Beaches #102F & 102A

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These two pictures are posted for all my fellow inhabitants of planet Earth who happen to live in regions that have experienced a very long, severe winter.  Even though the calendar says it is spring, however, where I live it has been anything but that as just the other day we received 6-8 inches of snow and the temperature hasn’t been much above freezing for some time, although the past two days have been fairly nice.  My local weatherman places blame on what he calls the Greenland Block, in which a high pressure system off of that island is preventing the jet stream from moving back into its more traditional path for this time of the year.

I believe this photograph was shot on Sanibel Island, Florida, just off the coast of Ft. Myers, along the Gulf Of Mexico coastline.  The first picture is the finished product, digitally adjusted, framed and matted.  The second picture was the original photograph as scanned onto my computer, with just a touch of color adjustment.  I still shoot film, and probably always will, however what I manage to do with a scanned photograph with only the help of a free downloaded software program amazes me.  Besides adjusting the color of both the sky and water, I was also able to remove all those annoying people who had the audacity to be standing on this beach enjoying Mother Nature at her finest as I was taking the photograph.

If I am fortunate to have you view my photographs and you find the color saturation too great or the color schemes of the mats do not match either themselves or the photograph, please let me know via a comment.  Being color-blind, what might look great to me might look like crap to everyone else!

Steven H. Spring

Is The U.S. Really Thinking Of Engaging Militarily With North Korea?

Here we go again.  It was reported yesterday that tensions are running high between North Korea and the United States, with North Korean dictator Kim Jong-un threatening to attack American military bases in South Korea, Japan, Guam and Hawaii in a show of force against U.S. imperialism.  I am not saying that Kim Jong-un has the right to attack America, however we are currently engaged militarily in so many countries right now that you need a scorecard to keep track of them all.  In just the past decade alone, the U.S. has invaded or are conducting drone missile attacks in Iraq, Afghanistan, Pakistan, Libya, Yemen, Somalia and Uganda.  When you consider that our government is seriously talking about taking aggressive action against Iran and Syria, one cannot help but wonder how we are paying for all these missions, in terms not only of dollars and cents but also that of human life.  Since World War I, with the advent of the airplane as a military weapon of mass destruction, ninety percent of all casualties of war are civilians.

With an annual defense budget of nearly $900 billion, we spend nearly as much on our military as the rest of the world combined.  When combined with our intelligence agencies, we spend nearly $1.5 trillion on defense and intelligence related expenditures every year.  Moreover, this does not include America’s newly created ultra secret intelligence budget.  Since September 11th, our government has built up such a top-secret network of intelligence agencies that no one knows how much it cost, how many it employs or how many agencies it runs.  The defense budget itself has nearly doubled since 2000, yet where has all this spending gotten us?  As a nation, we live in fear of another September 11th attack; all the while, our country is falling apart.  America is bankrupting itself and it is not from our spending on Social Security, Medicare and Medicaid.  It is from our imperialistic attitude and our attempt to dominate the world we call planet Earth.

In a rather sad, ironic twist, America is by far the world’s largest arms dealer, again nearly selling as many armaments as the rest of the world combined.  Thus, not only are we bankrupting ourselves with our military spending, but we are also heavily arming the rest of the world.  One must remember that America armed Saddam Hussein when he was at war with Iran in the 1980s and we armed Osama bin Laden when he fought the Russians in Afghanistan, also during the ‘80s.  America has a very extensive history of arming and supporting malevolence dictators and lunatics, in the name of what is best for this country, not necessarily what is best for the rest of the world.

In his January 17, 1961 farewell address to the nation, President Dwight D. Eisenhower warned the country to beware of the mighty military-industrial complex.  President Eisenhower stated “…we must guard against the acquisition of unwarranted influence, whether sought or unsought, by the military-industrial complex.  The potential for the disastrous rise of misplaced power exists and will persist.”  Coming from a five-star general, many who credit for winning World War II, America should have listened.  Instead, during the past two decades America has become the world’s most war-mongering nation.  I have written many times during the past seven or eight years that we are heading down the same path as that of the former Soviet Union, in that we are bankrupting ourselves with all our military endeavors.  America has nearly 750 official military bases located in other countries.  We still have thirty thousand troops stationed along the 38th parallel in Korea sixty years after that war ended.  We have numerous military bases located throughout Europe nearly seventy years after World War II ended.

Be it the Iranian hostage crisis of 1979 or the horrendous attack of September 11th, America still has yet to learn that our foreign policy always has consequences, many times dire.  I do not support what Osama bin Laden did on September 11th and I am not saying that we deserved it; however, I know just enough to understand that for every action there is a reaction.  Bin Laden stated during an interview that the reason he attacked America on that horrific day was that we left our military stationed in Saudi Arabia, the most holy of land in the Islamic religion, long after the first Gulf War ended, which based on our extensive history of military engagements, is a very common practice.

I came of age during the 1960s and ‘70s listening to Walter Cronkite report the casualty statistics from the Vietnam War and that of the anti-war protests as well during his nightly news broadcasts.  All those old hippies, who spoke of peace and love, who now hold power turned out to be just as sadistic as that of their parents’ generation.  When will we ever learn?

Steven H. Spring

Flowers #16E, 16G, 16C & 16D

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Impatiens, Latin for impatient, is a genus of approximately eight hundred and fifty to one thousand species of flowering plants.  Native to tropical Africa, Impatiens, sometimes called Busy Lizzies or Touch-Me-Nots, are actually a sensitive perennial, however they are mostly grown as an annual plant flowering from early summer until the first fall frost.  Grown as a perennial in milder climates, these plants can flower year round.  One of the most popular garden plants because of their beauty and ease of care, Impatiens also make an excellent container plant.

So named because their mature seed pod will burst open from even the slightest touch, Impatiens grow their optimum in a well-drained, but moist soil, thriving best in filtered or partial sunlight with adequate protection from the hot afternoon sun, which will cause the plant to wilt.  Though some species can reach a height of seven feet, most are not more that one-foot tall.  The Impatien bloom now come in a variety of colors including white, pink, red, violet, purple, orange and yellow.

If I am fortunate to have you view my photographs and you find the color saturation too much or the color schemes of the mats do not match either themselves or the photograph, please let me know via a comment.  Being color-blind, what might look great to me might look like crap to everyone else!

Steven H. Spring

An Open Letter To The National Collegiate Athletic Association

The following is a copy of my letter to The National Collegiate Athletic Association regarding their men’s basketball tournament which got underway this past Tuesday night with four play-in games and started in earnest at noon on Thursday.

Steven H. Spring

March 21, 2013

Dr. Mark Emmert
President & CEO
The National Collegiate Athletic Association
P.O. Box 6222
Indianapolis, Indiana  46206

Dear President Emmert,

As the NCAA men’s basketball tournament gets underway Thursday and Friday, I hope you or a member of your staff can answer two questions for me.  One, why has your organization decided to make every arena holding a tournament game impossible to tell apart from one another, with the exception of the host city’s name along the end lines of the court and occasionally shown on the scorer’s table electronic advertisement board?  Since CBS, TBS, TNT and TruTV are advertising that they are showing every game in full this year, one can become mesmerized by watching numerous games on indistinguishable courts, all sporting either your NCAA logo, basketball logo or 75th tournament anniversary logo.  But then again, that’s your goal isn’t it, to have viewers captivated by staring at nearly identical basketball courts, all sporting virtually innumerable matching logos?

I am alarmed by the sheer number of NCAA logos that appear either on the court, courtside or on the television screen.  We are brainwashing our children with the constant barrage of television advertising and your tournament is a perfect example.  As someone who watches many of the old television shows on DVDs, I have noticed that hour-long shows from the late 1950s and early ‘60s were fifty-two minutes long.  Now days, a show of this length is at best only forty-four minutes.  This represents a one hundred percent increase in the number of commercials per hour.  When you consider how the networks now routinely use pop-up ads to advertise up-coming shows and product placements in their shows, we are being inundated with commercials.

After watching several of the second round games on Thursday, I decided to make a list of every NCAA logo I noticed while watching one particular game.  The following is the list, and most likely is not all-inclusive:

Three logos on the court itself, including the enormous one at mid-court,
Three logos on top of each backboard,
Two, sometimes three logos on the scorer’s table electronic advertisement board,
Two logos on the bunting along press row behind the scorer’s table,
Two logos on the floor in front of the scorer’s table,
Two logos on the sideline reporter’s microphone,
One logo at the base of each backboard support,
One logo on each player’s uniform,
One logo on every coach’s suit jacket,
One logo on every referee’s shirt,
One logo on every chair on each team’s bench,
One logo on every chair behind the scorer’s table,
One logo on each team’s shoe scuffing pad,
One logo on every bucket of Gatorade,
One logo on every cup of Gatorade,
One logo on the scores of different games at the top of the television screen,
One logo is flash very quickly on the television screen when every reply is shown,
And one logo is flash during every commercial break on the television screen as the score    of that game is given.

I did not attempt to count the number of logos shown at half time in the television studio behind and in front of the commentators as there were so many different NCAA, network and university logos displayed along with videos being played that one could become nauseated by it all.

My second question concerns the four play-in games, now referred to as the first round.  Why are there two sixteen seed games, one thirteen seed game and one eleven seed game?  Why are these four games not all sixteen seed games, with each winner playing the four number one seed teams?  Why are the eleven and thirteen seed teams forced to play one more game than every other team seeded the same as or lower than them in the tournament?  This makes no sense, and lacks fairness.  I hope you can provide an explanation to my questions.

Sincerely,

Steven H. Spring
The Ohio State University, Class of ‘87

Corporate Welfare: Why Does The U.S. Government Inflate The Price Of Sugar?

When I was a young boy, Grandpa would give me a dollar bill and I would go down to the local grocery store to buy as many candy bars as I could for him.  Naturally, I would always pick the candy that I liked best.  It would always take me a very long time to decide what to buy, as at the time most if not all candy bars cost only a nickel.  Nowadays, you are lucky if you can get one candy bar for a dollar.  Granted, that was a very long time ago, however, since 1789, U.S. policy and thus the price of sugar has been determined not by supply and demand, which is true capitalism, but by our federal government when Congress first imposed a tariff on foreign sugar imports.  The original intention of this tariff was to provide much needed revenue for this nation; however, it has also resulted in the U.S. price of sugar being historically higher than that of the world market.  Over the years, the American price of sugar has been double, triple or even quadruple the world price.  At one time, the U.S. price was twenty-one cents a pound when the world price was less than three cents.

It was announced earlier this week that the Department of Agriculture is thinking of purchasing 400,000 tons of sugar to artificially support falling sugar prices, which have fallen nearly twenty percent since last fall.  The pending purchase is thought to be a means of helping prevent sugar processors from defaulting on nearly a trillion dollars in government loans under a federal price support program.  Falling sugar prices are the result of a bountiful crop last year of both sugar beets and sugar cane in this country.  This acquisition of sugar would benefit those companies that turn the cane and beets into granulated sugar.  Pierson Bob Clair III, CEO of Brown And Haley, a candy maker and distributor based in Washington state has been quoted as saying, “Clearly, the USDA has made up its mind that Big Sugar is going to trump the American consumer.”

We, as a nation, profess to worship at the feet of capitalism, yet once again, it is consumers and taxpayers who pay the price for government intervention into the corporate world, be it price inflated tariffs, bailouts, subsidies or tax laws that allow huge corporations such as GE, Microsoft, Apple, IBM, Chevron, ConocoPhillips, Boeing, Mattel, ExxonMobil, DuPont or Verizon to pay very little if any federal tax.  I did not agree with Republican candidate Mitt Romney often, if at all during last year’s presidential campaign, however, I did agree with him when he stated “We ought to get rid of subsides and let markets work properly,” referring to the sugar industry during his campaign last year.   How does this industry get away with financial thievery?  The simple answer, as always the case, is money.  The sugar industry grows less than two percent of the total dollar valuation of all U.S. grown crops, however sugar lobbyists spend more than a third of the total of all American grown crops lobbying all the while Big Sugar campaign contributions to political action committees (PACs) are more than the total of all other American grown crops contributions combined.

For all the talk of welfare queens robbing this nation blind, living high on the hog all the while driving brand new Cadillac Escalades, it is corporate welfare that is truly a disgrace!

Steven H. Spring

360 Degrees Of Plattsburg Farm

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These thirteen photographs were shot most likely either in the fall of 1995 or spring of 1996.  What probably lead to these photographs being taken was that I was either hanging Christmas lights or taking them down when I decided to shoot this panoramic 360 degree view of my old farmhouse from the rooftop.

It is hard to believe that even though you see very few neighbors, I had on two different occasions a sheriff’s deputy come calling, responding to a call of disturbing the peace.  Neither time involved my brothers and I playing guitars, just me playing the stereo.  The deputies could not believe it as well.  I used to rock that old farmhouse!!!

Steven H. Spring

Alvin Lee #34C, 79B, 66C, 53C, 5C, 99B, 41B & 11C

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Alvin Lee, born Graham Alvin Barnes (December 19, 1944 – March 6, 2013), guitarist and lead vocalist for the English blues-rock band Ten Years After, passed away unexpectedly yesterday from complications following a supposedly routine surgery.  He was 68 years old.  Ten Years After first formed under that name during November of 1966 in London.  Though still performing, the band’s heyday was the late 1960s through the early 1970s.  Ten Years After first disbanded in 1974, reformed for a short time in 1983, then reformed once again for good in 1988.  Band members beside Lee were Leo Lyons on bass, Chick Churchill on keyboards and Ric Lee on drums.  Alvin was replaced by Joe Gooch in 2003.

Ten Years After rose to superstar status after their August 17, 1969 performance at the Woodstock Music & Art Fair, in which Lee gave an incredibly blazingly fast presentation of their song, I’m Going Home which was immortalized in the film and soundtrack from the three-day festival.  Their two masterpieces are A Space In Time, released in August of 1971, which contains probably their greatest hit, I’d Love To Change The World, and Rock & Roll Music To The World, which was released in October of 1972.  For any rock ‘n’ roller not familiar with the music of Ten Years After, stop everything you are doing and immediately go out to a record store (if one still exists) or go online and buy these two albums.  If you can only afford one, start with Rock & Roll Music To The World.

These photographs were shot, I believe sometime during the early 1980s at the Agora / Newport Music Hall in Columbus, Ohio, USA during a Lee solo tour.  Judging by the quality of the photographs, the stage lighting obviously wasn’t very good, however they are of an incredible guitarist who once fronted one of rock’s greatest bands.

By the way, that sure is a funny looking cigarette in the headstock of his guitar!  It looks like something one would have rolled by hand!

Steven H. Spring