We keep hearing about political forces in California trying to mount a movement for secession from the United States. I’m like many, many people in thinking 1) we’d be better off without them, and 2) but even so, you just can’t allow something like that, it’s wrong in principle. Now someone in this blog post has lined out several (if not all) of the reasons it not only shouldn’t happen, but probably couldn’t. (The following is all direct quote, except for the segment in [brackets].)
- Federal land in the state. Almost half of the state’s area is Federally owned; National Forest, BLM [presumably the Bureau of Land Management, not Black Lives Matter], military bases, and so forth. What would become of those Federal lands? Would the new California national government pay the United States fair value for those lands? Or would the state just seize the properties? If so, how? Which brings us to:
- The military. Never mind for a moment that the several military bases in California are Federal property, and that the soldiers, sailors, Marines and airmen on those bases work for the Federal government and are sworn to uphold and defend the Constitution of the United States, not the state of California. Would California start their own military? Their own army, navy, and air force? How would they pay for it? More to the point, who would serve in it? Who would lead it? There is no Lee in California; no Longstreet, no Jackson.
- Water. California doesn’t have enough native water to support its population. Instead, they depend on water from the Colorado river. If California secedes, how will they pay for this water? Rivers can be dammed and/or diverted. Colorado, Nevada and Arizona could certainly find good use for the 4.4 million acre-feet of water that go to California every year.
- Electricity. California imports about 1/3 of its electricity from its neighboring states. Given that the state is not fond of building new power plants — at least, the wealthy coastal elites who effectively run the state are not fond of building new power plants — what will California do for power? Will they continue to pay to suckle at the United States’ power grid? If so, how will they pay for it?
- Currency. Will California start coining money? Who will set monetary and fiscal policy for the new nation — the people who are running California’s economy now? Welcome to the Greece of the West, folks.
- Politics. California is a big, sparsely populated red state dominated by a few densely populated bright blue population centers — primarily Los Angeles and San Francisco. The state’s farmers and tradesmen are ruled, effectively, by a well-off coastal elite. Suppose rural northern California, the Central Valley, and maybe Orange County refuse to go along? What if those areas vote to stay in the United States? Will the new California national government stick to their newly found principles of self-determination and allow those areas to remain? And if they do, how will a tiny coastal nation consisting of a couple of major cities and a few hundred miles of coastline feed itself? Speaking of which:
- Food. California is largely desert. The fertile Central Valley produces less and less food all the time, strangled by excessive rules and regulations from the state and (to be fair) the Imperial government. Should the secession prove acrimonious, could California find the wherewithal to release Central Valley farmers (if there are any left) to start producing grain and truck crops?
- Foreign Affairs. Who would California’s international allies be? The most obvious one is the mother country — the United States — but just as in the first time this was tried, it’s likely there would be some hard feelings. Nations have no permanent friends, only permanent interests; who would serve California’s interests in an alliance? Mexico? China?
There’s also the 1861 question; should California announce their secession, would President Trump send in the Army to force them to remain? If so, California wouldn’t be able to resist the way the old Confederacy did. It’s highly doubtful half the professional U.S. military would defect to fight for California.
Honestly, the folks agitating for a secession of California aren’t thinking this thing through. The one thing California would have to do to make it as a separate nation is to switch political philosophies and adopt personal liberty, free markets, and minimal intervention by government in the economy and the property rights of its citizens — and this, True Believers, is everything that California is not. It would be a matter of decades at the most before California sank into a Venezuelan quagmire. We don’t need that on our western border, and California’s citizens don’t need it in their bank accounts.
I can understand the base sentiment of the movement, since some people in Texas (no, I don’t live in Texas, but I did for several years) were making some of the same arguments back when the constant tide of oppressive progressivism seemed on the brink of becoming unbearable. But a nation simply can’t allow portions of itself to opt out — it can’t, and hope to remain a nation instead of an endlessly subdividing collection of Balkan enclaves — and the preceding points show why, in this particular case, it’s not a good idea for the people in the state in question.
Life is tough. Sometimes (as in, pretty much most of the time) you just have to deal with things you don’t like.
Today is the two-year mark on my current job. Outside the Army, that’s the longest I’ve stayed in one position in the last fifteen years. Which makes it a shame that I’m looking for something else I can do … almost, anything else I can do.
The work isn’t that hard, but they keep changing the job. The company itself appears to be battling a loss of business nationwide, which means they keep cutting our hours — not mine, the total hours available to the store itself — which means they have to get by on fewer workers, which means those remaining have to do the same amount of work with fewer hands to carry the load. Several of the imperatives communicated to me operate in contravention to one another: cover my station, take care of the inventory that’s brought to me, carry out my closing duties (three shifts of every five are closing, two are morning), and do it all within the hours allotted me. Some of the things I have to do require me to go away from my station, but that’s not an excuse; some of them, if I can’t leave my station, require me to go over my hours once someone has relieved me. The totality of it makes a frustration that I don’t want to have to continue dealing with.
I’d like to get back into long-haul trucking; I loved being a soldier, but I actually more enjoyed the actual work of being a truck driver. The question is whether I could hold up to it physically now. I’m still fine at this point, but I’m at an age where things could start going downhill with no warning.
It would be nice to just pick a place and stay there. This one could have been it; the pay wasn’t great, but was adequate as long as other things were under control. As it is, I’d rather switch than stay and fight it out.
I hear there’s a new show, Riverdale, a darker or semi-subversive take on the old Archie characters and venue. Haven’t watched it yet, but I really enjoyed the 2015 re-imagining of the Archie universe, so I’ll probably check it out as soon as I have some time off.
One thing I did see, though: a comment, somewhere, that this new show reminded someone of nothing so much as the Vampire Diaries. Never seen a single episode of that (or wanted to, because I’m just not interested), but the comment is certainly suggestive.
Funny how it never occurred to me before, but ‘Riverdale’ has the same cadence (and same number of syllables, and same number of letters) as ‘Sunnydale’ …
In Chapter 11 of “Xander and Yet ANOTHER Demon”, a BtVS/SG-1 crossover which served as my unexpected introduction to the delightful imagination of Diane Castle, it is described how a drunken Xander took an equally drunken Anise on a quest for Twinkie-flavored ice cream. He was adamant about what he wanted, and loudly proclaimed that he wouldn’t return to that particular establishment until they stocked Twinkie-flavored ice cream
Well, that day is here.
Which leaves only the one question: can Buffy fandom predict the future, or can Buffy fandom CREATE the future?
My wife earns, as far as I can tell, nearly nine times as much as I do.
My wife is waiting until her next paycheck so she can afford a doctor’s visit to renew the prescriptions that ran out while she was making her most recent trip to Ireland.
Meanwhile, back at home, on one-ninth of her income, I’ve stuck enough into savings that I could replace my car if I unexpectedly needed to do so. (A pretty poor replacement, but I could do it.)
Something about that just doesn’t seem to add up.
(Yes, I’m being snide and tongue-in-cheek. I have money because I don’t spend it on unnecessary crap. Every time I eat at McDonald’s, part of me is aware of that as an extravagance. And so, because I’m willing to do with less, I wind up having more. Sounds like a paradox, but it isn’t.)
Day off at home, just relaxing and vegging out. Watched some TV shows online (and one really dumb movie, but I dozed through most of that), read some from my Kindle, ate penne pasta from a leftover MRE. In the early evening I got a Skyve video call from my son Kevin, and got to watch my granddaughter run around their apartment in non-stop motion. Gorgeous little girl, but I can’t tell if she speaks any English at all. (Of course, she may not even have any words yet, period, she’s less than two years old. She makes sounds, but if they’re in Chinese I can’t tell. She’ll blow me a kiss if prompted to do so, however.)
I miss them. I have money in the bank. Maybe I will go visit, once I get a few more things taken care of.
For nearly two weeks, I had known that I was scheduled to work yesterday from 6:00 to 12:15. I made my plans accordingly, had my work lunch ready, went to bed at a suitable time. Rose, showered and shaved and got on my way, arriving with several minutes to spare. Went to clock in …
The time clock objected, kept declining my entry. I couldn’t figure it out; What do you mean, I’m not scheduled till 6:00? It IS 6:00! Finally I did a workaround, clocked in on return-from-lunch to make it accept my arrival.
Only then did I begin to think, Wait a minute, and take another look at the schedule posted there (rather than the one I’d made for my own use). Sure enough, I was down for 6PM till midnight-fifteen, not 6AM to noon-fifteen. And with my ‘workaround’, it wasn’t possible for me to clock out again.
So, okay, I returned home and slept for another four hours. That part felt great. Back at work again at 6PM, however, there was no manager authorized to correct my initial clock-in, so when I went ‘in’ at 6PM, it showed as ‘out’ and that I’d just finished a twelve-hour shift; then when I clocked out for and back in from lunch, it showed I’d worked for another 30 minutes; then it got twisted up in itself and couldn’t figure out what to make of it when I clocked out again after midnight.
We’ll get it worked out this evening. It appears, however, that I can mess things up in an infinite number of ways.
Anyone who has followed my LJ for considerable time has picked up on the fact that, without any deliberate intent in that direction, my immediate family somehow became a group of inveterate international travelers. (Especially given that my son Kevin and daughter sroni are now married to foreign nationals and living in their spouses’ home countries.) My wife Susan was the first of us, making a European mission trip either during or right after high school, but eventually all of us climbed aboard. And along the way we acquired an interesting set of records in comparison to one another. As follows:
Each of us has been to at least three countries never visited by any of the others:
- Me – Kuwait, Iraq, Afghanistan, Kyrgyzstan, Qatar, Bulgaria
- Susan – Bosnia-Herzegovina, Croatia, Tanzania
- sroni – France, Scotland, South Korea, Switzerland
- Kevin – Jamaica, Malaysia, Thailand
- Kevin and sroni visited me at Guantanamo Bay in Cuba
- Susan and I were briefly in Canada together (to board an Alaska cruise ship)
- Susan and I went to the Netherlands and Belgium together
- Susan and I visited Kevin in China
- Susan twice visited sroni in Ireland
- Susan and I were in Ireland at different times (airport stop only for me), and in the Netherlands at different times (again, airport stop for me, though we visited it later together)
- sroni and I were in Ireland at different times (airport stop for me, as I said, while she’s been in residence there twice)
- sroni and Kevin were in Mexico at different times, and also Taiwan, and also mainland China
- Susan and I visited China after sroni had been there
- I’m the only one of us who ever visited a Middle Eastern country (and I racked up five of them)
- sroni has visited more European (and UK) countries than any of the rest of us
- Kevin, of course, has specialized in the Far East and the Asian Pacific
- Susan’s trips have been mostly European, but she’s the only one of us ever to go to any African country
Kevin has spent the most time actually outside the U.S., but is the one who has been to the fewest non-U.S. countries.
I was the oldest of us (at 49) the first time I ever got outside the U.S., but I’m the one who’s been to the most non-U.S. countries.
And one last thing: I’m the only one of the family who never visited another country on a mission trip (unless you count ‘missions’ for the U.S. Army).
Except for visiting my kids and their families, I’m probably done with adventuring. It could be interesting to see how that plays out with the third generation, however.
Welcome, Mister President.
Many people responded to your electoral victory with exuberant optimism, others with horror and despair. I belong to neither group. You weren’t the candidate I wanted, and you’re not the president I wanted. My emotional response, when the results were clear on election night, was decidedly … mixed: I couldn’t take any real pleasure in your victory, but I took HUGE pleasure in your opponent’s defeat.
Nonetheless, you are the leader of this nation now. And, as I did at the advent of your predecessor, I am listing my hopes for your tenure in office.
I hope that you will put the good of the country ahead of the demands of your own ego, and (even if you are a liberal New York Democrat) that your notion of what constitutes the good of the country has some basis in reality.
I hope you retain your gleeful, unapologetic disdain for political correctness, but as a means of accomplishing things rather than simply as a way to show off.
I hope you understand on a visceral level the difference between those tactics and behaviors necessary to win the presidency, and those necessary to properly serve as President. Your habitual irreverence was a welcome treat when you used it to continually roast the media in their own pretensions; now that you speak for the nation, that needs to be tempered, because you have responsibilities now that you did not then.
You spent your entire career accomplishing things and doing it on a grand scale, even if the ‘things’ and the means used in achieving them were not always entirely admirable. I hope you can bring the same energy, ingenuity, and determination to the tasks facing you now, accompanied by a level of integrity that simply wasn’t necessary in your past life.
I hope you continue doing your best to speak for and champion the people who carried you to victory, but not that you ever begin pandering to the masses.
In essence, I hope you will be every bit as diligent and successful in fulfilling your present responsibilities as you were in acquiring them.
You replaced a terrible President, and prevented an even worse one. For those things alone, you start off with a certain leeway in my estimation. I hope you don’t squander it in ego and arrogance and short-
Above all, I hope the next four years — or more — can be a time of recovery from the damage done to the United States by your predecessor and those carrying his water. For that matter, I hope recovery is possible. America is strong, but has never before been led by someone determined to destroy it (even if he called that destruction by a different name). If the only thing you accomplish is to expunge and eradicate everything that twerp did while in office, you will have my deep and earnest gratitude.
[Advance warning to prospective commenters: I don’t forbid disagreement, but I have no taste right now for being lectured. Mess with me beyond my patience, and I’ll just delete whatever you say that annoys me.]
My sleep pattern is all over the place these days; I had a veterans’ group meeting tonight, and decided to just skip it because it’s a 45-minute drive into town and the same back, and I just didn’t feel like it. The odd little digestive upset that had me sick is diminishing bit by bit every day, but stubbornly refuses to simply vanish. It was nice, though, to have off a couple of days.
Yesterday I bought myself a Kindle Fire; I’d heard about special programs through Amazon that allowed semi-unlimited reading for a small monthly fee, and that would certainly be a lot cheaper than paying paperback prices, while allowing me to avoid the inconvenience of reading from the shelves. (Or of making trips to the library, which while not onerous IS an extra effort.) I’m mostly satisfied, but with a few small irritations.
First, I gave less than full planning to the model I chose, simply opting for the cheapest. Adequate for all my needs, check, but I wear cargo pants as a regular habit and carry an appointment calendar in the pocket on one side and a small notebook in the other. Ideally, the Kindle would have likewise fit in there, so I’d have handy transport for reading during my breaks at work. Nope, too long, so I’ll have to find some other way to carry/
Second, I signed up for an Amazon Prime account, and then discovered that maybe what I wanted was Kindle Unlimited. Even looking it up, it’s difficult to ascertain precisely what the differences are, or whether the features Prime offers are worth enough for me to stay with that rather than switching. I’m not really interested in video content — plenty of access to that at home, from various avenues — and I don’t really buy that much from Amazon, the whole point was to avail myself of free (or very cheap) reading material in convenient form. If anyone can apprise me of the practical differences, I’d be grateful. I’ll probably stick with Prime for now, but might wind up going over to KU later on.
Also, the first book I started reading yesterday? I jettisoned it today after maybe a dozen chapters. It just wasn’t that interesting. Light rom-com-thriller, and I don’t necessarily scorn the genre (especially if it’s free), but this one … well, I don’t really need to justify myself, do I? the plain fact that I was willing to delete it from my list means the storytelling failed to hold me. I hope for better results as I continue to explore.
Yes, tomorrow is a significant day. I’ll probably have something to say about that.
Following various random YouTube links today, I wound up watching something unexpected: a short video depicting a televised match between a female brown belt in Brazilian Jiu-Jitsu and a male judo black belt. Unfortunately, it was part of a Japanese television show, so except for a pre-fight statement by her (which was presumably translated back into Japanese for the audience), I couldn’t understand anything that was being said.
This is less of a handicap in watching a physical contest than in other situations, but it wasn’t negligible. My own background (I spent years in judo, and dabbled enough to get minor ranks in several other arts) allowed me to understand most of what I was seeing, but I was missing some background and completely at sea in the explanatory commentary. It would have been helpful to know a few things, which I didn’t. What rules were being followed? Was the judo player allowed to use only judo techniques, while the BJJ female could call on a somewhat larger repertoire? Had he been handpicked as somebody she probably could beat (because you know, these days, that such contests are set up specifically to make the woman look good)? What was his competition record, his ranking among other judo players? What was hers among BJJ students? Was she actually brown-belt level, or had she been artificially kept there for some purpose? (I’ve seen it happen; at the National Judo Institute, before it went out of business, one of the rising stars was told explicitly that he wouldn’t be promoted to black belt until he’d acquired 100 competition points, or maybe 300; either way, MUCH more than traditionally necessary for such a promotion. This was intended to motivate him and make it clear that he was being held to a very high standard, and seemed to be having that effect on him. It was somewhat unfair to his opponents, though, since the competition points you earn are based on the ranks of those you beat, and keeping his rank artificially low likewise artificially lowered the points acquired by any who managed to defeat him.)
The match itself was decently straightforward. From my perspective — educated, but the education being relatively limited — it seemed clear that he was more skilled than she was at the things they had in common (judo is derived from jujutsu, but concentrates on throwing, some choking techniques, some arm-lock techniques, and some hold-down techniques), but she was at least familiar with what he could do better, while she kept surprising him with things he had to figure out on the spot how to deal with. She was constantly shaping for chokes or joint-locks (not unknown in judo, but BJJ has a much larger range than he would have previously encountered) that he had to work his way out of, and he always managed it but was clearly uncomfortable. She never managed to throw him; he threw her more or less at will, but never could hold her down, which would seem to mean that she was more than usually skilled at turning out of a coming hold-down before it could be properly solidified. The two were not physically equal: he was larger and heavier than she was, and — unless preselected for weakness — would have been stronger as well, and he genuinely seemed to be using his reach and strength to best effect. Likewise, all other things being equal, his higher rank should have indicated greater experience … and, Japan being the number-one nation in judo, there would have been a LOT of competition against a lot of people of varying levels of skill and technique.
The end … I couldn’t tell. They were down, he was on top, the end was called after a few seconds and she got up to return to her corner while he remained on hands and knees looking frustrated … Did she manage to sneak in some fast-acting choke that I wasn’t able to spot? (BJJ people are extremely crafty about such things.) I don’t think so; he didn’t pass out and he didn’t tap out, which means he wouldn’t have been considered vanquished except by some peremptory referee’s call. (Which can happen, but usually there’s explanation and slow-mo replay to make clear what couldn’t be seen from the studio angle; also, she wasn’t acting all celebratory, nor was her coach, they were just straightening her up for whatever came next.) Was the judo guy simply ashamed at not being able to manage better than a stalemate? I truly couldn’t tell what the outcome was or what it was supposed to mean, and that frustrates me.
I’m not passing judgment on either style; I loved judo, and would still be doing it if that were possible. Similarly, I have deep respect for Brazilian Jiu-Jitsu, particularly the Gracie school, and if I could afford it (financially OR physically), that’s what I would want to explore if I attempted to expand beyond judo. The set-up, however, seemed to be intended to make a point, and I’m not sure I agree with it, even if I can figure out what it was.
The most likely intended message was that BJJ is superior to judo. The answer to that is, superior at what? Judo isn’t a martial art or intended as one; it was derived from the traditional Japanese arts to produce a safe and beneficial sport form; hence the name change from jujutsu (‘subtle art’) to judo (‘subtle WAY’), with ‘way’ carrying quasi-spiritual connotations that don’t translate well to a western audience. Superior as a fighting form? But they weren’t fighting; they were in a contest, following some sort of rules even if I didn’t know precisely what those rules were. I am FULLY willing to believe that BJJ is more effective for fighting, though its contests are still in the sporting arena. Put me in an actual fight, and — assuming I wasn’t crushed in the first seconds — I would rely heavily on my judo background but would not for a moment limit myself to approved judo contest techniques; I’d be biting and head-butting and eye-gouging and looking around for improvised weapons and whatever seemed like a good idea at the time, which is not at all what happened in the video. (Nor should it have been; genuine fights are ugly things, and civilized people should not look on them as sport.)
As I say, I figure there must have been a point, and it probably was at least generally spelled out for the people who spoke the language. It may have simply been a novelty event, with the (unknown) rules adjusted specifically to make it more even and interesting. I just don’t know, and that left me mystified and dissatisfied, much like the judo man at the end.
My father and my younger brother were both showing severe hair loss by their late twenties. I passed through the same period of my life with no such problem, and so congratulated myself on having dodged that particular genetic bullet. It didn’t occur to me until several years later (at which point it was brought to my attention by store video that allowed me to see the back of my own head, which I’d previously had no cause to study) that not being subject to premature male pattern baldness was no guarantee at all of immunity to the routine male pattern baldness that so frequently appears in middle age.
Something like that is now at work in my general health. Because I was such a puny, sickly kid growing up, it’s ironic that I turned out to be the healthiest member of my family. My father died of lung cancer when he was 17 years younger than I am now; both brothers had severe GERD — one so bad that, in hopes of relief, he underwent a kind of surgery that is no longer being done — and both have needed prostate surgery. I’m now the eldest member of my family, but I keep ticking along. I’ve never forgotten how old I am, but have frequently forgotten the significance of my age. This was exacerbated when I joined the Army, and found that my efforts to make sure I could keep up with the physical requirements meant that I kept getting better as I got older.
Those days are past. I’m still proceeding without visible let-up (except for weight gain and the fact that I no longer seem to have enough wind to run for more than a minute or so at a time), but I am increasingly aware that such smooth functioning can no longer be taken for granted. I’ve had no premature health problems … but age comes on apace, and decline of some sort is inevitable, and some of it seems to be gradually making its appearance. The aches that I was afraid might prove to be chronic were, after all, only the byproduct of some kind of mild intestinal bug, but the real thing could already be making its appearance, and surely will if I keep on living (which I very much intend to do).
I’ve gone through my life in a certain way, operating on a set of assumptions that I didn’t even realize I was using, and I find it necessary now to remind myself that the paradigm is shifting right under my feet. The adjustments … well, I don’t even know yet what they will turn out to be, but I can be sure that adjustment of some type will be necessary.
It’s the price of living.
The last two shifts I worked, I felt not-good-at-all for the last half of them. My back ached, my knees ached, there was just a general ache all over. In a phone conversation with Susan (in California), I told her I halfway hoped I was getting sick, because I didn’t want to believe that hurting like that was just how it was now. I don’t mind getting older — hope to keep doing it for a long time — but I’d just as soon skip the inconveniences that come with it.
By the time I got home last night, I had chills … so, yeah, sick. The good news was that low-grade misery was not now the new normal; less desirable was that I spent most of the day (a day off, thankfully) in bed.
A morning shift tomorrow, then two days off. I might even get some writing done.
Last night, I had two customers in a row buy cigarettes, one waiting right after the other. I didn’t ID the first, because he looked like he was easily past forty; the second only looked like he was almost certainly old enough (but not absolutely definitely), so I asked for ID. He got indignant about that, demanded to see the manager, and complained about racial profiling …
Yes, he was black. So was the guy before him.
I don’t think those words mean what you think they mean.
As should be eminently clear by now, my introduction to fanfiction came about through the pleasure I took in Buffy the Vampire Slayer. That has stuck with me for over eighteen years by now, and will doubtless last for quite a while to come. And I’ve enjoyed stories in other fandoms, especially since so many of the Buffyfic writers I followed were less single-minded than I am in their areas of interest, even while my primary allegiance remained fixed on the Sunnydale crew.
My first introduction to non-Buffy fanfic — the first I remember, anyway, and certainly the first I remember enjoying — was “Banging Your Head Against a Red-Haired Brick Wall” (X-Files) by Blair Provence. There have been other really good ones over the years; excellent examples include marylane23’s “Hollywood Makeover” (Veronica Mars) and astolat’s “Queen of Spades” (Casino Royale). Those are single-shots, though, and remembered pleasures, not anything to do with anything that’s still going on …
An exception is Chris Dee’s Cat Tales, a collection of Batman/
It’s certainly been worth it for me.