I am, therefore, I muse

I never know how to introduce these posts. One could well argue that the point of these posts, the purpose for their existence, is to show off a few photos.

On the other hand, given their quality, one could rightly assume the photos are but sacrificial offerings to the brilliant musings therein . . . you know, if only these were brilliant musings.

Right . . . that sets up the first topic: Photography.

Specifically, photographs. I’m sometimes told my photos are pretty good. I’ve learned to take those pronouncements at face value. That is, the person(s) making the pronouncement probably like the photos and are not just being polite.  

I mean, I can’t argue with them since I also like my photos. 

But, take the above two photos . . . I mean, don’t literally take them; they are copyrighted. 

Rather, consider the above two photos. Individually, they might impress a reader. But, presented as a pair, they conflict with each other. The subject matter is the same — Pikes Peak — but the colors are different. 

Most photography blogs I read usually present one finely crafted shot. That’s it; one photo. On those rare occasions where they splurge and show more than one photo, the colors, subjects, presentation, everything about the photos complement each other. 

Me? I’m likely to throw up a photo of grass followed by a mountain and then some garden decoration.

Now, I’m not above doing a whole post about grass seeds. Presented in artsy settings, to boot. But, that’s not my usual M.O. when I post something.

But, you ask, what about World Affairs

Wow, that’s a good question, Bob. 

I’ve been reading mixed reactions about the US bombing a base in Syria. Some people approve, others not so much. Often, that’s split along party lines, but not always. 

I’m ambivalent about it. We shot something like $70M-$100M (depending who is reporting the cost) worth of armament and did what looks like not much damage and it’s not clear to me where we go from here. 

On the other hand, it sends a message: “don’t do that again!”

But, on the third hand (if we had three hands), I can’t help but be a little annoyed. 

The analytical part of me, the part that thinks with little emotion, does not understand why the use of chemical weapons merits this response.

Let me explain . . . yes, chemical weapons are terrible, but so is being tortured, having pieces of one’s body blown off by ammunition of various calibers, being burned by exploding stuff, and many other ways humans employ to brutally kill each other. 

The numbers vary but for sake of argument, let’s say 100 people were gassed and died. To date, how many people has al-Assad tortured? Shot? Bombed?

I can’t help but feel annoyed at the message we’re sending not just to al-Assad but other dictators around the world. 

“OK, listen, and listen good, because we mean it: you can kill people using unspeakable torture, you can kill babies with knives, bullets, and bombs, you can rape and then kill women in any number of ways, in fact, you can commit genocide in as large a scale as you want, but you better not use chemical weapons. Do you hear me? I’m serious!”

Now, I get it . . . the moral questions are not easy; I don’t know if we should be the world’s law enforcement agency, but I’m also not clear as to our moral obligation when we can do something to stem genocide but we choose not to act. 

When we do act, it’s difficult separating righteous moral obligations from selfish business interests from imagined security concerns from religious-based biases, from . . . well, you get the idea. 

Plus, you know, it’s not like in the wars we fight we don’t indiscriminately bomb civilians. Who’s taking us to task?

And then, you throw Politics into the mix. 

That’s right, Politics . . . the level of disgust I hold for both parties is beyond measure. I know, I know; I’ve used that phrase before. In my defense, it still speaks to how I feel. 

On top of people on both sides being dishonorable, liars, and self-serving, I now see a new disturbing trend. I mean, it’s not new, but it’s more widespread than I remember. 

We no longer just argue ideas . . . we now attack persons. By that, I mean that it’s not enough for pundits to question the actions of politicians, they now do it while sprinkling insults and sometimes lewd insinuations. 

Look, I’m all for ridiculing views, especially political and religious views that run counter to what we understand of the world, but there is a difference between ridiculing an idea and demeaning the person holding that idea.

That’s an ad hominem attack and it’s not helpful in making your case against someone. Sure, you can question and even accuse someone of being wrong and misinformed and ignorant. But, you do that by providing proof of such attributes in the form of countering evidence and reasoning. 

For example, I can easily refute many of Trump’s statements and even those of his now politically relevant family but adding insinuations of incest does nothing to bolster the argument. I can certainly rail against some of Michelle’s Obama’s views, but how does my argument get any stronger by calling into question the way she looks?

These kind of things were always present and practiced by the fringes of fanatical Liberals and Conservatives, but they are now leaking into mainstream television. They may be presented as jokes, but they are still in very bad taste and say something about the character of the people making the jokes and the character of people who laugh at them. It says they have no class. 

I mean, what kind of Culture are we becoming?

Why, Bob; you’re hitting all the topics today. Are you using cue cards?

So, culture . . . from Wikipedia:

“. . . that complex whole which includes knowledge, belief, art, morals, law, custom and any other capabilities and habits acquired by man as a member of society.” 

Alternatively, in a contemporary variant, “Culture is defined as a social domain that emphasizes the practices, discourses and material expressions, which, over time, express the continuities and discontinuities of {the} social meaning of a life held in common.”

Essentially, I view culture as who we are and what I see is not fostering optimism. By any metric I can think of, we are failing in what I consider the primary goal of any society: to better ourselves. 

We, as a society, are getting dumber, less tolerant, less charitable toward the opinion of others, selfish, cowardly, unwilling to sacrifice anything, unwilling to take responsibilities, more than willing to screw each other for even the more banal reasons . . . I could go on, but I think I’ve made my point. 

Understand, not at the individual level. For the most part, personal interactions are still relatively civil. The problem is that we often abdicate our individual identity for that of a larger group. 

No greater example exists than the political and religious groups literally at each other’s throats. Things are said and done as part of a group that we would never do as individuals. At the group level, we are definitively NOT a civil society. I’ve written before as to what I think is the culprit . . . not only the tendency but also the ease with which one avoids discourse. Especially, discourse that would challenge the views one holds dear. 

Want to know what I think is at the root of it all? Religion.

Understand, I don’t mean to attack beliefs. Well, OK, I do; maybe not attack, but at least question. 

But, not here and now . . . beliefs are a problem, sure, but we all hold beliefs. 

No, the main problem I see with religions is two-fold; religions discourage questions and religions ignore evidence. 

I don’t care what religion you follow; if you are not questioning what you are being taught and if you deny evidence that is presented in front of you, you are impeding the advance of civilization, and that is a problem. 

The peripheral problem is that religious people claim exemption from the normal working of society. Not only don’t they question what they do in the name of a sadistic and cruel god, but they don’t want us to question it either. Faith, they maintain, is like a shield protecting them from reason, from logic, from evidence-based opinions, from laws that others have to follow, from responsibilities toward others. Faith protects them from having to take other people into consideration. Faith gives them immunity and absolves them of all the evil they do. 

As an atheist, I’m sometimes asked what would make me believe in this or that god. 

It’s a funny question because even if I knew their god existed, I would not worship it and I would not follow it. I would fight against it with all my might as I would fight anyone who would rob me of my life, of my freedom, and demands obedience under the threat of torture. 

The question I would have them answer is “why do you follow your god?” 

I would also ask “why that god and not another?”

I’m kidding; I would not waste my time. If logic, reason, and evidence are not enough to sway them, why would I expect a cogent answer to those questions? At best, I can expect the catch-all answer of “faith” and at worst, I can expect to be physically attacked. 

It’s getting late, and I’m running out of photos. OK, OK, not really; I have a veritable crapload of photos, but it is late.

Let me finish with this:

I don’t understand how people can come to such widely different views about life, about politics, about the responsibilities of each human, about the nature of existence. 

Even so, my beef is not with people who hold differing views if arrived through reasoned examination. We might not agree on the path to it, but we likely agree on wanting to improve society for all and we likely agree on the basic rights of individuals. 

Unfortunately, it’s been a long time since I’ve met such a person; so long that I no longer hold any hope of meeting them.  

To all the others, I would ask them these questions:

Do you really think that a 51% to 49% majority gives you the right to do whatever you want?

Given the current level of intolerance and outright hatred you hold for people who think differently than you, where do you see it all end? Civil wars? Riots? Bashing in the heads of your neighbors and that of their child?

What do you see as the end game to literally one-half of the population hating the other half of the population?

Actually, I’m not sure I want to know the answers to those questions; I don’t expect I would like them much. 

# #

Let me end with a left turn . . . have you ever heard of felted soap? Well, I never had, but when I did a search, there are all kinds of them out there.

If you are a person interested in felted soap, let me direct you HERE. You can order those HERE.

I want to stress that I have not tried these. People who comment on the blog seem to like them, but as I’m prone to react to new soaps, I’m not likely to try them.

Also, let me say I’ve not been asked to do this. I just think what they are doing is interesting. This is their ABOUT and this is a brief history of what went on before. If interested in a self-sustaining way of life, what they are doing should be very informative.

And, no, I’m not planning on doing that. Too old, and too set in my comfortable and decadent ways.


You can click on individual photos for a larger version or you can go to THIS SmugMug Gallery for the full-size versions or you can scroll through the gallery below. 

Here’s the Gallery:

That’s it. This post has ended . . . except for the stuff below.


Note: if you are not reading this blog post at DisperserTracks.com, know that it has been copied without permission, and likely is being used by someone with nefarious intention, like attracting you to a malware-infested website.  Could be they also torture small mammals.


Please, if you are considering bestowing me recognition beyond commenting below, refrain from doing so.  I will decline blogger-to-blogger awards.   I appreciate the intent behind it, but I prefer a comment thanking me for turning you away from a life of crime, religion, or making you a better person in some other way.  That would mean something to me.

If you wish to know more, please read below.

About awards: Blogger Awards
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Note: to those who may click on “like”, or rate the post; if you do not hear from me, know that I am sincerely appreciative, and I thank you for noticing what I do.

. . .  my FP ward  . . . chieken shit.

Finally, if you interpret anything on this blog as me asking or wanting pity, encouragement, or advice to better my life, know my subtle mix of irony, sarcasm, and humor is blowing right by you.