Saturday, February 25, 2017

A response to Colonel Lang

Sir:

At the end of the day, Trump is a consummate showman. He is extraordinarily clever and knows that the diluted pablum that the left so enjoys is not fun for the popular audience and it does not keep eyes on him. So the tweets and the playing to the audience is all bent around keeping eyes on him.

I think that is the key to understanding his presidency. He draws the eyes and the loathing of his political opponents. He hogs the whole spotlight and draws the fire. All the while the folks down in the trenches will bust their butts seeing how much they can deconstruct while eyes are on the good Mr. Trump.

I am one of the low-to-mid-level minions of the federal government. My peers in the belly of the beast have a pretty good idea of what is coming down the pike.

Remember, along with freeing folks from regulation of a bureaucracy, you can also cripple a bureaucracy by adding more internal regulation to decrease its ability to accomplish the external mission. We are just now starting to see that at the VA.

Nope, what Donald tweets about, and what meta-scale fights he picks with the hippies are just window-dressing. The real work is going to be down in the trenches and how much regulatory stripping can be done.

I would posit that Donald is stirring up the shit to keep folks eyes off the prize, the sunsetting of the suspension of the debt ceiling. Granted, it is political drama and not especially a real thing, but that is the club that Donald will use when it comes time, but by stirring up the noise about other things, it keeps the opposition from noticing you moving out your rooks.


Nope, I think that you are right about staging a scene casting the Democrats as a bunch of grown children having a tantrum. That will cripple the Dem's ability to react to the partial unbuilding of the federal edifice.

Tuesday, February 21, 2017

A Lingering Aftertaste of Kool-Aid

My friends are all around my age.  Professionals.  Educated. Several are retired now, living the good life and doing the equivalent of clipping coupons.  I am happy for them.

But everyone in the group, save for a couple of outliers like your humble correspondent, absolutely loathe the asshat in the White House.  Now, if you are reading this, and don't know me personally, let me clarify some points.  Donald Trump is neither the Antichrist, nor is he at all temperamentally or intellectually qualified to hold his current office, but then, who is?  At the end of the day he is a clown with a reach that exceeds his grasp.

Nope, Donald is nothing but a tabula rosa; he reflects the anger and hopelessness of a part of the culture that encompass Mitt Romney's 47%, Barack Obama's God and guns crowd, and Hillary Clinton's deplorables.

But folks my age and in the upper reaches of the socioeconomic scale really don't like to think of the folk that support Trump as fully human. After all, we all have ours.  If you don't have yours it must be a moral failing on your part.   Worse yet, they all know of the bottled violence and the available armament in the crowd that they so loathe and are sorely afraid.

I always suggest a re-read of "A Tale of Two Cities".   You can draw similar parallels in any number of more recent social dislocation where an oppressed majority rose against a comfortable elite.  


Monday, February 20, 2017

The Dirtiest Word

Every thing I read says there is no inflation.

I want to know where the fuckers shop.

House Prices are to the moon, it's not inflation, its a bubble.

Rent prices go up with the house prices.  Apparently that's not inflation.

Gas prices have gone up the last couple months...that isn't even figured into inflation.

Eggs and milk are most certainly higher.

Have you seen the price of healthcare.

Look, the government is paying the bulk of its bills with borrowed money.  Tell me how you can do that without increasing the money supply?

More money in circulation, I don't care what the "Official Statistics" say.

Prices are up, you bet your sweet bippy.

But "They" keep telling us there is no inflation.




Monday, February 6, 2017

Immigration and Resource Depletion

The hard question that bedevils the discussion about the politics of immigration is the underlying question that no one seems to want to address.

We have a mythos here in America that we are nation of immigrants.

This is a true statement to this point.

But the immigration that made America the country that we are today was selected as a policy because of the seemingly unlimited access to resources and land that characterized a fairly empty continent awash with resources and an undamaged environment.  

During the immigrant phase of the country's development, we were in a system characterized by an expanding resource base and and expanding energy base.   In such a setting, immigration makes sense because it allows growth of both the productive capacity and the consumer base that is mutually dependent on it.

I would posit that those preconditions no longer exist.  Oil production and exploration in the US peaked in the early 1980's.  The Iron Range is mined out. We have destroyed a major chunk of the local agricultural capacity that used to feed the cities that is surrounded it and replaced it with McMansions.

We are just now getting a handle on reducing the environmental damage from the growth period characterized by the period of open immigration.  It will take centuries to return it to an undamaged state.

There are approximately 310 million people in our country.  We have 100 million people "not in the workforce".  The greater bulk of the jobs being created are low-wage and/or part time jobs that are not compatible with a independent lifestyle in our current socioeconomic model.

In other words, we are currently in a system where resources are becoming more scarce.   This trend is amplified by the steadily decreasing availability of usable energy.

Simply put.  Immigration is a policy for appropriate to an expansionary (e.g. anabolic) system.  It is a nightmare for a compressive (catabolic) system.

Saturday, February 4, 2017

Batshit

I have not been writing because everyone seems to be losing their minds.

I am keeping my head down and my mouth shut until such time I manage to make a little bit of sense concerning the direction that the country is proceeding.

This is nuts.

Be very careful out there.

Monday, January 23, 2017

Sorry

Just haven't been into it.

Wednesday, January 11, 2017

Precision Creep



Beer brewing is an odd hobby.

Oh, don't get me wrong, brewing beer is one of the finest activities that a man can partake of.  The final product is a good thing, liquid bread and a balm for the soul.

But here in the USA, the cult of the material has taken the simple and time-honored process some pretty strange places.  I am not speaking of the cult of stainless steel and gizmo's that cause inadvertent erections in a sizable sub-population of the brewing world.  No, I am speaking instead of the quest for precision in a biological system that is passed off as "essential for good beer".

I am brewing up a batch of Imperial Stout while I am writing this screed.  I have a four-gallon pot.  I put three gallons of water in it, turned the burner onto medium low and sat down and folded clothes and did some laundry while the temp went up.  Obviously, I keep an eye peeled on the temp, and when it hit 130, I dumped in eight pounds of grain.  I upped the burner to a quarter of the way between medium low and medium and set a timer for ten minutes.  Watched the temp rise.  Kept resetting the timer until the temp hit 150 F. and then turned the burner back down to between low and medium low.  Checked the temp every ten minutes and it is now fifty minutes later and the temp is still 148 F.

Sparging is just heating some water up and using it to suck the last of the sugars out.  This can easily be done with a teapot and pouring.

Now, the beer brewing enthusiasts will sneer at a decidedly low tech operation like this.  Not enough control they will posit.  But the truth of the matter is that if you are in the range of 145 F. to 150 F. when you convert, you will make a dandy beer that you can be proud of.


Tuesday, January 10, 2017

Approaches and other such basic thoughts

"Mine eye, mine eye runneth down with water."

Being married to a particular outcome to me seems an odd approach.  

The one thing that everyone agrees on is that, for the most part, shit ain't working right.  That a change of plans and a change of the guard will produce the change needed for us to point in the right direction and get moving.

But what is the right direction?  Trump won by taking into account and pushing to the fore the plight of the dispossessed internal proletariat of the US.  Folks whose town, jobs and live have been slowly dying for the past thirty years.  Trump also says that he will return these jobs to our shores, that he will keep the jobs that are here from leaving.


Do we really want to go there?

I spent far too much time on a plane winging my way to Beijing in the day.  Setting up factories to receive the jobs that left Alameda and Rockville and Vancouver.   This experience left me with a firm view that the price that China pays for taking over the dirty and polluting industries of America is pretty damned high.
Beijing, from the Kerry Center, circa 2004
I would post my pictures from Xi'an or Huairou, but y'all get the idea.  

So, is the Donald proposing to bring back heavy industry? Can heavy industry survive under a rational set of environmental regulations?  If we partially gut the environmental regulations to allow for the return of heavy industry, will the proletariat that demanded the return of their jobs understand the price that needs be paid for that return?

Is Donald planning on just doing assembly work, with the highly polluting heavy industry farmed out to other countries? That seems to make us more dependent than ever on the vagaries of self-interest wielded by the hosting countries.



Monday, January 9, 2017

History Continues

Pein Forte et Dur

No, really, it isn't a dialectic.

For a long while, I was into the thesis-antithesis-synthesis model.  It was hard to do think any other way if you were raised here in the US in the latter part of the twentieth century and the first part of the twenty-first century.  Marxism was present and constantly molding the conversation to the Hegelian.  Truth be told, a lot of the teachers and profs and politicians jumped in willingly because a simple competition between two ideas allowed them a simple enough model to teach from.

But watching the world for the past fifty-some-odd years has convinced me that it is not a clean dialectic, with two competing ideas and a clean compromise/victory of one thought over the other.

But the sports ideal was then getting real traction in the US, the idea of a gentlemanly tiff with the best man winning and moving on.  Hire the best players from the other team and stay on top of the pile.  Winners keep winning.

No, the game is akin to the pastime of the sixth grade boys being schooled by Mr. Mayberry in the basement of Clearfield High School back in 1965.

Pig Pile (or smear the queer, as it was named when the teachers were out of earshot) had a very simple set of rules.  The dominant male 12-year-old would shout out the name of a mid-range social status member of the pack.  As soon as one heard his name called, that lucky individual would haul ass in the direction where the pack was the thinnest.  He would keep running like hell, because there were 15-20 other boys tearing after him to pull him down and all pile on top of him.

Now, being on the bottom of a pile of 15-20 boys is not a pleasant experience.  Personal hygiene habits at that age are, at best, suspect, and since each of the assailants weighs between 80 and 120 pounds, the "pig" usually has around seven-hundred to eight-hundred pounds weighing down on him.  Breathing becomes problematic (pein forte and dur).

After a bit, depending on the perceived manliness and ability to "Take It" had been established, the pile would unwind and everyone takes a bit of a rest.  Remember, being the person pulling down the prey is at the bottom of the pile as well, his reward for a job well done is quite similar to the reward offered the pig.

After an appropriate rest, the pig would then become the person singing out the name of his successor (Caller of Names).  Now there was some subtlety to this portion of the "game".  It was usually not done to sing out the name of the previous caller of names.  There is usually a brief inventory of slights and calumnies received, then an individual is selected, a name called out, and the whole process is repeated.

One could probably write a Masters thesis on the interactions leading up to the initiation of the game.  If one thinks that boys of this age are oblivious to social slights, wealth dynamics, and dominance rituals, one would do well to think again.

Back to the original thesis, the nature of history.  The multivariate, complex nature of "Pig-Pile" is a much better model for the study of history than the simplistic Hegelian model.  I come to this conclusion despite numerous attempts to get the dialectic to describe the real world without suffering near-fatal suspension of disbelief.

No, climate change and peak oil, Marxist dialectic and efficient market theories, trade routes and the rise and fall of trading countries, radical Islam and Crusaders all are a part of the fabric of the Norns.

Best that a man can hope to do is to have a reasonably balanced "rough-guess" available and then hope for the best. 

 




Tuesday, January 3, 2017

Not Quite a Resolution

I am not going to buy any groceries until I go through the pantry and clear it out.

I would posit that demi-preppers such as myself tend toward this issue.  But the best of good intentions get out of hand and one is stuck with a stuffed cupboard of whatever. 

So, since it is winter, there will be soups made.  Easy to make and can hide a bunch of different odd ingredients.  And will still be quite tasty.

Got some ham, putting beans on to soak.  I'll go from there.