Tuesday, September 26, 2023

Stonekettle Pen Sale


I don't usually post notices of sales on my store here on the blog. 

Or I haven't in the past. I don't know why. Laziness probably. Posting the notices to social media was much easier. 

But with the ongoing collapse of social media, I figured it was time to start. 

So: Announcing this month's Stonekettle Pen Sale!

I've been on the road or deathly ill for the last few months. As such, it's been a while since I've done a sale. And I've built up a lot of inventory. Today there are three types of seam rippers. There are letter openers, hobby knives (a new item), fountain pens, several models of mechanical pencils, and a wide variety of pens. More than just what's in the picture below. 

Plus photography prints, canvas, cards, metal prints, puzzles, coffee mugs. 

Note I'll be uploading new prints and artwork over the rest of the week. That's a lengthy and time consuming process for me, so it takes a while. If you've seen images I've posted recently and they're not on the store, check back periodically and they'll likely be available as I get them uploaded and listed. 

Thanks for dropping by // Jim

Monday, September 25, 2023

Not Long Before The End


Will no one rid me of this turbulent priest?
--Henry II, 1170, referring to the Archbishop of Canterbury, Thomas Becket
(four knights subsequently murdered Becket, interpreting the King's comment as an order)

Well, we've apparently reached the "Kill All The Military Professionals" stage of the Revolution.

That's, of course, the leading Republican candidate for president, Donald Trump, on his failing social media network last Friday.

Note how Trump accuses General Milley of leading the Afghanistan withdrawal and not Joe Biden? 

Yeah, that's because Trump was the president who committed America to that withdrawal, and who himself gave the order, in the final days of his office. 

But, it's that last bit, after the part where Trump throws in that bonus, randomly capitalized "Woke," that is the real kicker, where he is basically accusing the Chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff, General Mark Milley, of treason and suggesting Milley be put to death.

I mean, that's...


No he didn't? Trump didn't suggest Milley be put to death?


Yes, he did. 

That's exactly what Trump did. 

Because that's exactly what Trump always does: encourage violence and murder, couched in weasel words so that he can pretend he wasn't doing exactly what he was indeed doing. 

You know it. I know it. There are tribesmen in the deepest, unreached portions of the Brazilian rainforest who have never had contact with the outside world and they know it. Oh, you Trump apologists can most certainly clutch your fleshy pale chests in mock outrage, no doubt aghast I would suggest such a thing. No, no! You cry. He said, "in times past!" That's what he said. In times past, the olde timey time, back when America was Great. Yeah, that's it! Trump was just saying historically anyone who did what Milley had done, well, yeah, back then he would have been put to death. 

Historically speaking, see?

Trump the student of history.

Trump the historian. 

Trump, the guy who knows more about war than the Generals. Of course he does, just ask him. 

You know, like that. 

It's not like Trump was once again engaging in his usual incitement and stochastic terrorism. Not like he has an extensive history of doing exactly that. 

Over and over. 


And what was it Milley did, that our ancestors would have put him to death for? He contacted his counterparts in the Chinese military, with the permission of the Trump Administration, following Trump's attempted insurrection to assure them that he would not allow Trump to unleash America's nuclear arsenal in a fit of unhinged rage. 

You know, just in case the crazy bastards on the other side with the nuclear weapons were maybe thinking about a preemptive strike. 

So long as we're talking historically, there has never been a situation like a raving defeated president who was refusing to leave office, blaming China, and who was STILL IN CONTROL OF THE GODDAMN NUCLEAR BOMBS.  

So long as we're talking about history and all, I mean.

Look, this is pretty fucking simple: if you don't want the generals calling the people you're threatening to vaporize, maybe start acting like a President instead of a character out of a bad HBO movie. 

What Trump doesn't understand, and has never understood, is pathologically incapable of understanding, is that the military swears its oath to the Constitution, to the nation, to the defense of the people of America. 

The US military does not swear personal fealty to the President. Any president. 

The Chairmen of the Joint Chiefs is responsible to the law first. It's right there in the oath. 

The president also swears an oath of loyalty to that same instrument -- but, ironically, unlike members of the military, the president's oath isn't legally binding. 

And speaking of oaths that aren't legally binding: Trump wannabe henchman, the absolute dumbest drooling booger-eating ass-picking member of a congress that includes Lauren Boebert, Arizona Republican Paul Gosar said "in a better society, quislings like the strange sodomy-promoting General Milley would be hung.” 

I'm not quite sure how anyone could know the word "quisling" but not the correct term for execution by gallows. Nevertheless, here we are. I do admit, however, I would dearly love to watch Paul Gosar explain who he thinks Vidkun Quisling actually was and why his name is synonymous with treason,  particularly in the context of giving aid and comfort to fucking fascism, because I suspect that would be hilarious. 

But I digress. 

Also "sodomy promoting?"

Right. Anyone want to guess at the contents of Gosar's browser cache? 

Anyway, and leaving aside the part where a supposedly educated adult man probably means "hanged" and not well endowed, here's a member of Congress calling for the execution of a General Officer of the US Armed Forces. 

Execute the generals. 

Because that's never been done before, right?

Execute the generals. 

Because, historically, the examples of, oh, say the Soviet Union, Nazi Germany, North Korea, Hungry, or perhaps more relevant to the current situation: the execution of Rome's last great general, Flavius Stilicho, for "treason," -- who died not in war but arrested and beheaded at the command of faithless politicians for being too damn good at his job and (perhaps) foolishly too damn loyal to the nation he served -- didn't all end in utter disaster. 

Funny, isn't it? 

Funny ironic how those who claim to be the arbiters of history don't seem to know any of it? 

And funny how they consistently suggest they would themselves commit the very worst actions of the oppressive regimes they claim to despise?

Yeah, funny indeed. 

Monday, September 18, 2023

The Week in Photography: Hummingbird Migration


New feature.

The Week In Pictures

As many of you likely know, in addition to being a writer, I'm also a photographer. I've been told I'm reasonably decent at both, but I'll leave that up to you. 

Anyway: I'm going start posting a summary of the previous week's photography here on Stonekettle Station.

I typically post images I take as I go on social media, but not everyone follows me on those platforms and the photos aren't summarized by week. And those platforms are subject to the arbitrary whims of infantile zillionaires, which I often find irritating. I've had images (OF BIRDS) removed from Facebook, because some fanatical birder tagged them as "false information" and "hate speech" because she didn't agree with my identification (and in case you ever wonder why I find fanatical birders obnoxious, that right there is a pretty good example. Or see the time they got me suspended on two platforms over hummingbird feeders, etc). And it looks like the end is sight for my Twitter existence, so ... new feature. 

We'll start with the Ruby Throated Hummingbird migration that's been passing through the Florida Panhandle over the last week. 

These images were all taken by me, on my property, with a variety of gear, primarily a Nikon Z9 and a Nikon Z8, but also the Z7, Z7ii, and a D850 (you can never have too many cameras. I need more. More). Lens included my primary bird glass, the Nikkor 600mmf4E. Also a Nikkor Z 70-200mmf2.8, a Nikkor Z MC 50mm Macro/Micro lens. A Venus Optics Laowa 60mm 2x Ultra Macro. A Laowa 25mm Probe Macro lens. And probably some other glass I've forgotten about at the moment (you can never have too much good glass either). Most of the time the equipment was tripod mounted and operated remotely using a radio frequency controller. Some of the shots were taken using the Z9's autocapture function. 

There is very little post processing, other that some white balance adjustment and cropping to fit my standard formats. 

Most of these images will be available for sale in my store next week. (I'm travelling this week, so it's going to have to wait). There will be a pen sale as well, including a variety of products. 

As to the hummingbirds: migration is mostly over for us here now. I'm seeing a few stragglers, but the males are all gone and it's just a few females and juveniles early in the morning. 

Let's get to it. 

That's it. That's the week in Pictures.

Future editions of this feature will likely include commentary about each image, but I am pressed for time today. So, you get images sans my narration. 

Hope you enjoy this new feature. 

Saturday, September 9, 2023

A Criminal, A White Nationalist, and an Insurrectionist walk into a Bar...


There's no problem that can't be ignored if we really put our minds to it!
-- His Majesty Ralph JonesKing Ralph

Stop me if you've heard this one. 

Talk about a bad joke. 

The leading Republican candidate for President of the United States is a unrepentant seditionist currently under criminal indictment in four jurisdictions (and likely soon to be five), charged with nearly a hundred major felonies and who was recently found liable for sexual assault. 

He's not the first candidate for president with a mugshot, but he might be the only one who got arrested, fingerprinted, and had to call a bail bondsman while he was running for office.

He may or may not be the only candidate to try and make a buck off his criminal indictment, but he is most certainly the only one with supporters dumb enough to give him money for it. 

When he's not getting arrested, Donald Trump spends all day, every day, on his rapidly failing social media platform, crowing about his polls, attacking his imagined enemies, and ranting in all caps and the third person about how unfair everyone is to Trump. The more this guy talks, and the more he talks about himself in the third person, the more delusional he sounds. Trump is quite literally his own worst enemy and if he was your dad, you'd have him sedated and put into an elder care facility with big burly mean nurses and doors that lock from the outside. 

Trump's entire presidency was nothing but excuses -- well, that and golf.

He accomplished quite literally nothing, other than an ill-conceived trade war and record unemployment. And yet, somehow, the dipshits he screwed the worst are firmly convinced it's all somehow the fault of woke trans people, Joe Biden, and illegal immigrants. 

A bizarrely high number of his lawyers are disbarred or in prison. 

The only members of his administration who didn't end up writing books about how insane and incompetent and outright dangerous he is are the ones currently negotiating plea agreements to keep from going to prison for him themselves. 

Trump's most loyal supporters are the convicted felons he pardoned on his last day in office. 

He was a terrible leader, the worst kind in every aspect. He's the boss from hell. He's the officer who gets you killed, in peacetime. He's your crazy ex, the stalker who keeps violating the restraining order. He's the nut on the corner who smells like cat piss shouting about UFOs and CIA brain implants. He's racist Mel Gibson in a drunken rage leaving a voicemail on your phone. 

And he just might be the least presidential candidate to ever run for office -- and that list includes lunatic extremist and hardcore antisemite Lyndon LaRouche who ran for president from prison and who likewise had a violent cultlike following of deluded morons, brawlers, and antigovernment seditionists who still want him to be president even though he's dead. 

Trump is the foul distilled essence of the very worse aspects of America. He's loudly bombastic and proudly ignorant, all glitz and fake-gold veneer over a hollow shell of greed and dirty stained sheets like an Atlantic City casino. He's overfed and underinformed, the cold, stale, limp fast-food cheeseburger of politicians. He has more money than sense -- and he lies about how much money he has. He is chronically, pathetically, and desperately insecure and he spends every waking moment furiously compensating for his impotent inadequacies like a human shaped pair of rubber Truck Nutz dangling from the rear bumper of some jacked up, coal-rolling Texas 4x4 with a Molon Labe decal in the back window and a fake cowboy with a giant hat in the front seat.

Trump is right now openly threatening the Courts, attacking law enforcement, and promising to lock up everyone he feels done him wrong the minute he's back in power. 

Donald Trump appeals to the worse, most base, most shallow elements of his supporters and they love him because he makes it okay to be the very worst version of themselves. 



What's that? 

Gee, Jim, why don't you tell us something we don't know already?

All right. Yeah. I'm not telling you anything you don't already know. True. But, see? That's the thing. That, right there. I know. You know. Everybody knows. Hell, even Republicans know -- and they do. Oh, yes, they do. They know what a complete piece of shit Donald Trump actually is, but he's still the leading candidate for the Republican ticket by at least 40 points, maybe 50, depending on who you believe.

Republicans know, but they'll put him in power again if given even half a chance.

If you don't show up, Republicans are going to put Trump in the White House and they'll queue up behind him like good little storm troopers and they'll commit every atrocity and gleefully watch the Republic burn without so much as a single twinge of regret or a moment of conscience. Because while Trump was horribly bad for the country and the world at large, he was pretty good for Republicans. They got everything they wanted out of him and then some. He was the perfect Republican president, loud, stupid, cowed by wealth and power, easily manipulated by business and religion, and enthusiastically willing to screw all the people Republicans hate. They don't care what happens in the future, so long as they get rich and they get revenge now

They'll put Trump back in office. 

They absolutely will. 

How do I know? Well, Trump is not only the leading candidate for the Republican ticket, the guy in second place isn't even close. 

And who is the guy in second place?

Does it really matter? The official second place? Numbers, polls, etc? Really? I mean, they're all varying degrees of terrible, little goosestepping copies of Trump all busy trying to be the most extreme.

At this point, it's probably Vivek Ramaswamy.

Every time Ramaswamy opens his mouth it's to announce some authoritarian extremism that he plans on implementing his first day in office despite the fact it's blatantly illegal and grossly unconstitutional -- something that doesn't seem to much bother the party of self-declared "Constitutional Conservatives" given how few Republicans (zero) have denounced his fascism. 

Yesterday, Ramaswamy promised that if elected president, he'll deport American-born children of undocumented immigrants even though they are by law U.S. citizens. Deport them … where? To what country? They're Americans. By birth. By law. By the Constitution. They've never lived anywhere else. They're likely productive members of our society. They grew up here, went to school here, speak our language, live our culture. They didn't break the law, but they'd get punished for the sins of their parents and, man, it just don't get any more Christian than that, does it? Deporting them would be completely illegal, unconstitutional, a violation of international law and agreements, far beyond the authority of the president (or any member of the government), and a very, very Trumpian thing to promise.

And the crowd cheered. 

Previously, Ramaswamy wanted to ban 18 to 25-year-olds from voting, unless they passed a test based on his criteria -- or had military service, something he himself seems to have avoided. Again, illegal, unconstitutional, beyond the scope of the president's authority, but a very, very Trump thing to say given the common perception that young people tend to vote liberal and military service makes you conservative. The Republican response to any vote against them is to ban those people from voting and then tell you how we don't actually live in a democracy. 

You have to wonder exactly what answers you'd have to give to "pass" that test.  

Probably one of the most telling statements Ramaswamy has made is: "I've fired underperformers in the private sector. I'm going to do it for probably 75% of the people who work as federal bureaucrats in the government in Washington, D.C [...] Mass layoffs are absolutely what I'm bringing to the D.C. bureaucracy." This is yet another conservative who thinks you can run government like one of Trump's bed-bug infested hotels. Liquidate a few divisions, outsource essential services, jack up the stock prices and bonuses for all the executives. Like Trump, he doesn't see you as citizens, but rather as suckers to be fleeced for profit. 

Government as a business, run by a techbro like Elon Musk, and not a real great place to work hardly seems like the kind of country that would be much fun to live in, does it? 

Following the recent Jacksonville mass shooting, where a self-described neo-Nazi murdered three black people in a Dollar General and then turned his gun on himself, Ramaswamy immediately blamed the racially motivated hate crime on Democrats, Higher Education, and the Media, essentially saying that if people of color would just be quiet about rights, black lives, and justice, well, then racists wouldn't have a reason to kill them. Ramaswamy seems to think that if he's the biggest asshole in the room, all the old white Conservatives will forget he's a brown skinned son of immigrants with a funny name, an Ivy League education, and a rich Wall Street elite who runs a pharmaceutical company. 

The worst part is that he might not be wrong. 

Who else?

Well, there's Ron Pudding Fingers DeSantis, once the MAGA heir apparent, now just another wannabe fascist thrown under the Trump bus with Eric and Mike Pence. 

What can I say about Red Tide Ron that hasn't been said already? I mean, goddamn, when your biggest, most outspoken, most visible supporters are the flabby balding toothless genetic failures wearing Nazi uniforms and waving Swastikas in front of Disney, I'm not really sure what I can add to that. 

The pathetic sadness of DeSantis' attempts to appear manly is exceeded only by how much he fails at it. 

Every time DeSantis thumps his chest and declares in his little squeaky voice how much of an anti-woke stud he is, I picture him in a gimp suit getting his ass spanked by an insurance executive in a leather Goofy costume holding a Little Mermaid themed cat-O-nine-tails. The only thing bigger than Ron DeSantis' failure is Matt Gaetz forehead. Ron DeSantis couldn't get laid in The Villages with two front row tickets to The Grand Ole Opry and a handful of Golden Corral coupons.

Who else?

Mike Pence might be the only point of agreement in America: everybody hates him. Left. Right. Moderate. Extremist. There are probably space aliens living in some incomprehensible technological construct a thousand light years from here that hate Mike Pence and wouldn't anal probe him even if he was the last redneck on a remote Nevada highway. Everyone hates Mike Pence -- which sounds like a sitcom starring Kevin Sorbo and Roseanne Barr that got cancelled halfway through the first episode. 

Pence did one noteworthy thing in his entire ingrown toenail of a life. 

That one time, on January 6th, when he actually did his job and refused to stop the election certification. It wasn't heroism. It's just in that moment Mike Pence suddenly realized he hadn't gotten permission from Mother to be the villain he'd always wanted to be. So, he did the safe thing. Now, yeah, great, that worked out for us, for the Republic, but Mike Pence isn't any hero and the worst part about it for him is that he can't even pretend to be. 

That one thing, that one single action in his entire life when he actually did the moral thing, he can't run on it. 

He can't even mention it. 

It's his Waterloo. 

The Republican Party is so far gone that they're willing to hang a politician who actually takes the moral high ground. 

Mike Pence is as dead as Kevin Sorbo's acting career, he just hasn't figured it out yet. 

Chris Christie? LOL. C'mon. Might as well uncrate Mitt Romney in whatever dusty warehouse they're keeping him in, pop in a new battery, and let him regale us with stories of how much he loves dogs. I mean, sure, compared to the previous mentions, Christie seems almost human in comparison. But it only seems that way. 

Chris Christie is a petty, petulant sack of limp dicks who would be reviled as one of the worst politicians in America if Trump hadn't come along. 

Nikki Haley? 

Well, you know, Haley is one of the few former Trump confidants and Administration officials who isn't actually under indictment or in prison, so, I guess maybe that's something. 

But, the key thing there is that she was in the Trump administration and like Christi and Pence, she only seems rational in comparison. She only won the Republican primary for governor of South Carolina due to an endorsement by Sarah Palin and if you think she's reasonable, I'd remind you that the fucking Tea Party had her give the Republican "rebuttal" to Barack Obama's 2016 State of the Union Address. You forgot about that hour of insane conspiracy theories, racism, and outright lies, didn't you? Yeah, go look that up on YouTube and tell me she's the rational one of the bunch. Haley is another child of immigrants who is determined to pull the ladder up after herself. I got mine, fuck you. She might have some reservations about the Republican war on abortion, but she as hell isn't going to stand up for any liberal woman's right to choose, not if she wants the endorsement that is. 

Haley isn't the savior who pulls the GOP back towards the center, she's just another extremist only smoother and with better hair. 

Who else?

Tim Scott? Favorite recipient of Koch Brothers money? Maybe. But I have my doubts just how far Scott can go in a party that is increasingly open about its white nationalism. And like Haley, who appointed him to the Senate in 2013, Scott only seems reasonable in comparison to the rest of the Republican Party. Though, truthfully, if my choices were Scott or (Trump, DeSantis, Ramaswamy, Haley, et al), I'd grit my teeth and fill in the little circle for Scott. It better not come to that. 

Who's left? 

Ryan Binkley, Doug Burgum, Larry Elder, Will Hurd, Perry Johnson, Asa Hutchison? I miss anybody? 

The only way any of any of these dipshits are going to get anywhere near the nomination is a faulty electrical connection in a rainstorm. 

That's right. You heard me. A bolt of lightning. 

Like in King Ralph when the entire British Royal Family gets electrocuted during a photoshoot and  they have to call in John Goodman -- who would probably make a vastly better president than anyone Republicans currently have in the lineup.  

That's the terrible unfunny punchline of this terrible unfunny joke, right there. 

A criminal, a white nationalist, and an insurrectionist walk into a bar and, yes, we have heard this one before. Too damn often. And the punchline should be, "what can I get you, Mr. Trump?" but it's not. Because it's not just Trump, it's the whole rotten, miserable, ideology. 

It's the whole damn bunch.  

This is the best conservative America can offer us, this motley assortment of criminals, seditionists, bigots, and flag waving Nazis who want to crank the clock back to 1950. 

You know, Joe Biden might be old and he might not be everything we want and he might have gotten himself elected on the simple fact that he is not Trump, but at this point that's enough. 

We're not going to fix this in one fell swoop. 

Some young charismatic hero isn't going to drop in, unite the country, and move us back to level center. 

It's going to be a long, grim, painful slog, uphill all the way. 

We're going to have to beat these goons one contest at a time, and push them back into the wretched shadows whence they came. We're going to have to recover all the ground we lost before we can make any progress -- exactly as I goddamned warned some of you back when you were telling me how everything you care about was settled law.

At least you better hope it'll be a long hard haul, because the alternative is even worse. 

Just in case I'm not being clear here: we got rid of the Nazis and reset German society in four years, but it was a little hard on the furniture. 

We could have had the change we wanted more quickly, but, well, here we are. And for all those people who yelled at me four years ago, "DON'T TRY TO SCARE US!" I sure hope you're scared now. If you're not, you're a goddamn fool. 

I hope you're scared enough to show up and do your duty even if you really, really don't want to. 

You know where I'm going with this, don't you? 

But I'll say it anyway: You want a better nation? Be a better citizen. 

Don't talk like one of them. You're not! Even if you'd like to be. To them, you're just a freak, like me! They need you right now, but when they don't, they'll cast you out, like a leper! You see, their morals, their code, it's a bad joke. Dropped at the first sign of trouble. They're only as good as the world allows them to be. I'll show you. When the chips are down, these... these civilized people, they'll eat each other. See, I'm not a monster. I'm just ahead of the curve.
--The JokerThe Dark Knight (2008)