Friday, June 17, 2011

I still believe America is the greatest country on Earth

The title is a direct quote from my parental unit. Circa March 2011.

In her experience it probably is. HS graduate w/o college degree who later held significant responsibilities at the White House Press Office, the Dept of Education, and State Dept, and travelled the world in the first and third positions (Ed doesn't really travel). She's never been harassed by a cop. Never been screwed over by banks, mortgage companies or insurance entities.

She was sexually harassed at the WHPO, though. So it hasn't been all kittens, puppies and ponies. Sexual harassment is no joke and I'd understand if her response was to blame corporate culture. But she writes it off as a jerk boss with a jerk sexual persona.

In contrast, I've been harassed by cops more often than I've been treated well by them. I've been screwed over by mortgage companies, insurance companies, and the courts. I've been treated like a meat puppet by employers, and by clients as well.

And there's the unemployment. As a guy with a relatively high capacity for learning and doing, and a broad range of educational and work experience, you'd think employment would be easy to find, especially since I'm not arrogant and don't believe the only job suited to me is King of the World. I've been willing to work for $8.25/hr, $10/hr, $12/hr despite holding u-grad and grad degrees and a work history showing high accomplishment and occasional professional honor bestowal.

But work is nearly impossible to find. Employers seem to think that perfect-fit-on-paper is the only choice to make. Nobody works to discern personal qualities. They look for an Ivy degree, preferably graduate, in the narrowest of fields conceivable for the position in question.

Or they hire the secretary (girlfriend)'s little brother to continue the fuck-on-the-side.

Meanwhile a big chunk of fiscal fatness is moving into the coffers of certain Americans, certain Montanans, certain Missoulians.

Just not toward me.

It's a good thing I don't judge myself by my salary or my job "prestige," or I'd have napped to the fresh breezes of carbon monoxide-laden "air" long ago.

I'm not deluded about what is happening in America. It's a genuine collapse that will make the "Great Depression" of the late 20s/early 30s look like the Reagan/Thatcher Go-Go 80s. And we're not going to bounce back from this one, people. A positive mental attitude is not the prescription for this terminal patient's final days.

Hastening the demise would be wiser, IMO.

I tend to agree with these comments I just read at ICH:
Walk the corridors of power in America and you will see vice, drugs, sex and corruption. America has turned into an empire of total bankruptcy and inevitable collapse. You are getting what you dished out to the rest of the world, and in my opinion the USA deserves what is happening. The average American is arrogant, unsophisticated, fat, lazy, vulgar, greedy, racist, spoiled-rich, ignorant, stupid, humorless, loud, obnoxious, gum-chewing, carbon-emitting, gun-toting, bible-thumping, flag-waving, and self-centered, globalizing, uncouth, swearmouthed and boorish non-human obsessed with sex, celebrities and McDonalds. Neanderthals that demands the entire world revolve around America! Well here is what you get for being like that! Put yourselves into therapy just might help you understand what you need to do.
Take a look at your culture. Your movies. Your television. Your songs. Your attitudes to the world, your neighbours, yourselves. Your love of guns, war and violence. Your obsessions with vanity, greed, idiocy and superficiality. Your need to blame anything and everything else but yourselves.

Take a look in the mirror.

Thursday, June 16, 2011

I wish I was fat I could wear shorts and t-shirts at 50 degrees F.

this much is true...

...that my respect and admiration are not easily given, but when so given, they are given freely and knowingly.

Sometimes I like athletic coaching analogies, since I'm a lifelong athlete. I'm sure that makes me immature in your eyes, Dear Reader. People are supposed to stop such childishness as soon as they finish high school, or college, or grad school -- wherever their formal education ends, so must their athleticism. Exceptions made for golf, tennis, and poker, of course. And squash, for those of you who come from The Pampered and Privileged Partition within America.

In my coaching analogy here, I like to think this: the people who make the so-called "first cut" of my knowing respect, the people who "make the team" I'd coach if I were coaching, are those people who write at the places I've listed under "building materials" on that right margin over there ---->.

Among the people who make the team, some demonstrate skill and prowess that is exemplary and lends toward some kind of Hall of Fame status, where we'd retire the player's jersey and number... and helmet, if there's a helmet in the sport. The Hall of Fame is pretty empty and quiet, to be honest. Truthfully, it's probably a very lonely place for its inhabitants.

Over the past 6 months I read a lot of stuff by Justin and Thomas at Americana. There were some excellent essays and comment threads during that time. Some of the writing and discussion made me feel like there are actually sentient, intelligent humans on this planet with me, and not just a bunch of hateful, knuckle-dragging tribalist goons.

Justin's latest entry is very respectable, and I mean that literally rather than colloquially or euphemistically.

Wherever you're going, and whatever you intend to do, Justin, I would like to say thank you for spending some time writing your thoughts at Americana, and I wish you well.

for whom shall I prepare easily digestible prose devoid of intellectual challenge?

My new mission here:

Create safe, faux-critical essays which confirm that you, Dear Reader, have never been mistaken in your political position-taking.

Henceforth I shall endeavor to make you feel smart and wise, while occasionally offering a tepid pseudo-criticism of some easy target that obviously can weather a barb or jape.

I plan to begin this new project by telling you all my real name and calling myself "a government relations lawyer," and offering a photograph of myself in a natty shirt and necktie. I'll regale you all with tales of the fantastic Exquisite Meal I ate last night with my "partner" at a Real Authentic Minor Ethnicity Restaurant in the Hip Part of Town. I'll share wine selection options and tell you in deep detail how I agonizingly and nearly regretfully chose Bottle X over Bottle G, but came to my senses in the last moment and ordered wisely.

My writing will suffer a bit of a change. Soon it will grow a collar that has a high starch content and envelopes a fine silk necktie costing upwards of $100 USD. The general tone and tenor will resemble that of George Will, but from the Wise, Egalitarian Technocratic Merit-ful WonderBoy perspective.

Rest assured that while I will criticize a few Democrats of the present era, I will never sully the reputations of JFK or FDR, who are granite-engraved Heroes of American Progress.

I will never chide you for supporting Obama, because he was truly the lesser evil and you were really trying to Do The Right Thing.

And I will admire you for buying a Prius.

Arthur Silber on the Senility of Sam Smith

...which Sam Smith?, you might ask....

This one.

And while you should definitely read the whole thing, here's Arthur summing up:
You can make whatever excuses you want, and you can offer shabby rationalizations like those put forth by Smith. The brute and brutal, murderous fact remains unchanged: If you vote for Obama, if you vote for any Democrat or Republican, you are supporting these horrors.

That means that you are a pigfucker, too.

Given developments of the last few years, I would now go further. If you participate in national elections at all, you are supporting these horrors. I will explain why I say that next time.
Go on, Mister Progressive and Mizz Merit.  Eat that shit, and demand that others eat it too.

master strategist? or masturbator?

It strikes me that if the goal of a BlogWriter is "exposure"FN then the prevailing Wise Strategy would be for the blogwriter to change his/her tune and tone to match that of the Main Stream of American Non-Thinking Opinion. An obvious recourse would be to schmooze Arianna Huffington, or "Digby", or Markos Zuniga and beg for the privilege of writing paragraph after paragraph of meandering mendacity pretending at profundity.

Remember, folks: you should always Sell your Dreams. Always. Never hang onto them or follow them. Sell them, to the highest bidder. That's what being an American is all about: making commerce the primary value, and truth little more than a hated, well-beaten stepchild.

FN- the 21st Century equivalent of the apocryphal "star quality" that's found at a Los Angeles drugstore counter.

Stupid profiteers don't see the cultural blowback

Leading Mormon State in Rocky Mountain West desires a statewide shift to factory-owned towns, with the factory being Chinese.

To you Shiny, Happy Professionals in Wondrous Urban Nirvana, let me tell you something about Idaho.  It's rural (empty), a mix of desert-like aridity and big mountains.  Interesting basalt and lava formations.  Already home to the most fucked-up Futurist Lab run by Uncle Sam -- INEEL.  And, in a serendipity, it's the state with the highest per-capita rate of Latter Day Saints adherents.

Idaho is probably the most beautiful state, terrain wise, in America.  At least in my humble ignorance, it is.

It's also pretty well truncated, or fettered, or squashed economically.

So it's a natural source for a Chinese business to find cheap American slave labor.

Look at the tables, turned quickly.  Who's providing cheap slave labor now?


Wednesday, June 15, 2011

bullseye and... BULLSEYE!

William Blum:
If an individual were behaving as Israel does as a country, that person would be removed to an institution for the criminally insane and subjected to intense drug therapy and a lobotomy. The person might find the guy next door to be named America.

I'm laughing all the way to the poorhouse

False Dichotomy indeed!

Don't drop bombs -- drop Obama
In our latest piece, Medea Benjamin and I argue that those who genuinely love peace (as opposed to those who only abhor Republican wars) ought to give up on Democrats and embrace direct action. Check it out.


What a fucking laugh.


If you've been a Proud Democrat all your life, your salad days just ended with the Evil Rethuglican Debate -- you had plenty of opportunity to "prove" you're "smarter" than every single GOP candidate, by disparaging their respective positions as "stupid" or "ignorant."

It's a fun way to take the heat off yourself and your fellow Donklebots for sucking Obama's cock and imagining Midget Kucinich is a hero.

Remember, it's a Culture War, and you can't let those Christers win!

Definitely do NOT try to understand those Evil Rethuglicans. Remember, there's NOTHING to understand: their position is rooted in hatred of the Other Team and a belief in being superior for NOT being a member of the Other Team.

And you would NOT want to be like that, would you? No, of course not. You're above that. Well above it.

Just look at how you behave, compared to those Evil Rethuglicans! You're well-mannered. You know words with at least 3 syllables and can spell them correctly... and sometimes, even use them properly in a sentence! Provided it's written and you have time to recheck your usage, that is.

Remember, the more "down-home" or rural someone sounds, the STUPIDER he or she is! Rural = stupid! City = PINNACLE!

Tuesday, June 14, 2011

when he wasn't bad...

...really, he was not horrible.

Jim Kunstler:
Anyway, let's be clear that money has become a world unto itself now, a self-referential hall-of-mirrors that only sees itself and is increasingly confused by what it sees in that self. Outside that blinding little box there are real economies of people trying like hell to go about their daily life, and there is much to be fretful about. Economies are caught in the permanent compressive contraction of fossil fuel based activities. When you hear a politician utter the word "growth" note that he/she is speaking out of his/her ass. Contraction is contraction, not growth. We're done with growth of that kind because our fuel supplies are shrinking, not growing. The vaunted "recovery" is a political three-card-monte trick.

The sad fact is we don't want to go where history wants to take us: to a smaller human imprint on the planet, with all that implies. This is true especially of the intellectual avant-garde, who can't imagine a world without the joys of perpetual techno-narcissistic novelty, of levitating skyscraper cities with hanging gardens and flying cars, full of girls with green nail-polish in get-ups so fantastic mere mortals could never have dreamed them up, flaunting hand-held gadgets so miraculous that life itself seems besides the point. Oh, shimmering future! Oh Ray Kurzweil and your nano-ladder to the worm-holes of forever!

This Ancien RĂ©gime is about to be swept away on the tsunami of its own futility.

Sunday, June 12, 2011

Our government may be eternally corrupt, our economy in shambles...

...but the UCI Men's Elite DH race series presently is being led by an American!

We truly ARE number one!

Hell yeah, Aaron Gwin!  1st at Pietermaritzburg, and now 1st at Leogang.

photo by Fraser Britton at Pinkbike

Aliens humor

There's a scene in Aliens where one person complains of the heat inside the ship, and another sarcastically remarks,

"yeah, but it's a dry heat."

I often think of that line when I read posts or comments by people who display amazing ignorance of how the world works.

"Damn, that person is STUPID!"

"Yeah, but it's a willful ignorance kind of stupid."

Saturday, June 11, 2011


To the people offering criticisms of anthropogenic climate change, who doubt that man's industrial effluents could ever harm an ecosystem as large as that of the Earth, I offer this challenge:

1) Stop taking your drinking water directly from the tap.  Instead, set up a 55-gallon (or larger) reservoir and fill that only when it runs empty.

2) After building and filling the reservoir, go into the toilet with a Dixie Cup, pee approximately one teaspoon's worth of piss into the Dixie Cup.

3) Get an eyedropper from the medicine cabinet.

4) Walk back to the reservoir with the Dixie Cup and the eyedropper.

5) Put one drop of your pee into the reservoir's holdings.

6) Go about your business, and use that reservoir for your drinking water.  It can't hurt you.  No way one drop in 55 gallons can affect that 55 gallons.  No way.  It's infinitesimal and irrelevant.

take your time...

...and read this essay by Andrew Kimbrell.

My friend MA sent me a link to it in yesterday's email. I've read it before and found it wise on many points. But it's long and susceptible to tl/dr for the impatient.

Here's a nip from the jar:
Perhaps the greatest impact of Cartesian mechanism is its creation of the cult of efficiency. Efficiency—maximum output with minimum input in minimum time—is an appropriate goal for the productivity of machines. Under the sway of mechanism, however, efficiency has metastasized over the past century into the principle virtue, not just for machines but for all life forms as well. We have undergone a kind of mechano-morphism, turning all life into machines and then judging and changing life utilizing the mechanistic value of efficiency. The effort to make humans more efficient began in earnest over a century ago when the eugenics movement became accepted public policy in the United States and led to the sterilization of thousands of the “unfit.” The cult of efficiency was further forced on humans in the years prior to World War I by the pioneering work of U.S. mechanical engineer Frederick Winslow Taylor, who began a managerial revolution to make workers more efficient in the newly developed assembly-line method of production.

Over the generations the trickle-down effects of the cult of efficiency have turned into a veritable flood. Efficiency has become our number one unquestioned virtue. A large part of our public and personal lives is constructed around this cult. As a society we repeatedly urge efficient government, an efficient and productive work force, efficient use of natural resources, and efficient use of human resources (that’s us!). Everyone is trying to become more efficient. We have all become “multi-taskers,” using the best-selling minute-manager manuals for reference (surely The Nanosecond Manager will be a bestseller of the future).
This part probably is a reference to Buck v Bell.

Friday, June 10, 2011

petty justice

Consumer Oppression, not protection

David D'Amato at C4SS explains some of the reasons why I'm always criticizing Donkeybots and Pwoggies who praise Elizabeth Warren.


When I was 16 I was playing after-school tackle football (American, not Euro) with my friends, as we often did during the fall. My turn to kick off. I'm a right footer by default. My plant foot comes to a stop a bit far from the ball and when I lay into it, my leg extends before it touches the football. Uh-oh. I feel a snap-pop inside my knee. Within 10 mins it's a grapefruit. And painful. And essentially locked out.

A family friend is an MD, but not an orthopod -- a heart surgeon. He looks at it and says, "looks like a knee sprain" and that's the end of medical intervention.

Flash forward 5 years. I'm at college now, lacrosse practice. The opposite squad is trying to clear the ball and I'm hounding the ball-carrier. He's running upfield and suddenly for no reason he cuts hard to his right. I look over my left shoulder and notice the reason for the right cut: two girls sitting on the grass, watching the intramural football game going on next to us. I try desperately to jump diagonally over the girls but my plant foot -- right foot here -- can't... won't... what's this? Uh-oh. Suddenly I feel immense torque in the femur - tibia linkage and then SNAP! more pain than I've ever felt before. The pain lasts 5 minutes tops but that's an eternal 5 minutes. I'm keening like someone being flayed. It stops. I try to stand up but the right leg won't bear any weight.

Next day I go to a local orthopod in my little Appalachian town and he suggests an arthroscope to assess the damage. I wait to return to DC where there are more orthopods. I go to a "sports med" practice where the MD articulates the knee and diagnoses torn ACL. He tells me to stop playing sports. A "sports medicine" doctor is telling me to stop playing sports. I tell him to stop practicing medicine. He looks at me strangely. I say, "no, I'm not kidding. You need to stop practicing medicine." He really looks puzzled now. "What?" he asks me. "That's like what you're telling me. Get it?" Still puzzled, he says "no." I tell him: "I'm not going to stop playing sports. I'm here to find out what needs to be done to enable that. Don't tell me to stop. Tell me what needs to happen."

"Are you a scholarship athlete?" he asks. "We could fix that knee if you were a Georgetown basketball star or a Maryland football star."

"Why would that matter?," I ask. "What do you know of athletes and their innate drive?," I ask further. "I won't stop playing sports because you tell me I've hurt my ACL. I want to get it fixed and return to athletics. If you won't fix it, I'll find someone who will."

"Well you'd better find another orthopaedist," he says.

Some sports medicine doctor, I think.

"Meanwhile here's an elastic brace for you to use." The thing is all neoprene, elastic and velcro. No structural support. It's a sham. Holy shit, this guy is a quack.

I return to Appalachia where I talk to a friend on the soccer team who has had two knee surgeries in Pittsburgh, where his family lives. "I can talk to my orthopaedic guy for you," he says. "He can fix that knee."

I find a local physical therapy outfit who can help me get a proper brace to play w/o an ACL: the Lenox-Hill Brace, originally designed for Pantyhose Joe Namath. I get a Lenox-Hill. I return to sports after a grueling phys therapy regimen. The brace has slowed me way down but I can still play.

Fast forward 2 more years, I'm skiing at Wintergreen in Virginia with folks I work with at Ski Center. It's the annual Mid-Atlantic Ski Shops Race. We've just had lunch and are casually sliding to the start gate. I'm inattentive, hit a mogul while talking to a friend, and land a bit rearward. Butt drops to the tails of the skis and I feel a massive POP! inside my knee. Uh-oh. I know this feeling.

The Ski Patrol toboggans me to the clinic at the base of the hill and the on-call MD, a resident at Virginia Medical College, articulates my knee and says, I think you don't have any ACL any more." Apparently this last POP was the remains of my ACL stretching and breaking.

A new DC area orthopod does an arthroscope and confirms: ACL completely torn. "Normally it looks like a coaxial cable without sheathing. Instead the compartment looked like a bowl of spaghetti. The ACL is completely ruptured. You can keep playing sports with that Lenox-Hill but you're going to get cartilage damage if you do so. There's nothing to prevent your femur and tibia from twisting in opposite directions. That will cause shearing forces at the cartilage. You'll get cartilage tears. Eventually your knee will have spots of bone-to-bone which will develop arthritis. This is why some orthopaedic surgeons tell people to stop playing sports after knee ligament damage, especially the ACL."

"Thanks. What would you do if it were your knee?"

"Get it rebuilt. There are surgeons who specialize in ACL reconstruction for athletes. I suggest talking to several of them."

I return to Appalachia again, finish my junior and senior years, and get the ACL rebuilt in PGH by the surgeon who fixed my friend's knee. I spend 2 months in PGH at the friend's house. Return to DC. Rehab starts after about 6 months, at which point my right leg looks like two pencils connected by an apple in the middle. The muscles are nearly gone from atrophy. Time to rebuild.


That was 1985. In 1999, I blew out my left ACL playing soccer. When I got it fixed the surgeon played with my right knee while I was under anaesthesia and determined it has past its useful life, that rebuilt ACL, and could stand a re-do. But I haven't had it re-done.

I continue to ski fast and aggressive most days I'm on skis. But I've cut out all running sports, despite missing them in ways I can't begin to describe. We have adult soccer leagues here, lots of opportunity to play. I have friends who played soccer in college and they ask me to play pick-up games. I always have to decline. It hurts, turning away something that used to bring me so much fun and help me put some talents to good use.

But it's a sacrifice I make for being able to walk when I'm old.


This morning I woke up and my right knee felt like someone was wrenching on it all night while I slept. Painful, in other words.

At noon I'm going to go ride the bike for a few hours, which should bring the knee back to happyland. Cycling is great for the knees.  I started serious cycling in 1986 for knee rehab. It replaced a 5 miles/day running routine.

I don't wanna grow up. I'm a Toys-R-Us kid.

Thursday, June 9, 2011


Leogang, to be specific:

Those are some wicked ribbed / finned mountains in the background. I could live there. Ride MTBs until the snow makes it impossible, then ski until the melt makes that impossible and resume the cycle. Teach skiing and teach MTB riding. Write a little. Raise dogs. Catch a few fish. Cut some earth.

...wait, what am I thinking?

how to develop exceptional observational skills

A lesson learned by working with adolescents who are suffering emotional, psychological, existential, and gender- or sexuality-oriented difficulties, challenges, obstacles, discomfort.

Here's how you teach your child exceptional skills of observation... how to create a human canary for a human coal mine.

1) obtain one young human child

2) remove that child's same-sex parent shortly after the child's birth

3) have the remaining opposite-sex parent treat the child in a schizoid fashion, alternately demonstrating affection and outright disdain, regard and ignorance, respect and delegitimation, in oscillating fashion

4) do not allow the child to understand why the oscillation exists

5) if possible, be unaware of why you oscillate and assume everything is always even-keel, and in any case: always tell the child that you are not behaving oddly, and therefore something must be wrong with the child's view of things.

6) always doubt the child's observations, never honor them, and at least regularly if not frequently, be sure to criticize the child's spoken thoughts.

7) teach the child nothing about how to be a human being in a society of humans: assume the child will learn everything he or she needs to on his/her own... or in school. always think and behave in a way consistent with this perspective: it's not your problem.

8) when the child asks about the absent same-sex parent, demean that absent parent and call him or her a "quitter who couldn't handle parenthood and therefore left." never tell the child that you drove the same-sex parent away with your behavior. never, ever do that.

9) tell the child that the worst type of human is an adult _____ (insert gender of child, and thus of the absent parent). recite numerous stories of evil or criminal or thoughtless behavior by other humans of that gender, and blame the bad behavior on the gender.

10) when the child's birthday comes around, be sure to treat that birthday under the oscillation rules set forth in (3). some years, treat that child with respect and pride. other years, treat the child like you wish he/she never burdened you with his/her existence.

11) but when it comes to Christmas, always go overboard with gifts. nothing avoids guilty feelings like excessive gift-giving.

12) for all problems you encounter in your life --as an adult human, or as the child's parent-- be sure to hide those problems from the child. never let the child think that adults have difficulties of their own. the only adult difficulty you should discuss with your child is under rule (3), where occasionally you bemoan the child's existence and the suffering it has caused you.

13) whenever the child expresses hesitation, anxiety or fear regarding a thing, a place or an experience, minimize the child's reservations -- derogatorily, if possible.

14) when the child hits puberty and starts to show some independence, squash his/her will by reminding him/her, "you're just a child, stop trying to act like an adult." deny at all times the transition to adulthood.

15) expose the child to things like watching an animal die. make light of them. do not explain death, mortality, suffering, or empathy. pretend those things are completely irrelevant to the human experience. if possible, manage the exposure by teaching the child to kill animals. defend this practice by calling it a "tradition," even though the family never has eaten the flesh of any animal so killed. emphasize the sport of hunting and killing, and do not put it into perspective from an empathy perspective or an ecological point of view.


more may be added later


The more I think about it, the more I think the above list doesn't always create hyper-vigilant kids. Some kids it turns into self-debasers, boys who play with violence, for example, and girls who play with being "loose" or whatever kids call it today.** And some kids just get totally fucking confused about the world and begin to hide within their imagination, creating a more preferable world of their mind's construction.

One of the first things parents look to do is blame "drugs," as if the behavior is caused by the "drugs" they suspect their child is "doing." Strangely, if you observe the parent drinking booze, taking mood Rx, smoking cigarettes and ask about the "drugs" they "do," they will say something like "well I'm an adult" and "it's not illegal for me." Which reveals their true nature: obsessed about image, and definitely not about the child's well-being. Worried more about their child being "a criminal" or "a junkie" than about the child's reasons for behaving as he/she is, the parent looks to the periphery rather than the core.

Scapegoats sought. Scapegoats found. Problem solved.

Parent "grounds" the child for "doing drugs" and assumes that will solve the problem. 2 weeks later, parent notices child isn't home at 10pm curfew and at 11:45pm gets a call from the police, the child has been caught in a stolen car, having sex with _______. Not clear which child stole the car, which was driving.

Damned drugs. I knew they'd lead to crime.

Gateway to criminality.

If the family is "middle class," at this stage they will look to "rehab" or "counseling." More triangulation will ensue. The child's real problems will be buried under the idea of getting the child "off drugs" and "away from that criminal element."

A year later the child is rescued by the parent coming home from work early. Luckily the child's razor slashes only cut capillaries. The hospital bill is expensive and the carpet's blood stains will be hard to remove. But thank god he/she is alive.

Now for the lawsuit against the "counselor" or "rehab clinic." Obviously they didn't do what they advertised.


**"Easy hookup" might be one way kids in my town would describe it.

new olds and old news

Original Xtranormal video here.

First published at Progressive Reports Now - January 2010

Wednesday, June 8, 2011

hard to believe

On my computers, Internet Explorer 8 is faster than Firefox 4.0 and right up there with Google Chrome.


laptop with AMD Sempron 2800+ (actual clock speed much slower than 2800) and 256MB RAM

desktop with AMD Athlon 64 3000+ and 3 GB RAM

Bonus is that it doesn't hog precious RAM on the laptop by constantly triggering Google Update.  No matter how I set up my system startup, Google Update finds a way to get itself back in there and turned on.  Google is definitely creepier than Gatesville these days.

oar-puller's tips

Close to a decade old, these are. Used to be able to find these on the Toobz for free, then my old employer removed them to a "members only" segment of the company's website reserved for policyholders. Hopefully these tips helped a few other rowers avoid rough seas.

"YZAB" is not the company's name, nor is my real name (name omitted).  Obviously if you care enough, or are inclined more toward being a stalker, you can figure out the company's name and my name with a quick search or two.


Thinking of Winding down Your Practice? Don't Forget to... (Part 1)
(name omitted), YZAB Staff Attorney

In some ways, winding down a law practice is more difficult than starting one. I know that might run counter to what some of you believe or have experienced, so please—bear with me. I say that winding down is more difficult because in many ways, starting and growing a law practice is more about increasing your visibility in the minds of those who need legal services, which probably comes from equal parts of earnest presentation and hard work at high standards. Your efforts can be simplified somewhat by your zeal for developing your practice.

On the other hand, winding down a law practice is about contemplating, and then identifying and tying up, every conceivable loose end related to all aspects of your law practice. It is a detail-focused process, and you cannot accomplish it with earnest presentation. You need to thoroughly consider all aspects of your practice and what remains to be addressed after you cease practice. But when your taste for law practice is waning, and your taste for retirement and detachment from law practice is growing, it's much easier to lose focus and miss a few details. Ultimately, you need to ensure that if something should happen to you, your family and your estate are not burdened with the financial or legal liabilities that result if you fail to fully and properly address any aspect of winding down your law practice.

YZAB insures a number of solo practitioners, and this gives us a perspective on how some attorneys wind down their solo practice. We get a chance to see part of what our insureds do when winding down a law practice. We help our insureds address a part of the winding down process by offering Extended Reporting Periods ("tail policies") for those attorneys who are retiring from law practice. A tail policy gives you a set amount of additional time within which to report any claims that arose while you were practicing. Because most legal malpractice insurance policies provide "claims made and reported" coverage, a tail policy certainly is a good tool to help one wind down a law practice. However, the retiring attorney should not stop there. She may find that even after buying a tail policy, a number of essential wind-down details remain, and if those details are not addressed, she may cause herself and/or her family more headaches than ever imaginable. In the best case, all goes smoothly and you are able to wind down your practice without a hitch. However, most real situations do not follow the "best case" scenario.

In the "best case" scenario, retiring attorney Ann Howe has been looking forward to retirement, and has been slowly removing herself from active practice. Ann has not taken on any new clients or matters, has been diligent in collecting receivables, has communicated with her firm's landlord and all utility providers regarding her upcoming retirement, has bought a "tail policy" from her malpractice insurer, and entered into a contract with Barrett Blacktie of Thurow, Lee, Gent & LeMans PC for him to assume responsibility for tying up the loose ends related to Ann's matters. Ann recently met with her financial advisor, to ensure that all her business and personal finances are optimized for her financial planning goals in view of her impending retirement. Because Ann was thorough, and anticipated and prepared for her retirement, Mr. Blacktie will not have very much to do, but he will be available for any needed help.

In the "worst case" scenario, solo attorney Doug Dieper has decided to retire from law practice due to physical and mental exhaustion. Doug's practice was never terribly successful from a financial view, but for those matters that he worked to completion, Doug provided satisfactory results for most of his clients. Doug spent the last four years trying to expand his book of business. While the efforts resulted in more new matters, Doug never expanded his support staff enough to account for the increased work. As a result, for the past two years Doug has been working in a "fire fighter" role, attending to the many emergencies caused by an understaffed, overworked solo firm. His lone paralegal has been demanding a raise for two years, claiming that she is working like an associate lawyer in Doug's firm, but at the pay of a paralegal. In truth, Doug frequently has asked her to do very substantive research work, and she has drafted various briefs and letters to clients.

On the client relations front, two clients have become so dissatisfied with Doug's lack of communication that one has refused to pay any fees for the past six months, and the other one has not paid anything since the initial retainer, which Doug spent quite some time ago. To make matters worse, Doug fears that among the many matters he has open, he may have made some calendar entry errors, and even may have caused a plaintiff client to miss the statutory limitation period. Doug feels he doesn't have enough time or staff to go through all of his matters to verify the correctness of his calendar entries.

Doug's landlord has been very flexible, and has let Doug make lease payments whenever Doug has been able, so long as Doug has paid the annual rental amount in full by the end of the lease year. But Doug has been taking advantage of the landlord's kindness and now has six months of lease payments due, with the lease year ending in five weeks.

Clearly, Doug's practice is in trouble. No wonder he is physically and emotionally stressed, and wants to retire from law practice. But is his practice ready for him to retire? Has he too many unresolved issues? What should he do? The answer is clear: Doug should hire someone as Administrator, to help him wind down his practice.

1. Do You Need an Administrator?

If you are like Ann Howe, and thoroughly have prepared for retirement, you may not have to hire an Administrator to handle all the details of winding down your practice. But to be safe, you should consider hiring someone as a "contingent Administrator," who agrees to step in and administer the winding-down process if something should render you unable to conduct that process. You should memorialize the agreement in writing, so that your family or estate will have a document that authorizes an Administrator to wind down your practice, details the Administrator's duties and obligations, and sets forth the manner and details of reimbursing the Administrator. Naturally, you should choose for an Administrator (or contingent Administrator) a person or firm that you trust completely to properly act on behalf of you and your law practice.

An attorney like Doug Dieper, who either has no taste for the details of running a law practice, or fears that he might be inattentive to them, should give serious thought to hiring an Administrator to conduct the winding-down process. Again, use a written agreement that identifies the retiring attorney's obligations and receivables, specifies the Administrator's duties regarding those matters, and details the manner of payment.

2. Accounts Payable and Receivable.

In a perfect world, all people would pay their bills immediately upon receipt, no questions asked, and no problems with negotiating checks in payment of the bills. Unfortunately, often this doesn't occur in a real law practice. Your practice may have outstanding receivables, and in some cases, outstanding payables. Make sure that you and your chosen Administrator have made arrangements for payment of all payables, and collection of all receivables.

3. Business Office Package Insurance.

Your professional liability coverage with YZAB does not extend to liability for the aspects of your practice that are not "professional services" as defined in the policy. Examples of uncovered exposures are fee collection, disputes over your lease, employment matters, premises liability to any other persons with whom you might share your office or building or whom you might have as a visitor to your office or building, business losses due to malfunctioning equipment or natural disasters, and other assorted exposures. A business office package insurance policy will cover some of the most likely exposures that fall outside "professional services."

4. Life Insurance and other Financial Planning.

Even if you are near the classic retirement age of 65 or so, you might be able to improve upon your existing financial planning. If you are retiring from law practice to begin a different career, and have a number of work years left ahead of you, it is pretty likely that you can improve your financial planning. Retirement from law practice can be much simpler if you can leave the practice with the knowledge that you have optimized your financial security beforehand.

The above suggestions do not cover all conceivable retirement issues. They merely comprise the first half of this two-part article on winding down one's practice. Next month, Part Two will focus on how to best prepare your current cases and matters for your transition away from active law practice.



Thinking of Winding down Your Practice? Dont Forget to.... (Part 2)
(name omitted), YZAB Staff Attorney

Last month, I discussed winding down the business end of one's practice. Now that you have started putting your law practice "business" in order for retirement, you need to contemplate how best to prepare your client and/or matter files.

Three simple guiding principles can help you avoid the major problems: (a) your file belongs to the client you represent; (b) the file should be in such a condition that a new attorney could take over the matter and find that the file contains an organized collection of all information pertinent to handling the matter; and (c) you are the repository and guard of confidential client information. Putting these general principles into practice requires a detailed approach.

1. Tell your clients about your impending retirement. While slipping away unnoticed for a year-long tour of Europe might sound awfully tempting, and even might pacify a tired mind and body, your professional obligations require differently. You must inform your active clients of your intent to retire, and they must have adequate time to select a new attorney. If you are a litigator, this means you should not select a retirement date on the eve of a client's trial, nor should you wait until that eve to tell your client about your decision to retire. If you are a transactional attorney, don't leave your corporate client hanging on the eve of its large acquisition.

Give your clients enough advance notice that they not only can select new counsel, but also can let that new counsel become fully familiar with the matter in time for the matter's next significant event. Use a notice letter sent in duplicate, with a line for the client to sign acknowledging receipt of the notice, and instructions to keep one copy and return the signed copy. Be sure to also inform your clients who have no open matters with you. They will need to decide what to do with all file materials related to their closed matters. For any client that does not respond to your notice of impending retirement, take reasonable steps to ensure that you have that client's proper current mailing address, and if you do not, take reasonable steps to get that address.

2. Organize each of your files for the client's new counsel. This can be difficult for some attorneys, especially the ones with a prodigious memory who rarely rely on their paper files. My prior employer was a private law firm that served as defense counsel for a state's guaranty association. After an insurance carrier became insolvent, I received files that had been created and handled by the insolvent carrier's chosen defense counsel. Some counsel had well-organized files that were easy to digest and learn. Other counsel had little more than a bankers box full of loose papers, with no distinction among correspondence, pleadings, discovery, research, internal memoranda and billing. Taking over such a file required a lot of unnecessary time and energy spent in organizing the documents, and the client does not like having to pay for that time. Remember that it's the client's file, even if you assembled and maintained it. The successor attorney should be able to review the file and know exactly what has been done, what needs to be done, and what significant events are upcoming on the calendar.

3. Prepare a status memo on each matter. Even if you know where the matter stands procedurally, a successor attorney might not be able to find that status – and that is true even if you have organized the file for transition. List and highlight the important upcoming calendar events. List and highlight outstanding discovery needs, pretrial motions, research needs, information needs, etc. Remember, the client owns the file, and you can make a copy for your own records. A status memo can make things much easier for the client's successor attorney. After reading the status memo, she can budget her time accurately and provide the client with a reasonable fee schedule based on the file's status.

4. Be reasonably available to assist the successor attorney. Don't just follow steps 1-3 and then fly off for your year-long European journey. Make yourself reasonably available. You don't have to sit at home waiting for calls from successor attorneys, but at the same time, you shouldn't go off to the jungles of Borneo with no means of communication. Remember, there will be some aspects of your clients' cases that cannot be found from a review of the file, no matter how well-organized that file might be. Your insights and input will be invaluable to the successor attorney.

5. Perform a thorough accounting of your client trust fund money, client fee payments, and client property. Your client trust fund account should be sacrosanct and well-documented. There should have been no any activity contrary to your state's professional responsibility code provisions regarding trust accounts. You should be able to readily provide each client with a full accounting of his trust money, along with a check refunding that money – including any interest required by state law. Also, if for any client you have any unearned fees, you should provide a similar full accounting and refund of the unearned portion. Finally, be sure to account for all client property that you have held in trust, for safekeeping or otherwise, and be prepared to return that property.

6. Arrange for secure handling of all closed files or matters. Remember your obligation to protect client confidences. This means your closed files also must be kept secure. Find a secure, trustworthy place to archive those files, and provide each file's client with the details on how to gain access to the archived file.

7. Do not take any new matters that you will not finish before you retire. This should be obvious, but because matters can grow exponentially after they are opened, you really need to be very careful to not assume a new responsibility that you cannot see through to the finish. Perhaps a better goal would be simply to not take any new matters, but with the wholly subjective nature of legal needs, it is conceivable that you could open a new matter that truly could be wrapped up in a few weeks (i.e., drafting a will).

The above items are but a general list, and the specifics of your practice may dictate that you go much further with your cases and matters. Our recommendations cannot guarantee that your transition will be headache-free, but they can help you minimize malpractice claims and maximize your client satisfaction ratio. On top of that, they are the most professional way to handle your transition into retirement.
The writing reflects the "folksy" approach the company wanted to promote and/or preserve. When I read it now I almost laugh at how corny and stilted it is. The sad thing is, the writing was way worse before they gave me editorial oversight of the risk management monthly. Some of the stuff sent out before my tenure was so down-home that it said absolutely nothing, despite going on for 5 or 6 paragraphs. Home-spun cliches instead of advice, anachronisms instead of wisdom.

Some might say that's a reflection of the type of legal community that exists in the more rural states of the USA. The company's business base was less-populated states with smaller and less ...uh... sophisticated state bars. But it's my experience that bad writing and fake exposition aren't suitable for any self-respecting lawyer, no matter where he works or who might be her typical client.

To me there's a difference between plain writing and empty cliche. But maybe that's a fake or meaningless distinction for a lot of people? Apparently it's tough for lawyers to write as anything but lawyer-ish Authoritative Voice, and they're too comfortable with the artificially highbrow nature of most legalese.**


**See, e.g., Glenn Greenwald.

dealing with those creeps who eavesdrop and lurk

Secure socializing in a paranoid & invasive society.

nod to Jay at Skookum for this one.

Mike's latest

Original plus commentary here.

Ignore the peasants revolting, we have a race to hold! Economic and other civil strifes, they mean nothing. Burning up lots of petroleum products: that's what's really important.

Especially when the civil unrest has something to do with the global wealth disparities related to oil and its absurdly wasteful use in our "modern" technological, industrial society.

Out of our way, or we'll run you over! We're running over you anyway as it is, so it's no rubber off our tires if we have to do it more directly with cars 'n' shit.

Tuesday, June 7, 2011

Stiff Little Fingers

I stopped at a convenience store at the edge of the Adirondack Mountains on Saturday afternoon and a more frightening gaggle of disfigured mutts I have never seen before. Has everybody in upstate New York only just been released from prison? The tattoo craze is especially telling. It's one thing to get some tattoos with the idea that you are artfully expressing something. It's another thing to deploy them around your body parts as though you were slapping decals on a 1989 beater car. These mutts had tattoos on their necks, their boobs, the sides of their heads, their knuckles, their ankles. The idea, apparently, is to make yourself appear as frightening as possible - and I can tell you it is a very successful initiative.
That's Jim Kunstler, today.

Even as a fairly helpless little boy of elementary school age, I never saw tattoos as a sign that the person was "scary" or "frightening." Tattoos have never scared me. People sporting tattoos have never scared me.

What fucking reality does Jim Kunstler inhabit, where a tattoo is a sure sign of the tattooed person's dangerous, scary behavior?

Why does he instantly link tattoo and prison?

Does he know the difference between a jailhouse tattoo and a studio tattoo?  The aesthetic difference?  The tattooing technique difference?  The symbolic/message difference?

For a guy who has subtlety of observation when examining architecture and land use trends, he sure shows some cementheadedness here.

It's nice to know he'd find me scary, and would assume I've been to prison.  In fact, I hope a lot of people assume that about me.  It's the whole reason I have ink on my body:  intimidation.  That's the essence of my being:  to scare others.  It's why I'm here on Earth.

When you see me coming, cross to the other side of the street.  Or run away.  After all, I might do something really scary when I'm within 10 feet of you.

Like smile, and ask "how's it going?"

Or laugh at your Crocs shoes.


lemme 'splain sumpin'

posted at Dmitry Orlov's.
What we actually see seems to be high level of denial or paralysis.

I would suggest it's more consciously manipulative. The media buffer Anicca referenced above, it's there in order to give the powerful more time to loot what's left.

This is an end-stage looting we're seeing in America. Those doing the looting know fully well that they should (if they recognized such imperatives in their worldview) be working to transition into a post-petroleum world. But what are they doing? Fighting over the last bits of petroleum, in the most aggressive manner.

They fear losing power and they see their power is oil-dependent and they see their power as rooted in the monetary - material - political advantages they've accumulated thanks to oil.

They're trying to build themselves a huge wealth buffer. And because they're not stupid, they'll see that money itself isn't durable and therefore monetary wealth alone isn't durable, so they'll get arms and armed goons to align with them to protect them.

Sound familiar?

Monday, June 6, 2011


Dennis Perrin's latest.

you just look like a monkey

if you were fast enough: yes, this is the 2d version. the audio is better here and it doesn't cut off, even though the other one had trippy colored vinyl spinning on a turntable and provided a better image, this is about the song.

Murder, Inc.

Eretz Yisroel.

Sunday, June 5, 2011


4 hrs Fri, 4 hrs Sat, 5 hrs Sun = wrung out, but fitness returning and remembering more about how to ride the bicycle. Cycist's tan returning. NB: Bag Balm works well for chamois cream.

In other news, in the VitalMTB coverage of the Ft William WC DH, a new 6" + 6" travel bike prototype from Empire called the MX-6, looking like it was made from Rearden Metal and should be called the Johngalt or something.  Here's the photo from VitalMTB.

Trippy, but (1) I'm still happy with my 2008 model year FS bike and not really in a position to even dream about a new FS bike, and (2) I'm not really into super-funky designs.  If you asked me for a clue on the origins of this particular aesthetic and general design:

Honda RN-01
circa 2006

Alex Pong bike
circa 1994

Emmett Brown's Flux Capacitor
circa 1985

Atlas Shrugged,
circa 1957

Railroad rail
circa 1830 (USA)

And if you asked how I got to seeing Rearden Metal in the frame, lookee here (from BikeRadar):

and for no particular reason, circa 1999 here's Beulah:

Great photos from the Ft William DH at Pinkbike here.

Thursday, June 2, 2011

the secret to making yourself obsolete... simply to ignore those aspects of your society** which you find objectionable and/or impossible to affect with your own personal efforts.

To do it with maximal existential confusion, don't just ignore them flat. Don't pretend that they don't exist and then simply go about your life.

No, don't do that.

Instead, assume they don't exist, or they don't matter.  But identify them for purposes related to satire, sarcasm, and general mockery.  And then proceed to mock them.

If your mockery is sufficiently arch, and displays a temperament well outside the mainstream of your society, you will be guaranteed an audience that is both small, and confused about your intent.

One or two in your tiny group of hangers-on might understand your perspective -- and even share it, for the most part.  But that one or two kinfolk will be acutely aware of their own position outside the mainstream, and the invisibility or utter absence of personal power toward making effective changes.

At some point you can see:  the mockery, the derision, the willful ignorance of what you find distasteful... these things do not thwart what you don't like, and don't remove what you dislike.  In a strangely inverted manner, they tend to emphasize your smallness.

And that's a mighty fine joke to play on yourself.


**The general mass of humans gathered in your Nation, or Homeland, or Country.  You don't have to agree with them or find tribal identity among them.  You just have to realize they are there, and they outnumber you.

Wednesday, June 1, 2011

big fucking deal

ever seen a bloated, fat, sedentary fox?

Every fox I've encountered in the woods has been stick-slender. They look bigger, more girthful, because their hair stands straight out sometimes, giving them the silhouette of a heftier creature. But mostly they are skinny things.

In contrast, the web browser Firefox these days resembles a bloated, fat, near-death form of fox. The problems arose when Moe Zilla and his band of merrymaking coders determined that Firefox should entice the stupidest internet surfers, those who value "style" and "appearance" and "theme" more than they value small footprints, easy functionality, and low resource hogging.

Well done, Moe! You have taken a streamlined product and turned it into a Fuckup of Festoonery.

At the risk of showing my antiquity, I would say this: Firefox reminds me of Elizabeth Taylor. I remember her in National Velvet and in Who's Afraid of Virginia Woolf. And Firefox now is like post-Woolf. Bloated, addicted to glitzy quick fun, and a public spectacle of shameful greed.

More modern-like: Firefox is like Kirstie Alley. I remember when I first encountered Kirstie Alley on my TV, when she was slender and feline-seductive. But it wasn't long before she was the most frequently spotted beached whale on the cover of every tabloid at my grocery checkout line.

Quintessentially American, as the cliche runs.