Sunday, January 30, 2011

Fiction Rocks, History Sucks

Fiction is more popular than history because the cycles of history are boringly the same, whereas fiction paints a picture of life as it might or should be.

"The officers and the secret police run the country, but when a mob gathers, it's up to the soldiers to hold them back. If the soldiers choose not to, then it's time for the strongman to get on a plane and escape the country."

The pitchforks-and-torches solution to a dictator doesn't work. You just get another dictator. Same for democratically elected dictators presidents. Coups or elections, there's not much difference in the end result. If you're waiting for "the people" to figure it out, i.e., accept your idea of who oughta run things, well, good luck with that. As for me, I can choose the better from the worse, and I know that freedom trumps government every time. I also know that waiting for my brethren humans to embrace freedom from government is pointless. That's why I like fiction. I'm particularly drawn to stories where people escape their chains and head off to a new land to live free.

"Off goes the head of the king, and tyranny gives way to freedom. The change seems abysmal. Then, bit by bit, the face of freedom hardens, and by and by it is the old face of tyranny. Then another cycle, and another. But under the play of all these opposites there is something fundamental and permanent — the basic delusion that men may be governed and yet be free."

H. L. Mencken

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Wednesday, January 26, 2011

Protect And Serve

Ding, ding, ding! Saw this on Western Rifle Shooters, which credits Bill St. Clair.
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Tuesday, January 25, 2011


The media with its word madness is another kind of nut. It is natural for people who work with language to believe in its power. Writers believe in the supremacy of the pen like no one else. Creating worlds out of language circularly allows them to see the creative powers of the word. But for a propagandist press, words are not creative, but constructive. They are building blocks in creating the world that they would like to see. The careful use of language and the delineation of forbidden and permitted words allows them to manufacture and market their worldview to the masses. Orwell's Newspeak, written on digital sand. To the builders and the bosses of the worldview, if something cannot be said, then it also cannot exist. Stop saying 'crosshairs' and no one will ever point a gun. It is absurd, but also grimly revealing.

I saw this linked on Western Rifle Shooters blog. Good read.

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Saturday, January 22, 2011

Prosperity's Fertilizer

I get a huge kick out of all the politicians practically climbing over one another to meddle in jumpstart the economy with this or that law, pork stimulus spending, new bank regulations, on and on...

It's so painfully obvious that prosperity requires two ingredients, freedom and sound money. Am I missing something?

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Shined-On Harvest Moon

Not exactly a full moon. I missed the hunter's moon because of work, high winds, and clouds; nonetheless, kinda sorta full-ish. Anyway, this is a prime focus shot through an Orion 80mm refractor telescope taken with a Nikon D3000; ISO 100 and a shutter speed of 1/200 second. Nikon makes a really cool wireless remote control that lets me snap the shot without touching the camera and causing jiggle.

I tried a wide range of shutter speeds, from 1/10 second to 1/500 second. 1/320 second was the best, exposure-wise, but the above photo had a crisper focus.

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Monday, January 17, 2011

I Needs Me An Autoguider

I was looking through the 179 photos I took Sunday morning, thinking how I might get better pics. As I looked at this shot of the great globular cluster in the constellation Hercules, bemoaning its lack of crystal clarity, it suddenly dawned on me that the problem is not with focusing. It's the motors that track the scope. Over the 30 seconds it took to make this photo, my tracking motors didn't stay exactly on track. That's why the guys that get the great shots all have autoguiders. Shit! Another "accessory".

The "smudge" in the middle is an elliptical galaxy in the constellation Virgo. Another epiphany I just had is that, with an autoguider to pinpoint the motor tracking, I could not only get sharper shots, but also get more stars captured with the same 30 second shutter speed. 30 seconds is about the longest shot I can take at ISO 1600. Past 30 seconds the "noise" (graininess) is awful and makes the photo useless. Well, it's back to work I go.

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Sunday, January 16, 2011

Give Up Violence? You First.

Ted Rall nails another one!

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Moonin' Ya

I'm getting a little better at focusing. This shot was taken with a shutter speed of 1/60 second. Thin, high clouds plagued me all morning. I set up the scope at 2 a.m. and folded my tent about 6 a.m.

This shot looks kinda like a funky Easter egg. Shutter speed was 1/80 second. This is a "gibbous" moon. Gibbous means "bright enough to screw up your stargazing." The moon finally set about 5 a.m. and I was then able to get some shots of galaxies, nebulas, clusters and whatnot. Unfortunately, none of those shots turned out. Out of 179 photos, these two moon shots are the best.

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Saturday, January 15, 2011

Unneccessary Superstition

Statists, "left" and "right," advocate constant, wide-spread violence against MILLIONS of people, but they genuinely imagine, having been indoctrinated into state-worship, that it doesn't COUNT as violence because it is being done by the deity called "government," which they imagine to be EXEMPT from human morality.

Damn, boy, how you talk! The link will take you to LR's blog. Interesting reading.

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Friday, January 14, 2011

But That Would Be Zomg Anarchy!

It’s not a choice between government cops or lawlessness in the streets. It’s not a choice between government social security and old people dying in the gutter. It’s not a choice between government delivering the mail and no mail at all ....

I like people who aren't afraid of freedom. Given the choice between the dull grey "safety" of a police state and the animating contest that comes with unfettered freedom, I'll take the latter.

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Thursday, January 13, 2011

Rare Honesty

The death of Mrs. Gifford was not a huge national tragedy, any more than the hundreds of other murders that happened the same day. Mrs. Gifford was not a great public servant. In fact, she was not a public servant at all. She was not serving you, or me, or anyone else, other than the elite ruling class. She did not "represent" the people. She was a member of the parasitic American ruling class. She was not working for the people.

What she did, along with her fellow political parasites, was use the threat of violence to subjugate, control and extort the general public. Like every other member of Congress, she produced nothing of value, neither product nor service. As a "legislator," her entire job consisted of coming up with new ways to use the coercion of "law" to forcibly control you and me, and use the products of our efforts to serve the agenda of the parasite class.

Larken Rose at FreedomsPhoenix

After all the finger-pointing, blame-deflecting, weepy testamonializing, and there-oughta-be-a-law blustering, this was refreshing. Of course, news reports of her death were at first, greatly exaggerated.

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Sunday, January 9, 2011

Shooting The Night Sky With A Nikon D3000

This is M13, the great globular cluster in the constellation Hercules. The photo doesn't do it justice. It's much prettier looking through a small-magnification lens. All photos in this post were taken with a Nikon D3000 hooked to the back end of a Celestron 11 inch Schmidt-Cassegrain telescope in prime focus, 30 second exposure and ISO 1600.

A spiral galaxy on the right side and a binary star in the upper left. This was in the constellation Virgo. Virgo has a pile of galaxies in it.

Another spiral galaxy in Virgo. The little red dot in the lower-left is a "hot" pixel. Hot pixels really come out when you push the ISO to its limits.

This is the Ring Nebula in the constellation Lyra. It's very faint, so I pushed the brightness as far as I could in Photoshop.

30 second exposures are about as long as I can take shots before I start to get "star trails". The motors that guide a scope are never perfect, so there's always get some drift unless you get an autoguider. More money and complicated instructions. Perhaps this summer if I'm working I'll get one.

Just viewing is great, but being able to take photos makes astronomy more fun. The camera, with long exposures, can bring out the colors and size of nebulas, so you can see more than you would normally. When it comes to clusters and stars, just viewing is better than photography.

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Saturday, January 8, 2011


This is Charlie, flashing his most toothsome, fetching smile. Charlie is the director of security here at the Underground Carpenter Mega-Complex, and a more dedicated, hard-working canine you will not find.

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This I Believe. Maybe.

"I believe that the finest qualities of man can flourish only in free air – that progress made under the shadow of the policeman’s club is false progress, and of no permanent value. I believe that any man who takes the liberty of another into his keeping is bound to become a tyrant, and that any man who yields up his liberty, in however slight the measure, is bound to become a slave."

H. L. Mencken

Richard Mitchell used to say that we should examine our beliefs, especially our most closely-held beliefs. He likened belief to an appetite--bellyfeel, I think Orwell called it. And just as our bellies grumble loudly when hungry, so too do our beliefs grumble when deprived of reason. Richard Mitchell described reason as the mind quietly asking and answering in turn, a good way to describe a mind examining itself.

Is the intensity with which we hold our beliefs the measure of our insanity? Would a completely rational human eschew belief of any sort?

Most beliefs are harmless enough, just opinions really. I can't imagine a bigfoot-believer wanting to force you to pay for his study of the elusive monster. But what about people who believe that government is essential to human existence? Those who fiercely clutch government-belief to their breasts are adamant that non-believers pay taxes, jump through hoops, and supplicate government job-holders. Believers will tell you that all problems can be solved by electing officials who will grant just the right privileges to deserving citizens.

But what about the deadbeat problem or the big, scary boogeyman problem? Scofflaws, darkies, and crotch-bombers, oh my! Who will build the roads, school our children, stamp our passports? And dammit, who's gonna pay my social security?

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Galaxy Hunting With The Nikon D3000

Pretty pathetic, huh? I went galaxy-hunting this morning in the constellation Virgo, and the fuzzy smudge in the middle of this photo is indeed a galaxy. There's supposed to be a good dozen or more galaxies kinda bunched together in Virgo, but this is the only one I found. The photo here is a 30 second exposure at ISO 1600. The Nikon was hooked to the back of a Celestron 11 inch Schmidt-Cassegrain scope (f/10) in prime-focus.

In spite of the clouds, the ass-freezing temperatures, focus problems, tracking problems, alignment problems, and my lack of astral savvy, I like looking at the stars. Most of the photos I take are 30-second shots, so I do lots of gazing while the camera is doing its thing. Star-map in hand, I study the constellations and major stars.

In the telescope world you are always a few thousand dollars short of just the thing needed to give you perfect pictures. Someday I'll get an auto-guider/ CCD combo(which requires a small scope piggy-backed to the main scope) and a program to "stack" photos. In the meantime, I'll try to make do with the toys I've got.

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Sunday, January 2, 2011

Even Thinner Crescent Moon

Nikon D3000 mounted to the back of a Celestron 11" Schmidt-Cassegrain f/10 scope. ISO 100 and exposure is 1/4 second. Definitely not a sharp photo. This was the best of 52 photos I took this morning.

The thinner the crescent, the closer to the sun, so this shot was taken when the moon was just above the horizon. And that means lots of atmospheric turbulence in addition to the thin clouds that have dogged my viewing in the last couple of weeks. I brightened up and added some contrast to this shot in CS3 Photoshop.

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Save Yourself

I know that you've been damaged
Your soul has suffered such abuse
But I am not your savior
I am just as fucked as you

Save Yourself, by Stabbing Westward

What if you woke up one fine morning and had to face the horrible fact that the entire world was insane; and not just a little insane--completely bat-shit crazy to the point of harming themselves. Would you try to help them, gently try to lead them to sanity? The task seems daunting, perhaps not achievable in a lifetime. Might be easier to just save yourself.

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Saturday, January 1, 2011

Thin Crescent Moon Shots With A Nikon D3000

Thin crescent moon, camera hooked to the back of an Orion 80mm refractor telescope as a prime-focus f/7.5 lens. Shutter speed was 1/30 second and ISO set to 100. Cropped and rotated, but no other mods. The clouds which plagued the night sky cleared enough to get these pics. And yes, I froze my cajones off in the 30+ degree air.

1/50 second. I took over a hundred shots this morning, and these were the best two. Focusing is the hardest thing for me. I think my eyes are shot.

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Officer Butterball Risks The Roadways!

From the Las Vegas Review-Journal:

"If they're not going to stop for me dressed up as a big, gold-and-orange turkey, they're not going to stop for a pedestrian dressed normally."

Officer Mike Lemley, Officer ButterBall

"It's just common courtesy. It galls me the most in the summertime when it's 130 degrees on the pavement. You're in your air-conditioned couch on wheels, and you can't do some poor schmo the common courtesy of stopping for him?"

Erin Breen of the UNLV Safe Community Partnership, a traffic safety advocacy group

OK, lessee, here's one o' them vector problems. 180 pounds at 2 mph VS 3000 pounds at 45 mph. From a purely scientific perspective, who should yield to whom? And if neither surrenders his ground, who is more likely to survive?

On a side issue, how much is Erin Breen paid for peddling her wares at the UNLVSCP? Who signs her paycheck, and from where did the money come from? Reporter sayeth not.

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