The Last Days of May

I’ve gotten involved in yet another gun culture/control discussion with my “neighbors” on NextDoor. You’d think I would learn. But 90%-ish of people aren’t really willing to discuss. They just have a POV they want to hammer home.

I’ll be back in KY this weekend, and it’s supposed to be hot. That’ll be a real change from Socal, where it’s cool (borderline cold) and damp again. Groundhog Day. I know the sun will get here eventually, but geez.

On cameras, I’ve pretty well decided to get rid of my expensive Fuji gear and just stick with the iPhone 14, plus what’s called a bridge camera. It does one of the only things the iPhone won’t do, and that’s take pictures with a high magnification optical zoom. Something like the Nikon P1000 or the Canon SX-70. I’m leaning toward the Canon. 65x zoom oughta be enough.

Don’t know exactly what’s going on with Tesla, but they broke the $200 barrier a couple of days this week. Not quite high enough for me to consider cashing out, but it’s going the right direction. My Tesla buy a year ago was really poor timing. There’s a reason I use index funds and a professional brokerage team. I suck at stock picking.

And finally, given the date, I can’t help but hear this great song in my head – Blue Oyster Cult, The Last Days of May. Best BOC song ever.

They’re okay the last days of May, but I’ll be breathin’ dry air
I’m leaving soon, the others are already there (all there)
You wouldn’t be interested in coming along, instead of staying here?
It’s said the West is nice this time of year, that’s what they say

That’s what they say….

Homeschool culture

This Washington Post article about the homeschooling culture in America is a real eye-opener. It reveals generations of families living an explicit blueprint for furtherance of a patriarchal, backward, religious culture. I didn’t realize the homeschool culture had these roots, though I recognize a lot of the brainwashing they put their children through.

This story of Aaron and Christina and how they lost faith in the all-or-nothing patriarchal system is uplifting and scary. For every couple like them, there are probably dozens who don’t escape the brainwashing. And it all started because they questioned the dogma of punishment – they just didn’t think they could beat their children the way they had been beaten. From the article:

Now, on the threshold of parenthood — Christina would become pregnant within two weeks of their wedding on Sept. 29, 2012 — the couple’s reservations about “chastisement” could no longer be ignored. As a wedding gift, they said, Aaron’s brother and sister-in-law had given them “To Train Up a Child,” by the popular Christian home-schooling authors Michael and Debi Pearl.

The Pearls advocate hitting children with tree branches, belts and other “instruments of love” to instill obedience, and recommend that toddlers who take slowly to potty training be washed outdoors with cold water from a garden hose. Their book advocates “training sessions” in which infants, as soon as they are old enough to crawl, are placed near a desired object and repeatedly struck with a switch if they disobey commands not to touch it.

The Pearls have defended their methods, saying they are not meant to encourage brutality and, when properly applied, reduce the frequency with which parents must later discipline their kids.

Aaron and Christina did not follow the Pearls’ advice when their first child, Ezra, was born. Nor did they take on authoritarian roles with their second, Aimee, or third, Oliver. All were home-schooled, albeit in less isolation than their parents: Christina joined co-ops with other Christian mothers in Northern Virginia.

“When it came time for me to hit my kids, that was the first independent thought I remember having: ‘This can’t be right. I think I’ll just skip this part.’”— Aaron Beall

After that first independent thought, they began to question other parts of the rigid dogma. They’ve ended up happy and still religious, just not on the same closed-minded track as their parents.

For me that first independent thought was the realization that I had been taught that most of humanity, currently and all throughout the past, would be consigned to burn in hell forever because they didn’t explicitly “accept Jesus”. Even if they had never heard the name. I questioned that with my pastor, who told me that my college education (I was a freshman) was eroding my faith and that I should take care, lest I join those unfortunates in hell. I just couldn’t accept that – it’s an evil, crazy notion – and from that beginning I questioned everything about religion.

This article really spoke to me. I got a strong dose of religious dogma three times a week (Sunday morning, Sunday evening, and Wednesday evening) for at least 15 years. Plus the dreaded revivals, taking us to long shouty church services every night for a solid week. I know my parents meant well, but when I look back at those thousands of hours (average 5 hours/week x 52 weeks x 15 years = 3900 hours, as a low estimate) spent in useless religion propaganda sessions, I’m sad for that part of my past. So much could have been accomplished with that time.

Cold holiday

It’s Memorial Day today, and there are way too many people on my memorial list this year. I suppose that’s what the day is for, a sober/somber reflection on those who have gone before us. And trepidation about when our turn might be.

Given that, we’ve got the perfect weather here today. It’s a crypt-chilly, clammy 60 degrees at noon, overcast and damp. We traditionally have May gray and June gloom right about now, but this is extreme. Good day to stay inside and watch a movie.

Good news

I’ve been reading about this guy for years – the Texas AG is a serial criminal. He finally went too far and the TX legislature impeached him, removed him from office. Good for them! Paxton is a slimy excuse for a human being and deserves to be jailed, deported, sent to a CIA black site, etc.

More good news today – the deal on the debt ceiling doesn’t sound so bad to me, so it should make MAGA-land unhappy. There should never have been a negotiation, but just getting that uncertainty out of economists’ and bankers’ minds will be helpful. And now we return you to our regular programming.

And for the trifecta – the Trump campaign finally does something good for the world. Here’s Ron Desanctimonious deepfaked as Michael Scott in The Office. Hilarious.

Brain mush

Another groggy morning, another night of poor sleep. This shit is getting old. It’s downright debilitating – my brain is mush and my mood is, well, not good. Happy Memorial Day weekend.

At least I’m not flying this weekend. The news coverage of airport lines on Th and Fr looked like a real shitshow. Don’t need that.

I started watching Citadel on Amazon, and I really wanted to like it. I just can’t get past all the stupid. An injection that encodes all your memories up to a point and then restores them for those with amnesia? A computer file with all the launch codes for all the nukes in the world? Stanley Tucci as a master hacker who can access any computer system from his van or the wilds of Wyoming, no matter how strong the system’s protection? All these plot devices are really bad. I might watch one more episode (two under my belt so far), but if they introduce one more stupid idea, I’m out. I would probably be better off watching Succession, anyway. See what all the hubbub is about.

I’m with Tiedrich today – most days, actually. Biden should just instruct Treasury to pay the nation’s bills and ignore the debt ceiling bullshit. I would love to see the wailing and gnashing of teeth when that happens. Don’t negotiate with terrorists.

Two SOBs in the news

The walls are closing in on 45, our first SOB. I think this crime is the one that’ll take him down. He played hide and seek with classified documents and the FBI has witnesses with details.

A deal will have to be cut. He can’t go to a regular prison (the Secret Service protection is a real problem), but he can be restricted to his property, fined, his passport taken, and he can be kept from ever holding public office again. I would want more, but I’ll settle for a conviction. No one is above the law.


This news just makes me sad. And angry. The Supreme Court just weakened the EPA’s ability to regulate for clean water. The EPA is/was one of the best things that ever happened to a modern industrial society – clean air, clean water and control of poisons are just common sense. I don’t know who abused Sam Alito as a child, but he sure is one hateful SOB. The Roberts court is out of control – who the fuck gave them the right to rewrite a law passed by Congress so as to change the outcome. That *not* how the Court is supposed to work. Congress passes laws, and the Court decides if the laws infringe on Constitutional rights. If it does infringe, they strike it down and send it back to Congress for action. They don’t rewrite the damn thing to fit an agenda. But that’s exactly what the Alito gang did.

Dumb and dumber

Gun violence isn’t funny. But I can’t help but laugh a little about this Kentucky incident where no one got killed. An old man shot his roommate in the ass for eating the last Hot Pocket. I think this might be Peak Redneck.

Something even funnier – Desantis’ abortive campaign launch on Twitter. A complete meltdown. I suppose he and Musk will call it a “rapid unplanned disassembly”. Someone’s campaign manager should be looking for a job.

Here’s one that’s not funny. Not content with banning books, the Florida Taliban has decided that Amanda Gorman’s poetry is hate speech and should be restricted in schools. Here’s the passage that one deluded person claims is coded racism and hateful:

We’ve braved the belly of the beast. 
We’ve learned that quiet isn’t always peace, 
And the norms and notions of what “just is”
Isn’t always justice.

And yet the dawn is ours before we knew it.
Somehow, we do it.
Somehow, we’ve weathered and witnessed
A nation that isn’t broken, but simply

Yeah, that’s some hateful prose right there. One person (!) had a complaint, and now school kids won’t be able to read Gorman’s elegant poetry. This is minority rule in the extreme. What happened to the First Amendment? We’re letting idiots decide what speech can be published and available in schools. Someone needs to take Florida by the shirt, shake them and get their attention – wake up!

Left coast

I hit the ground running hard upon returning to Socal. After a delayed flight (thanks Southwest), we arrived home at 11pm, or 2am in the time zone we departed. Long day.

Today I had an 8am meeting, then other meetings downtown in the afternoon. Before the 8am, I spent a while texting back and forth with an old friend who is fighting for his life (cancer). It was great chatting with him, and of course I hate the hand life has dealt him. We both love music, and we compared notes on David Gilmour and Tame Impala video concerts. I hope we get to watch some together.

The continuing cool damp weather in Socal has created a superbloom of every plant and weed around here. It’s weird seeing the topography like this – so green, so damp. Maybe San Diego becomes the new Seattle, and vice versa. I’d be OK with that. Minus the Starbucks.

Hasta luego

Today is a clean up, button up the house and travel day. We’ve had the pleasure of some of the best weather I’ve ever seen in KY. Consistently sunny and cool, low humidity. Don’t know what we did to deserve it, but it has been great,

In Socal it’ll be just the opposite. Wade through the piles of mail, do some financial updates and re-occupy the house. In addition it’s time to spray the olive grove with clay to keep what should be a bumper crop of olives intact (see Olive Fly, the Satan of insects). That’s a 2-3 day work project, done twice per season. The amazing olive oil at the end makes the work worth it.

We took one last long ride yesterday at Beckley Creek Park out by Valhalla (I’ve been referring to it as Floyd’s Fork, which isn’t quite correct). The Parklands contain the best bike trails I’ve seen anywhere. Nothing like them in our part of Socal.

And we had one last meal at Taco Choza, this time trying their burrito bowls. Highly recommended.

I’m sure that when I’m back in June the weather won’t be so perfect. But these guys will still be around.

Foody notes

New Louisville eateries visited this trip – it’s a bigger list than usual:

  • Gander – Have only tried the black and blue salad with steak, and it was excellent. Worth a visit.
  • Corner Kitchen (Asheville) – Good not great. Probably will try somewhere else if/when we visit again.
  • Cultured – Recommended, great charcuterie!
  • Hauck’s – Good atmosphere, bad food.
  • Copper and Kings – Great Sunday brunch on the rooftop, but limited menu.
  • Le Relais (not really new, but haven’t been there in years) – Absolutely great meal and great wine list. Probably the best of the trip. Recommended, but expensive.
  • Steak and Bourbon – Only had the wedge salad, but it was very good. Disappointing wine list.
  • Condado Tacos – Meh. Not great.
  • Taco Choza – Recommended, really liked their food.

Also visited some of the old reliables including Joella’s, Burger Girl, Gelato Gilberto, Blue Dog, Big Bad Breakfast and Con Huevos. They didn’t disappoint. As usual, we didn’t cook much while here. So many restaurants, so little time.

Bike crazy

We’ve been all over the place biking this trip. The list includes:

  • Hurstborne
  • Cherokee Park
  • Iroquois Park
  • Waverly Park (not recommended)
  • Seneca Park
  • St Matthews neighborhoods
  • Broad Run and Turkey Run
  • Floyd’s Fork
  • Anchorage Village
  • Biltmore Estate in Asheville
  • Various side streets around Frankfort Avenue

And I’m sure I’m forgetting somewhere. One factor is we’re renting a minivan, a first for me. I always made fun of minivans, but it makes loading and unloading the e-bikes so easy. Every other option (mostly SUVs) requires completely folding up the bikes and horsing them around to get them into a small cargo area. Not so with the minivan – just fold down the handlebars, lean them against the sides of the cargo area and bungee them in. Easy and fast.

And the weather has been perfect for biking. We’ve covered 150+miles. Louisville is a biking mecca.

Just pay the bills, morons

Congress’ idiotic negotiations over paying our already-incurred debts is getting old. Misdirection, lies and bad faith abound. From Letters From An American today:

Yesterday the far-right House Freedom Caucus called for an end to any discussions of raising the debt ceiling until the Senate passes its bill calling for extreme budget cuts. Today, former president Trump announced on his social media channel that “REPUBLICANS SHOULD NOT MAKE A DEAL ON THE DEBT CEILING UNLESS THEY GET EVERYTHING THEY WANT (Including the ‘kitchen sink’).” THAT’S THE WAY THE DEMOCRATS HAVE ALWAYS DEALT WITH US. DO NOT FOLD!!!”

(In reality, Congress raised the debt ceiling without conditions three times when Trump was president as Trump added an astonishing almost $7.8 trillion to the national debt, much of it thanks to his tax cuts for the wealthy and corporations before the coronavirus pandemic hit.) 

Immediately after Trump’s demand, the Republicans walked away from negotiations over the budget that they are demanding before they will vote to raise the debt ceiling. 

Then, hours later, they came back to the table. 

Meanwhile, the headline in the Washington Post read: “World watches in disbelief and horror as U.S. nears possible default.” The story by Rachel Siegel and Jeff Stein revealed that at the meeting of the G7 leaders in Hiroshima, Japan, this week, the finance ministers for the G7—Canada, France, Germany, Italy, Japan, the United Kingdom, and the European Union—have been pulling U.S. Treasury Secretary Janet Yellen aside to ask her what is going to happen.

“Around the world,” Siegel and Stein write, “experts have been watching in disbelief as the U.S. flirts with its first default, fearful of the potential international economic ramifications—and astonished by the global superpower’s brush with self-sabotage.”

Heather Cox Richardson

Biden should just go ahead and invoke the 14th Amendment clause and tell these asshats to go do something productive.