Saturday, April 21, 2018

Starbucks And The Evolution Of A Religion

Blogging Note: I need to spend mornings doing something other than writing, so I'm scaling back from obsessively blogging every day to committing to a Monday and Thursday blogging schedule. I might still jot something down or share a photo on the other days, but I'm not promising anything.


I haven't kept up with the news lately, but as I understand it, two black guys were arrested for loitering in a Starbucks, leading Starbucks to have a thousand (was that the number?) stores stand down for racial sensitivity training.

When Congress passed Hate Crime legislation several years back, part of it mandated the FBI to maintain statistics on hate crimes. Here they are for 2016.
In 2016, race was reported for 5,770 known hate crime offenders. Of these offenders:
  • 46.3 percent were White.
  • 26.1 percent were Black or African American.
Blacks are about 13% of the population which means that blacks double up on hate crimes on a per capita basis.

So I get why Starbucks wanted a refresher course on race relations, but where are the corresponding ones for other groups? There are all kinds of other statistics that could be trotted out, but I'm not going to give the Stormfront cretins more ammunition than they already have. The thing that hits me is not just the Nazi-esque nature of our dominant racial narrative: the Jews whites are exploiting the Germans people of color, it's how it is in direct contradiction of the facts. It's doubtful that many people are even aware of the hate crime stats. I wasn't until very recently.

Is this how Jim Jones worked? Did he control the flow of information in order to create a narrative for his followers and confirm the beliefs of his cult in their minds?

How do you deprogram a nation?

These cult things rarely end well.
Bonus tidbit: I just found out that Jim Jones was a socialist. Well, that caption goes double then. These socialist things rarely end well. (Someone tell Bernie Sanders, OK?)
He considered Jesus Christ as being in compliance with an overarching belief in Socialism as the correct social order.

Friday, April 20, 2018

SJW Joke

While driving yesterday, I was talking with a friend from work and the topic turned to politics. We thought the same way and swapped stories. When we got out of the car at his offices, we both agreed to not tell others what we'd been saying. Our ideas weren't all that controversial 3-5 years ago, but now it is verboten to even speak of them. We made Gestapo jokes as we walked into the building. It was pretty creepy and it was very real.

Soviet / Nazi jokes are funny again, adapted for our times.


A university professor who is secretly conservative sees his pet parrot fly out the window and escape. Terrified, he goes to the dean of his department and reports the bird missing. The dean looks at him incredulously and says, "Why are you telling me this? Just go report it to the police or animal control."

"I will, but I just wanted to let you know that I don't agree with a single word that bird says."

Thursday, April 19, 2018

Pushing Against A Building

Going through old draft posts that I never published, I came across this one. I'm not sure why I didn't think it was worthy of sharing. Oh well. Enjoy!


... and trying to get the building to move.

I was walking between buildings at work yesterday, grinding my teeth and grumbling about some issue so small that I can't remember what it was, when I realized I was just wearing myself out. I was tired to begin with, having stayed up reading far too late the night before and this was not helping at all. I realized that my aggravation wasn't accomplishing anything but self-exhaustion and I suddenly felt very silly, like I had been spending hours pushing my hardest against a building, trying to get it to move.

When I studied Kung Fu, the school had us study some Tai Chi as well. Favoring the far nastier and more kinetic Kung Fu, I didn't spend much time on the Tai Chi, but I did learn the lesson of going with your opponent's energy instead of pushing back. In Tai Chi, you relax and feel the flow of the motions, trying to get your opponent off-balance to take advantage of the situation. When you're the one pushing, you end up tired and usually on the ground.

Solving problems in life, like winning a fight, requires calm thought and energy. Draining your energy through anxiety and anger doesn't leave it available for constructive use.

Phillipians Chapter 4:
Always be joyful, then, in the Lord; I repeat, be joyful. Let your good sense be obvious to everybody. The Lord is near. Never worry about anything; but tell God all your desires of every kind in prayer and petition shot through with gratitude, and the peace of God which is beyond our understanding will guard your hearts and your thoughts in Christ Jesus.

Wednesday, April 18, 2018

Expectations

... play a big part in your success. That is, the expectations your parents (or caregivers) have on you as you grow up.

In both Hillbilly Elegy (poor white folk), My Grandfather's Son (poor black folk pre-civil rights) and Please Stop Helping Us (poor black folk post civil rights), the authors talk about how they made it out of poverty, drug abuse and crime while so many of their peers did not. Money plays some role, but not much. None of them were starving or living in migrant worker camps. They lived above that level of subsistence, but not by much.

What made the biggest difference in their lives were the expectations of their parents and grandparents. They grew up under expectations of hard work and sacrifice to get ahead in life. Each author notes how this made them unusual in their communities in some way. Each went on to achieve success.

There are similar common threads in the self-help books I read such as the ones from Zig Ziglar, Jordan Peterson and Brian Tracy.

Something to ponder.

Tuesday, April 17, 2018

Lessons Learned From A Digital Fast

It's all about the gas tank.

Every day, you only have so much energy for thought, emotions, work and watching those really horrible daytime courtroom things on TV.

Stimulants like the Internet, politics, caffeine and dealing with flaccid Nazi progressives, but I repeat myself, use up that energy to no practical purpose. They are effectively entertainment.

My 7 day Digital Fast taught me that life was better without them. I could get just as much information by sampling them once in a great while, if at all.

Caffeine: By the end, I was down to 1 cup of coffee a day. The results were excellent. I had my cuppa in the morning and could be productive, but I didn't come home with chemical stress and anxiety from caffeine crashes. The last two days, I felt great driving home, something that was new to me. No kidding. I have a pretty great life right now and this little experiment showed me I was unhappy coming home because I was going through a caffeine crash.

Politics on the Internet: Curious about my 401K, I opened wsj.com this morning to see how things were going. On their front page was an article about Sean Hannity having ties to Argle Bargle. Golly! I'm sure that was important. It's all a bunch of high school gossiping. Yawn. I can definitely afford to tune in once every week or so. After day 2, I didn't feel much temptation to look at it.

Smartphone Games: I was seriously addicted to a brick breaker game on my phone when I started. It was one of the reasons I decided to try the Fast. I realized that it was just a space filler. I was desperately trying to fill every second of my life with stimulation, not realizing those stimulants were all draining fuel from me. I might play now and again, but I recognize them for the parasites they are.

Music: I still love it, but I love it now as a treat, not a constant companion. When I decide I've worked and thought enough, music is a nice way to force my brain to switch off. Now that I see it for the distraction that it is, I can find times when embracing that distraction is a good thing.

Social media: I don't miss Facebook or Twitter. Thanks to flaccid Nazi progressives making everything political*, there's a certain amount of anxiety to checking out relatively harmless Facebook. Even my religious Twitter feed can sometimes get polluted with politics. I refuse to surrender my time and energy to that.

Result: I feel GREAT! I started running again, too. I have a lot more energy and I'm not wasting nearly as much time on silly things. Coming home, I still have gas in the tank for wife kitteh. That's important.

I'm going to make a few changes here on the blog that I'll discuss later. For now, that's my lessons learned from the last seven days. I'm glad I did it.

* - Remember Mussolini's dictum: Everything inside of the State, nothing without. All of the marches and protests and politically-based mob actions on campuses and in the tech companies are Mussolini (and Peron and Obama and Sanders), straight up. The State is driven by politics and politics is arguing. The bigger the government becomes, the longer its reach through regulations, the more we'll be at each others' throats. Yay.

Monday, April 16, 2018

The Perfect Song To End A Workout

... when you're getting as older is this one.


As a result of my Digital Fast, I've started the Couch to 5K program. It's a lot better than just walking the Catican Guards, but not as good as weight training which, as ligneus says in a comment on an earlier blog, is essential. I need to find time to start doing that. In the meantime, running won't hurt.

Tomorrow is the end of the Fast and I plan to blog my findings.

Sunday, April 15, 2018

A Parade Of Songbirds

... at our backyard birdbath. I set up my little point-and-shoot to record the birdbath for half an hour and then edited it down to just the birds. There is an apricot tree out of frame on the left that they love and that's why they all come from that side.

Don't worry, none of them are bathing so this is rated G. The video is HD and I think the little guys are pretty, so it might be worth watching in fullscreen mode. Enjoy.


As far as the Digital Fast went on Day 5 - more of the same. I'm coming to a conclusion on the set of changes I'm going to make as a result of what I've learned.

Saturday, April 14, 2018

The Digital Fast - Day 4


  • The rules. No social networking, Internet surfing, music or alcohol and less caffeine.
  • Day 1 - music is a big distraction can work is easier without it.
  • Day 2 - Success and failure. 
  • Day 3 - Rule changes regarding music and caffeine. A discussion of caffeine leading to alcohol.

Lessons from Day 4


It was a good day yesterday. I skipped the afternoon shot of caffeine, so I'm down to one cup of coffee in the morning. There was a hint of the withdrawal headache, but nothing unmanageable. As I suspected, not having the afternoon Diet Coke led to no anxiety in the evening. I had a couple of beers last night, but they were atypically unsatisfying, probably because there was no caffeine crash to overcome. Illuminating.

Driving around with tunes made things more enjoyable until I realized I needed to think about what I was going to do with the rest of the day. For months now, I have had many more things I need to accomplish than I can actually do, so while it seems trivial to think about what to do next, in my current situation, it's really a triage of potential crises. This experiment has shown me that when I need to ponder something, I need to ditch all distractions and music is one of them.

Why Am I Doing This?


I'm getting old. That's it.

I'm approaching retirement which means I will be changing careers. That change is going to require concentrated effort and thought. In the last year, due to changes in my family and work, my days have become almost spasmic. A pile of forms to complete, ailing parents to visit, multiple jobs to cover at work - it's a frenzy of tiny tasks. I could tell that it was affecting my thought processes and ability to concentrate. Add to that the intellectual junk food I was feeding myself in the form of social media and political rants and then pile on the caffeine and alcohol and you had hundreds of anxiety-filled days strung together where nothing of significant substance was being done.

On top of all that, the frenzy of tasks made exercise impossible, outside of lunchtime walks and walking the dogs. It's a cliche, but it's true that as you age you need more exercise, not less. I still have delusions of diving more often, but to be honest, I'm afraid of it. I'm not worried about sharks, I'm worried about lifting the gear. With each trip, it gets harder and harder.

Finally, there are the chemical addictions - caffeine and alcohol. An aging body doesn't need these piled on top of all of the other stresses and changes. But how to get rid of them? The caffeine helped me fight my way through each day's impossible list of tasks and the alcohol was a sweet release in the evening.

In the back of my mind, I knew much of this was self-inflicted. I knew full well what my social media, Internet, caffeine, alcohol and smartphone game habits were doing to me. I'd read enough about the human brain and achieving goals and willpower to realize that all of these things were not helping me. It was just a pile of greasy snacks for my psyche and it was making me sick.

How sick? That's what the experiment is revealing. How much do I really need to surrender? All of it? Some of it? All the time? Only during those times I need to concentrate? Do you need mental cool-down periods to transition from cheap stimulants to serious effort? Do I really enjoy all of this mental junk food or is life better without it?

Finally, I really do want to be able to do more than take walks when I retire. From where is that time to work out going to come? It seems like a hopeless cause right now as my list of things that have to be done is still unmanageable, but can I find a combination of things to change or give up that will get me close enough to start?

Hence, the Digital Fast.

Friday, April 13, 2018

The Digital Fast - Day 3

For starters, the rules are no Internet or social media, no music or alcohol and less caffeine. The time frame is one week. The idea is to see what changes these sacrifices make to your personality.  Here are the rules in detail. On Day 1, we discovered that music is a serious distraction. On Day 2, we found that we could read long passages again. Here's what we learned yesterday.

Success


Outside of not giving up my afternoon caffeine, yesterday was a success. At work, we went out to Pizza Port Brewing to celebrate an event, so instead of getting a beer like everyone else, I contented myself with a Diet Coke. I felt postponing the further caffeine reduction was no big deal. I had another very productive day and was better able to concentrate on complex tasks and reading. I slept much better and was better company for wife kitteh, too. Victory!

Changing the Rules on Music and Caffeine


Giving up music was crucial to discovering what was happening in my brain, but it's overkill to give it up for the entire day. Unlike political agitation sites such as Instapundit and Twitter, music doesn't have a significant emotional half-life. Turn it off and you're not still thinking about it an hour later or even five minutes later.

Rule Change: Music is OK as long as I'm not doing anything complicated. For example, driving and cooking are not mentally taxing, so they can be accompanied by tunes.

Caffeine is a catalyst for bad things later. Caffeine energizes you by squeezing your adrenal gland. It takes about 8 hours to completely metabolize the caffeine from a cup of coffee and long before that, you've run out of adrenaline. If you really overuse the stuff, the shakes come from adrenal exhaustion where there isn't enough adrenaline in your body for normal functions.

For me, I get caffeine crashes about 3 hours after I consume a cup of coffee or a Diet Coke. 3 doses a day was way too much and my body was chemically worn out by the end of the work day. Cutting down to 2 doses helped, but yesterday I discovered my evening alcohol craving was partially due to a caffeine crash.

My caffeine crashes manifest themselves in anxiety. At the end of the work day, after 2 cups of coffee and a Diet Coke, I've got stress from having way too much work to do and then I compound that with my caffeine chemical withdrawals. What's the best thing when your anxious to sooth your nerves? Alcohol! Yay for alcohol!

Err, no. The alcohol then whacks my sleep patterns and makes me poor company for wife kitteh. It's a destructive biochemical cycle that needs to be broken and left behind.

Rule Change: One cup of coffee in the morning is the limit. Even if I go through caffeine-withdrawal headaches, the Diet Coke in the afternoon has to go. Frankly, I won't miss it. It was more of a talisman than a cure. The pick-up I felt from that dose never lasted more than 30 minutes because my adrenal gland was already practically empty.

Tomorrow, I'll lay out the underlying motivations for this craziness.

Thursday, April 12, 2018

The Digital Fast - Day 2

... in which KT Cat finds success, failure and revelations. The rules are here. Day 1 is here. In short, I'm giving up the Internet, social media, digital games, music and alcohol and cutting my caffeine intake to see if it changes me.

Success


As I had suspected before I started, avoiding agitating sites on the Interweb Tubes left me more mental energy to be creative. You only have so much fuel in the tank every day and each stimulus spends some of it. Yesterday, I went to work and was able to knock out a lot of fairly complicated things I had been postponing. By about 3 PM, I was mentally fatigued, but that happens every day and in this case, none of that was due to me waving my arms and yelling about distant things.

Still no coffee withdrawal headache caused by going from 3 drinks to 2. I didn't feel any kick from the midday Diet Coke, so I'm going to drop that one as well and go down to just the morning cup of French Press.

Failure


Work is different than puttering around the house. My day at home was something I wanted to do. My day at work was fine as I like my job, but it's still a job. By the end of the day, I "needed" a brewski or two, so I had them. Zig Ziglar says share your give up goals as your friends will help you stay on the straight and narrow, so I'm being honest on that one. I pondered dumping that requirement for the digital fast, but for reasons I'll share later in this series, I decided it was best to stick with the hard core approach.

Revelations


Music is a waste of energy at work. As I said yesterday, that has shocked me. I can't get over how much mental fuel is spent just listening and how much of a distraction it is. The YouTube rants I occasionally throw into the mix are complete poison. No, no and no.

Yesterday, a coworker left for lunch and unwittingly left his laptop playing music in the background. In this case, it was 1950s doo wop. When Randy and the Rainbows' Denise came on, it was unbearable, even though it was quiet. I put on my own headphones and tried to drown it out with some Gregorian Chant, but both were insufferable. I ended up stuffing his laptop in the trunk of my car. We all laughed about it, but the conclusion was inescapable. Music is a drag on your mental powers. That makes sense as your brain can only hold 4 things in front of you at the same time. The music is going to take up one of those slots, so unless it's masking something even worse, it's going to be a hindrance.

I Can Read Again


It's only been two days, but I can read books again. This is another surprise, although it shouldn't be. It stands to reason that the more quick hit pieces of information you consume, the harder prolonged concentration will be. This morning I was able to sit and read a book I started at the beginning of this fast and consume the required section without effort. Had I been on Twitter or my latest smartphone game, reading anything for more than a few minutes would have taken effort.

So today - less caffeine and no brewskis. We'll see where we are tomorrow. Thanks for all the comments. I really enjoy hearing how y'all have experienced similar things.

Wednesday, April 11, 2018

The Digital Fast - Day 1

Yesterday surprised me.

To recap, I'm giving up my smartphone and the Interweb Tubes for a week, except as necessary to communicate and learn. I threw in alcohol and music and vowed to cut my caffeine consumption from 3 drinks to 2. The plan is to discover how it changes me.

Without Music, Work Got Done


Over the past several months, drowning in a tsunami of impossible tasks from all sides, I've taken to setting three goals every day and if I can get those done, I consider it a good day. Yesterday, I took a day off of work and set myself to:
  1. Clean the garage which had become a storage site for everything I didn't have time to put away,
  2. Replace the front brake calipers on my MGB where the brake lines feeding the calieprs had been frozen on from rust and had resisted all removal attempts and
  3. Learn how to solder properly.
I went 3 for 3.

Usually, I'm listening to music and podcasts all day. Not just listening, but singing along or talking back or otherwise interacting with the sounds. When I'm working in the garage, if it's a good song, I'll go over to my phone and hit pause if I need to go inside for a minute. It's active listening that changes what I'm doing and, it turns out, slows me down. 

No music and no podcasts meant I was able to focus 100% on what I was doing. The garage wasn't just tidied up, it was vacuumed as well. Tools and parts found new homes and the place is in excellent shape. I now have a soldering station in the third bay with a new, 40W, Weller soldering iron. Yesterday, I discovered that I had been trying to do my electrical work with a hobbyist's toy, the Easy-Bake Oven of soldering irons. $60 later, I'm ready to work for real.

Without The Internet, I Was Happier


Just like music, I react all day to what I read. I formulate blog posts making arguments in response to tweets and articles designed to make me do just that. I know I don't have any real effect on the "national conversation," but most days I can't resist throwing in my two cents. I didn't and the world didn't end.

Caffeine and Alcohol - Who Needs 'Em?


I do. Well, the morning coffee, that's for sure. Giving that up, at least now, would be suicidal. I discovered that the afternoon Diet Coke was extraneous, but I had it anyway just to prevent a possible caffeine-withdrawal headache, to which I am prone. I could see myself getting down to one cup of coffee a day.

As for beer, that was really, really tough. From 4:30 PM to 6:30 PM, my body craves brewskis like nobody's business. It's a dopamine release in anticipation of the daily suds. Like a dog going crazy because they know it's feeding time even before the food bowls are taken out, I get excited about the prospect of a really good IPA. That's not good, particularly when your life is full of stress. Enough said about that. I skipped it yesterday and I'm glad. 22 hours of happiness more than offset those 2 hours of unrequited craving.

Day 2


I'm going back in to work today. I typically wear my headphones as much as possible and sneak in a YouTube rant video every couple of hours to spice things up as I toil. No music and no rants? It should make quite a change in how I experience the day.

Tuesday, April 10, 2018

The Digital Fast - It Begins

Have you ever wondered how your smartphone and Internet consumption are affecting your life and personality? Who would you be in a world without them? Do you spend so much time with them that they warp you? I keep thinking that they must. They are designed to stimulate and arouse. That much input, usually negative, must have an effect.

Thus the Digital Fast. For one week, I'm going to avoid as much content as possible from my phone and computer just to see if it changes me.

The Rules: My smartphone can only be used to communicate. That includes telephone calls and text messages. It can also be used to obtain necessary information such as store hours and locations and to guide me, when necessary, with the navigation app. No more Twitter, games, YouTube or the rest.

My computer will be used to blog daily updates on the fast and, like the phone, obtain important information for daily life such as repair manuals, weather, vacation reservations and so forth. No more Wall Street Journal, Instapundit or any of the other spasm-inducing sites.

My podcasts and music-on-demand services will be shelved for the week as well. Spotify, Pandora, the Andrew Klavan Show - it all falls into the category of stimulation, so out it goes.

Just for fun, we're going to throw in caffeine and alcohol. I usually have a coffee first thing in the morning, another around 9 and a Diet Coke in the afternoon. I'm going to cut out the 9 AM coffee. As for alcohol, that's gone entirely. For the first time in my life, I need to lose weight and all that beer isn't doing me any good at all. It's going to be a dry Digital Fast.

The Exception: English Premier League. Come Saturday and Sunday, I'm going to watch a couple of games. The experiment is important, but I'm not missing Newcastle United for it. Howay the lads! Besides, I figure that the EPL isn't in the same class as my political and economic surfing. It's exciting, but it's not designed to make me angry.

The Photography Quandary: Should this include photography? If I take photos or videos, can I use the computer to finally learn how to use selections, masks and layers in Photoshop? How about making time-lapse videos? I don't see that these fall into the same category as the agitation sites and apps, so I'm going to go with it. If you think that's cheating, feel free to let me know.

Work: My job is all done on the computer and involves social networking. Fortunately, it's all work-based, so I think I will be able to do my job while living within the spirit of the Fast.

So there you have it. A week without digital stimulants. Onward and upward! Excelsior!

Good God, I miss it already.

Monday, April 09, 2018

Manhood As A Fashion Statement Versus Feral Manhood

I'll bet on the feral men every time.

Progressives tell us that being a man is a choice and has no intrinsic meaning.
(Progressive) parents don’t like the term gender-neutral, explains New York magazine. They prefer gender-open, gender-creative or gender-affirming. For them, the gender binary is a trap constructed by society to imprison their children and restrict their human potential. Gender is a spectrum, not a binary, they argue. They hope that freeing our children from the shackles of arbitrarily imposed gender norms will be the first steps in a sweeping cultural change to create a better, fairer, more egalitarian society...

Swedish teachers encourage boys to play in the kitchen and girls to shout “no.” Some boys show up in dresses; no one cares. Sweden’s national curriculum requires preschools to “counteract traditional gender roles and gender patterns” and encourage children to explore “outside the limitations of stereotyped gender roles.”
On the other side, the Muslims in England and elsewhere are suggesting that maybe men are born men with all of the power and uncivilized aggression that comes with it.
Grooming gangs abused more than 700 women and girls around Newcastle with “arrogant persistence” after police appeared to punish victims while letting the perpetrators walk free, a case review has found...

Investigators said the abuse could not be stopped without work to understand the profiles, motivations and cultural influences of perpetrators, after finding similarities with grooming in Rotherham, Rochdale and Oxford.
How much more "understanding" is needed here? Of course, if you downplay or ignore the grooming gangs, it's impossible for the culture to take the necessary steps to deal with the situation. Since admitting the existence grooming gangs is a heresy, I wouldn't expect the progressive religious in the media, entertainment and academia to dwell on it.

A sampling of the groomers from Newcastle. I'm not seeing many gender-open people here.
Except maybe that whatever-it-is in the lower right.

Sunday, April 08, 2018

Manhood As A Fashion Accessory

I had some more conversations recently with a woman I know who is considering "transitioning to a man." I put that in quotes because it's utter rubbish. If she has the surgeries and takes the drugs, she's not going to be a man any more than she'll be a banana. She'll be a mutilated woman, drenched in drugs.

As we talked, I realized that to her, being a man was a fashion statement. Since it is no longer acceptable to have an objective definition of manhood and masculinity, she's essentially correct that she will become a "man." It didn't start here, though.

When we decided that all family structures were equally valid, we started the destruction of sexual roles. That we've reached this point shouldn't be a surprise. That we will go farther is almost a given. In reality, men are designed to protect and provide for a wife and children. In our fantasy world, men don't have to fulfill that role at all.

Without that anchor, what then is a man? You don't need to be aggressive or focused or strong or accomplished. You don't have to expect that anyone will depend on you, so those traits are unnecessary. To me, that reduces manhood to a hair style, the need to shave and a voice an octave lower. Those are fashion statements and nothing more.

American GIs in Burma in WW II. 2 of the 6 of them were born female, but transitioned to men.
Or maybe not.

Saturday, April 07, 2018

Trump Is Absolutely Right On China

Just like the Russia collusion story, this one is pretty basic and is being totally missed by the press. Russia had no reason whatsoever to prefer Trump and China holds almost no cards at all.

Chinese Exports to the US

Value: $462B
Chinese GDP: $11.8T
Exports as a percentage of GDP: 4%

US Exports to China

Value: $115B
US GDP: $19.4T
Exports as a percentage of GDP: 0.6%

So trade between the two countries is 7 times as important to China as it is to the US. Trump is negotiating from a position of strength and is doing just what we want a president to do. China has gotten away with the unfair trade practices typical to a fascist / corporatist nation for years against administrations from both parties who were advised by the "best and the brightest." It has also practiced intellectual and electronic theft and piracy on an industrial scale. Additionally, Chinese expansion in Southeast Asia has violated all manner of International law.

That the Chinese hold vast sums of US Treasuries is a weapon I don't think either side will use. We'll see. In the meantime, Trump has a good hand to play. Not that you'd know it from the hysterical, little girls in the press.

China is building military bases on artificial islands. Quite the aggressive bunch, no?

Friday, April 06, 2018

Grass

Out on maneuvers with the Catican Guards, I saw this little patch of grass and for whatever reason, it spoke to me.


In other news, following up on yesterday's post about Trump taking on China, the plot seemed to thicken today. The markets certainly didn't like it. As I'm more, err, invested in my 401K than politics, I never like to see anything that leads to a market dip.

Thursday, April 05, 2018

Mixed Feelings On The Trade Wars

... or maybe just a growing sense of confidence in the Trumpster-in-Chief.

As a conservative, I have theological problems with trade wars, tariffs and the like. As a long-time reader of right-wing thought-rags, I am always afraid that trade wars will end in economic slowdowns and chaos. Still, when Trump started his recent trade wars over steel, aluminum and the rest, I was less certain than I had been.

My growing confidence in the orange-haired nutjob came from, among other things, the way he got results from North Korea by taking a hard line. The more I see him work, the more I see that he likes to ask for things way beyond what he really wants and then negotiate back from there.  As far as I saw with the aluminum and steel tariffs, South Korea came to the bargaining table and we got some concessions we didn't have before.

His policies are leading to good times in lots of places. Dig this.
ELKHART, Ind.—The self-proclaimed RV capital of the world gives a glimpse of what the American economy looks like when operating at full tilt.

High-school students around here skip college for factory jobs that offer great pay and benefits. For-hire signs sprout like roadside weeds. And workers are so flush that car dealers can’t keep new pickups on the lot.

At the same time, the strains are showing. Employers can’t hang on to employees, and house prices are zooming. The worker shortage prompted a local Kentucky Fried Chicken restaurant to offer $150 signing bonuses. A McDonald’s failed to open for lunch last fall because managers couldn’t corral enough hands at $8 an hour to serve the lines waiting at the door.
His most recent trade war with China doesn't worry me much at all. I imagine that it's going to end with a negotiated settlement where we get more than we had before.

I wonder if he's read this book. It looks like he has.

Wednesday, April 04, 2018

Looking For The Playmobil Skid Row Set

Buried in work from all sides these days, I took some time to visit the bank to take care of some of my father's estate issues. That took two trips and more than 3 hours. I joked to wife kitteh that I was trapped in the Bank of America Adventure Playset. Then I looked online to see if there really was a bank playset for tots. I found this.


A bank robbery playset for children? What, was the Meth Lab Playset a bit too much? I'm hoping they move on to a homeless tent city encampment like we have out here in SoCal. What fun it will be to set up the tents! The kids can get a bag of tiny, used hypodermic needles to scatter around on the floor. Yay!

Sigh.

Tuesday, April 03, 2018

Could No-Pasaran Have Spoken At The Children's March Against Guns?

I think not. He's* from East Germany, where Bernie Sanders-types ran the place and only the government had guns. He's also on Twitter, if you want to follow him there.

The media could have brought him in to participate on one of the panel discussions with the kids. After all, if the tots derive moral authority from having friends shot by a loon, he's got it from having friends oppressed by a government with a monopoly on force. Yeah, that wasn't going to happen, was it?

It's no surprise that he wasn't on TV. The MSM's job is not to inform you, it's to identify good guys and bad guys so you know who to hate. The children are good guys. The NRA are the bad guys. No need to muddy up the waters with true stories from socialist tyrannies.

Don't worry. If our guns are confiscated, enemies of the Party will be treated in a humane fashion, like this fellow, who is being given a lift to a local treatment facility.
* - Yes, I know it's a team blog. Singular sounded better in prose. Work with me here.

Monday, April 02, 2018

Are Ethnic Jokes OK Again?

If the Education Department is paying for whiteness studies, talks on toxic masculinity, demands for some to apologize for their white privilege and the patriarchy, is it OK now to go back to ethnic jokes? Maybe we've moved on to he point where all we can do is hate straight, white men, but can't laugh at ourselves. That would be sad.

I'm old enough to not have been indoctrinated into the culture of the constantly-offended. Some of my favorite accents and jokes make fun of myself and my heritage. There's so much good material out there, too!

I hope we can go back to the jokes. I miss listening to guys like Jackie Mason. The video below, by the way, seems to have been delisted by YouTube. When I searched for it by it's key, 6aJ63JhvpTA, it didn't come up for easy insertion by Blogger. My bet is that the peach-fuzzed censors at Google thought it was triggering. Oh well.


Sunday, April 01, 2018

He Is Risen!

Today is the day when we celebrate learning the answer to the question, "Why?" As in, why should we forgive? Why should we continue to fight our sins? Why should we love? Why practice humility?

I've used this image and link before on Easter, but I love it so here it is again.
This image comes from a beautiful resurrection story.
Happy Easter, everyone!

Saturday, March 31, 2018

Jordan Peterson On The Bible

... well, a part of what he has to say, anyway. He's a very prolific thinker, this Peterson fellow.

Right now, I'm making my second way through his book, 12 Rules for Life. It's good, but I don't recommend it highly. He's prone to coming at topics from wild tangents and his composition doesn't hold together very well. That's why I'm on my second pass. He's a brilliant guy, so I know there are pearls in there that I missed the first time. Yesterday, I came across his take on the God of the Old Testament as opposed to the God of the New Testament.

The God of the Old Testament is a God for children. Don't do this! Don't do that! If you disobey me, you'll get a spanking!

The God of the New Testament is a God for a humanity who has grown up. His commandments are aspirational rather than prohibitive. Try to be humble, loving, kind and forgiving. Live your life like Me. If you fail, pick yourself back up and try again.

I thought that an apt Easter weekend message. Hope you're having a good one out there!

Waves crashing against Sunset Cliffs after a recent storm. This has nothing to do with the post. I kind of liked the photo and thought I'd share it with you.

Friday, March 30, 2018

Every Day, I Find More Reasons To Support The NRA

When I graduated from college, I thought like a good college student should. No one had a need to own guns. They were nothing but engines of death. Then I went to work and met people who didn't just own guns, but constructed their own cartridges. Some of them had built their own guns as well. They were intelligent and accomplished professionals. They laughed at me, in a good-natured way, and taught me about firearms.

Thus started my education on guns. Fast forward to the Children's March of last weekend, or whatever the silly thing was called, and it has made me more pro-gun than ever.

Gun control in the US owes a lot to the South where it was designed to prevent blacks from arming themselves as proof against government tyranny and later, the KKK.
(I)n the infamous Dred Scott decision, U.S. Supreme Court Chief Justice Roger B. Taney announced that free blacks were not citizens; if they were, he warned, free blacks would have the right “to keep and carry arms wherever they went.”

Immediately after the Civil War, Southern states enacted Black Codes, designed to keep the ex-slaves in de facto slavery and submission. Mississippi’s provision was typical: No freedman “shall keep or carry fire-arms of any kind, or any ammunition” without police permission. In areas where the Ku Klux Klan took control, “almost universally the first thing done was to disarm the negroes and leave them defenseless,” recounted the civil rights attorney Albion TourgĂ©e, who represented Plessy in Plessy v. Ferguson. The Ku Klux Klan was America’s first gun control group, as well as America’s first domestic terrorist organization.
Just as progressives sought to subjugate blacks back then, they seek to subjugate people like me today. Whether that's my friends from the San Diego Tea Party being targeted by the IRS, Little Sisters of the Poor being taken to the Supreme Court by the Obama Administration or speakers like Ben Shapiro being driven from campuses, it's all about control.

The desire for total control is pretty easy to see. Every problem in the world has the same solution - more power for the State. Global Warming Climate Change? More taxes and regulations. People without health insurance? Mandates, taxes and government programs. Poor test scores? More money for government schools. If you tell me that every problem has the same solution, then I begin to doubt that you're really interested in solving problems and see that what you really want is that solution. Power and control.

The Children's March looked to me like a hate-filled mob. Speeches where NRA members were accused of being complicit in the deaths of children were typical. Pretty creepy stuff. Just how far was that mob willing to go?

Well, one thing was for sure. They weren't going to be kicking down the doors of NRA members, carrying torches and rope. If they did that, they'd get shot. Therein lies my support for an armed citizenry. Things like the Children's March and groups like ANTIFA, the socialists' goon squad, don't appear to have much interest in, err, constructive dialog. Given that's the case, I'd prefer to be able to defend myself from the goons. It's pretty clear from Obama's IRS and Justice Department and university administrations, I won't be able to expect protection from anywhere else.

Thursday, March 29, 2018

Stormy Daniels Tells Us Who To Hate

If you're not listening to the Andrew Klavan Show, you should be. I took the video snippet below from one of his recent shows as it perfectly states where I am right now with the media and their "scandals." I simply don't care.

Specifically with the Stormy Daniels thing and more generally with the rest of their breathless reporting on non-events, it takes me no time at all to remember even worse scandals that they downplayed or ignored. They're not reporting any more, they are just trying to whip up the mob into a frenzy of hate against people like me.

See also: The Children's March Against Guns or whatever that thing was called.

I'm numb to the whole thing. While PBS has round tables about a billionaire playboy bedding a porn star, I can recall when they would show Crosby, Stills and Nash concerts where they sang Love The One You're With to madly cheering crowds. Without objective morality, which is something the MSM has told me doesn't exist, I have no reference point for judging one scandal from another.

Oh, wait, I do, don't I? The scandal only matters when it involves the people they hate.

So this isn't about the scandals, is it? It's simply a scorecard for identifying people who are evil because they hold bad opinions. That would be people like me.

Love you, too, guys.

Wednesday, March 28, 2018

Hip Hop Confusion

While tooling around Rhode Island this week, I managed to click the sound system in the rental car over to the satellite input wherein someone had tuned it to a hip-hop station. Curious, I listened to four songs.

The first three described, with no small pride, all manner of sociopathic behaviors. Violence, meaningless sex, consumption of mind-altering substances and more. The point of each song was that the singer, err, chanter, had done these things with greater verve and gusto than the ordinary chap. Hurrah! Well done, lads!

The fourth song was a lamentation. It seems that the singer, err, chanter, had moved out of the hood and had attempted to join normal society. He grumbled in a rather garbled way that his neighbors all thought he was dealing dope and how very unfair this was. It was a trifle contradictory. He and his friends wanted to be the bad dudes in the hood, but be treated like an upstanding citizens by their neighbors.

As the DJ on the station was throwing out every curse word in the book in idle conversation, it was doubtful that even she could see that the sequence of songs made little sense.

Oh well.

Tuesday, March 27, 2018

How Do You Get Ready To Write?

A very kind anon commented on this post and asked for writing advice.
I was interested to find out how you center yourself and clear your thoughts before writing. I've had difficulty clearing my thoughts in getting my ideas out. I truly do enjoy writing but it just seems like the first 10 to 15 minutes are generally wasted just trying to figure out how to begin. Any ideas or hints?
I can't remember who it was who told me never to blog about blogging, it might have been Ilion, but I'm going to go against their advice and answer this question. I thought a great deal about this over breakfast this morning which itself answered the question.

I've been writing daily here since February, 2006. It's gone from a hobby to an attempt to make money to a mental illness. I joke, but only partially. Like you, anon, I love to write.I love to blog. It's the daily thing that has turned into an OCD issue. In that OCD lies the answer to your question.

Because I know I want to write and I "need" to create content every day, a good portion of my time has some part of my brain looking for topics, ideas and takes. The answer to your question, how do I center myself and clear my thoughts is: I do it constantly.

By the time I sit down to write, I've been thinking of the idea I want to share for quite a while. When I finally write, it's stream of consciousness, informed by 12 years of working on English prose. I now think in English composition to the point where I can create a blog past as fast as I can type it.

Long-time readers will know that some days I punt on it and share a photo. That's from sheer exhaustion. There are some days when I am so tired or so overwhelmed by life that I don't have the time and energy to even type. Still, that's content.

I'll turn the question around to you, anon, and ask, do you need to do it? I do. I need it. At a very deep level, I have to write. It's how I learn, it's how I derive some of my value, it's how I formulate my place in the world and my view of the world. If I didn't write, I'd think the same thoughts over and over and be locked into one way of thinking. I believe that I have evolved over time through this blog, through my writing. It's been a terrific experience.

If you need to write, then write when you're not writing. Taking walks, waiting for a stoplight, driving in light traffic, listening to music, whatever. What is it you want to say? If you're writing fiction, what are your characters doing right now? What are they thinking and feeling?

I don't ponder blogging all the time. When I've got a post in my head that I want to get into print, I usually stop looking for bloggable things right there. For me, blogging is important, but life is much, much more than blogging.

Hopefully this makes sense. By the time I sit down to write, the only thing left to do is the typing. It's very much a learned skill, too. The more you write, the more natural the process and the structure become.

Did that help?

Whatever else, I'm certainly no Charles Dickens. For one thing, he was better looking.

Monday, March 26, 2018

Turning On The Air Conditioner When It's Below Freezing Outside

I'm in Rhode Island today. I arrived today. Well, to be perfectly accurate, I arrived at 11:50 PM last night. By the time I got to my hotel room, it was 1:30 AM.

I was supposed to arrive at 5:30 PM, but that's a whole different story.

It's 30 degrees outside. No worries, the room has a heater. A quick glance before I collapsed into bed showed it to be set at 72. Whew!

I kept thinking the room was really, really cold and woke a couple of times, shivering. When I got up this morning, I discovered that it was set to cool, not heat. The vigilant device was working all night to make sure my room never got above 72. With great success, I might add.

Sigh. It's starting out as one of those trips. Oh well. As I told one of our sons who had his first business trip recently, you never tell stories about the ones that go perfectly right.

Sunday, March 25, 2018

Why Not Just Drink More?

... or watch more TV or take up smoking?

As I get older, my sense of the finiteness of life increases. I know that I only have time for a couple more grand, multi-year projects and developing maybe two more major skill sets. In addition, the day is coming when I will no longer be able to do things I can do right now. My very last scuba dive is out there somewhere, after which I will never dive again.

My faith is a great comfort to me in this. I ask myself, "Is this what God wants me to be doing now?" At any stage of my life I can do this and know that I'm at least going in a somewhat productive direction. My 88-year-old mom, living with us while she recovers from a broken neck, spends much of her time in prayer and the rest keeping her attitude positive, working to become independent again. She might not succeed, but she's giving it a good try.

Without that question of what God wants from you at this stage in life, wouldn't there come a time when you might as well just give up? Why not take up smoking or drink a lot more? Since the end is coming and each day brings fewer options, why not just run out the clock as fast as you can?

Saturday, March 24, 2018

What Can You Get Done In 15 Minutes?

These days, my time is cut into small snippets. I can't find an hour to work on something. At best, I can get 15-30 minutes at a shot. That means projects requiring setup or cleanup are out of the question. Sorry about that, MGB. It also means that any goals I hope to achieve will have to be cut into bite-sized chunks.

I'm learning that this means some preparation will make a big difference. For example, if I'm going to read, I need to take notes. My current book needs to travel with a notebook and a pen at all times. I have tried online or electronic note-taking many times, but they are all terrible. It also means that coding or design projects need additional planning so I can cut them into tiny subtasks.

In practical terms, it means that instead of diving into the book or coding problem or design effort, the first 15-minute snippet will have to be spent laying out a plan for the project. In the past, I didn't need a plan for executing 2-hour projects, but now I do. Without one, I'm insanely frustrated, knowing that I'm not making any progress at all. With one, I'll know I'm at least grinding towards completion.

Friday, March 23, 2018

CNN And Fox: Feeding The Beast

Ohioan left an interesting comment on yesterday's blog post.
Today we are swamped by information. At least ‘information’ in the Claude Shannon definition. The question is are we swamped with useful/meaningful information? I think not. Most of the ‘information’ out there is like a specific random stream of 1’s and 0’s. Full of ‘information’, but not terribly worthwhile in our day to day lives. In fact, I suspect that the flood of nearly meaningless information is drowning out the important information to which we should be paying attention.
If, as I suggested, the expert panels on the talky-talk shows  consisted of professionals discussing their craft, you'd quickly run out of things to say. Once the handyman has reviewed the consumer-level drills, you don't need him to come back and do it again until next year. You'd have an impossible job filling a 24/7 news station's airtime.

Meanwhile, did you see what Claire McCaskill said about Nancy Pelosi and the way she sneered at Mike Pence? And the day before, Chuck Schumer tweeted a response to President Trump congratulating the Archbishop of Canterbury for wearing green. In politics, every day there's new information.

Now if only there was something useful to do with it!

Political talk shows, in a nutshell.
Which is where they belong.

Thursday, March 22, 2018

I Wish I Lived In The 1870s

... well, sometimes I do. Pretty rarely, actually. Those times coincide with my watching of daytime TV.

Mom is staying with us while her broken neck heals. She's a Fox News girl, but has never watched daytime TV in her life. With not much else to do, she dialed it in yesterday and we watched a panel of nincompoops yell at each other over trivial issues. A few years back, when my son was healing from a broken neck, he would watch ESPN daytime which featured panels of nincompoops yelling at each other over trivial sports issues.

Both news and sports yelling sessions typically devolve into racial and gender issues pretty quickly. Horrible. Simply horrible.

The thing that jumped out at me was how unimportant the discussions were. I feel the same way about the Sunday news programs I don't watch and the rubbish on CNN and MSNBC. It's all pointless. I need to find a way to get the time to finish my MGB. I could care less whether or not Donald Trump congratulated Vladimir Putin. For some reason, that's what they think I want to see.

I wondered what it would be like if the panel consisted of farmers, mechanics and commercial fishermen discussing what they do for a living. I'd love it, but there wouldn't be all that yelling. Working men don't talk like that when they discuss their jobs.

Then I thought of what it would be like if we lived in the 1870s. All of those discussions would have been inaudible as well as irrelevant. Almost everyone lived days away from the nimrods in politics. There were limited mechanisms for interference in our lives. When we got together, we'd discuss guns, horses, beer, farming, food, clothes, kids and the opposite sex. Useful things, necessary things, important things.

We sure wouldn't be discussing Rutherford B. Hayes' tweets.

Here, Wells Fargo delivers boxes full of 280-character messages from President Hayes, William Wheeler and Samuel Randall. People can't wait to read them!

Wednesday, March 21, 2018

Tissue Paper Flower

I liked this photo. I don't know why. I left it rather large, so it might be worth a click. Enjoy!

Tuesday, March 20, 2018

Dialing Gravy 511

The inestimable Mary from Deep South Dish offered up this set of instructions to make the perfect gravy. In a nutshell, it's 5-1-1. 1 part oil plus 1 part flour to make a roux followed by 5 parts fluid to make the gravy. All done in the pan where you cooked the meat, of course.

I tried this with pan-fried pork chops and the result, even for this obliterator of gravies, was outstanding. My liquid was beef stock, store-bought, and I ended up with about a 9-1-1 ratio by the time I had added enough to scrape up the meat bits from the pan, but it was fabulous. I threw in some diced, fresh sage and thyme from my garden to add flavor.

This is what it looked like. The white in the photo is the ceiling lights reflecting off the gravy.

Delish!

Monday, March 19, 2018

Make Mexico Great Again!

As a pronounceable acronym, MMGA sounds rather primitive.

Oh well.

Pondering this old post wherein it was suggested that open-borders progressives move to Mexico and become Mexican citizens, something new occurred to me.
(My open-borders progressive friends) should move to Mexico, become Mexican citizens and spend their lives working to make Mexico better.

I'm not being facetious here. I really mean it. By moving to Mexico and becoming citizens of that great country, all of their time and effort would make Mexico a better place and they would be serving the needs of poor Mexicans every hour of every day. No more half measures. Go all the way and do what you feel called to do, my brothers and sisters.
I cannot think of a single border-control conservative that would not look upon such an act with sincere admiration and support. It's how we religious fanatics feel when we talk to people who work in the missions in third-world countries. I've met some doctors who spend months at a time working in Central American hospitals. I couldn't care less about their politics, those guys are awesome.

Therein lies the slander heaped upon advocates of border control. If we hated brown-skinned people, we'd laugh at those who work in foreign lands. "Ha ha," we'd say. "You fools are wasting your time on der untermensch when you could be here in America toasting Trump in a beer hall!"

It's not race, it's citizenship.

So why the slander? If we hate each other, we'll be more likely to vote to keep the other side out of power.

Just remember, change happens when ordinary people get involved and ordinary people won't get involved without proper motivation.

Sunday, March 18, 2018

In Defense Of Teachers

Over time, thinking back on this post about the Baltimore school system and its implications, I have derived a great many conclusions. Here's a recap.
A Project Baltimore investigation has found five Baltimore City high schools and one middle school do not have a single student proficient in the state tested subjects of math and English...(The students) are essentially illiterate and unemployable...For all intents and purposes, there are no whites, asians or hispanics around them. The entire government is made up of Democrats and has been for decades...The Baltimore School District spends 50% above the national average per student.
Conservatives like to blame the teachers while progressives complain about school funding and racism. It's all nonsense. It has to be.

First off, the teachers are highly motivated to see the children succeed. Assuming that they are all venal degenerates, they are nonetheless rewarded for the kids achieving high scores on the standardized tests. Even if they were the most selfish people on Earth, they would work hard to help the children learn. Such calumny against teachers is vicious nonsense. Almost all of them get into the profession because of a natural devotion to children.

Second, the teachers are, collectively, some of the most progressive people in the country. The teachers' unions bankroll the Democrats everywhere. The Democrats, obsessed with der volk, err, people of color, would hardly be the ones trying to screw children on the basis of race.

Third, it's never been easier to learn. Unless I missed some new discoveries, there are still only 26 letters in the alphabet and ten numbers in math. Nouns and verbs continue to serve their respective purposes and, our deficit spending aside, addition and subtraction fill their same old functions. Meanwhile there are apps and programs and books and toys and libraries and websites, cleverly designed by dedicated professionals to help children learn.

How in the world do you end up with mass failure? How is it that we blame the teachers, the schools, the funding or racism?

Politics has been interesting me less and less as I stumble to the conclusion that we are all lying to ourselves as a country.
Popular culture is all Song of the South. It turns it's back on the pain and suffering of real people and instead uses them to sell a narrative to the rest of us, a narrative that isn't true at all. Without that truth, we'll never be motivated to change what is because we won't see it.
Our elites blame the teachers, the schools, money and racism because they want power. If they blamed us, instead of handing them more authority, we'd be motivated to change our behavior and improve ourselves.

And who would want that?

On the first Feminian Sandstones we were promised the Fuller Life
(Which started by loving our neighbour and ended by loving his wife)
Till our women had no more children and the men lost reason and faith,
And the Gods of the Copybook Headings said: "The Wages of Sin is Death."

As that was written by Rudyard Kipling and he was a white male, we can dismiss it without consideration.

Saturday, March 17, 2018

You Can't Want The Deal More Than The Client

Relieve Stress By Cutting Back Emotional Attachments


I'm stressed out of my gourd right now, dealing with major issues in multiple areas of my life. At work, I'm doing the job of four people. I'm experienced and fast enough to handle two jobs at a time, but at four, things are falling off the table and that's been tying my stomach in knots.

My gourd. I am not in it.
A simple solution would be to hire additional help. We have an expert available in house who is dying to work with us and is currently tasked doing menial chores, but for whatever reason*, management won't move them onto our project. To have this cheerful and ultra-competent potential coworker so close is sheer torture.

These days, my blood pressure is about double what it normally is.

My wife, who has worked in real estate for years, shared a motto she uses herself. "You can't want the deal more than the client."

The house might be just right, the price excellent and the neighborhood perfect for the buyer. The purchase ought to be a no-brainer. The sale is right there, right at your fingertips, but the buyer, for whatever reason, won't pull the trigger. You have to shrug and blow it off. Don't stay up at night, don't yell at your windshield while you drive, just let it go.

For me, if management didn't want the work to fall on the floor, they'd make that simple move. They won't. Oh well.

It doesn't solve the problem perfectly - I'm still buried. At least with this motto in mind, I can slough off some of the stress and stop trying to change things over which I have no power.

* - Subordinate lesson: Don't waste your time psychoanalyzing management. Chances are poor that you will get it right and it will do nothing but waste your time.

Thursday, March 15, 2018

Color Moods

One of the things I do when I'm not coming up with fascinating blog posts is design corporate web sites.

Well, I don't actually design them, it's more like I do the underlying technologies. If you asked me to do any real design, I'd hide under my bed. I'm afraid to try it because I know I don't know anything about design.

With that in mind, I'm trying to learn. Something I just discovered, something obvious to finger-painting five-year-old children, is that colors convey moods. Like this.


I've always gravitated to blues and some greens. I've heard that your color preferences reflect your personality but I'm not sure about that. I'm a big fan of Myers-Briggs personality profiles. I'm a strongly-typed ENFJ and I don't see ENFJ in blues and greens.
ENFJs are idealist organizers, driven to implement their vision of what is best for humanity. They often act as catalysts for human growth because of their ability to see potential in other people and their charisma in persuading others to their ideas. They are focused on values and vision, and are passionate about the possibilities for people.
Maybe I just like blues and greens.

Wednesday, March 14, 2018

Song Of The South For 2018

I've been trying to put my finger on this for a long time and I think I finally have it.

Back in the late 1940s, Disney decided to make a mixed-medium film based on the tales of Br'er Rabbit. The movie was Song of the South and it featured white children playing with a black man and a black kid. It wasn't full-on SJW, but they made an effort to show that integration was good.

The civil rights groups at the time begged Disney not to show scenes of blacks singing happily while picking cotton. They were fine with the film in general, but they felt that making the lives of Southern blacks look happy and carefree was detrimental to the cause of Civil Rights. Disney blew them off and, sure enough, the blacks are there, singing in their cabins and working in the fields. It's pretty appalling.

Song of the South failed as a movie because it lied to you. It wasn't a complete lie, but the lie about the happy lives of Southern blacks was too big to ignore. That lie made the need for the Civil Rights movement seem less urgent to the people whose only view into that world came from the arts.

All movies, TV shows, ads and plays are Song of the South these days. It's all lies and they all make it seem like there's no real need for huge cultural reforms.


That's the hit song from the movie. Here are the lyrics to the modern rap song the Philadelphia Eagles played when they took the field, Mill Meeks' Dreams and Nightmares.

Art like that is more than a beat and some rhymes. It tells you how people think, how they feel, what they value. Meeks isn't alone. Try a random sample of his peers and see what you find. If you actually listen to it, hear what they are trying to tell you, drive through the neighborhoods, look at the statistics, the cultural rot is crystal clear.

Ask yourself, is that what you see in the movies? Is that what you see in the crime shows or the melodramas like This is Us? Aren't they all Zip-a-Dee-Doo-Dah instead?

Popular culture is all Song of the South. It turns it's back on the pain and suffering of real people and instead uses them to sell a narrative to the rest of us, a narrative that isn't true at all. Without that truth, we'll never be motivated to change what is because we won't see it.

Tuesday, March 13, 2018

Beloved Sports Memories

... like this bring a smile to the lips and warmth to the heart whene'er they're recalled.


Living in Los Angeles at the time, I decided to become a Toronto Blue Jays fan when they came into the league in 1977. I followed them religiously in the newspaper and saw them as much as possible when they would come to Anaheim to play the Angels. I don't recall ever seeing them win there. I must have been a jinx.

I flew to Toronto to see the last three games of the 1985 season when they won their first AL East title, shown in the video above. I was sitting in the left field bleachers, not far from where George Bell caught that fly ball to end the game. Everyone went nuts, myself included. It was fabulous.

Back at that time, the Jays were still playing at Exhibition Stadium, which was built for the Toronto Argonauts. The design allowed freezing Lake Ontario winds to whip through the stadium from one end to the other. It had the reputation of being the worst ballpark in the major leagues. The Friday night game before this one was bitterly cold and, if I recall correctly, was temporarily disrupted by a squall of freezing rain.

It didn't matter. When the Jays won, it could have been 10 below and we'd still have loved it.

And that one is for you, ligneus. Not sure if you were living in Toronto at the time. I've been there twice and I think it's a gorgeous city. I'd still rather live in Dixie than anywhere else, but Toronto is beautiful.

Sunday, March 11, 2018

How To Help Undocumented Immigrants

I have plenty of progressive friends who recoil in horror at the thought of building a wall on our southern border and deporting Dreamers and other illegal aliens. They feel a tremendous amount of sincere, Christian compassion for those immigrants. It's well-intentioned and based in love. I would like to see the wall built tomorrow and the illegals deported. Here's how we can both get what we want.

The progressives should move to Mexico, become Mexican citizens and spend their lives working to make Mexico better*.

I'm not being facetious here. I really mean it. By moving to Mexico and becoming citizens of that great country, all of their time and effort would make Mexico a better place and they would be serving the needs of poor Mexicans every hour of every day. No more half measures. Go all the way and do what you feel called to do, my brothers and sisters.

Putting an end to anti-immigrant racism


Those of us who remained in America would build the wall and strictly control our borders. The only people allowed in would be the ones we wanted. Every Dreamer a planned and wanted Dreamer, as it were. That would mean that every dark-skinned person we encountered in America would be the kind we redneck bigots wanted. Every interaction would be positive. All of our prejudices would melt away in the warm bath of national comity.

This seems like the ultimate win-win-win-win. The progressives would be able to help the disadvantaged from other countries, the right-wing bigots would get to control their borders, the citizens of Mexico would see vast improvements in their quality of life and American Hispanics would see an end to racism. I don't see a downside to this at all.

With 5 of the 10 most violent cities on Earth, Mexico is in need of dedicated, compassionate, progressive citizens so very, very much.
* - Note that this works with European progressives who want to help Muslim immigrants as well.

Saturday, March 10, 2018

By Now, You'd Think We'd Be Used To President Trump

... but I guess not.

I don't know about you, but when I heard Trump rattling sabers about tariffs and trade wars, I saw it as the typical Trumpian gambit. You make huge pronouncements and then see what happens. Time after time, he starts the bidding way beyond what he really wants and then negotiates his way back to the win he is willing to accept. I'm pretty much a free-trade guy, but I didn't get alarmed by the president's tough talk at all. I figured someone in the media would have it dialed in and urge calm.

Nope. We were headed for a massive trade war, possibly followed by a shooting war. Sigh. It's all so much Pavlovian salivation on the part of the press. DOOM! DOOM! HE'S TOTALLY CRAZY!

Meanwhile, employment is roaring, stocks are recapturing their lost ground, Rocket Man is offering to meet with President Trump after pausing his missile and nuke tests, ISIS has been totally wiped out and on and on. Every move he makes is going to kill us, except for the ones that make us wealthier and safer. Which would be all of them.

Friday, March 09, 2018

Bad Food In Horrible Packaging

A while back, I used a tin of corned beef for some African cooking. I had an extra tin of the stuff, so I decided to fry some up for breakfast this morning.

Bad idea.

For one thing, you can't get the tin open. That stupid key you're supposed to turn to open it always snaps off. Once it does, you can't open it with a can opener because the tin is rectangular instead of round. I got it started with a can opener and then had to finish it off with a screwdriver and needle nosed pliers.

The tin after using the key, a can opener and a screwdriver. At the bottom, you can see the little gash the key made before it broke off.

Needle nosed pliers to the rescue! I ended up cutting my finger on the jagged metal. Winning!
Once opened, it fried up the dog food. Or maybe it just looked like dog food.

Is this dog food?
Or is this dog food?

Delicious!

Or not.

Thursday, March 08, 2018

This Doesn't Bode Well For People With Low IQs

Given that the Buddha's goal was self-annihilation, it's no wonder he spent all that time staring off into space.

Wednesday, March 07, 2018

Alexa The Amazon Echo - First Impressions

For Christmas, we bought everyone in the family Amazon Echos. It's taken a while to really make use of it, but we're loving it now and talk to it all the time. My mom has moved in with us after being discharged from rehab at the nursing home (she broke her neck, but that's another story) and we bought her one as well.

Alexa is clearly the lead dog in the voice-activated home systems. Everyone is scrambling to work with her. Recently, Sonos upgraded their software so all of our music can be played anywhere in the house with a command to Alexa. With our Pandora and Spotify Premium accounts, we've got all the music in the world. With our Audible account, she can read books to us, too.

The only drawback is that she doesn't play nicely with Google. A few years back, we chose Google Music over Apple, mostly because we didn't want to invest tens of thousands of dollars to switch to the Apple ecosystem. Now all of our CDs have been uploaded to our Google accounts. Spotify Premium gives us unlimited access to those same albums, but our playlists are still locked into Google Music. There are ways to move the playlists to Spotify, but I haven't tried any yet. That will be a future post.

First Impression: We love Alexa.

Second Impression: When we ask her to bark like a dog, she does so, driving the Catican Guards crazy. ;-)

Tuesday, March 06, 2018

Hollywood Is Toast

Jimmy Kimmel's Oscars monologue spewed hate at the Normals who are supposed to pay for the movies to be made. That's all you need to know.

The ratings were the worst in history. Of course, if I screamed at my customers, they'd go away, too. I keep trying to figure out how this happened. How can you completely disconnect from reality like this?

Also, why are they screaming and full of hate and outrage when life is so good? Technology keeps getting better and better, learning is easier all the time, information is everywhere, we can connect like never before, global poverty is constantly declining, business is booming, if you want to work, you can find a job, just what is the problem? Why are they so angry?

Hollywood is completely crazy. They live in a self-reinforcing world of their own making. They are the guards in their own prison camp. If any of their peers gets out of line, the others beat them down. It's one of Dante's circles of Hell where the possibility of escape is always there, but the inmates are so blinded by bitterness and hate that they keep each other inside.

How long can this continue? I know I'm not going to the movies any more and it's not because of the ticket prices or inconvenience. I like the movie-going experience with popcorn and a huge screen. I don't think I saw a movie in all of 2017. I wanted to go see the new Star Wars one, but not enough to actually do it.

I'm hoping that technology and the Internet will democratize movies. Cameras are cheaper than ever and a professional editing capability can be yours for an Adobe Creative Cloud subscription. We're ready for a new center of gravity in film.

Hollywood is dead, long live whatever we can find to replace it.

In the Hollywood Circle of Hell, we find actors, actresses, directors and producers blinded by a hatred of their audience. They are forced to forever create movies for each other that tank at the box office. Their punishment is their belief that their wonderful art is wasted on the swine who make up most of the country.