How To Sharpen Pencils

Well, the end of last week was a pile-on of stuff, and even as I’m recovering, I have another work trip scheduled this week – that’s another two days of basic work productivity gone and done. At least I’m not going far this time, just down to Vilnius, and I don’t have to drive. I’m hoping my fellow travellers will let me nap in a corner. I’m just tired right now.

Anyhoo. The rat race is never-ending, as demonstrated by this video (the end was a real exercise in futility).

And you still get a song.

Signs of Autumn

 

The signs of autumn from Nightjar,

These are the four signs that I look for every year before I can safely declare autumn has arrived. Leaf colour, autumn snowflakes, mushrooms and green grass. I was able to check all four boxes by the end of October, which is good!

 

1. Leaves change colour and glow in the sun

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Monday Mercurial: expressive sealion

Some more of the Patagonian sealions, the big bull.

sealion, close up

©Giliell, all rights reserved. Click for full size.

sealion

©Giliell, all rights reserved. Click for full size.

sealion

©Giliell, all rights reserved. Click for full size.

sealion

©Giliell, all rights reserved. Click for full size.

sealion

©Giliell, all rights reserved. Click for full size.

sealion

©Giliell, all rights reserved. Click for full size.

sealöion

©Giliell, all rights reserved. Click for full size.

sealion

©Giliell, all rights reserved. Click for full size.

sealion

©Giliell, all rights reserved. Click for full size.

sealion

©Giliell, all rights reserved. Click for full size.

sealion

©Giliell, all rights reserved. Click for full size.

Behind the Iron Curtain part 21 – Ownership of the Means of Production 2

These are my recollections of a life behind the iron curtain. I do not aim to give perfect and objective evaluation of anything, but to share my personal experiences and memories. It will explain why I just cannot get misty eyed over some ideas on the political left and why I loathe many ideas on the right.


Last time I visited this theme I mentioned the logic that was presented to us in order to argue that means of production in our socialist country do belong to the people. What was never mentioned, and what took a really long time to me to realize, is the fact that even in capitalism is a lot of people who do indeed own the means of production. I do not mean the corporate overlords, the robber barons of modern era, but people who actually really work.

For example lets say that I either decide that I do not wish to be a corporate drone anymore, or my supervisor finally decides that my expertise is not enough for him to put up with my quirks (like honestly and without beating around the bush telling him when his department designs crap, or being rather cranky when I miss a meal). My backup plan in such a case is to try to make custom knives for sale.

It is possible to make living that way, others have managed it so why not me? However should it come to that, there are three realistic scenarios:
1) I flop and after a time of trying to establish myself on the market I will have no other option than to get employed again.
2) I will get a foothold on the market big enough to live by for reasonable time, perhaps even until retirement.
3) I will get a good foothold on the market to the point that I will not be able to satisfy the demand for Charly made knives on my own, so after a while I might need to employ for example part-time employees to help with some lower-skill jobs whilst I myself would concentrate on the high-skill jobs. Like the Finnish knife-maker about whom I posted a video a few weeks ago.

This example shows the transition between a small-scale producer and a big scale producer. In scenario 2 there is no ambiguity whatsoever – the person who uses the means of production owns them. In the scenario 3 it gets a bit murky – the owner of the means still does work rather a lot, but their employees do not own the means of production at all. And really, would it be fair in such a case for me to give them a portion of my shop in addition to the wages? I do not think it would.

However of course then there is the american dream, where one makes it through the stage 3 to stage 4, where one does only the employing, and not the actual working. I personally would never wish for that, but there are people who do. And then there is the stage 5, where one does not have a hand in making anything ever but simply inherits the company, or buys it wholesale.

Like so many other things in life, this is not black-white, there is actually a nearly continuous spectrum of options.

The problem with the regime was that it dealt with this spectrum by completely ignoring its existence. Any and all ownership of means of production that was not via the proxy of the state was illegal, period. All the little artisans, small shop owners, small farmers etc. who indeed worked their own asses of in addition to perhaps employing a few people were viewed as no different from big factory owners who never lifted a finger to work in their lives. For the regime, there was no difference between Charly making knives in his workshop on his own and Donald Trump cheating his contractors and not paying his employees fair wages. They both were bourgeoise exploiters and both had to be dealt with harshly.

As a result not only the big factories with awful working conditions got confiscated, but also all the little workshops, shops and farms. The whole middle-class was wiped out and made illegal without any nuance.

In the 60s there was an effort to rectify this injustice (along with others), but it was quashed by military intervention from USSR.

As a result, a lot of people rightfully resented the regime, because they were in very real sense of the word robbed by it.

Take a look at the wide side

Ever since getting my camera I’ve been expanding on my lens arsenal. After getting the tele last year, I wanted a wide angle one. With a little bit of unexpected money I finally got myself one and took it out for a stroll. Sadly the day was overcast and the light faded too early, but I like what you can do with it.

Small pond

©Giliell, all rights reserved. Click for full size.

That little pond is probably 3m across. You can also see that at 10mm, I have to decide between a UV filter or a CPL filter because both are too much.

woodland

©Giliell, all rights reserved. Click for full size.

Part of my daily walk. The little green building is a water station.

tree crown

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Tree

©Giliell, all rights reserved. Click for full size.

One of the fun things: shooting up trees. The lens makes it look like the trunk is 100m high.

dead tree

©Giliell, all rights reserved. Click for full size.

trees

©Giliell, all rights reserved. Click for full size.

The trees are tall and narrow, but the lens adds some more.

dead tree

©Giliell, all rights reserved. Click for full size.

I’ve been wanting to take pictures of those cut off and dead vines for ages, but I couldn’t with my other lenses because I couldn’t move away enough. to give you an ides, this pic and the other two were taken by minimally moving the camera.

dead tree

©Giliell, all rights reserved. Click for full size.

Dead tree

©Giliell, all rights reserved. Click for full size.

fallen tree

©Giliell, all rights reserved. Click for full size.

Another illusion of distance. In reality, the point where You can see the branch is about 2m from where I took the pic.

©Giliell, all rights reserved. Click for full size.

Autumn colours

©Giliell, all rights reserved. Click for full size.

Tree crowns

©Giliell, all rights reserved. Click for full size.

Probably my favourite one. another upshoot.

10 out of 10 for First Impression.

©Charly, all rights reserved. Click for full size.

My new drill press arrived yesterday evening and I just installed it instead of the old cheapo one in my workshop. I must say that my first impression is absolutely great. I cannot definitively say whether it was a good investment or  not – ask me again in a few years, because new devices tend to have some crucial mechanical parts (like gears etc.) out of plastic that wears out rather quickly and subsequently the whole machine has to be tossed – but on the surface the machine looks really great. Someone has actually thought about the design and, a rare occurrence in today’s world, the design is very functional and sensible. Use is very intuitive and all levers and settings are easily accessible. I worry a bit that the wheel might be too small to provide adequate leverage for drilling steel, but we will see. That is the only worry I have on first sight though.

The drill has a digital display that actually shows the rpm, which is very nifty – I will not have to guess by the sound. It has two main gearing settings and a continuous rpm regulator, so it covers very wide range of rpm on a nearly continuous scale without me having to flip v-belts. That is probably at the cost of some efficiency, but the max power (710 W) is higher than on other drill presses that I could choose from, so that might not be a problem for actual use, although it might be a problem regarding power consumption. But it is not a device that will  run more than a few minutes at a time, so slight inefficiency is not as big of a deal as it woudl be for, say, bench belt sander.

©Charly, all rights reserved. Click for full size.

As a knife maker I fell instantly in love with the quick-span/release chuck that is standard attachment. The chuck is simply ideal for holding down flat stock, something very obviously crucial for a knife maker.

And the laser cross! A LED light illuminating the worked area was just a final bonus on top of that. It was always a bugger to find and hit the tiny black dot on black piece of steel – now those troubles are, hopefully, over.

And of course it does not wobble in all directions so I hope I need not fear anymore drilling tiny holes and breaking two drill bits per each.

All in all right now I have no regrets for spending the non-trivial amount of money for it. I think it is money sensibly spent and I look forward to trying it out as soon as possible. I might indeed regret a bit not spending that money sooner.

Dragonfly Rescue

This came in from Avalus at the beginning of October,

And another dragonfly which I rescued from a bakery just on Monday. The staff was about to smash it but then let me have a try with a coffee-glass.

I can’t imagine smashing such a beautiful creature. Good work, Avalus and thanks for sharing.

Libellenrettung, ©Avalus, all rights reserved

Jack’s Walk

First Snow, ©voyager, all rights reserved

We woke up this morning to the first snow of the season and it was such a pretty sight. I love when the snow first falls and covers the dull browns and grays of the world with a crisp blanket of white. It gets so quiet and today even the sound of passing cars was muffled. We had a lovely, slow stroll around our neighbourhood and the falling snow was mesmerizing. It won’t last, though. Already it’s turned into rain (again!) and soon there won’t be a trace of it left.

 

October Light

From Nightjar,

I took these photos in a mid-October evening when it still hadn’t rained enough and everything was still looking a bit late summer-like (meaning all dried-up), but illuminated with lovely golden autumn light. October light is the best, so I had to have some fun with it.

The light in these photos is downright magical. I love every single shot, but the 2 fluffy seed pods (dandelion?) caught on a single thread of spider web is my favourite. Thanks for sharing Nightjar.

©Nightjar, all rights reserved

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Maybe he should have grabbed her by the pussy instead?

By now you have probably heard of The Incident. Depending on whether you’re a decent human being or a Republican, the actual incident is that the White House tried to forcefully remove the mic of a journalist because they didn’t like what he said and then banned him from the White House, or the real incident is Jim Acosta “laying his hands” on a young intern (who is, by pure coincidence female, white, young and pretty).

Sarah Sanders has tweeted about it several times, stressing the “disrespect” towards the “young woman” and “young women” working in the administration, mimicking feminist language and concerns for the treatment of (young) (professional) women at the hands of older men.

She also shared a clip showing him making a “chopping motion” towards her arm. Only that the video came straight from Infowars (and we all know how much those people care about women) and has a few curious differences to the original:

The intern’s reach for the mic is slowed down, and the “chop” motion is accelerated. Here’s an annotated side by side comparison:

Further analysis: video is absolutely doctored. You can see the edit when the clips are side by side and slowed down to quarter speed. See for yourself:

 The dishonesty of the Trump Administration knows no limits, as shown again, but let me make one thing clear: Even if Acosta had made a “chopping motion” he wouldn’t be the one who’s wrong here. He was talking, she tried to physically remove the mic, very eager to please her betters. She was the one making aggressive moves towards him. And also: fuck you, white women who sell out on basically everybody to lick spittle and get the rewards of being the chill girls of the Trump Administration. You work hard to remove women’s* right to their own bodies. You work double time to disenfranchise black women. You work extra time to rip babies out of their mothers’ arms and lock them in cages. And you all work for a man who is proud of sexually assaulting women. You don’t get to talk about respectful treatment of women.
*and others capable of gestation.

Jack’s Walk

Jack and I came across a small spaceship this morning. Jack barked at it a few times, but there was no response. We decided that the aliens must be out reconnoitering and tip-toed up to the craft. It was smaller than it first appeared and there were multiple antennae on top that were connected to a central axis giving the ship a look similar to a satellite dish.  The body of the craft was of a soft, malleable metal unlike anything I’d seen before. We examined the exterior and could find no doors, ports or knobs that would allow us entry. Knowing that the aliens were out here somewhere, Jack and I decided to leave, but we kept a close watch for the rest of our walk and found nothing else of note. (Alright, it’s really an umbrella, but Jack and I like to pretend we’re on grand adventures)

Alien Vessel, ©voyager, all rights reserved