Notes 20 Photos and some thoughts — Part 1

For them not interested in reading, you can see the photos in THIS<<link SmugMug Gallery.  

For a SmugMug slideshow, click HERE<<link. When you click the link, it will open in a new window, and you have two options:
1) Manually scroll through the photos by clicking the “<” and “>” symbols to the left or right of the photos.
2) There’s a PLAY/PAUSE button at the bottom-left of the screen with the transition set at about 5 seconds. Note: clicking the PLAY arrow will run a full-screen slideshow. You can then still use the”<” and “>” symbols to the left or right of the photos (this will pause the slideshow).

If you want the full experience, keep reading.

Photo taken at a flowerbed in front of Herrin Hospital.

The photos in this quick series of posts have all been taken with the Note 20 this May, lightly processed in Lightroom (see what I did there?), and output for this blog post.

Actually, a few of the photos were processed on the Note 20 using  Snapseed (you’ll know them because they are duplicates). For instance, here are two versions of the same photo, with the second one processed by Snapseed.

A spider I could not specifically identify

The cropping is a bit different, and you can tell the watermark is different.

Anyway, it’s been a long time since I shared any thoughts. This is not for lack of thoughts. Rather, because of an abundance of them. Maybe even an overabundance.

But, there is another reason . . . we live in a time when one’s opinion needs to conform to those of any number of groups. Meaning, if you tend to stray from anyone’s accepted narrative, not only no one will listen to you, but you might be attacked, vilified, shamed, doxed<<link, and a bunch of other stuff that most people find distressing. It’s not that I worry about being attacked, but I don’t need the hassle. I mean, sure, who does, but my concern is more about being exposed to ignorance, irrationality, and just plain stupidity.

The above is from a shrub I’ve shared before. A shrub whose leaves tend to capture and hold water even when almost sideways.

Note how the drops of water act as a magnifying glass to enlarge the structure of the leaf.

Speaking of stupidity, here’s an interesting article (LINK) on the subject.  Come to think of it, this is also a nice read (LINK).

Anyway, my thoughts . . . let’s begin with something that appears to be new, but isn’t: Cancel Culture. For them not familiar, here’s a LINK to the Wikipedia article about it. You can find many articles about it, both in its defense and its condemnation.

Another spider I could not identify. Very small, and difficult to focus on because it moved around erratically.
I’ve shared this rock before, but this time it’s a bit clearer.

These days, cancel culture is mostly associated with the Far Left (and the Left … and Center-Left, and Center, and Center-Right, and Right, and — of course — the Far Right).

Basically, from where I stand, there is no single group that can be absolved of the practice, no matter how much they profess to be against it. Sure, the Left/Far-Left are often in the news for it, but let’s not forget the many years the Right/Far-Right advocated the same thing and still do.

Basically, we’re talking about human nature: if someone doesn’t like something, they typically don’t want to hear it, read it, see it, or even be aware it exists. In fact, they’d rather ‘IT‘ did not exist at all.

These days (and all them previous days as long as I can remember or read about), ‘IT‘ refers to an opinion different than their own opinion.

Those two photos are from a rose bush in our backyard . . . I don’t particularly like these types of roses because the flowers are only nice-looking as buds and immediately after they open . . . soon after opening, they look kind of junky.

So, back to Cancel Culture and the hypocritical behavior associated with it . . . I could give examples, but I think any individual honest with themselves recognizes their own behavior is exactly the same as the behavior of people they might be reading and tsk-tsking about.

. . . and the opinion of individuals who are not honest with themselves won’t be swayed by examples; they’ll rationalize why it’s OK for them (but not others!) to ‘cancel’ someone. Hence, no examples … there be plenty online and in the news.

For me, it’s simple: I’m a proponent of free-speech. Sorry; let me rephrase it . . . I’m a proponent of FREE SPEECH.

What does that mean? That means the Pope, Joe Biden, Trump, Bill Gates, George Soros, and everyone else can say whatever they damn well please . . . and it’s then up to me to decide if what they say has merit, has any basis in truth, or is even worth listening to. For the record, none of the people mentioned by name have my ear (although people often endeavor to tell me what each of them bastages said, to which my typical response is “I don’t care; they are lying bastages“).

We used to have a lot of Columbines in our yard in Michigan. We had some in our yard in Colorado (the Columbine is Colorado’s state flower), and we have none here.

We don’t really have flowerbeds per se. Well, one, at the far corner of our lot. The point is, there’s not a place for me to plant them and the thought of establishing new flowerbeds is at odds with our desire to leave the house for longer trips. We don’t have lawn sprinklers, you see, which means that unless we have regular rains (we don’t) the flowers would die.

Back to thoughts . . .

I seem to have left out females. Before you cancel me for misogyny, let me throw out a few names to cover my misogynous ass . . . Hillary, Oprah, Beyonce, Ingraham, and any female who cares to offer up an opinion . . . I don’t respect the person, only the argument, and those named individuals seldom make cogent or rational arguments. I mean, they might have recently, but I wouldn’t know because I don’t pay attention to them. It’s one of them rules I have: once dishonest, always dishonest.

Notice, I don’t say you shouldn’t listen. You do whatever you want. I’m just telling you I hold no respect for the named individual (and many, many others), so I don’t pay strict attention to what they say.

I suppose they could occasionally say something I agree with, but I don’t need to hear it from them. But the point is they wouldn’t challenge me intellectually; they are not going to say anything that will get me thinking about stuff.

Most celebrities — even on the rare occasions they champion something I care about — are very bad at making cogent and interesting arguments. Usually, it’s just out-of-context soundbites. 

Talk about goosebumps!

And, here’s the thing; people you hear about on social media, the news, and talk shows, those people claim to be speaking for and on behalf of others but in actuality, they’re virtue-signaling (LINK). Often, they say they are offended on behalf of some group, be it ethnic, religious, political, or whatnot, and they make the argument those groups should be protected from being offended.

Whatever the group, I think they have a right to be offended and say why they are offended . . . but groups cannot claim the right to NOT be offended, and it should most definitively not be something we grant someone . . . anyone.

You don’t like what someone says? Give the counterargument. You think they are lying? Explain about what, and how you know. You don’t want to listen to them? Well, that’s your right and if you don’t want to hear it, don’t listen to them (but understand it may limit your understanding of the world — unless you already know what they’re going on about).

Here’s a disturbing trend . . . people who disapprove of what someone said often didn’t actually listen to what the person said. No. They’re relying on someone (a pundit or celebrity or Joe/Jane Blow down the street) to tell them what they should be incensed about. Meaning, by the time you hear it, you’re listening to some idiot being upset about something they heard second or third hand.

Orange and red are difficult colors for cameras to render properly . . . but combine them like the last two photos above, and they show really well.

But, getting back to those people I mentioned? Well, you could do better than listen to them because they have a skewed perspective of life that comes from a very different set of experiences than what life throws my and your way.

They have nothing in common with 90% of the population. And, invariably, the behavior and ideals they wish others to follow is not the behavior they practice or the ideals they live by.

Demonstrably, they embody thedo as I say, not as I do philosophy.

Over and over, they’ve proven themselves to just be after attention, power, money, or all three. Not that there’s anything wrong with that, but those people — and many others — do it at the expense of others.

What’s the rule to figure that out? Easy . . . if they are willing to sacrifice the welfare of one group at the expense of another, they’re horrible human beings.

Hint: if you want to fix the problems of a group of people, don’t do it by creating problems for a different set of people. In the history of mankind, I’m not aware of one instance where that has worked out for anyone.

Some might be wondering whose flowers these are . . . no one’s; I snapped these in the course of visiting various places that sell flowers. Got me lots and lots of flower photos as I practiced using the camera. I don’t know about you readers (if there are any readers left) but I think the phone does a pretty good impression of a camera . . . or the camera does a pretty good impression of a phone.

Let’s see, what else do I think about that if I voice I will probably piss off some people? How about “race”?

I think we’re going down a dangerous path, herded by people who seems intent on undoing MLK’s dream. Celebrities, companies, politicians, seem to have lost their collective minds with regards to this race thing.

What am I talking about, you ask?

Well, there is a vocal and annoying portion of the population who would like us to be ultra-aware of each other’s skin color (apparently, that’s what defines race to the uninformed mouth breathers clamoring for attention).

But, it goes beyond that. There are so many wild claims made about this ‘race’ thing that it seems as if we’ve lost the ability to think rationally. And, guess what? It’s merging with the Cancel Culture.

What do I mean, you ask? Well, for instance, if I were famous and were to tell you BLM as a group and by their actions is harming race relations in the US (and overseas), I might be ostracized, canceled, lose my livelihood, and possibly even be at risk of physical harm. In fact, if I had any significant exposure to the Internet and made that statement, you can bet there would be a bunch of angry people attacking me online. Not just verbally, but also calling for violence against me.

Since I have minimal exposure to the Internet, and since I have zero influence, I’m relatively safe in saying that I think BLM is hurting race relations. Mind you, they have some merit, but they come with a lot of baggage and increasingly their rhetoric seems aimed at creating a rift as opposed to bridging the gap.

At least, that’s my opinion based on listening to what they say and watching what they do . . . which will promptly get me labeled a racist . . . and since that’s the case, I might as well go as far as to say that — based on all the wokeness (LINK) being spread around — it seems prudent for me to limit my exposure to persons of color. Any color.

I mean, that sounds racist, doesn’t it? Certainly, reading the Wikipedia link about “woke” would imply that questioning it or being wary of its evolved status is synonymous with being a racist (which goes to show how careful you have to be when reading something even as supposedly neutral as Wikipedia).

But, when I hear angry people of color blaming me — a generic older white dude — for their lot in life, it’s not unreasonable for me to think I best stay clear of them, is it?

Unintended consequences, anyone?

OK, OK, I admit I already limit my exposure to people of all colors (I don’t discriminate in my avoidance of others; black, white, brown, yellow, green, blue . . . best limit my association with any of them).

But here’s the thing . . . I thought the idea was to integrate and treat everyone based on their individual merits and not rely on skin color, height, hair color, body shape, political orientation, gender, sexual orientation, religious preference, and whether they prefer broccoli over eating Spam.

Although, I have to admit to being more trusting of Spam eaters than non-Spam eaters (having lived in Hawaii has made me so).

I mentioned two things — religion and politics — which I’ve previously written extensively about.

Not much has changed . . . I think the polarizing of the US population is a peripheral result of the Democrats and Republicans adopting an intentional strategy of lies and distortions aimed at dividing the population in a game where the winner gets to wield massive power used to enrich themselves at the expense of the Middle Class . . . or what’s left of the Middle Class.

For the record, it could be argued we’re slowly reverting to a semi-feudal society with politicians and celebrities and the ultra-rich taking the place of kings, queens, and lords.  

As far as religion, it drives a good portion of the conversation of our social issues and it’s used by both sides to instill fear in people whose cognitive abilities are already hampered by superstitious and arcane belief systems, or the lack of a decent education, or both.

So, these days, I don’t think much about politics and religion. I mean, I still have opinions, but them be forces I’m tired of bucking, so I just stay clear. One thing; I see is Democrats repeating the same mistakes that got Trump elected in 2016 . . . and thus, the pendulum swings. Look to them to lose the midterms and set up a nasty showdown for the 2024 elections.

I mentioned the worsening race relations, but the social relations based on religion and politics are not any better. In reality, all three are so intertwined that I would not be surprised to see either a civil war involving all three of those issues or a civil war with one of those issues taking center stage and fueled by the other two.

Some might call me on that . . . some who don’t read history and don’t pay attention to the realities of human nature. Not saying it’s a certainty, but listen — really listen — to the strident voices at the extremes. Or, what used to be the extremes; they seem to have moved a lot closer to the mainstream. And then remember that revolutions and wars are seldom started by the majority of populations, but are often ignited by the action of the few. 

But, let me walk that back a second . . . I mean, it sounds nuts even as I write it.

But, it brings me to

another topic I think about these days.

Yup … guns. Surely, readers of my blog already know my feelings on guns (and what I think about people who are ‘against guns’). 

Here’s my message to the anti-gun crowd . . . stop buying guns and ammo! Sheesh, it’s been a year now since I’ve been able to find ammo at the stores, and all because of 5M+ new gun owners. That’s new gun owners, many of them previously staunch anti-guns. The number is likely much higher since I’m quoting the data for the first seven months of 2020. Now, a year later, with the news we’re getting? I’m betting there are many more than twice that number of new gun owners.

Want to know what I think fuels all this guns and ammo buying?

The news.

If you listen to the news, people are getting shot left and right all over the place. A “mass shooting” every few days. Add BLM demonstrations (riots) with bystanders being targeted and assaulted, and Antifa demonstrations (riots) with bystanders being targeted and assaulted, and the MAGA demonstrations (riots) with bystanders being targeted and assaulted, and the appearance is that the police are powerless or unwilling, or both, to go after criminals and criminal behavior.

. . . and with society’s ‘influencers’ loudly approving of violence as a viable and necessary option for solving real or perceived social ills, it’s not surprising that reasonable people assume they might need to protect themselves and their property, so they do the sensible thing and buy guns.

The News. That’s another thing I think about.

Can we even trust the news anymore? I mean, I read the news and make a judgment call as to whether what I hear is biased or not, exaggerated or not, or even true or not.

… so, yeah — There’s your answer.

I don’t trust the news. I mean, I read it, and I trust/respect some sources more than others, but none are blindly accepted . . . I’m constantly aware of — and am on the lookout for — creeping bias from the sources I read (even as I monitor my own bias as I read something).

Words. Words matter.

You need to carefully think about the words you read and hear. They may appear neutral, but the choice of words used by writers, pundits, and news personalities will tell you a lot about where they’re coming from, where they are going, and where they want to lead you.  

I could give you an example, but it’s best you do your own research. Here’s how.

Write down what you heard or read, but do it in your own words from memory, including any impression and extrapolation based on what you heard, then compare it to what was actually said and see how well they match. Better yet, get a thesaurus and substitute different words for the words you read or heard, then see how different words affect the way you digest the news.

If you can, get someone else to do it for you because once you read something, you’re already affected by its presentation.

It’s a fun exercise.

I left my two favorites for last . . .

I love the accent added by the red at the edges of the petals. It gives the flower a striking 3D appearance.

Remember that you can click on individual photos to open a larger version in a new tab or window. And now, here’s the gallery of the above . . .

 

As usual, my thoughts are just that . . . mine. You may or may not agree with them, and that’s fine. If you want to comment, as usual, you are encouraged to do so.

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

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