Friday, August 04, 2017

It seems the Deep State just won't stop

(Via Michael Bane on Facebook)

I'd really like to write about something else. Almost anything else, really. But you can't pay attention to current events in the US and not have this come to your attention, and it's too important to ignore, so I'm going to say a bit about it.

I'm referring to the article "The Slow-Motion Coup d’Etat picks up steam" by William A. Jacobson on Legal Insurrection. Excellent article; well written. So well written that I can give you the first paragraph along with the last two for the purposes of my discussion and allow you to read the remainder at your leisure.

First paragraph:

Since the election there has been an unprecedented attempt to unwind the election result. Events have accelerated on several fronts lately with attempts from outside and within to paralyze the Trump administration.

Last two paragraphs:

Not only is the Trump administration under unprecedented attack from outside, the foxes are inside the henhouse, and are gutting it from the inside out.

The attempt to unwind the 2016 election through paralyzing the Trump administration is a serious threat to our liberty. Our most basic of institutions, the transfer of power through elections, is under attack.

Between those Jacobson lays out his case for those statements, and lays it out well. However, as I said, if you've been paying attention, this is already obvious to you. The incessant media drum beating since the morning after the election, the crazed whining of the left, the seeming endless protests from January to May, all of it organized--yes, I said organized--to cripple the Trump presidency.

As Jacobson points out during that time we also had the "All Russia, all the time" crowd and enough leaks to sink a battleship. So far, they've all failed in their primary goal, which has been to force Trump out. The Left has committed the cardinal sin of under-estimating their opponent. He doesn't play by their rules, and the pressure that would have driven a conventional politician out of office and simply rolled off his back.

They have, however, caused no end of trouble and continue to cause it. I suspect the "chaos" that is currently one of the talking points of the chattering class is simply the beginning Trump's effort to put an end to some of this, the leaks in particular. I hope AG Session's moves plus General John Kelly's appointment as White House Chief of Staff indicate that the President is now fully fed up with the situation and is, in effect, taking off the gloves.

Of course, I 've been wrong before, so we'll have to see how this plays out. I will be cheered considerably if we see a couple of perp walks in the next week or two. Or perhaps H.R. McMasters' head on a pike outside of Ft. Meade.

Even if the leaks subside, we still have Special Counsel Robert Mueller trolling about with what appears to be on its way to becoming a years-long fishing expedition, now complete with its very own Grand Jury. Nothing Good Will Come From This. Think Whitewater.

In the meantime, Trump's base of supporters is still as loyal now as they were in November. If you watched any of last night's speech in West Virginia, it's apparent the man still has 100% of their support. They love the guy, and they are not buying into the media narrative. If anything, they are digging in deeper in support of him than they were in November, and he's slowly recruiting more as news such as improving job numbers keep coming out.

You want a civil war? This is how you get a civil war. One side who thinks that they are smarter than everyone else, that they are entitled to lead, that they are, in essence, better, than everyone else. The other side one that looks at those people and their smug self-assuredness in the same way one looks at dog crap that has just been tracked on to the living room carpet.

Let either side get into a position where they can enforce the entirety (or perhaps even the majority) of their will on the other without any sort of escape route (#Calexit, anyone?), and you will see a civil war, or something close enough to it that it makes no difference.

It may already be too late. We don't know what's going on out of our sight in backrooms or via encrypted emails (or unencrypted email servers in someone's bathroom). The events may already be underway for this war's version of Ft. Sumter for all we know.

I'm not going to preach at you to be prepared. You've heard that sermon enough times already. If you haven't taken that step, hearing it again won't move you. I am going to say that this is the time to learn the minds and hearts of your friends, neighbors and co-workers. I'm not saying pry into their business, but listen when they talk. Get a feel for their beliefs and try to get an idea which side they might come down on if push comes to shove.

Above all, pay attention. Don't rely on me or anyone else for information or warnings. While I appreciate your reading my thoughts on the matter, do your own reading and your own synthesizing.
Develop your own sources, get the data and turn it into information yourself.

Remember, the curse has come true--we live in interesting times. Now we get to deal with it.

Sunday, July 30, 2017

Let's get some excercise

Since my semi-enforced retirement, I have been attempting, with mixed results, to do something about my physical shape. While round is a shape, it isn't the one I prefer. Various health issues and a job that keeps one mostly behind a desk, plus a simple lack of time once I got home (I always tried to spend time with the kids, my wife or on home projects) have led me into a state where, if I'm frank, I have to describe my level of physical conditioning as simply "bad". Perhaps "poor" is the preferred technical term. Whatever term you choose, it isn't good to be in this spot, especially when you're way on the wrong side of 50 and starting to stare 60 in the face.

If I want to reach 60 and spit in its face rather than meekly shake its hand, Something Must Be Done. One of the things about working strenuously around your house on things like landscaping and such is that you will get something of a work out. While it's better than nothing, it isn't exercise. It doesn't get you heart rate high enough long enough to do the cardio-vascular system any good, although it will tone the muscles to some extent.

There are some things that are off the table, such as running. I gave myself enough stress fractures in my younger days that those alone have cured me of the concept of running as an exercise. Add to that the damage to your joints over time and I'm happy I had the stress fractures. I enjoyed running, and by now I'd probably be looking at knee replacements. Thank you, but no.

Swimming is a PITA. I'd have to go to a pool, which around here would mean the YMCA and all the festivities that entails. Pass.

Walking I can do. I have an excellent neighborhood for walking. Very little is flat, so you are constantly walking uphill or downhill. It makes for a good if somewhat boring workout.

Many years ago, I rode a bicycle, a lovely blue Peugeot road bike. Man, but I loved that bike. I dropped something near a grand on it around 1980. It was a nice bike, and I rode the crap out of it for years. But eventually we moved to a place where riding drew more beer bottles and deliberate near misses than I was willing to deal with, and I hung it up, eventually selling it.

Last weekend, Mrs. Freeholder and I accepted an invitation to spend the weekend in Boone, NC, in the NC mountains at an altitude guaranteed to get us out of the upper 90 degree heat and miserable humidity we were then currently suffering through. While there, I gave in to an urge I've had for a while and bought a new bike, which you can see below.

Specialized Roll Sport
That is a Specialized Roll Sport. They categorize it as a "fitness" bike. Yeah,it's definitely not a road bike. I'd love to have one, but the years at a computer keyboard have given me a mild case of carpel tunnel syndrome. I do fine as long as I behave--pay attention to the ergonomics of my workstation, arch my blasted wrists--but things like being on the drops of a road bike don't qualify as behaving.

A true mountain bike doesn't work well either. There is still too much weight on the hands. Tried one of those a while back, made it a couple of blocks. Glad I didn't buy it.

However, the bicycle industry listens to its customers and its potential customers. Us old folks who need to sit up straighter, not put a lot of weight on our hands, who would like a more comfortable seat and so on, well, there are bikes out there for us now.

The technology on this thing is amazing, and when you take he price point into account (a bit over half my old Peugeot), it is astounding. 21 speeds vs. the 12 I had. The derailleurs don't click. It has, for cryin' out loud, disk brakes. Yes, like a car. It will stop in a big hurry. I think I could actually stand it on the front wheel if I tried.

On the new hitch-mounted Curt carrier, ready to go somewhere.
It doesn't have 120 psi skinny tires I was used to, instead it has 60 psi big fat tires, the better to deal with greenways, which are often packed dirt or gravel. It can do limited service as a mountain bike, but the tires themselves are a smooth tread, not suited for it. They can be swapped out if I wish, but I don't see the point with this bike.

I had to take the front wheel off (quick disconnect, so it's easy) and carry it home in the back of my Subaru Outback. Not an optimum solution. So I got a Class II Curt hitch and a Curt Tray-Style Bike Rack (both from carid.com, great folks to deal with) to carry the bike to places I can ride. I used to think this was stupid, but after my experience with the beer bottles, not so much. The hitch is great, the carrier is OK. It doesn't cost as much as say a Yakima, and I think I see why. It will do for now.

As a matter of fact, that is sort of the motto for the entire thing. This is something of an experiment/learning experience. Just riding so far has been a bit tentative (and wobbly). It's also shown me just how pathetically out of shape I truly am.

I've also dropped some coin on all the crap you need if you plan on riding away from home--stuff to patch tires, bike bags, lights in case you get caught out near or after dark, water bottle and cage and so on. You can see those a bit in the second picture.

I'm currently scoping out nearby places to ride, just to get used to pushing pedals again. I tried it out my neighborhood, and that was a bit of a farce. Even with 21 gears, my legs were on fire, and I didn't even try the steeper part of the hills.

I've really missed riding. I know I should probably not do it alone, but I always enjoyed the solitude of me and the road. It's really different than driving. You move at a speed where you see so much more of the area you traverse, but you see so much more area than you do walking. In some ways, it may be the ideal way of transportation.

As long as you live somewhere that doesn't have steep hills.

Why the Tier 1 guys love their big SUVs

Ars Technica has a rather fluffy piece on operators and their love for big SUVs. As a Suburban owner, I can tell you that it's hard not to love a vehicle that has room for you and your friends plus enough gear to take over a small banana republic--or a week at the coast--in total comfort. Plus fools in their Toyota Piouses Priuses tend to get the hell out of the way when 7500# of 4WD truck is bearing down.

Don't miss the link to The Range Complex. I haven't been but I hear it's a heck of a place.