Strange Day

What a strange and fantastic day it was: The usual non-stop cacophony of barking dogs was completely absent and I slept peacefully from 4AM to 8PM. I can’t be certain that the two things are as much related as they seem, but it seems likely as a few minutes ago when some barking started I felt the familiar unpleasant sensation of stress hormone release.

About a week ago the incessant barking drove me to cut a piece of thick styrofoam building insulation to the size of my office window frame and jam it into place there. My ability to focus improved immediately, so I don’t really care that the foam looks like hell from the back yard. It’s going to remain in place until we move out, and that’s that.

I wonder if there’s a place on the Western Slope with broadband internet and no noise. Probably not. There’s only broadband internet where there are a sufficient number of customers to pay for it, and that means an excessive number of noise sources contributing to the din of human presence. Oh well.

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First, a nice little tune:

Once upon a time I could play the flute part perfectly. That was a long time ago, and the flute upon which I played it was destroyed in a house fire long ago.

My mostest-deepest pocket client seems to have two fat projects coming my way. I’ll be seeking clarification tomorrow, of course, but if it’s true that the few words I’ve received mean what they seem to mean I’m going to be pretty thrilled. Life’s been throwing crisis after crisis and too often crisis on top of crisis at me for far too long now, leaving us in a sickeningly precarious state and making it difficult for me to keep psychological depression away. I’m no more responsible for the shameful state of the American economy than is a dolphin for the acidification and warming of the ocean, of course, but that doesn’t mean that I can face a future in which my financial prospects are bounded at the high end by Shit and the low end by Not Shit without being negatively affected.

Is it allowed to openly speak such truths plainly?

I reached out to an old friend with whom I’d lost touch and learned a bit ago that she moved away from Florida a couple of years ago so isn’t wading in seawater and sewage. Good news, that. We’ll probably talk this coming evening and get caught up, which should be interesting and enjoyable. We’re kindred, having known the same childhood on opposite sides of the continent, and I was glad to read in her email that she is now the happiest she has ever been — for folks like us that’s a thing long in coming if it’s even possible, which it often is not, so it’s wonderful that she’s accomplished it. I’m eager to hear about her life now, and perhaps to give her a little shit about living in sin just because she is, or at any rate was when last we spoke, very deeply religious.

Not serious shit, of course. My joyful disrespect of her gods is between me and them, not me and her.

And now Miss Cat has derailed my train of thought so I must leave you with this unfinished waste of time whose planned conclusion has completely escaped me. So it goes.

Random Neural Noises

A couple of interesting tidbits from the noose (pronounced “nooze”) today, which you’ve probably already seen if the topics interest you and about which I have a thot or two.

First up: the political elites have begun giving the side-eye to the tech sector elites, those to whom I refer as the monopolists. While it’s true that the politicos are right to take interest and, beyond that, action, what concerns me most is the effect the tech elites have had on the economy and humanity at large. Folks like me are being squeezed out of the economy, which in addition to being a clear sign of monopolist power is also strangling the technical innovation which can advance human interests on the global scale. I’ve been a technologist (which is quite distinct from “technophile”) for my entire adult life, and one who has had no choice but to stay ahead of the commodification of tech labor because, like all good technologists, I am just no damn good at conformity. Of course. It is impossible to think outside of the box you live in, so true innovation can only be accomplished by those who don’t live inside boxes. All the rest is incremental improvement of systems that might be junk or even more detrimental than mere junk at their cores.

Does human society benefit from the trillions of dollars taken out of circulation by the hoarding instincts of tech corporations whose primary purpose is the deep violation of individual privacy? If the answer is no, it’s time for those corporations to be dismantled in the public interest. Obviously.

Second, and far more important, Senator Sanders has introduced his Medicare For All bill, with a surprising number of co-sponsors. Many of whom are surely in it for only arguably wrong (self- and party- serving) reasons, but ya gotta work with what ya got. To my mind, universal health care is a moral issue, perfectly equivalent to disaster relief. If your home and everything within it you’ve worked a lifetime to acquire are wiped out, it’s a tragedy. Whether it was a hurricane, a wildfire, an earthquake, or the predatory health care industry that took it is, in the end, completely irrelevant to the individual who suffers that loss. Anyone who wishes to see the residents of hurricane ravaged regions provided for but who opposes universal health care is, perfectly clearly, fucked in both head and heart.

Walking down the shoulder of the road with no home and nothing behind and no home and nothing ahead is the same experience regardless of how you got there.

I’ve read some of the opposition’s arguments, but having two or more neurons capable of conducting in united purpose I find those arguments completely specious. Do I want the government between me and my doctor? Bet yer ass I do, because when it’s the government rather than a banker I get to cast a ballot which determines, in a collective manner, who that government is. It’s far too limited a power in our dipshit republican form, but it’s a helluva lot more than one gets when it’s bankers charging entry fees at the hospital door. Do I want my taxes to go up to pay for it? Hell yes I do, when my taxes go up by far less than the cost of the insurance premium I avoid by it. The decision makes itself for any person who is at least somewhat rational.

The core question, in my mind, is this: Does the individual American’s life, liberty, and pursuit of happiness mean more to me than the corporation’s right to extract profit? The answer is obvious. Yes, it does. Without question, without debate, and without hesitation.

A third, perhaps even more momentous but not so well publicized topic: It seems that increasing atmospheric carbon dioxide levels may be what’s behind the decreasing nutrient levels in plant foods — as plants consume the more abundant carbon to build carbohydrates (sugars) they take up less mineral nutrient and synthesize less protein. Essentially, what’s happening is that plants, including phytoplankton, are becoming junk food. Not that there’s anything any individual can do about it; I just find it interesting.

Perhaps useful: Snoogins (whose name is Starr but who is rarely called that), our excellent Chihuahua-monster, hasn’t suffered an epileptic seizure since we started her on puppy weed about ten weeks ago. Related: Miss Awesome, who was on a prescription diet because she made struvite crystals in her pee, has been just fine for months and months since we reverted to everyday canned Friskies with added water. The prescription shit (Hill’s Prescription Diet c/d) made her lethargic, fat, and frighteningly prone to puking. I’m kinda pissed at the vet because of it. I was already kinda pissed at the vet for other reasons, but this reason is far more concrete.

Hmmm… what else bouncing around in the vacuum between my ears might be worthy of note?

The price of skirt steak at the Dinkytown garbage vendor is now equal to that of T-bone steak. We now eat more pollo asada made with relatively cheap chicken thigh meat than carne asada because of it. Eating good is eating good no matter how you go about it and I’ve yet to encounter anyone who thought my chicken tacos weren’t worthy of consumption to the point of discomfort.

In my own experience, the easiest way to lose fifty pounds is to smoke pot every day for a few years. For what it’s worth and mentioned only because I’ve been abstaining and don’t like it. Normality sucks and, like working for a living, is highly overrated.

That’s all for now. Be well friends and neighbors!

Abstaining from cannabis for a month means:

Well, except for the liking it and feeling at home part. That’s just the way I am when I come down. Last night’s most memorable nightmare was of Miss Awesome Cat attacking me while I was somehow too weak to defend myself and Amethyst just rolled over and went back to sleep. Imagine that, eh?

Lest anyone feel a need to splain it at me: No, it’s not a symptom of withdrawal; it’s a symptom of being me. My only symptom of cannabis withdrawal is a normal level of dream recall, which is only problematic because I’ve been plagued by nightmares for as long as I can remember. And, perhaps, because I might fail to recall a precognitive dream or two — but, so far, only one of my precognitive dreams has been consequential. The rest have all been merely interesting curiosities.

It is fun, though, to freak people out by telling them what’s going to happen next. It’s like a fun party trick that requires no practice, or even intent. If I could do it intentionally I’d wish to know the movements of the stock markets or the outcomes of lottery drawings. I suppose I could do well enough in the stock market if I found that kind of thing interesting enough to warrant study… horse races and poker games are a lot more fun.

I’ve been contemplating a return to online poker lately, in part because the programming gig has become a mite unstable due to the consolidation/monopolization of it by the big names you all know and most of you selfishly (and unthinkingly) patronize. I’ve always managed to stay ahead of the commodity labor market, but it’s an endeavor that’s gotten as old as I am — October 28th marks the start of my 41st year as a worker drone. Fuck The Next Big Thing. I’m god damned tired of staying ahead of the curve. I was doing robotics more than two decades ago, and internet shit ever since, and I’m just sick of it. I love my work still, but the monopolists are eating their way up the food chain and there’s just no god damned way I’m ever going to work for them, ever. I’d rather die, so long as I can do it within, say, a month or so. Starving to death takes about that long, I hear. Freezing to death is faster and less unpleasant, and living here I’ve got about half the year in which it’s quite possible to do so overnight. The shittier part would be waking up cold.

Playing poker at the $1/$2 stakes tables, at my historical win rate of a decade ago, I could easily enough replace my tech career income. I was on that very track a decade ago but I had problem family to deal with and suffered a psychologically crippling loss because of it. It’s a hard problem, that one, because there can never be just one definitive answer to the question: Was it soul crushing pressure or was my soul just too weak under pressure? Ain’t no tellin’. Ever. Never.

So I’ll probably take another go at it and hope that I can remain happily engaged with it until retirement or death, whichever comes first. Not that death doesn’t, in most cases, imply retirement.

It being nearly sunrise now, it’s my time to toddle off to bed with hopes that I’ve drunk enough wine to keep the nightmares within the brain cells mortally wounded by ethanol. Wish me luck!

Be well, friends and neighbors, and any other motherfuckers as may read my shit.

Sub-Prime Crisis? Nope.

In case anyone still cares about the Great Recession: It turns out that it was NOT sub-prime borrowers who caused it. The lower-income, lower-credit score borrowers were the ones who got blamed, but it was higher-income, higher-credit score borrowers, house flippers and rentiers/wannabe rentiers, who caused the crisis.

Most of us, I suppose, still care about the Great Recession because most of us are still feeling it… We’re due for another downturn now, so hold on to your hats. You’ll need ’em to cover the spot where you lose your ass.

Labor Day, eh?

It being Labor Day here in the land of poverty and mass incarceration, I present a brief history:

  • Jefferson: All men are created equal.
  • Madison: Some men are more equal than others.
  • Stalin: Uh, what Madison said.
  • Orwell: Stalin is an asshole.