Archive for the ‘government’ Category

A license to kill our own

March 9, 2010

What do you think?  Do you think a secret committee of government staffers can vote on who lives and who dies?  Stop and absorb that please.  Were you up in arms about the so-called Obama “Death Panel?”  Were ya?  Well it’s happening right now……

I saw an article in Newsweek, Can Intel Agencies Kill Americans? Pretty troubling to think about.  It’s another example of the slow deterioration in our fundamental right to be safe from our own government.  The director of national intelligence testified that United States intelligence agencies can assassinate United Citizens. It’s alleged that “… strikes specifically targeting Americans must first be approved by a secret committee made up of senior intel officials and members of the president’s cabinet.

Our right to due process is guaranteed to us by the Fifth Amendment to the United States Constitution.  It reads in part, “..nor be deprived of life, liberty, or property, without due process of law.”  This clause is in the Constitution to prevent the government from killing its citizens without some sort of due process.   We’re supposed to know what the government accuses us of, be able to present a defense and have a disinterested arbiter weigh the evidence.  Allowing a secret committee to decide who lives and who dies is something we all should fear.  That is an out of control government.

And don’t get me wrong.  I’m not saying that some of these people don’t deserve to die, but I don’t think having a group of government officials casting votes on which American citizen should be assassinated is the way to go.

As long as I’m alive I will still  GET OUTSIDE EVERYDAY!!!

I thought this was a fitting picture for an entry about an overly aggressive government.  In addition to this fire tower with all kinds of antennae on it there are a bunch of other towers at the top of the mountain.  If there were so many people that wanted to hurt us don’t you think they would blow up or cut down some of these towers.   By destroying one of these towers you could create a huge disruption for minimal effort.   Sure, there are lots of bad, evil, mean people out there, but not so many that we need to live in fear or abrogate our rights.  While your government wants you to think that you need to fear the other people, it’s your own government that you need to fear.

After a light snow.  Just a white pine with a little slush on it.  If you look at the slope of the land you can see that this is a pretty steep area.  I like hills.  I went to Indiana one time.  It was way too flat for me and there is no ocean either.

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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!!!


Healthcare and the big senate race

January 20, 2010

Well by the time you read this we’ll know who won the Massachusetts special election to fill the late Ted Kennedy’s seat.

I don’t get it.  Healthcare is broke.  Maybe not healthcare, but the way it is administered and paid for.  Personally, I believe that at a minimum we should have a public option.  I would really like to see universal coverage.  I think it would save money.  Imagine if all the the capital being drained out of the system by for-profit providers was instead funneled into patient care.

I hate insurance companies.  Do you think that a for-profit insurance company’s interests and your interests are congruent? I’d propose that they are not.  I’d like to see the profits used for care.  That’s just me though, evidently, as every time the Democrats try to address the issue, the other side, Republicans, are able to put the scare of change into American voters and derail change.

So I saw that Massachusetts State Senator Scott Brown may pull out an upset victory for Ted Kennedy’s old seat over his rival  Massachusetts Attorney General Martha Coakley.  I don’t like either one of them.  I don’t think he is bright enough to be one of 100 in charge of such things as the tax code, making law and treaties and judicial appointments.  I think he is way over his head and not ready for prime time.  I also don’t like his stance on pot.  Brown thinks it should remain a Class D.  I think it should be legalized.  He is against gay marriage.  I couldn’t care less who gets married.  He doesn’t believe in providing basic human rights to those detained by the US Government.  I don’t like the precedent it sets and think everyone should have the right to confrontation, putting the burden on the state and  against cruel and unusual punishment.  As for Coakley I also see her as a lightweight, plus I didn’t like her involvement with a notorious Massachusetts court case that may have imprisoned an innocent man and sent a family through hell.

If Coakley, the Dem, wins the Dems retain control of the senate and Obama’s platform rolls on, for what that is worth.  If the Repub Brown wins than the Dems lose their filibuster proof majority and Obama’s healthcare plan has a tougher row to hoe.  Because this is an election with national implications, and I live in Massachusetts, I have received no fewer than 30 phone calls in the past few days.  Now I know how folks in Iowa and New Hampshire must feel.

So anyways, they expect the Republican to win.  Guess how the stock of health insurers reacted.  They went up.

Rising health care stocks led the market higher as the prospect of a logjam in Washington eased concerns that profits at companies like insurers and drug makers would suffer. Among health stocks, insurers Aetna Inc. rose $1.30, or 4.2 percent, to $32.66 and UnitedHealth Group Inc. rose $1.38, or 4.1 percent, to $35.13. Pharmaceutical company Merck & Co. advanced $1.15, or 2.9 percent, to $40.62 and was the biggest advancer among the 30 stocks that make up the Dow industrials.

So if I was writing copy, which I do no longer, I think I’d write something like: A vote for Republicans is a vote for Humana or Don’t let Cigna down vote for Brown . Do you like?  Can someone tell me what the Republican healthcare plan is?

Don’t be a tool for the health insurers.  They are middle men standing between providers of services and consumers of services.  Think for yourself.

And most of all GET OUTSIDE EVERYDAY!! I don’t care who you are, you have 15 minutes to spare to take a walk outside or sit under a tree and watch the clouds move across the sky.

Another abandoned ski area not too far from my house.  Massachusetts has hundreds of abandoned ski areas.  This one was called Cat Rock.  We already had a coating of snow and the other night we received an additional few inches.  A fresh coating means fresh tracks so I had to get out for an hour or two.  I grabbed my 30 year old Kniessel Red Stars and headed out.  To paraphrase Bob Marley, ‘my feet are my only chairlift.’  Yup, hike up, ski down, hike up, ski down, hike up, ski down.  Like chopping your own wood, hiking to make your own turns seems to feel better.  At least to me.

This is the main trail looking up.  I’d guess it’s maybe a few hundred yards long with a couple hundred feet of vertical.  It’s actually fairly steep.  Like I always say, much steeper than it looks.  You can see I got first tracks.  And uhh no it’s never groomed – rocks, grass, shrubs grow where they may.

This is the same trail looking down.  At least here it looks a little steeper.  Not ideal conditions because we did get some rain and than it froze. The snow was crusty.  Still I was able to carve huge beautiful arcing turns.  Great fun.  A couple of snowboarders did show up after a while.  There’s a little trail on the side of the main trail where the rope tow used to be.  If you don’t know what a rope tow is it is a loop of rope that runs up the hill.  These things used to run over car wheels hung from trees and were powered by old tractors or Chevrolets.  You grab onto the rope snaking up the hill at 15mph and it yanks your arm out of your socket and pulls you up the hill.  Due to liability issues, you don’t see rope tows any longer.   It used to be the ride up could be more fun than the ski down.  This trail where the rope tow was is maybe five feet wide.  That is a good ski down!!  If there ain’t trees and ice it ain’t New England.    New England skiing the way it was meant to be!!

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

Legalize it!!

July 27, 2009

The time has come to legalize It.  It being marijuana.   “Calif. tax officials: Legal pot would bring $1.4B”  Think Cali can use that kind of money?  How about your own state?  Hell, even the Republican governor has admitted to smoking pot at one point in his life.    “The Equalization Board used law enforcement and academic studies to calculate that about 16 million ounces — or 500 tons — of marijuana are consumed in California each year.” WOW!!

So on the one hand states are missing out on billions in tax revenues, on the other hand enormous sums of money are being spent by the federal and state governments to further perpetuate the illegality of marijuana.  Billions are spent every year to keep a plant illegal.

“In 2007 the Department of Justice reported that there were 1,841,182 drug arrests in the United States; the report also stated that there were  more drug abuse arrests than any other category of offenses. Marijuana arrests accounted for 47.4% of the drug abuse arrests. This allows us to estimate that about 872,720 persons were arrested for marijuana offenses. Eighty-nine percent of these arrests were for possession.”

This is not only an economic issue for state governments, but it is also a liberty issue for private citizens.  Consenting adults should be able to do pretty much anything they want that doesn’t impact others.   The cops like it though.  The seizure of private property prior to conviction and roadblocks are further intrusions on citizens’ rights.  Why give the cops another reason to interact with citizens.

Pot also isn’t the gateway drug anymore than milk and cookies.  How many heroin junkies started with milk n’ cookies?

Since pot was first criminalized do you think a single person has been denied due to marijuana’s banned status.  Kids in elementary school and prisoners in jail all have access to the illegal weed.  Goes to show all the money spent on cops, prisons, judges, and brand spanking new cop toys is wasted money.  Prohibition does not work.  Prohibition puts a substance in the control of criminals and drives up the market price.

Making pot illegal only serves to benefit: cops, prisons, lawyers and politicians.  The fastest way to cure all of the violence in Columbia and Mexico and American cities is to take drugs out of the hands of criminals.  How do we accomplish that overnight? LEGALIZE IT.

So there you go six simple arguments to legalize It.

1. issue of personal liberty and self-determination, legalizing It would help to limit Big G Government intruding into our private affairs.  Why give them another excuse?

2. It isn’t nearly as dangerous as those with beholden interests make it out to be;

3. opportunity cost of lost tax revenues;

4. direct costs of keeping pot illegal;

5. indirect costs of giving kids a permanent record and the loss of student loans;

6. the ineffective War on Drugs has been an utter and total failure.

GET OUTSIDE EVERYDAY!! ©

d7

Pretty gold finch feather.  I saw blue jay feather yesterday that was as blue as the bluest sky.   Really pretty amazing.  We were sitting outside the other day and four yellow finches were flying around us putting on an acrobatic flying show.

This is the flowerhead of staghorn sumac.  I posted a winter picture of it back when snow was covering the ground.  You’ve seen these before haven’t you.  Usually you see them in areas that have been previously disturbed.  Like me.  The plants are kind of hairy.  Like me.

d9

You can make a sort of lemonade from the red berries by picking off the red flowerhead and soaking a bunch of them in cold water.  Use maybe 6-8 flowerheads per big pitcher of water.  Always use cold water and then strain it through  a coffee filter or something to strain out all of the little red hairs.  You can add sugar if you want to. “Of 100 medicinal plants screened for antibiotic activity, this species [staghorn sumac] was most active, attributed to conetent of gallic acid, 4-methoxygallic acid, and methyl gallate.” Foster & Duke, Peterson Field Guide.

Cambridge PD & Dr. Gates

July 24, 2009

I felt like I had to write about this story because it’s been ubiquitous this week.  If you haven’t heard a black professor from Harvard was arrested on the doorstep of his own house.  The story is that this older professor of African American Studies, Dr. Henry Louis Gates, PD*30233165came home from a trip abroad and the front door of his Harvard provided mansion was swollen shut from the humidity.  It sounds like he and his driver tried to force the front door open with their shoulders.  A neighbor saw two men trying to force open the door and called the Cambridge PD.   Doctor Gates went around back and crawled through a window.  He then came around front and opened the front door.   By then the PD were there.  He showed his ID that proved he lived in the house.  Maybe the cop wasn’t satisfied.  Who knows.  Dr. Gates mouthed off to the cop.  It’s reported that he said such things as: ‘this is because I’m black’ and ‘do you know who I am’ and ‘I’ll talk to your momma out front’ meaning the cop’s momma.  Dr. Gates is black and the arresting officer is white.

Dr. Gates ended up being arrested for disorderly conduct. The cop wrote in his police report that Dr. Gates was out of control.  I know the Police fabricate and stretch the truth in their police reports.  They know what they need to write and what they need to include in their reports in order to help the DA convict. The Police are only too happy to oblige.

I have no doubt that Dr. Gates may carry a chip on his shoulder AND RIGHTFULLY SO.  Which means all the more reason to be careful when mouthing off to the Police.  Always remember the Police are the sole of the jackboot of Government.

So there has been all of this talk on the Internet, newspapers, Big M Media and radio talkshows about whether the Police were right or whether Dr. Gates was picked on for being black.

I don’t see it as a black white thing. I don’t care if it’s a white cop and a black defendant.  Dr. Gates was wrong.  This is all about Authority exerting its Authority. The cop said that he had to deescalate the situation and that the best way of doing this was to arrest the old professor on his own porch.  I think the cop would have arrested a white guy too and that is the crux of the problem.

No the best way to deescalate the situation would have been for the cop to leave once he saw proof positive that Dr. Gates was the occupant of the house and not a burglar.   Instead, the cop being a cop felt as though he had to stay there and argue with this guy.  Just leave.

The cop had to prove that he was right.  I wasn’t there, but I can see it now, because I’ve seen it many times before.  The cop probably told him to calm down and quiet down.  Just leave.  If you  are provoking someone’s behavior STOP IT. Cops being what they are the cop had to prove that he was in charge and the Keeper of the Authority.  I mean why else wear the uniform if you don’t want to exert authority.

So no I don’t see this as a black white thing.  This is about the Police arresting a man on his own porch. If the Police were hassling you on your own porch wouldn’t you tell the cops F&uck Off?  That would drive me nuts too.  The Police coming right into my own private lair and hassling me.   Ruby Ridge anyone?  Branch Davidians?

So don’t get drawn into the headline that the Media feeds you.  This isn’t a racial thing.  This is a Government Exerting Its Authority Against The Governed Thing.  If it can happen to a well dressed, older Harvard professor with a PhD basically on the campus of Harvard in Cambridge than it can happen to you.   It can happen to you on your own porch.

Lessons to learn:

  • Don’t believe the story you are told by the Media.  Try to look at the story through your own eyes.
  • Don’t mouth off to the Police unless you need a place to stay for the night.
  • The Police can come up to your door at anytime for any reason and hassle you.
  • The Police can handcuff you, throw you in the back of a car and spirit you away for any reason or no reason at all.
  • You can be arrested for disorderly conduct on your own porch or front lawn.
  • Check who is at the door before opening.  Better to even look if you can and be silent than announcing your presence by asking, “who is there?”
  • The Government and its agents are getting more aggressive.
  • It can happen to You.
  • Know a good defense lawyer.

GET OUTSIDE EVERYDAY!! ©

Just as the Police are the Police, summer is summer.  And summer being what it is there are so many different plants happening now that I’m going to have to have some posts just on plants.  I want to do one on Purslane in the near future.  Personally I think Purslane is my favorite foraging food. Yummy! I should also do a post on Jewelweed because it’s also useful.   Anyways….

c1I hope your recognize this as beautiful blueberries.  These are lowbush blueberries and are only a foot or foot and a half tall.   These aren’t the big super fertilized blueberries that you buy in a store.  These berries are about the size of a pea, maybe even smaller.  I’ve also been told that you can tell edible blueberries from the non-poisonous ones by the little crown on the blossom end of the fruit.  If you don’t know what I mean look at the following picture.

c3Now if you look at these berries notice how the part of the berry away from the stem end has a little crown on it where the flower used to be attached.  it looks a little like a donut shape.  That’s how I was always told to tell blueberries from pooberries.  A pooberry being one that gives you the shits.

I thought this would be a good berry year because of all the rain we had, but unfortunately it has been a pretty slim berry year.  Lesson learned here is don’t every count your crops before they’re harvested and cured, pickled, canned, dried or stored safely away.

Anyways, the Indians used to dry these out and mix them with ground dried meat, maybe some ground nuts and some rendered fat to make pemmican.  Pemmican is ultra high calorie and fat survival food.  You can also make tasty juices.  Blueberry is supposed to be a super food.  I used to spend hours collecting blueberries and making wine from them.

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!!

Dick Cheney

July 18, 2009

Four more banks were taken over by the FDIC this afternoon. Two of them were rather large banks based in California.  I’m talking Billion $ banks. Now back to the evil topic at hand.

Dick Cheney the well known hawk never served in the military.  He was famously quoted as saying,”I had other priorities in the ’60s than military service.” Washington Post 1989.   He also received five draft deferments for a variety of reasons.

And although the Republicans were very successful at blaming President Clinton for DOD cutbacks the truth of the matter is that Dick Cheney under Bush 41 was responsible for major budget and troop cuts.   Did you know that Dick Cheney as Sec Def cut the Army troop levels by 26%?

“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.”

Dick Cheney was so good at being the hatchet man that he was hired by Halliburton after leaving the Bush 41 Whitehouse.  At Halliburton Cheney reigned over leadership of the company at a time when Halliburton was tendering bribes to secure business in Nigeria.   Under Cheney, even with economic sanctions in place, Halliburton did business in such places as Iran, Iraq and Libya.  ?  So the revolving door between industry and government continues to spin.

Now it comes out that Cheney gave the order for the CIA to mislead Congress concerning President Bush’s illegal and unconstitutional surveillance program.

“The Central Intelligence Agency withheld information about a secret counterterrorism program from Congress for eight years on direct orders from former Vice President Dick Cheney, the agency’s director, Leon E. Panetta, has told the Senate and House intelligence committees, two people with direct knowledge of the matter said Saturday.”

Although they claim that Cheney’s secrecy in this case didn’t involve Bush 43’s domestic surveillance program, who knows what to believe.   What beats the band though is that “Andrew Card (Bush’s Chief of Staff); David Addington (Cheney’s CoS and Counsel); John Ashcroft (AG); John Yoo (DoJ’s Office of Legal Counsel); and George Tenet (CIA)” all refused to cooperate with the investigation.   Think we could get away with that?

And the thing that gets me is that Cheney has been taking to the airwaves at every opportunity to proclaim that the Obama Administration is putting us at risk.  No, Cheney can say whatever he wants, that doesn’t bother me.  What bothers me is that There has been no comment from Mr Cheney.So the sycophant Big M Media will bend over backwards to give unlimited access to Cheney to use as a platform to spread his private message, but when it comes to holding the PTB accountable “no comment” suffices.

Whomever interviews Cheney next, the first question out of their mouth better be about illegally keeping secrets from Congress.  Wanna make a bet?  Cheney is part and parcel fo the elite global ruling class.  If it was found that eating baby brains would cure Cheney’s terminal disease, make no mistake about it, the baby brains would be flowing.  He is an international pirate.

GET OUTSIDE EVERYDAY!!©   This is the flower to the milkweed plant.  They smell like summer.   The milkweed is a very edible plant as long as you boil the white sap out of it.  You can take these flowers and batter em up in a tempura or beer batter and fry them.

P1010010


Goldman Sachs & magic mushrooms

July 16, 2009

WTF.  Goldman Sachs is the poster kid of what is wrong with our country.  The blogosphere is alive with folks ranking on Goldman Sachs and with good reason.  First, you have the revolving door between industry and government where folks like Summers, Rubin, Geithner, Paulson, Neel Cash n’ Carry, et al work in private commerce, then they get jobs in the public sector where they change private commercial interests into  public policy then it’s back through the revolving door into private industry to rake in the big bucks.  Or as the NYT wrote, Government Sachs:

“While many Wall Streeters have made the trek to Washington, there is no question that the axis of power at the Treasury Department tilts toward Goldman. That has led some to assume that the interests of the bank, and Wall Street more broadly, are the first priority. There is also the question of whether the department’s actions benefit the personal finances of the former Goldman executives and their friends.”

So this private firm, Goldman Sachs, owned by private investors gets an enormous public bailout totaling BILLIONS of dollars in public funds.   Predictably Goldman Sachs stock goes up,  enriching each private investor.  This was an enormous transfer of wealth from the pockets of hairdressers, grocery baggers, carpenters, teachers, cops, doctors, pet groomers and lawyers into the pockets of the owners of Goldman Sachs.

“Goldman Sachs Group Inc executives sold almost $700 million worth of stock since the collapse of rival Lehman Brothers last year, the Financial Times said on Monday. The newspaper said that most of the stock sales took place while the biggest U.S. investment bank was bailed out by the government with $10 billion of taxpayer money, according to filings with the Securities and Exchange Commission.”

You got that?  Goldman Sachs was sucking because it overextended itself.  The taxpayers bailed it out.  Stock prices went up and executives sold, profited on the backs of taxpayers.

When my business went belly up.  I got no bailout.  I sold everything I had, barely held onto my house and paid the debt off.  In 2007 three bigshots at Goldman each took home more than $70,000,000 in pay EACH.  Then a year later they come to American wage earners with cup in hand.  Ska-Rew!!

So last year right around Thanksgiving Goldman was trading at $52.  Since then on the backs of wage earners it has tripled in value.  Who is getting the benefit of that gain?  It sure as hell isn’t the American wage earner taxpayer who generously contributed to bailing out Goldman.

And of course Goldman is back to paying out million dollar bonuses to the select few while the vast majority of Americans are still suffering through a personal financial crisis.

I’m really not qualified to write on Goldman, for that I turn to someone much better educated than me, Mike Morgan.  I strongly suggest reading Mr. Morgan on a regular basis.

“Shame on Meredith – Today she prostituted herself in her nauseating glowing remarks about Goldman Sachs. What Meredith failed to point out, was exactly how and where Goldman Sachs is making their money . . . on the backs of pension funds, endowments and other fiduciary money that they are manipulating and front running. I should also mention, Meredith has failed to even hint at the problems facing Goldman Sachs as a going concern.”

Then I hear that some trading software was stolen from Government Sachs and that this software would allow the owners to manipulate the marketplace“The 34-year-old prosecutor also dropped this bombshell: “The bank has raised the possibility that there is a danger that somebody who knew how to use this program could use it to manipulate markets in unfair ways.” So Goldman admits to having software that can manipulate markets. Let’s see what happens to them.

Make no mistake about it, there are a very few individuals at the top of the food chain who are running things for their benefitEverything else – Republican, Democrat, Palestinian, Israeli, white, black, gay, straight, pro-life, pro-choice is nothing but frosting.  The real nuts of the matter to the powerful few is the accumulation of wealth and power.

GET OUTSIDE EVERYDAY!! ©

Okay folks, any mushroom experts out there? I saw this pretty little mushroom so I figured I’d share it.  I think that it is amanita muscaria aka magic mushroom.  I’m not certain because I don’t see the rings around the stem, but I do think that I see the universal veil near the base of the cap, but no rings on the stem.  Any of you know for sure, or have a better educated guess than me?

05This is some summer raspberry growing near my house.

q6

Why should we?

July 14, 2009

I mean really.  I’m trying not to use profanity, because I don’t know you folks and someone shouldn’t write anything on the Internet that they wouldn’t say to their mother or sister.

Anyways…did you see that federal buildings are vulnerable to attack? The Government Accountability Office (“GAO”) sent undercover ops carrying bomb making supplies into federal buildings.  Once the agents made it past security and metal detectors they assembled the make believe bombs and carried them all over the buildings.  The GAO attempted to penetrate 10 buildings and they were successful 100% of the time.  One of the security (ahem) professionals was sleeping and another was found using a government computer to run a porn website.  Talk about double dipping.

Which reminds me of another older story I saw, GAO: Investigators pass security at 19 airports with bomb parts.

So it’s pretty apparent to me that our Government is as ineffective at securing our airports and buildings as it was responding to hurricanes, or getting to some victim when they are getting their head kicked in and 911 is called.  The Government can’t do it.

Also, anyone who has spent time in a correctional facility will tell you that the guards can’t keep drugs out of prisons.  Why should they when their is so much money to be made by guards smuggling drugs into prisons.  So the Government can’t even keep drugs out of a walled, concertina wired fortress like a prison either.

We’ve been giving up our privacy ever since 9/11.  We’ve been forced to take off our shoes and subject strangers to our dirty, stinky feet.  There are cameras on almost every street corner or traffic light.  We get stopped at roadblocks, and our free movement as US citizens is limited.  It’s getting harder and harder to exercise our Second Amendment rights.  Even protesters are locked into Free Speech Zones.  (I thought the whole US of A was a Free Speech Zone.) They’ve been tapping into our email, Internet browsing, blogging, telephone calls and banking activity.  Think about that, every time any of your info is sent electronically, it is sifted and sorted and compiled and filed by Big G Government.

WHAT FOR!?!?!  All of these Big G Government trespasses into our private affairs obviously don’t have the desired effect of making us safe.

Why do we stand for it!?!?  They search my pockets to make me safe and people still smuggle bomb making materials into protected buildings and box cutters onto planes.  I get stopped for having a Swiss Army Knife on my key chain.

The reason Big G Government is spying on us and limiting our privacy and civil liberties isn’t to make us safe, IT’S TO TRACK US, ANALYZE US AND FIGURE OUT WHO MAY BE A THREAT – POLITICAL OR OTHERWISE.

and my digital camera is back so I can share with you, beg of you and plead with you to GET OUTSIDE EVERY DAY!!! I used to work with one of the best attorneys in the state.  She went to all of the best private schools, high school, undergrad and law school.  This particular attorney had no idea that bees had to pollinate flowers for her to eat an apple, peach, pear or orange.  So I know some reading this may have 1,000 acres in corn, but some other people might not know where corn comes from.   The corn around me is about five feet tall.  This is the male cornflower.  It spews pollen.

P1010009Hopefully a lot of the pollen falls down and lands on the female parts…

P1010012The pollen then fertilizers each little kernel of corn.  If you ever get an ear that has the kernels all messed up it’s most likely due to some sort of problem with when the flower was pollinated.  Because corn is wind pollinated (not insect pollinated) you have to plant more than a few plants in order to get good pollination.  So the next time you sit down to have an ear of buttered corn stop and take a second to thank the farmer who grew it for your table and the miracle of nature.