Sunday, November 28, 2010

Saturday, November 27, 2010

Astrophotography With The Nikon D3000

This is a Celestron CPC 1100 (11") Schmidt-Cassegrain Telescope with GPS controller. It's sitting on a Scope Buggy. This sucker's heavy, so the buggy is great for taking the scope out to the front yard. My Nikon D3000 (Nikon's cheapest DSLR) is mounted on the back of the scope.

Moonshot! For sheer drama I like the thin crescent, but a half-moon is not too bad. The full moon is too bright and feature-less for my taste. This shot was taken at 100 ISO with a 1/30 second shutter speed. The f-stop is determined by the scope, and I don't know what it is.

This is the Horse Head Nebula in the constellation Orion. ISO is 1600 and shutter speed is 30 seconds. At these settings, camera "noise" is not too bad.

Here's the Horse Head at 96 seconds. Camera noise is very noticeable in this shot.

These were the best of 40-something photos I took this morning. I got outside about 3 a.m. and came back in about 5 a.m. Temps were in the mid-30's, so you know I was freezing my ass off and was glad to come in for a pot of hot coffee. I also got a shot of Saturn, but it was poorly focused and blurry. Also, Saturn isn't at its best angle right now to see its rings.

I'm just starting out on this astrophotography thing, so I'll post more pics as I learn about what's in the sky and how to take better pictures.


Friday, November 26, 2010

Divining The Future

Something feels out of place, but I just can't put my finger on it. I've sat and thought until my thinker hurts, but I can't get a bead on the next big trend. Asimov used to say that it was easy to see the future, but I don't share his visual optimism.

Whatever happens, I hope it's interesting.


Sunday, November 21, 2010

UnderDog Flies Again!

"One of the most frustrating aspects of this fight against terrorism is that it has created a whole security apparatus around us that causes huge inconvenience for all of us."

"Frustrating". "Inconvenience". I can think of lots better words to describe what people have to go through to fly. How about "outrage", "crossing-the-line", or "no-fucking-way-I'm-ever-flying-again".

Then let's look at Obammy's words. Try diagramming his sentence. What's the subject? One. One is. The Divine Passive runs amok.

Why not just use bomb-sniffing dogs? They're natural crotch-sniffers anyway.


I don't know who this MaryJane is, but I like her. And I sure as hell like dogs more than I like people. Dogs not only have sensitive noses, but they are keen judges of character too. Start the dogs to sniffing politician's crotches. You first, Obama.


I have to admit that Tam noticed something that even cynical me missed. Here's Tam's take:



What you mean "us", Kemosabe?


Sunday, November 14, 2010

Sweet Land Of Liberty

Right Wing - Send the army to string up barb-wire, close the borders and shoot brown people. Then scour the land to find and deport "illegals". If a foreigner wants to move here, let him jump through flaming hoops of fire and speak impeccable slang English and look, act, talk, walk, and worship at the same church as any knuckledragger in America. Is it too much to ask a brown person, upon being stopped by the po-lice, to recite the Constitution backwards?

Left Wing - Let the illegals take part in the great socialistic experiment that is America. Let them enjoy free overcrowded government-indoctrination schools, 8-hour waits at hospital emergency rooms, the prestige of food stamps, government-subsidized slum-housing; and joy-of-joys, someday their citizen-children might realize the American Dream of being plundered just like a real American.

I lean neither right nor left, but at my own stylish angle. A man oughta be able to live any-damn-where he wants to on this planet, and anyone who tells him otherwise oughta get his ass kicked. There. I said it.

Call Of Duty--Modern Class Warfare In The Land Of We

The wealthy Americans we should worry about instead are the ones who implicitly won the election — those who take far more from America than they give back.

... the superrich who have gotten spectacularly richer over the last four decades while their fellow citizens either treaded water or lost ground.

The top 1 percent of American earners took in 23.5 percent of the nation’s pretax income in 2007 ...

... the dry accounting of what the cost[of "Bush tax cuts"] would add to the federal deficit. ... can we afford to borrow $700 billion?

Sometimes, Frank Rich can be a thoughtful writer. This particular article is a shoddy piece of work. Yes, I know that these snippets are taken out of their context, but pay attention to his words. There will be a test. 

First, the title of his article, Who Will Stand Up to the Superrich?, implies that these deep pocket sumbitches are an affront to us all. I'm not in awe of, nor insulted by, their existence.

"...those who take far more from America than they give back..." and " 1 percent of American earners took in 23.5 percent of the nation’s...income..." imply that wealth in America is a static quantity, something to be chopped up and distributed, if only "we" had more "power" to seize their wealth. Ayn Rand noted that it is an American expression to "create wealth". Being rich is subjective. Today it's billionaires, but if "we" ever get that "power", perhaps tomorrow, you, Mr. Middle Class, might be "rich". Carpenter shudders at a glimpse of a possible future.

"...can we afford to borrow $700 billion?" How indeed will we finance this "tax cut"? What's implied here is that future earnings of the wealthy are already "our" property. Wrap your head around that one.

Thursday, November 11, 2010

The People Have Spoken. So There.

I believe that all government is evil, in that all government must necessarily make war upon liberty and the democratic form is as bad as any of the other forms.

H. L. Mencken

It's easy to let others grow our food or build our vehicles. I carpenter for people whose time is better spent working on their own specialty. It makes sense to specialize. If I had to eat only what I could grow or butcher, I'd probably starve. But each of us mostly chooses which specialties to farm out and which to retain, except for the production of security. Our government has a monopoly on that production. Sadly, our government has, with the limitless power of that monopoly, branched out into charity, medicine, retirement income--even building cars and mortgaging homes. Tea-bag all you want, tyranny is here and it ain't going away.


Understanding In America

Why should we bother to reply to Kautski? He would reply to us, and we would have to reply to his reply. There’s no end to that. It will be quite enough for us to announce that Kautski is a traitor to the working class, and everyone will understand everything.

V. I. Lenin

I was listening to BBC News on the drive to work the other day. The gist of the news was that in the US military's attempts to drive the Taliban out of farming communities in Afghanistan with the use of machine guns and bombs, the Afghan people are also being driven out. The poor farmers gather their remaining family, desert their bombed-out farms, and head for the nearest city to try to make a living.

So how do you differentiate between regular Afghan citizens and the Taliban (or Al-Queda)? Simple. Just call all of them Taliban and everyone will understand everything.

Yo Dawg, We Heard You Liked Liberty

Tyranny is always and everywhere the same, while freedom is always various. The well and truly enslaved are dependable; we know what they will say and think and do. The free are quirky. Tyrannies may be overt and violent or covert and insidious, but they all require the same thing, a subject population in which the power of thought is occluded and the power of deed brought low.

Richard Mitchell

We hardly knew ye, Richard, and now you're gone.

One of the most damning things about freedom is its quirkyness. If you're not confidant in your ability to make it on your own steam, then freedom is a scary thought, irrespective of assurances from free market advocates that freedom equals prosperity. Does it? Maybe, but aside from the carrot of prosperity, wouldn't a quirky world be more interesting than dull, gray tyranny? Would a few safety nets mixed in with freedom strike an ideal balance between freedom and slavery? Nope, because there's never enough plunder to keep up with people who want to live at the expense of others.

America has a strange paradox. We need welfare, in all its multiplying forms, because we don't have freedom to earn a living. We need Social Security because we are robbed of anything we might save. We need Medicare because increasingly-rigid control of medicine has made it unaffordable. Ad infinitum.

Sunday, November 7, 2010