My Photos in 2009

As the year ends, I’ve been looking back over the photos I took this year. I take photos every single day. From 2009, I kept 6805 photos. No one else but Merri will see most of those. I continue to upload my favorite photos to Flickr (, about 4 photos a week. The 203 photos I uploaded to Flickr in 2009 can be seen at

I decided to select one favorite photo from each month in 2009 . These aren’t necessarily my 12 best photos of the year, but they are a decent representation. I love photographing birds, flowers, and bugs. I hope you’ll see something you like. Feel free to comment. And share your own photos in 2010.

Click on these pictures or the link. On the next page, click “Slide show.” There will be a button at the bottom for full screen.

Protesters: Guns welcome – Alamogordo Daily News

Honestly, I think owning a gun is crazy, unless you exclusively use it to hunt for food your family needs. Otherwise, if you *need* a gun, you should reexamine your life – something is wrong. This is just my opinion and I’m entitled to it. A gun is a ridiculous thing to desire and own. The more guns you want, the sicker you may be. Finally, if carrying a gun in public makes you feel better/safer/stronger/freer, you are fucked up beyond my comprehension. Enjoy your rights and consider seeking better ways to spend your time and money. peace, mjh

Protesters: Guns welcome – Alamogordo Daily News

[P]rotesters are being encouraged to bring a gun to demonstrate their ability to open carry. It’s legal to openly carry a firearm in New Mexico by anyone over the age of 19. A person can openly carry in most places, except in a bar, jail or prison, a school and other places.

According to Cameron Stern, deputy records/archive clerk with the city of Alamogordo, the groups applied on Monday for a permit to conduct the protest, which is also being called an "open carry event."

The permit request, he said, was forwarded to the Alamogordo Department of Public Safety because protesters are being encouraged to bring firearms.

Protesters: Guns welcome – Alamogordo Daily News

StarTrek in an Alternate Universe

We watched JJ Abrams’ StarTrek on DVD. The fact that I avoided the horde of “true” fans packing theaters may cast doubt on the validity of my views, but I have been watching StarTrek, in all its iterations, for over 40 years.

Certainly, there is a lot to like in this variant, as in each of the others. The actors are all great ‘fits’ to the established characters. I even find this Chekov and McCoy better than the originals. (I hated the first McCoy.) As SciFi, the movie is fine, although I’d prefer fewer explosions and more alien culture.

If you haven’t seen the movie but intend to: Where have you been? — and stop readying now.

I think the story stumbles a bit in explaining important details. Why was Ambassador Spock the best candidate to snuff a nova? (Is it ethical – or logical – to stop natural stellar processes?) If a drop of Red Matter can create a black hole, why load a ship with a sphere 6 feet across? That’s a hell of a lot of destructive power. If a drop of Red Matter can create a black hole, what is the advantage of delivering it to the core of a planet? That may be answered by the fact that the full load of Red Matter exploding near Earth apparently had no effect on the planet. Yeah, yeah, these are technical quibbles.

My real discomfort with the movie is that it is a prequel for an alternate universe. A universe in which an Admiral Pike lives on Earth and there are no planets Vulcan or Romulus. A universe in which Spock and a less voluptuous Uhuru are lovers. (Another ethical lapse on Spock’s part.) Say what? If those things don’t matter at all to you, how about the fact that Kirk becomes a cocky womanizer whether his father raises him or dies at his birth? (Solving the nature verse nurture dilemma.)

Quinto makes a wonderful Spock. (He was also a great sociopath on Heroes.) However, having been taunted his whole life, Spock announces to Kirk that he won’t be goaded into losing command of the ship by acting emotionally and then does so oh so easily. Illogical. Granted, his mommy died (why, Chekov, why) – well, in this story’s universe, not the original’s. (Jane Wyman – Mrs Raygun – was a better mom than Winona Ryder (how far has her career fallen?).)

Understand, I look forward to seeing the next 5 installments before another generation reinvents one of the greatest stories ever told. Maybe someday, we’ll discover the universe is full of peace, love, and understanding. Kidding.

Updated 12/26/09: I fast-forwarded through the movie, watching a few scenes again. I forgot that Spock jumps to warp before the big explosion, moving away from Earth. I also now think they showed more destructive force from all the Red Matter. But I’ll add a quibble about riding an explosive shockwave out of a black hole. Finally, as of the end of the movie, the Romulus of that universe is not yet destroyed. In another 129 years, is Spock obligated to go through all the same steps as Spock prime? If he doesn’t, then he doesn’t create this new time line. Which then leads me to wonder: Nero was thrown back into a universe/time that still had a Romulus. Why sit in space for 25 years plotting revenge instead of returning to Romulus to figure out how to prevent the destruction of his home world.

Next November, Remember the Party of No

The Republicans know how to game the system. Yet, when they’re beat, they’re sore losers. Noble. They’ve been scorching fields and salting the earth for 40 years in their win-at-all-costs effort to destroy public confidence in government.

Think Progress » Steele: Democrats Were Trying To ‘Flip The Bird To The American People’ By Voting On Health Reform Last Night

[T]he only reason why Congress held the cloture vote at 1am this morning, was because Republicans filibustered the bill. Last night, Sen. Tom Harkin (D-IA) offered a unanimous consent agreement to move the 1 a.m. vote to 9 a.m. this morning if Republicans agreed to forgo the optional 30 hours of debate between each cloture vote and still pass the final legislation before Christmas. Sen. Mike Enzi (R-WY), who had also sternly criticized the early morning vote, objected to the measure.

Think Progress » Steele: Democrats Were Trying To ‘Flip The Bird To The American People’ By Voting On Health Reform Last Night

Think Progress » Matalin slurs health reform advocates as ‘health care jihadists.’ 

Yesterday on CNN, Republican strategist and CNN contributor Mary Matalin railed against Democrats for pushing forward with health reform efforts. “They’ve been on this jihad for 70 years, and they’re going to throw over all their competitive seats to do it,” she said, adding:

And I don’t know what kind of party that is. That leaves left in the Democratic Party the urban centers, this is tyranny of the minority. Two-thirds of the country don’t want this. And one-third of these jihadists, these health care jihadists do. I guess that’s how democracy in the Obama era works.

Moments later, she smeared the prior efforts to establish Social Security and Medicare as “entitlement jihads” as well.

Think Progress » Matalin slurs health reform advocates as ‘health care jihadists.’

This Week’s WTF?! The Braying of a Lying Jackass

Think Progress » Steve King: Tea Partiers Are ‘Working Americans,’ Unlike The ‘Non-Working Americans’ Who Protested Bush 

Rep. Steve King (R-IA): “These are the working Americans that are coming out to protest now. That’s a new thing. We’ve seen a lot of non-working Americans protest when George Bush was president, but these are people who have to leave their jobs or their businesses or their families and come to their communities or come to Washington, DC.”

From denying the influence of astroturf groups to inflating the size of their crowds, conservatives have sought to cast their protests as the true embodiment of “real America.” King’s claim is an arrogant insult aimed at undermining the legitimacy of the hundreds of thousands of Americans, both employed and unemployed, who protested the Bush administration’s policies.

Think Progress » Steve King: Tea Partiers Are ‘Working Americans,’ Unlike The ‘Non-Working Americans’ Who Protested Bush

Freedom *of* Religion Includes Freedom *from* Religion

Time to recall the reason for the season: Peace on Earth, Good Will To All. Recently, the Albuquerque Journal ran a letter in which the writer declaimed that Christ is the Alpha and Omega of the holiday season:

 ABQJOURNAL OPINION/LETTERS: There’s 1 Reason for the Season

I WANTED TO comment on Obama’s statements he made in a speech, that the United States is not a Christian nation but instead is a country of "citizens who are bound by ideals and a set of values." My response is that it is a load of bull. Anyone who knows the history of this great country is aware of the truth: that the founding fathers were Christian men who founded this country to be a Christian nation based upon Christian values.

As for the people who try to keep Christ out of all the celebrations this time of year, I would like to know, exactly what is it they think these celebrations are for? Maybe they have some reason for celebrating on Dec. 25 I’m not aware of. As far as I know, the one and only reason for the world-wide celebration on that day … is a birthday party. – STinker

ABQJOURNAL OPINION/LETTERS: There’s 1 Reason for the Season

Soon after, several other letters appeared from those who disagreed. This one is representative:


The Founding Fathers, to which Mr. STinker refers, were not all practicing Christians. They did not intend to create a Christian nation. Nowhere in the Constitution did they put the word Christian, or Jesus, or Christ. In fact, the very first amendment they added to that marvelous Constitution grants freedom of religion to all Americans.
        In addition, not only are most of the people in the world not Christian, and therefore do not celebrate Dec. 25, not even all Christian sects consider Dec. 25 as the day marking Jesus’ birth.
        Our president was absolutely correct. We are not a Christian nation. Rather, we are a nation of people bound by certain ideals; among those is freedom of religion.
        Happy Chanukah, Joyful Kwanza, Merry Christmas, Happy Holidays, peaceful Ramadan, and may all celebrate their religion in freedom and respect. — A. FLICKER


As an atheist, I have no objection to people being nice, friendly, festive, and generous. The holidays – the weeks from Thanksgiving through New Years, really are the most wonderful time of the year (if you don’t feel compelled to shop). We gather, we catch up, we brighten each others lives a bit. It’s ironic people need to be forced to be nice by rules and faith, but, whatever works. Far worse, are those whose faith says “love one another,” but who, in fact, hate those who are different.  Further proof that religion has outlived its usefulness and may well cause more harm than good. Merry Solstice and a Happy New Calendar to one and all. Joy to the World. peace, mjh