Nov 11

Talkin 99% Blues by Von Johin

Von Johin’s Website

Nov 11

Government Spending

The world's top 7 largest military budgets in 2010. Figures sourced from SIPRI

By James Milstid
There is no question that The United States of America has the most powerful military in the world.

The chart to the left gives a pretty good picture of why that is. The U.S. military budget far and away exceeds any other single nation. Our warfare technology is beyond cutting edge and when used is dominating and frightening.

As the saying goes, “Freedom is not free.” I understand that and subscribe to it. In this uncertain time of world turmoil, a strong military defense is necessary for the preservation of the freedoms we enjoy.

But at what cost?

I certainly don’t have the answer to that, but comparing the world’s defense budgets begs an answer. Take a look at these numbers for the top seven world defense budgets compiled from various sources:

Country GDP Mil. Budget Population Avg Salary Defense Share
 United States $15.1T $698.1B 312M $49,445 $2,141
 China $11.3T $114.3B 1,339M $8,394 $75
 France $2.2T $61.3B 65.8M $26,416 $977
 United Kingdom $2.3T $57.4B 61.8M $26,312 $940
 Russia $2.4T $52.6B 142.9M $9,945 $430
 Japan $4.4T $51.4B 128M $24,697 $401
 Germany $3.1T $46.8B 81.8M $25,146 $558

In looking at the numbers, it appears that our country is spending over $2000 per capita on defense alone. That means that our freedom is costing $2000 a year for every man, woman, and child. And that’s only the defense budget. What about education, social security, healthcare, transportation, and a whole litany of other expenditures?

I Googled “US budget pie chart” and wasn’t at all surprised to find liberal and conservative versions of how our government spends money. My goal was to get a feel for how much every man, woman, and child is responsible for. It turned out to be very difficult to drill down to individual responsibilities. A very non-scientific bit of research resulted in anywhere from $5,000 to $10,000 per capita. That means that a family of four making $100,000 is out $20,000 to $40,000. I’ve never paid that much in taxes. I doubt that many middle-class families have.

So where does the money to run our government come from? Best estimate says we need $4 trillion to keep our noses above water. A little napkin math tells me that it’s not coming from taxes alone.

Take a look at the following chart:

This chart was the most non-partisan indicator I could find. As I studied it, the first thing I saw was where a majority of our money comes from. A whopping 39%, $1.5 trillion is borrowed. Our income taxes amount to a little over half that, 24%, $953 billion. But hiding in the shadows is corporate taxes for a tiny 4%, $147 billion.

The next chart give a simplified idea of where the money goes.

Our elected legislators are consciously and knowingly trapped in a political quagmire, each faction insisting that their way is the only way out of the mess. In the meantime, we, as a nation, are sinking deeper and deeper into the sludge. Surely there have been reasonable solutions, but they would require compromise; something that is avoided at all cost in our politically-charged congress.

[To be continued…]


Nov 11

One Very Happy Owl

This short video is so cute it’s no wonder it went viral in the Internet…

I’m just doing my part to make it even more viral…

Nov 11

Fruit with Violin

My first try at a still life after the 17th century Dutch painters.

Lighting is only candlelight, except for a 25 watt lamp aimed at the wall behind me. Shot at f/18 for DOF with a 30 second exposure.

Unfortunately the long exposure time creates an unwanted candle flare. But all-in-all I’m happy with the result.

Nov 11


Seen in my crossword this morning:

Clue: 7d. Insight (6)

Answer: Aperçu

– noun, pl. -çus French

1. A hasty glance; a glimpse
2. An immediate estimate or judgement; understanding; insight
3. An outline or summary

Origin:lit., perceived

  • “The professor’s ability to explain the difficult topic provided the class with much needed aperçu.”
  •  “Farley, the entire history of your life is unnecessary; a simple aperçu will suffice.”
  •  “Frank’s report was comprehensive but lacked any pithy aperçu into how we can solve the problem.”

Nov 11

Obama Speaks Aussie

Down Under, Obama Has a “Chinwag”

November 18, 2011
By Ben Zimmer

Visiting Australia earlier this week, President Obama broke the ice by injecting some Australian slang into his public speeches. He used a selection of Aussie-isms like chinwag and ear-bashing for comic effect, but it’s probably a good thing that he didn’t go overboard by trying to mimic a broad Australian English accent (often called “Strine”). British Prime Minister David Cameron, meanwhile, wasn’t so lucky: he got into some hot water for an ill-advised attempt at Strine.

At a state dinner at Parliament House in Canberra, Obama got the crowd laughing by peppering his speech with local slang:

As many of you know, I first came to Australia as a child. But despite my visits, I have to admit I never did learn to talk “Strine.” I know there is some concern here that your Australian language is being Americanized. So perhaps it’s time for us to reverse the trend. Tonight, with your permission, I’d like to give it a burl.
I want to thank the Prime Minister for a very productive meeting that we had today. I think she’ll agree it was a real chinwag. When Julia and I meet, we listen to each other, we learn from each other. It’s not just a lot of earbashing. That’s a good one — earbashing. I can use that in Washington. Because there’s a lot of earbashing sometimes.

In case you couldn’t figure it out from context, give it a burl means “give it a try”; a chinwag is a good discussion; and earbashing is tedious or scolding speech. Obama closed by saying:

The alliance between the United States and Australia is deeper and stronger than it has ever been — spot oncracker-jackin top nick.

Read the complete article here: http://www.visualthesaurus.com/cm/wordroutes/3042/

Nov 11

Creative Remakes

Recently a website called Booooooom! sponsored a photo project. The gist of the project was to remake a famous work of art with a photograph. The entries are all very creative, ranging from silly to serious.

Thanks to Nan for sharing this with me!

“La laitière” remake by Justine Rioufrait

“La laitière” by Vermeer

Continue reading →

Nov 11

A Defining Photo

Eighty-Four year old Dorli Rainey was the victim of pepper spray on Tuesday night.

She was participating in an Occupy Seattle protest march that spilled into the streets. When the police arrived to control the crowd, she was right there in the front lines.

Protests are nothing new to her; she is a long time political activist and is well known in the local political crowd. She even ran for mayor of Seattle in 2009, but dropped out saying she was too old. Current Seattle Mayor Mike McGinn knows her personally.

It’s no wonder that this photo has gone viral. It’s the defining photo that every photographer dreams of. Photographer Joshua Trujillo was in the right place at the right time.

“She had her head down, and I could see the spray all over her face,” he said. “Then she lifted her head up and someone splashed another liquid in her face.”

That’s when Trujillo and Rainey made eye contact through his camera — and when the photo happened.

“I recognized the moment as being something unique,” Trujillo said. “Photojournalists by nature go after the things that are unique, odd or extreme. Those are the things that affect people.”

He added: “In all my years in this profession, I’ve never seen anything like that.”

Nov 11

Bill’s Letter to Cancer

Here is the letter my son, Bill, wrote to cancer on his FaceBook page:

Dear Cancer,
For almost 8 years you and I have had this relationship. I can’t begin to tell you how much I want you out of my life. From the first day we met, you have only caused pain for not only me, but my family and friends as well. There are times you are so demanding that you won’t let me go out with my friends to have a good time. You take all my money. Bottom line, I am breaking up with you, changing the locks and kicking you out!
I hate you,

God, I love him…

Nov 11


Butternuts, originally uploaded by James Milstid, aka PapaJames.