Sunday, January 31, 2010

How to Extract a Background

I am a Photographer by passion but you can't be a photographer in todays digital world without knowing how to manipulate them. In my quest to learn Adobe's Photoshop, I've found more than a few helpful Photoshop Tutorials. Today I'm going to highlight a very helpful but basic tutorial on How to Extract an Images Background. It's hosted at my favorite artistic website, DeviantART. Follow the link and learn something new today! :-)

Tuesday, January 26, 2010

World Citizen or Sepratist Nation

Recently the Supreme Court overturned limits on Corporate and Union campaign contributions. The actual opinion can be viewed here. This decision has the possibility of changing the political scene dramatically. No longer will the playing field be somewhat even between the small contributor, large special interest groups, Corporations and Unions. Large contributors may now have the opportunity to finance entire campaigns for politicians who may not have otherwise had the support of the majority of voters. Even worse, foreign corporations may now be free to influence our domestic politics, policies and politicians. How did this happen and what effect will it ultimately have on the United States?

Yes according to law Corporations are to be treated as individuals, I remember learning this in Business Law. If I remember correctly, the purpose of this was to protect business owners from being personally sued or held personally liable in court as well as giving the IRS a way to collect taxes from these large companies.

What will the eventual fallout be from this decision? Time will tell. Maybe things will work out so the American people will be able to see through the corporate sponsored advertisements that will soon be flooding their television and other media. Perhaps the average American voter will be able to distinguish between cleverly doctored political propaganda and political advertisements that are being influenced by off-shore Corporations. Or perhaps American politics will begin to behave more as World Citizens and Neighbors instead of behaving like the self-righteous Nation that knows what's best for the rest of the World even though it's the youngest of all the large Countries.

Which is the correct position to take? We'll have to wait for the future to reveal that answer.

Wednesday, January 20, 2010

Democratic vs Republican Psychie

I had just composed and posted a tweet along this same line when a few minutes later I came across this article by BaxterBlogs.

My Tweet:
The diff tween Repubs & Dems: Repubs throw temper tantrums when they lose, Dems roll over and accept it. #Sad #Truth

The title of the BaxterBlogs post:
Are the Democrats better at FIGHTING the establishment than BEING the establishment?

The similarities are eerie, get outa my head Baxter! ;-) Seriously, I was going to compose a post for my blog along these same lines but Baxter said it so well, I'm just going to direct y'all over to her Blog. Please remember to leave some comment love for her and I'd appreciate it if you'd let her know you found her blog through mine. :-)


The Political Carnival gets it right

As you may know, I follow The Political Carnival, this article stands out to me and warrents highlighting. Please follow the link to read the full post.

The L.A. Times had a splendid editorial today. However I have to take issue with one sentence: "People are smart enough to separate fictional morality tales from reality." Please contine to The Political Carnival to read the whole article.

Tuesday, January 19, 2010

Pants on the Ground

Unlike most of the US, I'm afraid I must admit that I don't watch American Idol. But you don't have to be an Idol Fan to know who General Larry Platt is. You might answer that by saying "He's the guy who sang that Pants on the Ground song!" and you'd be right, but that's not his only accomplishment. Mr Platt is also an American Civil Rights veteran, having marched with Dr. Martin Luther King Jr!

Larry Platt lives in East Atlanta where he surrounds himself with plaques commemorating his work toward Civil Rights and photographs of himself with the Rev. Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. and he wants to make sure his recent celebrity doesn't overshadow his Civil Rights work. He's still an activist to this day! He can often be seen in downtown Atlanta holding signs protesting foreclosures, war, violence and racism. But one day when he saw a young man with his pants hanging below his waist he thought "After all this work I did with Dr. King ... walking around with your pants on the ground? They're going to have to get them up. I'm sorry." and with that he came up with the lyrics that have caught the attention of America and possibly the world.

So here is the video and the lyrics are printed below...

Pants on the ground,

Pants on the ground,

Lookin' like a fool with your pants on the ground!

With the gold in your mouth,

Hat turned sideways,

Pants hit the ground,

Call yourself a cool cat,

Lookin' like a fool,

Walkin' downtown with your pants on the ground!

Get it up, hey!

Get your pants off the ground,

Lookin' like a fool,

Walkin' talkin' with your pants on the ground.

Get it up, hey!

Get your pants off the ground,

Lookin' like a fool with your pants on the ground!

And it wouldn't be complete for a Minnesota Girl if I didn't include Brett Favre's version...

Monday, January 18, 2010

Massachusetts & the Future of America [Updated]

Health Care Reform in America is a top priority yet all the progress we've made could be lost in an instant if tomorrow's Massachusetts election is won by the Republican Party.

Massachusetts is holding a Special Election Tuesday January 19th to fill the seat vacated by the late Democratic Senator Ted Kennedy. In the running for the seat are (D)Attorney General, Martha Coakley; (R)State Senator, Scott Brown; (Ind)Libertarian Activist, Joe Kennedy; and (Write-in)Anti-Biotech Engineering Activist, John Howard. Leading the race are (D) Martha Coakley and (R) Scott Brown who are literally neck and neck in the polls. The outcome of this race is important because it could mean the end of Health Care Reform. The White House sees this race as so important, President Barack Obama made a campaign stop in Massachusetts in support of Martha Coakley. We need to win this seat, Health Care Reform is too important.

What can any of us do? If you have extra to give, you can visit Martha's campaign site and donate to her campaign. More importantly, you can contact any of your friends or family members living in Massachusetts and express your support for Martha Coakley. Explain to them why it's important for Ms. Coakley to win this race and what it means for the whole country. Encourage residents of Massachusetts to get out and vote, we can't win this race if people stay home.

Want some background information on the Republican candidate Scott Brown? Think Progress has information on Mr. Brown's position on Obama's legitimacy, his attempts to kill aide to Haiti and his justification for denying aid to 9/11 workers. Need more reasons to support Martha Coakley over Scott Brown? His relationship with Wall Street Fat Cats should give anyone an extra push.

Support Health Care Reform, Support Martha Coakley!

Received this tweet from Martha Coakley
Take action! Text CALL to 62262. You'll then get a call back w/talking points + connect to a Massachusetts voter #MASen

Sunday, January 17, 2010

Favorite Reading

I like to read. I first discovered my love for reading while in High School. Literature was a required course for graduation but I was fortunate enough to be in a school that allowed for individual choice. We were able to choose from a selection of literature classes that included Classic Literature, Pop Literature, Modern Literature and several others I don't recall anymore. I chose Pop Literature and with that choice I was introduced to Robert Ludlum.

My tastes in books have evolved over the years. I've drifted from the likes of Robert Ludlum to the Vampire Series of Anne Rice but currently I enjoy what I like to call Historical Fiction. Wikipedia describes historical fiction as "a sub-genre of fiction that often portrays fictional accounts or dramatization of historical figures or events." Although not included in Wikipedia's list, currently my favorite authors are Kathleen O'Neal Gear and W Michael Gear. They are both archeologists who, as a husband and wife team, write a series of books referred to as "The First North Americans" series.

"The First North Americans" series are the stories of fictional Native American characters whose lives are based on archeological history in pre-historic North America. The characters are engaging and intelligent. The stories are suspenseful with plenty of plot twists. I have not read one book in the series that was not a page turner. The Gears have supplied plenty of books to keep you entertained and not just in the one genera either. Yes the Gears, together, have over a dozen published books in "The First North Americans" series but they also write books independently. W Michael Gear has at least a dozen books written independently of his wife Kathleen. And Kathleen O'Neal Gear has published almost the same number on her own.

Check out their site and get to know the Gears and while you're there surf over to their blog and read up on their personal adventures as well as those of their book characters who occasionally escape and leave post entries in the Gear's absence. These authors are not just for book readers, they are right at home on the web as well.

Tuesday, January 12, 2010

Coming Clean

Mark McGwire has Come Clean. Don't know what that means? Let me clarify.

During Mark McGwire's tenure with the St. Louis Cardinals he broke several rather long-standing records, the most recent one being Roger Maris' 1961 record of 61 home runs. As his accomplishments with the Cardinals stacked up there was increasing speculation about Mr McGwire's use of anabolic steroids. He had consistently denied using steroids throughout his career, going so far as to refuse to answer questions from a Congressional inquiry panel in 2005.

View transcript portions of Mark McGwire's Congressional testimony here

He's now reversing his story. In a statement Monday to the Associated Press McGwire admitted to using steroids during his career and apologized. Saying "I never knew when, but I always knew this day would come.. It's time for me to talk about the past and to confirm what people have suspected. I used steroids during my playing career and I apologize." He added, "It was foolish and it was a mistake. I truly apologise. Looking back, I wish I had never played during the steroid era." What brought about this sudden change of heart, Mark? "Now that I have become the hitting coach of the St. Louis Cardinals, I have the chance to do something that I wish I was able to do five years ago," In other words, do what I say now not what I did then. Guess he's got to protect those records he "earned".

So what does all this mean for the rest of Major League Baseball? Only time and the Baseball Commissioner will determine that. What are your thoughts? Please leave a comment explaining your position on the subject!

Forgetting the Past

In an ABC interview with George Stephanopoulos, former New York Mayor Rudy Giuliani appears to have had a major case of amnesia. In the interview, Mr Giuliani was criticising President Obama on his handling of the recent domestic terror incidents. Mr Giuliani stated: "What he [Obama] should be doing is following the right things that Bush did -- one of the right things he did was treat this as a war on terror. We had no domestic attacks under Bush. We've had one under Obama. Number two, he should correct the things that Bush didn't do right. Sending people to Yemen was wrong, not getting this whole intelligence thing corrected." Of course Mr Giuliani has since released a clarification of this statement saying he was clearly referring to Bush's Presidency "Post 9/11". Really? Let's look at Bush's Presidency.

    George W Bush served as President of the United States from 2001 through 2008
  • September 11, 2001 Commercial airliners are hijacked, two are flown into the World Trade Center, one is flown into the Pentagon and one is forced down by passengers in Pennsylvania before it reached its final target. Over 6000 people were killed.
  • September 18, 2001 Anthrax begins arriving in U.S. mailboxes
  • December 2001 Shoebomber, Richard Reid attempts to bring down a trans-Atlantic airliner
  • October 2002 The Beltway Sniper attacks begin
  • August 14, 2003 A Major Blackout leaves 40 million Americans in the dark
So Mr Giuliani you may say there weren't any "domestic attacks under Bush" after 9/11, but I think the facts speak for themselves. Are you sure you don't want to reconsider your criticism altogether?

The incidents I've listed are freely available in the anals of history and are easily verifiable. There may even be more incidents so, if I've missed any, you have my apologies. I invite everyone to list any terrorist incidents that I've forgotten in the comments for this blog entry.

Monday, January 11, 2010

Moving Forward

In a recently announced book titled "Game Change", a statement made by Sen Harry Reid which had previously gone unnoticed has been drawing a large amount of controversy. The book reports Sen. Reid commenting on the electability of then candidate Barack Obama by saying Obama was a light skinned black man with "no Negro dialect" unless he wanted to have one. Sen Reid has since apologized to President Obama for his "poor choice of words" and President Obama has accepted the apology. But of course the subject matter has not been dropped.

Senator Reids comments have been compared to those of Trent Lott. View Trent Lott's comments below:

Personally, I think Trent Lott's comments speak for themselves. Mr. Lott was recounting the Strom Thurmond run for president at Mr Thurmond's birthday party. Strom Thurmond was a well-known segregationist and in 1948 ran for President under the States Rights Democratic Party or Dixicrats. The Dixicrats opposed integration of the races and believed in maintaining Jim Crow's laws, their slogan was "Segregation Forever!" For Mr. Lott to say our country would be better off if we had followed Strom Thurmond's example is not just an unfortunate use of words but a clear move backward to a time of few if any civil rights for minorities in the United States.

So let's compare the statements made by these two men. Senator Reid's comments were about the electability of a legitimate candidate for President in the year 2008. Barack Obama is not the first American of African descent to run for the office of the President of the United States and during the campaign of 2008 it was obviously not yet known that he would go on to be successfully elected. When deciding which candidate to support for his party in the run for Presidency, Mr Reid was not alone in assessing the electability of each available candidate. Mr Reid's assessment of Obama as having light-skin and no "Negro dialect" is not racist, it's an assessment of whether or not Mr Obama will be accepted by the majority of American voters in race for President. Mr Lott's trip down memory lane with Strom Thurmond is clearly a wish to go backwards in time and undo the progress that has been made in civil rights. Hmmm... if the two comments can be compared in any way it would have to be in how opposite they are; Mr Reid's comments move us forward and Mr Lott's comments move us backward.

Tuesday, January 5, 2010

Now Following Think Progress

Please check out the website Think Progress and you can follow them directly from my blog! Check out their RSS feed on the right side of the page! --->

Sunday, January 3, 2010

Obama Effigy Hung in Plains, GA

Apparently it was too much to expect. Apparently a New Year doesn't bring a new slate, new attitudes and a renewal for our country. Why the cynicism? Saturday, the second day of the New Year, the second day of January 2010, what was found in the southern city of Plains Georgia? An Effigy of President Barack Obama hanging by the neck from a noose on the side of a building displaying a Red, White and Blue tribute to former President Jimmy Carter. What the Hell!?

See news video coverage here and the Reuters coverage of this story here

My first instinct was to blame the mentality of the South, after all it is well known that African Americans have been hung, burned and generally treated atrociously in that area of the country. And it wasn't that long ago there were still separate entrances to buildings as well as separate bathroom facilities and violence towards African Americans was practically sanctioned by law enforcement! But even with all that, I don't blame the mentality of the South.

Who DO I blame? Rush Limbaugh, Glenn Beck, Fox News, Republicans and "Tea Baggers". They've all been spouting half-truths and outright lies since before President Obama was elected. Glenn Beck and Rush Limbaugh are total nut cases and No I'm not just calling them names, it's the God's honest truth. Beck has called for revolutions against the Government, a dangerous, treasonous and very illegal thing to do. Yes we are the home of free speech but that crosses the line. Both Limbaugh and Beck have compared the Democrats to Natzi's and President Obama to Adolf Hitler. Nothing could be further from fact and closer to the pot calling the kettle black. Both Beck and Limbaugh have advocated for the exclusion of those less fortunate or physically handi-capped. Limbaugh went as far as to make fun of and even ridicule Michael J Foxx for his Parkinsons induced shaking. Fox News sponsored and even organized "Tea Bag" parties, protests and rallies. One of the biggest supporters at "Tea Bag" rallies is Minnesota Republican Congresswoman, Michelle Bachmann. What is the purpose of these "Tea Bag" protests? To actively protest and call for more protests against the government of the United States.

All these Lies, half-truths and organized protests have caught the attention of many mentally unbalanced American Citizens and even sparked "Tea Bag" groups to pray ill-will to befall our Democratic Senators and Government officials. C-SPAN even received a call from a person claiming to be a "Tea Bagger" who, in response to a request from Senator Tom Coburn (R-OK), said this live and on air: "Yeah doctor. Our small tea bag group here in Waycross, we got our vigil together and took Dr. Coburn’s instructions and prayed real hard that Sen. Byrd would either die or couldn’t show up at the vote the other night.

How hard did you pray because I see one of our members was missing this morning. Did it backfire on us? One of our members died? How hard did you pray senator? Did you pray hard enough?"
What exactly did Republican Senator Tom Coburn say to invoke this response? "COBURN: What the American people ought to pray is that somebody can’t make the vote tonight. That’s what they ought to pray." Now Coburn didn't exactly come straight out and direct people to pray for ill-will or bad things to befall Republicans but obviously in the mentally unbalanced minds of Republican followers that's how it was interpreted. And now they are hanging effigies of our American President Barack Obama in the public streets. It's disgraceful, sickening and even treasonous but most of all it's sadly not surprising.

Sources: The Political Carnival, Reuters and C-SPAN via Planet POV

UPDATE: Tea Party Activist pens protest sign with "N" word. Follow link to view evidence.

Samples of my Stock Photos

I have a DeviantART account where I store stock photographs. These are free to use for any non-commercial purpose. You may tube them, use them as backgrounds or textures. All photos listed in my "Stock" folder Here are available for use.