Don’t Be Sad

I was playing chess against a gentleman from Turkey. He had a low rating, but I knew better than to expect poor play. When playing chess on line, the things a player relies upon vanish. A person could have a 1400 rating and annihilate me, which used to drive me over the edge into deep, deep psychosis, until I realized the score. People use computer programs, or engines, to win. When they employ such a device, it is as though they are a 2600 level-player. That makes me sad, but there is at least one other possibility: You’ll look at their profile and their recent games, and notice they’ve lost the last 30 matches. That is a red flag, too. For some reason, people like to deflate their rating and beat higher rated players in some sadistic trap. I hate those people.

This Turkish gentleman beat me a few times in a row with, at first, reckless play that kept finishing with inhuman accuracy. I lost my mind repeatedly. I realized something at this point, however. It is not unheard-of to be in a position where the obvious moves are also the best moves. Suffice it to say, anyone can look good in a won position. I learned long ago never to accuse your opponent of using an engine, not because you don’t want to offend him, but because you don’t want to compliment his play in case he was not sing an engine. I have been the beneficiary of such attacks, as many people have accused me of using a program when I was not, and it had the two-pronged effect of boosting my ego and diminishing him. I laughed many times like an evil king at these accusations, flung at me from all corners of the world including the Vatican.

It is important to identify the possibility that you are playing like a patzer bum, and lack of vision vaults the opponent to a place of esteem in your teeny mind. when I was routinely drunk, that was comically recurrent. I shall stand now.

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Just Some Quick Thoughts.

The United States possesses the world’s largest single national economy. The US nominal GDP was estimated to be $16.6 trillion in June of 2013, which is roughly one quarter of the nominal global GDP. The nominal GDP is the market value of all final goods and services from a nation in a year. When a PPP comparison is made adjusting for differences in cost of living, USA comes in first place, a fifth of the world sum. PPP stands for purchasing power parity, and is described as a better indicator of a country’s economic status. The US economy is shaped both by the private sector and the state, but is mainly considered to be a market economy with strong oversight concerning regulation. Markets are the dominant influence in the US economy, where accumulation of capital is the central motive in economic exchanges and interactions. The United States is rich in natural resources, including oil and natural gas. The USA is the world’s third largest producer of oil and is the largest manufacturer on Earth. A majority of global currency reserves are invested in the US dollar (60%,) and foreign direct investments (FDI) are twice higher in the US than any other nation except for China. Foreign direct investment means another country builds new facilities on US soil, as the US is an ” open economy” which is not overly restrictive of such arrangements. Roughly 13% of the US workforce is dependent upon such investments. FDI is one of many paths to a country’s prosperity and economic health. The labor market in America continues to attract immigrants from every country on the planet, and the US has the world’s highest rate of migration. The epic list of superlatives goes on and on, and yet the US economy faces many serious problems.

Many of the economic troubles the US faces are components of the economic cycle, which is not to say they are to be taken lightly, but that they are natural effects of fluctuation over time. The US may suffer minimally from the development of a supercollider such as the Hadron collider in Switzerland instead of the collider that was discontinued in Texas is 1993, but is a small albeit dramatic example of a technology shock which places the US at a disadvantage in a particular category of scientific funding and development. On the other hand, the disaster in Fukushima, Japan in 2011 balances the short term, negative economic impact the European supercollider may have had on the US. The point is not to give a play-by-play of a global tit for tat, but to illustrate uncontrollable economic fluctuation; events the US can do nothing to avoid, and often cannot plan for.

There are economic ills in the US which are within the government and markets’ control. The United States economy is slowly recovering from the 2007 recession; what factors can be mitigated to strengthen the US? What political determinations can fix some of the fiscal woes which are within our reach?

As the number three global producer of oil, it seems to defy reason that the US economy suffers as a result of dependency upon foreign oil. The US consumed 18.6 million barrels of oil per day in 2012 for gasoline, heating oil, jet fuel, and other purposes. Over half of the “foreign oil” imported by the US comes from the western hemisphere, which defies popular wisdom. The consumption of foreign oil has been reduced in the US by factors such as better engine efficiency and changes in consumer behavior. The increased use of domestic biofuels and strong gains in the domestic production of crude oil has loosened the Persian yoke. Continuing the domestic development of electric and biofuel consuming private vehicles must be paired with private marketing and government regulation that will pave the way for their widespread use. Technologies in automobile
navigation will help to wean the American motorist from the prevailing image of the heavy American gas guzzler, and transition to the electric cars that do the driving for you. The US government must ramp up the regulations more sharply to expedite this transition. A second important facet to the issue of American dependence on foreign oil concerns diplomatic relations with Mid East governments. The current administration of the US has made unprecedented
inroads with Iran, which holds the third most proved oil wells on earth, and second most if Canada is excluded for unconventional oil reserves. If the US continues to expand overseas crude oil options while proactively diminishing domestic demand, Americans will achieve exporter status on the dying fossil fuel, and gain the global upper hand.

Another dimension of the economic storm cloud lies in the shrinking middle class, or the growing concentration of wealth at the top of the economic pyramid. The mean household net worth of 1% of Americans is more than $16,000,000, the mean household wealth of the bottom 40% of Americans is less than$-10,000. That means that after credit card, mortgages and other debts are subtracted from a household’s wealth, 40% of Americans are more than $10,000 in debt; their net-worth is less than zero. This economic trend is deepening, so how can the US middle class avoid becoming modern day serfs? Are there political and economic resources that can be used to keep America out of the middle ages?

South Side.

Pittsburgh’s South Side neighborhood is a mix of mainly two elements; gentrification, and proximity to colleges and universities. The main street is East Carson, which hosts many shops and tattoo parlors, but is mainly about the 85+ bars that run from Station Square to 33rd St. The neighborhood is divided into the Flats, the (topographically flat) area which is nearer to the Monongahela River, and the (hilly) Slopes. The Flats costs roughly 50-100% more in rent, and began to be gentrified around the year 2000. The neighborhood is vibrant and photogenic by day, and a drunken hellhole at night, especially on the weekends, where the streets run orange with vomit, urine, and blood. The community members who wish to protect their inflated investments from revelers bicker and complain at monthly meetings, to some avail. As professionals and students came in greater numbers to live in the hippest part of the city, the artists, musicians, and service-industry workers were pushed to the Slopes, the other half the South Side. The old people just died in the Flats. The bums are still there.

The Slopes is the name for the clapboard worker houses that litter the adjacent, switchback mountain at impossible angles, and pepper the goat path streets they share with the ghosts of Hunkies and their disappearing little wives. That’s where the founding creative-types of the flats were pushed first, and they have since been pushed to Polish Hill, Lawrenceville, or Bloomfield. It is just as likely that they have been pushing baby carriages, as many of the first hipsters have aged out of the game, anyway. The slopes are now hosting college students for high rent, or latecomers to a “scene” ten years gone. Some old people are still alive in the Slopes, too. No bums are up there, but some service industry workers are still taking girls back to their stinking Bob Marley pads after the bars close for God-knows what.

I thought an interesting interpretation of Kevin Lynch’s term “node” to be “pivot point.” How is this for a node, Professor Lynch?!

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That is the Beehive, an eclectic coffee shop that started the Golden Age immigration of artists, students, and homosexuals to the South Side. The first place of its kind on a street that used to be for former mill working drunks and end of the road bangers.

This next picture is a dirt trail off of Muriel St. The “pathway” actually traverses an “edge,” so it is a combination of two of Professor Lynch’s concepts in that sense. The people who use it provide clues as to why the mix of devices.

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The path that crosses the railroad tracks and the bike trail. It leads to a the river, where the train kids and former Occupy activists go to fraternize, deal drugs, and use drugs. They hang out at a sort of encampment during the day, and come into the town proper at night to shake down anyone they can for anything they can get. They play guitars and banjos and ukuleles, and many of them sing rather well. These young transients also have very interesting looking, loyal dogs. It is no coincidence that these young people specifically cross two finite boundaries to get to their operations venue.

Gary Musisko

Woah, bro. Who slept in your condom?

In the Old Testament, two arguing women presented wise King Solomon with a problem. He settled it brilliantly, so, whatevs. A normal self-centered cock must use his evil rat brain. (You’ll notice two animals normally featured in the Chinese zodiac appear in the last sentence. That is no accident.) When strangers are quarreling, solutions come readily to mind, and it makes the workman a king for that moment. If only all the troubles of the world were the troubles of strangers! When problems arise between two loved ones, the same third-party workman is a leper.

Something Solomon would not have thought of is to take the side of both parties, and alternate loyalty depending on who you’re talking to at the moment. That’s what I did today because I’m a cowardly bum! Here is an unrelated comic! Hope you enjoy it!

Please Select the Card I am Forcing You to Select.

I just wrote a great deal on politics on this very page. I did not even select “new document.” I chose to select all, and deleted everything I had written. This piece is like a blade of grass growing from the dung of an animal that had eaten only blades of grass. Or a fly feeding on the remains of a smashed toad, a cannibal thrice removed. Something happened when I began to proofread what I’d written: I realized I was dumb, and in this case, a special form of dumb. The opposite of my kind of dumb is not smart, or “able to speak”, for that guy out there. The opposite of my dumb is dumb. I’ll illustrate why in this comic strip:

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The strip illustrates two people observing the same image with very different interpretations of what it may be. Both responses called for some creativity, and the people had to have a degree of conviction in order to name the relatively abstract image. If we were viewing a PET scan, both people would have illuminated brains chronicling their efforts. Here’s the thing: Not only are both parties wrong (the image is one corner of a Chinese star,) but it is a Chinese star that is going to specifically harm both of them.

I used to be on the side of the möbius strip for those who thought liberals were shrieking, amoral, murdering shrews. Then I saw the side that hated Teabilly, racist, murderous Tribalists.

I don’t want to talk.

The car is what’s doing it most.  Being in a car changes people, being in a car changes me.  This is an example of my reacting to the evils of other people and looking like the devil. The car is where one first experiences tribalism.

I know about the lowest common denominator. I also just looked at the People of WalMart site, to my detriment.  Those people exist, and so do the ones who take the photographs. “I am just as bad, I’m part of the cycle.” No. A gentleman in a minivan just drove 85 miles per hour to edge me out on Second Avenue. I know this because I was curious as to how badly he wanted to beat me, so I drove about 80.  He was flying on a city street, it was very dangerous. “I’m just as bad as him.”  No, I am not.

Let’s explore the concept called tribalism. I see douchebag muscleheads tailgating at sporting event. They laugh at something about me as I walk by.  If I grew up next-door to a person like that, we would be friends. I did grow up next to people like that, and we are friends.  But since I don’t know these particular douchebags, they hate me and attempt to intimidate me as to walk by to a different tailgate party. I am kind of a douchebag myself, and that makes this tribalistic event that much more the curious.  When I get to the party,  100 yards away,  I find the guests to be cut from the same cloth as the people I passed in each “encampment” on the way across the parking lot. But I know these people, and we embrace and laugh, even though I hate tailgate parties. When we go into the game, the miniature tribes suspend differences in order to unite for a greater cause, in this case a baseball game. Now, we make up a larger tribe that will intimidate any opposing tribesmen, who are dressed in  red and white. If a larger external threat arises, the very large assembled tribes will join forces. The phenomenon is continuous, such that the whole Earth will unite against a threat from outer space. A stranger is a friend you haven’t met yet.

There, but for the Grace of Jones, go I.

Premise of blog: Asshole learns some tough lessons, learns something along the lines of, “All you need is love,” and lives on as humble beacon.

Reality: Having difficulty getting off the ground because people are murderous and evil.

Upper class, suburban neighborhood. It is early afternoon, and I am driving to an appointment at the home of a resident. I pull into winding, immaculate driveway and proceed up steep hill. Wrong mansion. I am rather deliberately blocked by another car as I try to exit the one-lane driveway. The man who exits the car looks like he played high school football 30-odd years ago.

“What are you doing here?” He is really stern, and though I am usually prepared for conflict, I am caught in work mode, and by surprise.

“I’m working. I have the wrong house.”

“You’re damn right you do.” His response is predictable, but nonetheless intimidating. I am immediately embarrassed of being shaken-up by this man. I will now find a picture that looks like this person, as I was struck at the time by the similarity:

 

The confrontation continues with events such as my saying, “I am unarmed, sir. You need not resort to the castle doctrine!”  I had no doubt this man had a gun on his person.

Stud says, “I’m from West Virginia. I work for all these things you do to have. Don’t give me that college bullshit!” There is a Nixonesque, jowly quality to his barking.

I was detained in this way for almost ten minutes, and then made to search my car for nonstandard credentials that satisfied him. He eventually let me go. It’s odd, I have had guns pulled on me a few times in rough places, but I felt I was at risk of being shot this time if I had not complied.

The man directly took my power from me. I felt him absorbing it as the seconds passed. I became a child, but not even a modern child. I was like a boy from the 50’s, and this man was my pa. The peOple in this man’s life respect him. he is wealthy, and likely the center of his family. I can think of his family crying as his bravery and strength are eulogized some day. One