Saturday, May 30, 2009
Thursday, May 28, 2009
Universal Vibration Reduction (uVR)
The new D90 incorporates an optional feature called Universal Vibration Reduction (uVR). This turns all lenses into uVR lenses, and offers a 10-stop advantage.
This means a person using a 500mm lens, who would normally have to shoot at 1/500th of a second, can shoot at 2 seconds when uVR is enabled.
The new uVR system isn't sensor based, and instead requires one of the three optional vertical battery grips (see below). In this case, the MB-D90a is required. This grip provides all the normal controls and extended battery life of a regular grip. It also holds 8 EN-EL4a batteries, along with a step-up transformer.
With uVR enabled, the combined power of the batteries sends a current through the step-up transformer. This then delivers a 110 volt shock through metal pads around the grip. The resulting electrical shock matches the shutter speed (maximum of 10 seconds).
The shock causes a very stable clenching of the photographer's muscles while the shutter is open, simulating the stability of a tripod.
Nikon advise that people with rubber-soled shoes, heart problems or pacemakers shouldn't use uVR.
The uVR facility can also be controlled remotely by Nikon Support, via the new Nikon satellite network outlined below. This ensures Nikon Support can intentionally punish users who complain about how the new D90 is missing a particular feature they expected to see.
For example, the D80 didn't feature a military-grade titanium shell with platinum casing, and some people felt this was unforgivable in a camera that costs $800. Nikon Support will now be able to give those people exactly what they deserve.
Three shooting modes...up to 12MP
The D90 can shoot images up to 12MP, a modest boost over the D80 it replaces. While everybody agrees, more megapixels is always better, the D90 provides 12MP in only one of its three shooting modes. Here's a run-down on the various modes...
Bog-standard Mode:12 regular megapixels at 3 frames per second.
XDR Mode:Every odd pixel is underexposed by 3 stops. Every even pixel is exposed as per the meter. The two images are combined in camera to produce an extra 3 stops of dynamic range at 6MP. This mode is especially useful in law enforcement, where photographers often have to photograph shady people.
GTI Mode:Every odd pixel makes up image one. Every even pixel makes up image two. That makes 2 images per shutter release, making it possible for Nikon's marketing material to claim the D90 shoots at 6 frames/second.
Even better in-camera editing
The new D90 builds on the D80's popular in-camera editing functions. Rather than cannibalizing yet more features from Capture NX, Nikon decided to include a full working version of Photoshop CS3 in the D90.
We found using Photoshop CS3 on a 3 inch LCD with a 4-way controller much easier than you might imagine. Well done on a great new feature, Nikon.
To save money, the CS3 licenses were bought from a Russian spammer at 1/50th the regular price, allowing Nikon to keep the price of the D90 competitive. Even so, European customers will still have to pay twice as much as Americans. Nikon say this is because European customers are chumps who seem willing to pay anything.
More songs than ever
The D80 included an essential feature not found in any other DSLR (as I write this). And that's 5 built-in songs you can't listen to because the camera has no speakers.
The new D90 does away with built-in songs, and includes a fully-fledged iPod. This ensures you're never short of a tune, as long as you have your D90 with you. And it's switched on. And you've uploaded some songs to it.
What's more, the lack of speakers was the one thing almost everybody complained about. It was for this reason, and this reason alone, that DPReview spurned the D80, kneecapping it with a dreaded 'Recommended' rating.
That, and the limited choice of music included with the D80.
Sure, Nikon provided a firmware update that allowed us to add more tunes by storing them in the buffer...but that was too little, too late.
Fortunately, Nikon haven't made the same mistake with the D90. They've not only included stereo speakers in the camera itself, but also the necessary cabling for a full Dolby 5.1 surround sound setup. What's more, the D90 is capable of playing movies on the 3 inch LCD via the built-in DVD writer/player found in the second optional battery grip (MB-D90b).
But just before you rush out an get yourself an MB-D90b, you might want to consider the MB-D90c. This version of the grip includes a sub-woofer (fully compatible with the D90's Dolby surround). That's right, the optional MB-D90c allows you to play music with unprecedented levels of fidelity for a consumer-level DSLR.
Let's see Canon top that!
No more shutter delays
While the D80 was pretty responsive, your reactions aren't. By the time you've realized you should have pressed the shutter, the moment is lost forever.
The D90 solves this problem thanks to Nikon's new MindProbe technology. MindProbe scans your brain, looking for those tell-tale low amplitude beta waves that signal an imminent shutter-press. By the time your neurons react, and you actually press the shutter, the D90 has already captured 3 images (or 6 in GTI mode).
That's right folks, for the first time in the history of photography, the shutter delay is actually measured in negative time. Now that's progress.
My Nikon contact tells me their R&D people are now working on a system that eliminates the photographer altogether. Nikon's customer research has discovered that when a photographer takes a great image, they claim all the credit. But when a photographer takes a bad image, they blame the camera.
By eliminating the photographer, Nikon plan to eliminate lousy photos altogether.
New built-in artistic-effect modes
In addition to the regular scene modes, Nikon have included several artistic-effect modes. You can apply these to your image in-camera. Modes include...
Black and white mode
1960s-style fast-film grain mode
Nikon long-banding effect mode
Canon plastic skin mode
KM7D high ISO smearing mode
Sony Alpha 1.3-stop underexposure mode
Point and shoot artefact mode
Memory card incompatibility solved
The D50 and D80 caused some controversy by moving Nikon's consumer-orientated DSLR models away from CF cards. This lead many Nikon users to resort to unseemly and ungentlemanly language in the forums (expressly forbidden under the terms and conditions of the standard Nikon warranty).
In an effort to avoid such distasteful events this time around, and ensure everybody can enjoy a D90, Nikon now supports the following storage formats...
3.5 inch floppy
5.25 inch floppy
8 inch floppy (in MB-D90b only)
CD/DVD (in MB-D90b only)
High-speed paper tape to maintain compatibility with Colossus
Wireless remote that works from anywhere
One of the complaints about the ML-L3 wireless remote, was that it was line-of-site. For some reason, you couldn't set up your camera in Texas, and trigger the shutter from France. Clearly, this should be well within the capabilities of a $15 remote control.
To answer these complaints, Nikon has put a series of satellites in orbit that are dedicated to receiving wireless remote signals from users anywhere on the planet. These are then forwarded to your camera, allowing you to trigger the shutter no matter where you are.
How long have we been waiting for this simple addition to the feature-set? Canon have had this functionality in their DSLRs for years.
Already in stores
After the fiasco over delivery of the D200 and 18-200VR, Nikon were determined to ensure they didn't suffer the same loss of face with the D90. That's why this new model is actually going to go on sale 5 days before the official announcement.
Right now, I’m working on a North Sea platform, and as usual, pumping the locals for ‘color’. I had a conversation with a Scottish friend who gave me an interesting insight into a bit of Scottish psyche. He has traveled extensively in the States, and loves the idea of the Constitution guaranteeing personal freedom. He was trying to explain the frustrations of being proud of his Scottishness, while at the same time being frustrated at the lack of freedom in his country, when compared to being an American in America. He told a story, which highlighted this problem that I would like to share…
He had two friends, let’s call them Tommy and Bill, who worked on the railroads, maintaining and repairing track as members of a ‘rail gang’.
“These rail gangs were made up of hard men. Tommy and Bill played at right and left back (defense) for the railway soccer team, which was infamous as being the hardest team in the league. Bill and Tommy’s motto was “they shall not pass!” and woe to any opposing forward who tried to run past them with the ball! The rail gangs were also noted for their extreme left wing political views, and during their lunch breaks there were always discussions on the merits of various forms of Socialism. The only gangers who weren’t stanch members of the Labour party, were staunch members of the Communist party! These were men who would, in times of war, have helped form the backbone of any fighting unit of the famous ‘Gordon Highlanders’ regiment in the British army. Their foremen at work treated them with the respect that was due to hard working, hard fighting men. They had a fiercely independent streak, and were proud of the fact that they felt themselves to be the equal of any of their so-called ‘betters’ in the aristocracy. They were proud of the fact that they worked in all weathers. No train would be stuck because they were inside a hut warming their hands. Not that they did it for the railway company mind you, but because of pride in their own toughness, and ability to brave the elements.
One day, as they were repairing a section of track, the whistle blew to warn them of an approaching train. They moved to the side of the track to allow the train to pass. The train slowed right down to go over the damaged track, crawling along at less than walking speed. As the train passed the line of men they looked up at the carriages as they passed. Seated in one of the carriages was the Queen Mother, the most respected member of the British royal family. When she saw the men, she smiled and waved her hand gracefully (as only she can do). Then, this group of hard men, these hardened socialists, who would punch a boss rather than take any abuse, all at the same instant, - doffed their caps to her! When the train had passed, each of them avoided the eyes of their mates, put their caps on, and never mentioned the incident to each other ever again!
“It seemed that, in spite of their strongly held socialist beliefs, that ‘we are a’ Jock Tamson’s bairns’ (we are all equal), centuries of kow-towing to the aristocracy had made the cap-doffing an instinctive reaction. These men would have had their eye teeth removed rather than admit this, but nevertheless it was so. Because there has never been a revolution in the UK, and because the ruling classes are still there, the ordinary people have never known what it feels like to be truly free. There are still hereditary peers in the house of Lords who have the right to vote on legislation, not because they are qualified in any way, shape, or form, but because their forefathers were part of the ancient aristocracy! In the distant past, people were elevated to the peerage for performing some service to the king, perhaps even providing women for his pleasure, and their sons and grandsons have been reaping the benefit for generation after generation. Only recently has the Labour government made changes to the House of Lords, with some of the hereditary peers being turfed out of their cosy club. Even this radical Labour government didn’t have the courage of their convictions, however, and left some of the hereditary peers in place. If the ruling government still doffs its cap to the aristocracy, small wonder that Tommy and Bill doffed theirs!”
Now, before we Americans start to scoff at the serf-like attitudes of these men, it’s worth thinking about the fact that our forefathers were probably driven out from Scotland (or countries like it) – and had to fight tooth and nail in the War of Independence, so that their children would never have to doff their caps to their ‘betters’. Even so, think about how the east coast intelligentia in America fall over themselves to get close to visiting British royalty, even after nearly 250 years of freedom. Take these railwaymen out of Scotland for a couple of generations, let them breathe the free air of America, and they would be no different from any of us.
Finally, a few words of warning about America which my Scottish friend passed on, and which I quote almost word for word: “Freedom is a precious commodity that has to be re-won each generation. A lazy and apathetic population will have their freedoms eroded slowly and smoothly by those in the halls of Congress who ‘know what’s best for you.’ Don’t, as a people, allow a ruling class to get too entrenched in the corridors of power! This is not a party political statement. I don’t care if you vote Democrat, Republican, or any other political party, it behooves each of you to vote regularly, and to regularly call your government representatives to account. Are two generations of Bush in the White House enough? Should you even contemplate voting for another Kennedy? Remember, it’s only a few years since Richard Nixon contemplated the idea of changing the constitution so that he could run for a third term! And it was only through the incompetence of a few burglars that it was discovered how far he was prepared to go to hang on to power! You should make sure that you elect more Abe Lincolns and Thomas Jeffersons, rather than the scions of a few ruling dynasties. Don’t create your own royal families, so that your children don’t ever feel too ashamed to look each other in the eye as they stand with doffed caps and watch some dignitary sweep past in an armoured limo”.
Far fetched? Maybe, but we should check even the smallest tendency for the ruling classes to rear their ugly heads in this fine country of ours – just in case! My friend tells me that he cannot openly write about his feelings, and envies my ability to do so. I felt a lump in my throat when I realized the implications of what he said, and how much for granted I have taken our freedoms…
I have never paid much attention to the political climate of the world. America’s controlling power has made us complacent. I assure you this is not the case in Europe. There are sweeping changes taking place here from the unifying placement of the Euro dollar, to the coming powers of France, Germany, China, and Israel. Changes that can, in a moment, upset the entire balance of the world. We should pay attention…
Thursday, May 21, 2009
My parents, LeRoy and “Billy” LaRive, were tenacious and strong willed Cajuns. They survived many hurricanes in Old Gentilly New Orleans, pounded by both wind and flood. At 85 they thought this would just be another one.
Nothing could get them to leave, the many phone calls from family and friends, or police going directly to their front door. They didn’t see the possibility of how bad it could get, and told every person who called a different game plan, whatever they wanted to hear. In the past Saint Raphael Church on Elysian Fields Avenue had been considered high ground, and parking cars on the neutral ground across the street had always been sufficient. This time it was not.
At first it looked as if the storm’s effects had passed with the eye, and several phone calls reveled that they had weathered it fine. A few hours later the levee broke, inundating the area with over ten feet of water. No one ever heard from them again.
A few days later a picture was found in the Lafayette paper of a boatload of people who had supposedly been taken from rooftops. My entire family agreed it was them in that picture, but the trail grew cold as they were picked up on Robert E. Lee Boulevard and brought to I-10/610. Friends and family searched the internet for listings of names, but we had no word from them, nor were their names, to this very day, compiled on any list.
At the time of this writing, October 7, 2005, their bodies have not yet been properly identified. A few days ago we got a call from “Family Finders” saying that they thought they had found my father by an ID he had on his person. It is also possible that my mother is there, as a Chaplin said there was also a “Jane Doe” with no identification. They requested my DNA, and this alone will take two weeks. We are not allowed to view the bodies, or see the Coroner’s report until a funeral home picks them up for embalming. So far, there is no one who can tell us if there will be an autopsy, though on the news last night it was said that all elderly bodies will be, and a time of death will be difficult to attain. It is our hope that we can trace just what happened, but all indications are that they were transported without documentation, lost in the mad shuffle. I try not to think about what their last moments together was like, how they ended up together, and speculation can drive you insane.
Since all of my dad’s personal information was destroyed by water, our memories are the only tools we first had. We knew little or nothing about what insurance he had, a burial plan, or anything of his assets.
At the time of this writing Gentilly is still inaccessible. A few days ago I woke up again at 2:00 thinking about all possibilities, haunted by faces. I packed a sledge hammer from my garage, my hard hat and safety boots, and headed to New Orleans on September 26, 2005. I was determined. I stopped for a BLT sandwich, a cup of coffee, and got on I-10. Traffic was moving at around 80mph and I kept up. Past Baton Rouge the pace increased to a bit over 90 mph, bumper to bumper, with weaving tail-gators. My mind swam with the last three weeks, and the three households living with us from St. Bernard who had lost everything, and suddenly I started feeling sick. Large mouth-fulls of bile came up and I spit them out of the window. The white sports car riding my bumper pulled back. After about ten of these I started feeling a bit better.
Suddenly, I was in Metairie. Lights were on, and in the half-light of 05:00 it didn’t look that damaged. Traffic went well until Bonneville, and then abruptly stopped. For an hour we crept forward, and finally saw large blinding directional spotlights over the interstate. I surmised that to be the check point. I spoke to several other men in trucks next to me and they were all trying to get to St. Bernard. WWL radio was saying there was a mix-up between NO officials and State Police, and that the corridor to St. Bernard was closed. What’s new! Every one of these men was very angry and frustrated. When I finally got to the lights a huge New Orleans cop with folded arms answered my request to enter Gentilly, with, “No, not today.” Those who were turned down for St. Bernard filled the side of the road and all parking lots, waiting for a decision…
I exited and entered Metairie, thinking I may find a back way into Gentilly. Both Veterans and I-10 was backed up, so I drove all the way to the Lakefront without a problem. Several police cars blocked the bridge over a levee, so I parked and walked over to them. I singled out one with a kind face and told him my story of trying to get into my father’s house for the paperwork we will need to bury them. Though standoffish in the beginning he warmed up, telling me that getting in was pending, and a week away. I tried with ten cops to escort me but no one would. I asked him if he was in the city during the storm, and he got very emotional. Tears flowed down his cheeks as he told me about the bodies, the looting, and the damage to the city he loved. He explained to me that the two officers who committed suicide had other problems in their lives, and this was just too much for them to handle. He got choked up talking about that too, and I realized this man was very drawn and tired. A truck driver came up and gave each of us a bag of beignets and powdered sugar, and we ate them wafting the smells of rotten garbage and seawater, while swishing away huge black flies. I remember when one would land on their skin; they would jump like being electrocuted. I thanked him for his time, knowing I would never be allowed entrance here, and traveled as far as I could to Downtown, blocked by cement and sand bags, then made a huge circle back to Veterans. I was not let through. There I met a man waiting in a parking lot who was trying to organize his crew to meet up in Gentilly. We talked about his company from another state coming down to help in the cleanup, and I thanked him for helping out. He looked at my car and asked what was splattered on the side. “I threw up.” I said.
Suddenly he looked at me hard and said “I have an idea!” He went to his front seat and pulled out an extra pass given to his company, and had me sign my name along with his. “Here, betcha’ this will do it.” I thanked him several times, not believing this stroke of luck, and as I got into my car he yelled out: “Sorry about your folks.”
Leaving that parking lot I immediately found an open gas station and filled up, then proceeded to I-10 for a brazen third attempt to get in. I-610 was now open and traffic flowed through, finally, a corridor to Chalmette. A line was formed at the Elysian Fields exit and I waited about a half hour as we crept along. Suddenly it moved faster, and a young black woman police officer barely looked at the paper and waved me through. I descended the ramp into hell.
How many thousands of times have I exited here? But what I came upon was like a nuclear holocaust, and unrecognizable. Except for a few linemen trucks and police cars the place was entirely deserted, lifeless, dead. Everyone ignored me.
I looked at the houses and saw that the water had risen to four feet here, but as I kept getting closer to the lake it got deeper. The devastation was oppressive. Every plant was dead, and the once beautiful old trees on the neutral ground were uprooted in piles, or crashed through heavy terracotta roofs, the hallmark of design in this community. It seemed like every window and door was a dark cave, and the houses empty shells. The smell of death, putrid and rotten gagged me, and flies came into my open window. One was jet black with a light red head, almost human. I saw sprayed florescent marking on every house, an X indicating the day it was checked and if any bodies were inside. That was the only color I remember, as everything had a cast of gray, even in full sun. There was no sound, no hum of life but for the crackle of a radio way off in the distance. I heard a kind of sobbing, and realized it was coming from me.
By the time I reached St. Raphael the water level on the side of the buildings topped 10 feet. I made my turn down Prentice and a left on Marigny, where I had quietly walked home from school so many years ago, and parked in front of my parent’s home. I stood in the street putting on my boots, and studied the area. It was too much to take in, as everything was glazed in gray mud, and piled upon each other. I can describe it no other way. A squirrel was sitting on a telephone line with its head up against the post, it didn’t move from the time I arrived or left. I think it was dead. A bright orange cat scurried across the street close to the ground and disappeared. Suddenly I got sick again and got rid of the beignet in fit after fit of nausea.
Through the threshold, where so many memories had entered and left, was now mounds of soggy, rotting cushions and furniture piled against the walls. I saw footprints and realized it must have been the rescue workers trying to determine if they were still in the attic. The florescent markings on the front stucco said “0” then 9/9, so no bodies were found on that date.
I started exploring from one room to another but started gagging again. I went back to the car with the idea of using some aftershave I keep on the dash to splash on my beard and hair. It worked.
Slowly the gravity of this moment hit home, and as I searched for the strong box that had my father’s important papers, I understood my parents for the first time, from a horrific perspective. The same encyclopedias and the yearbooks that ended in 1967 were swollen with water, still in the same original place so long ago. The water had risen several inches into the attic, and the melted sheetrock had fallen on top of everything, with dirty pink insulation hanging like flayed skin. In the hall I found a small hand axe with a red ribbon around it, and a claw hammer with its handle wrapped in electrical tape, leaning against the wall. It hit me that my father had told my brother in the last phone call that he had a way through a vent on the roof in case of a flooding. The ribbon was just like my father, his country heritage. He wanted to find it in the dark, or with a flash light. Very practical.
His chests of drawers were swollen tight, and I felt emotions I can’t describe as I battered them open with my sledge. I took everything from his top drawer and realized that this was his most cherished possessions. Children’s teeth, old knives belonging to his father and grandfather, clay marbles from his youth, disintegrating holy pictures commemorating the death of a loved one, service medals, old watches, rosaries, coins, nitroglycerin pills, belt buckles, straight razors from his barbering, trinkets and little colored rocks from memories lost forever. There on my mother’s dresser were boxes of baby pictures turned to black mush, and a plastic oriental statue that had taken the same position for forty years, now lay on the floor.
I had to move the bed and a pile of chair cushions to get to their closets. I broke a window with my sledge to get some air, and realized with a shock that I hadn’t even tried to open it. I saw the bars they had put up so long ago because of the growing crime in that area, and my reason for moving to Acadiana. New Orleans was their home and they would never leave it, never again. The closet was drenched but untouched, and his collection of western boots sat in rows. I took a bayonet he had placed for easy accessibility, and wondered at what kind of world would make it necessary to place a weapon for easy reach, even behind the safety of barred windows. A lot of thoughts rushed through my head, and I was a bit overwhelmed by them. My father had taught me long ago that men do not cry, men say “ouch!” and I stood in the middle of their bedroom choking them back, every one. He would have been proud.
I found some papers in the attic that has proved valuable in determining where they are to be buried, insurance, and so forth, and piled that in the back of my car. Along with that I took an old bowl my grandmother had given us, their marriage silverware, a few other memorabilia worth nothing but a memory, and that rusty hammer and the axe with the red ribbon on it.
Sounds so simple now, but at the time I could see that what lay in this muck was the tangible things they had acquired during their life, and most was unrecoverable. What I carried to my car amounted to about twenty pounds. Twenty tangible pounds with memories attached. Not their memories mind you, but my own, and though I have washed them, and will keep them through my life, I realize that all that was worthwhile in their lives is now found in the House of God.
Monday, May 18, 2009
By: Ken LaRive
I watched CNN last night and a Jesuit Priest said Obama gave a good speech. Jesuits? I studied under the Jesuits for four years and there is no segment of the Catholic Church so secular. Want to find a Jesuit in New Orleans? Look in the diocese business offices during the day and Bourbon Street during the night.
Catholics today and many other so called Christians don’t even understand the difference between the New Testament and the Old, a G-d of wrath compared to a God of Love. They actually think Jews are some kind of Christian want-to-be. Christians who were taught to forgive their enemies are now coerced to promote a tit-for-tat war thousands of years old between the Jews and Arabs, a church and state country with nuclear capabilities stolen from us. It is no wonder Christianity is going down the tubes all around the world with so called leaders who let pedophilias and homosexuals teach their children, and do what others tell them like whores. Christians today are becoming empty shells, promoted by a Jewish Secular media. The fact that they could have let an abortion promoter, a socialist nationalist communist promoter, the same kind who stopped the practice of religion in the USSR, the seller of the unborn fetus for stem cell research the first month in office, and with our tax dollars promoted around the world shows how low we have come as Christians. I don’t think the word means much these days, not even worth capitalizing it. Yes, so called “christian”, stay home and don’t vote, or when you do vote, vote for a murder who promised to feed you a few peanuts. Trade your immortal soul for a promise, you fool.
There will be a special place in hell for those who kill babies. There you can listen to Obama’s smooth talking BS for eternity. You deserve each other. You can sit at his feet and lament with hope for a brighter day, one you could have made for yourself if you weren’t so stupid and lazy. Damned fools.
Sunday, May 17, 2009
Past the hard shell finish, (the façade that men erect to hide life’s pain and disappointment), there exists in most men, a gentile loving spirit. It stays well hidden, because most men think that a display of softness shows weakness, especially among other men. Judge this if you must, but for some reason it is the way men have developed. An understanding of this one concept will help to see beyond that tough exterior. Just as I try and understand a man by his deeds, I would hope that most men would try to walk his talk. Even so, sometimes we might have to pay close attention in order to see their work. For instance…
I have several neighbors who drive old pickup trucks and cars, yet their wives all drive new ones. I wonder why?
I remember that tired roughneck leaning against the boot-rack. He was finished his twelve-hour tour hitch and is oily-grime and sweat from head to foot. Before he takes off his boots he slowly and deliberately re-duck tapes the leaking cracks. He wants them to last just one more day. Why?
I’ve seen dog-tired Mexican men in the heat of high noon singing in loud passion! With a genuine smile they told me that it is a love song. “Amour!” Love is their reason for being, and they are thankful for their work, and revel in the gift of life. Before supper they will pause in the galley by the Madonna and Child statue to pray and give thanks.
On our rig island, great hulking men will sit on plastic trash bags while having lunch, (so as not to dirty the chair with their work clothes), and will pause for a silent prayer before eating. They close their eyes and bow their heads, and it brings a hush over those who don’t. It’s a powerful moment.
There are men who can stand straight and tall while being judged or ridiculed for an opinion or a stand they take. They take the condescension or reprimand by the strength of their responsibilities. I’ve seen open smiles through pain, and men who have made the conscious choice to forgive their enemies for the sake of those they love.
Men’s eyes will light up in the quiet times as they show you worn and faded pictures of children and grandchildren from their wallet. They will point to each in turn, beaming as they tell you how quickly they are growing.
Some see the tender spirit of the “Watchtower Lady” and will buy every one of her pamphlets, and though they know they will never read them, they can never throw them away.
When the chips are down, men will willingly risk everything, even their own life for an idea, like freedom, liberty, and justice. Countless men have made this sacrifice, so their children could know these things. There are survivors of many war horrors, but the memories are kept locked deep inside, away from the tender hearts they protect.
Some men put their trust in God, and His strength flows in their arms, and though some choose not to, all will bend to the touch of a soft grandchild’s hand. They will give their love unselfishly, with conviction, and trust.
I have known men who maintain that love is the greatest of God’s gifts and the strongest force on earth. Men will climb mountains because of it, touched by the spirit in their hearts, and in its warm embrace, tackle every day with fresh faith. Willingly, men will sacrifice security, their health, even go to certain death for the righteousness found in their hearts, with love as their guiding force. And then, while kneeling in the dust of life’s loss and destruction, men will pick up worn out tools and start again. Pain and loss clings to the hope that only love can give to men…
Tuesday, May 12, 2009
By: Ken La Rive © 2001
It has been said that Benjamin Franklin wanted the turkey to be our national symbol. Some saw his point. It is a majestic bird. However, I’d hate to eat our freedom’s symbol for Christmas dinner. After all, the greatest nation on earth needs a symbol of strength, like a high flying predator, and a swift hunter and
What could be more perfect then an Eagle? It is, in its own realm, the top of the food chain. But I’m sure that in our early history, and I hate to admit, but both the Bald Eagle and the Wild Turkey had a special place at the Colonial table…
The first time I saw a turkey was in Amite, Louisiana, in the middle sixties. I was with a friend visiting relations, and we took a couple of their horses for an afternoon ride. I had a crazy one that seemed to be trying to knock me off by galloping under
low trees. Suddenly, we came upon a large Tom gobbler that took off with the power of Ro-Dan. Its wing spread was awesome, and it flashed with vivid matalic colors in the sun. The trees shook with the wind it made, and then just as suddenly, it was gone. It was powerful and beautiful to behold!
I’ve seen a lot of turkey on the Evangeline trail around Alexander, and also Tunica Hills around St. Francisville. They are not easily seen when you’re walking, unless you surprise them from a distance on a trail’s dogleg. They have keen senses, a fear of man, and a survival savvy. I have heard them gobbling all around me, but seldom do you see one. It sometimes sounds like turkey laughter, but that could be my imagination. The best way to see them is to hide in their back yard, and let them come to you. That takes patience.
I hunt with a camera, not a gun, but in a way we tackle our sport the same way. I just don’t get to eat anything. Here are several observations from experience, and what I’ve heard, but please don’t base your hunting strategy on this…
“Turkeys roost in mostly the same area every night, high in the safety of trees.
“They fly down in the morning at dawn and back up at dusk.”
“Turkeys don’t like the thick of thickets, but open areas where they can see danger coming, and take flight.”
“Turkeys have a problem walking down hill, so they fly down. It probably has something to do with their center of gravity.”
“Turkeys don’t like to cross open water.”
Wildlife managers agree that having turkey in the woods is a sign of a healthy and balanced ecosystem. When factors such as over hunting by men or other predators is kept in check. If food, space, water, and proper shelter are available, the wild turkey will flourish. The turkey needs several different habitats, all in the same proximity, to raise their young successfully. There must be a safe habitat for spring nesting, possibly in a briar thicket, but also close to a clover field. A clover field is a good food source, and a safe brood range for rearing. After the poults are old enough, they will follow the hen anywhere, surviving through the changing seasons.
If the poult can survive the first six weeks it stands a good chance. By that time it is able to roost in the tree with its mother, and is removed from the dangers of ground predators such as raccoons and free ranging dogs. This phase of development is rapid and the young began to develop their adult plumage. Diet
changes from predominately insects, to a higher percentage of plant matter.
By fourteen weeks the males and females are distinguishable by their size and plumage, and the social pecking order for both sexes are formulated. The mama hen is still the boss, until all the males have left the brood. In the fall, the pecking order of the group has been established, and they become absorbed into the social structure of the surrounding population. When winter comes they are separated by sex, age and class, and finally settle into their winter range.
If you want to see a Wild Turkey Tom, there is a large Tom Gobbler walking free in the Acadiana Zoo! He loves to pose. When taking pictures of animals, always try and have the background in shadow, or out of focus. If you are close enough, use a strobe even in bright sunlight. This way there will be no harsh shadows on the subject, and it will stand out with a darker background…
By: Ken La Rive
Several Months ago I was invited to a barbeque at an old friend’s house. An older gentleman singled me out saying that some of my writings had been forwarded to him by a mutual friend. He told me he liked my style, and that if I was up for it he had a scoop that I may be interested in for an article. He told me nothing of any substance while we watched the meat burn, but mentioned to me a lot of well known politicians that he told me were corrupt. I was dumbfounded. After thinking about it for several weeks I called him and said I wasn’t interested. The reason was that I just didn’t know much about the subject, and that my previous writings focused mostly on morals and ethics. Truthfully, I thought it was way over my head. One thing rings in my ear though, he said it was just as well, as taking a stand was a dangerous thing to do.
This is the way of a lot of social functions. Men retire to the library, or the veranda, and inevitably the conversation will gravitate to politics. Most of the dialogue is very general, where debate and discussion usually ends in frustration for what is out of control. This was the first time I can ever remember where a person said something will be done. I was very curious to know what he had, and if it wasn’t the beer talking. I look forward to a bit of justice in Louisiana, as time goes by. This is what motivated the article below, and a bit of research. What I found was amazing…
While traveling I find that nearly everyone around the country looks at Louisiana as a joke when it comes to political assessment. They laugh when they talk of us electing a known self admitted criminal, and that we would do so again if he wasn’t in prison. We are thought not only to be the most corrupt, but the most illiterate state in the union. Is that actually true?
In 2002 Chicago’s Better Government Association, (BGA), released what it called “the first independent, comprehensive report on integrity in 50 states.” Integrity here refers to the administration’s ability to promote honesty in the operation of state government and affairs, and the actual strength of the legal system to bring justice and accountability to government officials.
At the time of this publication a fellow by the name of Terrance A. Norton was the Executive Director of BGA. He is quoted in a report released by the Corporate Crime Reporter (CCR), January 16, 2004, National Press Club, Washington, D.C. as saying: “In light of the recent scandals that have engulfed many institutions in the United States, one lesson has been drawn clearly, loose standards, secretiveness and lack of accountability are a recipe for disaster. We wanted to determine which states are best prepared to fight corruption and which are vulnerable.”
In the process of determining just what may be lacking in a State where corruption is ramped, five factors were reveled. One, freedom of information laws; Two, whistleblower protective laws; Three, campaign finance laws such as gifts and promotions from special interest groups; Forth, Monitoring of travel and “honoraria” laws; and Fifth, conflict of interest laws.
Interesting here, as it would seem that Louisiana surely must have these laws in place, and the ability to pursue these laws as well. Here is where it gets confusing. It is stated by CCR that having set standards in place does not insure a State’s officials to be honest and ethical. There seems to be little correlation between enforceable laws and integrity. If in fact a public official has volition to do criminal acts, laws will not thwart him, and getting away with it a matter of willingness by the Federal Government to pursue it.
According to the CCR, Louisiana is considered by the rest of the nation to be one of four most corrupt states in the nation, along with Illinois, Rhode Island, and New Jersey. Is this a bad rap? Is this slander, and if so, where is it coming from?
To help us understand this doldrum let us look at what the Justice Department has to say. It is well known that the Justice Department is very closed lipped when it comes to forwarding information, and their department of Public Affairs gives few meaningful interviews. However, the Justice Department’s Public Integrity section publishes an annual report that gives the number of actual prosecutions as well as convictions by Federal investigative means: (Report to Congress on Activities and Operations of Public Integrity Section for 2002).
In Table III, Public Corruption Convictions by District over the Past Decade, CCP took the total amount of actual convictions by each state, and calculated what they termed a “corruption rate” for every state defined to be the total number of corruption convictions from the year 1993 to 2002 as per 100,000 residents. Let me note here an important finding: The vast majority, as high as 80 percent, have been brought by Federal Authorities. Also, the Justice department reports only federal prosecution, so there is more on the table than meets the eye. A final caveat is that a federal prosecutor may not have the courage to bring to light certain convictions, and that there may also be limited resources to do so. Some public corruption will not be reflected in the Report to Congress, a public record, if it is locally enforced. Why would a Federal Prosecutor be afraid to prosecute?
Still in all, as corruption as the base line, Louisiana comes in third with a CCR rating as 7.05. Mississippi comes in first with a 7.48, and North Dakota second with a 7.09. Along with this there is noted the least corrupt states in the Nation, i.e., Nebraska with .05 wins first place, Oregon .059 being second, and New Hampshire .86 is third.
One state is exempt from this survey, The District of Columbia. They have almost 11 times more corruption then Mississippi, with a rate of 79.33. The District of Columbia is the seat of our federal Government. There were 453 public corruption convictions in the last ten year period. CCP says this is the first ever corruption ranking ever done in the United States, and its results are mind boggling. It is apparent we have a very active and corruptive federal government as well.
It seems that corruption is thwarted most often by citizenry groups, avid and unafraid reporters and unbiased newspapers, not on the take. There seems to only be a handful of these in our state. Strong judges, and moral and civic leaders do more than anything else to promote federal investigations for accountability in government institutions. How ambiguous… where laws are in place but uninforced. Whether the clean up will come from within or without just seems uncertain at this time, however…
I have heard more than once in casual conversation that the Federal Government is looking at Louisiana very closely after Katrina, because of the power struggle over those Federal troops that Governor Blanco had to formally request. In the ensuing argument over control that went on for days, people were suffering and dying without food or water. The Federal Government will not be the fall guy for what inabilities and internal corruption we have in local government, and it is my understanding that as time goes by these inabilities and corruptions that are now under investigation will be fully disclosed to the American people. However, it may be the pot that calls the kettle black. When a light is turned on, even a spot light, the person holding the light is illuminated too.
It seems that Katrina did more harm than any natural disaster ever recorded, but it promises in the long run to be the catalyst to wash out Louisiana corruption for good, or at least for a time. I paid attention while searching for my parents and the slow response was attributed to this: Naquin, a Democrat, backed Jindle, a Republican, in the Governor’s race. Blanco, a Democrat, won, and never forgot what Naquin did. Blanco did not have a channel of communications opened with Bush because of the partisan war between Liberals and Conservatives, which has polarized this country. Blanco had to request Federal Aid, but said she had to do her homework first, to see who would be in control of Federal troops. The Federal Government is in control of Federal Troops, that is the whole idea, and yet for about 4 days the war raged, while hundreds of people perished in the heat. Can’t our leaders set down their own petty differences for the common good? Do they care more for personal gain, welfare, and ego, than for the lives of their fellow Americans?
There is a well known organization based in Berlin who combats international crime and corruption around the world. They are called Transparency International. They too put out a yearly index on perceived corruption, taking an active monitor of 133 countries, giving scores from 0 to 10. Ten is the best. Finland wins hands down with a 9.7, Iceland 9.6, Denmark 9.5, New Zealand 9.5, and Singapore 9.4. Bangladesh is the most corrupt at 1.3, Nigeria 1.4, Paraguay 1.6, and Burma takes the four slot at 1.6.
How did we do? We tied Ireland at 7.5. CCR stated: “Because the Justice Department’s statistics on corruption in the United States have rarely been publicized, the world might not understand the true extent of decay here in the United States.”
They urge that the Justice Department could help curb corruption in the US by increasing its budget for prosecution, and stop withholding information about corruption. “Unshackle the attorneys at the Public Integrity Section and let them speak with reporters and the public about the scourge of public corruption in the United States.”
Should we be ashamed of ourselves here in Louisiana? You bet. It’s not so much that we are the laughing stock of the nation, but that we actually harbor criminals in our system of government. You may be different, but collectively, Louisiana voters are in the Twilight Zone. Louisiana voters know politicians are corrupt and vote for them anyway. Is it possible they vote for them because they are corrupt too, and actually identify with them? Perhaps they are too busy to do the homework necessary to understand what a politician stands for. Perhaps their vote is as shallow as the color of a man’s face, or just vote the party line they knew when their fathers were paying attention fifty years ago. Perhaps they hope that those promises are true, and that their crooked politicians will throw a few crumbs their way, simply because they are from the same city. Louisiana is a joke, mostly, because the majority of our voters are.
The billions given for Katrina relief are not accountable to the Feds. It is in the hands of those whose past is questionable, by deeds, by family ties, and by association. The promised portion of the monies for gambling was originally earmarked for the improvement of our school systems, also ranked second to last in the nation. What happened, and what has changed? Even our TOPS program, one of the few places our kids could compete on a level playing field without race, or economic standing getting in the way, is in jeopardy. Only Mississippi beats us as having the most illiterates, with the least progressive school system found in all the US. Perhaps if a greater part of Louisiana voters knew how to read, they would know better how to vote! Perhaps if a voter’s guide was the ten commandments they would be more selective! Is it possible there is a correlation between literacy and who we have in office? Makes ya’ darn proud, doesn’t it? Golly, we sure do shine!
Monday, May 11, 2009
We let a lot slide past us. It seems that we can’t focus on the insipid side of life for very long. The gloomy parts make us too uncomfortable. It is a survival technique we have developed while throwing rotten bones out of our cave, running with firebrands as an entire herd galloped to their death over a cliff, or cutting down the last tree in the little vale we have made home for one last cooking fire. It is the justification for what we do, or don’t do, that I will discuss here.
In order to keep our sanity in a frightening and irrational world, we have learned to keep our perspectives a bit out of reach, a bit out of focus, so that responsibility doesn’t choke us into doing something rash, or rational, like caring enough to take a stand. Taking a stand today as it was in those days, can be very dangerous. Laughter was created as a pressure valve for what we could not control, and sometimes used in place of action. Tears helped too, for what out of control horror we experienced. Can you imagine what life must have been like before we incorporated moral value into our social consciousness? What makes us civil, is the attempt at managing the balance of right and wrong, and it goes back all the way to the Garden of Eden...
We all know that in just one generation our world is closing in upon itself. It is shrinking, as everything we do is becoming more and more significant. Pollution is taking its toll on all life forms, with hourly extinctions, and human overpopulation eats up resources far faster then they are being replenished. It seems that we barely care for tomorrow, as little or nothing is put back to stabilize it for the future. Few get involved, seek to make a positive contribution, or even attempt to understand the repercussions of our actions. We can manage to enjoy a glass of wine, watch a movie, hug our children, and not get caught up, for the same general reasons our ancestors did. It seems simple to most: Why should we when someone else will carry the load? It is just too much trouble to get involved, and we don’t want to stir up a bunch of problems, I might be labeled as some extremist liberal do-gooder. We will do anything to justify our noninvolvement. Eat, drink, and be merry, while right outside our realm of existence there may be horrors too vivid to focus on, like finding out that we have seven times more radiation in our atmosphere then before we started testing…
It would only take about a hundred nuclear bombs to destroy the earth entirely, but we have tens of thousands of warheads poised. We have the know-how to feed every person on earth, but there are estimates that a million people a year die of starvation, and more then a billion are grossly undernourished. Here in America, cancers grow along with our new sedentary life style, and with synthetically processed low quality foods we are becoming a nation of fat and physically lazy people. Compare you’re eighth grade class pictures with your child’s eighth grade class picture, and you will see what I mean.
In underdeveloped third world countries people are dying from disease easily cured for a generation here in North America, like the parasites of roundworm, hookworm, and whipworm. Leprosy and tuberculosis, yellow fever, polio, and measles go unvaccinated and even more simply cured diseases like whooping cough, diphtheria, and tetanus kills millions upon millions of children every year. I hear some say this is a form of birth control. If you do, shame on you.
Here, more children are born out of wedlock then ever before in recorded history, and the breakdown of the family unit is causing many of our social ills. Violent crime, and the use of drugs and addictions in its many forms are symptoms of an ailing society. Irresponsibility for our actions in a nation where freedom is understood to mean socialism, or the fair balance of production distribution by a welfare system that gives peanuts in exchange for pride, for three generations.
Here, our classrooms tend to isolate our children from the real world. They are given little or no responsibilities, and few see themselves in relation to what is out there. Incompetence is expected because most teachers have their hands tied. The system has no clue what demands this “New World” will place on their wards. Those teachers who do are trapped in an outdated bureaucracy, and both low recompense and blatant lack of insight squelch the motivation for change. Classes, like world history, economics, algebra, and English literature, are taught to be separate from each other, and its overall significance and effect to their lives overlooked. Consequence and motivation should be taught first, not in hindsight! The same points are instructed over and over again for twelve years, or more, because it’s intangible irrelevance to the student’s life just doesn’t fuse!
In our society, more often then not, it is whom you know and not what you know that gets you ahead. Betrayal of a spouse is common place, and divorce is easy. Those who have been convicted of murder, rape, child molestation, and any number of hanus crimes can become a millionaire in the confines of prison by having their thoughts published by a ghostwriter.
There is a paradoxical commitment, a freedom if you will, that can triumph over these walls we hide behind. We feel safe, but just the opposite is true. They lock us in, and we are slaves to a world moving fast and without foundation. It can free us, and the answer is indeed so beautifully unpretentious, so overstated, that we tend to reduce its importance. It is called, in a nutshell, pure and simple …love. It unlocks the gate, and frees the spirit. With love in your hearts, a whole new insight presents itself. Suddenly, those you once perceived as enemies, are tolerated and understood, and you are free of the hate-full clutches that held your heart in check, and tainted and controlled your feelings. With love, what you have lost will be built again…
My answers are not yours. Not entirely. Each life has a reality all its own, and answers developed by experiences special to that life alone. However, one thing is universal. One point unifies us all into the single common ground that is humanity. Love. Embrace it. You will be untiring, directed, and its volition will promote you and guide you along the way as nothing else will. It is the one true purpose, and is the best reason for being…
Love is unselfish, constant, and delights us with something nothing else can …joy. It will fill us with hope, and a newfound strength that can not be broken. With love in our hearts, for ourselves, and the world, we have wings that will take us higher and farther then we ever thought possible, and the problems that once plagued us no longer have meaning. Our spirits will grow in the bounty of its light, and peace will fill us with the knowledge of its goodness. We will see the ties that bind us to this beautiful earth, and we will become one with it. With love, this powerful insight will catapult you forward without fear, and obstacles will part for you to pass, because you will know where you are going.
Agricultural lobbyists have been working overtime giving away yellow t-shirts. They want to take a part of the action from the oil and gas industry, with guarantees to make us more independent of imports. In their corner is a product called Ethanol, made from good old USA corn. Sure enough, Ethanol is a promising contender to other alternative energy sources, including Methanol, Compressed Natural Gas, Biodiesel, and Hydrogen fuel cells. Ethanol was probably in the mind of President Bush when he spoke of alternative fuels in his address last February, and though it looks to be at the head of the class, there is still a lot to consider, especially over the long term.
One amazing statistic is that one acre of corn can produce about 300 US gallons of ethanol annually. America uses 200 billion gallons of a wide assortment of petroleum products every year, a staggering amount. To compensate, American farmers would have to dedicate 71 percent of our nation’s farm land for the growing of corn. This makes it clear that corn-ethanol will not kick fossil fuels out of the ball park any time soon, but it’s a start. To make a real dent, all alternative fuels will have to be considered.
Ethanol is grain alcohol, or ethyl alcohol. Just like hooch, almost all ethanol is made from grain. Corn is just one alternative, as anything of a cellulous base could be used including rice that is utilized to make Sake, or sugar cane for the making of rum. We have a grand supply of both here in Louisiana. We should be going after a bit of that action, and here’s why. According to this month’s Popular Mechanics, The Renewable Fuels Association is stating that the 95 existing ethanol refineries have produced more than 4.3 billion gallons of ethanol in 2005, and there is proposed an additional 40 more refineries stepping up to the plate. In the next 18 months it is projected that they will produce 6.3 billion gallons, a mere three percent of our total US consumption. Room for growth? You bet, but let’s take a bit of a look at the contenders.
Methanol is methyl alcohol, or wood alcohol. At this time almost all Methanol is a byproduct of Natural Gas, but it can be produced from a wide variety of sources from coal or biogas that is fermented organic matter. Even sewage and various manures can be used. It is an expensive distillation process at this time, and using methanol from Natural Gas still increases CO2, the main component to the greenhouse effect, and global warming. Interestingly, there may be use yet for the plants here in the south that are causing havoc on indigenous ecosystems, like the various South American water plants choking our waterways, and that Chinese vine strangling our Mississippi forests. Perhaps this would be a good potential for them.
Natural Gas can be used in some forms of internal combustion engines, as compressed natural gas, or CNG. Natural gas is a petroleum product extracted underground by drilling. The methane part is the majority of the distillate pie, with butane and propane taking up the rest. Distillation is necessary to rid the gas of contaminates. The Honda Civic GX is the only car in America that can use CNG. Honda states the exhaust is cleaner than air from some heavily polluted areas. Makes you think.
As close as I am to the oil industry, I can’t tell if the price of oil is based on supply and demand, or coercion. There is no doubt that growing world needs like China moving from a bicycle society to a moped society, taps into this finite resource. Demand for natural gas is growing primarily from its use in generating electricity. Oilmen agree that domestic natural gas will not keep up with demand, and the US needs to have access to the worlds abundant supplies, imported in the form of LNG, or Liquefied Natural Gas. Converted to a liquid state by cooling, natural gas is greatly reduced in volume, making it very economical to ship.
When I first got in the business 27 years ago, we flared nearly all natural gas, and saw Mexico light up the gulf from the first pictures taken in space. That’s all about to change. A new terminal in Cheniere, Louisiana, will be on line soon called Liquefied Natural Gas, LNG is the ticker symbol. They will be able to accept natural gas that has been chilled to a liquid and bring it back to its natural state for transport in pipelines.
Biodiesel is actually diesel made from oils other than petroleum. Extraction comes mostly from sources like vegetable oil, or even chicken fat. This would be an excellent way to recycle our old fry oils which costs a lot to dispose of. The first display of what diesel could do was at the 1900 Paris World Exposition where Rudolf Diesel ran an engine on refined peanut oil. Processing is called transesterification where contaminants such as glycerin are extracted.
Diesel engines don’t use a spark plug for ignition. High compression in the cylinder raises the temperature high enough for ignition, which makes it more efficient and tolerant of various sources of fuel. Biodiesel and Petrodiesel have virtually the same BTU burn, between 120,000 and 130,000. Unfortuanately, at this time the process to make Biodiesel is about a dollar more than Petro. Give it some time. Either the cost of gas will rise, or Biodiesel will fall. The future will someday merge.
A most exciting alternative is Hydrogen. When finally we develop hydrogen fuel cells and an internal combustion engine to go with it, we will at last be able to make a dent in fossil fuel dependence. Skies will turn blue, our cheeks rosy, and our 120 years of lead poisoning will be a bad dream explained in history books.
These alternatives have a long road ahead going toe to toe with Petroleum. As demand goes up and sources go down, new varieties will have to be found. It is exciting times, and we will soon see some wonderful breakthroughs that hold the promise for changing our lives, and the world, in a positive way. One thing is certain; it will be a complicated state of affairs with failure and success at every turn. Alternative fuels will chip away at Petroleum for a hundred or more years, and probably never completely replace it, but the quality of our children’s lives will improve in ways we can’t yet fathom, at least that is the game plan. It has always been this way; our imagination is the only thing holding us back.
High Crude Oil Prices: quick reference summation
1) Restricted and competitive world supplies.
a) Political instability in oil rich nations like Nigeria and Venezuela.
b) OPEC’s valve is wide open. Saudi now producing 50/50 oil/saltwater. No longer has control over world supply.
c) Low European inventories and escalating prices.
2) Strong global demand like China and India.
3) High transportation rates across the board, both internationally and domestically.
4) Record refinery production but constrained capacity growth by both government restrictions and hurricane damage.
5) Political, like “Not in my backyard,” attitudes from states like Florida and California.
6) Low reported rate of return for refineries.
7) Strong demand growth. (Supply not keeping up with demand.)
a) Growing US economy.
b) Large car growth.
8) Environmental: New government mandated specifications.
9) Government specifications on fuel.
I remember when the book 1984 was required reading in High School. At university it was discussed and mentioned many times to make a point: that the masses can be controlled both physically and mentally.
The kids in my neighborhood haven’t even heard of it, and that concerns me. Who is big brother, how can you recognize him, and why has he been forgotten?
It is a given that television, and the media at large, promotes agendas, their specific agendas, with money as the primary guiding force. There are enough people around to support the most graphic violence, and the most sadistic of sex. Why it is so difficult to counter? It sells.
So twisted are mainstream thoughts that kids might be allowed to watch a woman shot in her breasts, but not be allowed to watch her have sex.
Movies like “Sin City,” “Kill Bill,” and the new blockbuster hit “300” is a testament to a new kind of ultra violence, so well orquestrated and received. Based in reality? Surely, someone must have ridden a rhinoceros into battle at least once?
My last letter to you might have seemed strong. I assure you I held a lot back. I know all too well the red tape you must go through to present a request, much less complete a project in the name of Consolidated Government.
I was asked to contact you, and I did it with mixed emotions. With a somewhat naive optimism, being new to the area, I was confidently set to see this through. The importance of securing this area from negative influences manifesting themselves unchecked seemed a worthwhile cause. I told my neighbors that surely if the proper authorities would be contacted the years of neglect and overt danger in this area could and would be averted.
One predominate negative was the overwhelming sentiment by them that our duress and subsequent requests would continue to be ignored, based on previous attempts by others. I found that to be incredulous, but now see the point well taken, as no American citizen should have to request safety. It should be freely given. You emphatically told me something would be done, and I took you at your word.
Though patience is considered a virtue, it is not one of my primary graces, and is indeed a failing. Surly with something of such high importance, security, it can be forgiven. Nearly nine months has elapsed since you first came to my home with your ideas, and to me that is a long time to wait for such a benefit.
You disregarded the collective thoughts of our subdivision which I proposed to you in their name. From the start I saw a flaw in your answers, and you took offence to my questioning them. With a bit of condescension you told me that you emphatically knew that a sign indicating a camera would be “laughable” to those who use the area for illegal activity. You told me also that you had “scoped” the area yourself and saw a man who fit the description of a “pedophiliac.” Never-the-less, I thought you to be serious and decided to trust you, telling everyone in a newsletter that you were on the job, and that our long wait was over.
It is not normal to be afraid of the dark Sir, and what dangers it will bring. It is not normal to have leaders who play lip-service, make promises, and use disparagement for the very real and long standing concerns of the community. It is no reason why these hooligans thumb their noses at authority, and why honest and hardworking citizens would scoff at the idea you could help. With music blaring and headlights on high they have completed the job of grotesque art, and it is full of hate, lusts for violence and sex, and a complete disregard for you, our representative authority. This is a mockery Mr. Patin, of our very society, and the values we hold dear...
Perhaps you should find items like used prophylactics, needles, beer cans, paper bags of fast food discards, and empty cans of paint on your front yard. A ‘dough-nut” on your front lawn might prove a point, and make you more empathetic. But I hope you never have to deal with this...
Lighting the dark, recording what goes on, even periodically, with signs that do not take away our civil liberties in the process is not too much to ask after many years of authoritative failure, as you indeed represent leadership, and yes accountability too. Is painting over the graffiti too expensive? Perhaps we could take up a collection? Surely that couldn’t be more absurd then your suggestion to have the Boy Scouts do it.
You are indeed responsible too Mr. Patin, and if you do not relish that responsibility, please pass the baton on to someone who does. Something very bad is poised to happen under that the Camellia Bridge. It is bound to unless someone with the power to implement what is necessary steps forward.
P.S. Since my last letter a young drug user who lived across the street from my home broke into my home while I was upstairs. Holding a gun on him I ordered him out of my bedroom and home. It took four police officers ten minutes to subdue him in front of my home. It was found he was on a wide variety of drugs, and has several charges on him and a court date coming up where I am to be subpoenaed. I would have been in my rights to have shot this man, but had the good sense to gauge the situation and look for an alternative. If this doesn’t indicate a change in our subdivision, nothing will.
America needs fewer laws, not more prisons. â€“ James Bovard
War is just one more big government program. â€“ Joseph Sobran
Remember, democracy never lasts long. It soon wastes, exhausts, and murders itself. There never was a democracy yet that did not commit suicide. â€“ John Adams (1814)
They that can give up essential liberty to obtain a little temporary safety, deserve neither liberty nor safety. â€“ Benjamin Franklin
One of the greatest delusions in the world is the hope that the evils in this world are to be cured by legislation. â€“ Thomas B. Reed (1886)
If you are not free to choose wrongly and irresponsibly, you are not free at all. â€“ Jacob Hornberger (1995)
Giving money and power to government is like giving whiskey and car keys to teenage boys. â€“ P.J. O’Rourke
The more corrupt the state, the more it legislates. â€“ Tacitus
Government is not reason; it is not eloquence; it is force. Like fire, it is a dangerous servant and a fearful master. â€“ George Washington
No man’s life, liberty, or property are safe while the legislature is in session. â€“ Mark Twain (1866)
There is no worse tyranny than to force a man to pay for what he does not want merely because you think it would be good for him. â€“ Robert Heinlein
The true danger is when Liberty is nibbled away, for expedients. â€“ Edmund Burke (1899)
Peace, commerce and honest friendship with all nations; entangling alliances with none. â€“ Thomas Jefferson
The triumph of persuasion over force is the sign of a civilized society. â€“ Mark Skousen
A wise and frugal government which shall restrain men from injuring one another, which shall leave them otherwise free to regulate their own pursuits of industry and improvement, and shall not take from the mouth of labor the bread it has earned. This is the sum of good government. â€“ Thomas Jefferson (1801)
The evils of tyranny are rarely seen but by him who resists it. â€“ John Hay (1872)
Democracy must be something more than two wolves and a sheep voting on what to have for dinner. â€“ James Bovard (1994)
The natural progress of things is for liberty to yield and government to gain ground. â€“ Thomas Jefferson
Timid men prefer the calm of despotism to the tempestuous sea of Liberty. â€“ Thomas Jefferson
None are more hopelessly enslaved than those who falsely believe they are free. â€“ Goethe
When the government’s boot is on your throat, whether it is a left boot or a right boot is of no consequence. â€“ Gary Lloyd
Every decent man is ashamed of the government he lives under. â€“ H.L. Mencken
The urge to save humanity is almost always a false front for the urge to rule. â€“ H.L. Mencken
It is not the business of government to make men virtuous or religious, or to preserve the fool from the consequences of his own folly. Government should be repressive no further than is necessary to secure liberty by protecting the equal rights of each from aggression on the part of others, and the moment governmental prohibitions extend beyond this line they are in danger of defeating the very ends they are intended to serve. â€“ Henry George
Where morality is present, laws are unnecessary. Without morality, laws are unenforceable. â€“ Anonymous
Extremism in the defense of liberty is no vice. Moderation in the pursuit of justice is no virtue. â€“ Barry Goldwater (1964)
Liberty is not a means to a political end. It is itself the highest political end. â€“ Lord Acton
The power to tax is the power to destroy. â€“ John Marshall
[On ancient Athens]: In the end, more than freedom, they wanted security. They wanted a comfortable life, and they lost it all â€“ security, comfort, and freedom. When the Athenians finally wanted not to give to society but for society to give to them, when the freedom they wished for most was freedom from responsibility, then Athens ceased to be free and was never free again. â€“ Edward Gibbon
Of all tyrannies, a tyranny exercised for the good of its victims may be the most oppressive. It may be better to live under robber barons than under omnipotent moral busybodies. The robber baron’s cruelty may sometimes sleep, his cupidity may at some point be satiated; but those who torment us for our own good will torment us without end, for they do so with the approval of their own conscience. â€“ C. S. Lewis
Vices are simply the errors which a man makes in his search after his own happiness. Unlike crimes, they imply no malice toward others, and no interference with their persons or property. â€“ Lysander Spooner
In order to get power and retain it, it is necessary to love power; but love of power is not connected with goodness but with qualities that are the opposite of goodness, such as pride, cunning, and cruelty. â€“ Leo Tolstoy
There’s no way to rule innocent men. The only power any government has is the power to crack down on criminals. Well, when there aren’t enough criminals, one makes them. One declares so many things to be a crime that it becomes impossible to live without breaking laws. â€“ Ayn Rand
If ye love wealth greater than liberty, the tranquility of servitude greater than the animating contest for freedom, go home from us in peace. We seek not your counsel, nor your arms. Crouch down and lick the hand that feeds you. May your chains set lightly upon you; and may posterity forget that ye were our countrymen. â€“ Samuel Adams
If a nation values anything more than freedom, it will lose its freedom; and the irony of it is that if it is comfort or money that it values more, it will lose that, too. â€“ Somerset Maugham
A democracy cannot exist as a permanent form of government. It can only exist until a majority of voters discover that they can vote themselves largess out of the public treasury. â€“ Alexander Tytler
A liberal is someone who feels a great debt to his fellow man, which debt he proposes to pay off with your money. â€“ G. Gordon Liddy
The United States is a nation of laws, badly written and randomly enforced. â€“ Frank Zappa
Liberty lies in the hearts of men and women. When it dies there, no constitution, no law, no court can save it. â€“ Justice Learned Hand
It is sobering to reflect that one of the best ways to get yourself a reputation as a dangerous citizen these days is to go about repeating the very phrases which our founding fathers used in the struggle for independence. â€“ Charles A. Beard
A nation of sheep will beget a government of wolves. â€“ Edward R. Murrow
The legitimate powers of government extend to such acts only as are injurious to others. But it does me no injury for my neighbor to say there are twenty gods, or no god. It neither picks my pocket nor breaks my leg. â€“ Thomas Jefferson (1781)
The desire to rule is the mother of heresies. â€“ St. John Chrysostom
Can our form of government, our system of justice, survive if one can be denied a freedom because he might abuse it? â€“ Harlon Carter
It is not the responsibility of the government or the legal system to protect a citizen from himself. â€“ Justice Casey Percell
No one can read our Constitution without concluding that the people who wrote it wanted their government severely limited; the words “no” and “not” employed in restraint of government power occur 24 times in the first seven articles of the Constitution and 22 more times in the Bill of Rights. â€“ Edmund A. Opitz
The government was set to protect man from criminals â€“ and the Constitution was written to protect man from the government. â€“ Ayn Rand
The only difference between a tax man and a taxidermist is that the taxidermist leaves the skin. â€“ Mark Twain
What this country needs are more unemployed politicians. â€“ Edward Langley
I believe that every individual is naturally entitled to do as he pleases with himself and the fruits of his labor, so far as it in no way interferes with any other men’s rights. â€“ Abraham Lincoln
Those who expect to reap the benefits of freedom, must, like men, undergo the fatigue of supporting it. â€“ Thomas Paine
Liberty is always dangerous, but it is the safest thing we have. â€“ Harry Emerson Fosdick
The state in which the rulers are the most reluctant to govern is always the best and most quietly governed; and the state in which they are the most eager, the worst. â€“ Anonymous
It is much more important to kill bad bills than to pass good ones. â€“ Calvin Coolidge
To compel a man to furnish contributions of money for the propagation of opinions which he disbelieves and abhors, is sinful and tyrannical. â€“ Thomas Jefferson
It is dangerous to be right when the government is wrong. â€“ Voltaire
The war for freedom will never really be won because the price of our freedom is constant vigilance over ourselves and over our Government. â€“ Eleanor Roosevelt
Blessed are the young, for they shall inherit the national debt. â€“ Herbert Hoover
Give me liberty or give me death! â€“ Patrick Henry
First they came for the Jews, but I did nothing because I’m not a Jew. Then they came for the socialists, but I did nothing because I’m not a socialist. Then they came for the Catholics, but I did nothing because I’m not a Catholic. Finally, they came for me, but by then there was no one left to help me. â€“ Pastor Father Niemoller (1946)
Government at its best is a necessary evil, and at its worst, an intolerant one. â€“ Thomas Paine
There’s never been a good government. â€“ Emma Goldman
We must have government, but we must watch them like a hawk. â€“ Millicent Fenwick (1983)
Useless laws weaken the necessary laws. â€“ Montesquieu
A little government and a little luck are necessary in life, but only a fool trusts either of them. â€“ P. J. O’Rourke
Government never furthered any enterprise but by the alacrity with which it got out of its way. â€“ Henry David Thoreau
Reader, suppose you were an idiot. And suppose you were a member of Congress. But I repeat myself. â€“ Mark Twain
There is no distinctly native American criminal class save Congress. â€“ Mark Twain
Talk is cheap â€“ except when Congress does it. â€“ Cullen Hightower
You cannot adopt politics as a profession and remain honest. â€“ Ambrose Gwinett Bierce
[Political] offices are as acceptable here as elsewhere, and whenever a man cast a longing eye on them, a rottenness begins in his conduct. â€“ Thomas Jefferson (1799)
The single most exciting thing you encounter in government is competence, because it’s so rare. â€“ Daniel Patrick Moynihan (1976)
The most fundamental purpose of government is defense, not empire. â€“ Joseph Sobran (1995)
Governments harangue about deficits to get more revenue so they can spend more. â€“ Allan H. Meltzer (1993)
When important issues affecting the life of an individual are decided by somebody else, it makes no difference to the individual whether that somebody else is a king, a dictator, or society at large. â€“ James Taggart (1992)
No drug, not even alcohol, causes the fundamental ills of society. If we’re looking for the sources of our troubles, we shouldn’t test people for drugs, we should test them for stupidity, ignorance, greed, and love of power. â€“ P. J. O’Rourke (1992)
Here’s your enemy for this week, the government says. And some gullible Americans click their heels and salute â€“ often without knowing who or even where the enemy of the week is. â€“ Charley Reese (1998)
The great virtue of a free market system is that it does not care what color people are; it does not care what their religion is; it only cares whether they can produce something you want to buy. It is the most effective system we have discovered to enable people who hate one another to deal with one another and help one another. â€“ Milton Friedman
The best government is the one that charges you the least blackmail for leaving you alone. â€“ Thomas Rudmose-Brown (1996)
If you think health care is expensive now, wait until you see what it costs when it’s free. â€“ P.J. O’Rourke (1993)
The Government is like a baby’s alimentary canal, with a happy appetite at one end and no responsibility at the other. â€“ Ronald Reagan
Americans have the right and advantage of being armed â€“ unlike the citizens of other countries whose governments are afraid to trust the people with arms. â€“ James Madison
The whole of the Bill [of Rights] is a declaration of the right of the people at large or considered as individuals â€¦ It establishes some rights of the individual as unalienable and which consequently, no majority has a right to deprive them of. â€“ Albert Gallatin (1789)
The Constitution shall never be construed â€¦ to prevent the people of the United States who are peaceable citizens from keeping their own arms. â€“ Samuel Adams
I should have loved freedom, I believe, at all times, but in the time in which we live I am ready to worship it. â€“ Alexis De Toqueville
I have sworn upon the altar of god, eternal hostility against every form of tyranny over the mind of man. â€“ Thomas Jefferson (1800)
I believe we are on an irreversible trend toward more freedom and democracy â€“ but that could change. â€“ Al Gore
If you have ten thousand regulations, you destroy all respect for the law. â€“ Winston Churchill
Tyranny is always better organized than freedom. â€“ Charles Peguy
The preservation of the sacred fire of liberty, and the destiny of the Republican model of government, are justly considered as deeply, perhaps as finally staked, on the experiment entrusted to the hands of the American people. â€“ George Washington
A sword never kills anybody; it is a tool in the killer’s hand. â€“ Lucius Annaeus Seneca, c. 4BC - 65AD.
He that hath no sword, let him sell his garment and buy one. â€“ the Bible, Luke 22:36.
Among the many misdeeds of the British rule in India, history will look upon the act of depriving a whole nation of arms, as the blackest. â€“ Mahatma Gandhi, in Gandhi, An Autobiography, p. 446
Whenever is found what is called a paternal government, there is found state education. It has been discovered that the best way to ensure implicit obedience is to commence tyranny in the nursery. â€“ Benjamin Disraeli, 1874
These rights and freedoms may in no case be exercised contrary to the purposes and principles of the United Nations. â€“ UN Universal Declaration of Human Rights, Article 29(3).
The inherent vice of capitalism is the unequal sharing of the blessings. The inherent blessing of socialism is the equal sharing of misery. â€“ Winston Churchill
There is only one basic human right, the right to do as you damn well please. And with it comes the only basic human duty, the duty to take the consequences. â€“ P.J. O’Rourke (1993)
Government’s view of the economy could be summed up in a few short phrases: If it moves, tax it. If it keeps moving, regulate it. And if it stops moving, subsidize it. â€“ Ronald Reagan (1986)