Tuesday, August 30, 2016

In memory of..?

...the Seattle dead of World War 2, apparently.
This past Saturday I finally did something I've wanted to do for a long time.

No! I didn't convince my wife to make love in a hammock. C'mon! That's nuts; you could hurt your back that way!

Nope. I rode the Portland Thorns fan bus up to Seattle for the women's professional soccer match between the Thorns and the home Seattle Reign.

The bus ride was...well, about what you'd expect from a bus ride between Portland and Seattle (though the delays in Tacoma were surprisingly few, and shorter than I would have expected...)...though the pickup soccer at the Scatter Creek rest stop was fun. First time I'd kicked a ball around since my new hip, and I was pleased with my agility.

But it was just a long, dull bus ride enlivened by the fact that we had a pony keg of Lompoc Brewing's fine Kick Axe ale broached in the left rear seat. I don't usually start drinking at nine a.m., but needs must. Mmmm. It is a damn fine breakfast drink.

We made excellent time - overcalculated those delays in Tacoma, no doubt - and arrived outside the Home of the Reign more than hour before gate time, so several of us wandered away to find another place to kickabout. Some admired the bizarre organic metal shell of the EMP music building, museum, whatever; it looks like an aluminum tumor. That and the ginormous steel stalks next to the parking lot. As art they're kind of shit. As toys, on the other hand, they're a lot of fun. It's pretty amazing how far you can get them to flex...
Finally we all regrouped outside the gate of Memorial Stadium, where upon entry we discovered that one of the local car dealers was sponsoring a scarf giveaway.

It's a sad comment on what a scarf whore I am that I instinctively scooped up one of these things before realizing that it was a Seattle scarf. Well, okay, a Seattle/Subaru scarf, but...still. A Portland fan wearing a Seattle scarf'd be like pinning a Nazi swastika on a yarmulke. Just. Wrong.

So I scarfed the first vendor I saw and trooped in to find our seats.
The Seattle organization had given us pretty good seats; down front, near midfield - way better than the far top corner we in Portland pen our visitors into on matchdays, sadly. The odd part was that there was no real attempt to segregate us from the Seattle fans. Most of the Portland supporters did stand together in a block, but the outside edges were pretty ragged, and there was a sort of admixture at the fringes where individuals and small groups of Portland fans mingled with supporters of the local club.

One oddity was an apparent drinking restriction to a "beer garden" at the outer wall; I didn't see any beer served anywhere else in the joint and, while I didn't test the boundaries I didn't see anyone with a brew outside the designated grownup space. Maybe this had something to do with the owner, Seattle Public Schools. Certainly the sign on the South Stand pier suggested that Adults and Students were not to mingle,let alone share the Temptations of Demon Drink
Perhaps the other reason was concern for the health of anyone who had drunk enough beer to need internal relief, because the Memorial Stadium bogs were truly appalling. I've used some pretty primitive facilities - I was a GI and posted overseas, remember - but this was perhaps the most noisome toilet I've ever seen in a major city. I'd be shocked if these things had been renovated since the old pile was built back in 1947.
The day was cool and cloudy, the crowd large and enthusiastic, and the match a solid grudge fight between two teams that seem to genuinely like to whip one another. Unfortunately for a Portland fan, we were on the wrong end of the whipping that day.

Thorns FC lost one of our best defensive midfielders to injury early in the first half, making it difficult to defend against Seattle's excellent midfield or fight forward through it. Just before the half hour the Reign scored a goal on some terrific buildup play. Much as we chanted and sang we didn't help; our team was frustrated and penned up in its own end most of the half.
Halftime we were down 1-nil, and by midway through the second half Seattle scored again, this time an an awful error by one of usually-most-reliable defenders and a member of the US women's team. The last half hour and stoppage time was desperate; Portland scored, finally, in added time but then fell apart trying for the equalizer and gave up a quietus to Seattle's Rapinoe to go down 3-1.

The Thorns had not played well and their body language showed it; after the traditional salute-song to the team the fans remained staring uncomfortably at the team's cool-down stretches before slowly trickling away up the steps and back to the bus.

The drive back to Portland was, not surprisingly, quiet, disturbed only by the brake problems on the bus I'd chosen (the "cider bus", named for the hard cider it was stocked with in place of beer, drove on without incident). Perhaps coincidentally it was just as we finished the last of the brew suddenly a chorus of shouts and shrieks broke out from the left rear;

"Ohmigod, the tire's smoking!" "We're on fire!" "Stop the bus! There's something wrong!"

The driver did, indeed, pull to the side of the anonymous stretch of I-5 bordered by empty fields several miles from the next exit. He opened the door and stumped out to see what was the matter. Inside considerable hilarity tinged with nervous laughter considered the possibilities of a tire-fire while the tire was still on the bus.

I texted my Bride: "FYI - brake problems with bus. May be late. On the other hand, may burst into flames. Will advise."

I love my Desdemona. She replied quickly: "In case of fiery death, assure send pictures."

But today the bus was not half in love with easeful Death. After a moment of backing and starting forward the brakes broke loose at least long enough to get us back on the road. We arrived in Portland as the sun was setting, and I walked through the windy cool of the evening back across the Broadway Bridge to my office lot and home.

Thursday, August 25, 2016

Hole in my pocket

One thing that kinda drives me nuts about my Fellow Americans is the ridiculous luuuurve they have for the U.S. Army (and the other uniformed services) that lives only inside their heads.

This isn't the actual Army, the one with the dudes and gals and hosers, the studs and the spuds, the hard workers and goldbricks, the one that can cut you like a knife and then fall over its own feet like a sack of sawdust. You know...the one that is a bunch of Americans wearing the same colored clothes with all the same virtues and all the same vices you see and hear about on the evening news.

This is some sort of shiny, perfect Army populated by heroes and supermen, driving dinosaur-powered tanks that shoot laser beams from their eyes and have the sorts of powers found typically in comic books. This Army is composed of A-students who were the #1 in their Bible Study class and can deadlift 300 pounds while putting all thirty rounds into a two-inch square 300 meters away on full automatic.

I've never once seen this Army, and I kinda wish I could just to see what it'd be like.

I suspect I'd feel completely inadequate.

Anyway, the real Army managed to lose 6.5 trillion back in FY15.

Not steal. Not spend. Not waste. Just...lose. As in "...the fuck? It was...I know I had it. Where...let me look under the desk. Goddamn it..."

The Inspector General's report lays it out pretty clearly; the Army just flat-out has no idea where this jack is, or what it did with it. It wasn't criminal, it probably got put to some sort of use, possibly good use...but nobody knows. The accounting at DFAS and the associated Army financial agencies was bad enough that if a private company had done it that badly it'd have gotten its nuts thoroughly rapped by the IRS.

The IG concludes that due to a waterfall of errors and fuckups:
"As a result, the data used to prepare the FY2015 AGF third quarter and yearend financial statements were unreliable and lacked an adequate audit trail. Furthermore, DoD and Army managers could not rely on the data in their accounting systems when making management and resource decisions. Until the Army and DFAS Indianapolis correct these control deficiencies, there is considerable risk that AGF financial statements will be materially misstated and the Army will not achieve audit readiness by the congressionally mandated deadline of September 30, 2017."
The really frustrating part of all this is that you'd think, with 6.5 trillion just kind of lost somewhere the Army could have slipped a hardworking old platoon sergeant a couple of casual hundred thou. on the downlow. Y'know? Kind of a "thank you for your service" kinda thing?

But, noooooo.

Wednesday, August 17, 2016

Release SFC Kraken!

A friend of mine sent me a comment with the attached image that...well, it completely brought out the Army sergeant in me. And the more I think about it, the more it's so...well, so completely "me" that I had to post it.
So. Here it is:

"I'm not saying that these things can't be done. I'm saying that when Sanders says "we can't afford to stop fighting"...arrgh!

To give you an example; I got a call from the Oregon for Bernie Sanders 2016 people last week. The nice girl was asking me to come to some sort of "Rock Against the TPP" concert.

How did this do anything to stop the TPP, given that Congress isn't going to vote on it this year and the process is currently idle, but that Oregon's delegation (outside that rat bastard Walden) is already pledged to vote against it. Well, ummm, yeah, it won't, really. OK, says I, then how do we DO something to stop the fucking TPP? Ummm...I'm not sure, says the nice girl, but the Sanders meeting is Tuesday and I'll be sure to ask. OK, you do that, and here's my e-mail; you send me a quick note and tell me what they told you.

So far? Nothing.

That's my frustration. So far there's been no effort to unseat the bastard Walden and turn Oregon all blue. No efforts to secure the defenstration of the GOP in Salem. No efforts to galvanize the fucking rednecks in Clackamas County or propagandize the hicks in Gold Beach that they need to understand that public health care and a decent minimum wage and a return to the 90% top bracket will make the safer than another fucking AR-15. There's been NO LOCAL EFFORTS at all.

STOP fighting? When do we fucking stop TALKING and START fighting?

Tell ya what.

I'm gonna go to the next goddamn Sanders Tuesday night meeting and I swear to fucking God; Imma bring a piece of dimension lumber and wall-to-wall counsel those pie-in-the-sky fuckers about how you go in and win a goddamn knife fight.

I'll give you a hint: it ain't about going to a goddamn concert."


Sometimes the sergeant in me comes out at very inopportune times...

Tuesday, August 16, 2016

Bull Webbly

I was away from home last evening and had time on my hands, so what else was a fella to do?
I went to a minor league baseball game.

The game was at the Single A ballpark in Everett, Washington where the visiting Salem-Keizer Volcanoes (a San Francisco farm) played the penultimate game against the home side, a Seattle affiliate. The game itself was something of a snoozer; a 7-nothing rout for the visitors capped by a disastrous (for Everett) four-run ninth where the Volcanoes pretty much pasted the Everett closer all over the park.

I learned to score ballgames from my pop, the Master Chief, who told me as a slip of a boy that "it will make you pay attention to the game" and, yes, pop, that it does. I still record the pitch count for each batter, the direction the ball was put in play, and I tend to make my own decisions as to hits and errors regardless of the official scorer. So it was on the Salem-Keizer run in the sixth inning, when, according the the linked story above...
"Salem-Keizer capitalized on a Little League-type mental error in the sixth inning to score a run. With one out in the inning, right fielder Heath Quinn advanced to third base on a fly out to right field. The AquaSox right fielder, Dimas Ojeda, thought there were three outs on the catch and did not throw the ball in. Third base coach and manager Kyle Davis waved Quinn home emphatically and Quinn scored to take a 3-0 lead in the game."
Yeah, well, you make a bonehead play like that, Gehrig, and I'm givin' you a freaking error. That might well have been the highlight of the evening.

The location, though...the Everett ballpark is in some sort of sports complex, with a ginormous empty football field and track to the west. The entrance is down a blacktop ramp and past some sort of play field where the Everett players were taking part in some sort of kid-event in the long summer evening before the game...
The open area south of the ballfield was full of...stuff. Kids, parents...
...bouncy-houses, picnic tables, more kids, more parents, and scattered here and there players, looking ridiculously young and unformed.

But this is Single A Short Season, the lowest form of professional baseball life; there's a reason for that. Most of these players ARE young. They're are the hopefuls, the aren't-yets and the never-weres. The only lived-in faces are on the heads of the handful of the useta-bes and pluggers still hoping for a shot at the Big Casino.
This level is all about "player development" so the game, that actual game on the field, was...if not actually meaningless as near as dammit. Even if I still followed pro baseball I wouldn't have know who these players were nor did I care.

That wasn't really the point; it was a lazy evening, the peanuts were salty, the beer was colder than the wind off Puget Sound, and it was a relaxing sort of finger-mantra to tick off the little squares with the symbols of the game unspooling before me.

G 6-3, backwards K (a swinging strikeout - he "went around", got it?), little diagonal line with a black base at the end and an arrow up the middle for a line shot single to center. Idle thoughts; who taught that kid the odd half-sidearm delivery? Why the hell didn't the shortstop make that play?

The entire business was revoltingly wholesome. Unattended kids gamboled thunderously in the metal bleachers, mom and dad doucely sipping their eight-dollar beers.

I thought the young woman at left was a salacious outlier, some sort of baseball annie looking to pick herself up a young stud, but instead she turned out to be another bit of the small-town-America wholesomeness, mommy of one of the kids involved in one of the family-friendly gimmicks; in this case, out on the field with the home team for the anthem.

In fact, it had been so long since I'd been to one of these low-minor games I'd forgotten the cornball carny atmosphere; the idiotic costumed mascot
(the "Webbly" of the title - why the hell an outfit called the "Aquasox" decided that some sort of Amazonian poison tree-frog was what they needed for a mascot I have NO idea, but there he is, hideous bulging eyes and all...)
the Prozac-cheerfulness of the team employees shepherding lucky fans through a variety of silly antics; catching pizza boxes in a dipnet, two schoolkids racing around the bases dressing in hugely oversized team uniforms.

Perhaps the ultimate moment in all this goofiness came between the fifth and sixth innings, when two anonymous fans were handed radio control sets and tasked with guiding toy trucks around the infield from the third base to the first base side.

Predictable chaos ensued, with one racer getting halfway to second before turning completely around while the second circled the bag cluelessly before ramming into second base and flopping over, tires spinning.

All the while the Everett infield was warming up, looking warily about at their feet in case a plastic pickup was about to slam into them at the ankles. Sweetbabyjesus, what a circus.

My sport of choice, as you know, is soccer. I love the game itself, I love learning about it, studying it, the beauties and ugliness of it. I love being part of a culture of deep emotion, of topgallant delights and keelson-deep despair. Of thundering out love and devotion along with thousands of others, part of a thunder of voices over the hammering drums.

Baseball, though...baseball was part of my growing-up. Jack Brickhouse announcing Cubs games on my mother's cheap plastic radio during the summer of 1969, the Year of Tragedy and the Mets. Slow afternoons at the old Civic Stadium, Lois the National Anthem Lady and the Portland Beavers of AAA
(and someday I should really tell you the story of Bernardo Brito, the Beavs slugger...though I notice that the Aquasox have a kid named "Brito"...I wonder if he's a relative..?)
and filling in scorecards with the names of the Minnesota players of the Nineties.

I was a little surprised, and a little pleased, to find that all the old skills returned; recognizing the motion of fastball and curveball and slider. Acknowledging the position of the fielders, knowing where to look on throws, following the quickness of the bat.
It was an evening full of slowness, almost sweetness, like turning time down to a near stop and just being, drifting, afloat on a slow-rolling sea of silly, kitschy Americana.

Sprawled in the chill bleachers south of the gritty Everett downtown jotting down the runs and hits, listening to the hollow sound of the calls from the crowd float out across the ballyard; like finding an old scorecard from a game played long ago, a distant record of a time, and a me, that I'd almost forgotten.

Game Called.

Across the field of play
the dusk has come, the hour is late.
The fight is done and lost or won,
the player files out through the gate.

The tumult dies, the cheer is hushed,
the stands are bare, the park is still.
But through the night there shines the light
of home, beyond the silent hill.

Friday, August 12, 2016

More rubble = more trouble

Interesting study (Dell and Querubin, 2016) released this summer on some effects of "kinetic warfare" (i.e. bombing, shelling, and strafing) in the RVN in 1969.

The study's conclusion should surprise none of us who have watched the "more rubble, less trouble" approach to the Middle Eastern problems over the last two decades or more:
"While U.S.intervention aimed to build a strong state that would provide a bulwark against communism after U.S. withdrawal, bombing instead weakened local government and non-communist civic society. Moving from no to sample mean bombing reduced the probability that the village committee positions were filled by 21 percentage points and reduced the probability that the local government collected taxes by 25 percentage points. The village committee was responsible for providing public goods. Bombing also decreased access to primary school by 16 percentage points and reduced participation in civic organizations by 13 percentage points."
In other words; bombing the living shit out of people pisses them off and makes them LESS likely to go along with whatever cunning plans you have for winning their hearts and minds, or grabbing their balls, for that matter.

How well this study conflates with the current enthusiasm for various Western polities' for bombing the shit out of the Middle East is difficult to assess. But it certainly does seem to suggest that John Paul Vann may or may not have been right about the best weapon for suppressing rebellions but he seems to have been absolutely correct about the WORST.

Tuesday, August 09, 2016

Now we know.

In re: Mister Trump's "Second Amendment Solutions" statement today, in 1972 Hunter Thompson wrote this:
"This may be the year when we finally come face to face with ourselves; finally just lay back and say it—that we are really just a nation of 220 million used car salesmen with all the money we need to buy guns, and no qualms at all about killing anybody else in the world who tries to make us uncomfortable. The tragedy of all this is that George McGovern, for all his mistakes... understands what a fantastic monument to all the best instincts of the human race this country might have been, if we could have kept it out of the hands of greedy little hustlers like Richard Nixon. McGovern made some stupid mistakes, but in context they seem almost frivolous compared to the things Richard Nixon does every day of his life, on purpose as a matter of policy and a perfect expression of everything he stands for. Jesus! Where will it end? How low do you have to stoop in this country to be President?"
And now we know.

(h/t to Charles Pierce, who mined this priceless quotation from the depths of prehistory...)

Biblical Soil Science

My work here in Everett has been postponed, so I'm sitting in the hotel waiting to hear from my temporary masters on what they need me to do for them, if anything, and idly surfing the 'net. And in so doing I came across Frank Moraes' essay on atheism and theology.

In it Frank concludes:
"One can’t be an atheist without knowing what it is to be a theist. And most atheists don’t seem to even know what God is supposed to be. What they seem to be against is ignorant people with childish beliefs. If that’s the case, we should call such people areligious. They don’t know or care enough to have an opinion about God, and thus don’t deserve to be called atheists."

I guess I fit into one of these niches. I'm an atheist, or, at the very least, a "don'tgiveashit-ist". My feeling is that I have no fucking idea what is God, or gods, or what it or he or she or they do. Or whether they do anything. Or care, really.

(I should note that it seems to me that if what I see as human life, life on this planet, is really the province of a God, or gods, then those Powers are, at best, some pretty fucking capriciously feckless sonsofbitches and, at worst, some serious assholes).

If people did what those Higher Powers are accused, or credited, with doing in the physical world they'd get kicked from here to Armageddon.

Plagues? Floods? The Penn/Madonna Shanghai Surprise? WTF, deities? You got nothing better to do than eff with people bringin' that shit?

Moraes links to an earlier post of his that references S.J. Gould's idea of "non-overlapping magisteria"; the idea that science (or, at least, non-theological explanations for physical matters) can happily exist side-by-side with theological/philosophical/spiritual explanations of moral and ethical (and ontological) matters.

Moraes' problem is that, apparently, there are a group of atheists who are not content with the Gould idea but are directly attacking religious ideas of, well, pretty much everything. And that this attack is focused on the "worst" aspects of theology, the "Answers in Genesis" sorts of theology that insist that God created dinosaurs and humans and the one rode the other (or something; I never bother much with the AIG people). Moraes wants atheists to a) ignore the AIG dumbshit and b) learn genuine theology - at least, learn enough to understand it - if they want to debate it.

But as I commented on Frank's post, I think the biggest problem is this “worst theology” and how predominant it is over the “better”, and how destructive, and I think that's why the theists are attacking religion, not because they don't understand the higher thinking or care.

There was no Great Flood. We know that. "Know" as in know; the "flood" of Genesis and the Middle Eastern texts that preceded and fomented it were legends, stories, fictions. The textural references to it are stories made up by people who saw things they didn’t have the intellectual tools to understand.

There were no humans riding dinosaurs. "God" didn't give humans "dominion" over volcanoes and oceans and squirrels. That's "Answers in Genesis", the Bible (or Torah, or Quran) as soil survey manual. Iron Age superstition and ignorance dressed up in churchy clothes.

And you'd think there'd be no point attacking or debating that.

But, dammit, this sort of “Answers in Genesis” theologian are all over the fucking place, and their nonsense contributes mightily to the very real damage that religion does in the public square.

It's that sort of Vacation Bible School "theology" that permeates the GOP and helps them in their quest to free their patrons to resume dumping shit into Love Canal and crap into the sky and credulous nonsense (or canned "facts") into kid's brains.

It's that sort of simplistic "theology" that encourages We the People to make stupid choices based on what we've been told about God and Man and the world around us (and politics as God-bothering, another real problem).

THAT’s why the atheists go after them, I think.

Not because they’re a “worthy” opponent Moraes wants to engage...but because, as rubbishy as they are, the Answers-in-Gensis sort of “theology” is much more destructive than the theology of the "better" sort, the kind of theology of people of faith willing to start from the NOMA standpoint.

To put it in videogame terms, it’s all well and good to recommend going up against the boss in an epic struggle.

But it doesn’t help when the damn trashy little minions are running all over the place wrecking the joint.

(h/t to Gods Playing Poker for the comic...)

Monday, August 08, 2016

Missy Takes A Day Out

"I want to go to Silver Falls, Daddy!"

I have no idea why the Small One remembers going to this place, deep in the bosky dells of Marion County, in the lesser foothills of the Cascades. But she did, and her mom didn't want to drag herself down the long road southeast from Portland, so Sunday was a Daddy and Daughter Day Out, on the road to Silver Falls State Park.

So after a lazy morning the Girl and I started our adventure making sushi for lunch.

Yes. Sushi. The Small One is quite the sushi-chef.

She wields her makisu 巻き簾, the bamboo rolling-mat with the precision and flair of the true itamae-san as she crafts her tempura shrimp-rolls (her favorite).

Perhaps it's her small fingers, or, just perhaps, it's her love of the sweet savor and delicate crunchiness of the tobiko that leads her to sprinkle it liberally inside her makizushi.
The rolls are carefully sliced (that's Daddy's job...) and packed in the cooler, and the goodbyes are said; effusive to the relieved Mother, curt to the deliberately indifferent Brother, and we squeeze into the little Honda for the long ride.

And it IS a long ride; down through Portland and onto the freeway. South through the surprisingly heavy Sunday traffic choke-points of the Terwilliger Curves, Tigard, Wilsonville, and the Boone Bridge, before finally escaping to the relatively speedy stretch south of the Willamette River where the broad flatlands stretch away, green with summer and dark with a cloudy morning's rain.

The Girl keeps up a stream of chatter because...well, because she's a little chatterer. She enjoys her own silliness, exclaims little-girl affection for random farm animals that would intimidate her if encountered up close. She scoffs at her older brother's idleness in front of a video screen and hopes for an adventure in the woods ahead.

Off the freeway at the greedy sprawl of Woodburn, then east, then south along the faded strip of Highway 99 until we reach the left turn for Silverton. From there it is truly into the undeveloped lands of the east edge of the Willamette Valley.

The valley itself is, to my eyes, an unappealing square flatness of farm field and copse. Southeast of Woodburn, however, the land rises into pleasant undulation towards the cloud-wrapped mountains beyond.

The road itself loses its drab linearity and winds, dips, and climbs in an entertaining fashion, made all the more pleasing by not being blocked by sluggish tractors or gear-grinding heavy trucks. The Girl and I sail through the woods and fields and are passing through the faux-Teutonic hamlet of Mount Angel in short minutes.

Small One is perplexed, then amused, by my insistence that the wooded hilltop east of the town is occupied by actual monks, and laughs at the fakey-German gimcracks as we pass through.

But her laugh is on me when we stop at the IGA grocery outside Silverton to pick her up a bottle of water. It turns out that today is the culmination of "Homer Davenport Days" in the little town and she gleefully predicts a "Tulip Festival", crowing with delight at the prospect of a Furious Daddy.
("Tulip Festival", by the way, is family shorthand for "some unforeseen event that creates incandescent rage in the parent", after the time my father the Master Chief was driving my family to our annual vacation in upper western Michigan and got stuck in the middle of some sort of Holland, Michigan celebration.

Of course, in those pre-Internet days he, and we, had no idea that this was a thing until the traffic on the little road through town - this being the late Sixties the idea of a highway or bypass up the east side of Lake Michigan was an arrant fantasy - slowed, and then slowed, and then stopped and sat.

So we sat. And sat. In a dark green station wagon. In the August heat. For several hours. While my father, normally a man of moderate temper and inexpressive mien, grew more furious by the moment.

By the time the traffic began to move and we crept through the festive town my father would have cheerfully nuked Holland, Michigan, and all its inhabitants into a glowing slag and danced gleefully upon the ruin.

Ever since then the prospect of seeing the top of the paternal parent's head fly off in rage has been the sincere wish of both children, and Missy was practically chortling in hope.)
Sadly for The Girl, the Tulip Festival (or Homer Day, or whatever...) was confined to a side street and we sailed through Silverton practically without a check and up into the close-set woodlands and rising hills above us.

Reaching the north end parking lot we find that we're not the only people who decided to visit that day; the lot is full, and we have to look around for an alternative. That turns out to be a gravel side road with a broad shoulder where we leave little Stinky the Honda and walk back to find our path for the day.

That turns out to be, first, "Little North Falls", a pretty box-canyon headed by a pinnate rush of cold, clear water. We admire the pools in the slickrock at the base and the size of the trees felled and boulders moved by the winter floods.

The Girl finds water striders dimpling the glassy surface and makes little wavelets to make them skitter away. I stop to take pictures of the passage of the winter's kolks; the sudden holes in the basalt filled with grindstones where dark gray-green crayfish scuttle into the shadow when we loom over them.

A young couple has, in "defiance of municipal regulations", brought their small white terrier with them to the falls. The little creature is, in violation of normal terrier mores, hesitant about rushing around sniffing and detecting, perhaps because of the water-slick rock.

My own little creature is, as is her wont, entranced. While she found having an actual dog somewhat of a nuisance as a pet she enjoys other people's dogs and is coo-ish and enticing towards this one which, however, is only mildly curious in return about the small cozening human. Perhaps this has something to do with the Small One's lack of food.
From there it is back to the bridge over Silver Creek and then down the trail to "North Falls"; this is what the Girl remembers, though she is dismissive of the small plume of falling water.

"It was a LOT bigger last time!" she declares.

Indeed, the plume is much diminished from the earlier spring when we last visited. The crowds are somewhat larger, however, and I force myself not to make an irked sound as we pass the self-impressed boobs using some sort of scribing tool to etch their little piece of eternity into the rock ceiling.

Missy wants to lob a rock into the fall, so we carefully pick out a spot where we can see all the way to the plunge pool and she lets fly; the palm-sized projectile flies about a quarter of the way out to the cascade before arcing down into the swordfern and vinemaple.

Still; Missy is well pleased with herself, and skips on down the trail to where it meets Silver Creek some quarter-mile or so further on.

There she entertains herself mightily plonking rocks in the water, launching clover petals, and using the swagger stick I picked up to riffle the cold waters not long removed from the snowfields of the High Cascades.

We share this little slackwater with a Filipino family, whose youngest son is rampaging through the water soaking his clothing and generally ignoring the requests, imprecations, and demands of his female relatives with squalling defiance. I foresee a difficult adolescence for Young Master, whose expectation of similar indulgence from the larger world is likely to go as unfulfilled as the Silver Creek channel is today.

The Girl is ready to continue on, but I know the capability of those short legs better than their owner does, so I turn us backward, heading the short way towards the north parking lot. We circle back under North Falls, casting another stone along the way and pausing to ooh and ah at the tree casts, the cylindrical voids in the overlying basalt ceiling formed by millions-year-old trees that were buried in the flowing lava.

These piers are empty, hollow columns rising into the darkness overhead unlike the tree-cast I once told you about. But they, too, to me seem fraught, empty yet full of the vanished forest and the uncountable years.

The Small One is only mildly impressed.

She is more excited retelling another, more recent Family Legend, this one the story of Daddy and Mommy and Pre-Mommy and the Boring Little Brown Bird* ("Mommy was mad because she wanted Thanksgiving Dinner more than the Boring Bird!")

She pockets the two smooth stones she picked up along the creek, momentos of her adventurous day.

The drive home is unremarkable outside the appalling tie-up the begins south of the Aurora exit and continues grinding along in fits and starts painfully slowly almost to North Wilsonville before, suddenly and inexplicably, dissipating.

The Small One is weary from her hike (and a brief hop to our Powell's bookstore for some new stories to read...) and remains in the back seat reading about kitten Chi's newest shenanigans rather than take the few steps into the store we stop to get her brother's much-needed XBOX accessories.

But she is again chatty and excited when we get back home, informing her mother (and her brother, if he cared enough to listen) all the excitement we shared in the Oregon Wild. She bounces off into her back room with her new book in hand.

And returns a quarter hour later, flops down backwards on the parental bed, and announces with a sigh and a voice heavy with the pain of bottomless ennui:

"I'm bored."

*(The official version of the story of "Mommy, Daddy, Pre-Mommy and the Boring Little Brown Bird" ("Oregon's First Louisiana Waterthrush") is told in the first article in above-linked issue of Oregon Birds, the publication of the Oregon Birding Association (then the Oregon Field Ornithologists).

For some reason I find it richly amusing that the citation for the initial sighting of Oregon's first (and, so far as I know, only) record of this species is shared by my current wife, my ex-wife, and me. My children, for some inexplicable reason, do not find this nearly as entertaining)

Friday, August 05, 2016

Bell-bottom trousers, coats of navy blue...

About the only thing that makes me laugh harder than wing-wipers all decked out in camouflage outfits is when squids do it.
I mean, those cammie suits'll make you SO hard to see on that ginormous fucking hunk of steel out in the in a fucking hole in the water, right?

What, blue cotton shirts and dungarees too much not-like-a-video-game for ya, Navy? They worked just fine when grandpap went out to sink the Imperial Japanese Navy.

I think what irks me about this nonsense is what some of the other waitstaff over at MilPub have complained about; that this isn't what services at war do, and, at least in theory the armed services are out fighting in various less-paved portions of the world even if the nation as a whole (outside of Victor Davis Hanson's prion-disease-addled brain) isn't. This also, IMO, isn't what services with a better grasp of their actual mission do; this is an artifact that ISTM that our armed services are infected with something that you see a lot if you look around the United States - that it's "better to look good than be good".

I realize that this is an extreme effect of selective observational bias, but...to me the impact of all this fussing about appearance give the impression that We the People (and We the Armed Forces) care if you are terrific at something only if it gets out there in the news, or into social media.

Oh, and the solution to the USN's cammie-pant problem?

Put all the gobs in GREEN cammie outfits.

FFS, people. You're fucking sailors!
Why not be proud to look like 'em?

Thursday, August 04, 2016

I am an Oregonian!

It's this kind of guy that makes me a proud Beaver (or Duck, whatever - Oregonian..!)
"...Jim Weaver, who was an Oregon congressman in the 70s and 80s. Weaver, who was the grandson of the 1892 Populist presidential candidate of the same name, was a sort of iconoclastic liberal who was mostly known for being quite pugnacious and even obnoxious to his opponents. Anyway, Weaver and Reagan’s diabolical Secretary of the Interior James Watt hated each other. Weaver would lambaste Watt during hearings, outraging his Republican colleagues. Watt was of course the bête noire of the environmental movement in the 1980s."
Apparently Loomis discovered the gem below in Weaver's papers. You have to enlarge the sheet to read the typed text, but trust me; it's well worth it.

U.S. politics is sadly devoid of the Jim Weavers today, although Donald Trump appears to have all the pugnacity with none of the brains. I regret that I never met Weaver, although I'm proud that he represented my state in the Congress. I suspect that he, in his retirement somewhere in Lane County, surely has a truly memorable take on the present State of the Union.

Tuesday, August 02, 2016

Toto, we may not be in fucking Kansas but I think we've been here before...

In the past couple of months I keep coming across stuff like this: apologetics for the Trumpendross that basically claims that "It's NOT about racism, it's about Trump's embodying empowerment for and rejection of contempt for poor white working class people!"

Fuck that dumb shit.

Because these Trumpenproletariat had a perfectly good alternative that offered all the populism, all the ire against the "elites", economic insecurity, offshoring, inequality, and the New Gilded Age, only with 100% less racism, sexism, bombing-foreigners-ism, and the assorted idiotic nonsense that is embedded in a "Trump candidacy".


The C.H.U.D.s that have flocked to Il Douche could just as easily have turned out for Bernie; I mean, if the appeal there was really all about wanting a return to the Good Old Days when a Man could earn a Living by the Sweat of His Brow and not just about hatin' on some nigras and beaners.

Instead they ignored him in droves.

So Trumps appeal has nothing to do with "economics".

It's about hatin' on nigras and beaners (an uppity wimmens and lib'ruls).

I was a trifle too young – only 11 in ’68 – to remember much but what I do remember of the 1968 presidential race was my parents' incandescent hatred of Wallace and LeMay – “the bigot and the looney”, I remember my father the Master Chief calling them, between Wallace’s open racism and LeMay saying that he’d use nukes to win wars.

My sister and I set up our Halloween pumpkins in the backyard on election day, dubbed one “Wallace” and the other “LeMay” and pincushioned them with arrows with the old wooden bow my father had made back in the Thirties.

The economics are missing but in almost all other respects I don't see much of a difference between the Wallace-LeMay campaign and this year's Republican candidate's. It's all about scary dark people and more strength.

So I have no new outrage about Trump that isn’t tempered by my overall loathing of the renegade madness of the bizarre mashup of economic royalism and theocratic triumphalism that is the current GOP. Trumps’s a Republican so that is to say, he’s against civil rights, women not being property, equal prosperity at home and an absence of punitive violence abroad. His “positions” (those that aren’t utter nonsense, like the shitgibbonesque “border wall”) are bog-standard GOP positions, which is to say utterly Gilded Age punching-down punishment of anyone not in the two-yacht family.

So I can watch the latest metastsization of the brain-cancer that has destroyed the higher functions of the GOP since Reagan conned it into submission and Gingrich fed it the monkey brains with the ruminative calm of an arsonist contemplating where to place the accelerant so as to ensure that the shitheap of a madhouse goes up quickly and thoroughly enough to roast as many of the vile coterie of malicious gibbering loons inside as possible.