Saturday, October 1, 2022

Happy End Of The World!

We've got an interesting year going so far. Please believe me, I'm completely sincere: I want to prove to you that I'm serious in the worst way.

What could be more interesting than the end of the world? Some of us will not be around for the final gasp, but the process has well and truly begun, that much is for sure. We might as well enjoy it.

Bill Mahar is impressed by the fact that insurance companies will no longer write fire insurance policies for California properties. There was a time when I owned a home in California, and, unless my memory is playing tricks on me, my mortgage required me to keep in place a policy of fire insurance. It really seems like the interconnected web of requirements inflicted on us by our various bureaucracies is breaking down, as some of them change their rules, some transform into other forms of business, and some just say, “hell no,” and carefully transfer all risk to their loyal customers. This is done, of course, in ways that are totally legal. Even if new legislation is required. “Just tell us what you want” echos through the halls of state and federal legislatures all over the country.

There's so much to choose from! Where to begin! The fires are scary. I've seen those things up close. When the hot cores of the fires turn that intense red/orange color, that tells you that the fire is up around 1000 degrees Fahrenheit. That kind of fire makes it's own winds to carry it to more flammable materials. The fire has taken on a life of its own.

Floods can really ruin your day. Take Florida, please.

Public officials are quick to point out that whatever just swept your town away like a dust mot was a rare event. I actually heard some clown down in Florida say that Hurricane Ian was a “500 year storm.” He immediately shifted to the idea of building back the lost houses. These public officials can always be trusted to work for the corporate interests. Anything but admit that the climate of the world is changing in many ways, none for the better. I hate to break it to those people listening to these corporate shills, but even though the last storm of this magnitude came through many years ago, the next one will be coming to Florida within a year or two. This is the new normal.

Flood insurance? Problematic, I think, at this point.

I hear a lot about this idea of rebuilding. That burnt to a crisp town north of Los Angeles where every building was destroyed, hey! Let's build it back! Then they build the same kind of houses, with wooden frames, flammable furniture, and wood-shake roofs. Same kind of fire will burn it all off next time too. It's the same song and dance in hurricane territory where the wind and water will be back faster than a bad penny. Let's build it back! Same crap houses that'll have the same stupid roofs blown off, houses built on the ground, so they can fill up with water again, and get washed away again.

Does anyone else think that this is a stupid plan? I happen to think that it is a complete failure of the imagination.

The worlds of engineering and architecture are choked with great ideas for work-arounds where bad weather is such a menace. Out in tornado ally I've seen lots of houses that were built into the ground. They looked like that Teletubbie house on TV. From a distance, it appears as a grassy knoll. No roof to blow off, and it's all tornado proof. It's easy enough to do the same in fire areas. Engineer some solutions! Floods and high winds will be tough, but putting some talented people to work on new designs might be a good idea. Certainly no one has lifted a finger to prevent the weather situation from getting worse year by year. We had better learn how to live with it, and all of the old designs have been rendered unsuitable for this new world of ours.

It wouldn't be my blog if I didn't mention politics on the way out. Remember about twenty-five years ago when pundits were talking up the bright future of the BRIC countries? That would be Brazil, Russia, India, and China. Sure enough, they did all show signs of progress over the years, showed interest in becoming important parts of the global economy. Now they are all presenting at the clinic with problems that are beyond the ability of our political philosophies to deal with. Brazil is going fascist and destroying the Amazon rain forest; Russia has taken off the mask and shown us the fascist/ gangster reality, threatening to use nuclear weapons; India wants to prove that it is a Hindu country even at the expense of expelling 140 million Muslim citizens whose families have been Indian for hundreds of years; and China has put about a million Uyghurs into labor camps where they are learning to be more Chinese if they know what's good for them. So no, I don't think those four countries are excited about building a prosperous future for our world.

In the meantime, the entire playhouse is collapsing. What fun! Happy End of the World!

Friday, September 30, 2022

The Greatest Alien Invasion Film Ever -- Full Movie!

This is a rare moment for me, recommending something like this. With the link. I might be named in the law suit! 

This is a fifty-one minute "movie" made by some super-fan somewhere out of about a thousand snippets from hundreds of alien-invasion movies. It was only posted this week, and I doubt if it will stay up long. Way too much copyright infringement going on. 

So many movies! So many languages! So many countries! Blame it on COVID maybe, due to so many people having time on their hands and resources at their disposal. 

It's a lot of fun! Remember to take a few deep breaths before watching, because this roller coaster has nothing by fast twists and turns. 

Saturday, September 24, 2022

Why I Am Not a Christian by Bertrand Russell (1927)

Bertrand Russell is a wonderful example of an idea that has almost disappeared from the world. The idea is that there is great value in what may be referred to as a classical education. In the American context, you may think of it as a "liberal education." Either way, the value that was once commonly derived from such an education has now gone out of fashion. 

How would it profit a university student to learn all of the conjugations and declinations of ancient Greek? Not to mention Latin as well. Consider all of that vocabulary! We are now disposed to consider that all to be a waste of time. The liberal, or classical, education also included a close reading of a great number of large books by or about the great philosophers. Also the great writers, in multiple languages, ideally in the original text. 

What they were teaching those students was how to read closely, how to understand what you are reading, and how to remember things that are important. They were teaching, on a good day, how to take a huge amount of information and use it to create, explain, and defend certain huge ideas that were important to you. 

They considered the university to be the beginning of a student's education, not the end unto itself. The student had learned how to identify and locate the further information that he needed to continue his education. A process that was held to continue until one died. 

Bertrand Russell had such an education, worked at it for the rest of his life, got great results, and shared them generously. I salute him. 

Tuesday, September 20, 2022

Rico and The Ravens - Don't You Know - Raw 60's Philly Rock Tune / Garag...

All I know about this record comes from the comments on YouTube. But there are some good ones. Nice of someone to point out that there's more to Pennsylvania than only Philly and Pittsburg. 

1964 is my guess for first-release date. Based on the comments. I hope the guys all came out of their band experience alright. They had all probably been in multiple bands before the Ravens. Maybe they made a living. I could see them playing the state-fair/ vacation lodge circuit. 

I like the record a lot. It makes the sound of "fun," don't you think? 

Friday, September 9, 2022

Sonny Sharrock - Dick Dogs (Live In Prague 1990)

His was a fascinating career. Busy in the late 1960s and early 1970s, he then disappeared for ten or fifteen years, coming back strong and working more than ever. He was hard to categorize, I think that's safe to say. 

I just saw a video on YouTube about jazz guitar. The premise was, "is string-bending allowed in jazz?" My first reaction was: can you imagine saying to any of the great sax players that some technique that was easily available to them, on their own preferred instrument, in creating their own damn music, was forbidden? No, you cannot imagine it. So fuck yeah, I thought, bending is allowed. Then I thought of Sonny Sharrock. I'm sure that Sonny routinely does a lot of things that jazz critics would say was "not jazz." (Jazz musicians were obviously cool with it all, because they hired Sonny to play on their LPs.) 

Google, and Wikipedia for that matter, are pleased to put Sonny in the "Jazz Guitarist" category. 

My own criteria is "fun." If the musician had fun making the music, I have fun listening to it. 

Aw, Sonny. Dead a long time. This kind of pathfinding, and rule defying, is important in music. Thanks, Sonny, for doing some heavy lifting to help the kids along. 

Thursday, September 8, 2022

My Last Job

A simple list of all of the jobs that I have had would fill the page. My work history has been a vagabond's journey that began with me outside the church after each of the Sunday masses hawking the diocese's weekly newspaper, the Tablet, and a smaller magazine called the Sunday Visitor. That took at least six hours. Me and my friend Bobby, and I can't remember if they paid us or not. That was sixty years ago. Last week I resigned from what should almost certainly have been my final job.

Almost certainly?” I hate to break this to you, but our exciting new world has denied us certainty in any matter that you could think of. I could peacefully live out my remaining years, or I could be reduced to begging for coins in return for teaching young English-learners the mysteries of English grammar.

Several of my jobs were pleasant, but difficult. Some of them were physically demanding and totally annoying. A couple were just annoying. One or two were mellow and almost enjoyable. The lawyer jobs were all very stressful. My worst job was letter-carrier for the US Postal Service. In New York weather? Are you kidding me? Summers are way too hot, and winters are way too cold, and it rains all year. I lasted just under two years. The second winter was out of the question.

I recently realized that I had spent most of my adult life sleep-deprived. I was lucky to get almost seven hours of rack time, and often had to settle for six. I've been making up for it, and enjoying every extra minute.

My last job was in the “mellow” category. I worked there for almost fifteen years, a statistic that amazes me every time I consider it. My previous record was three-and-a-half years. My vagabond's journey of a career made many stops, lasting between one day and about eighteen months to two years.

Does the Peace Corps count? My ex-wife and I joined together. Peace Corps spun the Fortune Wheel, and it stopped on Thailand. A teacher training program. That was mellow, and I believe that they were happy with my contribution to world peace and understanding. That was a term of two years and three months. It turned out to be too much of a good thing. The resulting rebound-depression back in California resulted in the end of my forty-year marriage.

I returned to Thailand, because I knew the situation, had many contacts in education, and I knew that I could easily get hired and provide myself with a good quality of life. I taught for a time at a big high school full of naughty, lazy students, and then received an offer that I simply could not refuse for what turned out to be the last job I'd ever need.

My last position was as a lecturer for the Faculty of Law at a big government university in Bangkok. I taught undergrad and graduate classes, and was asked to travel to the school's remote campuses all over Thailand about ten times every year (until COVID hit). My deepest thanks and appreciation to all of the faculty and staff at Ramkhamhaeng University, and a special mention for several who have predeceased me, and many who have already retired or simply moved on. Thanks to everyone who ever helped me or made me feel welcome. I almost never felt like an outsider.

Tuesday, August 30, 2022

James Black - The Hook & Sling (Instrumental) [US, Funk] (1960s/70s) -- ...

James Black is the drummer. Very New Orleans style, and, in fact, he worked mostly in NOLA. He always make me smile.