.  Libbie is going to want to make some money on the deal so Libbie charges interest.  To keep things simple, if Libbie charges 5% interest then you’ll end up paying the original $10,000 back to Libbie, plus an additional $500 in interest.  All together you pay Libbie back $10,000 in principal and $500 in interest for a total of $10,500.  That $500 is an expense to you, a direct cost for borrowing money.

Principal is the amount you originally borrowed.  Borrowers want to pay this back as soon as possible.

Interest is the income that the lender demands for lending you funds.  Borrowers want to limit interest as much as possible.

Got that so far?  If not then Google principal and interest till you understand the difference then read on.

Imagine you get a loan from a lender and your monthly payment is $1,000.  Ever wonder what the bank does with that $1,000?  Ever wonder how much of the $1,000 is applied to interest and how much is applied to principal? Lenders want their interest as soon as possible.

The method that banks/lenders use is something called amortization.

The monthly loan payment never changes.  it will remain $1,000 for the duration of your loan.  What fluctuates is how much of the $1,000 is applied to interest and how much is applied to principal.

Banks got it sewed up tight so what do they want?  Lenders want their interest as soon as possible.

To illustrate, let’s say that you get a 30 year loan from a bank and your monthly payment is $1,000.  The very first payment may be $999 in interest and $1 in principal.  The last payment, number 360 (30 years times 12 months/payments a year = 360), may be $1 in interest and $999 in principal.  Why?  Because the lender/bank wants their money/interest as soon as possible. Wouldn’t you if you were lending?

I’ve pasted in a table so you can see what I mean.  Notice the monthly payment stays the same.  Notice that the amount allocated to principal increases and the amount allocated to interest decreases over the life of the loan.

#

Payment

Principal

Interest

Loan Balance

1

$2,649

$983

$1,667

$99,017

2

$2,649

$999

$1,650

$98,018

3

$2,649

$1,016

$1,634

$97,002

4

$2,649

$1,033

$1,617

$95,970

5

$2,649

$1,050

$1,599

$94,920

6

$2,649

$1,067

$1,582

$93,852

7

$2,649

$1,085

$1,564

$92,767

8

$2,649

$1,103

$1,546

$91,664

9

$2,649

$1,122

$1,528

$90,542

10

$2,649

$1,140

$1,509

$89,402

When you are considering refinancing or getting a new loan you can’t just look at the interest rate or your monthly payment.  You need to look at total interest paid going forwards.  The going forwards is key; that’s why I redded it.

Total interest paid going fowards. That’s what counts.

Now you understand that most of the interest that you pay to a lender you pay early in the life of the loan and as the loan matures you pay down more of your principal and less interest.Why? Lenders want their interest as soon as possible.

How can we put this fact to work for us?

A quick explanation will help to understand.   At some point during the life of a loan you “flip” and each of your payments is applied more towards principal and less towards interest.  When this happens varies depending on the term(length of loan) and interest rate.

I just ran the numbers for a $100,000 30 year loan (360 payments) at 6%.  This loan doesn’t “flip” until payment #222.  So for the first 221 payments each payment goes more towards interest than principal.  That’s right you are 18 1/2 years into a 30 year mortgage before most of you monthly payments are applied towards principal and not to line the lender’s pocket.

Example – Billie Borrower is now 10 years into his 30 year loan with Libbie Lender.  Because so much interest is paid in the early stages of a loan, that although Billie is only 1/3 of the way into his loan, Libbie has already probably received 80% of all the interest she will receive over the entire 30 years.  Billie’s current monthly payment may now be going 60% interest and 40% to principal.  Remember at the beginning the payment is 99% interest and 1% principal and at the end of the loan it’s reversed to 1% interest and 99% principal.  Why? Lenders want their interest as soon as possible.

The crux…….If Billie were to refinance now she would be right back to DAY ONE!!! Now Billie is back to paying 99% interest and 1% principal.  Why? The chorus please – Lenders want their interest as soon as possible.

As long as you keep refinancing you are stuck paying interest and never paying down the principal (amount you borrowed).

So how do we analyze whether it makes economic sense to refinance or get a loan?  We use something called an amortization schedule (“AS”).  A good AS will tell you how much of each payment goes to interest and how much goes to principal.

Rule #1 -as I elucidated above is don’t listen to the mortgage people.  Run the numbers yourself.

Rule #2 – you can’t pay attention to what happened in the past.  What you care about is how much interest you will be paying going forwards.

So if you have a loan at 6% it may seem like a good idea to refi and move your rate down to 5%, right?  Not so fast because if you are already 3, 5 or 10 years into your current loan you may be paying more principal than interest and do you really want to go back to payment #1 where you are paying 99% interest and 1% principal?  Of course not.

So the only way to figure it out is to run the numbers.  Here is one amortization tool that I found on the Internet, http://www.financialpowertools.com/amortization_calculator/index.html.  (There may be better ones, but this one gits r done.) After you click “Calculate” then click on “View Report.”  The report will tell you how much each of your payments is allocated to principal and how much to interest.

You’re going to have to run the numbers twice.  Run them once with your current loan and then add up how much interest you still will be paying from this day forwards.  For example, if you are five years into a 15 year mortgage all you want to add up is how much interest still needs to be paid, i.e. add up the total interest for all payments for the final ten years of the loan.  This is the toughest part because it’s tedious.  Once again, if there are total of 60 payments on a loan and you are 23 payments into it, all you would want to add the interest for are payments 24 through 60.  What already took place Mr. Fancy Pants would call, “sunk costs.”  They don’t matter so much when you analyze things going forwards because it’s cash taht already flowed under the bridge.

So you got that?  You have to figure out the total interest that you still will be paying over the remaining life of your current loan.  We can call this “Total Interest Remaining.” Write the number down.

Now run the numbers using the AS that I linked to using the new loan that you are considering.   After you click “Calculate” you can just look at the open window where it says, “Total Interest.”

Finally compare Total Interest Remaining (interest still left to be paid on your current loan) to Total Interest (total interest to be paid on your new loan).

If the Total Interest on your new loan is more than the Total Interest Remaining on your current loan you may want to think twice about getting the new loan.

Of course there are all kinds of other reasons to get a new loan, but at least now you are equipped to make an intelligent decision because you can compare the Total Interest Remaining to be paid on your current loan with the Total Interest that you would pay under the new loan you are considering.

I know this is confusing.  If you have questions, post a comment or email me.

Old chimney

Old chimney

Just an old chimeny of a cabin since disappeared.  About 10-15 years ago we were skiing during a real bad storm and we had to seek shelter in the cabin that stood here at that time.  It was good to get out of the elements for a little while, warm up, have a nibble of cheese, meat, fruit or chocolate and take a shot or two of the schnapps that we had.

p1010085Nice trail.  It’s steeper than it looks.