Thursday, November 30, 2006

My New Toy

Yashica MAT - 124

My new toy is a Yashica MAT 124, a medium format twin lens reflex camera--thanks to my friend who gave it to me. I'm not sure how well it works yet, but I think the light meter is broken. I'm really excited about it. Now all I need is a scanner that can do medium format negatives.

Wednesday, November 22, 2006

Happy Birthday . . .

. . . to the guy who said the funniest thing I've ever heard. Allow me to reproduce the conversation for you here, even though I've already posted it before.
My friend’s dog was licking his genitals (some would say he was “on vacation”). The conversation went thus:
Another Friend: “Man, I wish I could do that.”
The Birthday Boy: “I don’t know . . . that dog looks pretty mean.”

Sunday, November 19, 2006

See No Evil, Hear No Evil, Speak No Evil

Over the weekend I made an interesting (and very unsettling) series of pictures. I'm not 100% happy with the Photoshop work I did, and may return to this theme some time in the future, but for now, just enjoy my results. I'm posting one now, and will post the other two later this week by editing this post.

See No Evil
Hear No Evil
Speak No Evil

Monday, November 13, 2006

Random Pics

Here are a few random pictures from my life from throughout the year. I hope these give a little insight into my life.

First up we have a couple pics of my wife cheating on me. :)

And here are the kids swimming, even when they're "Breaking the Law."

And here is Russell either (a) trying to get a squirrel or (b) just showing off his athletic ability. He's known to be a cocky show-off sometimes.

And finally, a picture of Mama Puss-Puss, an 18-year-old mother of many kittens, who has been with my wife since she was a kitten and my wife was 6 years old.

Tuesday, November 07, 2006

*Sigh* . . . Thank God

Thank God the douche didn't win.

These are all still pretty close, but they're looking to be on the positive side.

(all images taken of

And according to, Initiative 423 was shot down by a strong majority. All looks well in the great state of Nebraska.

Thursday, November 02, 2006

Last-Minute Election Summary

The elections are coming down to the wire, and soon we'll be seeing soda advertisements instead of political advertisements once again. And for the first time ever, I've really been paying attention to the races going on right now in Nebraska. So here's my take on all the issues, if anyone cares. Remember, the election is November 7.

Initiative 423

Initiative 423 is touted as a way to reduce government spending and, therefore, taxes. It limits state spending to its current levels, increased by 3% each year, unless voters authorize an increase.

This is absolutely ridiculous. I can't believe anyone would think this is a good idea. We might as well take all our state senators and tie their hands behind their backs. The thing is, many costs increase by more than 3% each year, like for example any health care costs. And it also constrains our government to doing what they're already doing (or less) rather than retooling everything.

The proponents of 423 run a lot of ads. They say that "special interests" are attacking the initiative. Yes, special interests, like nearly every political candidate, police and fire departments, schools, and groups for the elderly. Those sure are greedy outliers on the political spectrum.

I noticed that there are a lot more ads running in favor of this initiative than against it. I started to wonder why this would be, if the "special interests" are really the who don't want it. And then I recalled that the people who were trying to get signatures for it were the same ones who wanted signatures for a gambling initiative. "Ah," I said, "therein must lie the solution." My guess is that the same people are involved. They want to tie the legislature's hands this year, and for the next election they plan to come in on a white horse, in shining armor, with their solution to the problem: allow gambling, and the state's revenues from gambling won't be constrained by Initiative 423. Two and two together, I think.

My conclusion: vote NO on 423.

Governor: Heinemann vs. Hahn

I don't really know a lot about this. I've seen very few ads for Heinemann, and none at all for his opponent. I can't give any conclusions.

The House: 1st District

Democrat Maxine Moul (right) is vying for Republican Jim Fortenberry's (left) seat in the House of Representatives.

As far as I can tell, Moul's entire platform is that she will help veterans. And she claims that Fortenberry hasn't, although his record proves quite the opposite. He's done a fine job so far--there's no reason for a change. He's also run his campaign with grace: he hasn't run any negative ads, and has only responded to her negative ads by defending himself. On the other hand, Moul has done nothing but attack Fortenberry, so much that we have no idea what her platform is.

Character and demeanor are really all we have to go on with this race. Fortenberry seems the perfect gentleman, the kind of guy you'd want to invite to a fancy dinner party or something. Moul, on the other hand, seems like a substitute teacher who's always overly-mean to keep the kids in line. You know the one I mean. You had one just like her.

My conclusion: vote Fortenberry.

The House: 2nd District

Hey, I don't know anything about this one. They don't run any ads in this neck of the woods. Moving on . . .

The House: 3rd District

Now that Republican Dr. Tom Osborne, the former Huskers footbal coach, has decided to give up politics, the seat is open for Republican Adrian Smith (right) or his opponent, Democrat Scott Kleeb (left).

Yeah, in Nebraska it's not a good idea to identify yourself as a Democrat if you want to get elected, particularly so in the western part of the state, the third district. So Kleeb never mentions his affiliation with the Democratic party, and in fact identifies himself as an independent. Smith is very much a hardline Republican, not straying from the party line in any significant respect. It's hard to say what Kleeb will do, but I suspect he'd be fairly moderate, considering his constituency and what I would expect would be his actual political views. Kleeb doesn't say anything about his stance; he only mentions the issues he thinks are important (not how he plans to handle those issues). And although he runs a negative ad, it criticizes only Smith's ability to get laws passed.

Kleeb has a lot going for him. He's a good-looking Yale graduate. His demeanor and character seem to be good. However . . .

What this one comes down to, for me, is that Smith is a Nebraska native and UNL grad, and a state senator. Kleeb, on the other hand, has never lived in Nebraska before. He seems to have picked a place to go where he thought he could get elected, to further his career. To make up for that, Kleeb runs all kinds of ads showing him in a cowboy hat, playing rancher. I don't buy it.

My conclusion: this one is almost a toss-up, considering Smith's questionable abilities as a law-maker, but I think I'd stick with Nebraska native Smith.

State Attorney General: Bruning vs. ?????

This one confuses the hell out of me. I see at least an ad an hour or more for Jon Bruning, and I've never seen one for his opponent. I have no idea who's running against him, so I'm not going to bother finding out. Bruning does a good job. There's no reason not to vote for him, particularly since his opponent is a complete unknown to me. What I can't figure out is why he's wasting so much money on the campaign when no one's really campaigning against him.

The Senate Race

And finally, we have the most important race: the Senate race between incumbent Democrat Ben Nelson (left) and douchebag Republican Pete Ricketts (right).

The Issues:
On the issues, the two candidates aren't radically different. Nelson seems to be stronger on border security and promoting ethanol production. The latter issue is extremely important to Nebraskans. He says that he would eventually like to see Nebraska corn fields replace foreign oil fields. That sounds good to me, and it should to any environmentalist or anyone who would like to reduce our dependence on foreign oil. His web site doesn't give any position on the estate tax, so I'd be willing to guess he's in favor of it. The site mentions that he supports tax cuts for the middle class, so the estate tax is probably safe with him. Thank God. In addition, Nelson has a long-standing positive record of serving Nebraska, and he's quite able to tout his strong independent streak, crossing party lines more than anyone else in the Senate.

Ricketts, on the other hand, is all about eliminating the estate tax. You know why? Well, he has a lot of money, but so does Papa Ricketts, and Pete stands to gain a lot if the "death tax" is eliminated. He doesn't say anything about ethanol production in his ads, and he says nothing of substance about anything else.

The one area where Nelson is silent but Pete speaks is on Social Security. Ricketts wants to make voluntary programs to supplement Social Security. If you can't see how dumb that is, I feel sorry for you. Anyone that wants to save for retirement is already able to do so, through IRAs and many other avenues. The whole reason we have Social Security is because we have many people that won't invest voluntarily. Voluntary programs defeat the whole purpose of it.

Pete's ads repeatedly mention that he's pro-life and against gun control, two issues that are very important to Nebraska. What he doesn't want you to know is that Nelson is also pro-life and against gun control, and has a record (and hunting acumen) to prove it.

The Campaign:
Ricketts is a rich bastard who doesn't want you to know the truth. His early ads painted Democrats in broad strokes as a bunch of radically liberal nutbags. He never actually said Nelson's name in any of these ads, but when Nelson responded in kind with a negative ad of his own, Ricketts accused him of starting the mud-slinging. As if we're not smart enough to see right through that. In more recent ads, he's admitted that Nelson isn't exactly John Kerry or Hillary Clinton, but he wants you to vote for him because Nelson would put someone like that in charge of the Senate. Is that really your best platform, Pete? In fact, it is the strongest thing he can say in his favor.

Let's not forget all the childish, irrelevant ads that he's run. First, he ran one to the tune of "Old MacDonald", with a cartoon Nelson shooting turkeys left and right. The ad told a half-true story about how Nelson claimed that he was running a turkey farm on some of his property to get tax cuts, and the assessor wouldn't allow the cuts to apply. It also claimed that Nelson still owed back taxes and wouldn't pay them, which is an outright lie.

Then he ran an ad stating that Nelson went on a hunting trip to Africa and killed a grocery list of various animals. How is that relevant?

Now he's running an ad which pointed to campaign funds and benefits that Nelson has received from Behlen Manufacturing Company, and tried to link them to two million dollars in state government contracts that the company got. Putting aside the fact that $2mil is chump change in terms of government contracts, every politician receives campaign funds from companies, unless they're so rich that they've lost touch with the real world, like Ricketts. And it doesn't prove that there was anything shady about the contracts. In fact, it doesn't even say outright that anything was shady about the deal at all, because that would be defamation. In response, the CEO of Behlen appeared on an ad showing a picture of himself standing next to George H.W. Bush, describing himself as a lifelong Republican, and stating that Pete Ricketts is a disappointment to the whole party.

The most amusing ad he's run, to me, is one featuring Nebraska Republican Senator Chuck Hagel. Hagel makes the bizarre claim that the issues aren't important, because they can change over time. I need not respond to that ridiculous claim, because it's so obviously idiotic. He then draws the conclusion that a candidate's character and integrity are more important. He then says "I know Pete Ricketts. I trust Pete Ricketts." And if you watch the ad, you see that he can't even say it with a straight face. This ad has no impact whatsoever considering the history of Hagel and Nelson. In short, we all know they don't get along. I'm sorry Chuck, but rather than helping Pete, you've hurt yourself. I can't vote for anyone who would support nutbag Pete.

Nelson's ads, on the other hand, have focused on the issues. They tout his record and all he's done for the state. The only time he's ever run a true mud-slinging ad was when he pointed out the huge (something like $5 million) bonuses that Pete took for himself while laying off large numbers of employees. Let's forget the fact that his bonuses dwarf the government contracts that Behlen got. All his other "negative" ads have been (1) direct responses to Pete's ads or (2) completely about the issues.

The most confusing thing for me in this campaign is Pete's stance on the income tax. If you asked me a couple months ago what his stance was, I would have told you that he supports eliminating the income tax and putting into place a flat, national sales tax. I don't need to tell you how stupid that is--it helps the rich at the expense of the poor, since the rich don't need to spend their money like the poor do, and I'm sure there would be exceptions for investments in such a plan. Not only that, but it would hurt the economy. But now I'm confused.

First, Ricketts ran an ad which to me sounded like this: Nelson claimed that Ricketts doesn't endorse a national sales tax, but in fact he does so endorse one. Ricketts identifies himself as a "Reagan Republican", so Nelson did the smart thing of running an ad which quoted a Reagan administration top-dog as calling a national sales tax "a very dumb idea." Then, Ricketts ran an ad that sounded like the exact opposite of the first one: that Nelson claims Ricketts endorses a national sales tax, but he does not so endorse one and never has. OK, I'm a pretty smart person, and I'm not that easily confused, so I'd be willing to bet that this is a huge flip-flop on a major issue and an outright lie. On the other hand, it could be an intentionally deceptive ad (one of them or the other), which is just as bad. Either way, it was enough to confuse everyone in the Nelson camp.

My conclusion: vote Nelson. I would seriously question the intelligence of anyone who votes the other way.