Thursday, March 27, 2008

JMO - Impeachment

After watching the PBS Frontline show Bush's War, and reading the views on the impeachment against President Bush and Vice President Cheney, I have to agree, both should have been impeached and convicted in 2005, and definitely in 2006, but the the Republicans controlled Congress. When the Democrats took over Congress in late 2006, they should have impeached and convicte them in 2007, but they used the wrong argument to defend the reasons not to.

Despite the rhetoric about what it would do to this country in a time of war, and especially the war on terroristm, I agree with those that said it would have been the best thing for this nation, to see all the information about the leadup to and the implementation of the invasion and occupation of Iraq. The Frontline show clearly provided the framework to the story and insights into the complete manipulation or distortion of the evidence against Saddham Hussein.

Those that are old enough remember the impeachment proceedings against President Nixon. He wasn't impeached, let alone convicted, but it was clear the House would have impeached him and the Senate convicted him. He resigned from office before the House could vote on the articles of impeachment.

Many remember the discussions and eventually the articles of impeachment against President Clinton, and the close vote by the Senate. That clearly was a political impeachment. The whole thing was about sex with a White House intern. And as was said, if other presidents had been put under that scrutiny, a lot of them would have been impeached and convicted, including President Kennedy.

But now we have a President and Vice President who arranged the evidence against the leader of another soverign nation and lead this country into an invasion and occupation of that nation. And as we now know, all the evidence was fabricated, manipulated or distorted, and many of the sources were known liars or discredited later. Even in mid-2007 Bill Moyers reported 45% and 54% of American wanted an impeachment of the President and Vice President, respectively.

We want the truth to see the light of day, and not hidden under veils of White House administration secrecy, much of it also withheld from Congress. Congress said it wasn't the right time and would take too long considering the time the President had left in his term. What didn't they understand we, the people, wanted the truth and people be held accountable. We didn't want politics as usual.

And we know he may have been impeached but not convicted. So be it. It would have marked his term as President as flawed and had the Senate done their job, removed both the President and Vice President for "high crimes and misdemeanors" as defined by the Constitution. It worked in 1975, the country and nation didn't collapse, and proved to be stronger than we imagined.

And the same can be said here. We need a change of direction in the management and politics for the war in Iraq. We're in a long, almost endless war, of attrition depending on which side finally runs out of resources, namely people and national will. Both sides never run out of money as well as arms and weapons. It's likely, because of the simplicity and abundance of weapons used by the insurgents and the expensiveness of US technological weapons, the US will begin to blink first.

We can't sustain 200,000 troops and 100,000 contractors in Iraq with all the other global interests for US forces. Since the "surge" now is near-permanent, we're looking at a slow escalation of involvement because it takes troops to sustain the ever slowing losing civil war and this will require additonal surges of troops. And anything approaching disengagement or withdrawal only leads to a worsening.

But I wander. I want a public viewing of the evidence the President used in his 2003 State of Union address. I want a public discussion about the President and Vice President's conduct from 2001-2008 along with all the other people who helped. I want them before a House committee answering questions to the American people. Now we have to wait for history.

That's my view. Bush will leave office thinking he won. But I hope he lives a very long time and comes to the realization, as history will show, what a real screwup he really is and the damage he has done to the country and nation. I want him to see the history which he didn't see then.

Tuesday, March 25, 2008

JMO - Thoughts on Iraq

I was reading George Bush's comments on the 4,000 troops lost in Iraq, not to forget the 30,000+ permanently disabled and injured troops. I won't touch the issue of the innocent Iraqis killed, injured, disabled, displaced and emigrated. I was amazed that George doesn't seem to get the Vietnam connection, and not about the country, strategy or tactics, that's all different.

It's about the rhetoric. It hasn't changed. But what does bother me is the number of people who worked to create and justify this war, those neocons, especially Cheney, Rumsfeldt, Wolfwitz, etal, who lived through the Vietnam war era but didn't serve or have any military experience, and tout war as the answer. Even George Bush, who "served" on paper but didn't really serve (sorry, he's never proven he was on active duty and papers show him elsewhere), talks about the sacrifice?

I mean who can believe a man who tried to escape even Air National Guard duty? What can he say to the families of the 4,000+ dead soldiers? To the 30,000+ injured and disabled? He told the audience that he didn't want them to know their sacrifice was in vain. Hmmm..., somehow I heard that three-plus decades ago from two other Presidents about the 58,000 dead and 100,000+ injured and disabled from Vietnam.

If you want to believe what George and company wanted in Iraq, watch the PBS Frontline documentary on the Iraq war. If you've seen it, do you really still believe what he's said about why we're in Iraq? Remember the 2003 State of the Union address? Nothing he said was true and everything he didn't say was true, it was about global geopolitics and oil.

Then read the Washington Post series on Dick Cheney. Still believe this elite groups of neocons have America's and the American people's interests at heart, or their own personal interests and those of their corporate friends? A small handful of elistist egotist have damaged this country, this nation and the people more than any administration in history.

And we'll all pay well into the future, especially the young. I feel sorry for the youth of America. We, being a Vietnam-era vet and youth, still have the aftermath and after effects from that war, started and continued by a World War II generation of elistist and egos. We should have known better with Iraq except those that started and continue this war weren't of our experience. What didn't and don't the neocons understand about history?

What's my point here, beside ranting or venting, again? I don't know, but it sure relieves the anger and frustration about Iraq. I will always believe this was a wrong war. And I know we can't withdraw in the immediate future, no matter what the candidates say, but we can't stay more than about 4-6 more years without bankrupting the military, America and American's.

Bush's legacy will be giving us a war that can't end without losing. We might find a military victory in some sense, much like Vietnam where we announce victory for name sake, but unlike Vietnam where we completely left, in Iraq we'll stay. We'll have 3 or 4 permanent bases, the world's largest US embassy, and something on the order of 50-100,000 troops with as many private contractors.

That's my guess for the situation in five years or so, and probably worth as much as anyone elses. Even the best analysists and experts can't seem to provide any clear idea except muddy, fuzzy ideas about potentials and possibilities. So, I'm always open to hearing new ideas about what could and might happen, and hopefully, we'll begin to see something approaching reality. Or not.

And for now we're in the middle of a quagmire, where we're damed if we stay and damned if we leave. And the dead, injured and disabled on all sides will continue.

Sunday, March 23, 2008

JMO - Patriotism

I was watching Lou Dobbs today (Sunday) and Lou and the media journalists or analysists, aka pundits, talking about the last week's news, especially Barrack Obama's speech about the Reverend Wright. By the end of the session I was almost ready to strangle all of them, even Lou Dobbs, whom I respect as well as his show. They've been watching and analyzing the candidates too much they missed the message the common person gets with only the slightes attention to the media about the candidates.

They kept criticizing Obama for the speech, but their reasons seemed to be more about their opinion than anything actual, even being well respected journalist with decades of experience in politics and with politicians. Or, it's the case I misunderstood Obama's speech? I don't think so. While I saw their points, it seems the just overanalyzed it. Obama wasn't presenting it to them but to the American people who understood and accepted his explanation.

They did touch on one subject that touches the issue of the war. The candidates on both sides have made this campaign, as all of them since 9/11, about patriotism. But they didn't touch on the issue of patriotism that isn't being discussed. What is patriotism?

I'm angry our political system, especilally with George Bush and Dick Cheney, have hijacked the term patriotism from what it really means to something it's not. And I'm personally tired of the consistent argument many politicians and others use that their position on Iraq and the war there is patriotic and anyone who disagrees with their view or criticizes them is unpatriotic. Nothing could be farhter from the truth.

Patriotism, to me, is believing in the good of your country and the good of the people. It's about the freedoms and civil rights and liberties we have and our system of government, in and with all it's flaws and problems. And that's the key to me. It's not about one view anyone thinks or expresses as right, but the diversity of views and the freedom to express those views, no matter how conflicting and divergent.

And what's even more important to some, and me, is that I believed in my country enough, despite disargeeing with the President and his Vietnam war policy, to serve my country (1969-73). I am and always will be proud I served, and that also gives me the privilege to say I support my country. I don't believe you support it right or wrong, that's what the public forum and freedom of speech is about, but you will when called or needed, serve.

But I also respect the rights of those who haven't served, decided not to serve, or express their view by refusing to serve. That's the beauty of our republic and democracy, personal freedoms, even when we disagree with the majority and our government, and we're willing to accept the responsibility as well as the consequences of our decisions and actions.

To believe and support that is patriotism. It's about standing in the public forum and express your view, then listen to the view of others, and then discuss the facts, the reality, the views and whatever else to come to a compromise. Not that we all have to agree with it or have to agree to its entirety, but something we can accomplish to work toward if not actually accomplish a solution.

And that's what 9/11 and the war in Iraq has changed. Like many I saw the invasion and occupation of Iraq in the 2003 State of the Union address by President Bush. It was clear to me he was setting the stage for the invasion announcement, and it was just a matter of time when he made the decision to act, to invade another soverign nation without provocation or truthful reasons, as we now all then presented were lies.

The war was about global geopolitics and energy, nothing else. And now we're in the sixth year of this war with 4,000 soldiers dead, tens of thousands permanently injured or disabled, billions of dollars down the toliet and unaccounted, hundreds of thousands of Iraqis dead, the same or more permanently injured or disabled, millions emigrated or displaced, a country destroyed, a civil war now well established, millions in arms and weapons lost to the insurgents and terrorists, and our international reputation gone.

And if you were to ask if the person or persons responsible for this was patriotic, they would deny the facts and reality and say it was and they are, and anyone who disagrees with them is unpatriotic. Or so, our President, Vice President, many Congressional representatives, and other politicians would say. They would not only deny the truth but deny those opposing them the truth (we all know the secrecy now in the false name of national security) and their right to say it.

The truth is we're all patriotic. It's just some have made some really big blunders and have decided denial of the reality and rejection of opposing views is the better choice that stand in the public arena and not only hear the dissent, but listen and understand other patriots believe them to be wrong, badly wrong.

These same people who profess a false sense of patriotism are also the ones who think power and control make them better people and especially better patriots. Being a patriot isn't a lapel pin and espousing your sole right to be one, but about being humble to know without saying you are one. To respect the rights of all, especially to be and express. And to say we say we are all equal as is our views, and our patriotism.

And so, to anyone, especially politicians, and the President if necessary, that is my view of patriotism, and I'll fight for that view and my right to express my view. Plain and simple, I'm as patriotic as you.

JMO - Editorials on Iraq

Reading the Sunday newspapers, I ran across a few editorials which were interesting. On this Easter Sunday, 3,996 US soldiers have died in Iraq and nearly 500 in Afghanistan, just past the five year anniversary of the start of the war, and 6 weeks short of the same anniversary when President Bush declared "Mission Accomplished" on an aircraft carrier just off shore and out of sight of land from San Diego.

The Seattle PI made an excellent point about the war against Al Qaeda in Iraq. According to the best estimates there are about 6,000 Al Qaeda terrorists in Iraq, and about 160,000 US troops, not counting the additional 40,000 support troops, and 100,000+ security contractors, all fighting those 6,000 terrorists.

We know that's not the whole story as many troops are taken up with fighting Iraqi insurgents, criminals, and other elements in Iraq, as well as providing security in the many areas we've "cleared" of Al Qaeda. But that still leaves a lot of troops fighting 6,000 terrorists. So what's the problem?

And now we're not really hearing about victory, but a long, protracted war with many small successes against Al Qaeda. For how long no one seems to know and their best guess is 5-10 years minimum. And almost everyone is privately recommending permanent bases, which are under construction, something the new President won't stop, despite the campaign rhetoric they're "against the bases", meaning yes but not in the face of reality.

And the editorial goes on to point out that the Al Qaeda in Iraq is not the one of 9/11 nor the one with connections to Osama bin Laden in Afghanistan or Pakistan depending on our sources. They originated in Iraq after the invasion and occupation, are mostly Iraqis, and have no affiliation with bin Laden. Quite the contrary, they're exporting their knowledge and tactics to the Taliban in Afghanistan.

They argue it's time for some honesty with the American people, something neither side in Congress, the White House or on the campaign are providing. Only the same rhetoric in an election year to sell the ability to look tough, but with and against whom?

The New York Times had a columnist who also made some good points. A recent estimate calculated the war in Iraq and Afghanistan is costing every American household $100 per month. Except we're not paying this, our government is borrowing the money from the rest of the world, of which currently China hold 40% of that debt.

Think about that. China holds 40% of our national debt and the war debt. And our debt grows larger every day. And every day, future generations will have to pay it back with interest. And by the time the wars are over it will cost every American household $330 a month. Right off the top the family income, straight to the debt holders, no questions asked.

So what exactly does the debt collector say when calling the White House about payments?

And the longer the war goes on, the more we borrow and the more we don't rebuild America's infrastructure, provide jobs for Americans, secure the future health, welfare, education, etc. for everyone, and reduce the current national debt, now over $9 Trillion. That's $3,000 per American. Not household, but individual. That's $10-12,000 per household.

And that's only for the current debt, not the future one.

Finally, Representative Adam Smith, Democrat from Tacoma, Washington, wrote a good column on waterboarding. In short he points out that we have long held waterboarding and other forms of torture to be illegal, and we have prosecuted individuals after wars, including US soldiers who have used waterboarding and other forms of torture, expressing outlawed by the Geneva Convention.

And now the Bush Administration is following in the footsteps of those who have in the past not only condoned it but used it, including Saddham Hussein's government, along with the Khymer Rouge in Cambodia and the North Korean government. All the while Bush is saying, "We don't torture." Adam Smith says it's the integrity of the US that's at stake and Bush can't have it both ways.

Well, not a good way to discuss matter on Easter Sunday, but then again, maybe it is. Maybe George Bush should have a revelation about torture with his faith to understand what he's really doing. But then again, I doubt he will, if ever, realize the calamity he's created. I don't see he has the strength of character to see the truth and reality and his own failures as a human being, let alone the leader of a free nation.

He's one of those people you really wish would change to see what's he done. And he's more than almost anyone more in need of someone saying when he leaves this earth, in all sincerity, for all he death and destruction he has created, "May God have mercy on your soul." He will need it.

Saturday, March 22, 2008

JMO - Freedom is relative

If you follow the link with the photo, it's war photojournalist Yuri Kozyrev taking a photo of American troops' serial numbers on Iraqi citizens for each town or village for identification. While I can I see the simplicity of this for replacing any papers the US military requires citizens to carry for all the check points they must go through in the course of their day, it strikes me of something a little more sinister of times past when a government did the same to some of its citizens to label them.

While you think this is harsh criticism and this practice is necessary in a time of war, it's fair to ask who are we fighting, the Iraqi citizens? Who? Is every citizen a suspect now we mark them with numbers because we don't trust them or trust any papers they may have, which we may suspect is counterfeit, stolen or borrowed? Who's the enemy, them or us? And did we forget who's country it is?

And if you think we're the liberators helping them build a democracy, why aren't we working with them than controlling the situation, circumstances and the facets of their life there? And do we prove who we are, or being the occupying military, we can just do and say what we want? Who do we fear? The very citizens we're their to help?

My question is, if our government, in the name of security, tried this in this country, enforced by our military with checkpoints throughout the US, how far do you think they would get before we, the people, revolted? What's that, freedom? What a concept, but apparently when we said we were bringing it to the the Iraqi people, we weren't quite telling the truth? We only believe in our freedom to control you, and we can't give you your complete freedom, just yet.

Check out his images of Iraq, and check out other photojournalists, and tell me you still believe this, or any war, is a good war? When will we learn war doesn't beget peace, but simply more war?

Friday, March 21, 2008

Leopard Nikon update

I reported on my update to Leopard update that the one software that wouldn't run under Leopard was Nikon's Scan 4.0. Nikon did release an update, Scan 4.0.2, which I installed but couldn't get to run under Leopard. Well, an inquiry with Nikon's technical support got an answer.

The answer is one many PC's users know all too well, uninstall the software and reinstall it, then install the update, before testing it. With Apple, you simply find all the folders and throw them in the trash, which I did, except remember it's the full package with the libraries, etc. But Nikon had me first empty the trash and reboot the computer.

Welll, that literally removes it completely from your computer, and you either better have the original CD or know where it's on Nikon's Website, which I did find with a search - their Website isn't user friendly or easy to navigate. I reinstalled the original Scan 4.0, then installed the update 4.0.2, and then tested it with some slides. It works fine now.

I also updated my Silverfast software for my Epson V750 scanner which wasn't compatible with Leopard. The Epson software works but Epson gives you Silverfast software too, and it's a small charge to update or upgrade your version. Silverfast makes their software specific to each brand/model of scanner, so I have a choice now.

So, my Nikon Coolscan 5000ED is back in business. And thanks to Nikon. But it still doesn't change my view of them much beyond having some decent customer support occasionally. I'm not really knocking them, they make great products, and they're not alone in having badly designed Websites, Canon's isn't much better.

Oh, and yes, I updated my printer drivers. Both the HP 2605dn and Epson R2400 printers had updates for Leopard. So, it seems I'm done for awhile and back to normal. Now it's a matter of getting used to the new system, which isn't all that different but it's the small things that catch you off balance, "Now where did they put that utility..."

Apple's Leopard

It's understood that I'm not a fan of Microsoft's (MS') operating system and application software. From the two-plus year experience I had when they replaced my Sun Solaris workstation with a PC before I retired, I learned MS has to be the least user friendly, most dumbed down system and software invented. It's like it's meant for a high school student, and one they don't trust beyond them sitting in front of the computer.

Ok, a little harsh. Some people love them and do well with them. I prefered my Unix box I used for over a decade and a main frame computer terminal for another decade before that. When I retired I bought a Mac G5 and haven't regretted it for a moment. I rarely spend more than a few minutes a months on the computer itself and every update and now an upgrade to Leopard has gone smoothly. And none changed any user settings or preferences.

So this week I brought my computer down to install additional memory, now at 4.5 GBytes, and a new (second) internal hard drive, 500 GBytes, and to upgrade to Leopard. I wasn't sure how this would go. I'm running two scanners (Epson and Nikon) and two printers (Epson and HP). I expected their software to continue working except maybe with an update for minor stuff between Tiger and Leopard.

The upgrade from the CD and the two downloads went without a hitch. Everything updated and rebooted without problems. I'm not sure the new look is better, just different. After that it was opening all the packages if only to see they didn't break. And that leads to the second half of the story.

All opened and worked, even noting the additional hard drive where I moved all my images and free up space on the main hard drive for non-photography related work, except two. Nikon's Scan 4.0.X and Silverfast's scanner software for the Epson scanner.

Silverfast's error was known as I contacted them ahead of time to understand they have an upgrade for Leopard, but it requires buying it, again. They're one company that doesn't provide updates or upgrades for free, but they offer discounts for upgrades. It's highly regarded and recommended software, but expensive. I haven't decided if it's worth the cost since my Epson software still works.

Nikon's was a surprise. It's Nikon Scan 4.0.0. So researching the Internet I found many people with a similar problem going back at least 3-4 months. So, scrounging around Nikon's Website, which isn't user friendly for information, I finally found the update to Scan 4.0.2 for OS-X 1.5.0. Except they use a commercial compression package instead of ones provided by Apple.

That sucks. I'm sorry, no company should require an additional product to download and expanded their software. It's bad marketing and customer service. But I did get it since the update was supposed to work. And I say "supposed" to work. It didn't. It aborted with a new message, which automatically is sent to Apple.

Anyway, going back to Nikon's Website I try to send an e-mail for customer technical service. First, you have to have an account on their Website to ask a question. Then, you have to explore the FAQ, previous user questions, and their answer page before you can submit a question. Are you getting the picture they don't like customer service?

Ok, it's submitted and I'll wait, but I'll also explore other products, such as silverfast. And I've come to the conclusion Nikon has lost a customer for any future products. I like their scanner (Coolscan 5000ED), but that's it for me with them. No more Nikon products.

So that's the story of Apple's Leopard. Everything works but Nikon's.

Thursday, March 20, 2008

NPR - Friend and Newcomer

I talked about the last two cats I had, and about Alexander a Siamese I had for 21 years. Before those two came two domestic cats Linda and I had before we were married. Or really Linda had and we inherited when we moved in together. I can't recall what they looked like other than they were free spirited cats who came into our lives separately but formed a bond together and we were their home. They allowed us to take care of them when they wanted.

Linda lived in the farther rural areas north of Sacramento, even north of McClellan Air Force Base where houses were still on old farmsteads with open fields in between them. The suburbs were sneaking up to them but for the late 1960's it was still open country where, when it was dark without any street lights, it was dark, and the stars were easily visible.

Where I lived in NCO quarter on base, Linda lived in a small one-bedroom house behind a family house. I'm not sure what the house was originally for but they rented it out and Linda was the current resident with the various animals who inhabited the property, including Friend, a cat that liked everyone. Sit down and Friend would be in your lap in a heartbeat.

Linda also had an puppy that was a cross between a Spaniel and a bigger dog, no one knew what, but the puppy was big in terms of size, not height. It was the height of a Spaniel puppy but the size of a laborador or similar large dog. It weight over 40 lbs in its less than one foot stature. Its paws were the size of a man's fist. It was a super friendly dog, loved people, but it was also dumber than any dog I've ever known. It just didn't know what danger was and did really stupid things.

Anyway, when Linda and I were coming home one night, can't remember from what,but our transportation then was bicyles, during a moonless night we noticed something behind us, trotting along as fast as we pedalled. When we got home, a cat walked up, checked us out and went inside Linda's house. He stayed around the place for a week, made friends with Friend, the puppy and the other animials.

After a week he suddenly left. We thought he was just a drifting cat who wandered home to home. About a week later, he came back. He never left us again. Apparently he was comparison shopping for homes and we won. So he became Newcomer. He and Friend became inseparable, even when we finally moved into an apartment in Sacramento to be closer to work and places.

They loved the apartment complex and being outdoor cats, would wander around the immediate neighborhood, but almost always we could find them around the courtyard inside the complex and the swimming pool, usually on people's lap or lounging at their feet. They were never at a loss for people there. Occasionally they'd come home with grease spots on the top of their heads or on their body from exploriing cars and such.

The were a talented pair. They learned to open the cupboards for food and even the fridge for scraps. They ate anything left out, and it wasn't hard to see nibble marks on any food we forgot to put away. They even managed one time to get the Thanksgiving day turkey out from the fridge and we found the carcass under the dining room table with two very stuffed cats sitting upright with swollen bellies on the couch moaning, "We ate the whole thing." look in the eyes.

Despite that it was hard not to love them. Sadly, they were both killed within a week crossing the street. One first and a week later the other one in the same spot, we assumed looking for his lifelong friend. Had we known they crossed the street we would have moved where this wasn't a problem, but they always came home, the two of them.

Wednesday, March 19, 2008

NPR - Alexander

This is my Siamese cat, really half Siamese and half white domestic, Alexander. He was 21 years old when he had to be put to sleep in 1992 after experiencing kidney problems for nearly a year. He was half and half because he was bred from a pure male Siamese and a pure white female domestic, which preserves the Siamese color but gives the domestic features. He was intentionally bred away from the Siamese body and features.

Well, except he inherited the Siamese personality. Linda and I decided after our first two cats, Friend and Newcomer - that's another story, to start with the alphabet. We added Benjamin a few years later, a gray-white domestic we got from the local Animal Shelter. He was totally frightened there so we brought him home and Alexander made him a little brother, until Benjamin outgrew Alexander and became the larger little brother.

Anyway, they were opposites but pals. Alex loved the sun, and you could always find him wherever there was sunshine, just laying there feeling warm and sleeping. Benjamin hated sunshine and loved darkness, and you could find him in the darkest corner of a cabinet. Alex would run out the front door if you opened it, he loved to explore, and Benjamin hated it, and would forever sit just inside an open front door and look out but never leave.

But Benjamin had the cool habit of greeting you when you came home. When he heard the key in the lock, he would race to the door, jump on the table next to the door and wait. When you came in you had to reach down and touch your nose with his, and then he was happy and would jump down to escort you, with Alexander who thought that was beneath him, to the kitchen and the empty food bowl.

You couldn't even put anything down, take your coat off, or whatever, just feed them. And now. Or face the constant singing of two hungry cats. Then you could make yourself at home. But then eventually they would come to comfort you, or so you thought, when it was actually, "Pet us, please." Such are the life of cats.

They loved playing hide and seek, with each other or you, they didn't care, but really each other. One would wake from a nap and look around to see the other not there. You could see the look in their eyes that the other was hiding and planning a surprise attack. When it happened, they raced around the house for awhile, tumbling and play fighting, and then be done with it and go eat.

Sadly I lost Benjamin some years later. But Alexander lived to 21 when he was half blind, near deaf, arthritic, and had problems with his organs. His kidneys began frequently failing and had to be put to sleep. Which is one point of the post. Euthanasia.

It's not humane, just the most humane we can think of for now. I feel sorry for people who live in Animal Shelters and farms when and where they have to put animals down. There is no easy way to do it and it is notpainless, even if administered correctly. The animal has a few moments to realize something is happening, and it's not good.

Alexander was quiet when he was on the table, as he was tired and just wanted to sleep, whenI held him. When he got the shot, he suddenly woke up and looked at me with this huge look of fear. And then he fell limp in my hands, his eyes open and lifeless. It was over. And even all these years later, I miss him, faults and all, because he loved me faults and all.

The next cats, Christopher, to be an Abyssinian, and Daniel, a shelter cat, haven't happened yet. Some day, maybe.

Tuesday, March 18, 2008

JMO - The Draft

Last August I wrote a post about the draft. And now I want to revisit it because I haven't heard this subject being discussed in the debates with the candidates. It's the unspoken idea about the wars in Afghanistan and Iraq. We'l either talk about it now, except the candidates don't want to touch it, or sometime between this fall and early next year.

Almost all the now retired generals are saying what the active duty generals want to say but can't or won't, the military, especially the Army, is running out of resources, both people and equipment. And they're saying by sometime this summer or fall, the Army will be exhausted, and without an influx of new equipment and new people, we can't sustain the number of troops in Afghanistan or Iraq.

We would have to borrow troops from other assignments around the world or get new troops. The quota system isn't working as the Army lowers standards well below the acceptable minimum standard to get recruits, offering enlistment and re-enlistment bonuses, and pushing their new sources into legal and illegal immigrants. All the while we're overlooking our biggest resouces, the Army already knows.

Which is? The youth, those 18-26 year old men. The Selective Service Act has never expired so every man has to register when he turns 18. So the database is already there to start the draft, and all the Army needs is authorization and funding from Congress. It can't be done with a Presidential order, only Congress can authorize the reauthorization of the draft and then approve funds.

Ok, enough about it, my point? Why aren't the candidates talking about the troops and the problems we're facing with our troops and equipment in the future? I keep hearing about the war, the terrorists, the Iraqi government, the money, the importance of the troop strength, and on and on. But nothing about how long we can sustain this level of involvement.

Why? I don't know. Fear for votes? Likely. But where's the truth? They're not addressing the facts and reality. And the situation or circumstances where the draft would be and likely is the solution to the problem of troops. And my view on it? Like it matters?

Well, i've been there, done that. I faced it when I turned 18 in 1967 and when I lost my 2-S student deferment to being 1-A and within months of being drafted. I sweated out the first lottery draft in 1968 and become just inside the first list of birthdays which will be drafted. Not can be but will be. I faced the reality of the major decision in my young life, to enlist, be drafted or do something else.

While I'm totally against the draft for what it does, supply troops to an unjust, illegal, and unnecessary war, I'm against it because it never is fair or just. It's biases to the less economically and academcially advantaged. I'm against it because it's a power and control issue by the government in the name of their international political agenda.

But I'm also for it for one basic reason. It incites people to act. It did in the late 1960's to help change the public view of the Vietnam war. I'm for it because it will galvanize a generation, or some of it, and will polarize all of it too. But more importantly, it will bring everything to the forefront, into the public discussion.

And for that I'm for it. I want a debate about it. I want to know how the candidates view the draft and if it's something they'll consider if it's needed. I want to know what they think. They'll be the commander-in-chief of the military, so I want to know if they want it and will use it.

I want to know the truth of their view than their campaign rhetoric. A lot of young lives depend on it. I speak for them as someone who knows and understand what the draft means. So, dear candidates, it's in your court.

Monday, March 17, 2008

St. Patrick's Day Parade

The 2008 St. Patrick's Day Parade in Seattle was held Saturday starting at 12:30 pm with John Bruton, the European Union Ambassador to the US., as Grand Marshall with the Washington State Governor Christine Gregoire sharing the lead in the parade. She however, left after a block or so and Seattle Mayor Greg Nichols was not in attendence.

Ok, the photos. You can view them here. Again, I prefer to photograph the staging area and start of the parade. After that I focus on the people watching the parade for the first half mile of blocks or so, and then I'm done. I leave the rest to the photojournalist, something I want to eventually learn and do.

Before the flag raising ceremony I went to the Catholic Mass for Peace in Ireland at the Congressional Church in downtown Seattle. I have never been to a mass, so it was interesing. And near the end, John Bruton gave a short speech about the recent history and accomplishments for peace in Northern Ireland and translating it to the other war and conflict zones in the world.

After that I wandered around the staging area before it started. I learned that similar to the Thanksgiving Day parade, the organizers use the just in time staging for bands, dance groups/clubs and other people-only parade groups. All of those needing floats or vehicles were in the staging area. It seems you always learn, as I noticed the parade is actually longer than I thought last year.

Anyway, that's it for this year. I hope you enjoy them, and I'll come back again next year, with a little luck of the Irish.

Friday, March 14, 2008

JMO - Where is the victory

I've been listening to the news stories and interviews and reading the stories, assessments and opinions about the war in Iraq. And even to listening to the speeches of the candidates Clinton, Obama and McCain. While I have my opinion, I still haven't found an answer to the real question about Iraq.

Where is the victory?

Everyone seems to focus their definition of victory on their own personal interests, such as the war, terrorism, the troops, oil, and on and on, and they establish their own criteria on what is a victory there. But in reality, what is a real victory? Or is there really a victory such that there is no losers? Because we must not forget, if someone wins, someone loses, and history has shown losers only come back to fight another day.

Don't believe that? Try your history, especially from the Victorian times to World War II and then from there to now. Every war brought another one, in some form or manner, and nations were drawn into conflicts we thought we had solved. In short, there is no real victory, not without creating more enemies of the US by our own hand. We shouldn't forget in the future, we created them now. We won't have any excuse for our actions now when it comes back then.

And maybe the victory is in losing? No one wants the terrorists to win, but what will they win? We supported the Taliban in their war against the then Soviet Union (Charlie Wilson's war). We even supported Al Qaeda and Osama bin Laden with the Taliban. Even with the knowledge he sponsored global terrorism. We knew it and we called it a victory against Communism. And now?

We reaped what we have sown? Damn, we faced our own history and it's not pretty. We supported Saddham Hussein in his rise to power in Iraq, almost from the beginning of his career. We supported him from 1980-89 in his war against Iran with money, arms and weapons, technology (esp. chemical and biological weapons), and intelligence. We turned a blind eye when he wanted to invade Kuwait.

Yes, Donald Rumsfeldt was the guy in 1989 who personally told him that. But we don't know if we set him up to invade Iraq and hopefully occupy the country for a new government more favorable to the US. We tried global geopolitics and we ended up with the results after the 1991 war. So, what didn't we learn? And what could we have done?

According to the experts, we were doing ok after 1991 and in time Saddham would have been overthrown by someone, the question is whether if Iraq would turn Sunni or Shia. But did we actually bother to learn the difference? We knew we screwed the deal with Iran with our support for the Shah who was a ruthless dictator with our money, arms and weapons, technology and intelligence.

As we went with Iran we tried with Iraq, and lost. We're doing the same thing with Saudi Arabia, but the family of Saud has a strong strangle hold on the power to be overthrown. Saudi Arabia is Sunni and Iran Shia. The kurds wants independence which neither of them and Turkey wants. So, what's the answer? Our continued presence in Iraq until it's so obvious no likes us or wants us there? And how will we know and what will we accept.

We're already the uninvited relative who overstays their welcome. But we're writing big checks, so we're tolerated. We're never going to give any government of Iraq the stuff in needs to be a real government, like arms and weapons beyond small arms to fight the insurgent and other terrorists, techonology, and intelligence. We're greedy and protective this time. We learned and we've changed our tune and tone, but what does it wrought?

And that gets back to the question, what is victory? Are we, as a nation and people ready to pay for our presence in Iraq as we currently are but more so in Korea? Are we willing to see the dead and injury reports for 10 or 20 years, the continual upsettling of the Iraq economy, the continual reports of corruption and fraud with contractors and Iraqis, the continual rhetoric about fighting terrorists wanting to attack America, the continual civil war that keeps erupting in areas we once secured or we left, and the continual drain of $200-300 Billions every year?

This isn't an ideological war anymore. This isn't a war against terrorist connected with 9/11. This isn't war about WMD's. This isn't a war about establishing a democracy. This isn't a war about America's name or integrity. This isn't a war about winning for the sake of winning. This isn't a war to absolve the dead in a lost war. So what is it?

To me, it's a hybrid between Korea and Vietnam. We will be there a long time, decades, and we will have the continued dead and injuried. We will have the continual debate about the issues for the sake of issues, but none will address the real answers and solutions. We will have the continual political rhetoric and the media sound bites reducing the complexity to cereal we'll swallow, and agree to the war budget.

Do I have any answers? Not really. Yet anyway, but I'm still listening. We can't leave and we can't stay. We must withdraw troops but increase troops. We must decide about the future of our presence. But most of all, we must learn to listen andl learn real diplomacy to get the Iraq government to resolve their own country and nation. We can't build a new nation, so we must learn to stand aside.

And maybe the answer is just what's been suggested. We can leave, despite what those that say it would be a failure or it would show we're cowards. We can leave if the Iraqis want a country and nation. And that's what victory is to me. It's not about us, something we seem to have lost the perspective, it's about them. When we will learn that, we'll have our victory, and then can decide the timetable.

So that's my question and my answer. Not much, but a better start than the rhetoric I've heard or read to date.

Tuesday, March 11, 2008

Philosophical discussions

I was reading a post on about black and white digitial images and if an 8-bit image compared to a 16-bit image is really that worse for quality of the final image. The obvious answer is yes, but that answer has a lot of caveats, one of which is the argument about the depth of information in the image. Namely can do produce the image you want with 8-bit grayscale versuses 16-bit grayscale.

A similar logic applies to the argument when people argue to shoot raw format only, or if you really want, raw+jpeg, because raw offers so much more in the details in the images as well as the whole array of photo editing tools available to you to work with the file and produce an image. My view of this, often taken to the extreme for the sake of argument, is that this can make you photographically and camera stupid and computer smart. You can produce images but it doesn't make you a photographer.

Being a photographer, to me, is about standing behind the camera, to know what you're doing there with the scene, subject, light, exposure, equipment and so on to capture the best image you can. Being a photographer is also about producing good images, the product of your work, but focusing solely on the image production doesn't make you a photographer. It makes you someone, who in the old days of darkrooms where some people couldn't use a camera but were wizards with an enlarger, paper and chemicals, who can produce images, a printer as they were called.

Obviously that's an extreme view, and one I don't hold absolutely tight to my brain or heart. I like taking images, and I'm learning to produce images. I was taught photography with a 1960-era slngle lens reflex camera with the basic controls of ISO, aperture, shutter speed and a needle matching light meter. I learned about light, exposure, composition, etc. and I practiced my photography. I still use this when shooting with my 4x5 camera and in my studio photography, all manual. I've only adapted to aperture-priority when newer cameras.

Since I retired to focus more time on and in my photography I've learned a lot and will continue to learn every time. There's far more to learn than I can ever hope to know, so it's always a balancing act between learning, knowing and doing. And there always comes a time in the work I simply give up, because I'd rather be standing behind the camera than sitting in front of a computer.

I also like philosophical discussions about almost any aspect of photography. I like thinking and discussing the ideas behind and about photography, good tavern conversations on the nature of the work, the field, the endeaver, the technology, the people, and so on. But, as with any discussion, I get tired of the continual argument from the different camps espousing rigid rhetoric about the quality of their side.

And there always comes a time I get up and leave the discussion because I'd rather be taking photographs than arguing about them.

Monday, March 10, 2008

JMO - Guns in National Parks

I read editorial in the Tacoma New tribune about guns in National Parks. There is a rider on a bill in Congress to remove the ban to carry guns in National Parks, where the rule currently is that guns must be empty (rounds) and stored so no one can gain access to them while in the National Park. This was an easement in 1983 of the original outright ban in 1936 when Congress wanted to curb poaching in National Parks.

Now the NRA has convinced members of Congress to reverse this rule and if that doesn't work, the Secretary of the Interior Department, who oversees the National Park, wants to use the rule process. The rule would require National Parks to follow existing state laws for carry permits. This is blatant political pressure by the NRA without any justification for changing the existing rules, and will do more harm to backcountry rangers and any hiker in the backcountry.

And I am one of them. The last thing I want is hiking or photographing miles from the trailhead thinking someone with a firearm could easily rob, injure and even kill me and no one would know until I was found, if ever. That's scary. That would make people the most dangerous animal in National Parks than any other species, even bears, wild cats, or whatever.

The proponents for the change argue the National Parks should have uniform rules which follows the states which have laws for carry permits and allow guns in parks, but this argument is backwards because it's a National Park, not a state or local park, and the uniform rule should be a national standard one for every Park, not a hodgepodge of state(s) laws. All Natonal Park should be regulated and administered with the same standard.

Right now rangers can carry and use firearms when and where there is clear evidence of criminal activity, and they know anyone displaying a gun can and will be arrested and their gun seized. The law enforcement rangers have to go through an intensive and thorough training program to know how to use the firearm and the legal application of a firearm. There has never been a case of a ranger misusing this power or his firearm.

But adding people carrying firearms is more dangerous. We know the proliferation of guns in the US, it's out of hand, but allowing people to carry them in National Parks is too much. While the proponents are arguing it would allow citizens to protect themselves, we know that there is rarely a need for that, and most of the cases will be criminals and people who just want to use the backcountry for target practice.

In addition it would make each National Park subject to the firearms laws of each state(s) requiring rangers to know all the local, state and federal laws when enforcing the laws in the National Parks as well as learning to decide who is legally carrying a firearm and who is not. This is unworkable. The crimes by people and attacks by animals statistics doesn't support the need for the right to carry firearms.

The last thing I want is hiking and photographing in Mt. Rainier National Park and have to keep an eye out for everyone because they might be carrying a weapon and decide I'm fair game.

Friday, March 7, 2008

NPR - Random thoughts

This is a wandering post, about a bunch of stuff I couldn't find enough to write about on the individual topics, so I'll pile them into one on a cloudy windy afternoon here in paradise. They're predicting a series of at least 3 storms coming through from this evening into Monday. Gee, thanks.

Anyway, onward with some thoughts, but before that, the photo isn't what you may think it is. Downtown Seattle is a wonderful place for street photographers. And many of the transients parse through things for stuff to sell or trade. And that's all this guy was doing, I just caught the moment during the St. Patrick's Day parade in 2007.

The parade itself was a disappointment. For one, the staging areas wasn't much to photograph. The parade was too short and raining all day. But the photo ops for people was great. I haven't decided if I will go again, but it does put me downtown and walking around for other photo ops, like this photo.

First, some rants.

What's with two or more women with their carts in grocery stores talking and taking up the whole aisle in the process? They'll stand there for the longest time oblivious to the world and people wanting by.

What's with women in grocery stores on cellphones? They wander around aimlessly talking and shopping and not paying attention to the fact they're in the way of other people.

What's with people on cellphones at deli counters? While the server behind the counter is talking to them about their order, they're talking on their phone.

What's with people with big, nearly empty carts in grocery stores who go so slow, and then stop in the middle of an entry to an aisle blocking everyone, and looking down the aisle for anything interesting totally oblivious to the world?

What's with people who wait in line at Starbucks, or any cafe for that matter, talking to friends in line and then getting to the cashier to decide what they want? And then have to fish through the pockets or purse for their wallet, and then for the card or money.

What's with guys in big four-wheel trucks, usually white or black with big off-road tires, driving 60+ mph on the multi-lane highway or Interstate talking on their cellphone, oblivious to everyone else?

What's with software company's that when you install an upgrade ask for the serial number of the old version, except in the installation you overwrite that version and lose the serial number? What are they thinking or did they really test the installation?

What's with drivers and crosswalks? They're supposed to know the law. Ok, I've been walking of late as the van's in the shop, but geez, folks, what don't you understand the rights of people?

What's with people who walk their dog right past the leash law sign and the station to get the waste disposal glove to let their dog run free and then not clean up after them, and then when asked they say, "He a nice dog and is not trouble."?

Second, a book.

I'm reading Karen Armstrong's book, "The Bible: a biography", and it's interesting. She was on KUOW's Weekday show. Fascinating stuff that really disposes almost everything they preach about the Bible these days.

I'm not getting religious or anything. I still haven't read the Bible and in Mom's estate they found mine from the mid-1950's, a basic King James edition. I don't plan to read it, yet anyway, I want to undestand the history of the Bible first. And Karen's book is interesting. The modern day interpretation of the Bible as absolute and factual is totally biased and wrong.

Apparently the Bible was written, edited, rewritten and on and on as a general guide in and for life than a rigid doctrine, or dogma, for living. Because it's always bothered me why preachers think it's so absolute when it's been through so many translations. It never was the word of God but the word of man in God's name.

Anyway, I'm still reading and thinking.

Third, the Presidential campaign. I'll keep it short. Now I wish it would be short too.

Fourth, getting old. You know those small aches, pains and problems that slowly sneak into your body. I've been a runner-jogger for 30 years running 15-20 miles a week with occasional hiatuses for work and life that happens. I rarely had any problems except occasional shin splints and a few days off usually solved the problem. That was until last fall when I got shin splints which hasn't gone away, even switching to walking 6-9 miles a day 3-4 days a week.

And over the years I've been a on and off avid day hiker, hiking 2-4 weekends a month 6-12 miles per day. I never had any problems with shin splints or blisters. But until last fall, again, I get blisters almost every time I walk now. It's just one of those things you just get frustrated about. but I know compared to many people's life and health, it's small and trivial. It's not cancer or some other life threatening illness or condition.

It's just the reality of getting old, but it still sucks.

Fifth, health supplements. Ok, it's not about the quality of their products, because I doubt very much if we really know the claims about the value and quality of their supplements is true or not. We only know what happens when we take them. And I've taken 4-6 over the decades for a variety of conditions, mostly digestive, joints, etc.

Ok, my complaint is when they suddenly decide to discontinue one they've marketed for decades. Why? I don't know but I've had to find substitutes or replacement for 2 of the 6 I now take. In just two months. One took a month of e-mails and phone calls by the store where I order it and myself to discover they just renamed it, so it didn't show up in the catalog under the old name nor did they reference the change.

The other one was just discontinued and an hour in the store comparing ingredients I found a slight different one which will work. I don't know it may even be better, but I won't know for awhile as my body adjusts. So my complaint. Change for the sake of change isn't really change, jsut something to be different.

Ok, that's the random thoughts of the day. And they're like the handouts you get from street vendors, just read or ignore it and toss it.

Thursday, March 6, 2008

JMO - I wonder

There are days, listening to NPR news and interview shows, reading the newspapers or talking with people, I wonder if...

listening to the story of the Palestinian shooting students in a seminar and the Isreali Army firing rockets into the Gaza Strip we'll ever have peace in the Middle East.

listening to the story about the Washington State Legisltature trying to pass a toy protection act, regulating the degree and amounts of contaminants in toys, passing the House but being defeated in the Senate because the toy companies and importers hired lobbyist at $50,000 a day to convince Senators the bill is poison, we'll ever really decide that the future of our children is more important than money or politics.

reading about the warrentless surveillence laws in Congress, and our President demanding it be passed to fight terrorist or face bombs in the US and then the NSA, CIA and FBI release announcements that they've abused the existing laws, violating people's rights and protections, that we'll ever really see it's all a hoax and if we don't change direction to restore human rights, civil rights and protections and our democracy and republic, we'll find the corporations, military and intelligence agencies have taken control of our government.

reading about the nearly $1 Trillion deficit we have with China, we'll ever see the folly of our decisions decades ago and discover there is nothing we can do anymore except spiral down into becoming a world power as a second rate ecomony.

reading about the NSA monitoring our use of the Internet, we'll discover they've already read our computers and thinking about something - where it's just on our computer - is against the law.

listening to the history of the stories about the quality of water in the Puget Sound and the rivers flowing into the Puget Sound, and all the predictions of declining water quality that have come true, we'll ever stand up and say how stupid we've been not to protect the Puget Sound and have to admit we've lost the fight to save the Puget Sound.

reading the story about the photograph taken in 1988 of Helen Keller with her teacher Anne Sullivan, we'll realize the value of film.

thinking about poverty, will we ever learn to find answers and solutions.

thinking about guns, will we ever grow up and learn to deal with the issue so everyone feels safe without them.

thinking about the homeless, we'll find homes for everyone.

thinking about children, we'll realize they're our future, and we'll learn to do what it takes to provide the education, health care, welfare, safety, security and freedom to be children.

reading about the war in Iraq, we'll learn peace through war isn't an answer but only begets more wars, and we'll learn peace begets peace.

thinking about the environment, we'll realize that acceptable levels of pollution means we've lost the goal of no pollution, and we'll learn the planet won't be same ever again.

listening to the story of the ocean becoming deserts of life, we'll realize the movie Solylent Green was right, the oceans will die long before we discover life is dying.

thinking about the diversity of people, we'll learn to just let people be themselves and we won't need laws protection minorities.

thinking about people, we'll learn to judge people "by the content of their character."

reading about the Bible, we'll realize it's not a fixed document but an ever-changing, living one, and we'll learn it's not historical fact but just stories.

thinking about religions, we'll learn they're all basically the same, about being human and a good person.

and thinking about it, I'll think of more wonders and what ifs.

Tuesday, March 4, 2008

Respect ownership

I know this is a diatribe in the face of the reality of the world today, the Internet with all the free stuff, such as music, books, news, articles, and even photographs and images. It seems everyone thinks and likes everything is free if it's posted there, and don't seem to want to recoginze or respect an individual's ownership of their work, from music, writing or images. If it's there it's equally shared with and by everyone.

Ok, a bit much and not everyone, but then it's seem all too common someone steals some images from a photographer's photo gallery to use under their name, to print for their interests, or post on their own Website or blog. We seem to thinks it's ok to download from a Website and upload to their Website without recognizing copyright or publication laws or posting the photographer's identity or link to their Website. I know my images aren't that great for anyone to really like let alone steal, I post to express my own work.

I've posted what I view of image copyright, and you can get a full view of the legal issuses and laws from the Library of Congress. And I know to many people this is more of a big, "Huh?", since they don't seem to grasp the idea about intellectual property rights. I don't know why nor if they'll ever understand, but I can hope they will or have an experience where they learn.

If you do download images because you think it's free, and all the labor and love the photographer put into getting the photograph and producing the image is lost on you, do you ask yourself if it were in a store, would you steal it then? You would have buy it. So why think because it's on the Internet, where the photographer is displaying their images to showcase their work for prospective customers and other photographers, it's now there for free?

Why all the noise? Well, a recent post on told about a guy in India posting copyrighted and published images on his blog with no recognition of the photographer, and in some cases, labelling some of the images as his. He can't be prosecuted for copyright infringement but his Internet Service Provider (ISP), located in the US, can be notified to discontinue his Websites. That's about the limit of international copyright infringement.

But even then some of the ISP's aren't all that cooperative to shutting down people violating copyright infringement. Google's Terms of Service pretty much distances themselves from the content of their user accounts, and goes so far as not post any e-mail contacts anymore to notify of copyright infringement, even requiring it be repetitive infringement and any complaint filed in writing to their address.

In short, the ISP's don't really care, but if you care so much, they'll think about it. We've dropped to a level of living with the situation because no one wants to spend the time protecting other peoples intellectual property rights. The ISP's just want the ad revenues from users' account and don't want to be bothered with the content. But touch their stuff and they change quickly into a defense of their property rights.

So the big ISP expect the individual photographer to take time from their life and work to document and prosecute anyone they find stealing their images, except it's almost impossible to know when, where and who is stealing their images. Most incidents of discovery come from happenstance or by luck, or sometimes when someone else notices your images somewhere else. So, the photographer is left to display poor quality images, knowing there is little anyone could do with them if they were stolen.

And that reduces the quality to those viewing them, It's not hard to produces Web-only images, all the software packages has several ways to do that. It's just the nature of the world today. We can share, just not share the best of what we have to offer the world.

Sunday, March 2, 2008

NPR - Interesting Aphorisms

I've been reading James Geary's book, "The World's Great Aphorists." If you have to buy someone one book as a gift, this book is it. You can read it anywhere and reread it again because you'll forgot who the aphorists were and what they said.

And you'll be surprised who expressed an aphorism. I discovered that most ideas said in an aphorism was said a really long time ago. Not a few decades but centuries and millenia. Remember Carl Sagan's, "We're all made of stardust."? How about, "All are of the dust and all turn to dust again." - Ecclesiates, 450-330 CE? You'll find every new thought has been expressed before, slightly differently and relatively to their time, but still the same.

So far the two that interests me the most are Viktor Frankl and William James.

Viktor Frankl survived the concentration camps during WW II after which developed a new school of psychological therapy and the idea of existentialism. He wrote the book, "Man's Search for Meaning", which I highly recommend. His insights from his experience in the camps is worth some time thinking about your own life.

The one I like the most, "Ultimately, man should not ask what the meaning of his life is, but rather he must recognize that it is he who is asked.", flies in the face of almost any religion and faith, but I find it to the point. We're not the ones who have the right or the privilege of asking some god the meaning of our own life. We have to make our life meaningful within the situations and circumstances of our experience and answer when we're asked its meaning.

He had a number of aphorisms from his camp experience and from his later years as a psychologist developing the school of Logotherapy.

William James was a pioneering psychologist who started the "stream of consciousness" (or thought in his words) view of thinking along with the idea one's physical state creates emotions than the reverse, kinda' the idea about endorphins from work, exercise or being productive creating euphoria and other emotions and feelings.

Some of his aphorisms predate the modern version of them, such as,

"Begin to be now what you will be hereafter.",
"Man can alter his life by altering his thinking.",
"When you have to make a choice, and don't make it, that is in itself a choice."
"This life is worth living, we can say, since it is what we make it."
"The art of being wise is the art of knowing what to overlook."

And you thought ideas were new?

And these and many other thoughts and ideas, expressed so eqoquently and succinctly, are as old as man. It's just these people decided to write them down.

JMO - Why Obama would be good

The Democrats are engaged in a very interesting primary election campaign, and although I don't listen to the debates or the interviews very much and don't listen to the mainstream pundits either, I read and listen to enough to see the distinctions between Hilary Clinton and Barack Obama, and know why Obama would be a good President.

I'm not discounting Ms. Clinton's capability to be President, she is very intelligent with the skills to be President. I think, however, the differences are significant enough to make a choice about the future of this country. And while I have some criticisms about or with Obama, I have a lot more criticisms with Ms. Clinton. And it's not about her personality or temperament, but about the way she would be as President.

And that is what it is about, being President. I see Obama offers what John Kennedy did in 1960, hope. Not blind hope as maybe then when we were young and naive about the future, but hope about making this country and nation the envy of the world. We don't need to be a military power anymore, we only need enough to help when called up or attacted by another nation.

Ms. Clinton, like McCain, in my view, sees our military power as our trademark. It's time the change that image. If we hadn't attacked and invaded and are occupying Iraq, but focused on Afghanistan, we would be see far better in the world's eyes than we are now. We wouldn't have the huge war debt, the many killed and injured soldiers and the hatred of every terrorist group in the world.

I won't go much into the issue of the Iraq war. I saw in coming in Bush's January 2003 State of the Union Address. I was against it then and still was. I hate all the polticians who voted for it then and still hold it against them. It was the worst thing Congresss has ever done, give Bush the power to do anything he wanted in the name of fight terrorism, and we're seeing the results of that stupidity now and will be for generations.

I admired Senator Robert Byrd's speech against the war funding bill. He and the few other politicians, like Obama, were right, and very few of those who voted for the war have apologized to the American people. And even though Ms. Clinton says she would go for a withdrawal of troops from Iraq, her previous speeches and statements say otherwise. She supported the war in 2003 and she still supports it today.

And that is reason enough for me not to vote for her. There are other reasons, some of which I'm now tired of hearing her whine about Obama. The truth is she doesn't have that much more experience than Obama, so her talk about "more experience" is a farce and a lie. Being First Lady under President Bill Clinton is good experience but doesn't count in my book compared to Obama's community and life experience.

But the real reason I like Obama is simply he's open, honest, and offers this country to opportunity for real change. He doesn't have a real agenda and therefore will be open to all sides in a discussion over any issue. I would rather know we can argue for something with the President than have to argue against something else with another President. It's better to know the President will listen because they haven't decided yet, than one who won't because they've already decided and discussion is futile.

The trouble is that I like John McCain, or at least I did in 2000 and wanted to see a Presidential compaign between John McCain and Bill Bradley (I still am a Bill Bradley for President person). I'm less enamored about him now. I like Hilary Clinton, and know she would be make a good President but she's just to the right of center where I'm a middle left-center independent, and she show too many signs of checking the wind before she decides and votes.

And this leave Barack Obama. The least experienced of the three but he doesn't lose anything in credibility to the others. He's the gamble, and as I we liked John Kennedy then, with all the good and bad (remember he got us in deep in Vietnam), he still did the right thing in most cases. We gambled then with a equally hopefully candidate, and it's time again to give hope a chance.

And another reason Obama may be better is that we know McCain has some political baggage to pay if he were elected President, including his Vice Presidential nominee and especially his cabinet. His history in Washington means his cabinet will be more of the base Repubiicans, meaning the old crony network in the name of experience.

And Ms. Clinton won't be much better as here contributors have been from the mainstay Democratic party and corporations. She has her own old crony network along with those she's had long ties with in her political, public and legal career. I don't see here being innovative about people for her staff and cabinet.

Obama will have the opportunity to bring in a diverse group of people with the breadth of experience from many aspects of our country, including the younger generation. And it's this idea of possiblities that provides the best hope for this country. And yes, I know he has his cronies and friends, but I haven't seen it yet.

So, Mr. Obama, so far, you have my vote. And now I hope you'll listen to us as you promised. You offer us hope, and we'll offer our hope we'll be heard.