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Tomorrow’s Another Birthday… September 28, 2011

Posted by littlebangtheory in Politics and Society.
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…not that I usually notice, but this year there’s something I really, really  want.

I want Elizabeth Warren to be my Senator.

If you have the slightest inclination to say “Happy Birthday” to me, I would be moved to tears if you would say it by supporting Elizabeth in some small way.  She’s on our side, and deserves to have us on hers.

You can do that by dropping her a dime or two at Elizabeth Warren.com.  Any little bit will go a long way if we all do our part.

And it’s a birthday thought that will benefit us all, you, me and the kids.

Thanks,

Ralph

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New England Asters. September 27, 2011

Posted by littlebangtheory in Art and Nature.
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Just as the local goldenrod fades to golden brown, the New England asters kick it down for a little late-summer color:

Our local asters come in a variety of colors including some wonderfully prolific lavender and white ones, but this intensely magenta variation really floats my boat.

Another seasonal standout, albeit  invasive to some degree, is the Virginia creeper which has gotten overly comfortable in these parts:

Its intense autumn reds nearly pardon it for smothering its host trees, as it did to this little specimen in Windsor.

Thanks to Elliot for his fine work, most evident in the first shot, where there’s good depth-of-field despite the stiff breezes of the season.

Pond In Rain. September 25, 2011

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In Shelburne, along side a graveyard:

… in the rain.

Not much to post, but I’ll be back with more before you know it.

Wet Paint. September 23, 2011

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Well, it’s officially autumn, and the weather here in Southern New England is emphasizing that point by turning gloomy even as it paints our trees with surreal colors.

Yesterday (yeah, I know, “not officially autumn,” but close enough) I finished work in Plainfield as a persistent light rain slowed to a drizzle, and I snagged this shot of a bog with a floating sphagnum mat:

I liked the tableau enough to work it with Elliot, to an end that is considerably better than this blog format allows you to see.

Anyway, I got inspired, and came home from work through Southern Vermont (another “close enough” moment) and was delighted to be dogged by showers interspersed with fogs.  The West Branch of the Deerfield river parallels this stretch of road, and though it Taketh Away a good many of the culverts and bridges along this stretch of the road, it also Giveth some lovely views:

My work was complicated by my desire to show the place as still beautiful despite the ravaged river bed;  many otherwise lovely shots would have conveyed more of the latter rather than the former, but my intention here is to let the world know that Vermont is still, and perhaps more than ever, worth visiting – your dollars, from gas money to lunch to lodging will be appreciated.

This section of Route 100 is, um, “CLOSED,” but if you pass that sign you might notice the smaller sign saying “to trucks,”  because there’s a dirt road reach-around up ahead.  I went for it, and basically had a lot of road to myself:

The colors aren’t yet anywhere near “peak,” but the fog between showers caught my eye.

Right where the actual detour kicked in (and yes, it turns to dirt before it’s over,) the Deerfield dodged southward through a deep gorge, disappearing into a snag of pines and fog as the light took a turn towards night:

A mile farther east the river would roar back to the road, eating Readsboro’s lunch and bridges in a span of 24 hours.  Road crews are still working on that, but a passable roadway isn’t far off.

Except for the first one, these shots are all from Ollie, my 24-105mm tele lens.  Nice piece of glass, that boy.

Hay Wagon. September 18, 2011

Posted by littlebangtheory in Art and Nature.
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Up in Hawley, the next town south of here, a hay wagon sits patiently as its grass grows:

Elliot snagged this scene, from the grass beneath my feet to the distant horizon.

Gawd,  I love that boy!  😉

 

Weekend Round-Up. September 18, 2011

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Some shots from this weekend, which was lots more work than play, but nonetheless coughed up a few keepers.

I knocked off working around the house with time to take a ride through nearby Southern Vermont to see where things were bad and drop a few bucks at local businesses; they’re really going to need some support from those who can visit or send something ahead.

Well, I tell ya, they don’t call me “Mr. Softie” because I need the Little Blue Pill, but rather because my heart breaks when I see others’ suffering, and I had tears in my eyes going through Wilmington.  What a mess, homes and buildings washed away, the main drag a sodden wreck.  If you know of organizations keyed into helping, I ask you to participate.

Anyway, I’ve got enough disaster pics to string together into a Hollywood block-buster, so instead I took pictures of the changing foliage, like this one along devastated Route 100 in Readsboro:

Some red happening there, despite the crappy light.  That was taken from atop my car to get over the roadside mess.

Here’s some Vermont Beef getting just salty enough to be worth grilling:

They were intent on Hoovering that salt block perched on the rock, and I thought they made cute food, so here they are.

More scenics –

North Pond in Savoy, trying to grow some colors:

It’s a long way from “peak,” but that’s Today’s Version.

And here’s a shot of Bog Pond in Savoy MA, taken patiently between the agitated tail-slaps of  the local beaver, who apparently disapproved of my presence:

North Pond was an Ollie capture, while this last shot was courtesy of Elliot.  I like his ability to get that foreground pond lily as well as the rest of the shot, and hope to get something more as the colors evolve.

And then, of course, the sun set and the stars came out, with a nascent moon threatening to rise:

That’s all kinds of beefed-up, ’cause I haven’t yet figured out my Korean substitute remote shutter release.  This may be the shot that makes me dive headlong into debt for the real Canon remote, which comes complete with instructions and a a five-hundred-dollar-plus price tag!

 

 

Change Is Coming. September 15, 2011

Posted by littlebangtheory in Art and Nature.
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No, unfortunately, not the political kind we voted for.  I meant the seasonal show Mother puts on for those of us here in the Northeast.  I’m afraid a maple fungus will diminish the colors this year, but there will, at least, be something  to look at.

Hawley Bog, up in, um, Hawley:

…with cotton grass waving in the breeze.

More views of the boardwalk floating on the delicate bog mat:

…and:

Both shots courtesy of Elliot, thank-you very much.

There’s a possibility we’ll be getting a frost this weekend (!) so stay tuned – this could get good in a hurry.  😉

Digging Out From Irene. September 14, 2011

Posted by littlebangtheory in Art and Nature, Love and Death.
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We’re recovering here from the floods, hitting it hard in order to get cleaned up before winter.

A commercial flower grower in the town of Deerfield took it hard, lost many acres of effort, and the top-soil as well:

The Deerfield river has retreated into its channel behind me, while a four foot deep gash separates these remnants from the rest of the field.

Major earth-moving equipment collects acres and acres of river sand from the fields where fertile topsoil used to be:

It’ll be years before this mess gets back to normal.  And that’s assuming another such flood doesn’t happen again in the meantime.

I’m not putting a lot of cash down on that bet.

The Lesson Of 9/11. September 13, 2011

Posted by littlebangtheory in Politics and Society.
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So now that we’ve all cried for the innocent lives lost here in America on September 11, 2001, cried every year for the past ten in fact, can we please, please  get around to thinking about what we’ve learned from that awful day?

Thank you.

We’ve learned that when we Americans are attacked from without, we pull together like a black hole, kick it into high gear, and do  something about it.  We come to each others’ rescue, risking life and limb to save strangers, putting our own well-being on the back burner and doing whatever we can to serve the greater good.

I’m really proud of that, and hold the real  heroes of 9/11, the people who put themselves in harms way by choice,  not by the necessity of circumstances, in a place of perpetual honor and respect.  The First Responders who that day rushed into infernos to save the lives of others, and in fact all the people who do that work on a daily basis, whether they pay the Ultimate  Price for it or not.  There aren’t adequate words to express my undying gratitude and respect for who you are and what you do for us all, so I’ll just say, “Thanks.”

But beyond that, the Lessons Learned become a bit muddled, with a great many Americans coming away with understandings which are fundamentally different from mine.

Many Americans believe that we’re the innocent victims of unprovoked acts of violence perpetrated by pathologically homicidal Brown People whose god tells them to hate us because we’re free.

Many Americans believe Islam is a religion of hatred.

Many Americans believe we should do whatever it takes  to keep ourselves safe, including putting our vaunted American liberties on hold, abandoning the basic tenets of our justice system and tearing up the international treaties which we ratified to ensure sanity and order in the diverse world in which we live.

Many Americans believe that everything will be fine if we just go shopping.

Well, My Fellow Americans, I’m not buying any of it.

The myth of American Exceptionalism has blinded so, so many of us to the sorry history of our Nation, since before we even were  a nation.  The smiling duplicity of offering gifts of blankets to the people who were here before us, blankets infected with smallpox.  “Take these gifts as a measure of our beneficence” and die, you filthy savages, so we can have your hilltop.   Andrew Jackson’s Ethnic Cleansing of a quarter of the continent with his forced-march Trail of Tears, wherein many thousands of old people and children died because God wanted us to assume Dominion over the land.   The kidnapping and enslavement of hundreds of thousands of Africans, the incineration of two cities’ worth of Japanese civilians even as their Emperor tried repeatedly to surrender to our military forces, the carpet-bombing and Agent Orange-ing of two million people  in Southeast Asia because we feared they would choose a system of government different from our own.

The not-so-subtle Corporate pillaging of resources and environmental devastation we’re visiting on the poorer countries of the world Every Fucking Day so we can live a life those people will never even dream of.

And we hold this truth to be self-evident: that we deserve whatever we can take from those who are weaker, and if they fight back, we’re the innocent victims.

People, it’s not our freedom  they hate.  Most of the world envies  our freedom.

What the hate is our sense of entitlement to their resources, our indifference to their suffering and blinding need, our support of the sociopathic dictators who rob and subjugate them, as long as they allow our corporate rape of their children’s futures for our personal comfort and gain.

What they hate is our military presence in every far-flung corner of the world, assuring that we’ll always get our way at their expense.

What they hate is our self-righteous certitude that Our God is Good and their god is bullshit.

My Fellow Americans, they hate us because they think we live in a Democracy,  and that We The People knowingly choose and approve of what our government and corporations do to them.

And who could blame them?  I mean, we claim  to live in a Democracy, don’t we?  We buy the fruits of their slave labor and pay them subsistence wages, don’t we?  We drill for their oil, despoil their land and water and give all of the profits to the despots who keep them barefoot and illiterate, don’t we?

If the shoe were on the other foot, I believe I’d hate us too.

The truth, my friends, is that beyond the age of 18, there are no Innocent Americans.   We The People, each and every one of us, is responsible for the policies of our government, the actions of our military and the unquenchable greed of our corporate creations.

The rest of the world, sadly, sees this much more clearly than we do, and has every right to hold us accountable.

It’s not that we Americans are individually evil, at least not most of us.  We love our children, care for our elderly (although I’m not particularly proud of the direction we’re going on that one,) and help our neighbors in times of need.  And we come together to help the poor of other countries in some significant and righteous ways.

But our per-capita generosity is outpaced by that of many smaller and less wealthy countries, and our Foreign Aid budget is insignificant when compared to our obscene military profligacy.

None of this is lost on the Have-Nots of the world, though it seems to be entirely invisible to us.

And when we hang Japanese soldiers for water-boarding, then claim the moral authority to do it ourselves, when we denounce Islamic Fundamentalism while debating which Christian Fundamentalist to elect President, when we don’t give a damn that our pollution is fouling the air and oceans, swamping low-lying countries and drying up the water supplies of billions of the world’s poor, the rest of the world’s people notice that as well.

And they take it kind of personally.

Which brings me back to September 11, 2001.  The murder of nearly three thousand Americans was a hideous act, as cruel and indiscriminate and morally wrong as any we Americans have perpetrated during the two plus centuries of our existence.  But being willfully ignorant of our crushing footprint on the world’s poor doesn’t exonerate us from responsibility for it, and our indifference to the suffering which results from our greed cannot be morally justified.  Without some serious introspection and a significant change of course, we should expect to suffer the consequences of our actions over and over and over again.

This is an old lesson, much older than the events of September 11, 2001, older even than the teachings of Jesus of Nazareth.

One might hope we would have learned it by now.

 

 

 

Maybe On September 12th… September 11, 2011

Posted by littlebangtheory in Politics and Society.
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I’m choking on emotions here.

Like most of you, I remember where I was when the airliners plowed into the World Trade Center towers and the Pentagon and that anonymous field in Pennsylvania.

And like most of you, I’ve spent at least part of the day listening to heart-rending stories of the victims and the heroes and the survivors and the fatherless/motherless children left behind, and I cried.

And waited.

Waited for one thoughtful comment or serious discussion about the lessons learned over the past ten years.

Waited for somebody, anybody,  to ask why  “they” hate us enough to blow themselves up to kill us.

Waited for even ONE of the Committed Lefties over at NPR to grow enough of a spine to speak a syllable of Truth to the face of the Power which really  runs this place.

And I’m still waiting.

Perhaps the general consensus is that “today isn’t the appropriate time,” that it would be disrespectful to the nearly three thousand Innocent Americans who died on 9/11/2001.

But Jesus Christ, people, we’ve had TEN YEARS to discuss this, and we haven’t.

I’ve gone and waited to say this ’till it’s too late to do the subject justice, if I even have it in me to do so.  But tomorrow is indeed another day, and it won’t pass without a screed from me the likes of which I haven’t written in two years.

The subject: “Silence Is Complicity.”

Now go to bed.  Tomorrow’s gonna be a rough one.