Wednesday, September 30, 2009

Give Us This Day

You want religion? Here's religion.

When we're born, we're all as whole and as perfect as we're ever going to be. From that day on, we start to break, in our bodies, our minds and our souls. We patch ourselves up and go on the best we can, only to get more broken and more patches.

We all dream of becoming whole and perfect again.

It never happens. Broken and patched is as good as it gets. Some people think that someone or something can make them whole. It doesn't happen.

However fucked up you are, that's as good as it's likely to get. If you don't watch out, you're likely to get even more fucked up.

Live it up. Tomorrow you'll be one day closer to the end of your life.

The secret to happiness is to be satisfied with the way you are right now.

Monday, September 28, 2009

You Heard It Here First

I am declaring that there will be a backlash against the unremitting craziness of the Right that went from high gear into overdrive with the election of Barack Obama as President.

I don't know when it will happen. I don't know if it will be set off by a specific specious claim by the Right that goes too far or just an overload in the traffic of craziness. I just know it's going to happen. All this birther, communist, terrorist, race baiting and religious zealotry rabble rousing is going to boil over and burn the Wingers on the ass.

I think it will happen pretty soon. On the other hand, I was expecting the current economic meltdown to happen a couple of decades ago and the India/Pakistan nuclear war to break out in 1997. My timing could be a little off.

It's coming though. If I live long enough, I'll see it.

Sunday, September 27, 2009

Secret Weapon

Lockheed just released this. The video shows a working, half sized replica of what the actual hybrid airship will look like. It will reportedly be about 250 feet long. It's not quite lighter than air and the gas bag will act as a lifting body when powered by four movable propellers at the four corners. The landing gear are the kind of ground effect skirts found on hovercraft and the air flow can supposedly be reversed, to hold the beast on the landing strip like big suction cups. It's too much like stuff in a Tom Swift novel.

They want to use these things as high altitude surveillance and drone control platforms in the Middle East wars. It will be operational unmanned and fully autonomous, staying airborne for as much as two weeks. I take this to mean that it won't even require continuous remote piloting. I wonder how that works. They haven't even started to build a real one yet. It will be at least several years before they can start testing. Can anyone say Boeing Dream liner?

I don't think this machine will ever see real service. They will be real expensive. It's going to be too unstable to operate in anything but perfect weather and anybody with 50 year old SAM technology could shoot one down.

Saturday, September 26, 2009

Moammar's Big Tent

Last week, Moammar Khadafy was in New York with his colorful Libyan entourage, looking for a place to pitch his big Bedouin tent. I saw some pictures of the tent and it seemed really cool. Somebody explain to me what the big deal about the tent was. Was it a danger or terrorist threat? Would its erection have been an insult to America? Was the anti tent media blitz planted by the Hotel industry? For whatever reason, he was unable to pitch his tent.

PT Barnum never had a problem finding a place to pitch his tent and he made a living with freak shows.

Friday, September 25, 2009

Civil Disobediance in Pittsburgh

They have Pittsburgh sealed up tighter than a drum for the G 20 summit. Young kids have found their way to the site of the talks and are protesting the lack of meaningful environmental action to combat climate change, greenhouse gas buildup in the atmosphere and acidification of the oceans.

The demonstrators are peaceful but have been advised no demonstrations will be allowed. The local authorities are pathetically grateful that their city was chosen to host the event and are eager to please. The cops are in full riot gear, beating the shit out of the kids and using CS gas on them.

I'm so proud of those kids, I almost feel paternal.

Thursday, September 24, 2009

Names in the Bible

A census worker was found hung up in a cemetery in Kentucky. He had the word Fed written on his chest. He was a white man so it can't have been a racist hate crime. Whew! What a relief.

We got some shirttail cousins went Southwest to Kentucky. Took a couple of our women with'em. They were Tadlocks, from Western Pennsylvania. Good with guns, traps and a skinning knife. Drinkers. Not much for working the land. None of us was very friendly but they would hang a body up in a tree. To butcher. If it was a bad Winter and the children were hungry. Not anybody they knew, just Indians, peddlers and such. It ain't Winter now though. They probably didn't get any more mannerly since they been there. Maybe the census man was asking personal questions, you know, sex stuff. Who wouldn't be sensitive about that? Nobody's business.

We lost touch with Tadlocks. Before the Revolution started. After the War, the rest of us went West, Indiana and Illinois. Then farther. Good riddance. Just some lines of copper plate in the big Bible, is all they are to us now.

Blood Thirsty Dictators Love Barry.

The Wingnuts think it's inappropriate that so many populist Latin American leaders have a good opinion of Barry O. I don't see the problem with it.

They never minded when Nixon went over to suck old Mao's dick in '72. Look how that turned out.

Some still maintain that China would be a lot better off if Chiang and his Kuomintang had never lost control of China. I guess better for who is the question.

She's Having Her Clerks Build A Sweat Lodge Out Back

Ruthie Ginsberg is in the hospital. Pancreatic cancer is pretty much impossible to beat. It looks like Barry will get to name at least two more Supreme Court justices before his first term is over. He should make them both women, maybe both minorities as well, religious as well as ethnic. I'd go for an Asian Muslim, from Indonesia or Malaysia. I believe he has some contacts in that community. A Hindu would be a surprising choice or perhaps even an American Indian woman. Do you think there are any American Indian women qualified for the job? Maybe somebody from one of the old pueblo families in New Mexico. A shamanic wise woman is kind of similar to a lawyer. Probably better. Instead of banging a gavel she can pound on a metate with her mano. I can hardly wait.

Whoever he picks, I'm sure they will be interesting. I can hear the Wingnuts bellowing out in pain and rage already.

Benjy and the Jets

Did you catch any of Benjamin Netanyahu's speech at the United Nations this morning? They played it live on Fox News. If you saw it, you were one of the few. A lot of the delegations boycotted. Those that didn't looked bored. I suspect the TV viewership was spotty.

He's a good speaker. His argument is sound and compelling. The Arab World does not play fair with Israel. They don't honor their promises. They don't want peaceful coexistence. They want all the Jews in Israel gone.

The problem is, he's singing the same song Israel has been singing for sixty years. Nobody cares about the Shoah anymore or whose ancestors died in it. Israel isn't anybodies friend. Nobody in their position can afford to be. When The UN partitioned Palestine in 1947, it was incumbent on the Zionists to make peace with their neighbors. I'm sure they tried. It didn't work out.

About 40% of the American public has some sympathy for Israel. They have some support in Western Europe but not much and it doesn't translate into anything real.

I'm sure Israel can continue down the path they are on indefinitely but eventually a tragedy is inevitable. They need to try something new. Maybe a two state solution isn't in the cards. Maybe they can do a better job of integrating into the indigenous culture than places like Kenya, Rhodesia and South Africa. The idea that the Jews are just another tribe native to the Middle East and deserving of sovereignty, is the same as the Afrikaners and just as patently ridiculous.

If they wait too much longer, they may all have to come to America. That would be alright too. Unlike Catholics, you can never really have enough Jews.

Tuesday, September 22, 2009

Let's Fire Up Some Martyrs

Bolivia has always been a segregated society. The mestizo descendants of the conquistadors that raped the land and destroyed the civilization and culture of the indigenous people have controlled the fruits of agriculture, industry and commerce in the country, for half a millennium. The native Aymara have been denied the right to petition the courts for justice, the right to own land, the vote and access to public education or health care. They are used as slave labor in the fields, mines, forests, fisheries and factories, then paid in raw grain alcohol, instead of the meager wages owed them, with which they might feed their families. Great life.

During all this time, the Catholic priests stood idly by, ministering to the souls of the mestizos and spending leisurely sabbaticals in Spain and Italy.

Now that the Aymara are taking possession of what was rightfully theirs these last 500 years, the Church cautions them to civility and seeks to send them back into slavery with lame parables about how the last shall be first.

Wild Thing, You Make My Heart Sing

I don't warch reality TV. I don't like Tom DeLay. I love Tom DeLay on Dancing With The Stars. I'm not being sarcastic or mocking Mr DeLay.

He's great on the show.

Thank God for You Tube.

Republicans See Imminent Collapse Of Obama Administration.

The country seems pretty polarized to me. How does it seem to you? Barry O won the Presidency with a majority of around 53%. Not that much but when you add in the third party, write ins and error votes, there was a 7-8% spread between him and John McCain. When you consider that a lot of Right Wing voters who would normally have knee jerked for the Republicans hated McCain and may not have voted at all, it might be expected that Obama's popularity would get lower after the election. It might even fall below 50%.

It doesn't seem to be happening. People rate Obama all over the map on the major issues, war, the economy, health care, foreign relations, spending deficits and on and on. The bottom line is that Barry has a 55% approval rating generally, about the same percentage of people that elected him in the first place. As I said before, the country is pretty polarized, I guess it's foolish expect things to change much, very quickly.

The Right has been beating the drums of hyper patriotism, fundamental religion, foreign war, and imminent collapse of society as we know it, soon to be replaced by a dictatorship of communist, Islamic, people of color, who don't wear pants or use toilet paper. I won't say it hasn't been effective to some degree. They currently enjoy more support than I ever thought they would get with these tactics but I think most people would agree, even on the right, that they have reached the point of diminishing returns and that further hysterics regarding Islamic takeover, race war, communist revolution, immodesty and poor bathroom hygiene will cause more people to turn away from, rather than attract new converts to, the cause of social conservatism. It doesn't mean they will stop or change the current tactics soon. They seem happy with the present plan, even though it is not producing positive results. Against all odds, they seem to be expecting a breakthrough in popularity.

I'm not that crazy about a lot of the new administration's actions. I don't think economic stimulus through government spending is a functional idea. I think decreased consumer spending and increased domestic production would be better than the other way around. I'd like to see the Great Society entitlements of the 60's and afterwards dismantled. I'd like to see technical, scientific and vocational education emphasized. I'd like to see us disengage from foreign military obligations and cut both the budget and payroll of the military as well as many other government functions. I'd like to see the Department of Homeland Security dissolved. I'd like to be able to go to Mexico or Canada again without a passport. I don't think the new administration will do any of these things. If I was polled about the Obama administration's handling of these issues, my responses wouldn't be positive. I know a Republican administration wouldn't have done any of the things that I wanted either and what they did do, would have been not only ineffective but unfairly partisan and probably involve illegal surveillance, torture and genocidal conflict, the garni bouquet that Republicans believe adds spice and depth to all the endeavors of political life.

I'm one of the 55% that approve of Barry's performance so far. If nothing else, he seems reasonable and intelligent in his reaction to new problems as they arise and not burdened with a preloaded ideological template for how to manage them. I would never vote for the kind of people now in the leadership of the Republican Party. My position will not change depending upon how Barry handles the Presidency. It is dependant on what kind of platform the Republicans build for themselves from this point on and the leaders that they then choose to represent them in public office.

Is The Constitution Still Constitutional?

The United States considers itself a very young nation. The fact is that we have one of the longest continuing governments on the planet. Most countries governments are regularly destroyed by war, revolution or the criminal malfeasance of those governing.

A lot of people celebrate our system of government as a model of function and durability. Maybe. There are probably a lot of ways we could update the way we do things that would make things more fair, functional and democratic.

The primary election, caucus and national convention system by which we choose our Presidential election tickets is lengthy and favors candidates with a lot of political patronage and big corporate donors, which can end up producing a candidate that nobody wants, which then allows a really bad candidate in opposition to become President. The most famous modern example of this was when Nixon beat Humphrey in '68 but you can't overlook the Obama/McCain race during the last election. Almost nobody liked McCain and large numbers of his own party loathed him.

The US Senate gives two seats to every State, the elected members get six year terms and the Senate has many prerogatives that the House of Representatives does not. No one can argue that the Senate is a fair form of democratic legislature or that it is not much more powerful than the more representative House.

The Supreme Court members are chosen by the President, confirmed by the Senate and then serve as long as they want. Who came up with that one?

Would you change the way the government is run if you could? Do you think we should have another Constitutional convention and shake things up?

I think we should shake things up. I don't think we should elect politicians any more. I think terms in public office should be awarded through a lottery of all adult citizens. Some people would argue that this could produce holders of high public office who might be dangerous felons, retards, sexual deviates, religious fanatics and all other manner of undesirables. This is no doubt true but I say it will be less so than we currently have and on the whole we will have a better, less corrupt and meglomaniacal group of citizens running our government.

Monday, September 21, 2009

The Sacriment of Two Become One

This is an interesting article. You always read how half, or even a little more, of all marriages end in divorce and maybe it's true but in fact, the vast majority of people only marry once during their life, even if they don't marry for life

What has always interested me is how most of the people that get divorced, that I know, are the ones that believe in marriage the most. They are often religious. They often believe that it's possible to find that one perfect soul mate that meets every need and expectation. When the person they marry turns out not to have that capacity, the relationship becomes ultimately intolerable and the more they try to make things right, the more devastated they become. Sometimes people like this will go through a whole slew of marriages, trying and failing to find "the one". The ensuing divorces are very acrimonious, progressively more hurtful and it really fucks up their various spouses.

I never thought I'd get married. I didn't get married for a long time. It got very lonely and the idea of being single for the rest of my life started to really seem like a bad idea. I liked the woman I married but I'm not sure I even understand the one great, be all end all, love of your life concept, much less aspire to it. I've had electric, hit by a thunderbolt, falling in love experiences and not all of them were about sex. The problem with that is, it lasts about 10 days or 2 weeks, then you start to get to know the other person and the decompression kills the relationship.

Mostly, I said to myself at the time of my marriage, "This is a woman who will be able to tolerate me for the rest of her life."

With only a few temporary exceptions, that's turned out to be true. Next Spring, it will be 28 years. I'm not putting myself up as the perfect example of matrimony but I think we're both satisfied with the way it turned out. Usually I'm never satisfied with anything in my life for more than 3 or4 years. I'm more happy now with the marriage than I have ever been. I love this woman more than anyone else in my entire life. I have no regrets and intend spend the rest of my life with her. I hope she lets me.

I've got to admit, I do know some people that believe they have found the perfect mate that satisfies all needs and fills all voids in their life but the other person in the relationship, the need satisfier and void filler, is never having a good life and at some level, the found the perfect mater knows this. Too much guilt for me. I'll take what I got.

Right Wing. Wrong Way.

Irving Kristol died. If he had spent the last sixty years mentoring the succeeding generations of intellectual youth, rising from the same bleak ghetto life that he did, instead of his pampered, dim witted, prep school educated son and his friends, the neocon cause could have really been something.

He didn't.

It isn't.

A life wasted.

A movement stillborn.

Saturday, September 19, 2009

Crumbling Infrastructure

We had the longest power blackout I ever remember here, yesterday evening. It lasted from about 5PM to 10PM. It covered several square miles. The power flickered on a few times during the incident but the current failed to hold. All the businesses closed early. Intersections were a mess. I took a nap. The infrastructure isn't the only thing failing around here. Sometimes it's good to be old.

It's nice to have a cheap, reliable car

About six months after reporting aboard the Seawolf, at MINSY, I bought a car. I had been in the Navy for a year and I had a little money. Most of the San Francisco Bay area had great public transportation. They were building the BART. Buses ran everywhere, day and night and cost a quarter. Transfers were free for the asking. Navy bases routinely provide frequent shuttle service between barracks areas and the main gate.

Our barracks was out in the middle of nowhere. I'm not sure I ever even saw a city bus in Vallejo. In order to get to San Francisco or even the East Bay, where there was good bus service, you had to take the Greyhound over the Carquinez Straits and down to San Raphael, at least. I needed a car.

A shipmate of mine, Bee Traven, an A gang striker, had a car to sell. He was broke, pretty much like always. With only a year left on his enlistment, he was having nightmares about having to become a lifer when his time was up. He wanted to start saving some money. For $350, I got possession of a 15 year old Ford Fairlane coupe. It was a good deal. The tires had tread. It ran smooth. I changed the oil every once in a while. Other than that I never put a nickle into it.

I tried to get car insurance. The insurance people just laughed at me. Nobody insured young, single sailors then. They probably don't now. The car had a red enlisted sticker on the window, from some previous owner, not Bee. He had no more chance of getting insurance than I. I just never got insurance. Nobody checked in those days. I had the sticker to get on base. You were supposed to scrape them off if you sold the car but nobody did.

I kept the car for a year. I was pretty liberal with its use. If somebody needed the car, I lent it to them. If they were going to a bar, I'd probably go along. People got arrested for driving drunk in that car but not me. Bee Traven borrowed it a lot. He was good about keeping the tank filled, if he had the money. I figured he had the car before and nothing bad ever happened. That's just the way sailors think. It's one of the reasons they're sailors. I had good times with that car.

After I had the car for a year. Bee Traven came to talk to me. He was getting discharged and was going home to Arizona. He needed a car. I figured what the fuck. He had always been a good shipmate. I sold it back to him for the same $350 that he had sold it to me for. No harm, no foul. I was starting to think about my own discharge at that point. I wanted some kind of van that I could sleep in if necessary.

About four months after Bee Traven was discharged, the local police contacted the XO. The Fairlane had been used in a hit and run in Arizona. Somebody got the license number of the car. An old lady had been run down. The car was found near by. It was still registered in California, in my name. Bummer.

I just said that the car had broken down and I didn't have the money to fix it. That I had parked the car and when it disappeared, I just assumed it had been towed. I never did anything about it because I didn't want to pay the towing fees and didn't have the money to fix the car anyway. The XO gave me the look he always gave me when I was lying. At least I think that's the look. It's the look he always gave me. He said he'd take care of it. I never heard anything more about it.

I knew I was in the clear. One thing the Navy does well is document daily where you are and what you're doing. On top of that, the boat was at sea when the incident happened and I was on the boat. I figured no need for any explanation beyond that. Sailors are really stupid, everybody knows that.

Friday, September 18, 2009

Another Exciting Weekend

This weekend is the Values Voters Summit in Washington DC. What is with that Family Research Council that's hosting it? I thought the guy that runs it, Tony Perkins, came out of the closet or died of AIDS and they shut down after that. I always get that wrong. I wish it were being televised. I would watch it. There will be at least a couple of inspirational speakers. Who would miss out on a chance to see Carrie Prejean? She will be wearing something low cut and tight across her ass, for sure. Her teeth are really white. What could be more inspirational than that?

Sarah can not be there. She is expecting the return of their oldest child, a soldier, from Iraq after a year away. She wants to be there when he gets home. What mother wouldn't. I bet she'll cook a great dinner for him. Doesn't seem like he's been gone that long. What's his name? Tranq? Trog? Track, that's it. I hope he can settle down now. Maybe take some welding classes at the local JC. I was so glad he was documented to be out of the country when Sarah's Church was arsoned, even though everybody knows it was homo commandos from San Francisco, mad that their Gay marriages all got annulled by Prop 8.

It is Rosh Hashanah this weekend. It's too bad all the Jewish supporters will not be able to attend. I'm sure it was a careless oversight on the part of the planning committee. Values voters love the Jews and stand behind Israel. It's a shame more Jews don't reciprocate. I hear most Jews are atheists, like cafeteria Catholics and Methodists.

The big PR talking point is the 2012 Presidential straw poll to be held there. Lots of talk about that. I don't know why. Sarah will get more votes than all the other contestants combined. It will be humiliating for Romney and Huckybuck. It's alright, they've had a lot of practice. It will be OK for every body else. None of them were going to get any votes anyway.

Thursday, September 17, 2009

When Is Glenn Beck On?

I've never seen the Glenn Beck Show. I've seen him on O'Rielly. I've seen him on specials, like last Saturday. I wondered why that was, so I checked the TV listings. Maybe it's different farther East but on the West Coast, he's on at 2PM and they don't replay him until 11PM. That's pretty sucky for him. O'Rielly gets 5 and 8, Hannity gets 6 and 9, Greta gets 7 and 10.

What does this tell us about who Fox thinks is watching Glenn. Bored housewives, old people, the unemployed, night owls? It occurs to me that the lack of advertisers for Glenn's show may have a lot more to do with the audience demographics, as a potential consumer base, than any ideological objection.

I would probably watch Glenn Beck if he was on when I was watching. Whether you agree with him or not, he's entertaining. An effeminate Mormon man, talking about patriotism and traditional American values is original, if nothing else. I may never see his actual show. The times are too weird. Why is Fox doing this? It's not a mistake. Scheduling is always very carefully considered by broadcasters. Maybe all of Glenn's viewers have TiVo.

Take A Deep Breath. Put That Hammer Down.

Ya gotta put things in perspective. There isn't any more racism in this country than there ever was. No more geographic division. No more religious mania. No more poverty. No more ignorance. No more graft and corruption. People aren't generally any stupider or ill informed. You can find differences because things do change but all things considered, it's not too much different than it ever was.

I'm not too worried about the Right taking us back to the way things were or the Left turning us all into Communists. Nothing like that has ever happened before. The current economic crisis isn't going to bring about the end of the World or even change it very much.

There have been great changes since I was young. There are a lot more of us. We are from a lot more diverse cultures and places. More of us live packed closer together, around fewer large megalopolises. The people are pretty much the same though. They have the same problems and the same aspirations. The real changes have been technological. We have a lot more access to each other through electronic media. Most people enjoy this and think it's a good thing but not everybody. There is never total agreement on anything.

Some old institutions are dying and new ones are taking their place. I don't think the new ones are better or the old ones were bad. It's just a reflection of what people want.

I think it's more fun living now than it was thirty or forty years ago. I think it will be even more fun thirty or forty years from now. I'm sorry I will be dead by then. Who knows, maybe they can make me into a cyborg brain and plug me into the net. I doubt it, my brain is wearing out right along with the rest of me. Maybe quicker.

I think that because it is a larger and more diverse society, the fringe groups are more wacky than ever. The groups targeted for discrimination are also farther out of the mainstream. This means it's easier than ever to leave the fringe and enter the mainstream or to avoid being targeted for discrimination. Since there are always going to be fringe groups and targets of discrimination, it's good that people don't have to be stuck there, if they don't want to be.

I try not to pretend that there aren't people a lot different than me out there. I have friends that do and believe stuff that sometimes I don't like to think about. I do think about it though. They're just people, like everybody else. They don't think they are doing anything bad. There are reasons that they are the way they are. If I can't appreciate that, it may be my problem. Even if they are bad people, if I hit them on the side of the head with my framing hammer, it makes me a bad person too. Can't have that.

People Keep Talking About Deflation. Even Economists.

A friend of mine has explained to me a couple of times now, why he believes the economic environment is deflationary. Since houses have lost so much value and people paid so much for them, many homes are going into foreclosure. They eventually are resold at much less than the amount of the mortgage. The homeowner loses his equity. The bank loses much of the money they loaned. My friend believes this money has "disappeared", like magic. Since so much money has disappeared, there is now less money, making it relatively more valuable and therefore capable of purchasing a greater amount. This is what my friend believes. He's a very smart guy but wrong about this.

The money that the house was once worth, is in the pocket of the last person that sold or refinanced it. Of course, it's not really in his pocket any more. Most of it was used to pay off high interest consumer debt. Irregardless, the money is alive and well and still very much around. The foreclosed upon home owner and the mortgage lender paid off the previous owner. What they have lost is perceived value in the property. A different thing, way different.

No money has been lost from the economy. In fact, much money has been added, to subsidize the loses on bad loans. Mostly it has been given to large financial institutions. The same ones who now surprisingly, are posting huge profits.

Another argument my friend likes to make, is that lower home prices will lower the cost of living. Not really. Most people couldn't afford the inflated prices housing had reached. Interest rates were and still are being kept artificially low and payments were arranged so that no part of the principle was being paid off. In many cases only a small part of the interest was paid, so that the principle increased each month. This is still going on, despite previous disastrous results.

I don't think we are going to be seeing deflation any time soon. Does it cost you less to live than last year? In order for America to even begin to pay off the huge debts in both the public and private sectors, we need wholesale inflation. Hopefully, it will only be high inflation, for a long time. The alternative is monster inflation for a short time, culminating in the destruction of our monetary system. No one wants that. Even our worst enemies. This will be the only reason it may not happen.

Traveling Around Cheap

When I was a teenager and a little older, hitch hiking around, I always traveled with a back pack. Usually, I could catch a few Zs during rides. If I was out in the country, I could set up camp in a secluded spot. I had a small nylon pup tent and a light sleeping bag. In big cities, if you asked around, there was usually a youth shelter you could go to for free in the basement of a church somewhere. During the Summer, College dormitories would put you up for a dollar or two, that was a great deal. If I was staying someplace for a while, I would look for a situation where I could get a place to stay, for free. It's not that hard and when you're young and traveling around, you have time to do it.

Once I got a little older, life got a little more complicated and I had a few obligations, especially related to time. I had to pay for rooms. There were cheap hostels around and YMCA hotels. They were clean and friendly. If they weren't available I would look for an old, large, commercial hotel in the bad part of town. These are the kind of places where the rooms are the size of closets. They have a single bed, a chair, and if you're lucky, a wash basin that you never want to use for anything other than a urinal. Toilets and showers are at the end of the hall. They don't necessarily change the sheets between guests. You ask for a towel. It costs extra and you leave a deposit. They rent rooms by the day, week or month. They have vermin. It's OK, they don't hurt you. You never leave anything in the room when you're not there. When you check in, you let them tell you the price, then tell them you need the sailor's discount. They'll cut the price in half, sometimes more. There was a place in San Francisco, the Apex Hotel, in the tenderloin, where I liked to stay in the late Seventies. Cheap hotel/motel rooms went for $8-$12 then. They charged me $2. Inflation was horrible then. Once they knew me, they never raised the price.

I'm sure there are still places where young travelers can stay for cheap, even for free, if they use a little initiative. The World never really changes. I do though. I'm old now. Big difference. I book ahead on the internet. I use sites like Hotwire and Priceline. The cheapest rooms I can usually wrangle anywhere, are in the $30-$40 dollar range. They are very basic but OK. For a few dollars more and I really mean just a few, I can get a much nicer room, in a nearly luxury establishment. I usually shell out for that. Why not, I've got the money, at least today I do. I like San Francisco. I can usually get very nice rooms there for $45-$55 dollars. If you book these same places on retail sites like Expedia or Orbitz, they charge $100 minimum. A lot of times it's $30-$40 more. If you walk up to the desk with your suitcase in hand, fagidaboudit.

The best deal I ever got, was for a friend of mine. Last spring she spent a week in NYC. She and her husband were going to share a room at the YMCA, bathroom down the hall, at $120 a night. I got her a top floor, concierge service room, at the new midtown Wyndham Garden, two blocks from Penn Station, $75 a night for the whole week, on Priceline. Retail sites were quoting around $200. The desk was quoting $325 then and this Summer, $500 for a standard room. She owes me. She also now thinks I'm some kind of intertube genius. I'm just cheap.

Wednesday, September 16, 2009

So What Party Does This Guy Join Now?

A friend of mine mentioned something the other day. I didn't think about it much at the time but some of the names and situations he mentioned have been popping up all over the web. I thought I'd take a look.

Charles Johnson is a guy who runs a site called Little Green Footballs. He's both a neocon and social conservative. When I started blogging, a few years ago, his site was one of the biggest. I think I might even have been banned off it once or twice.

I don't think he's changed any of his beliefs. What he's done though, is start to point out ethnocentric hatred within both the Left and Right. Two of the institutions he has been hardest on are Fox News and The Washington Times. He has been active in pointing out many who work for these institutions who have ties to racist and supremacist organizations and are themselves racists and crypto Nazis. It's not that unusual, there are still many within the Right Wing who are not racist, religious or cultural bigots, say so and point out hate on both sides of the political spectrum. What's unusual is that the followers of the wing nut creed have united to excoriate, attack and ostracize him for his views, with the result that few of the true believers continue to visit the site.

It's clear that being a social conservative, no matter how strongly held your beliefs, is no longer enough. You have to drink the Kool Aid.

There is a flaw in their promotional strategy here. I can't quite put my finger on it. I thought the idea was to get as many people as you could into a movement. That's how the term, Big Tent, was popularized.

Fox News. Beacon of Freedom.

Why do people think that Fox News is conservative. They aren't conservative at all. By far the most conservative news channel available to most Americans is CNBC, part of NBC, a subsidiary of the GE Corporation.

Fox doesn't really address any of the classic conservative issues, whereas CNBC addresses them daily. Fox frequently brings in liberal guests and has it's own stable of housebroken liberal commentators. CNBC features a completely conservative news staff and the guests are usually anything but bleeding heart liberals.

The fact is that Fox isn't conservative at all. They are the cable news equivalent of the National Enquirer and other tabloids that cater to the American lumpen proletariat, with stories about lurid sex, three headed babies, Space aliens and the current fattest person in the World.

The people that get their opinions from Fox believe it's the real stuff. It's sad. Let's get those death panels up and running so we can do something about these folks. We really need to end their suffering.

Tuesday, September 15, 2009

Abortion, A Gift From God

I'm not concerned that abortion will be recriminalized in America, or anywhere else. The Supreme court ruled on Roe vs Wade when I was in my early twenties. In the three and a half decades since then, the anti abortion forces have gotten exactly nowhere. It took them almost a decade of concerted effort to get the partial birth abortion ban. It was a sop. Even abortion's strongest foes admit that it will never stop a single, solitary woman from having a safe, legal abortion, any time she wants one, during any trimester of her pregnancy. The culture of life people are now moving into a new crusade, for the legitimization of "personhood", that will extend legal rights as far up the reproductive cycle as haploid sex cells. Every little boy that whacks off will become an instant mass murderer. I couldn't have thought up a bigger and more futile time waster. I am satisfied that abortion will be available in this country, for the foreseeable future and certainly during the rest of my lifetime.

I like the abortion issue because it is so rancorous and divisive of the American people. It helps to keep the left and right nicely polarized. It draws a huge amount of money and volunteer time away from other right wing causes. The shrill, strident, angry demeanor of the anti-choicers marginalizes the Right and makes them appear to be mentally unstable, religious fanatics to the majority of Americans. The anti abortion cause has also been instrumental in attracting other, even more deranged, quasi-religious fringe groups, to the Right. Creationists, woman subjugaters, chastity fetishists, home schoolers, Zionist end of days Armageddon anticipaters, you name it. Practically every wingnut whack job with a drool bib and a hard on for the literal truth of mistranslated and garbled scripture, now considers him/her self an annointed leader of the Republican party. Many of them, in fact, are. In just a few short decades, the social conservative movement, although there is nothing social or conservative about it, has eaten through the guts of the Republican party like cancer, leaving it a mewling invalid, dripping foul putrescence and lying helpless in it's own toxic waste product.

I used to think it would take decades for the Republicans to purge the scumbags. I've recently taken to thinking they aren't going to be able to get rid of them at all. Whatever remnants of real humanity are left, will probably have to form a new party. That will take awhile. It might even be a better party. I might even join. They'll have to get rid of the neocons first though. They're even worse than the fucking Christers.

Monday, September 14, 2009

Just because it's a simple problem doesn't mean an easy solution

Barry talked to Wall Street on Monday. He says the economy is turning around and that unemployment figures are topping out. I gotta disagree there. I think the economy is just starting to tank and unemployment will eventually get a lot worse.

Barry thinks that a lot of the economic downturn is the fault of reckless and risky machinations by Wall Street bankers and traders. I think most of the stuff they were doing was being encouraged by the government to forestall an economic downturn, not the cause of it. I don't think more regulation will help. It's true most Wall Street guys will and do steal anything that isn't nailed down but bulls like to fuck cows too, it's in the nature of the beast. It's not like they invented greed or that Wall Street guys just recently started robbing everybody blind. It's always been that way

The United States isn't competitive. We produce too little at too high a cost and consume too much while doing it. It's been that way for a long time. No big mystery but not that easy to find a scapegoat to blame. The truth is we are all to blame. Everybody wants something for nothing. Easy money. I'm just along for the ride. Unfortunately that's not the way it works. The bill is coming due. No way to duck it. No way to pay it. Bummer.

Patrick Swayze, Dead

Patrick Swayze died today of pancreatic cancer. Can't say I was really a fan. I liked Red Dawn a lot but it was the old guys that really made the movie great. Ben Johnson, Harry Dean Stanton. Powers Boothe. William Smith was great and so was that guy who was Super Fly. Who remembers his name? Not me. You don't see them much. You really get your money's worth from John Milius.

Patrick lasted a couple of years after he was diagnosed. Usually it's only a matter of weeks. I guess he was a fighter.

He probably drank and smoked too much. He should have paced himself better. I'm probably not the best guy to make pronouncements like that, if you know what I mean. I'm not any older than he was and it wouldn't exactly be a big surprise if I got the same news tomorrow.

It's a shame. The guy had it made. Now somebody else will get the money and the good life. Not me. On the other hand, I am still alive. That's something.

Saturday, September 12, 2009

Glenn Beck's 9/12 March on Washington

Is your heart all aflutter this morning? It's the day of Glenn Beck's much anticipated, 9/12 March on Washington. Numbers in attendance as high as two million are being bandied about.

Even if they don't get that many people, it should still be good. I can't wait to turn on Fox News and check out the funny hats and signs. I'm sure they won't disappoint. Maybe Greta will do some interviews of the participants. She's so beautiful, I love to watch her. That plastic surgery really enhanced her already glowing, natural beauty. I personally find her more alluring than Sarah and that's really saying something.

Maybe Glenn will finally speak out and dispel those vicious rumors about the 1990 rape/murder of the little girl that he allegedly committed. Those damn Obamacrats, have they no shame?

Live Blogging Updates:

Glenn is wonderful. He says it's not about politics, race, class or wealth. It's about the elimination of spiritual wickedness in high places. Glenn says he is undergoing a great renewal of faith and that's what the founders would have wanted for this country. He just wants us all to come together today as Americans. What a revelation!

Glenn says we need to find fifty six leaders in America, the same number that signed the Declaration of Independence, to rally around. These fifty six leaders, people like himself and Sarah Palin, will fight to rid the country of the corruption of Godlessness and Communism, characterized by organizations such as ACORN, that are strangling the basic ideals that this country was founded on. Then America will be the strongest nation in the World once more. He says all good Americans, even Democrats and some Negros, will realize the rightness of this. This movement will start in places like Texas, where the people are naturally more pure and righteous. Who could argue with that? I have always recognized the basic superiority of the Texican race. I think most people do. So pure, so fair, so unbiased. I'm sure he means Utah as well but his natural humility precludes him from mentioning it in public. He's truly one of nature's gentlemen.

It's good that Glenn is keeping the politicians out of the spotlight at this Tea Party today. The only two he's talked to, so far, that are there and I'm sure there are many, are Jim De Ment (SC) and Mike Pence (IN). No one can argue with their honesty and integrity. They both come from States where violent racism and organizations like the Ku Klux Klan were so strong, for so long, that the politicians from there now go out of their way to be completely fair, honest and unbiased, just like Glenn and the rest of the staff at Fox News. I'm sure he would have had a couple of the better Democratic Congressmen on, to balance things out, if there were any who aren't Atheists and Communists. Joe Lieberman probably isn't available today, it's his Sabbath, you know. He's a Liberal but a good man, you can just tell.

I have to quit now. My heart is so full with the pride of being American that I can't go on. I'm going to go sit quietly in my backyard and cry. Maybe after that, I'll sacrifice a goat and burn it on my alter.

Wrap up: There is no consensus on how many were in attendance at Glenn's big Tea Party in Washington, today. Media outlets never ventured to report more than "thousands". Somebody found a local fireman paramedic on the scene, who said his organization was using 60,000 as a working number. Conservative spinners are quoting between 250,000 and 1.2 million. No liberal spinners are in evidence. They are pretending it didn't happen. One thing for sure. The crowd was all white. Lower middle class. Not burdened with an excess of education. You can spin it anyway you want but the main objective of this demonstration was to promote the social values of White separatist, Christian fundamentalist, social conservatives. We used to call them Neo Nazis but there are more of them now, without so much blatantly inflammatory rhetoric and skin art. Meet the founding fathers of the second American revolution.

One last question. What does Glenn Beck's Million Moron March have to do with 9/11 and the continuing Global War on Terrorism, that the Right seems to have completely forgotten about, along with George W. Bush, except when jostling and mumbling insults under their breath at a fat, silent, dark robed, Islamic woman, standing alone in the supermarket checkout line? Yeah, they're really standing at the gates of Vienna.

There is no doubt Glenn has tapped into something significant here but is he building a vital political movement or simply draining foul pus from the wounds of a bitter and septic White racist minority?

Friday, September 11, 2009

Shake and Bake

If you don't count Vatican City, the most orthodox Catholic nation in the World is the tiny island nation of Malta. Even there, the younger generations are fast becoming secularized. After that the European Countries of Ireland, Spain, Portugal and Italy are probably the most strongly Catholic. Compared to most of the Catholic World fifty years ago, these countries would be considered wildly liberal. Birth control is practiced universally, abortion, divorce and open homosexuality are all routinely accepted, even if they are still illegal. The Church is being pushed out of its institutionalized participation within the governments in all of these nations. In Africa, one of the few places the church is still growing, both the laity and clergy universally reject celibate priests and many priests are illicitly married. In Latin America, indigenous Catholics are openly returning to the traditional worship of their cultures, supplanted by the Catholic conquistadors, more than 400 years ago.

The most economically elevated Catholic populations live in Europe and North America. In lifestyle and social belief, they are no different from their secular brothers and sisters. The international church has always counted on this group to fund their activities but as their dissatisfaction with the church grows, they are slowly turning off the tap of donations.

The current Pope was elevated to the position in extreme old age and was the leader of the church's most conservative faction. He is frantically creating new bishops and cardinals whose beliefs match his own, making it less and less likely that when he dies, certainly within the next decade, the next Pope will be more enlightened. This new Pope is setting the stage for a cataclysmic power struggle within the church.

It will be fun to watch.

Republicans Remember the Iraqi Attacks on the World Trade Center Eight Years Ago Today

Most Republicans now believe that the World is only several thousand years old, a place where dinosaurs and man coexisted during historic times. They believe that our President is not really a citizen but a Manchurian candidate, who is at the same time a Communist, an Islamic Jihadist, a Kenyan Black nationalist, a Hitleresque Nazi and an extremely stupid individual, who only got into the schools he did because of affirmative action and got the grades he did as a gift. They believe a slightly different but equally convoluted story about his wife and for that matter, every college educated African American in the country. Most Republicans now believe that abortion and many if not most forms of contraception are murder. They also believe that if a person has a living will that directs no medical treatment or heroic measures past a certain point, it's murder as well.

Most Republicans believe that Democrats are subversive liberals, bent on destruction of the American way of life. They will admit, if pressed, that these people should neither be allowed to hold public office or any responsible position, teach school or even be left alone with children nor participate in the national defense by serving in the armed forces. They will deny that any church where liberals are active, is an appropriate venue for Christian worship.

Most Republicans are wildly optimistic in their claim of no more than average intelligence and do not trust anybody that is "too smart". Their choice of leadership reflects this.

This country is fucked up. Let's get those death panels formed up and start getting rid of this human pond scum while we're still in charge.

Tuesday, September 08, 2009

Great New Internet Community Of Interest

I'm not saying this is true. In fact I think it may not be. Still, I think it's something that should be discussed openly and honestly.

If there is not some basis in fact for this, why is Glenn Beck trying to shut this website down and others like it? Why doesn't he come forward with evidence that it's not true. The fact that he doesn't leads me to believe there might be something to this.

Mr Beck has already succeeded in shutting down the original website. We will not be stopped until the full truth is known.

Quiet Time With A friend

I was talking to a friend the other day. A smart, vivacious person with varied interests, who speaks all the Romance languages fluently. She is a talented painter, sex addict and recovering alcoholic. She moved to Paris with her mother right after the War ended. She learned her languages in convent schools there. She learned to drink with the urchins in the streets and alleyways. She learned about sex from a succession of US Army officers who were her stepfather. She told me about a weekend in the late sixties when she became so distraught about her uncontrolled behavior that she went home and shut herself in her apartment for two days. It was the most abstemptious time she spent for many years before or after.

She still managed to have sex nine times with six different partners between Friday afternoon and Monday morning and go through several bottles of wine.

As we talked, I was lounging sideways on an overstuffed chair with my feet up on the arm of a couch next to it. She was sitting on the couch, turned toward me, her ample left breast resting comfortably on the arch of my right foot. Beautiful smile. Sleepy eyes. French convent girl.

I wish she had been my friend, in those days. If I had lived a few miles North, she probably would have been my French teacher in high school.

Still. Better late than never.

Monday, September 07, 2009

Small Boys Live For Danger

A popular thing to give little boys used to be chemistry sets. You could buy them in the toy sections of department stores. Some were pretty extensive and some were very basic. When I was eight I had a cheap one. There wasn't that much I could do with it but it got me thinking.

One of the things it got me interested in was smelting metal. You have to generate a pretty high heat to melt steel, aluminium or even copper. I never got there. I could melt lead though. That was easy. I would pour gasoline into a coffee can that had a lot of holes punched into it a couple of inches up. I'd put in a grate made from coat hangers and place a smaller steel can, like deviled ham came in, on the grate. In the grate I'd put in lead, usually fishing sinkers from my father's tackle box. After I lit up the gasoline, I hooked up the hose to the exhaust vent of my mom's vacuum cleaner and blew across the surface of the burning fuel. It got plenty hot. Lead would melt down right away in that. Then using some kitchen tongs I could take the little can with molten lead and pour it into a sand cast mold. I also thought it was neat to pour it down ant hills. The lead would form a perfect impression of the subterranean ant trails. It would also kill a lot of ants.

Another thing I tried to do was make gun powder. Theoretically it should be pretty simple. It's just sulfur, charcoal and saltpeter, ground fine and mixed. I could never find a recipe of the exact proportions. By experimenting, I could get a fairly volatile mixture but I never got anything that could be termed violently explosive. Probably just as well. One time I took a couple rolls of caps from a toy gun and pried off the dots of gun powder into a plastic medicine bottle. I got a small but significant amount of gunpowder that way. I thought maybe I could make a large firecracker or small bomb with it. It was all lumpy though. I wasn't sure it would work like that. I put the cap on the medicine bottle and shook it up. It worked fine. I couldn't hear anything but a high whine in my head for the rest of the day. I still don't think the hearing in my right ear is as good as the other one. It's a good thing I didn't have my thumb over the cap on the bottle. A fella really gets a lot of use out of his thumbs.

Margaret and Helen

I don't know how many of you look at my blog list. If you don't, I recommend it. Some of those featured there are authored by people that not only read my blog but leave comments. I am profoundly grateful to those few and respect them immensely, what ever their persuasions. I admire each of them. Others on the list, have blogs I read, some more than others, for any number of reasons.

One of the best blogs on my list, probably the best, is Helen and Margaret. It's just an old woman, living in America's heartland writing in letter form to her life long best friend. No art, no links, no graphics, no embedded videos. Sometimes her letters are sweet, sometimes funny, often profane. The only point of view presented is her own. It's one of the best blogs rolling around through the inner tubes. You should check it out sometimes. Don't take my word for it. In the couple years I've been reading her, I've never seen a post, even the most mundane, that didn't get hundreds of enthusiastic commenters. I'm not exaggerating, hundreds. A successful blogger will get several comments on every post and get a real discussion going, if they strike the right cord. I'm happy to get a couple comments a week and often don't.

Her latest post has a great title.

"Michelle Bachman's Burning Bush. There's A Pill For That."

Hilarious and mean at the same time and I don't think she even has a clue. Makes it even better.

Crush That Oxycontin

I just have cheap basic cable service. I don't get channels like HBO or Show Time. If I want to see any of their award winning dramatic productions, I wait until the series has finished its run and and rent it. Sometimes I spend a whole weekend watching one marathon style. I like that.

Show Time has a new series about an immoral, substance abusing nurse starring Edie Falco. I haven't seen it. I've heard and read a little about it. It's got to be more true to life in its depiction of a fairly sizable minority of the American nursing community, than you usually see on television, even if it is exaggerated and laced with dark humor. Attempts by State Boards and employers to weed out drug addled, miscreant nurses are laughable. There are plenty around. I could tell you some amazing stories. Doctors routinely have even worse problems. They can get away with more and do.

One of the things I've heard about Edie's character on the show, is how she breaks up illicitly obtained, time released, pain meds to get the whole jolt all at once. I like to think I'm an intelligent and "in the know" kind of guy but this technique has never occurred to me, although now that I know about it, I can see it would obviously be very effective. I've never heard anyone discuss the technique on the job, even in ERs, where the habits of drug seekers are endlessly dissected. Just shows you how old, clueless and in the way I have become, that or how much everybody else thinks I'm an old narc, waiting to drop a dime.

Everyone out there, crushing your time release pain meds, have a good time. Don't take too much.

Saturday, September 05, 2009

The Death Penalty

I read this article in The New Yorker magazine. It's seventeen pages long. I don't expect you'll want to read it but it's a good one. I am a sceptic and do not believe the subject of this article has been proven innocent but neither would I condemn him to death. What do you do in a situation like this? In the State of Texas, they fry them anyway.

It brings up a topic I've written about before and will write about again, the death penalty.

I don't have a problem with the death penalty, for crimes that as a society, we agree it is appropriate for. I have a problem with the execution of the innocent, for crimes which they did not commit.

There should be a higher standard for imposition of the death penalty, than simply no reasonable doubt. There should be no doubt at all. Certainly many who commit horrible crimes will escape the death penalty if this becomes the standard but even one innocent person saved from execution would justify it.

A lot of people tried for capital crimes receive shoddy trials in communities where there are few resources to spare investigating what really happened. Once convicted, inmates awaiting execution have so many opportunities for appeal that tremendous resources can be expended in an attempt to exonerate them and even if proven innocent, an overburdened system often ignores the proof and they die anyway.

Some people sentenced to die have been proven innocent and released. Even more have their innocence made public after they are already dead. This is not acceptable. 75% guilty is not a passing grade for capital punishment but in many jurisdictions, the record of the courts is not much better than that. Our current system has proven to not be a just one. There is a lot that can be said about the system being unfair to people by virtue of their race, class, wealth, education and other factors. That's the subject of another rant. It's not pertinent here.

My only other strong feeling about the death penalty, is that it should be carried out in public view, before all who wish to attend and as close to the community in which the crime was committed as possible. Carrying out the sentence in some remote location, hidden away from view, sends the wrong message about the death penalty to those of us who live in a society that endorses it.

Friday, September 04, 2009

Hurricaines Off Baja.

It's been very warm and humid here for a couple of weeks. I'm not whining. Most places inland in California, not to mention Nevada, Arizona and New Mexico are always hell holes, all Summer long. We have been getting up into the high eighties under bright Sun by early afternoon with humidity in the same high eighties, comparatively mild. I got no AC, many coastal dwellers don't, so it seems uncomfortable. It comes down to the mid seventies by dawn.

The reason for this weather, is a series of tropical storms forming in unusually warm seas, South of Baja that move North before dissipating. Pretty unusual for this part of the World. I've never experienced a hurricane here in SoCal. Doesn't mean it won't ever happen. A lot of the SoCal coast is high and cliffy, so no big flooding risk there. The riverbeds that drain to the sea, however, are miles wide, extending to the base of the foothills far inland, not much above sea level and filled with buildings. If a twenty foot storm surge with high winds hit the coast, there would be storm damage of historic proportions. I don't think a lot of the destruction would ever be rebuilt.

I wouldn't mind, that much. Might be kind of nice. Give the wildlife a little more running room. Parkland and recreational areas for the young folks to frolic. Natural settling basins, to replenish the aquifers.

What do you think about this economy?

It's been more than two years since I decided that the American economy was in big trouble and liquidated all my investments. That call turned out to be good. I've got to say though that since then, much of what I thought would happen has not. Investments that I thought would pay off, have not and I'm poorer for it. I've also lost about 50% of the equity in my home.

I thought that a lot more jobs would have been lost. I thought that a lot more corporations would have gone under. I thought the combination of decreasing tax revenue, coupled with the huge deficits the government would have to run would cause massive inflation. That has not been the case. The equities markets have not gone down as much as I thought they would and we are in the midst of a steady market recovery. Economists in the government and outside of it, maintain that the economy is in a sustainable recovery. I don't see how that can be.

Would some of you out there please tell me what you think of the situation? Recovery? Yes? No? Are things getting better or worse? Is real estate a good deal now? Are you investing your money and if so, what in and why? If you're not investing, what are you waiting for and how are you sheltering whatever funds you have left?

How is your job situation? Are you worried about layoffs? Have you lost a job? Are you making less than you were last year? How about others in your family and circle of friends? Are you making ends meet or going deeper in debt?

I'd really like to know.

Tuesday, September 01, 2009

They Say Sailors Always Look Like Prisoners Or Garbage Men, So?

The Navy is getting a new camouflage, fatigue style, working uniform with the pants bloused into boots and pointy crowned, Marine style caps. Very Butch. Reaction is mixed. I don't care about it. I don't have to wear it. It looks heavy and uncomfortable but what do I know. Maybe it's great.

In the Seventies, they changed the working uniform every year or two for several years. They couldn't make you stop wearing the old ones, unless they paid you to buy a whole new kit, so by the mid late seventies there were several concurrently authorized uniforms to choose from. At muster on the pier in the morning, you could see several different working uniforms among the crew. There ended up even being a contingent of hard core individualists, who mixed and matched the various articles of clothing that they liked best, from all of the several authorized dungaree outfits and several unauthorized styles dating back as far as World War II. It was an XO's nightmare.

My own personal favorite working uniform, was issued for a year or so in the very early Seventies, a few years before I was even in the Navy. It was probably the least popular dungaree ensemble ever authorized by the US Navy, worst looking and loathed by officers and men alike. I loved it. You could buy the shirts and pants in the thrift shops out in town, like new, not even stenciled, for pennies. Off duty guys wouldn't even wear this uniform to fix the car or paint the bathroom, so their wives gave them to the Goodwill or Salvation Army. I wore this uniform almost all the time, up until my discharge.

The top was a blue, pullover jumper made of an indestructible but soft, polyester blend, cut real loose, authorized with long sleeves only. This meant it was acceptable to roll up the sleeves, whenever and however much you wanted. It was meant to be worn loose, outside the pants. If you tucked it in, you were out of spec. I tryed to find XLs and XXLs in extra long, so that they came down about halfway to my knees. If I didn't have a belt on, nobody could tell. If my fly wasn't zipped up nobody could tell. These are important considerations when you're drunk a lot of the time. It was impossible to wrinkle this material and most things that usually stain clothing just beaded up and rolled off it. Originally, there must have been some type of iron on or sew on Crow authorized for this jumper but I never saw anyone wearing it. I'm sure it had ceased to be available for purchase long before I ever enlisted. I was happy to let everyone assume I was still a Seaman. The pants were like baggy, straight legged Army fatigues, with big pockets, that you could put a lot of stuff in and was hidden by the hanging shirt tail. They were so dark blue they were almost black. Everybody liked to wear real tight pants in those days. The denim dungaree bell bottoms were real popular. The pants of this uniform were totally loose and shapeless. Gave your balls plenty of room to breath. I had a guy tell me once that the worst thing about my favorite dungaree jumper, was that it was made totally from petrochemical derived plastic fibers and prone to burst into flames, then melt into your skin. The only way to get the burning jumper off, once blazing, was to yank it over your head, leaving you horribly disfigured for life. I thought about that. I had seen sailors crushed, broken, dismembered, mangled, perforated, sliced, steamed, electrified and several combinations of each. I had never seen one burst into flames. I kept wearing the dungarees. I even liked them better than poopie suits at sea, unless the temperature really started to creep up there.

The true genius of this dungaree outfit was the uniformity of it's crappy appearance. You really couldn't tell if the wearer had just put on a clean outfit or if he had worn it through a three day drunk and slept in the parking lot of the Horse and Cow. My kind of sailor suit. They should really give it another look as a sartorial option for today's modern, active, sailor lads.

Great Men?

We think of universal civil rights, for all races, ethnicitys, genders and political ideologies as uniquely American ideals and that idea may now have some real currency. It wasn't always the case and not so very long ago. The KKK didn't just preach hatred, separation and suppression of Blacks within our society but for a host of other groups as well. When mainstream American culture considered itself to be White, protestant and Western European, they didn't act too kindly toward or grant many opportunities to anyone else.

When John Kennedy, a Catholic, got elected President, it was a big deal. He needed to make very clear that he was going to act in the interest of and work to advance and protect the rights of all Americans and he did. It was unfair to demand this of a man when no other President had ever concerned himself with it but that's the way it was. He wasn't President for very long. He made some bad mistakes while he was. You can argue that JFK was afflicted with many personal and political weaknesses and you wouldn't be wrong but on that one important issue of equal opportunity for all Americans, he tried hard to keep his promise.

JFK was a Catholic. Many in this country never thought letting in large numbers of Catholics was a good idea. They thought that the Church exercised too great an influence over its adherents in secular matters as well as spiritual. JFK said the Church would never speak through him. While he was President, everyone in the country saw that this was true. After his Presidency, nobody ever looked at race, religion, gender, social class or political ideology the same way again.

If John and Bobby paid with their lives to put a down payment on tolerance of diversity in America, Teddy was the one who paid off the debt through a lifetime of service. He had nothing in common with the people he championed. He got nothing for that championship from his peer group. Like his brothers, he was a man of intemperate appetites and fatal flaws. The desire to retire from public service and indulge himself in private life, must have been overwhelming. He didn't. He, more than any other man in the last half century, at great cost to himself, has changed the way Americans regard each other.

Even though the image of JFK has tarnished over the years. No other President maintains such a following. You see his image displayed prominently in the homes of all kinds of people. On the mantle, or piano, embossed on a decorative plate above the kitchen stove.

None of the Kennedys may be the guy you want your kids to grow up to emulate. If you are their coreligionist, you may see them as heretics. Were they great men? They'll have to do until somebody better comes along. It may be awhile.

Not many but some in the Catholic Church want to take back the legacy of the Kennedy brothers. It's not a good idea. They are welcome to try. It's still a free country, so far.

The smell of old boar meat

Have you ever cooked and eaten the meat of an uncastrated old boar? It's tough and stringy. If you soak it in something acidic, like vinegar or lime juice for a day or two beforehand, it's better. It doesn't taste bad but when it's cooking, the house fills up with a strong, acrid smell. Testosterone, the meat's full of it.

Now that I'm getting old, when I piss, the bathroom fills up with the same smell. Same reason. I'm saturated in testosterone and probably related androgens as well. You'd think that the effect of this might be an increase in sex drive. It's not. My sex drive is nothing like it was twenty years ago but it clearly affects my personality. I'm a lot more solitary. There is a lot of suspiciousness involved when I interact with others, resulting in much higher background levels of meanness and paranoia. I think I control it pretty well but it's always there. I'm here to tell ya. You should be very careful in your dealings with uncastrated old men. They're prone to an unpleasant turn of mind.

Trekking Across The Transvaal, North of the Limpopo, Way North

White South Africans continue to leave. It's a good thing and a bad thing. For them, it's mostly a good thing.

There's a lot of White South Africans here in SoCal. Many dating back to the fall of apartheid. I've worked and socialized with some of them, over the years. They know they aren't ever going home. They can get pretty maudlin about it late at night after a little too much to drink.

I know one little group, tough old boys with scarred and leathery skin, from the Cape, who went for years as mercenaries to Rhodesia, in their youth. They mostly have their own little businesses, construction, carpentry, mechanics. Nice guys. Good surfers. They go to church. They aren't racists, at least not here. They knew they couldn't stay in South Africa. They don't always have a gun on them but usually some kind of weapon and always a firearm in the car. If you're one of those that thinks the end of the World is coming soon, you should move into their neighborhood. They can help you through it. They've already been there.

Whole extended families, even communities of Whites, have left the countries of Southern and Eastern Africa. They weren't stupid. The writings been on the wall over there so long it's faded and been painted over. Doesn't make it less true.

Their kids are grown now. They don't even remember South Africa. The blood stained sjambok is just an old piece of brittle, bug eaten, elephant hide in the closet. The songs of the Voortrekker are just what grampa and his friends sing, when they have too much to drink, late at night, before they start crying. The image of ox-wagons, laagered at dusk, smoke rising from the cook fire at the center, is not a cultural icon for them. None of them will be going back to the Transvaal or the Orange Free State, ever.

Ghost House

The guy across the street from me has his house up for sale. It's an unusual situation. When he bought the place, new, he was a young retiree. He also has a place up in the local mountains by a lake where he usually stays when in SoCal but mostly he and his wife have lived out of State, in the Pacific North West. I think he bought the place because he has two kids that live in town. He ended up hardly ever staying there. Sometimes as little as two weekends a year. Never more than two weeks total. For more than thirty years. He would have been better off staying in a nice hotel at the beach when he was in town. Even assuming he bought the place for cash, when you add up all the taxes, utilities, association fees and other expenses of ownership, I don't think he's going to come out too much ahead.

The place looks kind of nice right now, like a mid seventies time capsule. I think whoever buys it is going to have big problems. Once someone starts living there a lot of things are going to degrade quickly. It's not good for stuff to sit unused for three decades. The plumbing and wiring will go bad. The heating system won't work. The windows and screens will come apart. Once people start taking showers in the bathrooms and the humidity fluctuates, the wall paper will delaminate from walls all over the house. The carpet will disintegrate. The kitchen will be a disaster area. There's going to be all kinds of pitfalls open up when somebody gives that house a little use. Guy wants way too much for it. He's trying for what it was worth last year. Even if he comes down a lot it won't be a good deal. I don't think whoever buys it will get away with spending much less than $100,000, right off the bat to keep it habitable. If they hired a good contractor, anxious to keep his crew busy and did everything at once, they could get away cheaper. What are the chances of that?

Nice Room. Zero Tolerance

We were the only sub home ported at MINSY. We spent a lot of time there and a lot of that time the sub was torn up, in dry dock or both. We had our own barracks. Even better, our barracks originally housed the Marines that crewed the shore battery at the mouth of the Napa river. There wasn't much else out there. The terrain was hilly, grassy, lightly wooded. Nice. When it was built, somebody had gone out of their way to make the building look nice. It was done up in stucco, with a tile roof and veranda in the Spanish colonial style. Had some hedges, a little fountain and fish pond in the front. Inside it was a standard open bay barracks, two story, with showers and shitters at one end. We had guys with all the skills and it was a Navy shipyard, plenty of building material. Crew did all the renovations needed. They did it up nice. They framed, drywalled and wired in, mostly four man rooms. Even had coaxial connections from a big TV antenna on the roof to all the rooms. Me and a forward ET did that. There were some nice one man accommodations, for really senior guys who were single or lived too far away to commute. When I reported aboard, I got a two man room and the next guy that reported would be my roommate. It had just been enclosed from part of a large day room. There was an old pool table somebody had scrounged up in there and a beer machine. Pretty loud, day and night. A lot of people watching you come and go. Not that great for a drunk but what the hell.

A few months later I got lucky. A Third Class special projects guy was mustering out. He had a single room and nobody else wanted it. What it was, really, was the old barracks towel closet, situated by a side entrance that led into the showers, not one of the rooms we had framed in and wired. It had a window and was probably ten by twelve feet. Not that small. Had a florescent ceiling light and one plug outlet. Most guys wanted a refrigerator, stereo and TV in their room, at least. Would've been small for that and probably blown fuses like crazy. Maybe that had something to do with why it went begging. All I had was a cheap, thrift shop clock/radio. There was a bed, a small, open cabinet to hang clothes in, small chest of drawers, a little writing table and chair under the window and a small couch. It all fit in nicely. The Navy always has plenty of real small furniture. The guy before me had put down a square of nubby carpet. Comfy. Big, heavy Dutch door. The bottom half had a counter top attached. The the two halves could be connected by a steel bolt and the entire door secured by a heavy hasp and padlock, on the outside. That was good. Most of the rooms there were easy to break into and the fact that we were all shipmates aside, theft was pretty common. Sailors at sea and ashore are two different animals. Been that way for thousands of years. It'll be that way for thousands more. Don't ever let anyone tell you otherwise. I liked the room. I stayed there for the rest of my enlistment.

Maybe six weeks after I moved in, they came through with drug sniffing dogs. This was the mid seventies and drugs were ubiquitous at every level of society in those days. Everybody smoked weed. I'm not gonna say I didn't do drugs at that time but mostly I indulged for purposes of social bonding with those that did. After a friendly toke or two, upon meeting a new friend, I always turned it down. Nobody minded. More for them. I never bought any weed or kept any around. I had been through my drug phase. Beer was fine with me. Hard liquor if somebody else was buying. I never got used to paying more than the $10 a lid that grass cost me as a kid. Turned out, there were a few marijuana seeds under the cushions of my little couch left by the last guy. Dogs went right to it. Bummer. After that, they tore my room apart and didn't find anything else. They would have searched my car too but I didn't have one.

I was surprised when I found out but really not too concerned, even though I wasn't guilty of this particular infraction. A lot of people get popped for stuff they don't do. It all evens out in the end. If they wanted to court martial me and give me a DD, it was OK with me. They weren't going to give me serious brig time for a few marijuana seeds. Employers never give a shit about military discharge status. After they told me and I denied any knowledge of the marijuana seeds in my couch, they just let me go back to my regular duties. Nobody ever questioned me about it. Nothing went into my service record. My next set of evals were real good. They let me take the second class exam early. If anything, my standing within the crew, among both officers and enlisted, seemed to have been enhanced.

What I learned from this, was that the Navy's anti drug efforts were a complete farce. They probably still are. Now that I think about it, I never knew of anyone disciplined in any manner, for drug use in the Navy. We had a lot of serious stoners aboard and a few, more than casual, dealers. Some guys even took weed to sea and smoked it next to ventilation intakes.

Just a little informal poll. Did anybody out there know anybody that suffered any disciplinary action related to drug use, while in the Navy? I didn't.