Thursday, July 28, 2016

Wherein I beg for money.

I don't normally beg for money.

Well, okay, there's the whole "standing at the Rosa Parks offramp with the "I need whisky" sign" thing, but, hey...sometimes there must be whisky regardless of the household budget.

But. This September I'm taking part in an Alzheimers fundraiser. I'm part of a group that's walking for Jimmy Conway, a player from the old NASL Timbers. But I'm also taking part for my own father, the Master Chief, who died of - I suspect as much as the stroke that carried him off - mortification that he was losing his mind to senility.

IT's no big thing. I walk around Portland International Raceway with a group of friends from the Timbers Army. LAst year I made it barely past the start house before my bad hip forced me to stop. This year I'm gonna make it all the way around, dammit. The Master Chief would expect nothing less.

So. I'm putting this here in hopes that you might toss a few dollars into my tin for Jimmy, and Jack Lawes and I promise - promise! - that this time I won't spend it on whisky.

If you follow the link above, I'm down there on the bottom right; John Lawes. Click "donate".


No whisky this time. Really. Swear ta God.

Wednesday, July 27, 2016

Electoral Sigmoidoscopy

I won't pretend to be in luuuuurve with HRC. She's an order or magnitude better politically and as a homo sapiens than the clown the GOP is running, so there's that.
(For what it's worth, the funniest piece of political news of the week has been Trump inciting Russian intelligence to pirate Clinton's e-mails. Because it's such a perfect sort of Trump-thinks-about-as-far-as-the-tip-of-his-of-course-it's-not-tiny-it's-YUUUGE-penis thing that Trump does all the time. In that the fucking dope has, in effect, just given the Russian commo intel people an open invitation and excuse for when they hack President Trump and Secretary of State Gingrich's private e-mails.

The laugh is in watching Trump thinking how that Trump - being the Smartest Guy in the Room - is SO going to "out-deal" Putin because he knows Putin and he's such a smart deal-maker, while watching Putin's smile of contempt for the combed-over skinsack that is so immense that it's practically visible from orbit.

The old KGB operative knows perfectly well that he's going to play the simpleminded egotistical blowhard like a fucking ocarina, and he smiles and nods and just knows that he has to sit there and the boob will trigger the booby trap and blow himself and his country sky-high. Watching Trump think he's playing Putin is kind of like watching Wile E. Coyote setting an Acme trap. Or it would be, if the dumb fucker wasn't within one standard deviation of being leader of the Free World...)
What kinda gripes me, tho, is to hear my Bernie pals griping about how Sanders would have done SO much better in the general.

Seriously, folks? Given that the GOP Pretty Hate Machine never really spun up against Bernie we have no idea what would have happened once the swiftboaters and ratfuckers and liemeisters started in on him the way they have on HRC for the past 20 years.

But let me take a guess.

Socialist? COMMIE! Ranty Grampy? Hippie tax-and-spender? Free college? JEW!?

Think that might have come spewing 24-7 from Fox and Fat Rushbo and Beck and Breitbart and all the other flying monkeys of the Right? Think that the "mainstream media" might have picked up on that? Think that might have been hammering into the U.S. Publc's teensy tinsy brains from CNN and MSNBC and freaking ESPN for all I know.

So. Be proud of Bernie for what he represents.

But don't kid me you KNOW he'd have cleaned up in the general. Because you know as well as I do that the Public is an Ass and the GOP is a bunch of mad renegade proctologists.
And, yeah. I kinda feel that way about this election, too.

Tuesday, July 26, 2016

Gem among the dross

I didn't want to make it sound like I was slagging off on everything in Aberdeen, even though I couldn't help noticing that probably something between six and eight out of ten people I saw walking the streets today was obese.
And not just cute-n-cuddly, round-n-roly-poly big but freaking huge; big-ass butts and ginormous legs and big honkin' peniculae lapping down over their hips (what in the service we used to call "Dunlaps' Disease" because your gut done lapped over onto your legs...). I mean...the fuck? Is the county seat of Grays Harbor County some sort of secret repository in the National Strategic Morbidly Obese Caucasian Reserve or something?

So not only were these people walking around looking all poor and beat down, but they were...well, huge.

I know the connection between poverty and bad diet and obesity, but...damn. Like heart attacks walking around in bad clothes.

That was pretty depressing.

Anyway, I wanted to say that I did find something of value here; the 8th Street Alehouse.
The pub fries were crisp and savory and hot and with the spicy remoulade were a perfect match to the malty house ale, and the steamed clams were resonant with brine and sweet with butter and were a boon companion to the grapefruit IPA (and I don't say that lightly - I am typically not a fruit-beer fan!)

What turned out to be amusing was the couple at the next table turned out to be in the consulting business as well; she a hydrologist and fisheries specialist, he an air and water contaminant analyst. He couldn't remember the name of the old Chicago Cub's broadcaster (Jack Brickhouse was the man's name, by the way, a memory from my mother's summers listening to the Cub on the radio...)and that led us to talking about this and that and eventually found out what we did for livings. So we spent a bunch of time talking about funny consulting things.

(BTW - In case you don't know GFT conventions, if I show pictures of people who either haven't explicitly given me permission to show their faces or I haven't been in a position to ask, I only show their legs and/or feet. It seems like a compromise that lets me preserve their privacy but show something of them on a medium that is as visual as literary...)

Anyway, the 8th Street Alehouse was a good place to be after a long day in the hot sun wrangling samplers full of goo.
(Aberdeen, as you can imagine, is built on tens of feet of sloppy Chehalis River alluvium. For a day's drilling that's fine. For a week? Christ, it's like punching the clock. How many samplers full of gray duck shit can you stare at, pocket-pen, torvane, and worm-roll before shoving the goop in a baggie and moving on to the next sampler full of gray duck shit? Before getting bored out of your fucking skull, I mean..?)
And it's probably worth a look back in after tomorrow's day-full-of-duck-shit; I haven't tried the fish and chips yet.

There's only one teesny little problem...
The 8th Street Ale House is in Hoquiam.

So I guess Aberdeen still pretty much just sucks pipe.

Sunday, July 24, 2016

Down and out in Aberdeen

I had never been to Aberdeen, Washington, before.
I'm not sure if any of you are familiar with this place. It's on the inside of the long Willapa Bay embayment that forms the far southwest part of Washington State, where the Chehalis River empties into the big estuary.

Aberdeen clings to the south edge of the Olympic Mountains massif and appears to be a very typical sort of Northwest coastal town; wedged between the mountains and the sea, shoved into the shelf of flatlands that are entirely too likely to disappear when the inevitable tidal inundation rises up from the dark Pacific beyond.

I wasn't sure why the sign at the end of Washington Highway 12 read "Come As you Are" until I turned into 2nd Street looking for one of my drilling locations and came across "Kurt Cobain Landing", the truly bizarre and tacky little park at the end of a dead-end street in the Felony Flats neighborhood.

The effect on a passing stranger is unsettling. The Flats have not materially changed since Cobain's time; the little houses and cheap apartments are dingy and rundown, the streets weave drunkenly as the shoddy paving crumbles away. The "park" itself is nothing more than a stand of trees behind the crash barrier at the end of the street, a sign with a picture of Cobain, a fugly cement guitar standing strangely erect from a dark block, priapic fretboard pointed skyward.

The Young Street Bridge further on is supposed to have a thicket of Cobain-inspired graffitti underneath, but I was busy and couldn't take the time to wander over and peek at others' necrophilia.
I spent the better part of a sunny afternoon driving around Aberdeen and neighboring Hoquiam and marveling at the sheer unattractive poverty of the place. The place is, for lack of a better word, a dump.

Don't mistake me; I've lived in the Northwest a long time now and I understand what most of these coastal towns are. These are the land's end, the far edge of the wealthy nation that sprawls across the continent behind them. This is hardscrabble land, Trump country. There was never much here. Timber and fish, for the most part, the land too steep and stony to farm, the great cities behind the wall of mountains too distant for commerce.

The fishing was never easy; the salmon runs hammered flat by fishwheels and gillnets, the ocean cold and cruel as the storms of winter claw down out of the Gulf of Alaska, and the timber...the locals will tell you that the hippies and the tree-huggers locked up the timber.

The reality is that the first lumbermen felled all the huge trees with careless greed and never restored the mountains. The forests, when they were replanted, were steep and costly to log, and the timber companies found it more profitable to ship the logs they did fell directly to Asia. The big mills closed, one by one, and never reopened.

The jobs are gone, the wealth - what little there was of it - is gone, it seems like even the hope is gone. The people are gone; Aberdeen has never regained the people it lost after the Depression. About sixteen thousand grim, grungy looking people still live here but even in the cheerful July sunshine Aberdeen looks depressing.

No wonder Cobain killed himself.
At least there's work for me here, and beginning tomorrow we will do it, our drill roaring and grinding through the dumpy streets of Felony Flats.

As Cobain might have said; nevermind.

Friday, July 22, 2016

Friday Jukebox: Obamamerica Hellscape Edition

A little piece of America back when it was still great. Well, sorta. So long as you were white. And straight. And male.

But, hey, who isn't, amirite?

Sorry. I just needed a little cool West Coast sound to chill me out after the ridiculous shit that went down in the Sportspalast along the Cuyahoga. Hope you have a swingin' weekend.

Escape from North Portland


Coffee's on, cats are fed.
Got the ballistic vest and two full magazines for the AR-10, the older kid says he'll man the fifty-cal in the turret for the run in to work this morning.

Just another Casual Friday in the post-apocalyptic hellscape that Donald Trump assured me just last night is the Obamerica we now live in.
I hear this stuff he says and I want to laugh; that our country is a festering shithole simultaneously over-regulated yet terrifyingly crimeridden and impoverished? Elect me because my magical Trumpenpowers will make everything great again!

I...doh...guh...I can't even...what kind of fucking third-grader believes that nonsense?

And then I look at the numbers and see that something between 3 and 4 out of 10 of my fellow citizens ARE no smarter than that fucking third-grader, and it makes me want to weep.

Tuesday, July 19, 2016

They cry peace, peace, but there is no...what, what?

I've tried to avoid the toxic fever-swamp that is the GOP convention like I try to avoid bad beer, vegan barbeque, and sleeping with people crazier than I am. But it's really hard to keep out the sickly stench of the hate, paranoia, rage, and fear that seem to rise from off that seething heap of "conservative" pismires like stink off a fresh pile of park dogshit.

I have no sympathy for that niddering throng of past-their-sell-by-date-Eurocentric/Christopathic-morons. Largely because of their weapons-grade stupid rallying whimper:

Make America Great Again!

I hear that and I can't help thinking; seriously, people? Because we're living in a post-apocalyptic hellscape? WTF?

But then I pause for a moment and think about the sort of input we're exposed to in the present Information Age. Ed over at Gin and Tacos had a sort of paranoid-fear moment the other day:
"With the unbroken string of horrible, crazy shit that has cast a pall over the world in the last few months, and without the events in Dallas, in St. Paul, and (the first) Baton Rouge being fully digested and comprehended, there was no part of me able to even take in another story along the same lines. Throw in the major European/Asian terrorist attack of the week and I didn't just ignore the news on Sunday. I actively avoided it."
Yep. Especially if you're a news junkie. CNN and MSNBC and (of course) Fox "News" is full of this shit. If you take their "reportage" at face value you'd begin to believe that we really ARE living in the End of Days. Wars, rumors of wars, fire, murder, headchopping Muslims, cats and dogs living together...


Stop. Think for a moment.

When was the last time your entire town or city was burned by an invading horde of horse nomads?

When was the last time your neighborhood was shadowed by a towering pyramid of the freshly-harvested skulls of your family, friends, and neighbors?

When you consider the sort of fucking ginormous catastrophes that litter human history – famines, plagues, folk-migrations, full-on civilization collapse – we really are living in pretty tranquil times.

That doesn't sell advertising minutes on CNN, though, so you'd never know it. But, really.

It kinda amazes me when I stop and think of CNN covering the Black Death, or the Mongol invasions of Eastern Europe. THAT would have been epic.

That frame for the story helps me keep my perspective.

That, and avoiding fucking CNN like I try to avoid bad beer, vegan barbeque, and sleeping with people crazier than I am.

Friday, July 08, 2016


So, in quick succession, a couple of different coppers killed some black people, and a black person killed some cops.

As is almost always the case, depending on their outlook, various other people mourned and defended the people killed by the coppers and excoriated the coppers, and various other-other people exalted and mourned the coppers and excoriated black people.

Well, you know my position on the whole business of being so fucking easy to kill people with guns in this country, so I'm not going there

But, if you want, here's Fred Clarke with a good point on the whole business of coppers, badges, and guns:
"This is why our constantly armed law enforcement can be police, but can no longer really be police officers. The office, like the badge, is overshadowed by the gun as an insufficient, subordinate source of authority, meaning and legitimacy."
Is it possible to "enfore the law" in this country without firearms?

Sadly, no. But it's a hell of a brilliant thought.

But that's not what I'm here to talk about.

First of all, and kind of beside my point, if the joker who sniped five coppers in Dallas wanted to discredit everybody who's pissed off because American coppers have killed about an infantry battalion's worth of people in 2016 already (and it's not even halfway through July...) he couldn't have done a better job. Every right-wing ding-dong who throws up a little in their mouth when they see the words "Black Lives Matter" will now have enough rocks to throw at their non-wingnut "BLM" fellow citizens from now until Christmas. Good job, sniper. You done fucked your own cause like a football bat. Asshole.

Second, the cop-shootings allowed every talking head from here to Fox and Friends to trot out the nauseating little trope of "hero coppers".

That nursery rhyme may be my second-most hated thing in the entire world after "hero soldiers". I practically grind my teeth down to nubs when I hear it.

I mean...I realize this may be a difficult concept to convey in the "news", or to people in general and the public-is-an-ass people in particular, but...just being a copper doesn't make you a hero...or, possibly anything...other than, possibly, a total asshole.

Yes. It's entirely possible to do a stressful, demanding, occasionally-dangerous-but-usually-just-boring-and-aggravating, difficult job and yet still be a complete scumbag.

Or not.

But - just putting on a damn badge doesn't make you a better human being, any more than putting on a tree-colored suit makes you a hero.

So I posted this to my FB feed and got an immediate reply from a very nice but fairly simple and politically conservative person:
"...seriously john... would you do that job? those guys are doing a job most of us would not want to do and they deserve our prayers and i know that you will shoot back and put me down for my thoughts. But that is how i feel. May God have mercy on us all."
To which I, in turn, replied and, in so doing, realized what irks the shit out of me about this stuff:

"I've DONE that job, (person's name). I've worked riot control. I've been a "cop" in foreign lands where the residents really DID want to kill us. And I still managed not to kill anybody.

I'm not "putting you down" for your thoughts. I'm putting you down because your thoughts are part of the problem, not part of the solution.

And like I said; putting on a uniform - whether it's colored blue or colored green or colored like a tree - doesn't make you a good person. It makes you...a person in a uniform. Some good. Some bad. Mostly in between.

And that's just the truth. Some cops are terrific. Some are assholes who use their authority to make other people's lives miserable. Most of them just try and get through their day as best they can, not doing great, not doing evil, just bumbling through.

So using the actions of some murderous a-hole to try and turn cops into saints and martyrs (and "heroes") is stupid, counterproductive, and wrong. It doesn't help the good ones, and it lets the bad ones (and the "enh"-ones who let the bad ones slide, which a lot of them do because, people...) cover their bad deeds with the mantle of heroism.

So. Cops. Some are great. Some are total scumbags. Most are just regular jamokes.

Killing some of them doesn't make the scumbags any better.

And, more importantly, making heroes out of dead coppers doesn't solve our single big problem with coppers - that we've let our coppers, a hell of a LOT of our coppers, begin to think of themselves as soldiers in an occupying army, to think of their fellow citizens as "civilians" whom they are ordered to rule by force and fear, and whose task it is to suppress any hesitation to accept, or any attempt to question, their authority.

And that authority is to be ruthlessly applied with deadly force - often not as a last resort but as a first.

(And, as an aside, I note that the usual suspects who were all there about the Bundy clan and the Malheur Moron Mulisha's armed sedition and threats to fire on federal law officers are suddenly and curiously silent about the black man shooting down law officers. Hmmm...I wonder if race has...nah. Unpossible.)

But we cannot exist if our law officers become unquestioned figures of authority, and that authority comes, predominantly, from the barrel of a gun.

As Clarke says: "(The point) at which we must arrive if we are to be a free people under the rule of law in a community where badges and offices and law are to mean anything more than who has the biggest gun."

Wednesday, July 06, 2016

The Art of the Deal

From somebody named Corey Robin (via, and h/t to, Frank Moraes):
"The Talmud tells a story: the reason God covenanted with the Jews was that they were the only ones who were willing to take the deal.

According to a commentary on Deuteronomy, “When God revealed Himself to give the Torah to Israel, He revealed Himself not only to Israel but to all the nations.” First God goes to the children of Esau, asking them if they will accept the Torah. They ask him what it contains, God says, “Though shalt not murder,” they say, no thanks.

God goes to the Ammonites and Moabites. Same response, only for them the prohibition against adultery is the deal-breaker. He goes to the Ishmaelites, to all the peoples of the earth. Each time, they turn him down. They can’t accept some portion of the Torah’s instructions and injunctions.

Then God comes to the Jews. They don’t ask questions. They simply “accepted the Torah, with all of its explanations and details.” So God “surrendered them [the Torah and all of its details] to Israel.”

You almost get a sense, reading the midrash, of God’s weariness. The Jews aren’t his first choice, but they’ll take the deal. God’s exhausted, history is made."

...then His chosen people spend the next several-odd thousand years quibbling about, reneging on, breaking (or at the very least, trying to hedge and/or cheat on), the “deal” they made. God spends an assload of time He’d probably rather be creating galaxies, constructing mysteries, and contemplating the Universe hanging around some shitty mudball in the Sol system smiting worthless little pissant heretics, making up new rules to keep his choice from fucking with the deal, and arguing with dissatisfied dickheads and pissed-off prophets.

He just THOUGHT he was exhausted after His initial search. Compared to his subsequent dealings with the Chosen People.

Which just proves the point of which his Son reminds us in his parables: “Don’t EVER agree to anything when you’re short on food, sleep, or sex.”

Thus endeth the lesson.

Thanks be to God.