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Showing posts from 2018

The Stow-away

If you live long enough, you will experience just about anything and everything. The other day I actually rode a technical mountain bike trail and enjoyed it -- not in spite of its technicalities, but because of them. Credit the soft sandstone geology of Utah.

I consider that last example to be extraordinary, but if the reader isn't a mountain biker, they may not care.

OK, try this one on: I left the dispersed camping site near Moab a couple days before two friends were planning to. I stopped at one guy's van to say goodbye, while keeping an eye out for his little dog, so I wouldn't run over her. But it was a bad time for him, so I kept going. Everything seemed smooth.

Unaccustomed as I am to wasting time and money in coffee shops, I did stop in at the one in Green River, Utah. There I noticed a message from one of the friends back in Moab. (My phone volume had been turned off because of some telephone spammers.)

The message said that Olive, the little dog, was missing. And wo…

Turning the Murder of a Journalist into Electoral Success

The independent punditocracy is criticizing the Establishment Media for paying so much attention to the murder of Khashoggi by the Saudis, given that it has paid almost no attention to the death rained down from the skies by the Saudis onto miserable Yemen.

But there is an explanation, and it shows that the Establishment has learned something from their Kavanaugh debacle.

The Establishment cannot have an overhang, a positive aura, survive until the mid-term elections, to the benefit of the Republicans. They can't have voters still thinking about the deplorable behavior of the Democrat groups during Kavanaugh's confirmation.

So attention must be diverted elsewhere, and quickly! If the Never-Trumpers are lucky, Trump will be seen as the defender of cruel, spoiled, despotic Saudis. And perhaps this time, the guilt will be established. It is possible the Trump is stupid enough to fall into this trap: after all, Israel and Saudi Arabia are allies in everything but name. 

Or maybe split…

Hiking in Cold Wind

I don't do much hiking these days. Normally it is suffocating and stultifying. But it sure is nice when it is too cold to ride a bike.

Today Coffee Girl and I did a nice hike in our "back yard," while camping near Moab, UT. Most of the hike was along a windy cliff-line, in abnormally cool October weather. I have no photos to show you, because the closer scenery was austere to the point of being ugly. But that is a good thing! It made the distant scenery look that much better. 

But then, scenery wasn't the point anyway. When hiking in cold air, my "spiritual" battery is on a fast charge; walking discharges the battery at roughly the same speed.

Something similar happens with summer hiking, but in reverse. There are softies out there who will tell me that it is "negative thinking" to hate hiking in warm weather. Not so! The intensity of the pleasure coming from cold-weather hiking is proportional to the intensity of the displeasure during warm weather.

What Would Edward Abbey Have Thunk?

Moab, UT. The world is still full of people who have to be given credit for good planning of a certain type: they arranged to be born in the right year. In fact, most people who chose to be born from 1945 to 1960 in Europe and North America should get credit for this.

The author, Edward Abbey, also deserves credit for being born in the last decade or two when one could still experience the glories of Moab, UT. What would he think today?

I believe it was in "Desert Solitaire" that he wrote about being so tired of the summer heat in Moab that he got in his car and blasted down a washboarded gravel road on his way to the LaSalle Mountains, in order to cool off. 'The ultimate test of man and metal,' was how he put it.

Let's consider his example of deliberate hardship and postponed release, and see if it applies to my situation today.  I was able to use it by remaining parked in a ghastly place, just to milk the act a bit.  I "enjoyed" tourist helicopters overh…

How Not to Shut Down So Early at Night

It has only been a couple weeks since I stopped my incessant whining about hot sunlight and dry air. And now I am already whining about too many hours of darkness, and getting cabin fever during rainy days.

There is something to learn from the campers who wear headlamps at night. They continue to do useful things at night, instead of limiting themselves to boob toob, yoob toob, or miserable books.

In fact modern headlamps having gotten ridiculously good. No longer are you allocating one hand to carry things, while trying to get things done with the other hand. Have you ever tried to operate a zipper with one hand? A camper spends most of the day fighting zippers, especially in winter.

The other day somebody went mountain biking by me at night. I couldn't believe how bright his headlamp was. I am still not motivated to ride at night, but it would sure be great to stay active in the evening with daily chores.

Ahh, but there's the battery, the weak link in any of these electrical gad…

Missed Opportunity: Camping at Fairgrounds

What a pleasure it was to saddle up the ol' hound dog and go for a walk in town to all the places that one needs to live. I like to take the pulse of a town in this style, and walking is the best way to do it.

I am camped in a low-budget county fairgrounds in western Colorado. It is hard to believe that "low budget" and "Colorado" could appear in the same sentence, but they can, once you avoid the tourist traps. Better yet, you can sometimes get quite close to tourist traps without suffering the disadvantages.

All it really takes is the willingness to get interested in something besides how 'breathtakingly beautiful' it is, aka, how big, freakish, and vertical it is.

And why shouldn't it be economical to camp at the county fairgrounds? The facilities have to be put there to service campers using the fairgrounds during the half-dozen festivals that happen every year.  Any additional camping fees are just "dessert" for the fairgrounds.

And if th…

BREAKING NEWS... Russians Put Kavanaugh on Supreme Court

Boris & Natasha (*) are at it again. Wasn't it bad enough that they installed their agent in the White House in 2016?! But now they appear to be on the verge of installing another agent on the US Supreme Court...unless there is some 11th hour and 59th minute surprise. 

The mainstream media hasn't quite yet broken the bad news to the public. But I owed it to the readers to do so. Nobody else will commit quite yet -- except maybe "The Onion."

(*) For the benefit of young readers, there was a cartoon back in the Cold War, The Rocky and Bullwinkle Show, that featured two Russky spies, Boris and Natasha. 

Best Fall Color Experience Ever

A new reader to this blog might expect a photo-dump after a title like that. But I didn't even bring my Canon digital camera. (I did bring the smart phone, but just don't take it seriously as a camera. Maybe I should.)

My friend and I were mountain biking down a trail along a "draw" in the Gunnison CO area. Despite the anti-scenery slant on this blog, I just had to stop and ogle what was there: about 20 aspens, blazing yellow of course, that were pinned between the cliff and the dry creek. 

It was really sagebrush country, but the small aspens had managed to survive in their chosen niche. There was a drama to their tenuous existence. Also, it had rained a little recently, and the tiniest bit of moisture seems miraculous to me, after this summer! 

The autumnal morning's sun was just clearing the cliff, so that it illuminated the tops of the stunted aspens. The rest of the area was dry sagebrush, in all its glorious austerity. What a contrast!

This was a powerful examp…

The Annual Lump in the Throat

Every year at this time, I think about the same thing: the most important change-of-seasons. It was made more memorable by what my dog and I were doing: having one of our best mountain bike rides of the year, and in one of our favorite places. (How many untouristy areas can still be found in a place like Colorado?!) This summer has made me sick and tired of hot sun, so it was no small miracle that the day seemed glorious despite being sunny! 

It was getting on to mid or even late morning, but there was still a chill in the air. She and I pretty much like the same temperatures.

I notice the seasonal transitions at other times of the year, but somehow, they don't affect me in the same way that the onset of autumn does. There is no lump in the throat, as there is now. Perhaps that's because it is so great to get rid of another summer. Summer is just a long disease that one must submit to, stoically. Or maybe it's because I start migrating more as cooler weather comes in.


'In Harmony with...' Something Better Than Nature

Something unusual happened last night. I was camped in a campground, and yet, felt at peace.

My friend and I were sitting at the picnic table and watching the sky show. The heat of the day was hours in the past, but the night-time chill was holding back.

To begin with, it is an unusually spacious campground. (With kazillions of acres of public lands, what is the excuse for the urban-RV-park-like congestion of so many public campgrounds?)

On top of that, it was half empty, so the neighbors were just at the right distance. You could hear their muffled voices around the campfire, but not the conversations. The campfires flickered at their bodies until it made distant jack-o-lanterns out of them.

There was no music coming out of car stereos. 

Was there some kind of self-selection taking place? Were the people here specifically because they are disgusted with the crowded and noisy tourist industry in Colorado? Were they exhausted from their mountain biking and rock climbing? 

Ahh who knows. All…

A Good Gadget Review Website?

Some good news: I actually found a useful site for gadget reviews. But let's set the situation up, so it doesn't look like it was easy.

The project was to find better noise-cancelling or masking technology. For instance I installed the MyNoise app on the smartphone. It produces the soothing sounds of nature: Rain, Spring Walk, Temple Bells, Ocean, Waterfalls, etc.

But wait, you say, why would I need to generate those sounds electronically when I am in a campground in Colorado, and all I need to do is open the door and listen to the real thing from Mother Nature? 

Clearly the reader has never been to a public campground in their life. 'Peace and Quiet' are the last things you should expect in a campground. Basically they are noise ghettoes. 

The next step was to experiment with headphones. As usual I ended up wasting my time on reviews that I didn't trust, subjective anecdotal reviews by customers who can't type or spell, and the info-tainment of Yoob Tube. (My name…

A New Super-pundit?

I never heard of Caitlin Johnstone until a few weeks ago. Perhaps purposely I have avoided trying to find about her, and have simply been content to enjoy her essays.

She doesn't overlap with me too much: she seems to be a Green. One advantage of putting up with deviations of any kind is that when they do agree with you, you feel entitled to enjoy it -- after all, you earned it!

It will be interesting to see how her career evolves. Recall good ol' Ben Franklin's best friend. As young buckaroos, they went to England together, with the friend hoping to become a poet. He failed. But then he become a pundit who was actually paid to keep quiet by the opposition. That must be the ultimate compliment to any writer. (By the way, google or should be told that I am open to negotiations on that issue...)

But they probably don't do that anymore. So Caitlin's career will develop in some other way. Her personal appearance isn't that of a honey-bunny, so we can assum…

Attitudes Toward Drought

It is strange the way weather reports, especially on television, talk about a "40% chance of rain" as if it were life-threatening. This is so common it is easy to not even notice it. But it is a perfect example of how modern life is separated from nature and even physical reality.

I can't help thinking about that as we finally get a spot of light rain here in Colorado, after a dud monsoon season. How tiresome hot sun can get! Sunny mornings are still enjoyable, but in mid-day, the sun simply makes me stay indoors. I can't face it anymore.

But the tourist/camper still thinks that rain is the enemy, and that a sunny sky is something to feel happy about.

What a fraud the modern citified 'nature lover' is! 'Nature' doesn't mean anything to them other than a chance to gawk at freakish scenery of some kind. 

What if they actually had to grow something or hunt something to live? 

Demographic Profiling in a Campground

So far, I've posted about the question of whether working with the general public (as a campground host) can affect your political viewpoint. Can it also affect how you feel towards certain "demographic profiles?"

Of course demographic profiling is non-PC. But if people will tell the truth, everybody has to do it when they are in a hurry. It is only unfair when more information comes in but you lazily cling to your original judgement.

For instance today some yahoo was blasting away with a gun, at a target; he was only 200 yards away from the nearest campsite. I went over to investigate. My eyes scanned the row of parked cars. I zeroed in on the one most likely to belong to a Deplorable. I expected to see a "MAGA" bumper sticker on it.

I have been affected by this experience, and in a rather nice way: I have come to appreciate women more. They aren't perfect: they ask too many dumb questions about bears. They expose too much skin in public, and almost as bad,…

Herding Dogs as a Model for Ideal Government?

Recall I was wondering how the experience of working with the general public can change a person's political views. I have thought for years that democracy was an over-rated shibboleth.

But the experience of working with the general public as a campground host has convinced me that democracy is completely impractical.

One could generalize on this and make a big project out of re-reading and re-estimating the classic authors on political science. I haven't really done that. In part it is laziness.

But it has always seemed that general thinkers float around in the clouds too much, and that they are actually lazy and inaccurate thinkers. They fall in love with their own pretty theories and think they have had the final word on the subject, and that the disciples of rival philosophers should be tortured and then put to death.

A good Baconian (like me) would rather reduce the size of an issue to something small enough to be manageable.

As an example of that consider how a general politi…

Improving Conversation, as a Campground Host

Being a campground host is not just about cleaning restrooms. There are some thought-provoking moments, as well. For instance the host gets a lot of practice in reading people quickly, and adapting his speech to the other person's needs or interests. I wish I had gotten good at this 40 years ago.

Consider this quote from Boswell's classic "Life of Johnson:"

JOHNSON. 'Well, Sir, Ramsay gave us a splendid dinner. I love Ramsay. You will not find a man in whose conversation there is more instruction, more information, and more elegance, than in Ramsay's.' 

BOSWELL. 'What I admire in Ramsay, is his continuing to be so young.' 
JOHNSON. 'Why, yes, Sir, it is to be admired. I value myself upon this, that there is nothing of the old man in my conversation. I am now sixty-eight, and I have no more of it than at twenty-eight.'
This is certainly something to think about when the host is older than most of the campers. Some of my desire to avoid 'old …

Switch in Political Affiliation?

Could the experience of being a campground host change a person's political orientation? Perhaps it is worth generalizing this to: will working with the general public change your political views?

I am inclined to answer, Yes. I seem to be switching from libertarian to MRAG, that is, Mildly Repressive Authoritarian Regimes.

This switch does not please me. But there is a big caveat: seeing tourists all day is like teaching second grade. The tourist is not really an adult. Implicit in the libertarian viewpoint is the idea that you are dealing with adults who are responsible for their actions.

The child or adolescent gives little concern for the long term consequences of its actions. And it gives no concern for the effect on other people.

Society as a whole has become progressively more adolescent over the last hundred years. The welfare state deserves its share of the credit for this. But even more, the culture of consumer debt has enabled a childish "Gimme it now" mindset tha…

Why Are Jeeps So Wide?

The other day my dog and I were starting our descent from near treeline. We encountered a couple Jeep Wranglers coming up the mountain road. The Jeeps were barely inching forward, and rightly so: they were so wide that they barely fit on the alpine road.

At first I thought it was some kind of optical illusion. After all, it is just common sense to keep a "4WD" (four wheeler's) machine narrow so it can fit between boulders. 

But there is a simple historical explanation for this bit of motorsport silliness: back in the 1990s, when soccer moms started using Jeeps as daily drivers to their cubicle or grocery store, a few of them flipped over on freeway exits. Of course they did -- a narrow wheelbase and high center-of-gravity should do that. That is why you shouldn't take freeway exit ramps at 70 mph in this type of vehicle.

Then the media made a big deal about it, which brought in the safety regulators. So, today we have Jeeps as wide as full-size pickup trucks.

Is there a …

Tourists, and the Brains God Gave a Goose

A couple hundred cows (and a couple bulls) came through the campground recently. Therefore there was a huge up-spike in the average IQ of the campground. Do you think I am exaggerating?

Once I tried to suggest alternatives to driving long distances to merely snack on pretty scenery. I argued that a vacation would cost less money and be more relaxing if people went to a luxury lodge of the other side of the metropolis, watched a movie, ordered pizza for the kids, took the wife to an elegant restaurant or "nice" shops, and hung out at the pool.

Additionally, the pretty scenery can be gotten just as well from high-resolution video or photographs on the internet. And it is virtually free.

But I don't think anyone was persuaded. They are still showing up in the middle of the night at my campground, slamming car doors for an hour while pitching their tent in the rain, listening to someone snore in a tent 30 feet away from theirs, sleeping through the perfect weather of a Southwes…

Bringing a History Book to Life

Every time it happens, it delights me: how a book becomes more interesting if it overlaps with some observation or experience in real life. For instance, I am nearing the end of David Irving's, "Hitler's War."  Although my interest in the book was waning, it perked up when I talked to a couple tourists in a huge German tourist tank, who had invaded our campground, and rejected it.

Consider Germany's debacle when they invaded Russia in 1941. How could one of the most "advanced" nations of the world fail to conquer a backward, third-world nation like the USSR? It's not that I disagree with the explanations offered by historians, but thinking of that type pulls you away from the reality of how personalities actually think.

Consider the German tourists today who drove in with one of those huge military-like, "Outdoor Expo" RVs that outweigh three Panzer tanks of World War II. I joked that he shouldn't have any trouble crossing the little mou…

The Orogeny of Maturity

Lately I have wanted to write about things I have slowly developed an appreciation for. Many times, the rest of the world has seemingly under-rated these things.

For instance, it is not easy to enjoy books on geology, even if you are in locations where the topography screams at you. Now I have basically finished the book, "Earth," by Richard Fortey.

The book has inspired me to think that Shakespeare was mistaken when he compared the seasons of a man's life to performances on stage. It would be better to compare life to the topography of the earth; to see the drama in the lifting up of the sea into high arid plateaus; and to watch the slow and uneven erosion of its heights.

When we admire topography, we aren't really looking at 'erosion.'  Rather, we are looking at an original 'lifting up,' followed by differential rates of erosion. In geology, this occurs in one direction, because gravity and time run in one direction.

But in a human life, what is to stop…

Unheralded Success Stories

For whatever reason, it has become easier over the years to appreciate success stories of various kinds, such as books, personal behavior under stress, music, independent thinking, etc.

But what is most astounding about these success stories is how quiet and unheralded they are. (And why should that be?)

For instance I usually fail to stay interested in reading geology books. And what a shame!, when a fellow spends so much time around land that exudes geology.

Currently I am reading a popular geology book by Richard Fortey called "Earth." Many times I have marveled at what an interesting writer he is. 

I have always deplored how uxorious the average American male is, resulting in women who are spoiled beyond reason. My only experience outside America was in Mexico, where the non-slavishness of Mexican men towards their women made a favorable impression on me.

Perhaps that is why it has seemed like a small miracle to watch a character in the o…

Western Nostalgia in A Ruined State

We were doing our morning rounds, riding up through the sagebrush hills, when we saw three horsemen coming our way. I made sure my dog was on the leash. I pulled off the dirt road just so I could relax and admire the horses.

A man, a horse, and a dog. It just doesn't get any better than that, and I told them so.

The music of Victor Young came to mind, and the images of the opening of the classic 1953 movie, Shane. Nostalgia might seem like a result of old age; but strictly speaking, nostalgia results from a consciousness of loss. Of course the more years you have lived, the more you come to appreciate what has been lost.

This is especially poignant in a state like Colorado. No longer a western state in any sense of the word, other than scenery,  the state has become unbelievably expensive and crowded.

But let's not think about any of that. Let's just look at the pretty horses and remember: 
...the man who rode into our little valley out of the heart of the great glowing W…

Plato Wrestles With a Do It Yourself Project

It was high time to improve the shower "stall" in my trailer. The curtain was fine, but I needed a bigger tub to stand in, and hold the water.

The plastic box (tub) was simply too small. I have put up with it for four years. That seems strange doesn't it? Every time you go into a big box store you see plastic boxes of every description. It seemed obvious that if I was just patient enough I would eventually stumble onto a plastic box of the right size and shape. (24" by 24" by 10" high)


How could something so simple be so frustrating?! Is it proof of the profound truth of Murphy's Law?  Believe it or not, I think Murphy's Law is over-rated. It is lazy thinking to blame things on Murphy's Law too quickly.

There is a better explanation for why plastic boxes are seldom more than 18" in their smallest dimension: it is the width of most shelves in big box stores!

So what else could I do? Many do-it-yourself type people are more comfortable work…

Projecting the Right Image

And you thought I was a pessimist! Last post I wondered when the UTV industry was going to mount equipment on their machines that made them look even more militaristic.

It wasn't long before the world complied. Today I saw a long object mounted on the top of a UTV, using the roll cage as a platform. It took awhile to guess what the horizontal object was.

I believe it was a paddle board, an interesting sport that has become more popular on lakes and rivers, the last couple years.

But I doubt if the UTVer actually plans on using the paddle board on water. More likely, it was chosen to help the UTVer feel 'cool', that is, more like one of the "heroes" destroying some country in the Mideast. From a distance, and at first glance, the board looked like some kind of cruise missile mounted on the UTV.

Second Attempt at Explaining UTV Popularity

I am not satisfied with the last post's analysis of the UTV industry. The question remains: why would such an un-fun "sport" be so popular, given the expense of buying it, the hassle of putting it on a trailer to take it anywhere, and the hot, confining body armor you are supposed to wear?

Let's look at this photo again:

When trying to explain how other people think, it is necessary to set aside my own approach towards nature, with the skin being my main sensory organ, and look at it from other people's perspective.

For most people (and virtually all tourists), eyes are the main sensory organ. What do their eyes see in that photo?

They see a military-like machine, exuding power, violence, and destruction in the desert Mideast. Support the Troops!!! After all, many Americans virtually worship the U.S. military, and many tourists in Colorado come from the Bible states to the east, with a mutated form of Christianity that pines for Israel, war, and the Rapture. 

Surely …

UTVs: Another Insane Industry

I am at it again: questioning the sanity of a large industry. But this time, at least, I heard similar thoughts from other people.

I recently took a training course on handling a UTV (or ROHV) safely. (Those are the car-like "ATVs", typically with side-by-side seating.)

For the life of me, I can't understand why anyone would waste their money on something that just isn't that much fun. Fast motion is fun for a human being -- but for how long?

Because of accidents, regulators have now smothered the machines in safety equipment. I felt panic when I first put that damn full-face helmet on. In fairness, that went away pretty quickly, and it was not as hot as first thought.

But my prescription bifocal sunglasses could not sit on my head right, because of that bloody helmet. The bifocal line obscured my vision. (Only a government safety regulator could design something that ruins your vision, and then call it "safety" equipment.) 

Almost every aspect of this infernal …

When 'Lust in the Dust' Becomes 'Rage in the Sage'

What do you know?! I actually sold something on Craigslist. I still have yet to buy something on Craigslist. Actually the whole process was confidence-inspiring. My "old" bike (10 months old) took a month of patience to finally sell.

The next day I went to the bike store and surrendered to my basest instincts. That is, I bought a new Trek Full Stache. It is sometimes called the monster truck of mountain bikes.

Big tires roll over stuff easily. It is that simple. I smiled and almost giggled as I took this monster on a test ride, and deliberately chose bad "lines" through rocky obstacles, and felt the bike shrug it off.

It was gratifying to be rewarded for ignoring much of the nonsense on the internet. Unless you understand what the reviewer's agenda or perspective is, you simply don't know whether to believe them or not. 

Young male reviewers are almost always full of crap. They are not shrewd consumers. And their prose is unreadable! They make a show of techno-…

Make Wilderness Good for More Americans

It is not often that something cheerful happens in the arena of public lands management. Normally I avoid the topic because it is just too discouraging.

But there is a bill in Congress that empowers public land managers to regulate mountain bikes in Wilderness areas, instead of just the blanket ban that has existed in the past, probably from some judge's decision.

I consider this good news because Americans need more access to the huge blocks of land set aside as Wilderness areas. Go to a trailhead outside a Wilderness and you might see two cars parked. Backpackers. That is just too much land for one sport.

But look how crowded the non-Wilderness areas are getting! America is getting over-populated, after all.

Only a tiny fraction of Wilderness areas would be affected by the legislation.  Most of that type of land is simply too rugged for a human-powered, wheeled machine.

And yet the Greenie groups will oppose this legislation. There is no way to argue with religious emotion: to ask th…

There is "the Cloud", and There Is the Real Thing

Have you noticed how tourism/travel literature always shows blue skies in its postcards?

Who the hell wants blue skies all the time! It is that time of year again, when aridity and blue skies and sunlight become oppressive.  

But this morning there were clouds, merciful clouds. Granted they were not the picturesque clouds that the Southwest gets during the summer monsoon season.

But don't think I'm complaining. It is worth suffering through the wildfire season, when your skin and fingernails slough off your body, and your hair turns to dry straw, just to experience the bliss of the monsoons.

Strictly speaking, it wasn't the clouds that were so glorious, it was the shade. In June I would rhapsodize over shade caused by anything.

Dogs agree with this opinion!

Pyroclastic Flow at Sunset

This summer, readers are likely to hear me rhapsodize over soft sagebrush hills and their shadows at dawn and dusk. And more times than they need. It didn't even take one day to start mooning and swooning.

But shifting my view to the forested top of a high hill, it was easy to be almost troubled by it. The green forest seemed to be slowly sloughing off the top of the hill, causing it to invade my sagebrush hills.

It is strange to think of a forest on the march. Oh sure, Macbeth reminds us, "Fear not, till Birnam Wood do come to Dunsinane." Or maybe it was the news and photos of the creeping malevolence of lava on the Big Island of Hawaii.

It was certainly a reminder of how important it is for the observer to properly prepared, in order to be strongly affected by "beauty", which would in fact become boring rather quickly, otherwise. 

Earlier in the day my dog and I had slowly seeped up that 1500 feet or so of hill, on the mountain bike. At sunset, some of that still…

Has Pat Buchanan Turned Protestant?

Recently I wrote about James Howard Kunstler surprising me with some of his opinions. Another long-standing and well-known pundit is doing the same thing. Pat Buchanan recently wrote a post that makes him sound so disgusted with the current pope that he is searching for an alternative to Roman Catholicism.

He rhetorically asks whether the pope has the power to change the eternal verities of the Catholic religion. My short answer is, yes, the pope does.

When Buchanan talks about the eternal verities of the religion, doesn't he really mean the values and ideas that he got used to as a Catholic boy in the 1940s? Does he really think that his religion should be static?

If so, he never belonged to the right religion in the first place. In fact he has overlooked a great advantage and strength of the Catholic church. 

All religions say that they worship "God", but strictly speaking, they either worship 1) a church hierarchy, or 2) a holy book.

Catholics, Orthodox, Mormons, Jacobins,…