Never Forget

One of the key components to pseudo-conservative/alt-right “thinking” is forgetfulness. If you remember history, you would never admit to being conservative because that would mean you are always wrong. Always, in the history of civilization and humanity. For example, pseudo-conservatives delude themselves into believing that Reagan was some sort of economic savior. For southern California, maybe, on a short term, but for the rest of the nation and the world that is total bullshit. Long-term, Reagan did damage to California that won’t be repaired without another Great Depression and a massive population drop.

For example, do you know when the United States became a permanent debtor nation? 1985, the beginning of Reagan’s second term. As tough as reality is for pseudo-conservatives, it's a fact. On September 17, 1985, the New York Times published an article titled “U.S. Turns into Debtor Nation” (“The United States has become a debtor nation for the first time since World War I, owing foreigners more than they owe it, a Commerce Department report indicated today.”) which should have tossed traditional conservatives into a fit of panic and generated a wave of cost-cutting, but Reagan and his band of nitwits convinced the New Right that “deficits don’t matter,” at least when fake conservatives are creating them. So, like every pseudo-conservative administration since Reagan, Republicans have stood for borrow-and-spend, instead of actual conservative principles.

Pseudo-conservatives have just elected the least conservative President in modern history. Trump’s “business” history is a sad tale of leverage gone wrong, with six bankruptcies and a long list of Trump-scam vendors and customers robbed and left broke in his wake. When his administration has spent its wad, the US will be further in debt and the economy will be crushed into a shadow of what it could have been. Like the post-Reagan and Bush I and II years, actual national security will be non-existent, the economy will be in shambles after a series of deregulation scandals and regulatory mismanagement, and U.S. citizens will be an international laughing stock. Our national resilience will be further stressed and our capacity for a comeback weakened by a degraded national education system and the resulting loss of technological capability and increased international competition for the bits of talent our education system produces.

Like every other pseudo-conservative President in the country’s history, national mismanagement will produce one or more extreme terrorist events; probably tossing us into another endless and mindless “war on terror” or some such bullshit label. Those of us who actually read will look back on the Obama years as the last gasp of Washington’s great experiment ("And since the preservation of the sacred fire of liberty, and the destiny of the Republican model of Government, are justly considered as deeply, perhaps as finally staked, on the experiment entrusted to the hands of the American people."). The American people have degenerated far below any hope Washington might have held for democracy and the republic concept. We are a Nation of Stupid and, worldwide, we’re turning into a species of stupid.

Every good technician, engineer, and scientist knows “the more you know, the more you know you don’t know.” The inverse is also true. A relatively recently described human trait, the Dunning-Krueger Effect, explains "a metacognitive incapacity, on the part of those with low ability, to recognize their ineptitude and evaluate their competence accurately." Or, the less you know, the more you think you do know. Trump voters are that crowd. Their science, psychology, technology, economics, and mathematics are so shallow that they barely qualify as humans, but they have convinced themselves that they are of above-average intelligence. The less they know, the smarter they think they are. This isn’t going to end well.


Let the Whining Commence

Half-wit Trump voter, Teena Colebrook, is already whining about the result of her thoughtless vote, and the middle-class misery hasn’t even started yet. When Trump announced that he was nominating general all-around Wall Street scumbag, Steven Mnuchin, for Secretary of Treasury, she wimpered, "I just wish that I had not voted. I have no faith in our government anymore at all. They all promise you the world at the end of a stick and take it away once they get in." The majority of the country is with you, Colebrook. Everyone with an IQ over 50 wishes idiots like you weren’t allowed to vote.

Colebrook’s whining comes from the fact that Mnuchin was the CEO of the bank, OneWest, that foreclosed on her property in 2009, forcing her out of her home and investment property to the tune of a $517,000 debt on a $248,000 loan. She is one of the many Trump voters who knowingly voted for the guy who told the idiots enrolled in his bogus Trump University, “People have been talking about the end of the cycle for 12 years, and I'm excited if it is . . . I've always made more money in bad markets than in good markets.” So, who did Colebrook think she was voting for,  Santa Claus? Based on the fact that this math-disabled character “purchased” the property with an “interest only loan,” I suspect she believes in a collection of mythical characters, so Trump’s inane “I will give you everything” promises (at least 276 of the craziest things anyone has ever said to the voting public) probably sounded credible.

A friend was in Red State territory, Kentucky, during the election and she was struck by how many times she heard, “I’ve never vote for a Republican before, but I’m voting for Trump.” Her argument was that Trump said the things these once-working class voters wanted to hear. She was convinced that Bernie Sanders was the only Democrat who had a similar message, but that’s not true. Sanders promised things that his opponents, including Clinton, called “free stuff,” but he had plans for financing everything he promised. Sanders was consistently truthful, while Trump was consistently disinterested in reality or facts. Sanders promised that he'd work with and for his voters and the middle class, but warned that the forces against accomplishing anything significant were powerful, vested, and well-heeled. "It will be a fight," he promised.

Trump’s chumps were equally disinterested in reality or facts. Completely nutty promises like making the Michigan auto industry “bigger and better and stronger than ever before” or getting "Apple to start building their damn computers and things in this country, instead of in other countries” or bringing the coal industry back to the Appalachian Mountains (and the old coal-mining jobs) without a lick of knowledge about manufacturing, rational tax incentives, technical education, or any other bit of expertise that might be useful in recreating the manufacturing society that Nixon, Reagan, and the Bush’s trashed.

Telling Americans the truth is not a politically successful tactic. President Jimmy Carter tried that in 1980 and Americans fled the dismal, hard truth for the Reagan fairy tails and many still feed themselves the “we can borrow and leverage our way back to prosperity” drivel Nixon started and Reagan perfected into a “deficits don’t matter” mantra that every Republican politician and faux-business-critter has abused since. Republicans and alt-rightwingers have committed themselves to “borrow and spend,” pretending that is somehow better than the “tax and spend” charge they levy on Democrats and progressives. Carter tried to be a role model for Americans scaling back to their means and they rebelled, choosing the phony pomp and pretense Reagan offered, general criminal and treasonous behavior, and the massive national debt he generated.Before Reagan, the US was a creditor nation. Since, we've been deeper and deeper in debt.

And we’ve done it again.


Proving My Point, Again!

I have never believed that semi-pro sports, Division I-XX inter-collegiate anything, belongs in public universities. For-profit, private Schools for Spoiled Children can do whatever they like, but taxpayer money should not be wasted on jocks and stadiums. The recent University of Minnesota scandal proves my point for the n-qillionth time. Ten UofM football players gang raped or banged a co-ed who was either drunk or stupid or both and that obviously violated the university’s bare-minimum “school conduct standards.” The rest of the team went on strike, threatening to stay away from the bowl game that would almost provide the UofM with enough money to justify paying the ridiculous salaries to the coaches and athletic director. This is what passes for taking a moral stand in sports, “Have never been more proud of our kids. I respect their rights & support their effort to make a better world!” said GoldenGopherHFC on Twitter. In the new world of Trumpdumb, this is as good as “a better world” gets.

“According to police records, a woman told officers she was drunk when she was sexually assaulted in running back Carlton Djam’s apartment by several men on Sept. 3, including some of the suspended players. She said her sexual contact with two men may have been consensual, but her contact with four of them was not. Several players told police it was consensual, and an investigator who watched a video Djam took of the incident wrote that ‘she does not appear to be upset by the sexual activity and does not indicate that she wants it to stop … and the sexual contact appears entirely consensual.’” Explain to me how any of that resembles higher education. Please!

The players are concerned for their fellow teammates/gangbangers, the quarterback Mitch Leidner said, “All these kids’ reputations are destroyed. Their names are destroyed. It’s extremely difficult to get back and it’s very unfair for them and that’s why we’re sticking together through this thing.” First, none of these men qualify as “kids.” They are overgrown, privileged young men in a culture that celebrates brawn over brain and violence over decency. If they weren’t playing football, they’d be in the military. They are not kids, children, or boys. They knew what they were doing and one of the nitwits even filmed the gangbang to give himself something to beat off to after the head injuries and age remove whatever attraction he has to women.

So, good for them. Stay on strike guys. “Three senior leaders stood in front of the group and delivered a defiant rebuke of the university’s decision, saying they would not participate in any football activities until the school president and athletic director apologized and revoked the suspensions. If that meant they don’t play in the upcoming Holiday Bowl against Washington State, they appeared poised to stand firm.” Blow both your college and your professional career making a statement that replicates the incoming federal government’s moral values and that of the 62.2 million Trump chumps who did what their Russian brainwashers (didn’t take much washing, either) told them to do and are standing proud as the nation’s security and economy is about to be wreaked by their votes.

Now that I’ve thought this all the way through, maybe sports are the only thing public universities should concern themselves with. These athletics-only college employees are absolutely representing the true moral values of 47% of the voters in the 2016 election. I guess this is the country we are going to be for at least the next four years.



I don't like to think of myself as being "sensitive." All my life, I've worked to sync my external voice with my internal voice so that when I recount what I've said in conversations I'm repeating what I actually did, not what I wish I'd done. There is a disconnect, though. I set fairly low standards for my expectations in other humans, but when someone I know dips below that bar I am disappointed to the excess that I seriously consider cutting off all communications with all humans. That isn't much of a self-punishment, either. I have never had a lonely day in my adult life. I have missed being around a few people, occasionally, but that didn't change the fact that I still had too many people in my life and always have. During those brief periods  when I am the only person in my home, I am at my happiest (not much of a swing from my most unhappy, I'll admit). I love to travel alone and almost never wish someone else was along for the ride.

A few days ago, (today is December 20, 2015) an acquaintance from my last job who is probably the single most sexist, male chauvinist pig I've ever experienced supported his decision to vote for one of the many insane crackers running for the Republican presidential candidacy by posting a picture of Hillary Clinton pissed off. Hillary is pretty nasty looking when she's pretending to smile, but when she's angry (something Billy has given her plenty of reason to be) she is everyone's least favorite grade school teacher. I replied that posting an "unflattering picture of Hillary is not a debate tactic when the discussion is about the latest insanity spewed by one of the nutty Republican candidates." That was, clearly, a sexist tactic designed to appeal to the lowest common denominator. His response was to claim that because he had a mother and sisters, he couldn't be sexist. This is a man whose descriptions of his past sexual encounters border on disgusting and whose disrespect for women co-workers and students always made me want to put distance between him and me, professionally and personally. So his belief that the existence of his mother (not a rare occurrence in the worst of men) was a defense was so insanely stupid a claim that I gave up on carrying the debate any further. If I'm lucky, I'll never hear from this douche again.

That desire to separate doesn't stop with the foolish ex-friend, though. My disappointment in his lack of insight and self-knowledge didn't stop with the offender. I wanted to cut off all contact with humans of any sort. Not just for the rest of the day, but for an extended period of time. Years, for example.

Some aspects of this blog are time machine entries. Notes to myself to see how I'll feel sometime later after I've made a major decision about my life. This is one of those. 


They Are Not Like the Others

The 2016 Minnesota redneck vote tells a lot of people more than what they needed or wanted to know about the culture in an area. When someone is thinking about starting a business, today the old “location, location, location” rule can have a completely different meaning. A location that has drive-by visibility and access is less important in a society that is driven by convenience (internet access), customer service (tolerance and people skills), loyalty (product lifestyle identification), and originality.

Voting red is a loud and clear indication that a community is neither tolerant, loyal, or creative. Goodhue County, in southeastern Minnesota, has a lot of the qualities that could be incredibly inviting to a 21st Century business. Red Wing, for example, is a transportation hub of sorts, at the intersection of US 61, US63, MN 58, and several well-maintained county roads plus there is an actual functioning Amtrak station. The city is hot-wired with fiber optic internet service almost everywhere in the city limits with IP service up to 1Gbps speeds. There is even public transportation in the city and it is a fairly inclusive service with three routes and regular service from 6AM to 6PM Monday through Friday, and 7AM to 5PM Saturday and Sunday. Housing is reasonably priced and there is no shortage of vacant industrial space. All that is good news. The bad news is that Goodhue County voted strongly for Trump and a Republican House candidate reasonable people assumed should have been unelectable. The Goodhue County Commissioners have tossed up random obstacles to prevent a “zip rail” system to Rochester and high speed rail along the Mississippi River cities. A surprising number of creative people are not drivers or even car owners, choosing to spend their commuting time doing something useful with their time. Easy and quick access to the Cities from the River Cities would be a biog draw to a lot of potential job-creating residents. The City and county officials appear to think Trump or some other con man will be able to return the country and world to the 1950’s, including that period’s social system and hierarchy (income inequality, racial isolation, and white supremacy). While there is a comedic appeal to the “back to the 50’s” drivel, change only goes backwards during catastrophes. Making “America great again,” as in somehow reviving a world where the US is the only major economic playground and white men are the only important players, is not an option.

Creative people are often odd ducks, like Steve Woziniak, Bill Gates, Warren Buffett, Elon Musk, Terry Gilliam, Robert Rodriguez, Amy Pohler, John Stewart, and pretty much any other artist, geek, or inventor you’ve ever heard of. Many (or most) of those people have experienced all of the bullying, intolerance, racism, stupidity, and backwards thinking they’re likely to be willing to put up with by the time their skills become productive. The statement Red Wing and Goodhue County are making with the election and opposition to technological and social change is “we don’t want your kind here.”

Creative people are attracted to other creative people and environments that encourage variety and tolerance. Mostly, that is a selfish preference because they will only thrive and survive in that kind of society. Intolerance, on the other hand, is an unattractive trait that repels creative people and inhibits everyone else. Diversity, that politically-correct concept the alt-right and blue collar middle-aged white men hate most of all, is a creativity driver. Creativity is not a conservative characteristic, either, assuming by “creative” you mean “moderate, careful, restrained, keeping with traditional, opposing change.” It’s pretty obvious that with that list of qualities, conservatives are disinclined to look for new solutions.

Currently, human knowledge is doubling every 12 months and that rate is accelerating. With knowledge comes change and change-drivers are always young, educated, and creative. Any community actively doing things to repel that demographic is doomed. Most of Middle America has been in severe decline for 30 years or more. The smartest kids leave, the dumb ones stay and reproduce more dumb kids with fewer outliers of intelligence every generation. That is not a formula for economic or social success in any vision of the future.


Who Are the Good Guys?

For most of my life, I’ve thought I could tell who the good guys were in novels, movies, and history. Based on that assumption, I thought that most of us were cheering for the same folks at the end of the movie. After the 2016 elections, I’m not so sure.
Pic 3I thought I’d post a few pairs of pictures just to calibrate myself with your ethical standards. Take, for example this pair of mythical characters. Who do you like here: the poor kid from Kansas who works for a liberal newspaper and wastes his time saving ordinary people from catastrophe and rich criminals or the rich guy to takes what he wants and could care less about who he hurts?

Pic 1
Being a rock and roll sort of guy, I thought this comparison is pretty obvious, but apparently I’m wrong. So who do you like: the artist who donates lots of his time to charity and who is actually a musician or the NRA spokesthing who crapped his pants to get out of fighting in Vietnam and who has threatened to murder the current President of the United States?
Pic 6
This ought to be a telling comparison. (The first guy is Jimmy Stewart, in case you’re confused and too young to remember Xmas movies.) The characters are Stewart as George Bailey, a man who has given up his dreams in order to help others, and Gordon Gekko, a Reagan era idol famous for his unrestrained greed and a 1980’s tag line, "Greed, for lack of a better word, is good." I don’t know how conservatives even blink with this choice. They have to love everything about Gekko, especially his job-killing corporate raider tactics.
Pick 5
This one should be another no-brainer for the pseudo-conservative crowd: a misfit loner, although a decorated and PTSD afflicted WWII vet, who actually destroyed parking meters or a for-profit prison warden. The warden delivers the line that appears to define the 21st Century, "What we've got here is failure to communicate." I don’t know how conservatives can not love a man who enforces the law without compassion, any sense of justice, or the slightest trace of decency.
Pic 7
I tried to make this one obvious by picking a picture of who I thought was the relative “good guy” with his gun in hand. However, this should be a tough one for conservatives: one guy is a paid assassin with a touch of morals and the other is a crooked sheriff who believes he’s the ruler of “my town” and does anything he feels like doing, including torture, behind the protection of the law.
Pic 2
This last one is the most confusing for me. One is a consistently ethical man with a beautiful family and who has given the country the most honorable government in my lifetime and the other is the living embodiment of Richy Rich and everything you’d think working class people would hate about the ruling elite.

But the election of 2016 proved that I have been viewing life, moves, and everything completely differently from 50-some-percent of the people in this country. It turns out that every movie I’ve ever watched has been interpreted differently by at least half of the theater audience. I should have known, since I attended the first showing of This Is Spinal Tap and discovered that most of the audience thought the film was an actual documentary and not a comedy at all. I didn’t bother trying to confuse you with these picture-pairs. I put the people I thought were the good guys on the left and the bad guys on the right, but I’m suspecting a lot of you thought I’d mixed it up a bit. You can not imagine how incredibly sad that makes me.


Sears: Tearing Failure from the Arms of Success

When I was a kid in small town western Kansas, back in the 1950’s, Sears and Roebuck was king of retail; mail-order retail, that is. Every home had a big Sears catalog somewhere prominent and Sears was the place to go for furniture, appliances, hand and power tools, and clothing. By the 1960’s, my hometown had an actual Sears store which stocked the most popular items and made ordering from the catalog even easier. Over the years, Sears morphed into full fledged department stores and, now, these things they call “Hometown Stores”: which are micro-stores that offer free “delivery” (to the store) of items not stocked in the store. Sears is sort of like Amazon with an inconvenient delivery system.

Still, that could work if the Sears mismanagement team had some idea what the 21st Century looks like. They don’t. Sears has been losing money, consistently every quarter, for years. Sears Holdings, the TBTF holding company that now clings to Sears and Kmart, appears to be completely clueless about modern retail, website presence, and management of a business in general. It’s almost impossible to imagine that some senior executive from Sears Holdings would not end up in Trump’s cabinet: they are that stupid. Almost as if he was created by a Hollywood screenplay writer for the part, the Sears’ CEO’s name is “Edward Lampert.” I shit you not. Right out of 1880, his advice to Sears employees who are staring unemployment in the face was, “I’m asking each of you to work faster and smarter and to sharpen your efforts throughout the year.” Of course, Eddie Lampert will be sitting in his corner office, twiddling his thumbs or dialing an Aspen real estate broker as he looks for a place to spend his unearned and undeserved $4,300,585 salary. No chance any responsibility for Sears’ failure belongs to the top guy, right?

It’s almost worth buying something from a local store to get a feel for how backwards Sears Holdings is. I guess I performed that experiment for you when I bought a super-cheap Kenmore/Maytag dishwasher from my local Hometown Store. The store was, of course, a well-run, neat and organized local business, but the on-sale item I wanted to buy had to be ordered. Supposedly, the appliance would be delivered in a week or so and “we’ll call you” when it arrives. You’d think Sears would have an automatic notification system for when products can be picked up, like almost every other big box retailer on the planet has, but you’d be wrong. I discovered my dishwasher was waiting to be picked up by calling the store and getting a clerk to check the delivery area to see if it was there. Turns out it was and had been for more than a week. This isn’t a local store problem, the store is barely manned by what looks like a high school kid and a part-time mostly-retired woman and they do a good job of greeting customers, ringing up sales, and maintaining the store. This is a front office back in Chicago mismanagement problem. The useless and lazy bums staffing those corner offices, raking down huge paychecks, and issuing stupid “work harder and faster” memos are not doing any part of the job of management.

A terrific and entertaining way to see how badly mismanagement is performing is to buy something at Sears and experience the customer feedback on-line form at www.hometownfeedback.com/. Every part of this survey is right out of the bad old days of the computer “inmates are running the asylum.” The form doesn’t fit on the screen, the questions are formatted so badly they are unreadable, the questions are clearly written by non-English-speaking authors, and the questions motivations are obviously designed to put blame on the lowest level employees and deflect any responsibility from the deadbeats at the top.