Tuesday, October 31, 2017

Inventory for Living on the Road 10/31/2017


The plan is to live on the road for the next year, either out of my car in the case of the CONUS and out of suitcases when overseas or away from the car. Planning and organization are the keys to doing this successfully as we all know who have done this before. Whether one uses shopping and garbage bags with everything jumbled together or assemble things in kits is personal preference. I prefer the latter.

As mentioned above, we have two use cases. The first is living out of my car (essentially car camping even if I rent an Airbnb to have a bed and a shower). The second case is much more difficult and presumes that there is air travel and other transit in a foreign country and must be greatly reduced.

Out of Car Inventory

1 carry-on bag of clothes, medical and toiletry
1 check-in bag of clothes and misc
1 std. bin of cooking and kitchen related gear including propane, water containers, etc
1 ice chest of food (possibly without ice)
1 tent with ground cloth
1 sleeping bag with pad (*)
1 camping stove with propane
1 std bin of camping accessories (LED lights, extra stakes, radio (*), portable shower)
1 Mac Airbook with travel bag
1 Linux development laptop with travel bag (*)
1 bag misc computer accessories including disk backup, extra batteries for smartphone, etc
1 std. bin of books
1 travel kit of essential papers
1 toolkit
1 box garbage bags for dirty clothes and etc
1 road bike and car rack (*) with bag of accessories (helmet, gloves, etc)

Out of Plane Inventory

1 carry-on bag as above
1 check-in bag as above (but maybe acquire a larger one) (*)
2 laptops as above in their bags (possibly combined into a single larger carry on bag)
1 travel kit of essential papers stuffed into check in bag
1 secure holder for passport, etc (*)
1 kit relevant power adapters (*)
1 box garbage bags for dirty clothes and etc

* Needs to be acquired

Monday, October 30, 2017

What I Have Learned About Stuff


As my readers probably know, I am moving out of here at the end of the year. Almost everything will go into storage downstairs, and by everything I mean my books, my papers, my photographic negative, proof sheets and equipment, various computer parts and some furniture. The way this usually works, I never see this stuff again, but there is some possibility that one day I will have a stable place somewhere and will send a moving truck for it all.

This is not entirely true.  I will keep with me one car's worth of camping gear, books and hopefully my bicycle.  At least one laptop and maybe two.  But everything else needs to be thrown away or put into storage. 

I feel that I have learned my lesson and I hope you will learn and profit from my mistakes. The moral of the story is: “Buy less stuff”. In particular, unless you are in control of your living space, and know where your library will be and/or can afford to pay professionals to move things when that time comes, do yourself a favor and buy less stuff.

Second, when you have stuff that you do not absolutely need, throw it out now before you have to deal with it one future day.

Do yourself a favor and heed my words.

I Always Regret Blocking Friends on Facebook


I always regret when I feel as though I have to block someone on FB that I respect and want to like.

Here is the situation from my point of view, and lets be quite sure going in that my friend would disagree with this, I think.

The timeline goes something like this. I write a FB post about the release of the CIA JFK files by #45. My friend disagrees with me and says that my post is a rant that hurts the agenda of rational people to impeach #45. He basically wants me to agree with him. I do not agree with him. He tries again. Again I do not agree. He keeps trying and at this point I dont see what we are arguing about. Neither of us is going to change our mind, so why does he keep bothering me.

Ultimately, I pull the post down from FB and put it up on my blog.

And I block my friend. He may not like what I have to say, but I do not like to be insulted and harassed, because I disagree with him.

As for the content of the CIA JFK post, I have no idea what #45 was thinking, but if he did not have an ulterior motive then this is the first time he has made a decision I am aware of that did not have one.

Friday, October 27, 2017

Trump's Motivation for Releasing the CIA Files on JFK


One of the interesting things about the newly released CIA files on the JFK assassination is why Trump released them when no other president would.

Does this make Trump the advocate of freedom and transparency in government? No, of course not. His administration will go down in history as one of criminality and lies, the worst this country has ever seen in its entire history.

So what other motivation does Trump have?

He has two motivations and they are both very clear. First, Trump hates America and wants to destroy its institutions. By releasing the papers, he lowers the CIA's credibility as the CIA clearly executed a cover up of their failure to prevent the JFK assassination. Second, Trump hates the CIA because the CIA has said that the Russians spoofed the election and possibly threw the election to the least qualified candidate in an effort to destroy America.

So this is not about honesty and transparency. This is about Trump getting back at the CIA and his work to destroy America, hand in hand, I have to say, with his friends and financiers, the Russians.

[Note: Larry Weinberg on Facebook pointed out that Congress set the deadline for this release. Thats true, but what Congress really did was set a proposed date, the President had the power to postpone the release indefinitely. So it was really Trump's decision to release, and he had complete power to postpone. Any other president could have requested the release at any time]

What the Newly Released CIA Files Reveal


Now the JFK assassination files are being released. I have wondered for years what could possibly be in them that was worth suppressing all these years. Here is one person's guide to what may be in these papers by Phillip Shenoni for Politico.  You can read his guide here.

Shenoni has a theory for what it is that was being protected in those files and why they were not released, and I think his theory is oddly compelling.  Here is the theory in my own words.

There was a CIA cover up but it was not about who killed JFK. It was about how much the CIA knew about Lee Harvey Oswald before he came back to this country from Mexico. It was about his activities in Mexico City that *should* have tipped the CIA off that Oswald was planning to kill JFK. Hindsight is 20 20 of course, but apparently the evidence suggests that the warning signs for Oswald were really high and that the CIA was grossly at fault for not doing anything about this.

In other words, the concern was that the CIA was going to get itself reamed a new asshole for its failure, and so they conspired to hide the truth from the Warren Commission, not about who killed Kennedy, but how badly the CIA had screwed up. A classic, cover-my-ass, bureaucratic fuckup and protection maneuver of galactic proportions.

No space aliens on the grassy knoll. No mafia paid for, Castro financed, commie-plot to kill Kennedy. No CIA rogue operation gone wrong. No Oliver Stone revealed truth. Just the CIA covering up its gross failure to do its job and protect America.

And lets not forget that LBJ and every president since then has known this truth and decided not to tell the American people. And every single bipartisan heads of the Congressional Intelligence Oversight Committees knew or could have known and did not tell the American people.

Just like today, when the President and Congress fails to tell us that the Russians threw the election to Trump.

Whats my point? My point is, if you lie and you lie and then you lie again, why should we ever believe you?

Saturday, October 14, 2017

What I Do Not Understand About the Harvey Weinstein Story


Harvey Weinstein has been unveiled as a sexual predator and his career is ruined. I am a little cynical that this gets at the level of sexual abuse that I think is prevalent in the motion picture industry, but beyond that, there is something odd about this story that I do not understand.

As I understand it, when one is powerful and wealthy in the entertainment industry (music, film, television), it is not hard to get laid, if that is all you want to do. Attractive men and women make themselves available, so the story goes. This is not true love of course, and there is always a price to pay, I have heard, and one needs to be so careful where one plays these days, but if all you want is sex, then sex is available.

In other words, I dont get it. I dont get why Mr. Weinstein needed to be a sexual predator unless it is the specific people (actresses, etc) that he wanted to bang rather than merely beautiful women in general. Maybe all it means is that Mr. Weinstein is a sick fuck, something we knew already.

Thank you for letting me share my confusion.

Thursday, October 12, 2017

Message To My Congress Person 10/12/2017

Dear Congressman Hunter,

Well we certainly are in a pickle, arent we, sir? What a time you have chosen to be in politics!

Although I realize you are a devout Republican, I am in your district, I am a voting citizen, and I am hopping mad about our loonytoon so-called President. In fact, I have never been so mad about anything political in my life, and I have been involved in the process before.

So what to do?

Well, its really not clear. But at the least I can write my congress person and politely but firmly request that you impeach that son-of-a-bitch as soon as possible, if not sooner. And since Pence is definitely compromised, he has to go too.

Remember if you dont do it soon, you may end up with Nancy Pelosi as president.

Yours very sincerely,

Thursday, October 5, 2017

Predicting the Future of Gun Control after Las Vegas


It is difficult to make predictions, especially about the future.

But some things are easy and this is one of them. The NRA and Congress will use the “bump stock” as a sacrificial scape goat to avoid doing anything real about gun control. They will regulate the bump stock, or possibly even outlaw it, and call it a day.

No real issues will be addressed. No problems will be solved. Cowardice and stupidity will reign. The can will be kicked down the road one more time.

Business as usual.

Wednesday, October 4, 2017

The Minimum Necessary in the Current Situation


The time and emotional issues of getting ready to move by the end of the year, of getting any academic applications in before the end of the year, and other things, has meant that I can not spend as much time on this blog as I would like.

From time to time, however, short notes will be posted, if for no other reason than to remind me to go back and do a better, more reasoned, hopefully more humorous treatment of a topic.

Today's short note is my concise opinion for what has to be done to restore democracy and legitimacy to this country. It is the second issue, legitimacy, that is the most tricky and the most controversial. Every government that has ever existed has at one time or another done something that violates its laws, its ethics and the trust it has with the people. We understand that.

But what the politicians and some people do not understand is that you can not do that indefinitely without severe consequences. And the consequences are that the government loses legitimacy in the eyes of the people.  The people no longer believe you, their representatives, that you are representing them. They no longer trust the government to do the right thing. They believe that their government has been captured by the wealthy, that justice is for the rich, and that the system is corrupt.

The point is, you only have to address these problems if you want a country where people trust their government, pay their taxes, obey the laws and fight the wars.

Briefly, this is the minimum I think that has to happen after 30 years or more of betrayal and kicking the can down the road. Everything below is self explanatory.

1. We need to change the constitution to define when an election is invalid and what to do about it. In this case, we have an election that was thrown by a foreign power and resulted in a person who was not elected and who is the least qualified president in our history. We need a way to declare an election invalid and hold another one.

2. We probably need to eliminate the electoral college. Twice in my life time, for a minimum of three presidential terms of office (two under Bush and one under Trump) a person has been put into the office of the presidency who did not, in the opinion of the people, win that election.

3. We need a way to ensure that officials of an administration obey the letter and the spirit of the law. We currently have a head of the EPA that is doing everything possible to see to it that the environmental laws and protections in this country are either not obeyed or destroyed. We have an Attorney General and a department of Justice which is defunding enforcing the laws that protect people's civil rights.

4. We need to have a change in the constitution to make clear what the issues are involving conflict of interest, and what needs to be done before someone is allowed to take office. Full financial transparency and such issues as tax returns being public need to be made explicit.

5. We need a way that is less traumatic to remove people in the judiciary who have been appointed by an administration that is later shown to have been invalid. Between the invalid election of Trump and McConnell breaking the law, we have the right wing nutty boy, Gorsuch, on the court and bigots and right wing nuts being appointed to other posts in the judiciary. We need a way to remove these people.

6. We need to regulate our social media and hold them responsible for their role in allowing foreign intelligence agencies to disrupt and destroy our ability to hold public discourse. That means officers of a company need to go to jail when they have failed to protect us.

7. We need to make countries such as Russia and to a lesser extent the PRC know that their espionage and disruption of our civic discourse is a cause for war.

8. We need to end gerrymandering for political purposes.

9. We need to have national standards for how an election is held, and how the results can be verified.

This is the minimum that needs to be done, in my opinion. But only if you care about people believing that they live in a fair and just country. If you dont care, then we can continue on this path and our country will be, or already has been, destroyed.

No government is perfect, but in our case we have let things go too far.  Business as usual clearly has failed us.  I hope that our politicians and political elite understand this and do something about it, but I doubt they will.