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Showing posts from January, 2022

Updating Links

Blogs like to list links to other websites. I have no way of knowing how important this is. But the list of links tends to get out of date. That is too bad, because potentially it is a good way to spread the word about good websites. Recently I had the pleasure of updating my own list of links. You find them by clicking on the three horizontal bars in the upper right of the blog. I am proud of the list I have accumulated and put my money where my mouth is, by donating to these sites in one way or another.

Fear of Good News

It is important to find good news in the world. After all, we need a certain amount of optimism to get out of bed in the morning. Yes, hope is just the setup for disappointment as I learn more about the situation, but still... Consider the "Academy of Ideas" videos on You Tube. Nothing could be more subversive from You Tube's point of view. And yet these videos are permitted. Is it just because the Academy of Ideas knows how to disguise itself with general words and avoid certain specific keywords that You Tube would automatically censor? Is there an official list of forbidden phrases and words on You Tube? Or can you only learn those words the "hard way." In a censored society, it must become quite a game and a habit to express yourself indirectly through disguise or allegory. 

Van Nomads Make It to the Holy Land

  Over the years I have studied the history of religions, despite having no interest in the doctrines themselves. And that is putting it politely. The history of religions seems less dry to me than the history of kings and wars and names, names, names... After all, religion pertains to human feelings and aspirations. Talk about a lucky combination: I picked up a History of Christianity (MacCulloch) on the week of the RTR 2022. The Rubber Tramp Rendezvous is a sort of hobo festival in the Arizona desert, aimed at people who live in vans and visualize themselves as a "movement." They seeketh redemption -- financially and socially -- while following the preaching of their Holy Man with a Beard.     It was interesting to see the RTR as analogous to the development of a pilgrimage to Jerusalem in the early Christian Church. From MacCulloch: Scepticism was generally drowned out by the eagerness of people seeking an exceptional and guaranteed experience of holiness, healing, comfort

Riding a Tiger

Seen from a big-picture point of view, the sabre-rattling of the Biden administration seems like craziness. The Soviet Union ceased to exist 30 years ago! Why is Russia the enemy of the USA? Why does NATO even exist? Why is the Pentagon funded at Cold War levels? And why should the USA provoke China? We are dependent on them to make everything for us now that we make nothing for ourselves. Taiwan and the South China Sea are in their sphere of influence. But, as a wise man said a long time ago:       Polonius [aside]: Though this be madness, yet there is a method in’t.—      William Shakespeare. Hamlet, Prince of Denmark  The Biden administration has little going for it now, and this is a mid-term election year. But it still has two important assets: almost complete support from the Mainstream Media, and a president's leadership over foreign policy. Working together, a constant state of Fear over war can distract the peasant-masses from issues that will hurt the Biden administration

My Least Favorite Topographic Feature

It was my last ride in this area, so I wanted to choose the best one. I like cascading ridges in the distance.  The sheer rockiness of the land does not appeal to me, but riding puts a guy in a good mood, so: Off to the side where I wasn't really focusing on it, I sensed something malevolent. Sure enough, a vertical mine shaft.   How I used to hate these things! I never have the guts to walk up and look in. Instead I stand a few feet away and toss a pebble in, and listen for clues. More times than not, the shaft is just a hole 5 feet deep!  It just makes for a laugh. But every now and then... Even though these mine shafts have lost much of their terror to me, they still make a good metaphor for the future of Europe, America, and the Commonwealth countries. 'Circling the drain' would be better, but where do you find that in a desert!

How to Enjoy a Colorful Sunset in the Desert

  Some people think I am being facetious with a title like that. They wonder, 'Since when do you need some tricks to enjoy looking at something that is breathtakingly beautiful?" But the person saying that is unlikely to be a long-term traveler. And what do they mean by "beautiful" anyway? They mean it's redder than usual. By that reasoning you could take a photo of a mediocre sunset, stick it into photo-editing software, and blast the shit out of it with fake redness. What good would that do for a long-termer? But we still want to enjoy a fine sunset. I have found something that helps me. There is something about listening to a song sung by Jimmy Buffet (album = Beach House on the Moon). I can't give you a link on You Tube but there is a version of it done by the song's writer. Sunset is an angel weeping Holding out a bloody sword No matter how I squint I cannot Make out what it's pointing toward. Sometimes you feel like you've lived too long Da

Visualizing History Right in Front of Our Eyes

Recently I was praising visualization when reading fiction, but admitted it was pretty hard to have the same pleasure when reading non-fiction. There might be an exception to this. And it ties in to real things that are happening today. I am referring to the battle between the Eurasian land powers and the ocean-powers. Things looked bleak for Europe when the Ottoman Turks finally conquered Constantinople in the mid-1400s. What a piece of real estate that was! How was Europe going to trade with the East, with the Ottomans in the way? And then the Portuguese pulled off the greatest flanking movement in all history: they sailed around the southern tip of Africa and into the Indian Ocean. And there wasn't a damn thing the Ottomans or the Muslim world could do about it. The centuries of European ascendancy had begun. Portugal, then Spain, Holland, the Brits, and finally the Americans. But now that trend seems to have been stopped. Eurasia -- if its major powers can work together -- is v

Needed: Better Weather Channels

There is little mystery about snowbirds being obsessed with finding warm temperatures to "camp" in, considering where they are coming from. But an obsession with "warm and sunny" can crowd out what is really important. For instance, 65 F is about as good as it gets. Not 75 F. When low temperatures are near freezing and highs are in the 60s, there are almost no flying insects. Why doesn't this get more glory? It deserves some.  In fact I would love it if weather channels created some numerical index for flying insects, so their "stay tuned for the upcoming weekend forecast" pitch could actually quote a number. By the time you get into the 70s, you will notice houseflies coming out of their dormancy. You might even start running into snakes, although that might need warmer ground temperatures. I have seen my first rattlesnake of the season in late February in Yuma.  In the 70s you must start taking precautions when you park your car with a dog inside. If

Rejected as Unsuitable!

I had been warned in advance of how unpleasant it can be to go to a dog rescue organization. Foolishly or not, I went ahead with it and found one little dog that interested me. What a shock it was to get email from them, dismissing me as an unsuitable adopter of one of their highly valuable dogs (typically a pit-bull or chihuahua mix which usually comes -- at no extra charge -- with separation anxiety, a missing leg or eyeball, and uncertain bathroom habits). According to these experts I was unsuitable because I didn't have a fenced backyard of a certain size, and because I didn't reside in Arizona for six months per year. Now, it is probably true that people become more humble about themselves, over the years. But until that email I had persisted in the conceit that I was capable of raising happy dogs. An RVer's first dog, miserable as ever.  But I was wrong. What is my opinion compared to the experts, to The Science? They probably didn't think an RVer could ensure ade

Idle Fancy

Old machinery can certainly be charming, perhaps because you can see how it works just by looking at it. Locally there is an old drag-behind road grader. I was on a mountain bike at the time, so an irresistible thought popped up: what if Arizona passed a new law that required every motor-crazed yahoo (motosports, RZRs, etc.) to pull one of these graders behind their noisy obnoxious machine?! What a fantasy! At this time of year t he roads are so full of rubble or washboard that it is a real struggle on the bike. All I can do is look forward to my spring locations that feature miraculous soil and grasslands. But that's just silly, you say: it's idle fancy.  Well listen, I have a higher opinion of idle fancy than I used to. When I look at the world, I feel sour on a good day, angry on a bad day, and helpless on all days. So it is a sanity and survival tool to create mental playgrounds out of pleasant and harmless thoughts. Speaking of such, look at my camping-neighbor's rock