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Showing posts from November, 2020

Time to Play Armchair General Again

'Portentous ' is not a word that I would expect to use very often, when discussing media drivel. But it might be the right word to describe an article about Turkey's successful use of drone swarms in recent conflicts. If inexpensive drone swarms are the way of war in the future, it could change the balance of power between the leading warmonger states. You would expect the USA to continue to 'fight the last war', with billion dollar aircraft carriers and a handful of ultra-expensive aircraft. It will continue to look back to the "Good War," World War II. Even if there were a change in thinking in the Pentagon, why would the USA be good at mass-producing anything? But not all powerful countries are post-industrial like the USA. China should be hugely successful at mass-producing drones. What am I overlooking? It seems like the USA should just accept secondary military stature gracefully, and try to stay out of the way of the up-and-comers. from

Cracks in America's "Berlin Wall?"

  I was pleased to learn how easy it is to block the trolls who are trying to sabotage  They put soft-core porn pictures on the site in an attempt to discourage parler from 'taking off' or achieving 'critical mass.' Or it could be individual cranks with no political agenda. How could I ever know? All you have to do is go to the upper right hand corner of the troll's post and click the down arrow. Then some options come up. One of them is "Block @poster'sName."  Why do you have to do this? Why doesn't do it automatically? I suppose Parler is trying to live up to their free-speech ideals. I hope viewers don't get discouraged by these trolls, because it would be great if some of the new alternatives to the Main Stream Media survive and thrive. I don't really understand how to make the best use of these alternatives. And which ones will be my favorites, eventually? But there is something about this cracking of the MSM mon

The Wrong Camera?

He was big and proud: a male bighorn sheep was posing on a mountainous ridgeline, merely 100 yards from the road. I pulled over and rolled the window down. But I had no camera! A couple years ago I gave up on the $200 cameras with 20X optical zoom. They only lasted 2-3 years. Usually the telescoping zoom mechanism would stop working. Presumably it only took one grain of sand to jam things up. My solution was a "tough" camera which lacks an external telescoping mechanism. It does have an internal telescoping mechanism for optical zoom. Keeping the moving/sliding parts internal is what keeps it 'tough.' But it also keeps the optical zoom down to a mere 4X.  That would barely have worked for that magnificent bighorn ram.  So did I do the right thing by giving up on those 20X zoom cameras? It seemed like the right decision at the time, but I never bring my (low zoom) digital camera along anymore. And the smartphone has no zoom.  Since I belong to the school of photograp

Remaking a Classic Movie

  I am down to four library cards these days, and am enjoying one of them at the current location. It's too bad they don't own more classic movies. But I managed to find something halfway decent. (In the library I had overheard a strange telephone conversation between a librarian and a patron, whose voice was weak and garbled perhaps because the patron was talking into the phone, with her mask on.) On the way home I stopped at the McDonald's drive-through, for the first time this year. As I approached the place where you scream what you want, I saw a piece of paper, perhaps a sign, taped to the menu. Oh no! Was this going to be a warning/scolding/shaming about wearing a mask? What was I supposed to do?: put a mask on and scream into the box? A scene in one of those non-existent classic movies popped into my mind: recall Billy Wilder's "Stalag 17", about the Americans in a German POW camp in World War II. The German camp commandant needed to make a telephone c

Taking Nominations for Most Important Book for Today's Times

What book has the most important ideas for helping the world through the problems of today? It is easier to say what books should not be nominated. Cross off most of the books you were encouraged to read in school: Montesquieu, Locke, Rousseau, the Federalist Papers, etc. They are excellent and important, and worth reading in general. But not today.  My nomination goes to a book that you can be damn sure was not on the reading list at school; nor was it ever a New York Times best-seller. The books is La Boetie's "Discourse on Voluntary Servitude. "  As a runner-up I nominate Thoreau's "On the Duty of Civil Disobedience."  Both books discuss the ease with which dictators can be opposed merely by the human herd not complying with the edicts of the Mighty.  Camping a couple years ago in the Utah high country. A thousand sheep were being managed by a Peruvian shepherd and his 3 dogs. Now, it seems like I have taken all the sport out of this post for the reader,

Fake Paradise Camping in the Southwest

  I have speculated with friends whether this winter would end up being a crowded camping season in the desert Southwest. We had hoped that the absence of Canadians would make things less crowded, but the virus situation might make other states unlivable, which means more people will seek sanity and refuge in the desert. Today I rolled into the first of the hackneyed camping areas that everybody knows about. Business seems to be up by 50%. And yet the blogosphere and You Tube vloggers keep using cliches, such as 'in the middle of nowhere', 'the great American Southwest', 'adventure', etc., to describe over-rated and over-used winter camping in places like Arizona. As an example I am camping with a friend on a peninsula of a canyon system. We are parking in a deliberately wasteful and inefficient way so as to lower the chance that some asshole will move in close, such as the guy on the other side of the canyon a half of a mile away whose generator I can hear.  Th

Blockbuster Successes with Audio Books

I don't give book reviews on this blog because I have read too many damn books in my life. Was it worth it? I am not sure. But audio books are a new thing for me. Is there a method to finding audio books that you will enjoy? Think about the long extinct "oral tradition," and how audio books might be an echo of this tradition. Remember how most of the creation myths of various peoples were "campfire stories," such as Gilgamesh, the Iliad and the Odyssey, the Bible, Beowulf, and the Icelandic Sagas. A camper should have an advantage in throwing themselves into the mood of those who listened to these tales in olden times. That was my first guess, so I chose "The Odyssey." It was fairly enjoyable but I was disappointed by it not being a blockbuster. from Next came modern classics that are adventure tales -- rather than domestic novels. Gulliver's Travels worked quite well. My first blockbuster was Henry Fielding's &

Annual Push Against Long Winter Evenings

Every winter it is the same struggle: how to cope with all those hours of darkness. In contrast it is easier to enjoy the hours of daylight than in summer, because of pleasant coolness and the lack of insects. And then sunset happens. You would think that a person with a rig, tall enough to walk around in, would have an easier time than people in low-top vans. Perhaps various exercises in the evening would help? More household errands (cooking, cleaning, organizing) would help. Maybe I get suckered in to gluing my butt to a chair and consuming media. It is impossible to find that much media that is interesting. Another approach is embodied in a classic quote from Samuel Johnson: "As I get older, I am willing to call a man a good man on easier terms." Indeed, it helps to become less critical of media, and look to appreciate what might have been missed on the first round.  It helps to remind myself to give in on something to gain something. What I really need is staying busie

To Oz in Reverse

 My heart sank a little as I saw the spiffy new "Welcome to Arizona" sign along the road. I have never crossed the border this early before. It seemed like a defeat. It is a bit like climbing a steep hill on your mountain bike and then realizing that you are already in your lowest gear. It is quite important for an RVer not to wear Arizona out. The camping places are so hackneyed and over-used. Your guess is as good as mine whether the extra influx of COVID refugees from California will out-weigh the lack of Canadian snowbirds this year. It is always impressive to drive through the Virgin River Gorge, either direction. When you leave Utah and pop out of the canyon into the nothingness of Nevada, it reminds you of the beginning of the Wizard of Oz movie when the black-and-white photography in Kansas is suddenly replaced by the Technicolor of the Land of Oz -- except that my example is the reverse of that! There was one last impression from Utah this morning. I was driving down

Partly Known

In central Utah recently, I detected some motion in the red rocks on a red cliff. Some animal, roughly the size of a coyote, scampered away from my bike and dog, who took off after that animal, whatever it was.  The silly dog, now 14 years old, chased the animal half way up the cliff. I only got to see the animal for three seconds. What was most noticeable was the white tip on its tail. With the help of Wikipedia, the best I can do is identify it as a red fox. They are supposed to be found in Utah. But it is not the habitat that one would first think of, for foxes. And yet, it was good habitat: there were 20 den-like structures under the red rocks in that area. It got me interested in watching Finnegan the Fox videos on You Tube. The more experience somebody gets in the outdoors, the more their interests must migrate to experiences like this: the fish almost caught, the rare bird almost photographed, and the perfect campsite just missed. And yet blogs and vlogs sell predictability and