Cycling the Pintlers — The Rolling Stones of Rides – Photo Montage 1

Drummond Sunset

We spent the night in Drummond, Montana the night before the ride. Drummond is a tiny down in Montana, it is only 30 miles from Phillipsburg (Pburg) and Pburg is where the ride began, August 20th, 2011, high altitude and all. I was hoping I would be ready, I’d been training religiously, doing more than 220 miles a week and trying hard to add as many hills as possible, because training at sea level is not the same as high altitude riding.

We arrived in Pburg at 6:00 AM, the ride was to begin at 6:30, we arrived in time to have the first bicycle meal and chat with the other participants who were doing the full 120 miles. 120 miles, yep, it seemed daunting even while training, mostly because some of the ride was climbing into high altitude territory and as every athlete knows high altitude training and competing is different than all others.  I very used to riding centuries but 120 miles with a big climb into the Pintlers where I often ski was making me tense, but I was there to finish the ride, so I keep my internal voice positive, like I could do this ride no problem. I keep my fingers crossed too though. So with that we were off.

It was 6:30 AM and 35 degrees outside when the ride began, I wasn’t completely prepared for the cold, but it was time to go, so we took off. I have a speaker for my IPod that I carry so I can zone to tunes while riding these rides and the ride began with Rescue Me, Fontella Bass, it got my blood flowing, listening to Aretha while riding can do that to a person.  I was ready  and willing to put every effort into this ride, and so we were off pedaling back to Drummond as that was our first stop.  It was a cheerful happy group of cyclists, my husband and I representing the Pacific Northwest and everyone else from Missoula and Hamilton. They were fun and welcoming we felt right at home.

We felt like we were flying to Drummond, we rode 30 miles in one hour and 15 minutes.  That is flying! My husband was actually impressed that I was able to keep up the pressure and keep up the speed. I’d slow down later I told him with much confidence… hahahahaha, he knew it too, but so far so good.

This is us leaving Drummond, we saw the photographer often, Jonathan Qualben, and his photos of the ride are beautiful. The sunset picture is mine, but the next several photos were taken by him.

We flew out of Drummond and rode the next 28 miles to Deer Lodge in record time too, it took us another 1.5 hours to get there, I was feeling like an Amazon queen we were riding so fast, but of course much of the uphill was yet to begin,  it would begin outside of Anaconda and we would climb to Georgetown Lake before descending 1100 feet in 3 or 4 miles. We got to Deerlodge before the parade was to begin, although I have no idea what the parade was about, and neither did the organizers of the ride! The look on the cops faces as they were directing traffic when they saw this large group of cyclists was quizzical or maybe even stunned, you could see they were thinking, what or who the hell are these people. I wonder if they ever found out?

The ride so far was fantastic, we ate at the historic prison which was pretty cool too. Getting to Deerlodge was interesting, we rode mostly on frontage roads, with just 6 miles on I-90, but what freaked me out the most was the cattle guards across some of the roads! I thought those things were going to take me out and it freaked me out.  I actually carried my bike across the first one I was so deeply paranoid that it would wipe me out. My husband waited patiently for me, he is such a good guy, no wonder I like him so much.

It was also fairly nostalgic for me, when I first returned to the states from overseas I’d settled in Montana where most of my relatives were from, this ride was like going backwards in time, to the peaceful place I’d remembered from my youth. There is something about Montana that isn’t the same as every other state I’ve ever lived. Oh I digress, I miss Montana so entirely sometimes because I miss the peace and quiet, I miss the sound of the wind every so slightly moving the wildgrass and wildflowers in the plains I miss that you rarely hear the roar of traffic there, I miss the slower pace, I miss that place, where you have time to drink in the scenery and hear your own thoughts and your own heartbeat. It’s the goal of every Montanan I’ve ever known, to go home eventually, and I am pretty sure I know why.

We left Deerlodge and began to fly again, I’d already had one flat tire, but things seemed to be going okay and my tire seemed to be holding out just fine.

Riding with the Missoula Gang.

You can see us, chatting and having quite a fantastic time, by this time it was around 90 degrees which is quite the swing from our 35 degree start. The roads we so quiet and the locals were so fantastic, no one buzzed us, not one person yelled or tried to run us off the road, it really was the dream bike ride.

God my legs are white, living in the PNW for 25 years has really left me ghostlike!

Here we are getting closer and closer to Anaconda.

I am the third person in that line and my husband the second, this truly is my favorite picture of all with the smelter rising in the background, I bought a large one to frame for the house. This is my Montana.

We stopped in Anaconda before heading up the hill to Georgetown Lake. I actually took a short nap at this stop much to my husbands consternation although he was really sweet about it, he only prodded me slightly. He was afraid I was done, we were 89 miles into the ride at this point. I wasn’t done of course, but I did need the Advil to kick in before starting back up, by that time it was around 95 degrees. I was hot.  I finally arose from my short nap and you could see the look of relief on my husbands face, as I picked up my bicycle I noticed my front tire was flat again, but as luck would have it there was a mechanic right there and he changed my flat for me and dug out the metal from a radial tire that had embedded in my tire, I told my husband right then this accounts for my being so tired! Hahahahaha, and so we began the climb to Georgetown. And boy was it a climb. It wasn’t bad until we got to Spring Hill which is just before Silver Lake which is less than one mile from Geogetown Lake. I knew that if I could just make it up this hill I would be home free. It took time but I made the climb and we were still averaging 15 mph.

This is Silver Lake not Georgetown, but it isn’t far from Georgetown. Isn’t it beautiful.

As expected there was another rest stop with snacks and ample water, which I needed once we refreshed we headed towards the downhill, which was the most fun ride downhill I’ve done in a while. You drop 1100 feet and once down there is only 6 more miles to get back to Pburg.

These next pictures are photos I took.

This is a photo after the descent, talk about beautiful and I think just be seeing the photo you can feel the peacefulness of this area.

Anyway, I really think that if anyone is looking for a the perfect bike ride next year, come ride the Cycle 4 Symphony you will not be disappointed.

Map of the route.

Crossposted at DAGBlog and Cycling-America

Zombie Sunday (on Thursday night) 3


Originally posted at TPM-aholics:


Good morning, children.  Today we’re going to talk about one of our favorite topics: The zombie-ridden post-apocalypse.




We’re not talking the classic Haitian voudou zombi here, as described by Harvard researcher Wade Davis in “The Serpent and The Rainbow” as an individual placed in a pharmacologically induced catatonic state.


We’re talking about the shuffling undead brain-eaters characterized in pop culture, beginning with George Romero’s “Dawn of the Dead” and leading all the way to the recent mashup novel “Pride and Prejudice and Zombies”.


We’re looking at the post-apocalypse of Russell Hoban’s “Riddley Walker” (a favorite for many years, and the novel I’d most like to make into a feature film) and Walter Miller’s “A Canticle for Leibowitz” (another great work of speculative post-apocalyptic dystopia) as our setting.


OK, OK, so I can see it as you read this: “Why?”  Or more likely, “For the love of God, why this?”


It’s because I read stuff.  And this morning, I was reading an article from the excellent Canadian aggregator The Mark: How to Thrive in Our Zombie World.


Mark Kuznicki makes an interesting argument therein.  He begins with a citation of William Gibson’s quote: “The future is already here – it’s just not very evenly distributed.”


His argument begins thus:


In places around the world, normal life and the institutions that support it have already collapsed. And we’re not just talking about Africa or the Middle East. We’re also talking about the developed North. Within the evacuation zone of the Fukushima Daiichi plant in Japan, recovery is probably a generation away. In Detroit, a 25 per cent population decline over the past decade calls for the city to shrink. There are some bold ideas circulating about returning parts of the city to wilderness or farmland. This is post-apocalypse in the heartland of the American industrial age.


We’re seeing drastic dislocation, massive disruption, failures of industries, institutions, and infrastructures, and a general sense that the ground has shifted and things are no longer as we thought they were.


It’s all true.  And I’ll let you muse on that in your own time.


Done?  Good, let’s move on.


Kuznicki does, as part of his article, make a couple very good points about post-apocalyptic zombie-world life, excerpted here:


Those from the fundamentalist tradition of apocalyptic Christian belief warn us to “repent, for the end is nigh,” but they are missing the point. The world as we know it has already ended. We’re past the point of no return, and look around: I don’t see any evidence of the Rapture anywhere.




Once we realize that the world has ended but that life continues, we will adapt, and we will rebuild. Belief that the end is nigh, or that the world can be restored so that it once again exists as it did before, are ideas that disable action because they make our desired goals seem impossible, and our actions futile. Humans have always found ways to adapt to changing environments, but we cannot do this if our mental models are out of touch with the realities of our environment.




So, in order for life and civilization to thrive again, do we first need to understand that we’re already beyond the apocalypse? Maybe the revolution we need is first and foremost a revolution of thought – a new way of making sense of our world, and of accepting the true nature of 21st-century life.


Clearly, what we’re most in need of is first, the realization that things are not as they (never really) were, and next, that we do have the chance, if we’re propelled by the right sort of vision, to remake things in better ways.  Our opponents are not the Republicans, not the teabaggers, not the fundamentalists, at least not entirely.  Our real opposition is the idea of restoration, of return, of having reached limits – the defeatist mentality that tries to tell us that the only thing left is to extract what remaining wealth there is and squander it on our few remaining moments, in order to go out with a bang and leave behind monuments to our former power far more massive than those of ancient Rome.


That’s bullshit.


That’s Shelley’s Ozymandias:


I met a traveller from an antique land

Who said: “Two vast and trunkless legs of stone

Stand in the desert. Near them on the sand,

Half sunk, a shattered visage lies, whose frown

And wrinkled lip and sneer of cold command

Tell that its sculptor well those passions read

Which yet survive, stamped on these lifeless things,

The hand that mocked them and the heart that fed.

And on the pedestal these words appear:

`My name is Ozymandias, King of Kings:

Look on my works, ye mighty, and despair!’

Nothing beside remains. Round the decay

Of that colossal wreck, boundless and bare,

The lone and level sands stretch far away”.


We’re better than that, or at least we can be.  I don’t have the answers, or even some of the questions, all I know is that what we’ve done so far shows promise but is not, in the parlance of that wretched TV show, a “final answer” to anything.




Heavy Hangs the Head the Wears the Bag of Tea 5

He sighed softly to himself, he couldn’t believe how horribly things have gone, just 8 months ago he was at the top of the world, he was sworn in as Speaker of the House and he had power. It made him weep, he wasn’t just weeping for himself, he was weeping for America, he was weeping for all he had attained in this world and for everything that seemed to be sliding right through his finger tips. He felt things slipping away. He couldn’t keep these recalcitrant freshman in line, they seemed to think they could crash the economy and come out looking like hero’s! He knew better, but had no idea what he could do to get these folks in line.

He was looking down while walking back to the ranch and muttering about “that fucking Jim Jordan (R) Ohio, who the fuck does he think he is anyway?” He was whispering loudly to himself and didn’t seem to care if anyone heard him. He was clearly angry and clearly he wanted some sort of revenge. He quickly grabbed the pack of cigarettes from his coat pocket, he had that smokers habit of beating the end of the package against his hand before grabbing one and lighting up. He lit up and took a long hard first drag, as though he were sucking in all his problems and releasing them in several circles of smoke. He liked to play with his cigarette that way, it calmed him, until now. He simply didn’t know what he would do to get these folks in line, clearly they were ready to crash the economy and seemed not to comprehend on any level the complexity of the crisis that faced the United States. “Do they even care if we are ever elected again?” He was now talking loudly to himself as he entered his favorite pub the 19th Hole.

“Hey John”, yelled the bartender, he could clearly see the speaker needed a drink and he needed on badly.  He was rushing to get the mans favorite drink ready, the Bellini, he was pretty sure tonight the man was going to need more than one.

John of Orange drank all night long, he knew things were never going to get any better. He knew deep down inside the first two years of his speakership might be his last two years in congress.

Crossposted at DAGBlog

What Is Your Plan Progressives! 4

Yeah this comes out of a comment yesterday and I want to know what the progressive plan is for getting more progressive legislators into the government, because that is the pertinent question here. So before I head out on a 50 miler today, I am going to ask the question, what is your plan to getting what you want?

Let’s revisit my first question and I will take out the part everyone keys on, about taking the President down, it’s snarky I know and too easy to fight about.  I’ve conveniently reviewed some other primary challenges to sitting presidents in our more recent history, here it is again in case you missed it:

“LBJ and Carter attracted powerful left-bent primary challenges.”
1968: Libs primary LBJ, lose general.
1972: Libs go down to worst defeat in election history.
1980: Libs primary Carter, lose general.
1984: Libs loose 49 of 50 state
2012: Libs: “Primarying Obama will make us stronger in 2016!”

I will only ask you this: How do you plan to actually get what you want? Conservatives seem to have a reasonably good track record of doing that, they get droves of crazy folks elected to congress, to governorships and to statehouses. Liberals’ track record on that is abysmal. I myself am not sure how liberals can do it, conservatives have worked for more than 30 years to convince the general public that taxes =evil=socialism=communisim=ungodly=democrats. But instead of counteracting that stuff, the consensus that seems to be building  is the best way to achieve liberal goals right now is to focus most of your energy on attacking the current President. Shades of 1968 indeed. I generally agree that the entire United States could use better politicians, (which is a pipe dream for sure)  I doubt that one can return to the heady days of the New Deal/Camelot/Great Society by ridding ourselves of this current President, but I could be wrong, stranger things have happened. However, I suspect the end result will be just another chapter in American Liberalism’s melancholy history of setbacks and self-defeat.

I say this because of the things I’ve seen in 25 years of participating in the process at the very smallest levels of government to our own statehouse where I was a Senate page.

How do we attain the goal of good governance? Does it require a plan? And that is my question, in a nutshell.

But what is true is there is no “progressive plan” to infiltrate the government at local levels on up which gets us on the road to forming a more progressive government. We are searching for a better way, democrats too, but we are fighting an uphill battle.  But the pertinent question is, how do you attain those goals? Don’t you have to begin by educating the public, by infiltrating government at all levels including the School Board, the PTA, County and City Councils etc and so on. Doesn’t it have to be done first from the micro level in order to impact the macro level which is the federal government.

I don’t know how much experience many of you have with school boards and PTA’s but I have to tell you, some of the most ideological folks on the right turn out candidates and voters to be heard in school districts and I am of the opinion it all starts right there at the very bottom levels of government.

I had the displeasure of having gone to school board and PTA meetings for years,  (3 children will do that to a person) and when I write displeasure, I mean displeasure emphasis on the dis. In general I would be there and one or two others more like me,  and a pack of conservative religious right-wing, mom pants wearing wait I mean lovely women who spent their time hijacking entire meetings with nothing more accomplished than the third word of the mission statement because they are afraid everything written leaves out god and you actually argue about this for weeks on end! So I get why lots of regular people don’t participate in this stuff, it’s not fun, it’s not a particularly productive thing to do with ones personal time. However the only way to be heard to effect change is to participate. I would occasionally force my husband to go with me, but he’d actually look for things to do at home to fix so he wouldn’t have to attend those tedious meetings. People would cycle in and out, but those ideologues sent there presumably by their churches always showed up, to every.single.meeting. which gave them some defacto power.  One time we spent what seemed to be several meetings arguing about whether or not Senior English should allow their students to choose books by Sherman Alexie, who is a home town boy for gods sake!  (I am reliving those nightmares now, ugh.) Those meetings were nothing short of torture enough to scare the most civic-minded away. But if we cannot even accomplish getting on school boards en-masse or just participating at that level, in order to infiltrate the system, how will things ever change?

When I worked for the local newspaper I covered county council meetings, another bastion of participation by the property rights crowd, at this time I was covering the GMA (growth management act, quite controversial among wingers) those people flooded meetings, what a nightmare, and of course later they were able to get people on the councils that were more amenable to their views… even though the GMA’s requirements are pretty explicit in that a plan is required, but there is always wiggle room with implementation. They were then able to get more ideologues elected, and I see some of those people working their way up through the legislature now, and they began on the school board and then moved to the county council, and are now in the Washington State Legislature.

And of course we saw that at work all over the nation with ACA, where senior citizens and angry white people came to protest government-run health care… what???? But that is what happened and those actions by those people did damage to the bill, they did damage to what could have been more progressive legislation. I know you think the President is to blame, but politicians respond to those who show up to their town hall meetings.

All snark aside, what is your plan to get more progressive legislators elected around the nation? It isn’t as if almost everyone at DAG isn’t interested in changing our polices and politics, but how can you accomplish these goals without a plan.

Crossposted at DAGblog

After a birthday party. 2

I attended a birthday party recently for a wonderful 6-year-old son of friends.  Lots of people, both family and friends, lots of merrymaking, seemingly endless amounts of both good food and conversation, and things went well into the night.

He’s a great kid – talented, imaginative, and fun.  Maybe sometimes I get him a bit overwound but his parents love to see him enjoying himself and no harm gets done.  He even brought me up short that day, when I told him I thought he was a cool little guy.  He looked at me, grinned, said “Cool big guy!” and laughed.  So did I, and I had to agree with him.  He’s 6, after all.  He gets to be a big guy now if he wants.

They’re wonderful people themselves, his parents.  Kind, generous, always determined to feed everyone within an inch of being unable to breathe and then send them home with leftovers, and that great, fun, lively 6-year-old is their unending joy.

He’s also a living, breathing gesture, no, a stand, a stand of defiance.  Something of them will outlive them, and go forward into a whole new world.

Why a stand of defiance, you might ask?

They’re Cambodian.  Both of them survived Pol Pot.

Dessert’s done.  Time for the spinach.

When people must bend in the service of an ideology, Pol Pot happens.  As do Pinochet, Stalin, Mao, bin Laden, the Crusades, Hitler, and more.

The particular ideology, in fact, doesn’t mean nearly as much as the belief that it must be implemented no matter the price.

No less a historical figure than Joshua bar-Joseph opined in his wisdom that “The law was made for man, not man for the law!” and that remains a universal truth ignored only at the cost of untold lives.  Sadly, many of his adherents – who cannot among themselves agree on a correct understanding of that wisdom, at the cost of many more lives – seek to implement various laws they believe man made for.  (See “Crusades, the” as mentioned above.)

It’s far more important to see that people’s needs are met than to be “pure” in any particular idealism.  And that requires understanding some things.

First, let’s look at the concept that we all do better when we all do better.  I would turn here to the late, wonderful Chicago Daily News/Sun-Times op-ed columnist, Sydney J. Harris, who opined in an essay that most people fail miserably when asked to define their own best interest, feeling that it was purely their immediate benefit, when in reality it was that which extended the farthest around them, because it did not set them apart, rather, it integrated them more thoroughly into the social fabric.

Societies benefits, as observers going back to de Tocqueville have noted, from the stabilizing influence of the middle class – those who have a stake in, and participate in, society and thus stand to benefit when those around them do well, and feel the adverse impact when they do not.

Self-interest is a noted shibboleth among the Libertarians.  It’s the very core of Ayn Rand’s (barely readable) “literature” and perhaps the most poorly understood notion among that cohort.  Their perception of self-interest extends only to themselves, or if they’re particularly – and uncharacteristically – generous, their families.  This ignores the very real damage done to society by resentments borne of inequities of opportunity, to say nothing of the potential wasted thereby.

More will follow in time.  I am not a rapid writer when it comes to such things.

Chris Matthews to Joe Walsh (R) Il, “He’s Your President Too.” 5

Let’s get this out there, Rep. Joe Walsh is discrediting a good name. The Joe Walsh I remember, played guitar had his own band and sang songs like All Night Laundromat Blues.. this guy, well he just doesn’t seem like he is that much fun and he is trashing what is otherwise a very good name! I know I almost voted for the real Joe Walsh in 1980, the best part was I saw him in concert twice that year, man that was a great Eagles tour. Oh, I digress, because this Joe Walsh is definitely not that Joe Walsh.

May I present you with the video, Chris Matthews versus Rep. Joe Walsh, Illinois 8th district, dufus.

Crossposted at DAGBlog

The Spike Seen Round the World Reply

On snap, Wendy Deng has some great reflexes! She spikes a shaving cream pie, intended for her husband back into the attackers face! I mean this is actually some pretty good stuff! Who knew there was something to be admired about Murdoch… that is right, his wife. This happened about 10 minutes ago.

I thought today would be a good day to record some hearings! However I didn’t realize I would get to see this:

Unknown Object

I can’t add anything more.

Crossposted at DAGBlog

What Ever Happened to Baby Jane Hamsher? 11

Wow, things happen when you are on vacation, and by things I mean Baby Jane Hudson  Hamsher’s blog meltdown the other day has turned into a thing of absolute wonder.  It was very dramatic wasn’t it, her Baby Jane Hudson style meltdown, dumb m-fers, really? Yeah that is the way to win an election, start another big fight on the interwebzz between like-minded people, that definitely gets us to where we want to be, wait, wut?

This ridiculous behavior is just  all too familiar to me, I still haven’t really gotten over the 2000 election. I can’t tell you how many well-meaning people I argued with back then who said they wouldn’t vote for Al Gore, who had become one of the more powerful Vice Presidents of our time, in terms of his mastery of government and his ideas of reform and modernizing government via the ever-changing world of technology.  He brought in an era of reform among the ranks of government.  Most people may or may not remember his Reinventing Government initiative, it was a program that worked, it was the result of Al Gores hard work and his experience in congress. Yet what was with the crowd that insisted  Gore and Bush were essentially the same, and why are they doing it again after all they should have learned from the Bush fiasco Presidency.  We can safely say there would have been no Iraq War if Al Gore had been President during 9-11. And yet here we are, discussing one more time how awful times a million the President is and his supporters are soooo stupid to ruin his chances like this, by supporting him, err or something.  It has now reached the crazy stage, in fact since Hamsher and that other crazy irrelevant guy Pat Cadell are actively working to make sure this President isn’t reelected, how liberal could either one really be? Yes, we know the answer, not liberal.   These shoddy analysis are pushed by the media.  They rely on manufactured controversy to get better ratings, and that is their only goal. The problem with the “primary Obama”  as led by Baby Jane is they seem impervious to facts, they seem unable to understand party politics, they just hope that the President will be in a primary race. That isn’t going to happen and if anyone thinks it will it is because they actually have their head planted firmly in the sand.  The Party has her candidate and it will not be Alan Grayson or Dennis Kucinich.  It is time to accept this fact and move on.   I am hoping we won’t let a faction of “the always pissed off crowd” disrupt this election.  I don’t know if they have the power to do so, but they certainly believe they have the power to do so.

Baby Jane Hamsher seems no different from Ralph Nader, she is a professional gadfly. She is a woman scorned no doubt about it,  I believe the blogger Eclectablog that he was sent an email from one of her employees basically saying she is going to crush him, and keep him from getting paid writing gigs on the is kind of comical in a sad sort of way. Does anyone really have that kind of power on the internet? I mean this isn’t William Randolf Hearsts era anymore, so the email comes off as ridiculous. I am not convinced anyone has that kind of power to crush a voice on the interwebzzz. How can anyone take her seriously after this kind of behavior? The over-the-top anger seems so like TBag in its apparent irrationality. And this draws us right back to the Baby Jane Hudson metaphor; Baby Jane Hudson, a former child star whose light went out long ago, her one and only goal in life was to become relevant again, one more time, this time she wouldn’t blow her chance, except that she did, because she always blows her chances.

What I don’t get is the end game, because certainly if they help sweep in more Republicans, progressivism will be even further from the doorstep of American politics. Because my instinct tells me that if you really are progressive you would want to prevent a Republican from being President, because in this day and age they simply have proven to be a threat to America. I mean hell, they are willing to play chicken with the economy, i.e. debt ceiling fiasco.  Republicans are holding a gun to their own heads and ours by their willingness to take the entire nation down in order to win a Presidential election, which is surreal and might I add unpatriotic!   And shouldn’t we be rallying people around this fact rather than fighting over whether or not there will be a primary challenger for this President?  (There will be no primary… it just isn’t going to happen).

Personally, I wish the war between progressives would end, ugh it is sooo tiring, and boring as the same issues are rehashed over and over again with no solutions in sight.   Baby Jane is relegating herself to obscurity, by her own actions, and for what? Just to be a contrarian, a gadfly, a rabble-rouser?  She never does explain why we are dumb mfers?  Nor does she adequately explain how supporting the President is really hurting his chances, is it opposite day and no one told me?  Well we will never truly be able to understand Baby Jane’s motives but I think they have more to do with making money rather than any real political agenda, she is just doing it the Rush Limbaugh/Scientology way, by building a base of fanatic followers who don’t ever think for themselves. Yikes what  way to make money.

For the fun of it… 3

I referred to this in an earlier post.

There is something in the psyche of those who either willingly inflict, or allow others to inflict, suffering on others.

They enjoy it. What other possible explanation can there be? The people who demand that what little still remains of the “safety net” be shredded and burned simply have to enjoy the misery of others.

We see more of this with the apologists for torture. Here it is complicated by the apparent willingness to enjoy it at a distance, though I suspect most who champion the practice would never stoop to dirtying their own hands with the blood of others, never assault their own eardrums with the pained screams of their victims, never want to bear the memories of having done any of it themselves, they merely want the feeling of superiority that arises from being able to inflict the carefully metered doses of suffering, rationalizing it all the while in the name of their shibboleth of the moment.

As an aside, one of the more horrifying moments I’ve experienced came one morning on the road, acting as a location guide for a feature film. We were in a small city in Middle America, having breakfast after getting our sunrise beauty shots, and as we awaited our eggs we were treated to the revolting sounds of someone at a nearby table going into a sociopathic level of detail about the physical damage he’d like to inflict on the children of suspects, in their presence.

There was little if any point to commenting, nothing was going to change the mind of this character – a typical Midwestern nobody, of course, who would never get close enough to the situation to do any such thing, and knew it all along. Most likely it was something said to build up his status in the minds of his companions.

As we left, I asked the rest of our small crew about their reactions. We were all dumbfounded. Nothing in any of our minds could have brought any of us to the point where we’d consider anything of the sort.

Now, to return to the original point…

It’s a common enough thing to read, in the comments section of a news story on any social program, posts left by the self-styled “fiscally responsible” sorts who are willing to do just about anything to anyone (short of themselves, of course!) to shave a few bucks off any relevant budget. Most of them fulminate about “handouts” and “layabouts” while going into mind-numbing detail about the imagined transgressions of those who, in most cases, are simply less fortunate, and genuinely in need of some sorts of assistance.

It’s all nonsense.

The true nature of the supposed Libertarian is that of the sociopath. No one else matters. So it’s easy, even enjoyable, to deprive others, in order to accrue more wealth.

The part I genuinely don’t get is the people who will never achieve anything remotely resembling wealth in their own lives taking similar positions, even as they themselves get skinned by those they support.

That’s why all I’m left with at the end of it is the feeling that it’s pure sadism.

The Future Ain’t What It Used To Be 2

Note: This is taken from TPM-aholics, where it originated.




What do we want 2050 to look like?

We know a few things already.

It will be more crowded.  Estimates put us somewhere north of 9 billion people worldwide.  Maybe 14 billion by the end of the century.  I might make it to see the 9 billion, unappealing as that sounds.  The 14 billion, well, I’m glad I’ll be long gone for that.

Some nations will be much older, others will be younger.

It will be warmer.  Whether temperature increases stay steady, accelerate, or slow, they will continue for the foreseeable future.  As will weather instability, as we have seen in the last few months.

It might well be drier, and that’s not a good thing, as water is the one thing we absolutely, positively cannot live without.

Let’s leave the global aside for a moment and look at the national – and maybe even closer.

There are two main possible directions for the future.  One is to continue along the increasing corporatization of America, until we begin to resemble something akin to an electronicized feudal state, where ownership of most of the economy is concentrated in the hands of a very few, with the great numbers of people having almost no say or stake in anything.  This is the Libertarians’ ideal, of course, though many of their adherents are foolish enough to believe that they’ll somehow be on the ownership side of the fence.

They won’t.

They’re cannon fodder to the people really pulling the strings.  And they’ll resist that truth to the last breath.

Or we can set about reclaiming the concept of a public good, redefining ourselves in terms of a society rather than simply an economy, and relegating all religious discussion to its rightful place in the private sphere.

Something to work for, don’t you think?

What if that goal was even such a simple notion as that there is no good reason for anyone to have to go to bed hungry, or to not have a bed to go hungry to, or even a roof overhead?  That there is no good reason for a child to grow to adulthood unschooled?  That everyone having basic health care is a huge social positive in many more ways than there are room to list here?

We live in a society.  An economy is just a component of that society, and those who confuse the two shortchange not only this society, they also shortchange themselves.

It would appear that the choice is fairly clear – stark, even.  On the one hand, we can live in Rand Paul’s dreamland, an electronicized Somalia, with no functioning government to speak of and a tiny, cosseted elite exploiting everyone else for fun (more on this in the future) and profit, or we can change direction and realize that we will indeed do better if we all do better.

So, what do you want 2050 to look like?