There was a time….

The first iteration of Dave’s Not Here… was a livejournal.com website. Then I ever so briefly moved things over to typepad.com and then to movabletype. When I decided to self-host I moved it to WordPress, and I was a fairly regular blogger for a few years.

What ended all of that was a decision that the Social Media policy of my then-employer changed to be so draconian that I was fearful of termination and decided to quit blogging.

With the rise of Social Media and Facebook, Twitter, and other sites I’d occasionally put something out here on Dave’s Not Here… but it wasn’t always the best representation of me, as can be seen in some of the posts below.

I also saw the near complete end of what I was doing here – because for some reason I was arrogant enough to believe that readership was the goal.

I never should have cared if you, or anyone else read this blog. I should only have cared about the blog being here for me. My hubris over the value of my utterances turned into a sort of depression about losing readers to social media.

When in fact, I shouldn’t have cared. I’m not writing this for you.

I’m writing this for me.

So, I’ll write what I want, and I’ll write it for me, and I won’t impose on myself a goal, or a genre, or a direction – all of these have had the opposite effect and led to the end of content.

I have more to say than that. But I only have it to say to myself. If you like it, certainly, contribute to the discussion. If you hate it, certainly, try to change my mind. I’m open to dialogue. I find that I’m more often wrong than right.

The Past Cannot be Undone

Sometimes it can be erased.

Sometimes it can be white-washed.

Sometimes it can be forgotten.

But it is indelibly part of the present.

Someone, somewhere, has copies, or screenshots of some of my most embarrassing posts here on Daves-not-here, and while I can wish them away, I can’t make them disappear forever.

They are a part of me.

For those of you who read them, they are a part of you, at least partially integrated into you.

For those of you who preserved them, they are fully integrated into you because you found either a positive or negative future value in them. I am a part of you. You can never remove me from yourself.

When your death arrives, as it will, the part of me that you integrated into yourself will be passed on to your children.

In this sense, we are both immortal and will live forever through your children.

Thank you for your part in making me, and whatever ideas I have had, and their influence on you, immortal.

Some Thoughts on the Rise of Trump

The 2016 Presidential election will go down in history as one of the worst elections in US history. Americans were confronted with a choice between an immeasurably untrustworthy, and not at all liked candidate, who by many accounts was (arguably, and definitely not in my view) the most qualified candidate for the Oval Office in US history, and a candidate who almost half of America (and the rest of the world) feels is a racist, misogynist, narcissistic tax-cheating bully.

Out of approximately 325,000,000 people, these two candidates were the best our current two-party system had to offer? Really, it’s pathetic.

As a result of the election of one of these absolutely awful candidates, Donald Trump, I have been doing a lot of thinking and reading concerning how this could have happened. Make no mistake, I’d have been doing the same if Hillary Clinton had won the election as well, since I feel deep down inside that the Democrats and the Republicans have nothing left to offer the average American in terms of actual leadership or new ideas.

White Cis-Gendered Able-Bodied Male

While listening to my back-catalog of podcasts today I heard this wonderful exchange from Dave Rubin (of the Rubin Report) and Don Watkins (of the Ayn Rand Institute)

Rubin: Now you realize that a certain amount of them that are watching this right now are going, ‘Wait a minute, he’s a white, cis-gendered, able-bodied male…can’t listen to anything that he says’

Watkins: You know, I don’t feel guilty for anything that is not the result of my choice. I don’t think that a person should be judged on anything that is not the product of his choice, certainly not a moral judgement. And I certainly don’t think that my right to speak, to have ideas, and to argue is contingent upon being born in a so-called…you know…victimized category. I think that is a complete corruption and anybody who apologizes for it or tries to, you know, prove that they’re not racist or….you know…uh, like….what am I supposed to do? In order to speak should I basically throw out my money, like have my skin died, or chop off a limb? Like that is…

Rubin: A certain amount of people would say yes to that.

Watkins: Yeah, and that reveals how insane and bankrupt their view is. That is not an argument. It is not a real concern with helping the oppressed…to try to dismiss the ideas of people because of their skin color or because of their sex. That is an attempt to silence debate because you cannot win a real debate.

Food for thought, folks.

Group Guilt and Identity Politics

White privilege, white guilt, white culture shaming…

220px-kolyma_road00All of these are intrinsically the same kind of Marxist / Leninist / Stalinist / Maoist / National Socialist group identity guilt that led to pogroms and murder in Germany, Russia, China, Cambodia, and every other country that used them as a social justice weapon to raise one group up and set up some sort of equity or supremacy for another group. The Regressive Left has to realize eventually that the politics of social justice lend themselves naturally to hate.

What social justice will there be when one group kills another to remove their advantage so their own protected group may succeed?

Don’t say it can’t happen here. That’s what you used to say before Donald Trump was elected President.

Social Justice group identity guilt is a disease of the Regressive Left and needs to end.

On Gender as a Social Construct

As I get older I am constantly assailed by the reminder that change is inevitable, and I am also reminded of the curmudgeons who exist in every older generation to tell the younger generation that something they are doing is going to cause irreparable harm to the next generation – so they better just stop it.

Part of that internal reminder tells me that many who might read this will think I am that curmudgeon. I think it is time that I put that hat on and speak.

I’m willing to cede the ground that gender is a social construct and accept that there are people who are gender conforming heteronormative males and females. I’m willing to accept that there are gender non-conforming males and females. I’m willing to accept that there are men who feel like they should have been born women, and women who should have been born men. I’m fully willing to call bullshit on roles being assigned to men and women simply because they have a dick swinging between their legs, or because of the absence of one.

I’ve always been fully of the belief that men and women should have equality of opportunity. I even support women in combat roles as long as they can meet the same physical qualification standards as men. Some say that’s a bar too high, but I’ve seen women outperform men in many areas, so it might reduce the number of women going into these roles, but it won’t keep out the truly qualified.

I am not willing to accept the ludicrous notion that we as human beings need to consider the existence of 70+ genders. Nor am I willing to accept that your offense when I do not address you by the gender you prefer. I will address people by the pronoun assigned to the biological sex to which I perceive them to belong. That means if you look like a man, dude, bro, what-have-ya, that makes me think you’re hiding a penis in your trousers, I’m going to use a gender-binary male pronoun to refer to you. Conversely, that means if you look in any way like you’re sporting a pair of X’s in your chromosomes, have female parts exposed, or otherwise look traditionally female, I’m going to use a gender-binary female pronoun to refer to you as well.

Contrary to what you’re thinking, this does not make me a bigot. This doesn’t make me in any way a non-supporter of LGBT rights, or any other such nonsense you might spew in my direction about my intolerance.

Language is important. Words….are….important. The manipulation of the language to get Homo sapiens in the Western world to call people by their gender of preference is a form of doublespeak and mind control. Control what we say and how we say it and eventually you can control what we think, and how we think about it.

And while we worry about offending the sensibilities of someone who is so confused about what is truly important in the world that they concern themselves with whether we are calling them butch, xe, hir, (f)aer, etc., there are real moral and ethical issues that need attention. There are problems in the world that need leadership.

Imagine if all the gender studies majors of the world took the time to instead focus on trying to liberate the minds of societies where gays are thrown from rooftops as a punishment for being gay; or if they spent their time in a purposeful struggle against female genital mutilation; or fought against the wrongs of societies which made it policy to deprive girls of any kind of education; forced women and girls to wear bags on their heads, and so on, how much better the world would be.

Instead, because there will be no dangerous blow-back for focusing on a gender that is so narrowly targeted to GENDER ROLES as to make argument against the use of traditional pronouns ridiculous, they focus on a fight which shows only that they are proud of their own virtue signaling, and too frightened of the real world to take a stand for something that might truly advance the human condition.

President Carnival Barker

You’re going to be paying attention to the media talking about Trump’s presser on crowd sizes and his comments at the CIA for the next several days. While you’re watching this – because the media wants you to be as convinced of his stupidity as they are – Trump is going to be moving forward with his agenda and no one will be paying attention.

Think about it.

By Request….

I won’t say by popular demand, because only a few of my friends have worked to persuade me to return to blogging. So, since I have a back catalog of my posts from 2003 through 2009 I will begin re-posting those a few at a time, with some updates based on the evolution of my opinions, and I’ve already started with some draft articles.

There was a time when I was a very prolific blogger. Don’t expect a return to those days. I may return in some way to photoblogging, and will likely return to milblogging to a degree, but I will not be posting in a shoot from the hip way. I’ll keep using Facebook for that.

Bogen Manfrotto 3021b Pro Tripod

For the last three years I have been learning the very basics of photography, as can no doubt be seen in many of the shots I have displayed here in days past. I‘ve taken countless sunset shots that could have been dramatically improved by simple compositional changes. Many “landscape” shots could have been much better if I’d known some pretty basic rules concerning the so-called golden hours at dawn and dusk.

However, my main sticking points have been a basic lack of understanding of some of the most important, yet easily overlooked, accessories and their applications.

The most important accessory I have overlooked is the tripod – until recently.

I recently purchased two things which altered my perceptions about shooting. The first, purchased about 6 months ago, was The Digital Photography Book by Scott Kelby. The second, bought after reading about the importance of a tripod (in the book), and after reading some recommendations on the Canon Digital Photography Forums, was a Bogen/Manfrotto 3021BPRO tripod with a 488RC2 Ball Head.

These two things have virtually revolutionized the way I have been shooting. Especially at night. Yes, I‘ve known that I needed a tripod, and yes, I’ve used a tripod before. But what I was missing before and has since been corrected, was the tantamount importance of having and using a tripod, even in situations in which I thought I  didn‘t need one. In fact, there are now almost no situations in which I don’t use a tripod.

Previous tripods had always been cheapos. Tripods that invariably lacked either stability or simply weren‘t up to the task of supporting my camera’s weight. What you trade in cost you lose in either weight or stability, and I was buying tripods which were both lightweight and cheap. Light and cheap just isn‘t a working combination for tripods.

You can have it light, you can have it cheap, and you can have it stable, but you can only pick two of those. Light and cheap = unstable. Light and stable = expensive. Stable and cheap = heavy.

As an owner of the 3021, I can be assured that my pictures are the images I intended while also knowing that I have a platform that is stable enough to trust with my camera operating in a totally hands-off manner. Previous tripods have always left me thinking that I would soon see my camera crashing to the ground if I pulled my hands too far from a “safe” distance. Now I can shoot an exposure that is several minutes long and walk away to have a conversation with a passerby.

And believe me, on a military base in the middle of Iraq, there are plenty of curious passers-by who wonder why you are out taking pictures with such a “complicated” setup.