Monthly Archives: July 2009

Mortality:

Reposted from earlier: Hey, I’ve got better things to do than sit around a computer when the weather’s so nice.

About a year ago I lost my father to congestive heart failure at 78. He was a man from a dirt poor background who through will, determination, and the GI Bill, worked his way through college to become an aerospace engineer with Boeing. As a kid I remember him waking before dawn for the two hour commute to Vandenberg AFB and then arriving home long after my sister and I had eaten supper and been tucked into bed. When I was very young I recall the sounds of his harmonica and those of a few of his friends playing guitar and banjo and learned that he had been an accomplished musician in his youth and had dreamed of playing for a living. Over time as his family grew and he settled into his role of husband and father, his playing became less and less frequent until taking a new position with Boeing near Seattle moved him away from his band mates and his collection of harmonica’s were relegated to a box in the basement with the other flotsam of life that falls out of favor for one reason or another. He was a very good engineer and took his responsibilities of being a husband and father as his highest priorities but he kept his creative mind alive, developing a deep appreciation of Native American design and in his spare time teaching himself the art of silver smithing, becoming adept at creating silver jewelry using the spiritual forms of the northwest coastal tribes.

At the age of 57 he suffered a stroke leaving him unable to speak and his left side mostly paralyzed. He was no longer able to practice his profession or indulge his creative passion, forced into an early retirement. You may be thinking this is the part of the story where I recount my fathers decent into bitterness and resentment and early death but you would be wrong. After a long rehab he partially regained mobility and improved his speech to where he could be understood. He came to understand his forced early retirement as a second chance to do some of the things that he had long ago dismissed as unpractical or unrealistic. His final twenty years were a time of traveling. Of buying a small place on the Sea of Cortez in Baja. Of exploring and adventure. Of living with no rules other than where to, what next.

Ones mortality is often viewed as how long rather than how well a life has been lived. We are all dealt unexpected hands throughout life. Like a shark needing to continually swim in order to survive, our search for immortality, seemingly the holy grail of human existence will continue. Living your life big no matter the obstacles inevitably thrown in your path is the closest any of us will come to it in this life.

My father taught me this. I will teach my sons. If they forward this simple lesson to  their sons and daughters when I am gone, my fathers immortality, and mine, is assured.

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It’s 102 degrees…

FieryInferno

Why are you reading this!?

Apply this poultice of cap and trade and call me in the morning:

“The whole aim of practical politics is to keep the populace alarmed (and hence clamorous to be led to safety) by menacing it with an endless series of hobgoblins, all of them imaginary.”

H.L. Menken   H/T Gerard

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 Are politicians merely modern day versions of the tribal shaman? “Curing” ailments of their own creation with the end result being only that of maintaining their indispensability. I’ve long had my suspicions but watching them push the Gris Gris of global warming to a more and more skeptical public, I’m reminded of the desperate reaction of the shaman when confronted with the reality of a real doctor appearing in the village to treat the afflicted.

Take a look below at these two brief biographies pulled from Wikipedia.

Albert A. Gore Jr. 

 Former U.S. Senator from Tennesee and

45th Vice President of the U.S.

  

Born March 31, 1948 (1948-03-31) (age 61)
Washington, D.C.
Birth name Albert Arnold Gore, Jr.
Political party Democratic
Spouse(s) Mary Elizabeth “Tipper” A. Gore
Children Karenna
Kristin
Sarah
Albert III
Alma mater Harvard University
Vanderbilt University
Profession Author, politician, Environmental activist
Religion Baptist (formerly Southern Baptist)
Signature
Website algore.com

 

Richard S. Lindzen 

Alfred P. Sloan Professor of Meteorology, Massachusetts Institute of Technology 

Born 8 February 1940 (1940-02-08) (age 69)
Webster, Massachusetts
Fields Atmospheric Physics
Institutions Massachusetts Institute of Technology
Alma mater Harvard University
Doctoraladvisor Richard M. Goody
Notable students Siu-shung Hong, John Boyd, Edwin K. Schneider, Jeffrey M. Forbes, Ka-Kit Tung, Christopher Snyder, Gerard Roe
Known for Dynamic Meteorology, Atmospheric tides, Ozone photochemistry, quasi-biennial oscillation, Iris hypothesis
Notable awards NCAR Outstanding Publication Award, Member of the NAS, AMSMeisinger Award, AMS Charney Award, AGUMacelwane Award, Leo Prize of the Wallin Foundation
Religious stance Jewish

Both accomplished men. One in the discipline of science, the other in the arena of elective politics. One an average student and reasonably successful in his chosen endeavors, the other a brilliant student and scholar, recognized by his peers as being at the top of his field. One quite clearly possesing deep knowledge of that which he speaks, the other just as clearly a charlatan, spreading dis-information and encouraging fear among the villagers, thus enhancing his own power.

Via Maggies Farm, this essay by Dr. Lindzen regarding the hucksterism that is evident among the anthropogenic climate change humpers. Tell me why his views on the very subject of his expertise are casually dismissed by close to half the population, yet these same people will blindly follow the ramblings of one Al Gore on a subject that even they if pinned down, will admit he lacks any real in depth knowledge of.

In the words of the late Carl Sagan we live in a demon haunted world, with emotion and superstition playing a still leading role in determining issues which rightly belong in the realm of reason and logic. For all of the technological advances of western civilization over the previous millennium, we  still seem as susceptible to the call of tribe and shaman as were our ancient ancestors dancing around a burning effigy.

Crazy is as crazy does…

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There used to be a time when being a little crazy was called having a personality. According to the American Psychiatric Association, this has become a problem and these “personalities” are in need of diagnosis and treatment. H/T to Maggies Farm for the link.

In 1981 in the small creole burg of Franklin Louisiana, a co-worker called a friend to come pick us up after a night of letting the good times roll at a local watering hole. After a bit, we were picked up by a fellow who went by the moniker of “Crip” Stevens. Mr. Stevens had in his younger days been employed as an oil field diver in the muddy offshore delta and had acquired his nick name due to an unfortunate bout of the bends, which had damaged some spinal nerves and rendered his gait decidedly asymmetric. Not one to let a little minor paralysis hamper his style, he arrived to provide our transport in a worn around the edges ’74 Lincoln Mk 4, riding alone in back with a couple of provincial hotties up front tending to the driving duties. The three of us piled in back, with Crip relocating to the front bench between his “chauffers”, and we arrived at his place out in the Cypress woods in due time. He lived in a big white elephant of a civil war era home in a beautiful state of faded glory, apparently inhereted from more genteel ancestors, and it was decorated not with the expected antiques but entirely and only with 1950’s and 60’s vintage carnival ride figures. Pig’s, hippo’s, elephants, auto’s, boats, spaceships…mermaid’s. You name it. The next morning he took us all on a ride in his air boat in the vast swampland surrounding the town, taking great humor in showing off the custom designed and built belt fed 12 gauge tri-pod bow mounted shotgun that he used to hunt not just duck but ducks at a time, and in telling tall tales of the many skirmishes in which  he had engaged over the years with his best friend from childhood, the local game warden. Crazy? Absolutely. But not in a way that would do anyone any harm unless you were a duck. He was what used to be referred to as local color. A character.

I often wonder what became of “Crip” and others like him I have run into over the years who march to their own drummer in a one man parade. If the APA had their way he was probably diagnosed as having some sort of personality disorder as a plea bargain in a poaching case, entered into one of the myriad state treatment programs, and is probably living comfortably and docilely in a trailer somewhere, collecting his monthly disability check. When did we get to the point where every quirk and eccentricity that deviates from some shrinks view of what is normal begin to be viewed as a pathology, with therapy and/or drug treatment recommended to bring you back to the “fold ” so to speak.

There has been much talk during the recent debate on health-care regarding why getting the government involved in medicine will surely degrade the level of physical care that patients will be able to receive, but not much has been said about the sure to follow bureaucratic interference in mental care. Once the government is given the power to determine the disease and the cure regarding the state of our mental health, we will be entering a brave new world indeed. When the state becomes responsible for its citizens mental health, the “cure” will be to enforce “correct” behavior. It will then merely be bureaucratic consensus that determines whom among us is diseased.

Who’s crazy? You tell me.

For optimum performance, apply directly to face…

It’s about ninety degrees and humid currently in my little piece of paradise. Not that I’m complaining mind you. Given that about nine months of the year a person requires gills (we natives have them… no seriously) to breathe around here, there’s worse things than a few weeks of beautiful warm weather.

face sauna

I’ve been trying to devise a method of getting Margarita into bloodstream in the most effective method possible and I think I have stumbled onto something. If I open mouth and eyes wide and inhale sharply as I turn the blender to eleven, I think it just might do the trick. I’ll let you know how it works out. Unless you’re from around here, don’t try this at home. I told you we have gills.

As an added note, both kids are gone with friends tomorrow so you know what that means!

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From the Bluedogs to the House leadership…

There’s an old saying here on Earth Waxulon 6.

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Don’t count your eggs before they’re chickens…or chickens before… they’re weaned?…um… how’d that go again…Oh yeah! DON”T MESS WITH TEXAS!!

“You don’t know who you’re messing with”

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Richard Fernandez at Belmont Club gets it just right: