Thursday, December 30, 2010

How's Obama Doin'

I think Barry O wants a second term. He's governed in a very centrist manner. Maybe even center right.  He has never allowed himself to be baited by all of the racist slurs against him by the wingnuts, into an angry response. All things considered, he's still pretty popular. I don't think a second term is going to be a big problem.

A lot of people think that his plan for universal medical care is far left. The truth is that it's pretty right wing. No Republican Congress, no matter the majority, will ever repeal it.

A lot of people think that his choices for the Supreme court were too liberal. The truth is that both the girls are centrist compared to the far right justices, Scalia, Thomas, Roberts and Alito that recent Republican Presidents have put on the court.

If it had been me, I would have made the health care system far more socialist and allocated a lot of money for expanding medical school graduates in America and decreased the amount of money doctors could expect to make. As far as the Supreme Court goes, there's no question in my mind that the first two justices I would have nominated would have been Anita Fuckin' Hill and Henry Waxman. I'd have the FBI working day and night digging up dirt on the Republican justices to force them off the court and I believe that there would have been plenty of it. I guess that's why he's President and I'm not, among a lot of other reasons.

Tuesday, December 21, 2010

Be A Good Boy And Eat Your Grease

Doctors are so fucked.

News out today that full fat dairy products contain fatty acids that protect against type 2 diabetes. Seems like just yesterday that we were being warned against consumption of butter, cream, cheese and whole milk. Turns out they are good for you.

My theory is that it's alright to eat absolutely anything, as long as you don't stuff yourself with it, that humans have been eating large amounts of for at least the last several hundred years.

Chow down on fats from meat, dairy, cold pressed oils.

I stay away from modern, small molecule vegetable oils refined or stabilized with chemical reagents and homogenized dairy products.

I'm a big fan of porky goodness. The perfect meal may turn out to be pinto beans, served with boiled collards, side meat and hoe cakes, all cooked with lard. I'm sure the American Heart Association will soon be recommending porcine lipid supplements in little gel caps. What a bunch of stupid shits.

Sedentary lifestyles are the main cause of deteriorating physical health. We don't have the correct motivation for vigorous physical activity. I suggest we all need to spend a lot more time in the aerobic pursuit of and then having sex with, a large variety of age appropriate and fully consenting, sexual partners. It sounds like fun to me. I'd spend a few hours a day at it. Then we could all kick back over a nice greasy meal and a couple of cups of strong distilled spirits. What Larks, Pip!

Sunday, December 19, 2010

Shining Path

The key to American politics is that somewhere around 40% of the voting population are not too bright and not too educated. They have a pretty basic view of the World around them, that isn't necessarily reality based. Their political leaders are people like Sarah Palin, Rick Perry and the Dicks Armey and Cheney. They really like watching "Dancing With The Stars". It could be worse. In a lot of places it's 80 or 90% of the population that are ignorant dimwits. Actual reality based societies are limited to relatively few countries where the majority strongly value education and rational thought. I'm not that well traveled and could easily be wrong. There may not be any reality based societies. America may be about as good as it gets.

The forces of reactionary politics in America only need to come up with a little more than 10% of voters who are willing to humor the dimwitted 40% along and they can control the country. It's not that hard and may not be for quite a long time.

It would be nice to think that America is a country that is at least on a path to becoming a country of reality based, rational thought. I don't think it's true. If anything, people here are getting stupider all the time. Current demographics of immigration are not helping the situation. Bummer, Dude.

Sunday, December 12, 2010

An Influential Generation, So Far Silent

The most recent wars in Afghanistan and Iraq have been going on now for almost a decade, unabated. They will probably go on for several more years. These wars surely will have profound effects on the countries where they are fought and the people who live there. They will have profound effects on the American military, in both it's formal and informal culture. I think most people realize that.

Maybe what most Americans don't realize are the effects that these wars will have on American civilian culture. Many of our young men and women in military service, have been fighting these wars, in foreign countries. Many of them for several years, in cumulative time. This is the kind of military service that hasn't been required in this country since the 1920s and 30s. Eventually, these wars will end. The veterans, as has happened in all previous wars, will be pushed out of military service and return to America. There are a lot of them and they have experienced life as few of their countrymen and women have. They are going to have different perspectives on a lot of things than the rest of the country.

They are going to be people worth knowing, worth listening to. They are going to be people who feel they have earned a right to participate in the national dialogue. If you believe that they are going to line up in any kind of liberal vs conservative or religious vs secular manner, I think you are mistaken.

I have no idea what they are going to be like or how their voices will shape the future of America but I think we will be hearing from them in the decades to come. I'm interested to see what they do. I'm interested to hear what they have to say.

Friday, December 10, 2010

I never thought I'd get married

When I was growing up, a lot of my friends had parents that were divorced. I think I was in the first generation that this was true of. I had teachers in school who were divorced. A lot of my friends that married early got divorced within a short time afterwards.

I was impressed early as to how total the devastation on a life could be, made so by the effects of divorce.

When I got married, not getting divorced in the future was a major consideration for me. It affected who I picked to marry. It affected how my wife and I crafted our relationship. During the inevitable terrible times that all marriages go through, divorce was never high on the list of options for either of us and we got through those times on that basis. Sometimes not much else.

My wife and I are heading into the end stage of our lives and we're still married. That may be a good thing or bad, depending on what perspective you're viewing it from but staying married was a high priority for both of us. From that perspective, at least, it has been a success. I'm pretty happy both with my life and with the fact that we're still married. I think my wife is too but you'd really have to ask her. If you want to stay married, you have to allow your partner some space and her own opinions.

There's no trick to staying married, you just really have to want to. I don't think staying married is always the right thing to do but just from my observation, it usually is. Not all that many people who stay married are totally satisfied but a lot of people who get divorced, a lot, spend the rest of their lives totally fucked up. At the very least, this involves living in crappy places, working long hours at crappy jobs and fucking people infected with chronic outbreaks of Herpes Simplex II or worse.

I gotta admit, I've known several people who have slid out of several marriages without a scratch. Some actually come out in better shape than they were before. There aren't that many though and I'm pretty sure I would not be one of them, if I tried. Maybe I'm just a coward but I don't think so. Life's a war no matter how you choose to live it. I've lost more battles than I've won and have my share of scars and amputations.

If I had it to do all over again, there are things I would definitely do different. There were a lot of times I was a total dickhead and some of those times went on for years. I think I could probably live my life a lot better If I had the chance to do it over. I think I'd still stay married though.

Sunday, December 05, 2010


When I was in my late twenties, I was working at a large commercial lumberyard down here by the beach. It's not there any more but it was only a few blocks from where I live now. The beach is a good place to have a lumberyard. The humidity and mild climate lets you store the lumber for a long time without warping and the salt in the air keeps fungus from getting into it too bad. Part of the way the guy that owned the yard made money, was to buy when the price went down and demand was low and hold the lumber to sell when demand and thus the price, went back up. Lumber is a cyclical commodity. The ability to store lumber cheaply for long periods of time gave him the ability to leverage the fluctuating market, usually to his advantage.

The hardest job at the yard was load builder and also the lowest paying. That's where I started. The guy that trained me was named Pat. Pat was maybe 7-8 years older than me. Made him 36-37 years old at that time. He was a good load builder. He had been doing it at various lumber yards since high school. A pretty long time. His job was secure because if you wanted a load builder, they didn't come much better than him. On the other hand, he wasn't the kind of guy that was ever going to get a promotion and load building was the hardest job in the yard.

You never want to have any more staff at a lumber yard than you absolutely have to and there would be frequent layoffs when things slowed down a little. Sometimes the reason was seasonal sometimes because the housing market contracted. Even though it was a union job, the layoffs were never by seniority. They laid off the guys who had personal problems, didn't get along, missed a lot of days or couldn't maintain production.

So, Pat was getting up towards 40. He had been married when he was younger. It didn't last too long. His wife had a methamphetamine hunger. That's never too good for a marriage. It became especially bad when his wife got pregnant and had a little girl. She really couldn't manage raising a child.

They got divorced. The wife got custody of the baby, even though she was an unregenerate speed freak. That's just the way the law was and is. Since she was expected to raise the child, the court awarded her $800 a month. Pat would be paying that amount until the girl turned 18. When I met Pat the little girl was 7 years old.

There was always a lot of overtime. We normally worked 54 hours over six days. When it got busy we'd go to 60. It didn't matter how many hours you worked though, you could never break much above $300 dollars a week take home and you always needed to save a little in reserve. We never worked when it was raining at all. A day here and there and at least a few storm fronts every year that might stretch to a week or more. Things could get tight. Don't get me wrong. It wasn't bad money in the late 70s, if you were single and lived cheap. I did. Pat wasn't exactly in that kind of situation though.

He had to pay his wife $200 a week, right off the top. She had got the court to have it taken out of his pay and sent straight to her. She wasn't really raising the child though, her parents were and they got nothing. The money was just a head start on her monthly drug expenses.

Pat lived with his own retired parents, in a screened patio they had on the back of their house. He drove an old car of his father's, still in his parent's name because the insurance was cheaper that way. He had to pay for gas and keep it running. He gave his mom what he could afford for expenses. His parents fed him and kept him in cheap work clothes from Kmart. His father bought him a couple cartons of cigarettes and a twelve pack of beer every Friday. He got to see his daughter Sunday afternoons. Any money he had extra went to taking her out and buying her all the things a little girl needs, otherwise she wouldn't have anything.

The really sad thing about Pat was that he had no way out. His little girl was only 8. He was going to be paying his ex wife and living in that screen porch for another ten years. By that time he would be close to 50. If you're working 54 hours a week as a load builder in a lumberyard, that's really old. Things change, of course. Most of the lumberyards around here shut down long ago. The land got too expensive to keep using for that. Most of the home building moved way inland, even out into the desert. Then Las Vegas became the main market and that was mostly direct shipping. It was cheaper for the builders to do that and hire guys to break it down on site. Even that's all gone now. Nobody's built much of anything for years.

If Pat's alive now, he's close to 70. At least he has Social Security and Medicare. Maybe he found a kind woman with a little income of her own. I hope so.

I remember Pat's one big claim to fame was that he'd gone to high school with Gary Gilmore in Buena Park. I guess every thing's relative. He probably did better than Gary, all things considered.