Wednesday, May 22, 2019

A Lack Of Self Awareness

... is something from which we all suffer.

I saw a really great interview with Michael Nesmith of the Monkees and I excerpted the video story below. I found it charming. Enjoy.

Tuesday, May 21, 2019

Thomas Jefferson And Geronimo

Pete Butteredge, or whatever is his name is, is one of 17,404 Democrats running for president. He's also not a big fan of Thomas Jefferson because Jefferson owned slaves.

Geronimo, an Apache warleader, was a crazed racist bent on killing as many Mexicans as he possibly could.
Geronimo had no concept of morality outside of his own. It was perfectly honorable to raid and steal and murder as long as it was done the right way. He had no problem wiping out whole farmsteads if they resisted when he and his goons showed up to rob the place. When it happened to him under different circumstances, he was aghast and complained of treachery.
I seriously doubt that Geronimo was that far removed from the intellectual and cultural mainstream of Apache thought. I wonder if Pete Butteredge feels we need to carefully inspect any and all honors we grant to Apaches and other Indian tribes. After all, if we're going to be morally pure, we need to be completely pure.

The Aztecs are similarly problematic. Hopefully Pete will be questioned about this soon.

Monday, May 20, 2019

Addicts In The Faculty Lounge

... are different than addicts in real life.

I'm not including an image in this blog post because I've known several addicts and have too much love for them to use a photo. Every addict was someone's little boy or little girl.

In San Francisco, just to use one example of academics trying to solve the addiction and homelessness problems, they're handing out free needles and putting up needle disposal stations all over the place. The end result is needles everywhere on the ground. It's as predictable as it is possible to be.

Well, only if you know real addicts instead of talk about them theoretically in the faculty lounge.

When an addict uses, they're not rational. They're not going to shoot up and then calmly gather their used paraphernalia and then deposit it, neatly, in some bin. They're not going to use safe procedures for injections, their not going to swab the site with alcohol and they're not going to spray hand sanitizer on their palms in the process. They're going to shoot up so that they can get loaded. And if you've ever known a real, live addict, you'd know that.

You'd also stop expecting them to turn their lives around. Most of them won't. If they're homeless, they're going to stay homeless because their brains are rotted out. If they aren't homeless, they soon will be because they can't manage their lives.

By the time you reach San Francisco / Los Angeles / Seattle levels of homelessness and addiction, the best you can hope to do is build big warehouses to house the poor devils for the rest of their lives.

And, for the love of God, get control of the border so you can stop at least some of the drugs making their way in to the cities.

Sunday, May 19, 2019

Trapped In Politics

One of the things I love the most about the South is the racial harmony you see, particularly when you go to blue-collar dives like Waffle House. When wife kitteh and I went on our Great Confederate Livermush Adventure last year, we started off in Nashville. I took her, a Chicago girl, to an inexpensive BBQ joint. There, we saw mixed race staff, customers, married couples and so on. Everyone was Southern friendly and was having a good time. A fan of NPR and civil rights movies, she was surprised.

The next day, we went to an upscale restaurant and things were significantly different. The customers were all white and the wait staff were mostly black. "Ha ha!," I thought. "Look at those racist Democrats!" After all, it's the blue-collar whites who were the backbone of the Trump victory and the upscale folks who went for Hillary.

That was an entirely wrong analysis and was born of a desire to find justification for my own politics. The truth of the matter was that no one was racist or, if anyone was, it was the isolated jerk who could just as easily be sneering at short people, fat people or something else.

I figured this out while in Mobile last week. Wife kitteh looked up Fairhope, Alabama, which was the town on the outskirts of Mobile where we were staying. Wikipedia gave its demographic makeup and it was predominantly white. It was also pretty upscale, particularly for Alabama. The people we met were as charming as expected. No hate there.

It dawned on me that, like all of us, they can only be friendly to the people around them. Given the opportunity, they were warm and welcoming. It wasn't their fault that they lived in an area where almost everyone was married. It was just the nature of income generation for families of any and all types. Married families earn more so they can live in places like Fairhope and that's all there is to it.

I thought about our own lives back in San Diego. With the exception of a large number of Hispanics we know from Cursillo, our social circle was about as diverse as Fairhope. I, the converted Trump enthusiast who loves Robert E. Lee, had the most diverse circle of friends of anyone we knew. Politics didn't drive it, racism didn't drive it, opportunity drove it.

I misjudged the people at that upscale restaurant in Nashville and I'm ashamed of it now. No doubt a lot of them voted for Hillary, but so what? Americans are a decent lot. Almost none of us harbor hate for anyone. It was only my desire to score political points that caused me to slander them in my thoughts.

Focus on the people and the scenery and get politics out of your mind. You'll end up with a more accurate representation of reality.

Saturday, May 18, 2019

Mucking With The SAT

So, as I understand it, the SAT scoring is being changed to reflect privilege or hardship or bias or something or other. Your actual score, based on your answers, will be modified by taking into account your race, your social standing, your horoscope and your cholesterol test results. Your shoe size may or may not be a factor.


I thought the whole beauty of standardized testing was that it produced a decent estimation of how tough a college you should attend or whether you should go at all. If you scored high enough, then attending an elite university wouldn't be too much of a reach for you. If you scored poorly, then MIT probably wouldn't be a good fit. The test was there, as much as anything else, to keep you from flunking out.

When you fiddle with the test results, you're saying some combination of these things.
  1. The test was never really a good estimation of your performance level. In reality, the thing is a bit of a joke.
  2. We don't really care whether you flunk out of college or not. All we care about is getting the right balance of "advantaged" and "disadvantaged" students.
  3. We're going to ditch the whole grading stuff in college to make sure that the students with the low SAT scores we've modified to gain acceptance don't flunk. 
In any case, objectivity has been blown to bits.


SAT scoring explodes. Asians hardest hit.

Friday, May 17, 2019

Dos Pepitos

We're starting to think that Pepito is deaf. That's not surprising given his advanced age. He also seems mystified by mirrors.

Who is this other dog and why is he so handsome?

Thursday, May 16, 2019

Vacation Fever

Maui is one of my favorite places to go on vacation, but I can only handle it for a week at most before I start going bonkers. I used to think it was Island Fever which came about because the place is relatively small. That never really made sense to me as San Diego is effectively the same size, an island surrounded by the Pacific, Los Angeles, the desert and Mexico.

Earlier this week, wife kitteh and I got back from a week in Mobile, Alabama. Of all the places on the planet, the Deep South is the most "me." I love the people, the culture, the food, the weather, the whole thing. Even in Dixie, I was climbing the walls after a week.

It's not Island Fever, it's Vacation Fever. What I really wanted to do while in Alabama was garden, work on a car, build something, work at the church, anything to be productive.

My mother is 89. She's almost blind, she needs a walker and has a live-in caregiver without whom she could not survive. She's had a real tough time with these arrangements. She's grateful and loves the care she gets, but the fact that she is "useless" these days drives her nuts. I used to dismiss these feelings and ask myself, "Why can't she just kick back and watch TV? This is just the way life is now." I won't be asking that any more. She's got Vacation Fever, too.

Leisure is all well and good. We all need some of it. What we need more than leisure is a purpose.

Some day, I'll be too weak to lift my 17" cast iron skillet and I'll have to watch as someone else fries the chicken. At that point, I might slide into the same despair as mom.