Tuesday, January 31, 2012

OK; so I'm a day late!

I have no excuse, except that, for the first time in about 5 weeks, we had a couple of clear days, and I got to hit the highway "on 2";  I really miss it when I don't get to get my "acceleration fix" for awhile!  Getting on the freeway is really the only place I get aggressive with the bike, and I know I probably shouldn't, but it's such a rush. . .

A couple of weeks ago, I addressed the question of why, after the economic collapse of 2008, no one was being held responsible, and posted a couple of links that suggested why.  Another example came to light this week, with the arrest of Texas "financier", Allen Stanford, who, for 20 years had been running a $7 billion ponzi scheme, and had been protected from investigation by members of the SEC, who are supposed to protect us from crap like this.  http://tinyurl.com/7ss37s7"  Better late than never", I guess, but how many people have been hurt or destroyed by this thief?

For the last few months, I've been watching a bill called the "National Defense Authorization Bill" making it's way through the Senate and Congress, and, although he said he was against it, the Prez signed it into effect on Dec. 31 of last year.  Here is the truly frightening portion of the bill:

"The detention sections of the NDAA begin by "affirm[ing]" that the authority of the President under the AUMF, a joint resolution passed in the immediate aftermath of the September 11, 2001 attacks, includes the power to detain, via the Armed Forces, any person "who was part of or substantially supported al-Qaeda, the Taliban, or associated forces that are engaged in hostilities against the United States or its coalition partners," and anyone who commits a "belligerent act" against the U.S. or its coalition allies in aid of such enemy forces, under the law of war, "without trial, until the end of the hostilities authorized by the [AUMF]." The text authorizes trial by military tribunal, or "transfer to the custody or control of the person's country of origin," or transfer to "any other foreign country, or any other foreign entity."[18]  Addressing previous conflict with the Obama Administration regarding the wording of the Senate text, the Senate-House compromise text, in sub-section 1021(d), also affirms that nothing in the Act "is intended to limit or expand the authority of the President or the scope of the Authorization for Use of Military Force." The final version of the bill also provides, in sub-section(e), that "Nothing in this section shall be construed to affect existing law or authorities relating to the detention of United States citizens, lawful resident aliens of the United States, or any other persons who are captured or arrested in the United States." As reflected in Senate debate over the bill, there is a great deal of controversy over the status of existing law.[19].  An amendment to the Act that would have replaced current text with a requirement for executive clarification of detention authorities was rejected by the senate.[20]" (From Wikipedia)

What this basically says, is that should this blog, or anything published on the net, in the newspapers, broadcast on TV or radio, be considered a "belligerent act" by our government, and notice that that term is not defined (!), the author of such can be taken into military custody, with no legal recourse, or taken to some other country. . . You may say, "but this says that it doesn't apply to U.S. citizens, but there are 2 other bills before both houses, which make it possible for the government to strip citizenship from an individual, which also means removing their rights!  Again, I urge you to contact your Congressmen/women and Senators about this; page down for a link to them!  Ok, so, enough politics for the week. 

To mellow you out a little bit, here's a link to 2 of my favorite performers, Grace Potter and Joe Satriani, teaming up on a great Neil Young song:  http://tinyurl.com/86aayab  My favorite moment is about 4 minutes in, when Grace starts cracking up with joy; man, she is just so darned cute, and what a voice!

Sunday, January 22, 2012

This has been a good week for us, folks; once the light was focused on what the politicians and the corporations were trying to do with the SOPA and PIPA bills, the politicians flew from them like birds from a tree, despite the time and money spent by the lobbiests to get them passed.  It just goes to prove that with the medium of the internet, we do have the ability to quickly organize and affect the way that politicians respond, and it gives lie to the statement, "We don't really have any power."   It just takes a small amount of time, and attention to stay informed, and use your power!

'Nuff politics!  As much as I lovc living where I do. it does present some difficulties, sometimes.  I woke up yesterday morning, and went to make some coffee. . .No water!  A log with some branches  sticking out, had floated in under the deck, and a branch had hooked the water line. tearing it out.  I walked out on the deck, and found water gushing from MY side of the meter (naturally!); I turned it off, went back in, got the coffee pot and off to a neighbor's to bum a potful of water.  Coming back, I looked down the trail at the bottom of the bank, and behind my woodshed, and about 10' of it was GONE!  One of the vertical braces for the bulkhead had fallen over, letting the waves wash out the trail.

Once I got the water hooked back up, I waited for the other shoe to drop, and sure enough, when I turned on the computer, I found that somehow, I had screwed it up, the day before, while trying to do a backup. . . 3 hours later everything's back to normal.

Some days it just doesn't pay to get out of bed!

Sunday, January 15, 2012

Let's make short work of the political part of today's entry, and then you may want to return to the peacefulness of these photos, just to sooth your mind.  Have you ever wondered why, after the economic meltdown of 2008, no one has been charged with fraud or corruption, when a 602 page finding published by our justice department, found overwhelming evidence of such?  When and if you follow the following links, it'll become quickly evident to you, and, as promised, neither article will take you more than about 3 minutes to read:



On Jan. 15, 2012, Yahoo Finance reported Goldman-Sachs as being one of the "top 10 most hated companies in America:  'Goldman Sachs’ (NYSE: GS) poor reputation was cemented when the government sued it for fraud in 2010. The firm settled with the government for $550 million, but this was viewed as little more than a slap on the wrist because of the bank’s immense wealth. And the fraud accusations have not stopped — they have actually accelerated. Goldman faces a set of suits over mortgage instruments it sold worth a total of $15.8 billion. The Federal Housing Finance Agency in September accused Goldman of misrepresenting the quality of $11.1 billion worth of residential mortgage-backed securities. In the cases in which Goldman has settled claims, the press has not always been favorable. According to a Wall Street Journal report, Goldman agreed to forgive 25% of principal balances on 143 mortgage loans to borrowers in New York, or $13 million of a total principal balance of $52 million. The $13 million is less than a senior banker at Goldman might make in a year. Perhaps those homeowners are part of the Occupy Wall Street protests against big banks, for which Goldman is the poster boy.'  "  Some recommendation, eh?

Remember, folks, the only way that we can bring pressure on politicians to do something different than what they are doing right now, is to become educated about just a few things, and then DO SOMETHING; talk to some friends about the issues that you care about; write an emai to your U.S. senators:  http://www.senate.gov/general/contact_information/senators_cfm.cfm
or U.S. congressmen:  https://writerep.house.gov/writerep/welcome.shtml
or steer some of your friends toward this blog; maybe we can inspire them to become politically active!

So, enough politics (almost)!  My trip into a local park where the above photos were taken, was in response to a discussion that I had been listening to on the radio, about the Enemy Expatriation Act (HR 3166 and S. 1698, which I'll maybe tackle in a later entry), which is being considered by congress, right now.  I thought, "Not possible!", and fled to the woods with my camera, just to remove this abomination from my mind.  I soon found myself lost in the freshness of the breeze, and the colors, which seemed to wax and wane as the patches of clouds flowed across the sky.  I might have headed out on the motorcycle, except for the fact that it was only about 37•, and that is just a bit too cool to entice me to mount up!

When I was a kid, there was a "western" author named Larry McMurtry that I used to read, probably best known for his book, "Lonesome Dove", which was later made into both a TV series and a movie.  Somewhere in the late '80's, I think, I discovered that his son, James McMurtry, seemed to have inherited his dad's talent for storytelling, but he works in the medium of music.  His voice isn't all that great, but, having grown up listening to Dylan & Neil Young. . . Well. . . But, he is a good guitar player, with a lot to say!  In keeping with the spirit of this blog, here's an intro for you:

Monday, January 9, 2012

Just a very quick one, today.

I had a conversation, last week, with an old friend, who was bemoaning the fact that he's losing touch with friends, as time goes by.  It occurred to me how very lucky I am to have maintained a lot of long time friendships, some reaching back 30-50 years, but it has taken a little effort; not much, but a little, and I can't begin to tell you how valuable they are.   It is amazing to me, when I get to talk to them, how easily the rapport is re-established, and it's almost like no time has gone by; that although there are new things in each of our lives, that we really are the same people as we were, "back in the day".

Yesterday, I made a 300 mile round trip, to celebrate the birthdays of 2 guys that I worked with for 6 years, starting back in '92, at a compact disc store called Silver Platters, a job which, other than teaching guitar, is the best I've ever had, simply because 3 of the 8 people that I worked with, became "extended family", and although we only see each other once or twice a year, it's always a great time.

Remember, you don't get to choose your family, but you do get to choose your friends, and they are to be treasured!

Sunday, January 1, 2012

Happy New Year, everybody!

I’m posting this with a great deal of trepidation, wondering what I may be letting myself in for if it takes off; I mean, c’mon. . . I’m a guitar player, not a political activist, but things in our country have been going South so quickly, that I just can’t stand it!  I guess I can always call it quits and just climb back into the sound hole of the guitar, if things get too crazy, so. . .

You may be wondering why I called this blog, “Making Waves”, so let me tell you that I actually hope to accomplish something with it, starting out by tossing a pebble into this huge pond that we call the internet and seeing if ripples can turn into waves.  It will, hopefully, be concise (taking no longer than 10 minutes, at the most, to read), and posted once a week on Monday, and covering various things that I’m interested in: music, motorcycles, movies, books, photography, etc, but some part of it will almost always touch on politics, and that’s where I’m starting.

I don’t know that there is any way that we can change the two party system; with the electoral college, the 2 parties have pretty well locked things up.  I am a “rabid independent”, because neither party seems to represent me, and chances are that if you vote either a straight Republican or Democratic ticket, you will not appreciate my stated intentions.  However, if you reflect on the changes that have taken place in our nation, over the last 10 years, I don’t understand how you would not want to become involved.  I’m hoping that you will choose to comment (click on the “pencil” button at the bottom of the page) on what I write, or “link” it to one or more of your more thoughtful friends in order to generate some ideas, and more responses.  I am not interested in having people get into a war of words here; that is what led me to leave techsurvivors.net, which I helped to establish and run for 7 years, and which continues without me.  I believe that people are entitled to their opinions, and that “we can disagree without being disagreeable”, and that to accomplish anything, we must work together.

Most of us, I think, will agree that our government, on every level, is severely damaged, if not broken.  The local level is the one that affects our daily life the most, and is the one that we can, individually, affect most directly, but since these issues are regional, I will not attempt to address them.  The only way we can influence our national government is by banding together in a mass large enough that they may  start to pay attention. 

It seems to me, that the overriding concern of all politicians is job security; the day that they take office, is the day they start planning for their next campaign, and how to garner funds for it.  It is up to us, the American public, to threaten their job security, if we wish to have an impact on their thinking and influence the way they vote.  Last year, slightly over 12,000 lobbyists in Washington D.C. spent about $2.5 billion to influence our senators and congressmen/women, so our votes are really the only power we have to influence them.  If we can make them understand that by catering to “special interest” groups, they are endangering their political future, perhaps they will start to work for the good of our nation. 

At the same time that our politicians are heralding the “Arab Spring”, made possible by the social media, are you aware that there are 2 bills (S.O.P.A. and P.I.P.A.)in front of the Congress and Senate that would enable them to control what is said on the internet by taking down web sites such as this one, which may criticize them and the things they do?  The name of the legislation (google it!) sounds good, but the language is so loosely crafted, that many companies, individuals, and, thank God, even some politicians, are now actively working to defeat it

OK, enough of that for now!

Just before the holiday season started, I read a wonderful book, beautifully written by Erin Morgenstern, called, “The Night Circus”, which was kind of whimsical and magical, and just a tad “dark”.  I thought about giving it to a friend who has a 10 year old daughter, but decided to hold off for another year.  For those of you who love to read, I cannot reccomend it highly enough.

On the music front, my newest “discovery” is an English lady named Thea Gilmore, an alto, who writes and performs a range of music that is pretty amazing.  She’s not a very exciting performer, but check her out on YouTube.com, anyway.  For a really exciting performance, by 2 of my favorite musicians, check out:  http://tinyurl.com/6n6nsco  Joe Satriani is a world class guitar player, and you team him up with Grace Potter, an outstanding "new" vocalist, multi-instrumentalist, and you get one incredible performance!  As they reach the end of the tune, Grace just "comes undone", and I can almost guarantee, she'll tickle your heartstrings!

Have a great week!