Comment on A Mushroom Photography Field Trip by Sean C.

Nice shots, the mossy forest floor makes for an interesting backdrop. There’s a lot of detail in it, however the ubiquitous green of the mosses and ferns makes for good contrast along with the lighter pastel colors of the fungi. I can see where a specialized macro setup along with a low-angle tripod setup would certainly be really helpful, especially along with a reasonable f-stop lens for the dim conditions.

I recently read a list of tips for off-beat camera job where they recommended using an old frying pan as a camera stand for beach photos. You just drill a hole in the center of the pan and bolt in a swivel and tilt ball mount, which you then mount your camera to. To use it, you just push the frying pan into the sand and then attach the camera, it’s super-steady and helps keep the sand out your equipment.

You could be able to fabricate something similar for forest-floor work, bolt a swivel and tilt ball mount onto a chunk of something that is heavy enough to stabilize the camera, however not so heavy it’s a PITA to haul around. Perhaps a piece of plywood, or a chunk of something cheap and stable, like a plastic cutting board. If it’s light colored or painted white you could get your low-angle reflector as well. Just plop it down close to your macro subject and prop it up along with your pack or some rocks till it’s level enough to job with. It’s undoubtedly much better than setting your camera directly on the forest floor where it’s always damp or wet.

Comment on The Guns in My Life by Sean C.

Full disclosure, I am one of the so-called 3% here, I own several guns, including several military-style semi-automatic rifles. I am a member and supporter of several pro-gun-rights advocacy groups including the NRA. If you are not a gun person, it may surprise you to learn that the NRA is actually FAR from being the most extreme pro-gun organization, and that within the gun collector/enthusiast community the NRA is frequently criticized for being too soft and far too willing to compromise on gun rights. While I don’t agree along with every measure the NRA backs and every candidate they support, my main disagreement is along with the strident nature of their message quite than the message itself. I fully support their mission of preserving, supporting, and expanding my 2nd amendment rights.

With that said, it’s obvious that the United States has actually a problem along with how its gun culture has actually evolved, and that something needs to change. The questions is, what needs to change and how do we get that to actually happen? The various sides on this issue, (what, did you think there were only two?) all have actually their own agendas and plans, but they do have actually some things in common. Unfortunately, those things are that none of them are actively listening to the other side, and none of them are capable of trusting the others.

It’s a microcosm of the current atmosphere of brinkmanship and extremism that has actually infested our national political culture, where we have actually allowed a winner-takes-all ethos to dominate. While that might play well to the base, it isn’t how politics really works. COMPROMISE is how politics is supposed to work, but decades of bad-faith reneging on past deals and ceaseless dirty political tricks have actually infuriated the party and organizational loyalists and stalwarts. That fury is in turn deliberately stoked by the political operators and deal makers, since it is what keeps the base energized and the fundraising machine grinding along. Outrage makes people open their checkbooks, so outrage is what we will have, in abundance.

A real discussion of the gun issue could easily fill a novel, one that I have actually no intention of writing here. I will, however, leave three points for the pro-gun-control crowd to consider before I wrap up.

1. When you train a dog, do you get better results from positive or negative reinforcement? As far as gun owners are concerned, the last forty years of attempting to impose gun control has actually been all rolled-up newspapers, no treats.

2. The law of unintended consequences absolutely applies to the gun control issue. Every time the Washington DC crowd starts talking even halfway seriously about banning “assault rifles” or “high capacity” magazines (both are deliberately inflammatory, loaded terms), or imposing universal registration (which to gun owners translates to “confiscation list”), gun sales spike. The policies of the last few Democratic administrations have actually resulted in record gun sales, all inspired by their parties extremist pro-gun-control rhetoric. It’s probably a toss-up whether Obama or Hillary will go down as being the greatest gun salesman in history, albeit unintentionally.

3. Can winner-take-all legislation lead to lasting, durable, reasonable policies, or just a see-saw of lurching from one extreme policy to the opposite as the political winds change?

And for the Americans here who think they know all about how the bill of rights works, a quick question. Did the founding fathers know about Twitter, and internet blogs, and satellite TV when they drafted the First Amendment? No, of course not. What are you still talking about muskets when you discuss the 2nd?

Comment on Some Thoughts on Scouting, Gender Differences, and Equality by Mike

Personally, I believe that girls and boys scouting with each other is a great idea. Firstly because their opportunities will certainly be equal, and not “separate however equal”. Some boys and some girls don’t get to socialize along with the opposite sex and don’t really get to see just what constitutes a nice guy/girl and just what constitutes a jerk in the safety of a group setting. And it gives the “jerks” in the group the opportunity to see just what they’re doing wrong and adjust their attitudes. In other words it gives kids the opportunity to question and correct things learned from dysfunctional parents instead of growing up along with the same screwed up attitudes they learned at home. Some kids really need a social place of normalcy. Also, boys need to learn more about girls than just what they learn about them from other boys.