Archive for September, 2012

Travel Theme: Foliage

The calendar marches on and brings us to Friday, which means the day is a’popping with photography challenges from across the Intenet.

For today, I am hanging with the site Where’s My Backpack? and its theme of foliage.

My submission comes from my digital shoebox – the 2007 version to be exact – when the family and I enjoyed a fun afternoon berry picking during an August in Maryland.

Berry Picking

Raspberries, I believe

That’s my daughter, Ophelia (at least the version of her from five years ago) doing her best to deposit as many raspberry stains as she can on her clothes.

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A voice from the Right predicts economic collapse if President Barack Obama is re-elected.

A voice from the Left alleges that Republican presidential nominee Mitt Romney used creative make-up for an interview with Univision.

On those extreme hooks do I base this ceditra entry. Ceditra – for those who need a refresher – is the term created by Brazilian artist Abril Pajyaso for the process by which art is created through a random process. My procedure for finding a subject to randomly write about (a completely fair and balanced process) left me at this entry from The Facts on File Dictionary of Proverbs

Talk is cheap
It is easy to say that something can or will be done, but it takes money or effort to do it

For the people who make their living chatting away on the airwaves (both radio and television) giving their opinions on anything and everything, talk is nowhere near cheap. These pontificating personalities make good money. Regardless of the ideology, both bloviators on the right and left take home good paychecks for their insights.

The point I want to explore courtesy of this snippet is the fact that it is the people on the extremes of the spectrum who get noticed, get press, get space, and get the money.

Where are the voices in the middle? When I am surfing my sites on the Web, the headlines that pop to the forefront are items that involve outrage, or politicians being slammed, or somebody making an outrageous statement (truth be told, there were far too many examples for me to include one as a link, so I passed). I guess that’s what people want to read for if Netizens didn’t click on those stories, they wouldn’t be there.

Or do people click on the links because they are there?

There must be people who are centrist and who espouse such a sensibility in their columns and blog posts. However, they are a silent group because they do not spew forth ridiculous and incendiary statements. Because they are so rational, they are not controversial, and – ergo – are not popular in the media universe dominated by the metric of eyeballs and hits. It is only, for whatever reason, the emotional buttons of extremism, outrage, and hate that gets people a-clickin’. Therefore, writers and opinion-makers who want to be noticed gravitate towards the poles so they can be heard.

I wonder how many x-wingers actually believe what they say? How many say what they say solely to be noticed?

So while the Net has people alleging that the President hates the middle class and that his Republican challenger participated in a tax amnesty program, my question still remains…

Where are the middle voices?

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This is my response to the theme of solitary from WordPress’s Weekly Photo Challenge.

From my shoebox of digital photos comes this snapshot taken during our family’s January 2009 vacation in Cancun, Mexico.

I mostly remember this trip because it got us out of the nation’s capital during the Barack-alypse, when traffic and crowd levels were going to be off the charts with the inauguration of President Barack Obama. I was able to enjoy the sun, surf, and sand while my neighbors were shivering in the winter of Northern Virginia.

Anyway, back to the theme, and while “solitary” can mean a person being all alone in a room, I offer up a person engaging in a solitary pursuit.

Treasure hunting in the ocean

Hunting solo

I had seen people with metal detectors before combing the beach for keys and lost nickels, but I had never seen one in the tide before. Best of luck to him. I wonder if he had any one to share his bounty with.

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Texture is the theme of the week from Photo Friday.

Once again, I am reaching back into the photos from our family’s summer vacation back in the States.

Once again once again, I offer up a snap from my visit to one of the buildings that grace the National Mall. That building would be the National Gallery of Art…the East Building to be exact.

One of the installations that exist on the outside of the building is Roof by Andy Goldsworthy.

Sculpture outside National Gallery of Art


I have always enjoyed viewing this piece of art because I am amazed at the amount of work that must have gone into placing all the individual stones into the eight (nine? ten?) domes that comprise the installation.

In this picture, I only captured fragments of three, but the texture of each piece is unique.

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While I’m waiting for PunditTracker to step up their game, I still have the world of veridiction (my made-up name for the practice of verifying predictions) all to myself in the blog-o-verse.

With that in mind, I unveil my latest veridiction and it involves Paul B. Allen, founder of Ancestry.com (and probably someone who is confused a great deal with this Paul Allen, a co-founder of Microsoft).

In December of last year, Mr. Allen made the prediction (this CNNMoney story describes it as a “bold prediction”) that Google+ would have 400 million users by the end of 2012. He was so confident about this guess that he even took to – naturally – Google+ to repeat his prediction.

Well, I don’t have to wait until the ball falls in Times Square to verify Mr. Allen’s prediction because the news has come out that Google+ has 400 million users.

Congratulation to Mr. Allen on his correct prediction.

Maybe now he can work on having his own entry in Wikipedia. Just a thought.

BTW, I am one of those 400,000,000.

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In the United States, today marks Constitution Day.

Today is the 225th anniversary of the day the delegates to the U.S. Constitutional Convention signed the document that would serve as the newest framework for the government of the United States of America.

Courtesy of Senator Robert Byrd (Democrat from West Virginia), children throughout the land who attend federally funded schools will take part of the day and learn about this cherished document (except in Chicago where the teachers are on strike).

While I am describing the United States Constitution as the basis of our country’s laws, there are some folk who believe that the Ten Commandments are the basis for our country’s laws. They feel so adamant about this that they want to place the Decalogue in various public places, such as courthouses (see here and here and here).

It is an interesting theory to state that the United States legal system is based on the Ten Commandments because the U.S. Constitution and the current United States Civil Code supports none of the ten edicts brough down by Moses from Mt. Sinai.

Allow me to demonstrate this using the King James version.

I) “I am the LORD thy God” (Deuteronomy 5:6) and “Thou shalt have none other gods before me” (Deuteronomy 5:7)

No American law mandates worshipping this LORD as God or prohibits the exercise of any other religion.

The First Amendment to the Constitution prohibits the making of any law establishing a religion.
In addition, Article VI, Clause 3 of the Constitution prohibits any religious test being administered as a qualification for any office of the United States.

II) “Thou shalt not make thee any graven image, or any likeness of any thing that is in heaven above…” (Deuteronomy 5:8)

No American law prohibits the making of any graven image, any likeness of any thing in heaven (i.e., angels), or that is in the earth beneath, or that is in the waters beneath the earth.

III) “Thou shalt not take the name of the LORD thy God in vain…” (Deuteronomy 5:11)

The First Amendment to the Constitution states that Congress shall make no law abridging the freedom of speech.

IV) “Keep the sabbath day to sanctify it…” (Deuteronomy 5:12)

There is no current American law mandating that people rest on the seventh day.

V) “Honour they father and thy mother…” (Deuteronomy 5:16)

Again, the First Amendment’s protection of the freedom of speech means that all children are free to verbally dishonor their parents if they so choose.

VI) “Thou shalt not kill” (Deuteronomy 5:17)

The United States does not follow this commandment as the death penalty is sanctioned.

VII) “Neither shalt thou commit adultery” (Deuteronomy 5:18)

There is no current federal law prohibiting adultery.

VIII) “Neither shalt thou steal” (Deuteronomy 5:19)

There are indeed laws on the books sanctioning those individuals who take property that does not belong to them. However, the federal government and the United States Constitution actually allow for the confiscation of items from private individuals.

The Fifth Amendment to the Constitution allows for private property to be taken away from its owner in a concept called “eminent domain“. Yes, the phrase “just compensation” is used to denote that property cannot be taken without the owner receiving something. However, if I must give up something that I do not want to give up, I consider that stealing regardless of whatever consolation I receive.

In addition, every time I earn a paycheck, the United States government steals from me in the form of the income tax, which is sanctioned by the Sixteenth Amendment.

IX) “Neither shalt thou bear false witness against they neighbor.” (Deuteronomy 5:20)

While there are prohibitions against uttering falsehoods while on the witness stand (this is called perjury), the First Amendment’s protection of free speech allows people to voice all sorts of false information.

In fact, just recently, the Unites States Supreme Court said it was perfectly legal to lie about military service.

X) “Neither shalt thou desire thy neighbor’s wife, neither shaly thou covet thy neighbor’s house…” (Deuteronomy 5:21)

There is no item in the Constitution or Civil Code forbidding anyone from coveting.

Interesting, eh?

Of the Ten Commandments, there are some edicts that are completely ignored by the laws of America (i.e., Sabbath, adultery, covet) and there are some that are only partially followed (i.e., killing, stealing, lying).

So the next time some thumper wants to place the Ten Commandments in a public space stating the Decalogue is the basis of our country, they should be better informed and be told that our country does it level-headed best to actually ignore the inscriptions on those tablets.

The basis of our country’s laws is the United States Constitution. Happy Constitution Day!

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Being an American living abroad, I am absolutely embarrassed by where things stand in my country of birth.

Really, America, this is the state of your political dialogue two months before a presidential election?

Four people, including the American ambassador to Libya, are killed in an attack on the consulate in Benghazi and part of the initial response from the Republican nominee for President was…

It’s disgraceful that the Obama administration’s first response was not to condemn attacks on our diplomatic missions, but to sympathize with those who waged the attacks…

Not far behind with the strategy of let’s-move-past-the-atrocity-and-get-back-into-political-sniping came this response from the Obama administration…

We are shocked that, at a time when the United States of America is confronting the tragic death of one of our diplomatic officers in Libya, Governor Romney would choose to launch a political attack…

You can’t be serious that after an attack on American soil that killed four and with American embassies threatened in Yemen and Egypt, that the two people contesting to be the leader of the United States of America are engaging in a petty verbal squabble as if they were a pair of toddlers fighting over the same See ‘n Say?

As if that kindergarten battle wasn’t enough to make me vomit, I surf the Internet only to find out that this is a true and happening controversy…seriously?…THIS!?!

People of a religious bent are bent out of shape because a soda maker dares to use evolution in its marketing campaign?

I am so happy, America, that you have solved the issues concerning the jobless recovery, rising costs of entitlement programs, the $16 trillion debt, and poverty so that you can spend your time on such flighty matters.

I am relieved I have one more year in my overseas adventure. Maybe, America, you can screw your priorities on straight by the time I come back.

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