Sunday, August 09, 2009

Sunday Random Ten

The grandparents are here! The grandparents are here!

As usual when the in-laws show up, life has taken on a sort of random, meandering quality. So in honor of this weird evntful non-event, I'm just sitting here with Little Miss in the background watching "Dora the Explorer" (or as she describes it, "DoradoradoratheExplorer!" pulling over the random things I've been thinking about.

1. How is it that a little girl can be adorable and yet stubbornly impossible at the same time?

2. Having just posted a long rumination about the Tour de France, I was amused to see that the great race has also had its great cheats, in particular Hippolyte Acouturier,

whose notion of drafting one of the race vehicles by tying a wire to the bumper and holding the other end in his teeth pretty much fits the description in the article: "While simply catching a ride from a car is an undeniably effective way to win a bicycle race, its lack of deniability and general dumb shit blatancy severely detract from this being a usable method of cheating." Deplore the man's ethics if you will, but you have to respect both his ingenuity and his craziness.

3. I picked up earlier that the Transportation Security people have now got adorable little uniforms and steenkin' badges and everything, but, really, THISis ridiculous. TSA peeps, repeat after me: I am not a copper. I am not a copper. I am not..."

4. Is it a relict of our arboreal days that we learn to throw fairly quickly (if not accurately, at least not all of us) but catching seems to be a late-developing skill?

5. Has anyone else thought lately about the cell phone as the pocketwatch of the 21st Century?I know that I don't wear a wristwatch anymore, and am pretty much timeless when out of cell range. IS this happening to everyone, or is it just me?

6. I'm not sure I can stand much more politics as usual. When the so-called health care "debate" centers around lies about euthanasia for seniors and ginned-up riots at town halls, I'm afraid that the state of American political give-and-take is so deteriorated as to make the antics of the Imperial Roman senate look like the deepest cogitation of the great philosophers.

7. If you haven't seen Swiper the Fox dressed up as a giant hot dog, you haven't...I'm not sure what you haven't, but you haven't something. One of the more interesting things about having kids later in life is it gives you perspective on the stuff you loved as a kid.And, frankly, that perspective isn't real flattering sometimes. Much - perhaps most - of what gets fed to kids is utter crap. Dora the Explorer is actually more tolerable than most, but the whole notion of Dora as a tween idol? Hmmm...not so much.

8. We here at the Fire Direction Center seem to be singlehandedly supporting the commercial rock industry in Northwest Oregon. This may or may not be a good thing. But the results are pleasing. What is it about people that we seem largely unable to resist the impulse to fiddle with the vista that nature presents us.

I wonder if some far future archaeologist will find the stones we've laid and scratch her head, trying to figure out what the hell those odd primitives were up to.

9. One thing I just don't get about the politics of natural resources is the whole "drill, baby, drill" and the Right's attitude of "Nothing to see here, move along, there's noting going on..." I've been thinking about this with the recent curvetting about over Detroit bailouts, green energy and oil drilling leases off California. I mean, petroleum geology is a specialty but the overall geology of petroleum isn't rocket science. Biomass requires geologic levels of pressure and temperature to transform organic hydrocarbon to keratin and then petroleum. This HAS to happen in geologic time; a minimum of thousands of years, and more likely tens of thousands. I've never read of a petroleum source younger than Pliocene age (>1.8 million years old).

So think about the chronology of petroleum in the Industrial Age: essentially ALL the petroleum used by Man has been used between 1850 and today, a period of 150 years. To go from exploration to production to consumption takes a barrel of oil perhaps forty years and typically as little as twenty.

Do the math: 1 million years plus to make it, twenty to use it.

We're running out of oil. Not today, not tomorrow, not next week. But not that long from now.

So we can either pretend that we're not and get gobsmacked by the Post-petroleum Era. Or not. Go figure which will be less painful.

10. Interesting conversation with my daughter this morning. She was playing her favorite game, pretending to be a baby. So I asked her: do you remember what it was like when you were a real baby. And she replied (translated from the Maxine): "I was in a school and there are lots of grownups and no other babies and they didn't want to see me being a baby."Hmmm. THAT's interesting. She's an intriguing little girl. I hope to be around long enough to know the woman she grows into.


Pluto said...

Jeez, Chief, you really know how to dump stuff on us. There's about 2-3 weeks of material here.

Here's my first take on your posts (undoubtedly more to follow):

Re: 6. State of American discourse.
Basically I agree. I find that I can get both sides agree by starting with facts that they can't argue with (sun rises in the east) and making factual and very neutrally worded statements.

The problem occurs when I leave and the two sides immediately start baiting each other. The level of discourse has fallen to the point where the participants see no reason to participate beyond calling each other names. Is this any way to run a country?

This is one of the three major reasons why I suspect that the next step for the country is dissolution instead of Empire, hopefully (but not predictably) peaceful.

The other reasons, for those who are curious, is that too big to fail has become too big to succeed. The old Soviet bloc and several Eastern Europe countries have dissolved into smaller (and hopefully more successful) countries. Many Western European countries are facing similar pressures to become smaller.

Finally, the US is rapidly losing the support of its most capable citizens such as most of the readers of this blog. Societies without the support of the professional class are like houses that don't get regular maintenance. To misquote a famous politician who faced a similar problem, a house that receives no regular maintenance cannot long survive.

Re: 9, politics of natural resources. See above, all issues, including healthcare and resources have become points to argue about and intentionally fail to agree.

The goal of these discussions isn't to solve the problem, it is to back the opponent into a corner.

Lisa said...

Throwing vs. catching -- very interesting. I am immediately brought to mind of the psychological and environmental ramifications.

First thought: our forebear's mentality. Ingather a lot -- as much as you can (which still might be rather paltry.) Then weed through, throwing out that which might be decayed or toxic, or just unsavory. Might our wastrel ways not be built in? Maybe we are all just crazy squirrels gathering nuts for a reason.

Catching is also the focus in our psychological makeup, I think.

Throw out the seine net and see what shows up. The challenge is the hunt (the catch), and we have manifold ways in which we execute the catch.

But most of us have a rather disposable mentality when it comes to other people (the throw). While throwing them away may cause some rancor and we don't usually execute the act with aplomb, we can always get back on the catcher's mound . . .

Catching (getting) is the major skill; throwing is a necessity, but not necessarily an art, unless you're in the big leagues.

mike said...

Chief -

I thought I would see you pedaling over the bridge this weekend - maybe wearing a yellow shirt and leading the other 18000 Portlanders

FDChief said...

Pluto, Lisa: Hmmm... Interesting points. Let me think about that a little.

mike: Debra and I haven't done Bridge Pedal for about 4 years now, between a combination of babysitting and child-transportation issues, and the very bad experiences we had in two successive years with congestion and bike traffic jams on the route. We might try it again a couple years from now when the littlies can ride along...

Lisa said...


Jim feels throwing and catching require the same skills -- true?