Lonesome Friends of Science

The lonesome friends of science say
The world will end most any day
Well, if it does, then that’s okay
‘Cause I don’t live here anyway
I live down deep inside my head
Well, long ago I made my bed
I get my mail in Tennessee
My wife, my dog and my family

           John Prine


Two extreme and polar-opposite examples in the news recently of what happens when you listen to and follow the advice of engineers and scientists. Or don’t.

First, we learn that in Texas, ignorant short-sighted energy policy designed to maximize profit at all costs resulted in millions of people losing power. The regulators there ignored advice from engineers to upgrade their grid to prepare for extreme weather. People literally froze. Pipes froze and burst. Water supplies were tainted. For more than a week now, millions are suffering and their homes are damaged. Why? Because Texas simply had to go it alone. They disconnected from the federal grid so they did not have to meet federal guidelines to maintain power delivery equipment and services in condition to work in freezing temperatures. And because they disconnected from the federal grid, they were unable to receive power from neighboring states that would have saved lives and minimized the disruption. Because they are Texans and fucking morons, their Governor got on TV and immediately blamed wind turbines and somehow alluded that AOC and the Green New Deal (a policy proposal that is years away from even being considered) contributed to the failures. It was everyone’s fault except Governor Abbot and his bone-headed politically inbred fucktards (including former Secretary of Energy Rick Perry) who saw this exact scenario happen 10 years ago and still refused to do the right thing. Doing the opposite of the right thing has become standard GOP orthodoxy, which is simply mind-boggling. Even more so considering how many people are ignorant enough to believe their lies and misleading rhetoric.

On the other extreme we had a news story of a team of scientists and engineers at Nasa that launched a rocket and a data collecting rover 7 months ago. Then that probe traveled 293 million miles. Yes, 293 million miles. Imagine that. Then, those scientists and engineers slowed that probe from around 24,000 mph, deftly navigated through Mars’ atmosphere and then stuck a perfect landing within about a standard 9-iron distance from their target.

Each day we live in witness of the miracles of science and engineering. And also every day we witness the everyday American idiot with no credentials or experience contradicting scientists or engineers who have devoted their life to a specific discipline. Meghan McCain, who has no quals or credentials of any kind beyond being the daughter of a former Senator and an entitled career based purely on that family relationship, felt the need to call for the firing of Dr. Faucci because in her zero years of infectious disease training she figured that by now someone of her importance should have received a vaccine. No mention of the fact that she and her family supported the GOP who are responsible for the dysfunctional federal response to this pandemic.

I’m aware my language is a little harsh. I don’t mind suffering a fool if they are wandering aimlessly and harmlessly in a void. But in the age of social media, when idiocy can be quickly amplified and distributed, these fools are causing suffering. Hence the harsh rhetoric.

In spite of the enormous conveniences we enjoy thanks to these bright minds and committed individuals, we see our elected officials doing the exact opposite of what our scientists and engineers recommend because a huge part of our population is insecure and threatened by intelligence. And the politicians cater to those stubborn simpletons so they get to remain in power. All to the detriment of our citizens, the people of the planet and earth itself. It’s depressing, but the only real conclusion is that humans are just not yet evolved enough for self-rule. We need a different form of government to protect us from ourselves. We simply are not capable of making rationale collective decisions. The slow but steady and now almost certain destruction of our planet is all the evidence we need. But of course you could add in the 300 million or so people who have died from wars over the past 200 years and even consider as evidence the now 500,000 deaths from COVID in our own country because so many of our politicians chose populism over facts. Or put differently, willful ignorance or simply just doing the exact opposite of what is right. That seems to be our stock in trade.

Finally getting some words down on the novel. Very slow going, but progress. Since I’ve set it aside so long, I have lost my train of thought on some of the peripheral characters and so have to do a lot of re-reading. Some of it is okay. Most of it is not, but I am beginning to get a sense of how to improve it. 

When I wrote SV2SA, it started at over 300,000 words and I think published at 115,000 or something like that. It was the 8th major re-write that finally got published. So a long long journey lies ahead, but I am becoming determined to finish this fucking story. 

It’s easy to talk myself out of writing because as a reader, I can easily recognize the inadequacy of my own writing. But as I did with SV2SA, the trick is to convince myself it is not my job to write the book Steinbeck would write with this raw material. My book is to write the best book I am capable of writing. And to accept that I am not Steinbeck. Steinbeck was never anything but a writer. He is like Springsteen in this respect. He decided early on to be a writer (as did Stegner) and just wrote from an early age. So by the time they got to their 40’s they had two decades of hard writing under their belt and that time honing their craft paid off. It simply takes a long time to become a great writer. I doubt I have enough time left on this planet, but especially considering that work consumes the bulk of my time and my emotional energy. Add in a little MYO work, exercise, time to cook and care for house chores, a little time on earth-explore camper business and a little time on building a canoe and writing just barely fits in a little here and there.

Of course in full disclosure, I also seem to find time to drink whiskey, occasionally smoke a good cigar, and enjoy some companionship once in a while.

But even this blog is important in terms of getting words down. Knowing that a few dozen people are reading makes me take it more seriously than if I was just keeping a journal. Hone that craft man! Get your shit tight. 

So I’m up most mornings by 5:00. Quick walk with the dog. I’ve pretty much licked my newspaper addiction so now I skip that ritual and get to the desk with coffee press and get right to the novel. At lunch and when I can grab a few minutes, I work on the editing and re-writing of SV2SA because that requires less concentration. Once I get that work done, I will need to set aside a couple of weekends to do the audio recording. I listened to a couple of dozen professionals to see about hiring someone to read it, but I think I prefer my own style of emphasis over their mostly bland and monotone deliveries. 

I had to take the big dog to the vet yesterday for a check up. He’s been scratching a lot and has an allergy of some sort. I had forgotten that dog ownership includes writing a check for $200/month or so.

The weather has broken, at least for the time being. It is high 40’s today with intermittent sunshine which is melting the snow quickly. So that’s nice.

Our little Namibia support scheme continues to roll on. Sue is delivering a basket of food and supplies to another family today. The work continues–thanks to a combination of Sue’s time and energy and a few good people around the world sending money.

Leave with another Bukowski poem. He’s reared up again in my soul for awhile–as he does from time to time.

No other news of note.

Humbly submitted.

there is a loneliness in this world so great
that you can see it in the slow movement of
the hands of a clock.

people so tired
either by love or no love.

people just are not good to each other
one on one.

the rich are not good to the rich
the poor are not good to the poor.

we are afraid.

our educational system tells us
that we can all be
big-ass winners.

it hasn’t told us
about the gutters
or the suicides.

or the terror of one person
aching in one place

unspoken to

watering a plant.”

                                                  ― Charles Bukowski – Love is a Dog From Hell

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