Life advice from an old person
Personal life advice
More here as I think of it.
Trumpism has destroyed not only national politics, but all governance.
Trumpism (or MAGA) has taught people that if they don’t like a
democratic outcome, they can just ignore it, call it corrupt,
manipulated, bogus, etc. If the result of an election isn’t the
“right” one, it must have been manipulated by the other side.
This attitude has trickled down to where even small organizations
are seeing this. A club I belong to, with about 2000 members,
has a significant demographic who believe the Board of Directors
are corrupt, are “making decisions in secret”, are stealing from
the treasury, and more.
The people making these claims don’t have any SPECIFIC claim, just
undifferentiated kvetching. Basically, whining for whining’s sake.
I don’t have an answer, except perhaps mandatory civics classes for
all citizens every 10 years until they die.
The Anti-Science Party
We already know that the Republican Party is anti-science. Given a choice between following the data and doing the wrong thing, they will choose the wrong thing every single time. Because their paymasters, the fossil fuel industry, don’t want to pivot to renewable fuels, we are heading to our inevitable demise as the planet heats up. None of this is news in 2020.
Something occurred to me recently, however, as I watched the Republican Party embrace every wrong idea possible with respect to the Covid-19 pandemic. We are getting to see the disaster that is the pandemic as a preview of the disaster of global warming, but this will transpire in a year or two, not fifty to one hundered years.
Easily 50 years ago, people recognized that pouring CO2 into the atmosphere was going to cause problems with the climate. For decades, we’ve had people who know nothing about the climate claim that global warming is a hoax, a plot to ruin something or other, etc. Now, in 2020, we can clearly see the writing on the wall, and it’s not at all clear if civilization will survive global warming, even if a miracle occurs and the people of Earth get serious about CO2 emissions.
The parallel is this: about 5 months ago, people recognized that there was a potential for a pandemic as a highly contagious disease spread through Wuhan province in China. For most of that time, we’ve had people who know nothing about medicine or epidemiology claim that the virus is a hoax, a plot to ruin the economy or hurt Trump or the Chinese Communist Party or whatever. Now, in late April 2020, we can clearly see that the pandemic is real, and that if we’re extremely lucky, we may survive it, only to die when civilization collapses from global warming.
We will be able to see, in a year to 18 months, the entire arc of a disaster unfold. It will be a disaster because of the Anti-Science Party. Had qualified people been in charge of the problem (pandemic, global warming), it wouldn’t have risen to the level of “disaster”.
Bill Dudley April 24, 2020 New Jersey
Current state of the Union
It doesn’t matter what crackpot theories the Right has about the investigation. It doesn’t matter if some FBI agent’s wife’s cousin worked for the Clinton campaign. It doesn’t matter if the Right likes the Steele Dossier or not, it exists and nothing in it has been proven incorrect. Mostly, it has proven to be accurate. Further, despite the claims of the Right, that isn’t the sole reason there’s been an investigation of Trump and the election.
Here are the undisputed facts:
Several people in Trump’s campaign, and his lawyer, have turned state’s evidence
The Senate Intelligence Committee, which is majority Republican and chaired by a Republican, agrees that Russia attacked our election. Our security services (FBI, etc) are also unanimous on this point.
One or more Russians have given evidence of this, and one (Maria Butina) is in a jail somewhere.
The head of the National Enquirer has turned state’s evidence because he doesn’t want to do prison time for his role in throwing the election. This is related to the Cohen/payments to women story. There are now multiple women with the same story. I don’t care about the extramarital affairs, and neither does the government. The crime is paying the women off to keep them from talking during the election.
Trump confessed on Fox News (broadcast this morning) to making at least one of these payoffs. This is a felony that he just confessed to. On national TV. And of course, Cohen, during his plea deal, specifically said “the candidate ordered me to make these payoffs”. This is not some Democrat who worked on the Clinton campaign — this is Cohen, Trump’s “fixer”. Trumps confession on live TV agrees with Cohen’s statement before the judge.
So they’re all going to jail. All of Trump’s family (except Barron), and many other people who contributed to the stealing of the election.
Remember, there is real evidence. Testimony of multiple people (Cohen, National Enquirer guy, Michael Flynn, George Papadapolous, Maria Butina, etc. etc.), emails, and even videos (of Trump and Rudy confessing to various crimes on TV). Just because some of the people in the FBI are Democrats doesn’t mean they’re just creating this evidence out of thin air. The evidence is real, and there’s an overwhelming amount of it.
Oh, and the Russians are everywhere in this. They’re tied to the NRA, they’re hacking the DNC’s computers, they’re hacking state election systems, they’re having meetings with the Trump campaign before the election to get promises that the sanctions will be lifted, and they’re “loaning” money to the Trump organization at a furious rate. The meeting at Trump Tower, where the Russians offered the hacked DNC emails, will be another source of felonies. I’m not even going to get into the constantly changing story on that meeting (“didn’t happen” → “it was about adoption” → “Trump didn’t know about it” → “Trump knew but it wasn’t a crime”).
Addendum: August 24 2018To quote the Palmer Report, because they say it so succintly: Trump Organization CFO Allen Weisselberg was granted immunity by federal prosecutors in exchange for his testimony before the Michael Cohen grand jury… .Weisselberg will have to … give up all of Donald Trump’s … financial secrets.
Bill Dudley August 23, 2018 New Jersey
We’ll never have our “Star Trek” utopia
Science fiction, and specifically Star Trek, has proposed a future “free from want”, where technology has given us free energy, and replicators and synthesizers that can create any material, including food, from energy (or magic). As a result, man does not need to work; the struggle for survival is ended, and man can concentrate on exploring space.
Sadly, we will never see this utopia.
We will see unlimited free energy, of course; that’s nearly here. Between solar, wind, tidal, geothermal, and hydro electricity, we’re on steady course to have as much energy as we want. Sure, it’ll take time and money to build all the infrastructure, but that’s happening.
Coal as an energy source in the US is just about dead, and I think oil will be right behind it. Natural gas will take longer to replace, as it’s cheap and burns “relatively” cleanly. On the other hand, once (or if) people wake up to the danger of fracking, natural gas may suddenly find itself with coal, relegated to museums.
With unlimited energy, you can grow as much food as you want, if you’re willing to stop eating beef (except lab-grown beef) and grow your vegetables and chicken feed in hydroponic farms. Machines can certainly handle most farming tasks if you’re growing things in tanks indoors. So farm labor will become “program the robots” instead of “plow the field”.
So why won’t we have our utopia?
Because everything will be owned by 6 guys, and they will continue to insist that we all have “jobs” so we can make money to pay for food and energy. Of course, as now, there will not be enough jobs. Hell, there may not be ANY jobs, once the the solar cells are installed and robots are all programmed.
We are already well on our way to being an oligarchy, and there is no sign that the trend will change. As long as the super rich can get people to vote against their own interests by getting them excited about trans people using the “wrong” bathroom, we are only going to see an increase in income inequality, until everything is owned by a handful of people.
Bill Dudley March 9, 2017 New Jersey
No Surprises; Avoiding “Accidents” on the Road
The reader is excused for thinking it ironic that “Crash Dudley” is writing a safety article, but who better to write about crashes than one who has had a few?
There is one thing that I can remember from each time I’ve had a motor vehicle accident. I was surprised; shocked, even, that a good day was about to become a very bad day. One minute, I’m riding (or driving; doesn’t matter) along, thinking about “things”, and the next, I find myself going sideways, or head over heels.
Afterwards, (could be seconds, could be longer), I realize, with a shock, that I was sharing the road with something of which I was completely unaware. Usually another vehicle where I didn’t expect there to be one; sometimes a non-vehicle, like, to pick something completely at random, a wheel barrow.
Sometimes I have had this surprise moment without everything going pear-shaped. I get the surprise, but not the crash. (I may need to change my undies, however.) At those times, I realize how lucky I was; had I taken a slightly different path, that surprise could have put me on the ground, but I lucked out and “dodged the bullet.” These are also moments when I re-evaluate whether or not I should be riding, whether or not I should be carrying my wife as passenger.
The advice here is obvious. Avoid surprises. Like the training stresses, keep your “head on a swivel”. Check your mirrors regularly. ALWAYS do a head check before a lane change or pulling out onto a road. Don’t assume that the lane next to you is clear, just because you don’t think someone has caught up to you in the last 10 minutes. Try to assume the worst; not only that “they” are out to kill you, but that “they” are randomly creating threats when you aren’t looking.
If you can avoid surprises, then I believe that you can avoid “accidents”. Even a loss of traction is a surprise; you assumed you had more of it then you did. You gambled with physics, and physics won. Surprise!
I hope you all have totally unsurprising rides from here on.
Bill Dudley July 1, 2016 New Jersey
Taking better photos with a “cheap” camera
I’m not much of a photographer, and I’ve mostly shied away from buying and using a “real” camera. I use my (smart) phone now, but I used to use a point and shoot. My photos have tended to be “documentation” rather than “art”.
However, in the last few years I have stumbled upon some small things that have improved my photos to the point where about every 20th one is almost worth printing and framing.
The simplest change you can make is to stop framing the photo with the object of interest front and center, filling the frame, as if you’re documenting a crime scene. Instead, try to make your photos assymetrical; the interesting waterfall on the left, with smaller, less important features filling the right two thirds of the frame.
Those of you who have just said to themselves “hah- rule of thirds” are excused from further homework on this topic. The rest of you should read this: https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Rule_of_thirds.
There’s a second interesting thing you can do to make “good” photos, but first, a bit of theory.
The human visual system is a lot more mysterious and sophisticated than most people know. What you think is happening is that your eyes act like little video cameras, the “video” goes to your brain, and your brain analyses that “video” feed.
The reality is much more complex. Your brain is actually creating a “virtual reality” that is what it thinks is “out there”. The eyes are commanded to move about, collecting small snap shots in various directions, and these snapshots are stitched together inside your brain to create this “virtual picture” of what’s “out there”. Your brain makes assumptions on what is important, what is likely to change, what is likely to remain static, and most importantly, what is likely to be a threat.
This is the reason for “S.M.I.D.S.Y” (Sorry, Mate, I Didn’t See Ya) accidents. The car driver turns left in front of you because his brain didn’t register your motorcycle as “interesting” or “threatening”, so it didn’t get “painted” into the virtual image in the driver’s brain. So he “didn’t see you”. His eyes may have scanned over you, but his brain didn’t record the information because the driver didn’t make “look for motorcycles” a priority.
For a (probably better) explanation of the above, read this: https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Visual_perception
How does this apply to photographs? Imagine you are standing at a scenic overlook, being amazed at the grand scene before you. Your focus moves around over the entire panorama, settling on each interesting detail, then moving on to the next one. You whip out your camera and press the shutter. Later, you get home, and look at the picture. Bleah. Boring. What happened to the wonderful panorama?
My “theory” is that when you are standing at the overlook, taking in the scene, the fact that you can focus on smaller “sub-sections” of the entire scene is what makes the scene interesting. In other words, it’s not the entire panorama that grabs your attention; it’s small details in the greater scene that make it interesting.
My “solution” to this is to use the “zoom” function on my camera to limit the scope of my photo to some interesting detail. Even the “digital zoom” on smart phones will work here; sure, it throws away the pixels outside of the zoomed area, thus reducing the number of pixels in the photo, but with today’s cameras taking pictures that are well over 10Mbit, that no longer matters as much.
Experiment with these methods. “Film” is cheap; take lots of shots.
But don’t forget to enjoy your trip. Don’t see everything through the viewfinder.
Bill Dudley June 30, 2016 New Jersey
This Is Why We Can’t Have Nice Things
In New Jersey, municipalities cannot raise money except via property
Republican state legislators and our Republican governor will not raise
They aren’t really keeping up. The roads steadily deteriorate and are just
If the town raises property taxes enough to keep up with the maintenence,
I remember when the people in this country understood that one has to pay
Bill Dudley March 13, 2016 New Jersey
The End of Compromise
The first time I noticed that compromise was finished was when I became aware
Of course, rational people will realize that this is silly; banning teflon coated bullets does not necessarily lead to a total ban on firearms.
Today’s example is The National Center on Sexual Exploitation (NCOSE) claiming that the American Library Association is “pro-porn” and “pro-obscenity” because the ALA has fought against mandatory internet filters in libraries. In other words, if you’re not 100% in agreement with NCOSE about every nuance of their every position, you’re the enemy. Never mind free speech, the Bill of Rights, etc.
Bill Dudley March 4, 2016 New Jersey
Own Your Hatred
At Christmas time, about a year ago, I was listening to the annual radio play presentation of “A Christmas Carol” on my local PBS station. I was struck by the similarity of Scrooge’s speech about contributing to the poor with current right-wing rhetoric about helping the poor. This was my Facebook post from December 21, 2013:
Compare this quote from Dicken’s “A Christmas Story”:
So, that’s it. The quote from “A Christmas Carol”, and a suggestion that the reader compare Scrooge’s speech with “Republican/Tea Party statements about food stamps, etc”. Oh, and a “Merry Christmas”, to keep it festive.
I didn’t think this very controversial. I didn’t call out anyone, nor did I even accuse “Republican/Tea Party” types of being heartless, even though they are.
Imagine my surprise when an acquaintance (of many years) of mine messaged me to tell me that his and his father’s (also a Facebook “friend”) feelings were hurt by my post. I quote (in part): “Your post was deeply offensive to me and my dad… . This country, myself included, has descended into the kind of hateful broad brush insult speech that prevents any kind of actual discourse. I hate to see it but this faceless means of hurling vitriol encourages it. Many people truly need the assistance they receive. But many, especially in big cities, have never worked and never will.”
To mis-quote Carly Simon: “You probably think this post is about you.”
I was surprised by my friend’s message, and also mystified. “Vitriol” ? I merely suggested that the reader compare Scrooge’s speech with “Republican/Tea Party statements” about the needy. I didn’t even say they said the same thing, although this is what I believe.
So, this “friend”, “un-friended” me. Not a great loss, we weren’t all that close. But I still reflect back on this event, even two years later.
… And I had an epiphany. I think, that if you’re going to advocate starving the needy, destroying Planned Parenthood, repealing the Affordable Healthcare Act (a.k.a. Obamacare), keeping the minimum wage low so workers at the bottom can never ever get ahead, and all the other things designed to punish those less fortunate than yourself, then you should just own it. Stop trying to convince others of your Christian values. Own your hatred of the poor.
Before you start writing me angry letters: yes, I know, there are bad people collecting benefits and milking the system. But not everbody on public assistance, nor even the majority of those people, are doing this. The laws and regulations designed to “keep people off welfare” affect everybody. Friends of mine who are legimately disabled, are constantly being asked to prove, over and over and over again, that they are disabled. They’re constantly having their benefits taken away, until they can once more, prove disability, as if it’s not a hellish enough existance just being sick and in pain all the time.
So, spare me the stories of people living the life of Riley on public assistance. You can never prevent all fraud. Making the lives of those who need assistance more miserable will not stop fraud. It just makes people miserable.
Bill Dudley February 8, 2016 New Jersey
What’s wrong with new motorcycles, Part I
I have subscribed to (Rider,Motorcyclist) magazines for a long time — 20 or more years, if the amount of shelf space with back issues is any indication. During that time, I’ve been happy to read about new bikes, retro bikes, gear reviews, the occasional odd-ball feature, even the advertising.
I have let my subscription lapse, and I thought you should know why.
One reason is that I’ve retired, and now find myself busier than ever, doing all the things I never had time for when I was working. I’m doing way more riding (16,000+ miles this year), plus participating more in local clubs (president of one, webmaster for another, etc).
The main reason I let my subscription lapse is that I find myself skipping over large portions of the magazine. I just don’t care about new bikes anymore. At the risk of sounding like “you kids get off my lawn”, I find most new bikes to be horrifically ugly. I’m not sure why all designers find the need to operate in lock-step, but when one manufacturer adopts a design aesthetic, all the rest quickly follow.
(I know why they’re in lock-step. A new design idea sells, and everybody else copies it, hoping they’ll sell, too.)
(My comments are about non-cruisers. There isn’t anything I like about cruisers, so I’ve always ignored them.)
The current design aesthetic, which for a better name I call “many pointy facets”, makes all of the current crop of bikes look like robots from Japanese anime. The bikes have lots of spiky projections, to the point that I cannot look at a bike and see its shape. It’s too “busy” for me to find the outline of the bike.
See the images below for an example.
I realize that retro bikes (and genuine vintage bikes) are my “market”. The Royal Enfield, Triumph Bonneville family, etc etc are just fine. But the announcement of yet another small tweak to the Enfield isn’t much of a story, so most of the content is about new bikes, and rightly so. I just don’t want to read about them anymore.
Thanks for 25 years of good reading.
Update 2016 02 03
Oh, irony of ironies. This letter to the editor of Motorcyclist was chosen as their “letter of the month” for the April 2016 issue.
More of my thoughts on the subject of “what’s wrong with new bikes” here.
2015 BMW GS
What’s wrong with new motorcycles, Part II
After being notified of my “letter of the month” accolade for my previous rant on this subject, I was relating the story to my wife, when I realized another strong design “theme” (I’m not sure what word to use) that describes the modern motorcycle design esthetic. But first, some history.
Around World War I, people were experimenting with ways to camouflage ocean going war ships: dreadnaughts, destroyers, etc. How do you hide a really big floating metal boat?
If you try to paint it “sky colored”, you still have the problem of the shadow, the paint not matching “the sky”, so just painting it one color (or two, split at the horizon) isn’t very effective.
One solution that became hugely popular during World War I is called dazzle. The idea is to paint “crazy” black and white stripes, triangles, etc. all over the ship. Up close, it looks insane; how will this ever be “camouflage” ?
However, when viewed from afar, a funny thing happens. The black and white shapes “break up” the “boat shape” so that the human eye can no longer see “a boat”. Since the (presumed enemy) lookout is looking for a boat (ship, whatever), but their brain cannot see “boat”, the dazzle camouflaged ship is rendered invisible.
This brings me back to motorcycles. The modern design aesthetic breaks up the surface of the motorcycle into many facets, shapes and colors. At least in my case, I can no longer “see” the shape of the motorcycle. I see the two tires; I see the place that my ass goes, and where I hold on; but the rest of it is just noise. I cannot figure out where the bodywork ends and the front fender begins.
For me, this ruins the motorcycle. How can I sit in a lawn chair at a rally and enjoy looking at my bike if I can’t even see my bike?
It also occurs to me that when motorcyclists are constantly struggling for better visibility (so as not to get run over by inattentive car and truck drivers), the last thing we want to be riding is a vehicle that is designed to be invisible. As it is, car drivers are looking for “cars and trucks”, not “all possible vehicles”, but designing the bike to not even look like a bike can’t be helping matters.See the images below for an example.
February 3, 2016
2010 BMW S1000RR
HMS Kildangan (1917)
Political Mind Control
I have evidence that the powers in Washington, DC are under some
When was the last time that the Republicans in Congress agreed with President
And yet, that is exactly what has happened, after the mind-control device
President Obama, however, asked Congress for “Fast Track Authority”, which
Why would they give up power to President Obama? Why would they ever
I know how it works, too. The name of the mind control device is “money”.
Do you like the meat you buy in the supermarket to be labeled with what
The TPP says that if your government passes a law, that, for example,
Bill Dudley January 6, 2016 New Jersey
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