Alone on Thanksgiving but still thankful

As best I can recall this is my first Thanksgiving alone in 69 years. Rather than be blue about that I’ll do a little self-help and record some things that I do have to be thankful for.

In no particular order:

  1. I’m warm and dry. This is no small thing as: a) there’s a freezing rain outside and it would be seriously unpleasant not to have a place to live, and, b) I realize that many people are outside on a miserable day and some of them in miserable places. So I appreciate these good things.
  2. I’m soon going to have a weak imitation of the traditional big feast. I like cooking so making something for myself will be fun. And as another way to be thankful at least I have food as again I know many people will not have food today. I realize now, too late, this was probably the perfect time for me to go volunteer some place to help others so maybe this will remind me to do it next year or for one of the other holidays this year.
  3. I’m healthy and fairly fit. That’s certainly not something one can take for granted at this age. I know (personally and abstractly) people who do not have this good fortune so that’s a constant reminder of how lucky I am. On top of that, just being alive, no illnesses, only a few small aches and pains, I’m really glad I got motivated to lose weight (now going on three years) which I mostly did via exercise which then has the extra benefit that I’m probably the most fit I’ve been since my triathlon at 40. Again I know how lucky I am, both to be able to have fitness, and the determination to achieve it.
  4. I live in a great country and in a good (if boring) location. Despite the attempts of the rightwingnuts to ruin a lot of what is good about the U.S., it is still my good fortune to be here. I see all these hellholes all over the planet, where even the most basic safety and security are missing, where freedom is unknown. I feel really bad that other people have to live in such misery but then also feel glad I don’t.
  5. While none of them are with me, F2F, I am fortunate to have some outstanding friends, so I’m not really alone, esp. as they reach out to me. My 101YO mother gets lots of attention, both from friends and staff, but is miserable in her very diminished life in a nursing home (an excellent one, but still grim) and almost entirely deaf and blind and thus living far more alone than I am as I can still perceive the world and stay active. I hope I go quickly cuz, frankly, being that old is not a blessing.
  6. And I have a computer and Internet. This may seem silly but in the one other time I lived alone for a time (not over any holidays though) that was before these things, a couple of channels of TV and books was about all I had to pass time (bicycling during the day was good but nothing during long lonely evenings). I can access the world far more than I could have ever imagined and that stimulus allows me to find other ways to spend my time than just sitting around gloomy.

I’m sure I could think of a lot more because in fact I have so many things, sometimes that I don’t really appreciate. Being thankful for what we have instead of whining about what we don’t have is a lot more healthy way to live.

And so thanks Dear Reader for listening as that is something to also appreciate.


p.s. I must have forgotten how to cook as my “feast” was really mediocre (still stuffed myself). The dressing I made had way too much sage and using heel of dark bread was bad (plus no egg for binder). The simple green bean casserole (I (mostly) followed recipe) was pretty bad too, not sure why (used some leftover beans that were pretty tough). And the turkey from frozen dinner was mystery meat, just barely tasted like turkey. So pretty dismal all the way around. I guess my meal fits the rest of the day, dismal. So hard to be thankful for that except it was food.

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How Could I Imagine This

It’s just amazing. Here I am, 69 years old, living alone in the house of my parents.

My parents bought this house the year I graduated from high school. I was heading off to Boston for college and they moved here. I leaved her that summer and two more summers and then I was gone. Off on my own life, first in Boston, then in Palo Alto, the classic coastal sites of high tech.

And now I’m back, here alone. Perhaps my first Thanksgiving alone, tomorrow. I can’t really recall accurately but I suspect this is the first time – the first time in 69 years of life to be alone on Thanksgiving Day. And in a house where first my dad declined and spent his last days: I was called over when he fell and tried to help him get up but failed. Had to call 911. His last day in this house. Then my mother spent years here, with me visiting occasionally.  What strange twist of fate that I’d end up back in Omaha given my life was elsewhere. Then my mother fell and now she’s in a nursing home slowly going, literally, crazy. It’s primarily the lack of stimulation, she can’t hear, she can’t see, she has no idea where she is. Her health is actually good, at 101 (we just had a birthday party for her after a big party on her 100th). So despite the fact I signed the hospice papers, a tough thing to do, who knows how long she will last.

But me, off today to the gym, pounding away lifting weights and cranking the bicycles hard, but tonight here alone in this place. No way could I have ever imagined it would turn out this way.

Everyone has their own trajectory in life. Few of us can actually predict what it will be. We plan, we work to accomplish those plans, and yet life throws us some really weird twists and turns. To be in this house tonight, definitely not my “home”, but my refuge at the moment from the challenges I face, is just so strange. How can something like this happen?

Yet it’s not so bad. I’m warm and dry and secure. I had plenty to eat tonight. I worked out at the gym, doing my than many my age can do. I’m healthy, for my age at least. I’m not broke, I’m not in danger like so many in the world, overall it’s not too bad, certainly better than many people have tonight. But it’s just weird, how life could produce this outcome, so unexpected, so much not what I want. I own a much nicer house elsewhere in this town but it’s not my home any more. The only house I felt was a home is owned by someone else and now, being in Bay Area, completely unaffordable to me.  How weird.

There are a lot of noises in this old house. I don’t believe in ghosts or spirits, but it’s hard to be old in the same house where both my parents spent their last days. So maybe there are ghosts, maybe there is some gravity vortex that draws me here. This is a safe place now, but it’s not “home”, but then I have no idea where “home” is. I’ve lived in 10 different places, some of them mine, so as a child, but I guess none are home. Is this it? Is this where I’ll die as well? Strange!


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No more boring exercise stats

I’ve been off the grid for a couple of months due to some changes in my life. One consequence of these changes is that I no longer have access to exercise machines (treadmill, bike, elliptical) in my old house (too have to move the machines). I had been keeping extensive records (spreadsheets) and sometimes then reporting those data here, either as numerical analysis or “virtual” rides/walks, undoubtedly fairly boring for you Dear Reader, but something I wanted to log.

Keeping all those records and making reports here was critical to me to maintain my discipline on exercise, which is then tied to my weight management (doing OK but not great after my life changes). So I missed having that data to keep me motivated.

And for about two months, not having my exercise machines, my exercise quantities fell off a cliff. While the weather was still decent I was trying to keep up walking, real walks outside, but I rarely managed to clock as many miles as I had been doing on treadmill. And then it’s approaching winter and even my walks stopped.

I’d also been missing doing any biking as walks were the only thing I could. I looked around to find a cheap replacement bike but without any good choices. Then I’d noticed fliers in the mail about deal on a local gym.

Now I’ve never been a fan of gyms, for multiple reasons. But, by luck, the nearest gym has quite a bit of attitude that focuses on the less dedicated (and in some cases way more out-of-shape) customers. The attitude plus their low prices are designed to encourage people who need exercise to get past aversion to much of what they’d encounter in most gyms (e.g. body shaming). So it was worth a try.

So I joined up (easy enough, no contract, no hard sell pitch) and started the next day. Now I don’t like: a) having to use car to drive to the gym (seems silly to burn gasoline to go exercise), and, b) unlike at home with my own machines where I could workout any time, for as much time (over whole day) as I wanted I need have to pack all my exercise into a couple of hours at the gym (fortunately being retired I can go when I want so I hit the least busy time). That’s the bad news, but the good news is: a) the gym has a ton of machines (two different bike types) for the aerobic workout, and, b) it also has all the strength machines and free weights. Despite all my previous workouts (over five years) I wasn’t getting any upper body workouts and so while my legs and cardio were good I was steadily losing upper body strength (hey, after all, I’m 69 too, but I don’t want to be as much a wimp as I was).

So I’m trying to really get into routine, go to gym 6 days out of the week, mix up different types of aerobic (mostly both types of bike plus treadmill, but also throwing in some stairmaster as getting some climbing strength into my legs would be good for a long hike). And I’m gradually learning to use the various strength machines. Plus, at my new home I decided, since I spend many hours sitting at computer, to also do a limited set of upper body exercises and in my usual fashion keep rather complete statistics on those (I’ve now done 26,380 reps of eight different types over 33 days, not bad).

But another drawback of the gym is I don’t have easy way to keep records of my workouts. Plus as the workouts are now more diverse I don’t have easy way to “normalize” different types of exercise to a single number, i.e. biking or walking miles per day). I use the two types of bikes differently: recumbent for low intensity (some spurts) calorie burn and upright for maximum aerobic (much higher RPMs, lots of spurts), so even if I recorded all that how do I combine these very different workouts to a single biking number.

But most of all is the record keeping itself. The aerobic machines have the same kinds of readouts as I had with my home machines (although they’re calibrated rather different so the gym’s bikes record both less calories and less miles, so another analysis problem, how to combine with all my history on my own bike). But the biggest problem is just the mechanics of how to record. I tried using my phone and a note taking app – didn’t work well. Plus I still need my iPod as Apple managed to lock me into their music and my phone is (happily) Android so it’s bare on music (plus no WiFi at the gym to do streaming). The iPod is even harder to use as a recording device.

And, for the strength machines, there are no digital readouts, so I have to manually count. Plus I’m using about 10 different machines, and, of course, each machine can be adjusted for weight – a complex record keeping situation, but even worse to try to figure out how to reduce all those variables (if I were recording them) to a simple metric to record over time. And only once have I seen any other person carrying a notebook for recording their data so it’s definitely geeky (plus inconvenient) to carry around paper recording.

So without all the numerical feedback I have to just hope I’m doing enough workout. I miss having the data and all the analysis I did. I have a weak mental record on bikes, i.e. I’d lost (after 2+ months of no biking) my fitness to do 40 miles/day, but I’ve been counting in my head that I’ve increased from about 6 miles on my first gym day to about 13 yesterday (given the intensity plus the lower reading from those bikes I’d say that’s about equivalent to 20 of my old miles, but trying to do an accurate adjustment would be difficult).

So I’ll see how it all goes and meanwhile Dear Reader, you’ll be spared boring posts about my exercise statistics.

Meanwhile, as to my absence from blogging in general, no I didn’t lose access for the last few months but my situation has not been conducive to blogging. It’s not totally my own situation but as many of my posts were about something in the news and the news these days is unremittingly distressing I also just haven’t felt like some of my usual whines/rants. And meanwhile there certainly hasn’t been any “fun” thing to report.

But I’m adjusting (with difficulty) and perhaps will use the routine of the gym (restoring daily exercise to my life) as motivation to also restore blogging to my life. We’ll see on that too. Certainly I’m not going to do any bread articles as I no longer have access to adequate baking facilities, plus now it would be even worse, for my weight, to have any bread around for just me to wolf down. And it’s winter, so no trips. So pretty boring time with little material for posts. But you can’t keep a voluble writer down so I’m sure I’ll find something.

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Antioxidants & Cancer: Read the studies carefully

When I first saw headlines of articles about how “could help spreading growth of cancer cells” by antioxidants, I initially thought, oh boy, another sacred cow of the nutrition scolds takes in on the chin. My first idea about this post was to point out how we jump on fads (acai berries) with the slimmest of scientific evidence, following by food marketers rapidly jumping on the bandwagon so they can label some product (probably otherwise bad for you) with the latest superfood miracle cure.

But as I did a little more digging into the articles I began to switch my thoughts more to using this example to repeat my warnings about reading the popular press and how it may distort whatever science is being studied. After digging through numerous of the popscience articles I finally found the link to the Nature article, certainly a respectable journal (although also publishing a defense of alternative medicine, already denounced by Orac, so maybe their woo has sneaked through). Anyway, as usual the actual science article is hidden behind a paywall so all I could access with the abstract and a couple of charts revealing the actual data. The abstract says:

Solid cancer cells commonly enter the blood and disseminate systemically, but are highly inefficient at forming distant metastases for poorly understood reasons. Here we studied human melanomas that differed in their metastasis histories in patients and in their capacity to metastasize in NOD-SCID-Il2rg−/− (NSG) mice. We show that melanomas had high frequencies of cells that formed subcutaneous tumours, but much lower percentages of cells that formed tumours after intravenous or intrasplenic transplantation, particularly among inefficiently metastasizing melanomas. Melanoma cells in the blood and visceral organs experienced oxidative stress not observed in established subcutaneous tumours. Successfully metastasizing melanomas underwent reversible metabolic changes during metastasis that increased their capacity to withstand oxidative stress, including increased dependence on NADPH-generating enzymes in the folate pathway. Antioxidants promoted distant metastasis in NSG mice. Folate pathway inhibition using low-dose methotrexate, ALDH1L2 knockdown, or MTHFD1 knockdown inhibited distant metastasis without significantly affecting the growth of subcutaneous tumours in the same mice. Oxidative stress thus limits distant metastasis by melanoma cells in vivo.

Now of course even this abstract has a fair amount of science-y jargon, but with a bit of basic knowledge it’s not too hard to parse, but let’s contrast this with a report about this article in a popular press article whose headline starts with “Horrifying findings …”:

To be clear, the research doesn’t suggest that antioxidants cause cancer. Instead, it finds that already present cancer will grow far more rapidly in an environment rich with antioxidants.

The first mistake all the popular press articles have is simply using the term ‘cancer’. This is a very imprecise umbrella term that covers hundreds of more specific cellular conditions, each one with different prognosis and treatment. The referenced article only dealt with melanoma, a particular nasty type of abnormal cellular growth, but only one of many. So, inappropriately, the popular press articles expand the narrow scientific conclusion to cover all cancers, even something like prostate which is completely unrelated.

Second, it’s an interesting turn of phrase to say “will grow far more rapidly”. While technically within the context of the actual article the popular press article is implying a causation link, which is not actually what the science says.  They’re actual referring to “inefficiently metastasizing melanomas“. Now metastasizing and “growing” aren’t very much the same thing (“spreading” would be better but still imprecise term for the non-scientific). And some process that in the absence of an outside chemical that works poorly and then works a little better in the presence of that chemical is hardly “grow far more rapidly”.

Now I expect Orac to weigh in on this topic soon enough and as both a cancer researcher and surgeon, plus I’m sure he can read the entire article in Nature, he can address the scientific points much better than me,  But I still think I’m qualifying to raise some cautions/skepticism to reading too much into the popular press accounts.

Another issue that the lay public doesn’t understand is science reported in any study is always provisional. Science is a process, not just a bunch of facts. And it is a self-correcting process. I’m sure there will be critics of this study who will try to find its flaws. Honest factual debate is a good thing in science because that is how results get verified or discarded, not just rhetorical debate of the usual political kind. Perhaps you remember headlines about faster-than-light neutrinos; now that would be an astonishing discovery so naturally lots of scientist dug into every detail of that study, and, guess what, the results were wrong due to a loose cable. A finding has to withstand scrutiny and has to be replicated before it gains any weight of evidence, often over even hundreds of studies and decades. A tantalizing study is a nice starting point, but not an end point. Several of the popular press articles hint at (but not citations) other studies with similar or at least related conclusions. Assuming popular science writers have access to PubMed (everyone does, free access) and maybe some subscriptions to journals (many do, I don’t) it wouldn’t take much time to provide some references, both confirming and denying this latest study.

In the nutrition arena we are constantly seeing dogma established and then later completely discarded. Why did the dogma spread so quickly on such thin data? Some minimal, possibly ambiguous, and quite probably wrong (like the Mediterranean diet nonsense) get thrown around in the echo chamber of popular press and then winds its way into advocacy sites (the various naturalist sites) and then even into woo sites (foodbabe, I’m looking at you). Every step further from the science allows more and more misinterpretation where eventually any statements at all are pure mush, almost always completely wrong (you can still find plenty of nutrition sites denouncing dietary cholesterol as cause of elevated serum cholesterol levels when this has been thoroughly debunked).

So even though the conclusions of this study tend to match my biases (no such thing as “superfoods”, just popular nonsense) I still suggest caution. Plus how many thousands of ways will the public misinterpret even the accurately reported results? Are blueberries going to now go out of fashion, even though nothing in this studies could possibly justify that fear for any more than a few percent of the population? Or will all the “natural” food sites just denounce this study as more indication that science is stupid and somehow “faith” is a better way to decide what you put in your mouth?

I think a lot of the total garbage one reads about nutrition is partly due to the steady decline of science literacy in the general public and the anti-science attitude of the rightwingnuts and carbon polluters and creationists. The public deserves better. You don’t need an MIT degree to be a more critical reader, esp. about a finding that might (or might not) actually affect you.

There’s not much you can do about intelligence (you’ve got what you’ve got) but there is a lot anyone can do about ignorance, which is completely curable with actually paying attention and doing some digging. The Internet is a wonderful tool, far better than anything ever created before, for making information available – it’s just too bad most of it a garbage and too few people know how to look at the avalanche of information critically.

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Twitter is in a death spiral

I’ve worked at a number of Silicon Valley startups and also mature major tech companies and there is one thing I’ve learned over those years – layoffs at a high tech company are the start of slow, sometimes fast, decline of that company. Pure investors have zero understanding of how a high tech company differs from a mature low tech company, where perhaps cost-cutting may work.

The only real asset a high tech company has is its people, that’s what defines high tech. Nothing Twitter has cannot be easily duplicated by someone else; Facebook could build the equivalent of Twitter is a brief hackathon, it’s not that hard.  A user base can evaporate overnight, ask MySpace about that. Advertisers will abandon a sinking ship. The premium content suppliers will find another social media site for their PR. Most high tech, but especially a pure net play like Twitter is built out of air, few real assets, little proprietary technology, few special strangleholds on markets.

When employees are laid off the remaining employees now know their world is different. They may still have their jobs but for how long. Headhunters will be swarming all the remaining employees with offers. Often, especially the first layoff, is a chance for a little housecleaning, can a few employees that their peers know aren’t pulling their weight. But the high performing employees, who have the most choices, will also start to bail. Soon the company will be left with the middle performers and few, if any, stars. Not exactly the workforce you need for high tech. And the remaining employees will have to pick up the slack from the departed ones; I’ve seen this over and over – workers go, work remains, i.e. more work per remaining person. Some of the middle skill workers will decide that’s too much trouble and find someplace to go.

But the real thrill will be recruiting. Who’s going to leave a job to join a sinking ship? Twitter is public now, no good deal founder’s stock options and there are plenty of choices where founder’s stock is available, plenty of other fresh startups with their new idea and enthusiasm and promises of instant wealth. Why would any good candidate take a job at a failed startup when they have other choices. Silicon Valley companies are offering insane perqs as sign-on bonuses (never saw anything like that in my day but these are the times). Who would turn down a glamour well funded, pre-public startup with all sorts of bonuses for a declining has-been.

But of course the stock market thinks employees are just wage slaves and minimizing the cost of these leeches is entirely appropriate in the world of outsourcing (my old colleagues at EMC are surely sweating the Dell deal for exactly the same reason – private equity owners are scavengers, not builders).

And what problem do a few layoffs solve. Twitter’s problem is its business model. Its user growth has stalled because, let’s face it, there isn’t much there-there at Twitter. Maybe seeing videos of Arab Spring is cool, but does it pay (do advertisers want to slap luxury goods ads on scenes of violence?). Sure, Twitter is now shoving ads down their users’ throats, like all the other social media companies, but do increasingly more conscious of bandwidth cost (no unlimited free access any more) want to see most of the byte count in ads to get a, usually, worthless 140 character message? How much can Twitter soak the users they’ve got (aka monetarize them) before they start getting wholesale abandonment. And let’s not forget that social media is a critical mass situation, if your friends leave Twitter for somewhere else, you follow them.

Now perhaps the Twitter employees have grown complacent and spoiled and need a kick in the pants, about the only good thing about layoffs. The lazy days are over, knuckle down and start producing. But I’ve also seen that same pressure just turn into massive infighting – the employees who think they’re the producers attack those they think are the laggards. Decisions get harder to make because the threat of layoffs lingers off everything (your project gets cancelled, you’re on the list of the next layoff, so you fight for a loser project just to save your job). People get vicious in these morale-destroying situations. You think you’re overworked, now doing two people’s jobs – you’re going to be critical of those that appear to have it easy. Positive attitude, the optimism necessary to get a startup going, dies fast with layoffs and cost-cutting. Tiny, almost irrelevant perqs are now a source of endless dysfunctional bitching.

Few mature high tech companies survive the adverse effects of layoffs, but a company that is already losing money with a declining stock price, nope, everyone at Twitter is now looking around for other options. And so soon the investors, that always believe cost-cutting is good, will be holding an empty shell, where the real asset of the business, its people, are already down the street making some other investor money.

As the old song goes: Twitter I hardly knew ye.


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Come visit my blog

After quite a bit of manual twiddling I was able to get all my hits by country for this blog versus a list of the country domains now active in the Internet. Slightly less than half of those domains have visited here.

So, folks from Afghanistan, Åland, American Samoa, Andorra, Angola, Anguilla, Antarctica, Antigua and Barbuda, Aruba, Ascension Island, Azerbaijan, Belarus, Belize, Benin, Bermuda, British Indian Ocean Territory, British Virgin Islands, Brunei, Burkina Faso, Burundi, Cameroon, Cape Verde, Cayman Islands, Central African Republic, Chad, Christmas Island, Cocos (Keeling) Islands, Comoros, Cook Islands, Côte d’Ivoire, Curaçao, Czechoslovakia, Democratic People’s Republic of Korea, Democratic Republic of the Congo, Djibouti, Dominica, Dominican Republic, East Timor, El Salvador, Equatorial Guinea, Ethiopia, Falkland Islands, Federated States of Micronesia, Fiji, French Guiana, French Polynesia, French Southern and Antarctic Lands, Gabon, Gibraltar, Grenada, Guadeloupe, Guam, Guernsey, Guinea, Guinea-Bissau, Guyana, Haiti, Heard Island and McDonald Islands, Honduras, Iran, Isle of Man, Jamaica, Kiribati, Kurdistan, Laos, Lesotho, Liberia, Liechtenstein, Madagascar, Malawi, Mali, Marshall Islands, Martinique, Mauritania, Mayotte, Monaco, Mongolia, Montenegro, Montserrat, Mozambique, Namibia, Nauru, Nepal, Netherlands Antilles, New Caledonia, Nicaragua, Niger, Niue, Norfolk Island, Northern Mariana Islands, Palau, Panama, Papua New Guinea, Paraguay, Philippines, Pitcairn Islands, Qatar, Republic of the Congo, Réunion, Rwanda, Saint Helena, Saint Kitts and Nevis, Saint Lucia, Saint Vincent and the Grenadines, Saint-Pierre and Miquelon, Samoa, San Marino, São Tomé and Príncipe, Senegal, Seychelles, Sierra Leone, Sint Maarten, Solomon Islands, South Georgia and the South Sandwich Islands, South Sudan, Soviet Union, Suriname, Svalbardand, Swaziland, Tajikistan, The Gambia, Togo, Tokelau, Tonga, Turkmenistan, Turks and Caicos Islands, Tuvalu, Uzbekistan, Vanuatu, Vatican City, Wallis and Futuna, Yemen, Zambia

Come visit! I wonder how many of these places actually have web surfer registered to their domain, clearly some of countries are big enough it would be likely. Maybe this tells me what I should be talking about to attract some more users.

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You can’t fool Mother Nature

There used to be some product, margarine, IIRC, that had my title as their catchline in their commercials. So I’m reading an article about the severe mess in South Carolina, No, not the rains, but the absurd state of dam safety, no flood warning systems, and uncontrolled building in flood zones. Now I sympathize with the ordinary people in South Carolina about the disaster that has befallen them. But the wakeup call has to also impact their head-in-the-sand politics.

You see, nature doesn’t care about politics. It doesn’t even care about human beings. It just is what it is. Living in the fact-free world of climate change denial doesn’t have an iota of effect of rain. Deniers may stop all progress in the political system but the rain just keeps on falling. And now profits for the Kochs are actually damaging real human beings, so maybe reality will finally begin to balance ideology. But being it’s South Carolina, a state whose legislature tried to ban any discussion of sea level rise or flooding, maybe not. Awh, they’ll just go to the evil big government in Washington and get the people from the other 49 states to pay for their neglected infrastructure.

Now wait a minute you say – this is a natural disaster and everyone should have sympathy for the people of South Carolina. But here’s the thing, according to this article (from a Carolina paper, not the evil leftie media):

South Carolina has for years had one of the nation’s weakest dam safety programs, consistently ranking near the bottom of rankings in federal and state government reports.

In 2013, the state spent less than $200,000 on its dam safety program, employing a handful of people devoted specifically to inspecting and regulating the structures. That’s roughly the same amount the state spent on the program in 2010, when a national report rated South Carolina 45th nationally in financial resources committed to dam safety.

and just to add fuel to the fire:

All told, South Carolina has 2,300 dams, most of them privately owned and made of earth.

So while South Carolina argued about continuing to fly the Confederate Flag, symbol of slavery, meanwhile they almost totally ignored climate and then flooding and then dams. I’m sure this ridiculously low level of spending was justified by a Repug legislature as controlling spending of big government so they could give tax cuts to the rich.

South Carolina effectively has followed another Repug mantra and that is privatized most of their dams, with rare inspections, and no warning systems for dam breaches. Brilliant, guys, head-in-the-sand: just deny that climate exists or that public works are needed and it will all go away.

It may be a natural disaster, undoubtedly exacerbated by the, of course, liberal conspiracy known as climate change, but it is a manmade political disaster that the dam situation is abysmal and that real people died and their homes flooded over an irresponsible dogma of small government.

I hope the people whose lives have been so disrupted manage to ask a few questions about why this was allowed to happen. Unfortunately, most likely, given it’s South Carolina, they’ll blame Washington (while simultaneously expecting huge funding from Washington, and Obama, of course) and many will claim this is their sky-man’s wrath over SSM. Fine, deal with real problems with political talking points.

But you can’t fool Mother Nature.

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