Charlottesville (or Black Lives Matter Without the Good Press and Government Support)

The sides are beginning to square off.  Very hard to predict how things will go.  Apparently, the genie is starting to get out of the bottle.  Maybe it’s my imagination but it seems a little hushed right now.  The calm before the storm?  Well you cannot blather on about flashpoints.  It’s a waste of space.  You have to watch them in real time.  Critical mass?  Hard to say.  Watch and see.

James Damore

Probably so much has been written about this young man that anything I write is bound to be at least somewhat repetitive.  So, instead I’ll tell you what bothers me about this situation.  This is a pretty idealistic good-hearted kid who just got railroaded by the richest company in the world and then pilloried by the press.  Can you imagine how his parents feel?  Can you imagine how he feels?  I listened to him answering the charges trumped up by the media.  They did everything they could to twist his statements into misogynistic and somehow even racist sentiments.  His answers were measured and well expressed and very much to the point.  His facts were accurate and his whole approach was reasonable and genuine.  He struck me as a very intelligent and very young man.  Naïve is also how I’d describe him.  I think he was genuinely surprised that he would be punished the way he was for opinions that were moderate and reasonable.  I think his sin is believing the words that his employer told him.  James Damore believed Google when they said that those with different opinions could speak openly at Google and have no reason to fear.  That was the lie.  Someone of my generation knows that is the leftist lie.  It is a recasting of the basis of the story “Animal Farm.”  Basically, it is a way of saying, “All animals are equal, but some animals are more equal than others.”

Well, he’s just learned that lesson.  Chances are he’ll be just fine.  Anyone who goes to multiple Ivy League schools probably won’t be out on the streets anytime soon.  And I’m sure that his family connections will allow him to bounce back from this setback.  So maybe this will make him a wiser man.  But he’s just learned a hard truth.  Because he’s a normal white male, he’s a second-class citizen and nobody is going to come to his defense at Google or any other Fortune 500 company if he tells the emperor that he has no clothes.  He’ll be cast into the outer darkness where there is much wailing and gnashing of teeth.  Anyone over the age of thirty knows how the corporate diversity speak works.  We’re all told how important it is and to what lengths we must go to make it work.  And if you want to hold onto your job you’ll keep quiet and go along at least to the extent of keeping your opinions to yourself.  That’s what James Damore will do from now on.

But the most important thing that comes out of this whole circus is that more and more people are finding out just how pathetically twisted the whole diversity sham has become.  It’s become a religion from which no dissent is tolerated or allowed to survive.  Possibly this will re-open the debate about the whole government affirmative action racket.  Maybe something finally will be done by the Supreme Court.

I wish the best for James in the future.  I hope he goes on to great success as a software programmer or whatever tech specialization he possesses.  Maybe someday he’ll own a company of his own and then he can treat people the way he says he thinks they should be treated.  But I just hope he fires the first person who tells him he has to hire more women.  That would seem to be poetic justice.

So good luck James and welcome to the real world.  It ain’t pretty.

Quail Fail – A Cautionary Tale

Bob, the Wayward Quail

 

About 10 minutes down the road from me is a field that is surrounded by corn fields, dairy farms and suburban neighborhoods.  This sizable tract of land is covered by a patchwork of hayfields, grain patches, high grass and brush, small stands of trees, puddles and even a streamlet.  The owner stocks this area with game birds.  It provides hunters with access to pheasant, quail and partridge.  Where I live there is an abundance of turkey and duck that move respectively through wood and pond at will.  With respect to other bird life, the air is full of hawks and even bald eagle.  At night, a particularly annoying Barred Owl often serenades me and Camera Girl at about 1:45 a.m. from a perch seemingly right outside my bedroom window.  Only state firearm ordinances and my inherent laziness has saved this avian jerk from reaping the large caliber comeuppance he so richly deserves.  During the day the bird song is much more melodious.  Finches, robins, sparrows, titmice, jays, catbirds, cardinals and orioles abound.  And for viewing interest there are the fascinating hummingbirds.  Basically we’re flush with feathered friends.

So why would I be looking to add to their numbers?  The answer is ticks.  Connecticut is the Lyme disease capitol of the Universe.  Apparently scenic Lyme Connecticut was so inviting that even the lowly spirochete responsible for this malady heard how great it is there and decided to immigrate.  Having been blessed once with the honor of sharing my bloodstream with these delightful one celled creatures I have made it a high priority to pass on a second such honor.  To this end I have devoted a certain amount of thought to lowering the local tick population.  One thing the long-time inhabitants of the area told me was that chickens eat ticks.  That pecking action they’re so famous for allows them to systematically ingest enormous numbers of small creatures including ticks.  This seemed to me a great idea.  Chickens!  I mean, I like chicken.  Fried, baked, souped, casseroled.  I even like them before they are hatched.  Why not bring them in and let them solve my problem.  I did some research.

  • They need a house. Well, okay, why not.  I’ll buy them a house.
  • They need to be fed and watered. Hmmm, that’s a lot of doing stuff.
  • They get up at 4:30 a.m. every morning. On Saturday? What the hell is wrong with them.  They sounded a lot like that jerk the Barred Owl.
  • Their house has to be cleaned a lot. Okay, that’s enough.

The cure was worse than the disease.

I returned to my research and looked into what else eats ticks.  Other birds eat ticks.  Yeah, well we’re flush with birds already and they’re not getting the job done.  It turns out that some birds are better at it than others.  And even if chickens were too much trouble there are birds sort of like chickens that also eat a lot of ticks.  I went through the options and the one with the least maintenance was quail.  They’re smaller than pheasants and guinea fowl and peacocks and with just a little help from me they might successfully acclimate to my property and be fruitful and multiply.  This all sounded really good.  Next step get quail.  I went out next day intending to stop by the local quail store and pick up a couple of dozen before heading to the town apothecary and pick up my monthly assortment of leeches.  One solid month of following up leads and I found a friendly regional quail guy.  Negotiations were negotiated and basically, I acceded to all terms.  Which unfortunately meant that the quails would arrive on a day that I was at work (Friday).  No need for panic.  Camera Girl would carry out the transaction and the quails would become part of Orion’s Cold Fire Enterprises with all the rights and responsibilities that entails (eat ticks).  When the appointed hour arrived, I sat at work waiting with bated breath to get the victory message.  “Houston, the Eagle has landed.”

The actual call went slightly differently.  When Camera Girl called up I could tell there had been a hitch.  Quail come packed in a plastic box that basically keeps them in a standing room only enclosure.  Apparently packing them cheek to jowl keeps them from getting too stirred up.  But it also means they are anxious to spread out.  When Camera Girl opened the box door the quail flew out in much the way shaken soda escapes from a bottle, rapidly and straight up.  After the mass of panicked birds departed into the stratosphere and she had stopped blinking in amazement Camera Girl noticed that one bird had remained.  This was the silver lining that was presented to me at the end of the story.  Being a glass half empty kind of guy, I speculated that it probably broke a wing during the melee.  But, being a fair and even-tempered individual, I thanked her for her help in the event told her I’d be following this lone bird’s future career with great interest.  At that point I wrote off the whole thing as a good learning experience, namely that I’d learned that all birds are jerks.

On Saturday morning during our weekly inspection tour of the south forty, Camera Girl was excited to point out that there were now at least two quail skulking around the perimeter of the property.  I should explain that part of the preparations for “Operation Shoot a Bunch of Money into the Sky” was the purchase of what is called a quail field base which consists of a device that provides food and water to quails in your field along with a battery powered electronic quail call that summons the quail to the base.  Even though we only knew of one quail remaining in the immediate neighborhood of the base I activated the quail call.  Every thirty minutes during daylight hours, this call produces a really goofy sounding bird noise which is supposed to lead the quails home to the base.

Well I guess it works.  At least one and possibly several quails are now roaming around my fields and the surrounding woods.  As the kids would say I’m mightily chuffed.  So, Saturday as I was taking close up shots of caterpillars and plants I was able to get close enough to one quail ambling around in the brush to take his photo that I’ve attached above.  The jury is of course still out but it’s entirely possible that maybe not all birds are jerks.

August in the Yard – Closeup Photography – Monarch Caterpillars & Translucent Sprouts

So Camera Girl found two interesting subjects in the yard.  These are all shot with the Sony A7S and the Minolta 200mm F\4 Macro.  This is using the manual focus ring because this is a screw drive AF lens and the adapter only autofocuses motor driven lenses.  But for caterpillars and plants that not such a problem.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Forbidden Planet – The Quintessential Sci-Fi Movie? – OCF Classic Movie Reviews

A lot of stuff has been said about what makes Forbidden Planet such an important sci-fi movie.  The ground-breaking special effects, the plot element of a human military vessel exploring space that would spawn the endless iterations of the Star Ship Enterprise.  And of course, there’s the classical angle.  Supposedly the plot is an update of Shakespeare’s “The Tempest.”

So, there’s all that good stuff.  But to my mind the real reason can be summed up in two words, Anne Francis.  When the angelic face of Miss Francis first appears on screen I began to see the movie in the correct light.  This was an epic adventure story that rivalled the Odyssey of Homer for timelessness and meaning.  Now the fact that I was a sixteen-year old boy at the time probably colored my thought processes to some extent and the skimpiness of her costumes might even have had something to do with it.  But let’s face it, giant ants can only get you so far.  If you want to keep the natives from getting restless you have to appeal to their most powerful motivations and if a blonde-haired, blue eyed creature with a very pretty face and extremely long shapely unclad legs is brought center stage, suddenly even the acting skills of Leslie Nielsen seem greatly enhanced and worth a fair hearing.

But now that I’m in my dotage and no longer as easily swayed by a pretty face, I’ve had a chance to re-evaluate the movie.  Surprisingly, I’m still a big fan.  And this is despite the obvious weaknesses that are extremely evident in such an old film.  The dialog has some extremely cliché-ridden exchanges including:

  • The captain tells off the young woman because her uninhibited interest in the young men in his crew will be a distraction from military discipline.
  • Morbius displays the stereotypical arrogance of the academic intellectual toward the practical military authorities.
  • The banter provided by the ship’s cook is the comic relief that would seem right at home in an Abbott and Costello movie.

So what makes it good?  Well, the humans are mostly likeable and admirable.  The plot unwinds in a manner that allows for the gradual reveal of the mystery.  Of course, the who of the question is answered long before the why and how of the problem.  But the details provide reinforcement of the underlying lesson to learn.  We are reminded that smarter isn’t the same as perfect.

And the special effects are still pretty good.  The animation of the Krell infrastructure impresses the viewer with the gargantuan scope of the installation.  The humans walking through it literally look like ants at one point.

And finally, the interaction between the isolated inhabitants of this dream world and the crew of the no-nonsense military vessel is classic.  It reminds you of the stories that portray the first contact between Europeans and the South Sea Islands.  The sailors always have a feeling they have somehow discovered paradise with its idyllic climate, scantily clad, friendly women and tropical fruit. The military men are enthralled with how favorably it compares to the boring, spartan existence of their all-male naval vessel.

Are there problems with the story?  Yes.  Morbius seems a little too dense for a brilliant scientist.  The resolution of the crisis at the end is a little jarring.  The solution is quite heavy handed.  But all in all, it’s a pretty neat story.  I think it indicates why the Star Trek series was so popular.  But I think it also shows why the later tv series were less interesting.  The adventure and discovery aspects became less of a focus as the Enterprise became less of a military/exploration vessel and more of a social worker/nanny vehicle to the stars.