First Monday in Trumpistan

It’s now almost seven days since America was murdered. It wasn’t a clean head shot, execution style, instead a gut shot where we’ll slowly bleeding out. My question is will the inevitable end come any sooner than that. There hasn’t been much news in last couple of days (the rigged press has exhausted its low level staffers who don’t know anything except rumors) but the rigged press is doing its usual thing, looking at who is sitting in which chairs. Bannon, an abysmal excuse for a human being (has anyone checked his birth certificate, is he even human, is he the mole from the KGB), is all the buzz. Big surprise, a KKK supporting white nationalist is Trump’s buddy. Big surprise Trump lied quickly than most of his lies that he intends to be the president of all of us (you see, he had his fingers crossed and of course ‘us’ meant those real ‘mericuns Sarah Palin found, i.e. people who hate the Supreme Court and can’t name a single, at least living, justice). Yep, the inside-the-beltway, who’s up, who’s down appeals to the simplistic view the rigged (and the ‘real’) press has taken in this race.

So, OK, we’ve been murdered. How long have we got to live? For some people Bannon is the answer, their life is going to suck real soon. But America is a big place and at least 75% of us are not under immediate threat. I’m not too concerned about a blog post no one will read, at least for a bit longer, since I will be fairly far down on the hit list. But come on liberal media and pundits – you really want to quote CAIR these days. I don’t even like them and voted for Hillary and don’t want to round up Muslims and put them in camps. CAIR is actually not a very nice bunch and if you wanted to wave a red cape in front of an angry bull, boy, that was smart. You think the 24% that runs this country (remember half of us didn’t bother to get our butts to the polls), who cheered mightily when political correctness was denounced (and along with it every sense of fairness that could ever exist). You might as well resurrect Osama from the dead and bring him here to denounce Trump and Gannon.

But that’s a tempest in a teapot. It’s another cut to an already bleeding gut shot body.

So there are two ways (probably more) where Trump will finish us off – climate change and John Bolton (aka, start a nuclear war). No doubt Trump will cancel Paris accords simply because it’s easy and send a message to his idiot coal miners help is on the way (yeah, coal miners, show me any job a piece of paper, not yet implemented, has deleted; or, exactly which job is coming back). Unfortunately climate change is a slow motion disaster. It will kill us and by the time the denialists are forced to admit it it will be too late. I’m sorry for all my friends who have grandchildren – sorry your kids are going to die. But since my life is over sooner than I’ll suffocate and have no water to drink (or too much and drown) that’s not my biggest fear. It’s horrible we want to destroy our species (plus a lot of others), but take the long view (and now that stupid idea Gary Johnson had of eventual expansion of the sun to destroy Earth), no the long view in this century where climate change creates a big enough mess we’ll finish the job and blow ourselves up as we search for a way to survive.

No, it will come quicker than that. Donnie spoke to Putin today and pulled down his pants and let Putin shove his rod up his ass. Yes, Putin explained things aren’t nice with the U.S. He invades countries and we foolishly protest and even seek sanctions. Our pesky anti-terrorism spying that is looking for hot money flowing to terrorist has uncovered too many of Putin’s no-so-secret billions. We’re still not crazy about Putin propping up his other buttmate, Assad. Yep, Donnie, gave ole Vlad just what he wanted.

But Bolton, surely you jest. We’re dead in days with that asshole. He could pick a fight and get Canada to go to war with us. He never met a problem he couldn’t solve with more bombs. He’d bomb people just because it’s Monday. I’m sure Trump loves him, all that bombast and the guy is even manages to make Trump look smart. Sure, lots of people absolutely hate the guy, but for Trump who loves stabbing the sharp stick in the eye he’ll be perfect. Trump with the nuclear trigger is scary enough but with Bolton bringing him the gun, watch out.

I miss that Omaha is no longer that important a target. I was driving (actually riding, my dad was driving) back to Omaha during Cuban missile crisis. As we tried to figure out what was going on my dad expressed the idea that it was good we were living Montana where most of the missiles were based. Oh good, dad – the button is in Omaha, we’re driving to the #1 target in the world.

Those days are gone, the strategic defense shifted elsewhere. Too bad. But maybe the Russians haven’t updated their target list and maybe they’ll miss SAC by a few miles and I’ll be blown to dust sooner than my brain can even register the flash. Not the worst way to do, the nuclear winter and cannibalism of the survivors would be a lot worse.

What Trump doesn’t understand is this stuff is for real. It’s not a made-up reality show where nobody really gets heard. It’s not wrestling, here the blows are for real. Bolton may be wonderful theater for Trump and he’ll enjoy tweaking every one else (as he did with Bannon), but this stuff gets the U.S. dead.

So will be die of a quick military blow, certainly possible? Will we melt? Yes, but not in Trump’s term (as least Donnie until he replaces himself with Ivanka having eliminated elections). No we’re still just bleeding from the gut shot and drop by drop (i.e. person by person) Donnie’s insane policies will kill us – first to eliminate most medical care, including for seniors you idiot old farts who voted for him (not me, I knew he’ll kill me, I don’t go to casinos and am too old to work any more), second to devastate the economy where we’ll be searching in the dumpsters of the 0.1% hoping to find thrown-out food.

So I guess, Donnie, sure bring in Bolton. I’d rather fry quickly than starve in pain of untreated medical conditions.

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I’m laughing at you chumps

As the analysts and pundits and politcos attempt to read the tea leaves of whatever data and rumors are available to explain the murder of America (or if you prefer, its suicide) more and more I believe no one, including me, has a clue. Something strange happened where millions of people voted to harm themselves thinking somehow they were sticking it to the people they think caused the harm. In short a whole lot of people let their emotional response to a shameless self-promoting charlatan, the worst con artist that only P.T. Barnam could admire, drive their vote against your own self-interest. You hate others so much you are the suckers that a demagogue needed to advance his ego-driven pathology and your further destruction.

But as much as all this is going to screw me personally what will happen to me will be a lot less bad than what will happen to you. I’m (somewhat) protected by my white male privilege and the now much-despised education that allowed me to sock away a few resources for my survival. But the chumps who actually think this guy is going to do anything for them will suffer far more and perhaps, in the end, even more than the ‘others’ they seek to put in their place. Have fun with your hate and what good it does you.

Take for instance all those stupid coal miners. I can believe coal mining is a dirty, painful and dangerous job. I’m typing now because coal is being burned a few miles away to supply the electricity. I should thank you for your service (you should thank me for the technology you’re using to read this). The decline in the jobs and pay for those jobs and injury to their health and bodies is real. But what good did they just do for themselves? Do they have a clue what is really going on? Rapists from Mexico and terrorists from Syria (both mostly non-existent) didn’t take away their prosperity, the market did. The Repugs, esp. the Ryan wing, believe in the god of their capitalist utopia, the market. It solves all problems and provides miracles. Wave a magic wand against EPA or WTO and let the good times roll again. But what will the miners get? They will get, for the benefit of the bosses’ yuge bonuses, a drastically reduction in mine safety laws and anti-pollution laws. Citizens of West Virginia will envy Flint when they see how badly their water supply will be polluted and the birth defects and deaths that will cause. Miners will die in accidents because they decided all those elites with college degrees that want them to have a modicum of safety in their jobs hate them and should be tarred-and-feathered and driven out. So while their life in the mines will get more dangerous and more damaging will they get those jobs or that pay increase back? No way. Coal is shrinking because of North Dakota (and Oklahoma). Fracking – you fools. Natural gas is technically and economically superior fuel for producing electricity (even disregarding any green considerations) and now a technology comes along and increases its supply and lowers its cost. My dad, in the final years of his job, working for a natural gas company (later to become Enron) concluded natural gas (of course with the then-existing extraction technology) couldn’t compete with coal. So did a lot of the rest of the energy sector so coal mining expanded. Then gas got cheap and plentiful – bye-bye to the engineering and economic analysis justifying coal. And guess what – your president’s energy secretary is a pioneer in fracking and a true believer. Do you believe Trump is going to ban natural gas or put some tax on it to allow coal to be competitive – dream on. Electricity companies exercise greed for their stockholders and will buy the fuel that maximizes their profits. And do you really think the drastic price decreases in solar and wind will be halted and by the stroke of the pen Trump can ban those. And, then, what’s happens to all those farmers in Iowa now making more from wind royalties than their corn will willingly give up that revenue so there can be a few more jobs. Once upon a time locomotives ran on coal. Countless jobs were erased when diesel eliminated the need for fireman and coal handlers. What about all those folks who lost their jobs? For us lefties once upon a time vast numbers of bookstores existed, friendly local places to go, now we have Amazon and all those jobs disappeared. This is the relentless force of technology then projecting into the marketplace which the people you elected worship. You really think they’re going to turn back the clock to your advantage? But they can turn back the clock to your disadvantage as they favor the bosses. So as you sustain injury and death due to eliminating those pesky regulations who are you going to blame then?

And my next door neighbors in Iowa voted overwhelming for Trump. He’s going to save them from the pesky elites. The same elites that pushed through the ethanol mandate. So Trump says he’s going to eliminate regulations (which I believe him, not an empty campaign promise). He’s going to abandon Paris climate change convention which Iowa probably supports (since it’s one of those things from science which is in a cage fight with god). But then think that through a bit, if you’re capable of logic. Why exactly is there ethanol in our fuel pipeline – because it’s a great fuel (nope, most cars produce less power with it), because it’s cheap (no it has to be subsidized to be competitive), because since we like to drink that means we also want to burn it? Grow up, get a brain, take your GED and try to figure this one out. Exactly what do you think is going to happen to corn prices when ethanol is no longer mandated for cars? And exactly who do you think is going to make that happen, those dirty elite Dems who want to cut CO2 emissions, or those looking out for you anti-regulation, anti-climate Repubs. Good luck with paying the costs of your farms when the oversupply of corn drops to a penny a bushel. And good luck selling any of it to China when your president gets in a trade war with them (if not a shooting war). So you get your Supreme Court to overturn Roe – can you eat that when you’re facing bankruptcy?

Or the brilliant immigrant-hating GEDs in Michigan. Yep, Trump is going to make your America great again. He’ll jawbone Ford into not moving jobs. But guess what folks, in case you can’t even see what’s happening in your own factory – the thing that took your job isn’t brown or black, it’s metallic. Far more jobs have been lost to robots than shipped to Mexico (or let’s not forget Canada, where Ontario builds more cars than Michigan does since health care there is cheaper to manufacturers). Today it takes 1/5th number of labor hours to produce a car than it took for your fathers to do. Those shiny machines with brains from Silicon Valley are your enemy, not other hard working darker skinned people. And just for sake of argument Trump halts all imports of cars or anything related to cars and requires they all get built here. Wow, what a bonanza! But it won’t be for you, it will be for Silicon Valley. Robots may or may not be cheaper than you (depends on how low your wages drop with the elimination of minimum wage) but: a) they don’t get drunk and work with a hangover, b) they’re not on oxy to compensate for the pains in their body, c) they don’t get tired and they don’t go on strike and they don’t take sick days, and, d) they do the job better than you do. If we force manufacturers to hire more expensive U.S. labor, all those college educated folks with CS and ME degrees will be energized to find ways to build even better and cheaper and faster robots. And your Repugs who worship the god of the market will buy them with their tax gimmicks and devious financial engineering you can’t begin to understand. You’ll be lucky if what you’ve started doesn’t end in an even more rapid move to automation. Too bad you didn’t get much education because maybe you’d have some critical reasoning skills and the ability to learn real true information, about technology and economics, instead of believing some circus clown with red hats and tweets. The voter analysis shows Michigan has gotten older and less educated since the 2012 election – I wonder why. Maybe anyone with a brain left the place and headed to Silicon Valley and is now being paid more sitting at a desk writing code than you can ever dream about. And next election when Michigan is even older and less educated who will you blame them – the out-of-office Dems, the coastal elites (who will probably do just fine under Trump because they’ll adapt to a changed world and find a way to make a buck from it), the rigged press, some other country – blame yourselves, chumps.

Your economic distress is not the product of the EPA or China or Mexicans or Muslims. You are the victim of changing times. Globalization won’t stop. Technology won’t stop. AI isn’t going to go away, it will just get better. You claim I don’t understand your world: well, guess what, you don’t understand mine. Lots of highly motivated and clever and well-educated people trying to invent new gadgets that will make your blood and sweat in a dank factory irrelevant. You’re actually right to hate the coastal elites with their college degrees – they are changing the world and you’re going to be swept out to sea. Hillary recognized this and offered to help you and you slapped her in the face; Trump gave you empty promises that the Repugs who worship the market will never do. There are fortunes to be made putting more of you out of work and when it comes to your money or Wall Streets huge profits from IPOs in new startups that are putting you out of work, guess who is going to win in your Repug Congress and Oval Office.

Yep, that’s right. You’re chumps. Trump played you. And he doesn’t give a damn about you. You’ve got more friends in the coastal elites and allies in the Dem party that you’ll ever have with the bosses and bankers. But you just go right on supporting the exact people who’ve brought you the distress you have and hating some of those who actually tried to help you. You loved lifelong union-buster Reagan – how did that work out for you! Just the preamble to what happens to you now.

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Repeal and replace is not so easy

The rigged media, still living in their elitist bubble, is having fun trying to report on the cracks that are appearing when the Repugs have to try to convert their campaign tweets into actual policy. This is just as delusional as believing Trump could never win.

The policy wonks, now that repeal is going to happen, are digging into the replace part. Oh it’s a mess, esp. when Trump’s policy is replace is going to be something fantastic, cheaper and better. Now, the rigged press, is overjoyed at the idea that reality is a lot tougher than soundbites. They grab onto Trump’s statement that he likes continuing the pre-existing conditions part of ObamaCare and how impossible it will be to retain that without just reinventing ObamaCare, possibly with a few minor Repug twists.

Get a grip, liberals and rigged media. You’re full of shit.

Your fundamental premise is that the Repugs won’t just toss 32 million people on the street and let them die (or flood ERs). Why exactly do you believe they care!

These are ruthless people, the same crowd who killed lots of American kids and even more Iraqis with a simplistic ego and greed-driven policy. They actually do govern by tweet. Simplistic notions are just fine. Look at Kochistan, aka Kansas, for what happens when ideologues get power and actually get to do what they say. Sure, it’s a mess and a failure, but does reality stop them? Did reality stop Dubya from invading Iraq? Did massive deficits stop Reagan?

The liberals just can’t believe that a President isn’t, at least some of the time, president of all the people (of course Trump said that in his entirely reasonable and conciliatory speech) BUT, it’s total bullshit. Dubya ran the country for the benefit of the R’s only and actually not even the 48% that supported him, just the 1% of rich and special interests. Why do you think this Repug Congress will be any different than the mess under Dubya that ran up massive graft and deficits and crashed the economy in 2008 with their toxic securities?

They don’t care if people die, especially when they make money off it. They sacrificed plenty of people in Iraq based on their impulsive and in-the-bubble views. They’ll do it again. After all, all those people on ObamaCare are blacks and browns, and screw them – they’re demonstrating in the streets – send in the Gestapo, throw ’em in jail, kill ’em. Do you think a dictator who can personally kill his enemies, like Saddam or Putin or Kim Jong-Un, cares about some dead bodies that get in their way.

So get out of your it-won’t-be-that-bad sunny dispositions, you deluded liberals. You may not be able to kill people, these guys can.

As they debate their terrible ideas for replace and realize it ain’t gonna work, they’ll just do repeal and who cares what happens to all those people, they’re urban Dems, not us good hard-working real ‘mericuns in rural redneck country.  Screw ’em, send the spoils of victory to us.

Trump proved you can break all the political convention and still win. Any other candidate would have been sunk a dozen times over with the slime that came out of his mouth. But he won. He’s bulletproof because “values voters” don’t care about values, certainly not morality, only power, which now they’ve got and taking it back from them is going to be really tough, at least until they overturn Roe and then realize their pockets have been picked too. The Repubs will govern appealing only to a fraction of their own base and none of the Dem base. This is not even government for 49% of us. Get over it, rigged media, you’re dreaming if you think they’ll think about anybody except ‘me’.

But the only hope is crooked Congress. Already the insurance companies are waking up to Hillary losing and realizing the huge handout they got via ObamaCare is in jeopardy. The Aetna CEO sounds more liberal than Hillary in what he claims needs to happen (to, of course, keep his bonus up). And soon hospitals will remember floods of people in their ERs with no insurance. And doctors and other providers will realize their jobs, or at least their next Mercedes or McMansion may be in jeopardy. The one thing I trust is greed. A hoard of 20,000 lobbyists from the health care sector is now awakened and ready to start lining the palms of Congress, especially the Repugs with their graft to retain their handouts. And that the Repugs (some who aren’t purist doctrine) will listen to. Everyone is on the take and looking how to line their pockets, not support doctrine and their “leader”. Trust the healthcare industry to start buying votes. Doctrine and orthodoxy will easily lose out to graft and corruption.

So what will happen. Simple. replace is too difficult so it will be just repeal. Then the window dressing of replace will be every vested interest in this country getting their favorite way to line their pockets into some grabbag of corruptions. Utterly useless, but lucrative to some special interest, hodgepodge of “ideas” will be the replace. ObamaCare and especially the expanded Medicaid were just ways, via sick poor people, to put more taxpayer money in the hands of the rich. I do trust they’ll find ways to do the replace that helps them and so a few citizens will get some semblance of health care so the medical industry gets its bonuses. Look at Dubya’s Part D – was that anything exact a handout to big pharma and that was a Repug plan, not liberal Dems! It will be the model of replace and it will make a few CEOs and a bunch of lobbyists and the crooked Congress a bunch of money. That prediction we can trust – greed will prevail.

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Learning to live in silence

I like to talk, as anyone who knows me or even just reads this blog can easily conclude. Much of what I say is “negative” which as everyone knows no one likes (try putting that on a dating profile and see how many swipes you get). Sure a little yelling and whining and complaining is commonplace and accepted but really seeing the world for as dark as it is, that’s a no-no.

So I’ll say this now: as much as I can be labeled as seeing doom and gloom and the most negative scenario (and with the response, “I don’t want to hear”) I’m not going to come close to imagining how bad it really is going to be. Because I’d be incapable of murdering someone, because I’m basically honest and can’t imagine cheating others, because I can’t imagine inflicting pain on others for my personal gain. So much for having a clue about the people who can do all those things, the lynch mob about to take over our country.

As the shock of the murder of America is sinking in I am amused at all the people (lefties, mostly) who somehow, not wanting to believe the worst and preferring to live with delusions, say that it won’t be so bad, bouncing back from a resounding defeat of reason and decency with their optimism view that the evil fallen over America can somehow be tamed. And then, of course, they don’t want to hear someone like me talk about how limited their imagination can be about how awful it’s going to be.

So I have to learn to channel my despair into silence. And just sit back and watch as the unimaginable actually happens, that is until the official news agenda (not Fox, it’s way too liberal), modeled after North Korea or Iraq’s Baghdad Bob replace any semblance of “news”. People don’t want to hear how much life sucks because hopelessness is too hard to live with. In fact, some even go so far as to label those who see (and talk about) how life sucks as abnormal – depressed.

And who wants to listen to a downer?

Fortunately, until they start get censorship working with lessons from Chinese control over the Internet, I can still say what I want here. No one has to read this and be shaken out of their illusions they need to face a new day. But for me shouting into the wind with no one listening is sad, but now inevitable. We whine about evil or even just bad stuff as a way to relieve the pressure of the reality of that evil. But we don’t really want to accept any of the whining is actually true. So I can’t dissipate my own sense of how life sucks by ranting on about it because no one wants to listen.

An interesting part of the election is few Hillary supporter, who naturally expected to coast to victory, actually read any of the appalling stuff in Trump or the teabaggers platforms. I think it’s time we should learn to believe these people mean what they say. Some of us dismiss it all as just politics, pandering to voting blocks BUT we’re dealing with true believers here. They’re going to do unimaginable things that you could have learned about my actually listening to them, except you dismissed them as fringe. Now that “fringe” is in charge. ‘repeal and replace’ – the repeal part is true, forget the replace, even window dressing to pretend to care if people die if they can’t get medical care.

The typical liberal is an optimist and also someone who believes in basic goodness of people. Liberals spend little time down in the gutter with the ruthless, who dismiss any notions of civility, any loyalty to law, and least of all any sense of justice. They worship power and will do anything to get it. And then they will use it to crush others without even a shred of conscience.

But what is the power they seek? To protect themselves from what they thinks others might do to them (given their dark view of the world)? To right the wrongs they think have been done to them? A little? But mostly they seek power to impose it on others. The whole “religious freedom” meme has clearly been about their power to impose their religion on me. They’re on the offense not the defense. And winning is everything and winner-take-all. Actually my sense of humanity’s dark side is little different from theirs; they just choose to channel evil rather than denounce it.

Lots of people are going to be hurt in the next four years. And many will actually be killed, if not from direct action, then through neglect. Those with a lust for power can easily ignore the distress of others. Do you think this crowd gives a damn about the suffering they will cause killing health insurance for a hundred million (you think after killing Obamacare they’ll stop there, dream old; the “elderly” won’t predominantly for Repugs and they’ll soon get their chance to hope they can pay their medical bills when Medicare is also repealed)? A favorite plan of the Repugs is to turn Medicaid into block grants, i.e. give our Pete Ricketts a check to spend as he wishes. You really think that’s going to medical care for the poor instead of tax cuts for his rich rancher friends. Oh now, he’d never do that, let people die in the streets so so the rich gets more bucks. Dream on. Why do you think these people won’t kill you – you think they have the slightest moral restraint.

The religinuts demonstrated their colors. For decades they preach about values and then strongly support the most morally repugnant candidate possible. Talk about cognitive dissonance. How could they possibly do that? Because they want the power to force you and me to bend to their will. Convert or die, not just something that happens in repressive Islamic states. It’s Spanish Inquisition time, maybe with a few less bonfires. In zeal, in total conviction they’re right and everyone else is wrong, you think they’ll show any restraint? You think they’ll stop after they beat up gays? Dream on. It will be a frenzy that touches all of us, and then, as religion always does, they’ll turn it on each other. Which sect of xtianity will be the first to be labeled as apostate and then persecuted?

But no one wants to hear any of this. It’s too awful. It’s too much of a downer. Let’s live in our delusions that the world is a decent place, that only a few of our fellow human beings are psychopaths. Typical liberal naivete – people who seek power like this are unfeeling and brutal. Few liberals could kill a person with their bare hands, these people can, and get a mob cheering while they do it. Half of this country simply has no experience with how awful our species can be; sure, in some pathetic backwater country, like a Cambodia where Pol Pot can kill millions, but not here. We have all these checks and balances (did you note the ruling junta now controls all three and will be ruthless in imposing their orthodoxy?), we have respect of law (insured by who? courts (that can be packed)? cops (many in this country already distrust them, wait until Guiliani starts organizing his death squads as Attorney General)). Paraphrasing Stalin, how many divisions do the courts have? How many law-abiding judges will be left after the purge Trump will pull. But then our last resort is just human decency. Or these people aren’t monsters. They may have ideas different than ours but they care about the country and the people too. Ask the people in Haiti or some dictatorship in Africa or North Korea how much demagogues and their brownshirt mobs care about the people? How long until “second amendment rights” becomes the cover for death squads? Can’t happen here, only Argentina – dream on.

It’s awful and you don’t want to hear about. It can’t happen here with 200 years of rights guaranteed by law (right, law is what a majority of the votes in Congress say it is). The “liberal” 9th Circuit Court can simply be defunded, who’s going to stop that? The only protection you have is when the controlling interests accept the principles of law and justice and fairness. When they’re prepared to stomp anyone who gets in the way of their greed and lust for power, you think pieces of paper and traditions is going to stop them?

But outside this blog post I don’t get to say things like this. Not yet because of censorship but because anyone who can hear my voice doesn’t want to hear it saying these things. I personally and those connected with me will suffer. But it will be nothing compared to what happens to others. At least I’m a white male and if need be I can easily fake born-again to avoid the lash or bonfire or prison. No others will get screwed before me, and far worse. All I can do for them is share a sense of outrage, which will accomplish exactly nothing. I’m uncertain whether I can survive to my natural death (interesting that Trump wants to halt the right-to-die stuff in his words about healthcare yesterday, he wants to torture us, not have the way out of secobarbital). I’ve never lived in poverty, I doubt I’ll be able to cope when it hits me around 80YO and my funds have run out.

Even the few people I know how are equally terrified as me still don’t want to think of how bad it’s going to be. I even have heard Trump will be impeached (plenty of reasons to do it, but you think the stoodges he’s going to control in Congress would ever do that – no, he can murder someone, in person, on camera, and nothing will happen). Elizabeth Warren says she’ll fight him when he starts attacking people – would it be true, sorry Liz (who I admire) you think your voice means anything to a dictatorship. And, sure, funds for mental health care can be eliminated by executive order, but of course that’s not going to happen.

But I can’t talk about any of this because no one wants to hear. So my task, other than trying to figure out how to survive (as long as I can stand it, then where’s the black market secobarbital), is to learn to live in silence. My head is exploding with despair and other than these words I will have to learn to endure in silence.

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Virtual hike (fail)

I’ve made various posts about doing “virtual hikes”, perhaps culminating with my post about five years on a virtual hike. I was on a roll accumulating lots of treadmill miles (and successfully losing a lot of pounds while getting in the best hiking shape of my life) and then things kinda fell apart for me. And I’m suffering the consequences – without considerable and frequent exercise I gain weight (lots of boring posts here about my previous effective weight loss). So I really need to get moving again.

For many reasons I can’t actually take the real hike I dream about. And staying in shape for hiking (plus burning calories) on a treadmill is really boring and difficult, especially without a training goal (like a long real hike). Even worse is having to drive to the gym (previously I had treadmill and stationary bike in my basement, easy to stick with the program).

So I thought it was time to restart with a new virtual hike. Somehow keeping all my exercise data and converting that to a virtual hike was effective for me. I could always invent some statistical goal (most of xxx, setting new record) or converting static miles to the virtual hike created, completely arbitrary, of course, goals. Seeing a trail on Google Earth and seeing some place down the trail I could reach with a short-term plan provided me the incentive. IOW, silly as it may seem this works for me.

But what trail to do? Ever since seeing the very fictional and highly romanticized movie, The Way, I’ve dreamed of doing the Camino de Santiago in Spain.  I’ve watched the movie so many times plus examined the route and many locations with Google (both satview and many streetviews and attached photos) I feel like I almost know what it looks like. Oh well, I’m not actually going to do that hike, but as Joost says, ‘a man can dream’.

When I was doing my virtual Pacific Crest (starting with John Muir segment) I had various aids, particularly a detailed map (with measuring tools) where I could upload someone’s GPS track (making some minor corrections to match “truth” as see through Google Earth Study and other sources). Plus I’ve actually backpacked, for real, portions of that trail and sometimes my virtual hike overlapped my memories of my real hikes.

But Spain, that was somehow problematic. I don’t have good maps and so would have to rely totally on Google, which is fine, but it’s missing some of the calculation tools I need to translate treadmill miles to actual map locations (measuring all the twists and turns of a real trail to get accurate mileage and thus translate my workout miles to locations).

But I thought maybe I could invent my own tool, get some geospatial data from Spain to load into my program, and most importantly get an accurate GPS track for the Camino. So off to Google search and sure enough there were a few GPS tracks I could use as a starting point. But most GPS tracks (including the ones I’ve made (for local trails) and frequently discussed in my posts) are a bit of a mess – they have gaps, they record wanderings of whoever made the track off the actual trail. So getting whatever “raw” data I could find (ideally multiple datasets in order to reconcile) plus then using all the corrections I can extract viewing the approximate tracks on Google Earth I had some chance of building an accurate track to use for my virtual hike.

Great, now I’ve got two projects: a somewhat challenging programming and data analysis exercise (have tried before to automate reconciling multiple and contradictory tracks) and then a new virtual hike that can occupy me for a few months.

But as I began to work on a proof of concept (manual exploration of the data issues to solve with programming) I encountered an unexpected issue that then led to great disappointment, on several levels. The Camino de Santiago is not just one route but actually many different routes (all, however, ending in Santiago de Compostela, in Galacia). The most commonly followed (matching the movie The Way) starts in St. Jean Pied-de-Port in France, near the western edge of the Pyrennes and near the Spanish border at Navarre. So here’s the track I first began to analyze:

stjeangate

This is the track (orange line) superimposed on Google Earth view of St. Jean with a small insert of recognizable scene, the city gate connecting to bridge over the Nive river (the upper left corner of the inset photo is approximately where the gate is on the Google satview). But? Where on that orange line is the actual start of the Camino? The orange track starts outside the town at “nowhere”. Originally I thought this might have been where this peregrino (trekker) spend the night and started their hike but Google shows nothing there.

So right away in attempting to define what operations I need to perform to correct this track I needed to find the “start” (whatever that might mean). And that’s where this project began to fall apart. First I couldn’t really get an answer to that question (guess only ground truth, like the first marker or something like that) would give me my answer – not something available to me (and following the Google streetview didn’t help, except revealing yet another arch that might be the one from the movie). Second this also showed me the daunting task of trying to reconcile 800+ kilometers of GPS track with “ground truth” (at least as I can discern via Google Earth) – a ton of viewing work plus some complicated programming to incorporate that discovered data into my code that would correct the “true” track. And third, right away I did discover there are actually two different routes from St. Jean to Roncesvalles. And all this complexity for just the first 28km of the hike! And for the typical first day on most itinerary of a 48 day trek.

So weeks of work before I even have a track to start recording my miles. Great, just what I need, another excuse to delay starting my virtual hike. But a good opportunity to fantasize about going to Spain for months for the sole purpose of producing (and publishing) the best track available.

But far worse was finding the massive amount of information about hiking the Camino, especially the many many guided tours (all with some but not very helpful route information). Oh joy, instead of a nice peaceful spiritual experience with great companions  (as per the movie) this hike is as bad as visiting Disneyland or walking across LA basin, mobs of all sorts of people (in fact, once before I believe I saw that 500,000 people per year do some portion of the trail). Plus, often the “trail” is just a walk through city streets or along (or even on) highways. Not exactly the bucolic scene from the movie, walking in exhaust fumes of trucks instead of peaceful woods with sheep.

When I first moved to California I was very excited to visit Yosemite. I’d heard about it, seen lots of photos (esp. as romanticized by Ansel Adams) and it sounded wonderful. Then I arrived, for the first time, shortly after Memorial Day. A total zoo! (but nowhere near as bad as it is today where cars wait for hours at the entrance gate to be admitted). Now all those other people had just as much right to be there as I did, but, wow, the mob surely ruined my experience (go to Yosemite in winter, still crowded but not as awful as summer).

So as I found more and more information about the Camino the worse it got – mobs on tours and ugly trek and tourist traps and junk for sale. I might as well be walking about here on city streets in Omaha (or the few trails here). The two trails I’ve recorded with my GPS, the MoPac and the Wabash (both rails-to-trails projects) manage to create some isolation even though they’re in the midst of farmland and houses and even towns. In short, not much different than the Camino (except for that old world charm, plus all the tourist trap stuff).

So this little exercise led to two fails – getting my track was way too much work, given the purpose is really the incentive for actual walking; and, any notion I had I might actually do the Camino is gone (the police officer in The Way said he’d walk the Camino again on his 70th birthday – given my 70th has come and gone, somehow I thought this year I might actually do it).

Oh, the disillusionment of reality – now what am I going to do? Whine, cry – stuck in self-pity. What I need is a new planet with a wonderful hike and almost no other people – again as Joost says, a man can dream.

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Almost over

It’s been over two months since my last post but I haven’t given up on blogging, I’ve just been distracted. It seems it’s important, like exercise, to really stick with blogging, every day, or else the gaps just get longer and longer.

But among the various negatives weighing on me at least one, hence my title, will soon be over – the nightmare of this election with the most abhorrent (Trump, of course) candidate in my lifetime. Trump makes politics so disgusting I’d explode if I did any ranting (like in some of my earlier posts) if I even made any comments. It’s impossible to express as much outrage as he deserves. But the very sad (and hugely depressing to me) part is that a big portion of the U.S. will vote for him, clear proof that a substantial portion of this country wants to end democracy and install a madman dictator. But don’t get me started or I might break my keyboard.

Not only has my blogging suffered but almost all the other bits have fallen apart. I keep kicking myself because I’m actually doing what I swore I wouldn’t and that is regain some of my weight loss. At each new “record” (in the wrong direction, up) I swear again I’ll start TODAY reversing it, but thus far haven’t been able to actually follow through. While my eating is not great the real problem is lack of exercise. Having to drive to a gym is just not the same as having the exercise equipment in my house, available at any time. Plus I found, before, when I got hungry instead of eating I could work out – now, faced with drive to gym, I just snack. Bad, I know. My fault, no excuses. The real question is when I turn it around.

For a while I was posting progress on my new found effort to do strength training, culminating in my 1,000,000 lbs post. Shortly after that in attempting to update my Office 365, poof, something went wrong and my spreadsheets disappeared. Ugh. While I could probably fix it, stuff like that (proving again, if it ain’t broke don’t fix it – I hate “routime” updates because sooner or later they break something that was working fine). Not having the numbers and analysis and charts really destroys much of my motivation.

But all this is still just excuses – I could do better if I really wanted to.

Meanwhile, for a couple of weeks, I thought some real work (instead of fake exercise) would do the trick. I had a 20 cubic yard dumpster sitting in the driveway of my mother’s (now my) house and I started, with a real bang, the long ordeal of cleaning out this house. That was hard work, plenty of sweating with that. Well today I got the report from the dumpster service and sure enough I exceeded the contract weight limit, all of 3.5tons, aka, 7000lbs. I was doing more than that (often more than twice) in a single gym session, but I can assure you it was way more work than moving some iron on gym machines (and I moved, as in tossed out, a remarkable amount of iron junk, my dad saved everything he ever encountered).

It’s a weird experience cleaning out your parents house. They weren’t exactly hoarders but they did save everything as long as they had more space to fill. When my dad died my mother wasn’t fit enough to clean out very much. Then she became fairly physically limited and her junk began to accumulate. But it was amazing all the stuff I threw out. I told my counselor it was strange and sad as it felt like I was throwing out lives. Of course both my parents are now dead, what difference does a bunch of their stuff matter. They even hoarded a bunch of stuff from my childhood (lots of busted and worn out toys). I assume they thought I’d want them (whatever for!). So at least some of the trash in the dumpster was my trash.

And finally, #GBR. Yes, I know this isn’t Twitter (the whole fascination with hashtags is fairly silly to me). For those uninitiated GBR stands for Go Big Red, Big Red otherwise being known as the Huskers (aka Cornhuskers, aka University of Nebraska sports teams). Amazingly the Huskers have accumulated a 7-0 record for first time since 2001. So nice guy Mike Riley is gradually making believers of all of Blowpini’s (Bo Pelini, happily the former coach and a guy approaching Trump’s level of nastiness and lack of self control and narcissism) fans. Riley seems to actually be able to figure out what’s happening in the game, while it’s happening, and make adjustments (hence the Huskers having such good 4th quarters) whereas Pelini had to wait to Tuesday and watch the tape to figure out how he’d screwed up.

So at least one time the good guy is winning and the bad guy lost; let’s hope that carries through for the election.

And, btw, had a bit of strange and unexpected adventure. My mother owned property and also some mineral rights in Oklahoma that I’m trying to figure out the legal requirements to transfer through her estate. That almost got me arrested down in Canadian County Oklahoma where a typical southern sheriff type had to strut his stuff and do his macho thing with I absentmindely had a pocket knife in my pocket trying to enter a courthouse (I literally didn’t even know I had it). Anyway I survived that, learned what a property abstract was, and so now I’m a rancher (actually a tenant rancher does all the work, but I have the dirt where the poor forage grows for some cattle and a donkey). And I’m really ambivalent because there is also oil and then slightly less dirty natural gas, and, hurrah, a wind turbine, so I’ve got a play in old energy and clean energy. Never thought I’d be involved in such stuff. And I really got a laugh reading that the governor of Oklahoma decided a day of prayer was needed for the oil industry since the reduced world prices has hurt Oklahoma’s revenues (and mine). Right, I’m sure the almighty, even if it existed, would have Oklahoma’s reduced oil taxes top of his agenda with much of the world in flames with horrible stuff going on.

One of the places I find Trump most clueless (and it’s really hard to narrow it down even to just 100 incredibly stupid things he believes) is his stupid pandering about coal. Yep, coal is in trouble and big coal companies (due to stupid financial management, not EPA) are going broke and miners are losing their jobs.

DUH, stupid. Check out North Dakota. Coal isn’t being destroyed by EPA, or even alternative energy. It’s fracking (which of course Trump also loves). Fracking is so successful (go check out my posts about vacation to North Dakota) that the U.S. is awash in both oil and especially natural gas. Hard-nosed business executives (hardly bleeding heart environmentalists) at electricity generating companies are massively switching to natural gas (much bigger shift that green energy). It’s convenient (easier to manage, smaller plants closer to demand, fast to throttle) and now cheaper and a bit cleaner. It’s called the market, Donald, you stupid idiot. EPA didn’t do it, North Dakota and Saudi Arabia did (the Saudis got really scared when oil interests here started lobbying to allow exports again, not only was the U.S. on a path to energy independence (dirty energy) it was on a path to becoming an exporter – Saudi sends their kids to bizschool and can do the math, most fracking projects are highly leveraged and fracking is not profitable at lower prices, so Saudis drove down the world oil price to bankrupt South Dakota and Oklahoma frackers).

Coal just got caught in the crossfire of nothing but pure economics and market forces.

Oh, and btw, yeah, China is running a hoax about climate change. They managed to do a 180 and instead of building a new coal plant a week decided to get a monopoly over green energy. So bye-bye steadily increasing exports of coal. And worse, hello, to much lower prices for green energy as the world just passed a milestone that production capacity (not yet installed capacity) for green energy now exceeds dirty energy. Amazing what market forces can do.

Coal is dead and Trump can’t do anything about it except con a bunch of stupid miners into telling them what they want to hear. If Trump actually believes a word of what he said then Wharton should take his MBA back for totally misunderstanding microeconomics. Oh wait, he’s proved that time and time again already with his other incredibly bad business ventures. I hope Wharton is suitably impressed at their totally ignorant graduate, just glad it wasn’t Sloan.

So maybe I’ll get an energy boost if this country gets sane enough to not put Putin’s puppet and wannabe dictator into a job that he won’t even have the attention span to do as badly as he claims he wants to do. Can’t wait.

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Another day

I watched both my parents go through this and now it’s my turn. A day is just to be endured, to make it through the day until you can sleep again. And then start over again tomorrow. Until it finally ends. Even though that takes a long time.

I have strange feelings about my mother. Her life, at the end, and even before, was fairly miserable. Not physical pain but just hours and hours of thinking, trying to find a way to not think, not feel. Maybe pain is better, keeps you focused; maybe not, but just trying to make it through the day is painful too. Often life ends long before the major organ failure.

I have many reasons to be thankful. All sorts of things are in my advantage. Lots of people have it far worse. But none of that adds up to anything with hours and hours just hoping to make it through the day until sleepy enough to get some relief, wishing for the long sleep of complete relief.

Brains, consciousness, are a curse. Better to just be existential. Spend the day looking for food, avoiding being eaten, until finally your number is up. Have your brief life of independence where your only purpose is reproduction and the spawning the next generation to suffer. Then you’re useless, time to get eaten, but the survival instincts keep you from just lying down and giving up. So we endure. Until finally we can’t anymore and suffer until it finally ends.

Anything else is just an illusion, something evolution programmed into us. Pure beasts just live, but we got stuck with more thinking and consciousness. Thinking leads to inevitable conclusion of uselessness. But that would have to be a recessive trait or else thinking beings would be obliterated by natural selection. So we invent delusions and do all nature expects of us, live long enough to breed successfully – after that, who cares what happens to us, except rarely does it just kill us quickly and get it over with.

So now I just endure days. Time that should be precious and treasured is just something that passes so slowly that I can hardly invent enough diversions to survive being awake. I won’t repeat what my mother said in her first few months at the nursing home, but I get it.

Oh why not repeat it. She was 101. She said, every time I saw her, “why can’t I just die”. I actually think she was afraid of dying so it was still kind of an act (holding evil at bay by calling out the negative). She stopped saying that as time went on but meanwhile just shrunk and shrunk until there was hardly anything left, and then she was finally gone.

I’m too healthy for that. Unless something unexpected gets me I’ve got years more to endure. Just day after day of nothing, but not really being able to just turn off consciousness so it is just nothing, no thoughts. I know the answer is to want nothing, to banish all need, for everything, but that’s hard to do. Too much biochemistry works against that. My body wants things my mind is prepared to abandon but the body wins. Too bad we can’t just turn off, do a shutdown. But it’s too hard, takes too much effort, plus we’re programmed to keep going no matter what.

Buddha never answered the question – why is there suffering? Because he (if ‘he’ existed) wanted a spiritual answer. It’s actually just a simple answer of chemistry. An anthropic universe has certain rules that makes life inevitable, just somewhat more complex chemistry, which is just macroscopic effects of physics. Then biology takes over, more complex lifeforms will evolve, although not always, only with other accidents of physics. And at some point the evolution of complex neural networks will represent a natural selection advantage. And then, as not the end product, but as a highly improbable, lifeform have the misfortune to think to about all this, rather than to just do our duty as carriers of selfish molecules.

We suffer because that is the way of the universe. Suffering is not defined in physics, only in psychology. It is our ego, our self-awareness, our consciousness that is the root of suffering, not nature. Nature is inherently cruel and uncaring, but only when viewed from some external platform of moral judgement. Chemistry is just chemistry, biology is just biology. It would continue whether we’re here to think about it or not. Suffering is the inherent consequence of consciousness and that’s it. And there is no cure. And there is no way to even avoid playing the game.

I’m not sure I can learn to endure, just to tolerate time awake as a curse with no way out.

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