Showing posts with label HolidayFestivals. Show all posts
Showing posts with label HolidayFestivals. Show all posts

Friday, June 30, 2017

A Better Way to Spend Your Holidays

Addendum: A Honda Element just had a contest with a snow-melt-engorged tributary of the Gunnison River. Which one do you think won?

I missed the show, but I heard about it. Perhaps the Crossover Utility Vehicle (CUV) driver had heard (incorrectly) that there was free camping on the far side of the river, from one of those lists of free campsites on the internet -- that are obsolete the microsecond they are published. Then he took the chance of trashing his vehicle, all for the sake of saving 5 or 10 dollars.
It is time once again to put out an advertisement for a better way to spend your holidays than camping. Just a few years ago, "stay-cations" were talked about as an alternative to travel-oriented vacations. Has that new buzzword already receded from public thinking?

I hope not, because it is a great idea. Think of how much fun people could have by going to a nearby luxurious hotel, resort, or casino. Let the kids go to a real movie or a water slide. Let Mom and Dad treat themselves to a candlelight dinner at a great restaurant. There would be little packing and unpacking. Little driving. They may even have time to relax. [1]

That is just the opposite of what they are doing by driving long distances to the mountains or the shore, where they fight crowds and bugs. 

This proposal seems obvious to me, but why won't other people jump on the bandwagon? Is it the high cost of the 'stay-cation' at the nearby resort?

I'll bet that is mostly perception rather than economic fact. It's all about sloppy accounting systems that people carry around in their heads. Consider the people who resent paying a couple dollars at my campground, where it had always been free before. 

But they have thousands of dollars tied up in mountain bikes, kayaks, ATVs, UTVs, motorbikes, Goretex hiking boots, climbing equipment, generators, miscellaneous camping junk, driving costs, RVs and trailers, $60,000 four wheel drive vehicles, etc. Oh, and then the storage costs.

And how many days a year is all that crap used?

[1]  I asked the mother of one family of campers how long it had taken to pack all of their detritus, back home. She said she had been packing the entire week.

Saturday, May 27, 2017

Choosing Rather Than Being Chosen

Is this really happening? I am camp hosting on the first of the Big Three summer weekends, in Colorado, and I am enjoying myself. So is everybody else. And they are such nice folks.

So what's the catch? Oh yea, we did have some obnoxious ultra-lite planes fly over the campground at 7 a.m. at low altitude, for no reason other than saying, "Look at me." But the kids probably enjoyed it.

So why am I jinxing myself by shooting my mouth off on the internet? The gods smite mortals who commit hubris online. At least I won't compound the sin by also committing blabbermouthery about my location.

This experience reminded me of a trick I learned long ago when winter camping in one of the crowded places in lower Arizona. It seemed clever to camp away from the crowd. But invariably, some clown would see me off by myself and move in close. Then they would start off-loading the kiddie motorcycles, contractor generators, etc.

And I would think, what did I do wrong? Actually, what works is the opposite of what you would think.  Instead of trying to get alone, you should deliberately insinuate yourself into a group of  people who all have solar panels and non-motorized sports.

The experience above reminded me of something. From time to time you hear a woman sigh and say something like, "You always meet the right guy at the wrong time, or too late in life." Or inverting that, "You always meet the wrong guy first."

Is that because, traditionally, women waited to be chosen, instead of actively doing the choosing themselves? If so, it is analogous to the camping situation above.

What if Colorado becomes more and more crowded, and travel plans, MVUMs, and camping restrictions keep expanding? How will it end?

Perhaps in a new way to do free camping. If you qualify as a desirable campground neighbor, people will be willing to pay for your campsite if you camp next to them. You must be certified as yellow generator-free; similarly with ghetto-blasters, outside entertainment centers, two-cycle kiddie motorcycles, and drones. Carried to its logical conclusion, there may even arise a new profession: the camping call girl or gigolo, who is paid a serious salary to merely camp or park next to you -- and nothing more.

This has been a convoluted way to talk myself into adjusting to an over-crowded world.  If no neighbors are no longer possible, then at least let them be the right kind of neighbors.  And that will happen only if I get proactive in choosing them. 

Sunday, July 3, 2016

Being a Cool Professional Camper over the Fourth

I hope the reader hasn't wasted a great deal of time reading certain cliché topics, such as 'Should a camper have a gun?' On and on this sort of discussion goes. What's the point?

It is obvious that owning a gun is "negative safety" for a camper. It is too likely to put you into the state penitentiary as your final campsite.  Just consider what it is like to camp on public lands over the Fourth of July weekend.

I chose a new area for me. The road didn't look busy. The campsite looked non-flat and not terribly desirable to other campers. So I pulled in. An hour later a giant fifth-wheel pulled right in to my site -- without being invited. Then they ran their generator until 10 pm.

My first reaction was anger. But wait a I not always preaching that being a full-time RVer is a profession -- not a vacation? Do you know of any job that doesn't give you assholes to deal with? So why not act more professional? At least that is what I preached to myself.

The next morning I went prospecting, and with a real sense of purpose. I found a road and campsite that would not appeal to large rigs. Indeed, you can escape other rigs if yours is smaller and has higher clearance. 

The first rig of intruders was joined by six other rigs. They probably thought I was the asshole for being in the campsite that they used last year and had "first dibs" on, this year.  In truth, I liked the second campsite better than the first, so being a cool professional paid off.

But you can't escape the motorsports crowd on the Fourth of July weekend, no matter how rough your road is. Once again, there is a chance to act like a cool professional instead of a hothead. There weren't so many noisy machines going by. How many seconds of annoyance does it really total up to, over 24 X 60 X 60 seconds in a day? ATVs are quieter than they used to be. Many of the ATVers are friendly people that I smile, wave, and chat with.

And look at the bright side: each of those machines has room for a 300 Watt loudspeaker on the front and back. It could be blaring out hilbilly rap music. Boom cars for the sticks.  Frankly, it surprises me that that trend hasn't gotten established...yet.

Tuesday, June 7, 2016

A Decorated Grave in the Forest

So close to Memorial Day, it was strange to stumble onto a well-marked grave for a dog, in the forest. It had a large blue Christian cross with some nice words about the dog, "Jack". A plastic doggie water bowl was in front of the cross. Did the owners come out every year and replace the bowl, or symbolically pour water in the bowl? I found myself quite affected by this, especially considering how difficult it is to dig a grave a couple feet deep in rock.

I know one man who would not have been impressed: the fellow who camped nearby last winter. He once told me, with some disgust in his voice, "You treat her like a person!", referring to my dog of course. (In fairness, I try to repress baby talk and other behavior that is obnoxious to other people.) 
Treat her like a human, do I? This was the groomer's idea. She got her summer clip today and loves it.
That's one of those phrases you hear every now and then. There are several others.
  • Dogs offer unconditional love.
  • Dogs are loyal.
  • I like dogs better than people.
All of these phrases seem to miss the mark. I have only had two dogs, but neither one was the least bit loyal. Whatever human walked up to them was their new best friend.

Unconditional love? A dog would only put up with so much abuse from a human. Dogs also show noticeable preferences for some people over others. If there were no conditions, how could there be preferences?

Nor will I confess to liking dogs better than people. I will admit to preferring the behavior of the average dog to that of the average person. Dogs are friendlier and more enthusiastic than the average person. Why should that be so?

And then there is the cuteness factor. Adult dogs, let alone puppies, seem much cuter than little humans. How does evolution explain that?

Why is the behavior of the average dog so preferable to the average human? My best guess is that humans have more powerful imaginations than dogs, and yet our imaginations are so undisciplined that we would almost be better without any imagination.

I don't want to try to answer these questions. It would take too much mental effort, and I'm getting ready to lie down for a siesta, after a morning mountain bike ride with my dog. Now it is a warm summer mid-day. It would be so nice to feel a touch of breeze and get another drink of water. "Jack" would have understood. 

Friday, July 3, 2015

Historical Picture for the Modern Fourth of July?

Will internet search engines ever get better? They are supposed to be so good now, but I don't believe it. All they do is match keywords, buzzwords.  And then use your search as the input to an advertising algorithm. They don't respond to thoughts or ideas.

For instance, we are on the eve of  "our" most obscene national holiday. A more optimistic person would have merely said "most ludicrous and hypocritical" holiday. I have trained myself to tune it out, rather than dwell on it with sourness, and then lash out at what America has become.

But it would be better to find something more constructive. What if internet search engines were actually good, and I came to them with a thought instead of a keyword? What history books or novels could I read that would inform on the situation an American finds them-self in, today? 

Who else has experienced pride in their country when they were young, and then grew to despise their country? Was it only grouchy old men who did so, and if that were true, did that alone invalidate their opinions? How did they handle the transition from Pride to Disgust? Did they manage to put it to good use?

There are probably illustrations from societies that have experienced defeat.  Consider what the southern states went through, in light of the novel, "Gone with the Wind." Or consider what Germany went through in the 1920s.

But those are defeat-based pessimisms. In contrast, modern America has not been conquered by outsiders, militarily or otherwise. Perhaps the existence of nuclear weapons will ensure that it never will be conquered militarily. Instead, it has merely degenerated, voluntarily, to a travesty of what it once was. The most relevant society and historical epoch might be nominally-successful Rome, which degenerated into a militaristic empire by the time of Julius Caesar.

Monday, December 22, 2014

The Time of Year to Be Realistic about People

There is indeed a silver lining in every cloud. The decline of American culture and society has brought an unexpected blessing: the "Fourth of July" (once called Independence Day) has superseded Christmas as the most ridiculous national holiday. 

Believe it or not, that has made it easier for me to ignore or laugh at Christmas. I saw a car in the parking lot with one of Santa's legs crushed by the trunk of the car. Poor Santa's withered leg dangled out. Now there is a motorist who has the right attitude about Christmas! Don't be sour or critical about it. Limit your comments about Christmas to crisp and good-natured mockery, when it is irresistible. The rest of the time, say nothing. Talk about the weather or the condition of the roads.

The holidays put a lot of pressure on you to make "conversation" with people. You probably find yourself looking down the table and wondering how it could be possible that you all came from the same womb. Just settle for chit-chat and conviviality. It's better than an argument. There is no point in ruining a small Good by demanding a big Good.

Normally I find quotes to illustrate my point, but here I am having trouble finding the quote of James Boswell, when he was complaining to Samuel Johnson about how most conversations degenerated into idea-less small talk. 

Johnson -- normally a gruff old bear -- surprised him by pointing out that these apparently trivial conversations did in fact have some value: they gave people a chance to practice kindness to each other.

Tuesday, July 3, 2012

Amerika's Most Obscene National Holiday

Is "obscene" too harsh of a word? It could be. For many years I called Christmas the most obscene national holiday. But that was a mistake. The commercialism (and endless, stupid music) of Christmas might be objectionable on the basis of taste, but it doesn't really offend important values held by serious and sincere people. After all, Christmas really isn't a Christian holiday; it never was. It's simply about fun.

But the hypocrisies of the modern Fourth of July do offend the values that most Americans used to take seriously. What could be more disgusting than pretending to care about "freedom" one day a year when, in fact, freedom means little to the average Amerikan today.

Too bad I haven't paid more attention to politicians' speeches; it would be great to have statistical proof of a mere suspicion of mine that Democratic politicians don't even bother bloviating about freedom -- nobody would believe them if they did. The whole notion seems hopelessly retrograde, archaic, and embarrassing to them. In contrast, neo-con, police-state Republicans still pay lip service to "freedom." They don't mean a word of it.

If a Democrat gave a traditional Fourth of July oration s/he would probably blush, whereas a Republican wouldn't even see a problem, since the modern version of the Fourth of July has moved towards themes that he genuinely cares about: jingoism, militarism, and global imperialism.

We must go to words of the prophet (grin), Fred Reed (#348):
I gather that Americans tend to regard their national character as comprising such things as freedom, independence, individualism, and self-reliance. One thinks of Daniel Boone or Marlboro Man.
In fact we no longer have these qualities and probably never will again. Generally we now embody their opposites. Modern society has become a hive of largely conformist, closely regulated and generally helpless employees who depend on others for nearly everything.
Character springs from conditions. Consider a farmer in, say, North Carolina in 1850. He was free because there was little government, self-reliant because what he couldn’t do for himself didn’t get done, independent because, apart from a few tools, he made or grew all he needed, and an individualist because, there being little outside authority, he could do as he pleased.
All of that is gone, and will not return. Freedom has given way to an infinite array of laws, rules, regulations, licenses, forms, requirements.
And so, my fellow Americans, I say unto you that you should ignore this dreadful farce of a national holiday.

Tuesday, February 14, 2012

Valentine's Day: Pulling Down the Goddess's Statue

Once again it's time for the annual Valentine's Day peroration. Hopefully this version won't make me as unpopular as the last one. It would be nice to have the advantage of my boondocking neighbor: she nonchalantly dismisses RV wives as "all needing mansions on wheels" or being afraid to dry camp and preferring to stay in RV parks with hookups. Nobody is offended when she says it. I should be so lucky.

I probably wouldn't be writing any of this if an ad during the Super Bowl hadn't outraged me. Yes, outraged -- somebody who isn't a part of TV culture can retain the ability to be outraged at cultural depravity. The ad featured a half-nude "ho" giving a pitch for some kind of Valentine's Day goodie that men were supposed to remember to buy for their honeys. Her punchline went something like, "It's simple, guys. Give and ye shall receive. (wink, wink.)"

Try to imagine the male analogue of that trashy ad. I can't come up with a thing that is remotely comparable. When the "double standard" is to their detriment, it will earn you a scolding for being politically incorrect; or it might land you in jail. But if it's to their advantage, the double standard is not only permitted, but it is mandatory; and any man who refuses to pay obeisance to these spoiled overgrown schoolgirls is seen as a misogynist who hated his mother.

I'm still waiting for new spouse-abuse laws to be passed that punish a spouse for shrewish nagging, crying (to get his/her way), and withholding sex.

But I let all this go. Next time I want to discuss how Venus and Aphrodite get in the way of choosing lifestyle alternatives.

Saturday, December 24, 2011

Doubts about the Human Race in Phoenix

People who aren't completely accustomed to airline travel sometimes feel affected by the big picture when they take off and leave the trivial earth-bound details behind, or rather, below. A calm perspicuity can set in at 35,000 feet. But at times perspicuity is troubling rather than calming.

In a famous scene in the classic film noir, The Third Man: Joseph Cotton and Orson Welles ride alone to the top of a Ferris Wheel type ride at an amusement park in post-World-War-II Vienna. The cynical and ego-centric Welles character stops the ride at its apogee where they can look down at small objects, people, crawling around on the surface of the earth a hundred feet below. He asks the Joseph Cotton character, 'Would he really mind if one of those ants stopped scurrying, because it died from the watered-down penicillin that Welles was smuggling in Vienna?'

It is thought-provoking, and yet troubling, to come in from a solitary camp in the desert and hit the outskirts of a monstrosity like Phoenix.

I choose a route that stays at the periphery where growth is most noticeable, as it is for trees. What a shame to see all that valuable agricultural land being turned into traffic-ensnarled highways, big box retailers and their even bigger parking lots, and lackluster housing subdivisions. The sense of loss was intensified since I had followed the Gila (HEE-lah) River down from its headlands in southwestern New Mexico, down to this remarkable floodplain called the Valley of the Sun.

At times like this I want to renounce my more-or-less libertarian political view and support a mandatory one-child policy, as in China. But such thoughts are soon pushed aside as being too ugly, as if the absence of such a program produces anything other than ugliness.

If you were to pull any of those frantic Christmas shoppers aside, and ask them why they are going through this madness, most individuals would smirk in agreement with you that the whole thing makes no sense. So then, why do they do it? The answer is of course 'because Everybody Else is and I must be like everybody else or I will be missing something'. Such is the control that the media has over the demos. And such is the folly of treating human individuals like they really are individuals, rather than as undifferentiated biological modules in an ant colony. If we renounce the idea that human Individuality has significance, then how do we justify Democracy?

Monday, October 31, 2011

Boneyards in the Badlands

The Uncompahgre River valley, southwestern Colorado, a couple Halloweens ago. In answer to my question, the boys at the public lands office said, "Mancos shale." What a cool name. It was Eastwood's name in his second Spaghetti Western. It was this rock that made the western Colorado Badlands bad.

Mancos shale results from silt. It suffocates the roots of plants; thus few plants grow out here, and hardly any critters. Not even crypto-biotic soil. Only an occasional prairie dog or scavenger would try to make a living here.

It's not like I'm complaining. Instead of standard tourist scenery, I prefer scenery that has a strong flavor of any kind, even the horrific. There is more drama in it. It is more evocative of life and death struggles. Maybe I've bought too many postcards from Nietzsche, over the years. 

Well this is the place for it -- the Badlands between Montrose, CO, and the Black Canyon of the Gunnison. The complexion of the ground was that of a corpse. Pallid hills rumpled up about 200 feet high. Imagine a woman with the comeliest curves, and the shabbiest skin complexion--say, Morticia, of the Addams Family.

A glutton for punishment, I pulled into the main staging area of the motor-crazed yahoos, intending to boondock for the night. (It was virtually in the shadow of a cell tower.) The BLM's sign named the trails: Dump Ridge (overlooking the town landfill), Skull X Bones, Monster Ditch, Moonlight Mesa, and Nighthorse Trail.

What really attracted the gasoline-besotted yahoos was the "open" status of the Badlands: they didn't have to ride on trails. They could commit wanton destruction to their heart's content, except that there wasn't
anything left to destroy. The sterile ground was tensile-cracked and salt-encrusted. The landscape was harsh and lunar.

Here in the Badlands I saw a type of beauty to the otherwise hideous sport of motor-crazed yahoo-ism. Thomas Hardy, the author of "Tess of the D'Urbervilles", would have called it "a negative beauty of tragic tones."

The only animal life visible were the crows that patrolled the town dump by toying with the ridge-lift from the hills. (Aren't Badlands always windy?) They were all that was alive, yet they cared only for morsels of fresh Death. This was all becoming a little weird, like I was stuck in a BLM version of an
Edgar Allen Poe story. Just then a pickup truck approached. Alongside it, a large Chocolate Lab ran his heart out. What a creature, so healthy and joyous! He came up to inspect my little dog, and then spirited off.

There could not have been a creature more out of harmony with its environment than this lab; and what a relief it was to see! But there was another contrast with the grisly environment: at the foot of these hideous badlands, rich fields begin:

It was getting close to dusk when I winced at the approach of six motorcyclists, about a half mile away, who were silhouetted on a sinuous ridgeline. When one of the two-cycle engines would scream, an adjacent ghoul would roar in response, and moved to catch up with the other. It was as if they were holding hands and doing le Danse Macabre on that darkling ridge, like the classic finale in Bergman's "The Seventh Seal", when black-shrouded Death finally wins the chess game and leads his victims off:

And Happy Halloween to my readers!

Tuesday, July 5, 2011

Modernizing an Obsolete Holiday

One of these days somebody needs to construct a Top Ten list of ludicrous obsolescences: those anachronisms that somehow survive in the modern world, despite being way past their shelf life. Certainly Independence Day in America would make it near the top.

Monday, May 9, 2011

Mother's Day

It still feels strange to cycle in shorts instead of long pants. Could a transition from cold to hot really happen so quickly? Maybe you have to sense nature primarily through the skin to appreciate this.

At any rate, after the ride over the Continental Divide -- practically in the city limits here -- I was relaxing with a coffee at my favorite shop downtown. Swallows were putting on quite an "air show". They are real hot shots; the original "Top Guns".

About ten swallows were constructing nests at the interior corners of a concrete roof. This was the first time in my life that I've seen such a good example of this, and just think, it was Mother's Day!

How do they cling to hard and vertical concrete surfaces?

Do they have suction cups on that tail?

While facing these little hot shots and photographing the crap out of them, my back faced an interesting sculpture and water fountain. ("Interesting" to a guy who usually doesn't appreciate the arts.) A memory fluttered into my mind: sigh, what a shame that those three beautiful and wonderful females weren't here today, on Mother's Day.

On one of our many cool air/warm sun days this winter my kelpie, Coffee Girl, and I were relaxing at this same sculpture/fountain after a mountain bike ride. An attractive young mother and her 4-year-old daughter invited themselves over. The girl still had the blond hair that little gringos sometimes have, and it was curly. She was a doll, and it was obvious where she got the genes from.

Why was I being so lucky? Ahh yes, the young mother could tell that my dog was gentle and ridiculously friendly and happy. Maybe she wanted her little daughter to have a good learning experience with dogs. All three of these creatures walked around the fountain, interacting and talking with each other. I paid no attention to what was actually said, but only to how pleasing it sounded. It was as melodious as the falling water of the fountain. The warm winter sun was hitting my back and soon I relaxed into semi-conscious nothingness.

The rock sculpture was made of layered rocks that resembled a mother, father, and child. With those three lovely girls walking around the fountain, I wondered why people go to national parks or wilderness areas to be impressed with Nature. And why did I surrender so easily to the diktats of the animal shelter in having my female dog spayed?

Monday, May 2, 2011

Sweet 16

My little poodle, Pancho, celebrates his 16th birthday this week. He has no illness or pain that I know of. But he has the usual old-dog issues like deafness and maybe 50% of his eyesight left.

After the coyote attack last autumn (click the Dancing with Wolves tab at the top of the screen) I restricted him to walking on the leash. When he started slowing down and losing interest in going on walks, I was a bit slow to see cause and effect. Another dog owner told me how her last old dog loved eating and going on car rides right to the end. I wondered if I should take Pancho out in the BOB trailer that fits behind a bicycle and let him go off-leash. So I did both.

He started acting a whole year younger! What a little scamp. Seriously, his "hearing" has even improved, by which I mean his mental alertness has improved to react to what little hearing is left. But we saw the coyote close to camp a couple days ago. So his off-leash distance from me must be kept short!

I'm not sure who is more worn, my old poodle or the bicycle seat. But they still serve an important purpose in this old world of ours.

Sunday, May 1, 2011

Downtown Criterium, Day 4

I don't know of anything that makes the menacing whrrr'ing sound of a peloton of cyclists in a criterium race, especially when they are descending one of the hills on the back side of the course.

During my RV traveling years I always fantasized living downtown in an old mining town. There are only three or four real possibilities in each state. I have started to look for an apartment in downtown Little Pueblo, where unfortunately the second stories of most commercial buildings are empty or abandoned.

I wonder how prevalent this sort of fantasy is for baby-boomers who grew up in standard suburban Dullsvilles, with 100% reliance on automobiles built into the lifestyle; there's not so much as a sidewalk in those places.

Friday, April 29, 2011

The Latest Iteration of Folly

Seldom have I benefited more from a boob-toob-less lifestyle than recently, when I was spared the non-stop hype over the royal wedding. Why didn't they put it off a couple months so they could've hit the 30th anniversary of Princess Diana's wedding? (I guess there was a groom, but nobody remembers his name.)

People who worship the false idol of Progress should ask themselves some brutal questions. For forty years women have been liberated, supposedly, and they've all wanted to become hard-boiled district attorneys Monday through Friday; but they still want to be fairy princesses on the weekend, or at least on one "magical" day of their lives. My gawd, did you see that ridiculous "train" or whatever you call it that Princess Kate dragged behind her with the help of an aide. (Lady-in-waiting?)

Perhaps my whole problem is that I'm old enough to remember the world and the media making fools of themselves over Princess Diana. And yet the younger generation thinks that there is something NEW and EXCITING about Kate Middleton. 

The Old did learn something in their lives, but they're never able to pass that wisdom on to their successors. So the Young must learn everything all over again. So is real progress even theoretically possible?

Why do Republics have to turn into Imperiums after the example of ancient Rome? Why do financial bubbles still occur centuries after the Tulip Bulb Mania and the Mississippi Bubble? After the Great War (World War I) why did a new generation have to experience World War II? Why is this decade going to be one of stagflation and deficits, after the lessons of the 1970s?

There was a strange episode in Star Trek: the Next Generation, in which they looped through a disaster a half dozen times. They gradually became aware that they went through this before, and started sending signals to the future iteration, warning them of it. With each iteration the experience changed slightly. Finally, despite maddeningly slow learning, the Future learned to avoid the disaster of the Past. Well, that's the difference between Fact and Fiction.

Thursday, April 28, 2011

Day 2

I mountain biked up to a viewpoint on the Continental Divide and looked down at our annual bicycle race, once again using my 10 X zoom. When it comes time to buy a new camera, optical zoom will once again be the priority.

These are the Men's Pro guys going by. Looks like a few are violating the rules of the road.

Wednesday, April 27, 2011

They're Back

The annual bicycle race is back in town and today is the first day.
Top) Men's Pro category starts off by heading through downtown.
Bottom) I mountain biked to our public park built over old mining land, and photographed the boys leaving town, headed northwest for 94 miles. I needed the 10X zoom.

Monday, February 14, 2011

A Curmudgeon on Valentine's Day

Being able to ignore national holidays is not the smallest advantage of an independent lifestyle. Still, they give opportunities for thought, especially when they are as weird as Valentine's Day. Look at how the marketing hype panders to women, with the jewelry, chocolates, restaurant events, etc. Isn't this just a bit slatternly, 40 years after women's lib?

Valentine's Day is a perfect example of how 'there is no new thing under the sun.' Women always have and always will run a sexual extortion racket to their own advantage. Believe it or not, I don't really blame them for this. Biology and evolution have dumped a lot of overhead on the females. Males get most of the pleasure from reproduction, while women get stuck with the consequences. So there is a rough justice in women using their weapons to get even.

Their imperiousness used to irk me when I was a young man. Old age has moderated this. Getting a female dog has had an even bigger effect. It was amusing to watch her thrash males twice her size. The big dummies just put up with it; you needn't think too hard about why. (Recall the old English proverb, "Dogs don't bite bitches.")  I'd never been on the winning side of the battle of the sexes before -- gosh it was fun!

Young males are just slaves of physiology, which makes them subservient to females. But why do older men still pander? By the time a man is middle-aged and his hormones have settled down, you'd think he would start to wonder if it was time to put away childish things. The male obsession with sex lasts for, what, 15 or 20 years. Female beauty is even briefer.

Why shouldn't a man just accept this fact and use it to his advantage? How much good did it really do him to make such a fuss over women? Did the benefits outweigh the costs? Maybe it was just a testosterone-drunk delusion. But many old men remain stubborn. They go through their entire lives being cleaned out financially by women. The reductio ad absurdum of this is a group of senior singles who act like junior high school kids around each other.

Hopefully the reader has not written this essay off as a pitiful addition to the misogynist genre.  I can't find the quote at the moment, but somewhere  somebody (Samuel Johnson?) says that the benefit of experience and wisdom is largely learning not to overpay. To say that most men overpay for women is not "anti-woman"; rather, it is a positive message about getting wiser and saner with age.

If women must be deified on a national holiday, let it be on Mother's Day.

Friday, January 21, 2011

The Politics of Pigskin

Suspense is building in the sports world, now that we're down to four teams in the football playoffs; except of course for a few soul-less philistines, anti-American Europhiles who prefer their version of "football", and millions of wives who prefer ice dancing at the Olympics to the NFL playoffs.

But the drama of athletic competition can be appreciated on another level: sometimes a sports championship captures the zeitgeist, the spirit of the Age. There was a classic and famous photograph of the Detroit Tigers winning the World Series circa 1984, as Detroit and the automobile industry were making a comeback from the most brutal recession in decades. More recently the New Orleans Saints starting playing well in the aftermath of Hurricane Katrina's destruction of that city.

Besides being a battle between Good and Evil, the upcoming contest between the Green Bay Packers (the Good) and the Chicago Bears (the... well, you guess) symbolizes the contest between two political and economic philosophies. The recent election was historically important. As I argued earlier, the near future will highlight battlegrounds along the interstate 80 axis of decaying, industrial America. But the battleground takes in a wider area: the industrial Midwest, the Great Lakes states. 

Who was the wit who first said that "reputation is a lagging indicator?" We still think of states like Michigan, Illinois, and Wisconsin as the "industrial" heartland, even though most of their industry has moved to Tennessee or Texas, if not overseas.

There are new GOP governors in Wisconsin and Indiana, who are getting a kick out of stealing businesses and jobs from Illinois, one of the poster boys of decaying, dysfunctional Blue Statism. This is particularly timely with the Democratic Chicago pols imposing tax increases on the rest of the state.

How fitting and proper it would be if the Pack crushed the Bears. It will be seen as one more illustration of Blue Statism being headed towards the ash heap of History.

Saturday, May 22, 2010


Labor Day weekend in Silverton, CO. There is always some excitement in the middle of the day in Silverton, when the tourist train arrives from Durango, and disgorges the suckers and marks. The economy of the town depends on them. I've come to appreciate this daily ritual.

But part of the credit for the festive mood this weekend must go to the Harley riders. Even if you dislike their hobby -- and I do -- they really do bring a sense of visceral excitement to town, like a Biblical plague of flying insect pests.

Do Harley people really deserve the disdain they so often get? Sure, most of us hate their noise and other features shall I say it... their over-studied affectation of a commercially-prepackaged faux rebelliousness.

But to their credit, they've found a partial remedy for the pathological over-earnestness of middle-age, and the joylessness of old age. What is so bad about a matron feeling like a hot young chick in her over-priced leather fashions? Or is an old boy really so crazy to take some risk riding a motorcycle, rather than settling into a meaningless and painful old age?

According to the accident statistics there is a 1 in 1200 chance that a motorcyclist will have a fatal accident, any given year. That sounds pretty bad compared to other modes of transportation, but it also means that most motorcyclists will not be killed.

There is a rational courage in taking some risk to do something you love while you still can, rather than quietly slipping into a more conventional senescence, in which you learn "to lose and neglect the creeping hours of time." (Shakespeare, As You Like It).