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31.Aug.2016 Permanent URL to this day's entry

Apoplectic Permalink to this item

There's a lot that could come under that topic these days, but I'm thinking of the Conservative HQ staff and editor ranting about election fraud, and sure, why not, the next level. Reading between the lines of Homeland Security Secretary Jeh Johnson's statement that our election process comprises "critical infrastructure" to imagine the DHS is taking over! Under an "Obama-Clinton Coup" headline, no less.

Subtlety is not their main line of work.

In their latest daily news, the next story is headlined Texas Vote Fraud Investigations: Democrats Plan For It To Happen Everywhere, which, if you connect the dots people is about the fact that a federal court just invalidated Texas' voter ID law, and a couple of counties have made the news lately. Hill County, and Tarrant County, "one of the state's largest (and most liberal) counties," which "is under investigation by the Office the Texas Attorney General for voting irregularities. "

I looked up the story about Hill County from some source other than alt-right raving. The Texas Tribune reports there have been "allegations that multiple people voted illegally in the 2016 Republican primary elections in Hill County." And "that there were 1,743 more votes cast in the election than there were voters," well more than the margin of the closest race. That's not to say that 1,743 people voted twice, or any other possible combination, but it does seem that "six or seven primary voters are shown to have two ballot dates, and one voter appears to have voted as many as four times" according to the executive director of Direct Action Texas.

The Hill Co. Election Administrator had some explanations about various administrative errors but insisted the "mistake[s] didn’t change the outcome of any elections." "Removing the duplicated votes would lower the margin by which candidates won, but the winner in each of the county’s 22 precincts would remain the same," the TT reports.

Oddly enough, CHQ doesn't mention the fact that the Hill Co. problems were in the Republican primary, but they do extoll "there was a time when" Republicans cared about security, and of course you've heard how Democrats "schooled in the Chicago way – have an aversion to anything remotely resembling ballot security."

Ha ha. Also, I've noticed that extreme conservatives seem to have an aversion to honesty. Looking up the real story in Tarrant Co. is left as an exercise for the reader, but I'll bet you $5 to a donut (without looking) that there is nothing material relating to voter ID requirements.

30.Aug.2016 Permanent URL to this day's entry

Another fabulous western Permalink to this item

The you-have-to-be-kidding-me hero picture of Ammon Bundy, saintly in his jail scrubs across the top of this feature from The Guardian sets the tone for the coverage of the supposed "rebel cowboys" who have supposedly sparked a new battle for the American west. It's a "land-rights crusade" now, and "worth dying for," in their minds. It's not about feral cattle abusing public land out of an incomparable sense of religious and self-righteous entitlement.

Oh no.

Ryan Bundy started his career in political protest all the way back in third grade, we're told, starving himself (right through lunchtime, no less) rather than accepting a subsidized meal at school. The dust-up was settled after a fight between mom and dad, with mom giving in. She "returned to preparing homemade meals."

“My dad fixed the problem and took us off the program,” Ryan, now 43, recalled. “It was instilled in me that we’re supposed to earn what we have and not to take from others.”

That's some fierce irony right there, given that "dad" is the unreformed, unrepetant (and in jail) Cliven Bundy, who seems to have made a long tradition out of coercing others into upholding his principles, such as they are. He "fixed the problem" by making Jane do what he thought was right, and for good measure illustrated to his son that women must be subservient to men. Ryan played his part with this "early act of civil disobedience." And now, the little boy who would not accept a cost-reduced government lunch wants only to... have the government give him and his hyperextended family the open range to use and abuse however they and their God sees fit.

Family folklore has nothing on the Bundy clan, and this reporter seems to be eating it up. It does make a good story, even if it reflects one very large family's very whacked sense of entitlement more than any righteous progress in the zombie sagebrush rebellion. Real ranchers are not these kind of people. They don't let their cows run wild, they don't let them become a nuisance, and they're capable of sitting down and working with the Bureau of Land Management without needing snipers cowering behind jersey barriers.

One of the comments under a Facebook share of the article noted that "as a British publication, the Guardian has the romanticized urban-European image of the West," and rather than the tiny hamlet or near-ghost town portrayed,

"Mesquite-Bunkerville is one of the fastest growing towns in the nation, has 16,000 people, and is dominated by casinos, hotels, and expensive golf-lake communities. The standoff took place next to I-15, one of the major freeways of the West, which the militants briefly closed. ... In reality, explosive population growth and competition for water, not 'government tyranny,' has been the major factor in the decline of ranching in southern Nevada."

A look at the aerial view speaks volumes about the context. The Bundy ranch isn't as remote as it used to be, an hour outside Las Vegas by interstate, and with the Virgin River as the only escape from the dry desert. Mesquite now boasts nine, count 'em nine, public golf courses.

SE corner of Nevada, from Google Maps earth view

29.Aug.2016 Permanent URL to this day's entry

The incredible whiteness of being Permalink to this item

Among the guests on today's Diane Rehm show, Jared Taylor, editor of the American Realist, a "race-realist, white advocacy organization." He cited the founding fathers' "very first naturalization law," restricting naturalizations to 'free, white persons of good character.'

DR: "and that's how you'd like to keep it, is that correct?"

JT: "Nations have a right to maintain some kind of cultural, racial and historical homogeneity, yes indeed."

He does support Donald Trump (surprise, surprise), "but" (but?) he thinks Hillary Clinton is being "profoundly dishonest" when she tries to make Donald Trump responsible for the views of his supporters.

JT: "I don't think Donald Trump knows the first thing about the alternative right," he said. "I don't think, also, that he has in any way attempted to court the alternative right."

Asked to explain areas where he agrees and disagrees with Trump,

JT: "Donald Trump, I think, has stumbled onto a number of policy proposals that are congruent with those that would be supported by the alt-right, not because he has any kind of sophisticated understanding of race, but simply because his instincts are that the country is changing in disagreeable ways."

"We are one issue voters. We would vote for any candidate who would stop the dispossession of the white majority."

Norm Ornstein wants to know how this desired "freedom of association" would work, "operationally." "Those are difficult questions," Taylor said, but it sounds like he's ready to get started on segregation by "freedom of association."

Update: Lincoln Blades is a little bit more direct for the Rolling Stone: Call the 'Alt-Right' Movement What It Is: Racist as Hell

"[W]hat may be most important to understand about this clique is that they are so far removed from the already troubling "establishment" conservatives that they consider themselves an alternative to those who find coded racism, misogyny and xenophobia to be too weak and passive. ...

"Now that the Trump campaign has put these people center stage in our national politics, the worst thing we can do is dither on about whether they–and he–pass the 'officially' racist test. The Alt-right crowd believes in and endorses a racist ideology, and they have a presidential nominee who does the same. Calling these people anything less than vile racists would be morally reprehensible and intellectually fraudulent."

27.Aug.2016 Permanent URL to this day's entry

We regret any appearance of impropriety Permalink to this item

DJT imagines the Clinton Foundation is part of "a vast criminal enterprise"? Perhaps because if it were him, if he had ever given that kind of money, he would definitely "want things" and "expect things." (Since he's never had a charitable impulse to match the size of his expansive ego, we can't say for sure.)

While he has no actual information himself, "you take a look" and "believe me." Donald Trump saying "believe me" is slightly less persuasive to me than a used car salesman. Your mileage may vary.

ReiNCe PRieBuS is claiming "the fact is" what it is not. He said he "didn't know what great work they do," which is to say he didn't bother trying to find out.

The Foundation's mission is to "improve global health & wellness, increase opportunity for women & girls, reduce childhood obesity, create economic opportunity & growth, and help communities address the effects of climate change," and according to Charity Watch, it applies 88% of its budget toward those ends. Most of that is doing the work itself, rather than making grants to other organizations, as RNC PR BS guy misread the numbers.

A guy named Peter Schweizer wrote a book about the supposed vast criminal enterprise last year, "Clinton Cash," without turning up anything quite actionable. But hey, the Obama Justice Dept., what would you expect? "Transparently political," you're sneering. (Obama said he'd have a more transparent administration, after all.)

The Washington Post took a run at examining the Clintons' $2 billion global empire in the spring of 2015, and they captured some of the "complexity," and the whiffs of impropriety that Clinton haters are always smelling, but doesn't seem to have advanced beyond the observation that it will be more complicated if Hillary should get elected.

There's this, from David Sirota and the International Business Times: emails show Clinton Foundation donor reached out to Hillary Clinton before arms export boost. Some appearance of impropriety in selling arms to Bahrain to help them tamp down the Arab Spring. But then the U.S. has sold a lot of arms over the years, to a lot of questionable regimes. Not quite a quid pro quo (and it was money to a bona fide charitable foundation, remember), but not quite right, either. Maybe.

It's not the corruption of Trump's fever dreams, or even Trump's own record over the years. Maybe I just don't know enough, but if you look at the big picture, and give Trump considerable benefit of the doubt for what he claims is the size of his wealth and business empire, then round generously, the Clinton Foundation and Trump are about the same order of financial magnitude, a few $billion.

Trump's legacy, to date, is a string of bankruptcies, creditors left holding the bag, some large buildings with his name on them, shady bigotry going back more than 40 years, and a "reality" TV show that was a brief and forgettable hit. I definitely prefer the $2 billion charitable foundation with lots of networking and some good for half a billion people (give or take) in 180 countries.

26.Aug.2016 Permanent URL to this day's entry

Back to school Permalink to this item

The sunrise slipping later in the morning, that nip in the air, and children aggregating in school zones, all sure signs of the season changing. It's always irked me; August should be summer, through and through. But the first email teaser to the local university newspaper, The Arbiter, caught my eye, and brought back the memory of my brief but generally enjoyable time writing opinion pieces up in Moscow, for The Argonaut. (That was before the advent of the web, let alone comment sections, but I did get a few people to write letters to the paper.) I was pleased to see the quality of Andrew Ridgeway's opener: Let’s Talk About Race: Debunking “All Lives Matter.” He kicks off his serious subject with light-hearted humor, addressing his "dear fellow white folks."

"I’m not entirely sure how this discussion got off the ground without a qualified white man like myself to mansplain the issue of race to everyone, but it did. Now the entire country is embroiled in a heated debate about systemic racism and officer-involved fatalities and I’d like to weigh in."

And he weighs in well, and straight to the point, with the logical (rather than ideological) observation:

"The basic problem with the “All Lives Matter” counter-argument is it’s non-responsive. It’s a complete non-sequitur."

2009 photo

Some white fellow (I'm guessing) naming himself Cameron illustrated "non sequitur" well enough with a a simple, content-free, dismissive comment. He didn't quite say LA LA LA I CAN'T HEAR YOU, but he might as well have. (And Andrew responded—quite generously—with an offer to have a real conversation if Cameron were willing. Good luck with that.)

I left an attaboy in the comments, and said "you see the challenge: how to reach people who don’t have a clue and don’t want to listen to a new idea. What I’ve seen of ALM as (supposed) answer to BLM is that it’s not just a non sequitur, and not just some other conversation: it’s intended as a verbal bludgeon to end debate. Not without irony there. As you say, your argument is logical, while the ALM “argument” is emotional rejection of “other.” It says “I refuse to acknowledge the issue you’ve raised.”

As luck (and our ongoing national conversation and shoutfest) would have it, Greg Howard tackled some of these same issues in last Sunday's New York Times Magazine, under the headline Bias Charge. Online, it's The Easiest Way to Get Rid of Racism? Just Redefine It. No funny opener on that one, it launches right into the KKK, David Duke and Donald Trump, and their white victimhood. The redefinition ends with Clint Eastwood, more colorfully playing the role of Cameron, in Esquire, lamenting the good old days when kids knew better than to run across his lawn. “Just fucking get over it,” Eastwood said in the middle of the interview with his fifty-six years younger son, and Howard sets that hanging as the last word (albeit with the expletive redacted) of his essay for the Times.

But the Eastwoods have even less than that to add to the discussion. Being on the cover of a magazine, staging fashion (!) photos to dress up a softball interview, the only commitment that comes across is the commitment to a succession of interesting roles to act out, and make-believe to direct. The political analysis doesn't get past false equivalency and a preference for vocal timbre, and not being boring. Trump is "onto something, because secretly everybody's getting tired of political correctness, kissing up. That's the kiss-ass generation we're in right now. We're really in a pussy generation. Everybody's walking on eggshells. We see people accusing people of being racist and all kinds of stuff. When I grew up, those things weren't called racist."

We knew how to shut 'em up better if they did.

25.Aug.2016 Permanent URL to this day's entry

Organizing for Action graphic

This actually happened Permalink to this item

At the annual "Fancy Farm Picnic" in Kentucky, according to the Washington Post, down-home Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell bragged about refusing to honor the oath he took to uphold the Constitution.

“One of my proudest moments was when I looked at Barack Obama in the eye and I said, 'Mr. President, you will not fill this Supreme Court vacancy.'”

The crowd cheered.

Firing all cylinders Permalink to this item

Richard Viguerie's ConservativeHQ is the gift that keeps on giving, at least once a day, but all that and some whacky advertisers keep my inbox enlivened with the florid pronouncements of alt-right. Today, CHQ's editor, George Rasley is on his soapbox instructing the best-they've-got candidate for potus to stop shooting off his mouth, which, are you kidding me? That's his whole campaign strategy, George. Anyway, look if you dare: Dear Donald Please Stop Musing Out Loud. Where else are you going to find a metaphor as juicy as "let the air out of his momentum"?

Or the inadvertently accurate implied observation that the longer Trump talks, the more likely he is to say something contradictory (let alone stupid).

But anyway, Rasley goes on to quote his fearless leader Viguerie at some length about how quintessentially conservative Trump is turning out to be, and even if "he might be wrong 20, 25, 30 percent of the time," that oh-so-generous grading on the curve would still be far better than Hillary Clinton, who "is going to be wrong 100 percent of the time."

"Her goal will be to destroy the conservative movement," Rasley says Viguerie says, blind to the irony of That Guy with the Little Hands who is doing more to destroy the conservative movement than Hillary Clinton could have imagined in her wildest dreams. As with so many accusations, this supposed wanting to "destroy" tells us more about the accuser than his target. Certainly, the insistence that Clinton (or Obama, or whomever) "is going to be wrong 100 percent of the time" is a mindless, scorched earth approach to political discourse. It explains a lot about why you don't read about Viguerie or CHQ or Rasley in respectable circles, but only in their own echo chamber.

As with Trump, the longer they go on, the uglier it gets. The one thing they've adamantly refused to learn from the Gipper is the faintest whiff of civility. No matter how hard they try, they can't make this Reagan v. Carter; it's warmed-over and more genuinely crazy than Barry Goldwater ever was.

"In the mean times [sic] we invite Republicans and independents who want to avoid living under Hillary Clinton, as we have lived under Barack Obama, to unite with us and observe Ronald Reagan’s 80 percent rule: Someone who is 80 percent with you is a friend, not a 20 percent enemy."

In your alternate universe Permalink to this item

The IEEE (there's electricity and engineering in there) Computer Society is offering me the chance to hear Intel's Steve Orrin take on the security challenge in SDEs in the D.C. area next month. (I think they mean Intel's Steve Orrin's take, but yeah, that possessive is awkward.) I'm not planning to be on that side of the country, but I did want to keep up with technology enough to find out what that not-so-familiar TLA "SDE" is. The headline provided the expansion:

Hear our Experts Discuss the Disruptive Trends of Software-Defined Environments

The subhead took me back to confusion: "Come to Rock Stars of Software-Defined Environments." Rock Stars, what? I guess that's a brand of some sort. Oh, maybe that weird, expensive soft drink that the kids are drinking these days is a sponsor? (We could look it up I guess, and see that "without Software-Defined Environments – There is No Next Generation Technology.") Back to my email tease:

"Only Rock Stars events’ unique, intimate interaction lets you question and collaborate with six of the leading experts in software-defined environments. Learn what you need to know from the true leaders in the field."

Cool. There's a list of "some of the experts you'll meet." Five of them. Which makes you wonder... who's the sixth one, and why wasn't s/he listed? After the names and credential letters (none familiar, but I love the sound of the surname of the PhD, VP and CTO, Citrix Systems, Constantine Polychronopoulos), it looks like they're listing the titles of presentations, which flesh out what they mean by SDE.

A little. I was thinking something in a virtual reality vein, but that doesn't appear to be correct. Here are the first four titles:

And the last one gets an honorable mention for its subtle humor in the half-baked mashup of bad markup, punctuation, CamelCase and geekish what-not, from Matt Denesuk, Chief Data Science Officer of

Avoiding, Critical Mistakes in Software-DefinedMachines

It rather sic'ly loops around to that good old joke about the fully automated (one might even say "software defined") airliner with no flight crew and the recording, "Nothing can go wrong... go wrong... go wrong..."

24.Aug.2016 Permanent URL to this day's entry

435 rigged elections Permalink to this item

Give or take. The House has been so well gerrymandered that even after Clinton wins by a landslide and the Senate tips back to the Democrats, the GOP and Paul Ryan will still be swinging the gavel. David Daley explains, on Moyers & Co.

"It’s the radical GOP gerrymander imposed after the 2010 census on purplish states like Pennsylvania, Ohio, Michigan, Wisconsin and North Carolina – all of which are likely to go for Clinton, while also electing a bright-red Republican delegation to Congress. Even if Hillary Clinton wins the presidency in a landslide, there are simply not enough competitive districts remaining to give the Democrats any chance at winning the House....

"[O]ur electoral map really was rigged by Republicans after the 2010 census."

That of course is wholesale rigging, as opposed to the feverishly imagined "voter fraud" that could be perpertrated if citizens don't have to show their ID at the polls, and are allowed to sign the roll on their own recognizance. That's the way you can obtain supermajority rule—as the GOP has done in Ohio, North Carolina and Wisconsin—while getting fewer votes overall.

"The media, desperate for any suspenseful narrative, pretends that gerrymandering is politics as usual and that both sides do it — stubbornly refusing to understand how the brazen and technologically savvy 2011 remapping was different from any other in modern political history."

Last go 'round, when Obama handily trounced Romney with a 332-206 margin in the Electoral College, and 3.5 million more of we the people's votes, "Romney still carried 226 congressional districts to Obama’s 209."

Now this more alluring offer Permalink to this item

Paul Ryan asks me "Who are you rooting for?" and offers a flight, hotel & tickets to go see... the Wisconsin Badgers hosting the LSU Tigers in Green Bay, to open the college football season. That would be cool.

Yes, that's right, it's another contest! As with the others, you don't have to contribute to win, says right down there in the hard-to-read fine print. You can play too, for free at, just have to surrender your email (which of course I had already done, to get the teaser in my email). If you do, it'll give you a follow-up page that says you can double your chances if you give some money. Or, you can not give some money, and double your chances with another free entry. Whatever.

The blatant deception is the part I love about it. But the white-on-light grey fine print stresses the point. NO PURCHASE NECESSARY TO ENTER OR WIN A PRIZE. Remember that. You do not have to buy a politician to enjoy a football game, or enter a silly contest. Also, and without the all-caps emphasis, but here, let me throw a little bold on it, Making a contribution does not increase your chances of winning.

Which is to say, making a contribution only ensures that you will be losing however much money you send in.

23.Aug.2016 Permanent URL to this day's entry

Schooled Permalink to this item

Dropped in to sample Neal Larson's talk radio show, just happened to be the day back in January when Sarah Palin endorsed Donald Trump (working headline: "Dumb and Dumberer"), with an electronic thump thump thump going and the host saying "This is interesting. Very interesting..." and I'm thinking, no it isn't, and neither is the silly notion that Hillary Clinton "is in hot water" again, or still. But that was January.

Who the hell is Neal Larson, you're asking? Of course you are, and I have no idea, except that the Magic Valley Times-News gives him space once a week, and he used his latest portion to take a potshot at astrophysicist Neil deGrasse Tyson, for making an observation about the Olympics that Larson deemed, and I quote, "a drive-by pot shot at America, with a fourth-grade math observation mixed in." Oh and deGrasse Tyson is an "overpaid, unscrutinized, and overestimated academic fawned over by the media and the left," don't you know.

Really. So who is this opining putz? The bio bit at the bottom says he's an "Associated Press award-winning columnist" in Idaho Falls, the author of something, and "a conservative talk show host on KID." "Award-winning columnist", are you kidding me? This vapid screed should have been spiked by a high school newspaper editor. What is it doing in the Times-News? You want to talk about jackass, this Neal Larson knows him some jackass. The supposed coup de grace:

"I’ve listened to Neil deGrasse Tyson before. And what I observe is a smart guy who consistently enjoys asserting his intellectual supremacy over others more than he actually likes educating. In one of his worse [sic] moments, Tyson mocked a 12-year-old girl who suggested she’d like to live on Jupiter. He ridiculed her in the midst of a crowd, then later, several times, on Twitter. That told me everything I needed to know about Neil deGrasse Tyson."

Did award-winning Larson do his research for this sneering derision on... the satire site Clickhole, or did he just hear it from one of his talk radio pals?

But anyway, I don't need to defend Neil deGrasse Tyson, he covered it himself in the first comment this morning. Followed by more than the usual chortling from everyone else enjoying the show.

Update: For his next (and apparently final) column, Larson describes the fairly horrible weight of public opinion raining down upon his unfortunate effort, and calls it quits. Sounds ugly.

(8-23) Boston at last Permalink to this item

In Boston

The ride down on 1-A was fast & getting hot. From Salem on was city & between my & drivers' recklesness I'm surprised I made it. Hitched thru the tunnel & into downtown. The Haymarket, the Commons. Got lost once, but a guy from Mont. steered me right & I spent a couple hrs. searching Huntington Ave. for Castleton and getting drunk/avoiding the incredible heat. The 2d visit with the visiting WSU arch steered me right & when I found it, Skip had returned. And so it ended....

My final entry was titled to match the first part of the lyric to the Elton John "Holiday Inn," from his oft-spun "Madman Across the Water" album. Not sure what that identifier of my last informant was, WSU, WIU, or WJU. An architect from Washington State University I met in a bar? That would have been quite the coincidence. Anyway, it's an anti-climactic last entry for the bicycling part of it, segues into an extended visit and getting to know my oldest brother (and his wife at the time) for the first time as an adult. Three days and a couple outings sailing on the Charles River basin later, my bike and I were packed into Flight #163, covering the return distance I'd just spent 7 weeks bicycling in half a day.

My big brother


Back at Arny's Trailer Court in Moscow, with help from Bruce Stradley and his Toyota Land Cruiser there, disassembled, and stumbling into my 2nd year at the University of Idaho, I was out of Architecture and into natural sciences, on my way to... ecology, or watershed management, or botany, or something. TBD.

Back at Arny's Trailer Court

Have we lost our minds? Permalink to this item

Or are we just headed that way? The old saying that "the enemy of my enemy is my friend" comes to mind, reading Anna Nemtsova's Letter from Moscow on Politico, "Trump Is Already Helping Putin Consolidate Control of Ukraine."

[On Russia's] premier Sunday talk show, “News of the Week,” the topic was, surprisingly, whether all this criticism of the current American president was over the top. The show’s presenter, Yevgeny Popov [asked] “What sort of decisions could such elites make, if stupidity and crudeness, scandals and hot air replace reasonable sense?”

The story goes on to say that Trump is getting almost as much free media in Ukraine as he does in the U.S., and one viewer saying "they show us Trump as a big clown." Which, funnily enough, is how he comes across here, too, at least to some of us. The dangerous, scary sort of clown, however. The Ukrainian TV channel Hromadske has gone as far as diagramming "the web of relationships between Trump and his team members and the Russian and Ukranian establishment." Trump, Paul Manafort, Michael Flynn and Carter Page are the headliners there, and I hope someone who reads Cyrillic better than I do is translating the rest for us:

Hromadske graphic

The Ukrainians are not the only people "unnerved by the idea that a Putin ally such as Trump could occupy the most powerful office in the world." And certainly, "ally" must be too strong a word. Trump loves the idea of being a strong-man in charge and able to do and say whatever he wants, and maybe he wants to ride a horse with his shirt off, I don't know. Natalia Gumenyuk, head of Hromadske:

“Trump’s entire discourse—not just not challenging the Russian occupation of Crimea but isolationism, conspiracy theories, little respect for the law and the right to bully—it all looks exactly like what the Kremlin has been saying for years.”

22.Aug.2016 Permanent URL to this day's entry

Truth in advertising Permalink to this item

American Horizons PAC reminds me I have 2 entries in the "Dinner with Trump sweepstakes" so that they can show me a big red button that says

Click Here to Contribute & Double Your Entries

I still have time! is going to keep doing this until October 1st. In the grayed-out fine print, this: "No purchase, payment, or contribution necessary to enter or win. Contributing will not improve chances of winning." Which really, shouldn't that be a Trump campaign slogan?

Contributing will not improve chances of winning. Truth.

But if you click through, the webform says "if you chip in today, you'll double your chances to win dinner with Donald Trump."

Which... is either a lie, or criminal. Rather brilliantly tailor-made for Mr. Trump.


Ain't nobody gonna lock her up boys Permalink to this item

John Dean knows a thing or two about testifying to Congress, and perjury (not to mention pettifoggers), and provides a fascinating assessment of the "squalid" kangaroo court of Rep. Bob Goodlatte, chair of the Committee on the Judiciary and Rep. Jason Chaffetz, chair of the Committee on Oversight and Government Reform, concerning the outrageously false charges of perjury against Hillary Clinton.

It's a finely-detailed read, but Dean summarizes tidily for the bottom line (and with my emphasis):

"The charges that Secretary Clinton lied to Congress are baseless. While there may be a few technical errors in her testimony, and there may be information that was discovered by the FBI after she testified, there is absolutely no evidence at all that she willfully and knowingly provided false information to Congress.

"Ironically, there are more false statements in the letter from chairmen Goodlatte and Chaffetz to the Department of Justice, which are clearly intentional, than the hours upon hours of testimony given by Secretary Clinton. If these men were ordinary citizens, they could be arrested for making false statements to law enforcement. They lied and played it for a one-day headline, and in doing so performed at the level of banana-republic legislators, if not lower. Sadly their actions are consistent with the thinking of the new Republican Party leader, Donald Trump, who would be proud of their effort to “Lock her up, Lock her up.”

If you want more, but a shorter read, Peter Daou, former adviser to Hillary Clinton and John Kerry and a veteran of two presidential campaigns, and now CEO of the Blue Nation Review breaks it down for us, with ok, a slightly risible headline. Goodlatte and Chaffetz aren't likely to face prosecution (let alone prison) for their cheap-ass partisan hackery. But let's at least hold it up for the ridicule and contempt it so richly deserves.

The Republican-controlled Congress, operating at banana-republic level, went on a multi-million dollar fishing expedition, and the best they could come up with was pretty much nothing but half-crocked talking points to enliven the torches-and-pitchforks crowd at the Republican National Convention over astoundingly inconsequential emails. Oh, and it was good for their fundraising, too. And I guess it kept the House Intelligence, Senate Intelligence, Housed Armed Services, Senate Armed Services, Senate Homeland Security, House Oversight and House Foreign Affairs Committees off the streets for a while? And who knows what trouble artful redactor Trey Gowdy would've got up to if he hadn't led the eighth congressional committee to investigate.

The circus went on longer (is it still going?) than the 9/11 Commission, Watergate, the Warren Commission, and investigations into Pearl Harbor, Iran-Contra and Hurricane Katrina.

Update: For mildly amusing counterpoint, Mark Fitzgibbons shows he's not ready to give up the case, and demonstrating the reliable lawyerly maxim: when the facts are on your side, hammer the facts. When the law is on your side, hammer the law. When neither the facts nor the law are on your side, hammer the table. After you're done hammering the table, mindreading is a good trick. He imagines Hillary's is guilty. Sounds a bit... deranged.

21.Aug.2016 Permanent URL to this day's entry

(8-21) Salisbury, Massachusetts Permalink to this item

Down east

After some turkey woke me, then forcing myself awake at a slamming door, the man came. He said "pack up & ride out of here," but he couldn't bring himself to actually do it so he said, be out by 8 a.m. So I crawled out into the dewy dawn & tried to dry & watch the sun rise. Got out around 7:30, a bit damp. Rode to the Birchwood & bkfst, south on the much flattened U.S. 1, through Portland and as far as Kennebunk for lunch. Had a beer and slept for an hour on a picnic table, dried the stuff. I was feeling somewhat cranky but the ride went fast. Miles of turkey traps and so into N.H. once more. Stopped in Portsmouth for a gigantic $1 milkshake & more waiting for the sun. Felt burned but today did not show it. An evening's ride, decided to hit the beach. Went to the state park & swam in the ocean for the first time.(!) What a gas. Jumping over and through the huge waves, feeling pushed about & salted. So that's an undertow. And the sun sank orangely as I cruised Ocean Boulevard looking for a room. Almost spent $7.35 but luckily the [nice woman, ha ha] wouldn't take my bike. So I went inland, found a town owned spot that was replete with hungry bugs. Got in fast & drifted away. This A.M. I waited for the sun wondering overcast, or clear? Decided to try & see, decided to go. The cops pulled in & said "can't you read?" Me, innocently, "read what?" They told me to "clear out." Ok. Missed the show by a good hour, but the beach was still nice. Through the sleepy beach and into Norm's for the grand finale of biker's bkfst. = 3 eggs, ham & toast, 3 cakes for $2.50. Watching [the cook] put 15 eggs on the griddle and flipping them was a trip. Now in the park, at the end of a week of sunshine.

Map of days 40-46

Not quite sure where the not-really-a-campspot was, south and back from the beach, maybe still New Hampshire, maybe farther down and closer to where I had my last biker's breakfast, across the state line.

At any rate, the end was very near.

19.Aug.2016 Permanent URL to this day's entry

(8-19) Camden Hills St. Pk. Permalink to this item

Watched the moon rise golden over L. St. George with Mars at its side. Then the red dawn. The sun rolled me out & I went for a quick dip & across the hiway to a $2.50 bkfst I had to waddle away from. Decided to go to Bar Harbor & Acadia, got to Belfast & after 2 hours trying to get a ride decided to pedal, then decided not to & turned SW down the coast. The sign for Smuggler's Cove Studio attracted me, didn't sound like a crappy gift shop. So I rode 3/4 mile to the coast (& the cove) & spent the afternoon discoursing w/the lady artist. Had a beer and met her husband after he returned w/the little ones in his yellow lobster boat. By the time I left it was cool & late, so I raced 10 mi. to Camden for a big dinner & a look around. Went to the basement garage "pub" but was alone so I left. Rode back to here in the dusk for another night swinging between 2 trees. One more cloudless morning over the bay.

Wolf's Neck Woods
Shitty roads + an endless succession of hills + thousands of touristas + Simplex derailleurs + "Breakfast is over with" = frustration. Got to Bath & had a look around, even the old road was busy. Stopped in the flight path to watch a big 4 prop Navy plane come in twice. Trippy. Thru a corner of Brunswick and out Pleasant Hill Rd. Nice & quiet. To here, on Casco Bay for a truck around & another free night at a state park.

Map of days 43-45

I'd scouted Camden Hills State Park on the way down, with the road going through the middle of it, a crowded campground above and a day use area on the steep slope below. After dinner in town, and coming back in the shadows, the "day use" area was nicely uncrowded, dark, and quiet, my preferences for camping. The slope made it a totally unlikely place to camp anyway, unless... you brought a hammock, in which case it was perfect, and lovely to wake up swaying gently, with a view of tall trees.

The decision about "how much further to go" before heading south to Boston was burdened by knowing anything past Belfast meant coming back the same way, twice as much work and up against my time constraint to get back to Idaho and the university. More patience hitchhiking (with my bike?) and I could cover a days' ride—the distance to Bar Harbor—in a couple hours. Bicycling, it would be two days to get back to where I was and maybe not much time to explore Bar Harbor. So, Belfast was as far down east I would get (and Northport on US 1 as far east), and I was off in a new direction.

Wolfe's Neck is a lovely park down the coast, relatively new at the time (the land was donated in 1969, I see). Activities now (and then) were "birdwatching, cross-country skiing, hiking, picnicking, snowshoeing, watchable wildlife," but not camping. But... I just wanted to sleep on the grass in my tent, and tucked myself in the corner of the one small field surrounded by forest, off the loop at the end of the road....

18.Aug.2016 Permanent URL to this day's entry

A forgettable offer from the Morrison Center Permalink to this item

Steve Martin Short publicity photo

Steve Martin and Martin Short are a couple of funny guys from what I've seen of their schtickery, and maybe they'd be even funnier in person, I don't know. Maybe it would be glorious to sit with a couple thousand of our closest friends and laugh heartily for a couple hours. The October show is billed as AN EVENING YOU WILL FORGET FOR THE REST OF YOUR LIFE and with the Steep Canyon Rangers, and the Morrison Center sent me a special presale opportunity email, with a lovely, lovely publicity photo of when they were young and handsome and wrinkle-free. Short looks like he's a graduate student, as opposed to 66 now. But from where you'll be sitting, you probably wouldn't notice anyway.

While the chances I'd be interested in paying whatever to go see them were nil, I was curious to see that the ticket prices (in this special presale sale) range from... $125.00* to $350.00, not including "applicable fees."

Oh, and the asterisk: "*No price level 4 (P4/D) seating will be available during the presale." Which is to say the ticket prices for what they're "preselling" start at $175. Plus... another $21.50 per ticket vigorish, so actually one seat for $196.50. Then choose your delivery option. eTickets are "Free!" (Yes, that's right, after you order your special night out for two for $393.00 or more, you can get those electronic tickets for "Free!")

This is the way everybody's doing business these days I guess, but it's so bloody dishonest (let alone crazy expensive). And this is put on by and at one of our state institutions, Boise State University, which runs their own—our own!—ticketing business.

Hack the vote Permalink to this item

A "former consultant to Donald Trump's campaign" assures us that oh yes, elections can be rigged you bet, which is not to say that Trump's impending loss will be the result of rigging, but that there will be ample whining afterwards.

"The issue here is both voter fraud, which is limited but does happen," Roger Stone writes, "and election theft through the manipulation of the computerized voting machines, particularly the DIEBOLD/PES voting machines in wide usage in most states."

For proof, he cites the interesting Politico feature about the problem that's been under discussion ever since that most famous rigged election in which George W. Bush assumed office (an event which Stone oddly does not bother mentioning). The Politico piece has a ridiculous click-bait headline, How to Hack an Election in 7 Minutes (that is, if you don't count the research effort, the alternate firmware coding and test, the order and delivery time of your sample machine, and how exactly you're going to deploy your hack wholesale, as opposed to in one machine in a university laboratory). Since the article is an excellent overview of the problems and possible solutions (with a number of entertaining anecdotes), maybe it's ok to have good bait. There has been ample demonstration of vulnerabilities. From a 2006 episode:

"[Princeton researchers] found the key that opened the Diebold AccuVote TS was a standard corporate model, reproduced for minibars and other locks, available online. When their report revealed this detail, a commonplace reader found a picture of the key, filed down a blank from ACE Hardware and sent a copy to Feldman and Halderman as a souvenir (who then tested the key—it worked). That year, 10 percent of registered voters alone used the AccuVote TS to vote."

Apart from targeted hacking, opportunity for random failure, from another 2006 example:

"[A] major congressional race between Vern Buchanan and Christine Jennings in Florida’s 13th District imploded over the vote counts in Sarasota County—where 18,000 votes from paperless machines essentially went missing (technically deemed an “undervote”) in a race decided by less than 400 votes."

Our 50 states' experiments in how to regulate, conduct and supervise elections provide some resistance through diversity, at least. The theory is that local partisan hacks have sufficient motivation to do the dirty deeds peculiar to their locale. Or else, the Russian hackers will work us over... in favor of Hillary Clinton? It's more likely they'd be working for the Putin-friendly Trump campaign. The Democrats could be the ones wailing about another rigged election if they end up on the short end. Again.

Idaho, at least, through good sense or a lucky guess, went from punchcard systems (which seemed fairly reliable here) to paper ballots and optical scanners, which now seems like the smartest thing going. A physical record of votes cast seems an essential component of a reliable, verifiable system. Until we get that technocryptographic business up and running, and we trust that will never get hacked.

17.Aug.2016 Permanent URL to this day's entry

The troops piled in happily enough but with tales of misery. Chicken dinner was pounced upon & I went off to bed early. Monday A.M. was a fine swim in the lake (clean hair!) off Wilcox's rocks and back here for bacon & eggs & toast with rhubarb jelly. After everyone but family organized and bade farewell, I got the sails & went down to rig the Turner. Took a while but I was soon off into the sun & wind. A big lake with lots of corners to explore – stiff breeze to keep me busy. Ahhhh. Another chicken dinner – better than the 1st, Mastermind & Bridge. Stuffed into bed & slept like a log. This morning is cold but sunny. The week's weather is very promising after so much grey & wet. The Smiths' generosity & hospitality are mighty fine too.

1976 photo

No record of what misery the Smith clan underwent during their travels, but everyone was pleasant for company. Not sure what I did for lunch, but that was two dinners and two breakfasts, two nights' lodging in the comfortable furnished barn, and a lovely sail with their little boat. As I recall, it was hauled up on shore and looked to be in good shape when I went down for a swim, so I asked if I could take it out for a change of pace from bicycling the next day. I was a year from my summer stint as a sailing instructor on Lake Mendota for the U.W. Hoofers, and had been crew in the San Juan Islands north of Seattle on a spring break trip, and I'm sure I sounded like I knew my stuff.

Can't recall (and no photo) of the boat type and size, but sloop-rigged, big enough and probably more suited for a crew of two than solo, but I managed, and was duly challenged when the wind freshened on me. I suppose someone must've kept an eye on me a little to start, but the size and shoreline of the uncrowded lake left me pretty much unsupervised. Very generous to let a random bicyclist passing through their neck of the woods take their boat out like that!

Lake Saint George, Me. Permalink to this item

Not heaven but as close as you're gonna get. After a fried egg sandwich and a family portrait, I bade the Smiths farewell & rode off into the sun w/the wind behind me, up & down the green hills of Maine. Lots of beautiful lakes & before long I was in Augusta. I had to have the cash wired so I diddled until 4:00 P.M. then off into the evening. Made almost 30 mi. to Lake St. George & imposed myself on a little farm. My hammock is stretched between 2 trees on the water's edge and I am refreshed from a swim in the crystalline & chilly lake. Opened my eyes & it was a soft opalescent green. Breathtaking if you excuse the pun.

Map of days 41-43

Riding in the evening, I would scout for a likely camp spot, somewhere in a quiet wood, or private corner, with a strong preference for "free" and "private." This little house and pasture on the lovely lake had a row of trees at the water's edge, spaced just right for the hammock, and putting me about half over the water, which made it slightly more interesting. I politely asked permission at the house, and they said sure, and as I recall, there were some blueberry muffins fresh out of the oven that were shared as well.

They had a short dock out into the small lake, and after a day's ride, it was utterly inviting to suit up and run off the end and dive in. I wasn't in the habit of opening my eyes in strange waters, but whatever prompted me to do it, I was treated to a view of beautiful, clean water and a color that has stuck in my mind ever since. I suppose it was a bit of algae giving it that green by mid-August, but it was a pale tint, and makes me smile to think of it.

Trying to find my special spot on the map, there's the lake, between Shermans Corner and Clarks Corner, with state highway 3 right along it... but more houses now, and a state park to boot. Either the pasture got subdivided and a new house built, or the house and land were donated to the state? Their description says "State Route 3 ran parallel and close to the lake, which was originally part of a farmstead." And the narrow arm of the lake is the size I remember, what I swam halfway across with a few leisurely strokes.

Shake, rattle and roll Permalink to this item

Robert Reich's take on the latest Trump campaign shakeup, on Facebook this morning:

"Bringing Stephen Bannon in to run his campaign (as Donald Trump did this morning) is like bringing in the captain of the Titanic to watch out for icebergs. Bannon—who runs the fiercely assertive and outrageously conservative Breitbart News—is known to be edgy and combative. Along with Roger Ailes, the duo effectively ends the effort by campaign chairman Paul Manafort to moderate Trump’s presentation for the general election.

"So forget that “reset” button. Forget a “new presidential” Donald Trump. Put on your seatbelts. Trump will display more bigotry, xenophobia, and hatefulness than ever. “I want to win,” Trump told the Wall Street Journal. “That’s why I’m bringing on fantastic people who know how to win and love to win.” And, presumably, at any cost."

Bloomberg Politics (and Joshua Green) had a colorful feature on Steve Bannon last fall, subheaded "the Most Dangerous Political Operative in America". The print cover (I guess it must be, in the sidebar) blared "The Vast Right Wing Conspirator" with an unflattering but possibly representative photo of the guy in charge of an organization with the Honey Badger motto, and providing "a haven for people who think Fox News is too polite and restrained." CPAC, UKIP's Nigel Farage, and Duck Dynasty's Phil Robertson flesh out the cast. Andrew Breitbart weighs in posthumously to laud Bannon "with sincere admiration, as the Leni Riefenstahl of the Tea Party movement."

The question of whether these people could have learned their lessons from losing the last anti-Clinton battle, and could keep from jumping the shark again, with Donald Trump as their candidate seems to answer itself, but you never know.

The Washington Post take on the campaign news has lots of angles, including the lead video showing that "Trump, master of 'winning,' seems to realize losing is a possibility." In the candidate's words:

"Can you imagine how badly I'll feel, if I spent all of that money, all of this energy, all of this time, and l~o~s~t."

It wasn't stated as a question, with the introspective, rhetorical preamble contrasting with the down-turned, gravelly, unthinkable final word.

"I will never, ever forgive the people of Connecticut," he continued, his scrunchy 'imagine my pain' face giving way to the sarcastic—yes, we see it now!—smug smile. "I will never forgive the people of Florida. And Pennsylvania. And Ohio. But I love them anyway," the clippet ends, his voice trailing off with the dismissive wave of his hand. Cut to the message to Pennsylvania that "the only way we can lose, in my opinion, I really mean this, Pennsylvania, is if... cheating goes on. I really believe it."

You can "believe it" that there will be someone else to blame when Donald Trump loses. Paul Manafort. All the voters in Florida, Pennsylvania and Ohio and across the country. Whatever. Richard Viguerie's celebratory press release has a predictably opposite spin:

"Kellyanne Conway and Steve Bannon are movement conservatives. With Kellyanne and Steve at the top of the campaign, Mike Pence as Vice President and Senator Jeff Sessions at Donald Trump’s side the Trump campaign is shaping up to be the most ideological campaign since Ronald Reagan’s 1980 campaign against Jimmy Carter."

As if... Trump were the new Reagan? He's not as facile an actor as Ronnie was, and he hasn't been elected dog catcher, let alone Governor of California before this run for the big house. A "most ideological campaign" is music to Viguerie's ears as the self-appointed spokesperson for the movement. (Don't take my word for it, take his: “Trump’s recent speeches ... were full of solidly conservative policy and ideas that have been music to the ears of movement conservatives.”)

“Conway and Steve Bannon are two of the conservative movement’s most talented and trusted strategists,” said Viguerie. “Trump’s decision to promote them to top leadership positions in his campaign will do much to close the deal with movement conservatives to actively support and vote for Donald Trump.”

With the revenge of Lewandowski visited on Manafort, we may lose some of the delicious Ukraine (and miscellaneous dictator) payola intrigue, but anticipate the spectacle of more Trump being Trump, moving the bowels of American xenophobia and racism. And maybe Roger Ailes to advise on how to debate a woman? Be still my heart. (The campaign's sort-of "official word" from Ms. Conway, is that "it's an expansion," not a diminution of Manafort as campaign manager. Not a shakeup at all! It's bigger, better, winninger.)

After Trump loses, will it drive a stake in the heart of Viguerie's retrograde movement as collateral damage? Stay tuned.

16.Aug.16 Permanent URL to this day's entry

Disintermediation Permalink to this item

Zephyr Teachout is going after big money in politics, specifically in New York's 19th District, where she's running for Congress. And very specifically, not her opponent in the race, but "vulture fund manager" (as HuffPo put it) Paul Singer who's funding her opponent with a cool $half a million of super PAC walking around money. By all means, let's see that debate!

De-escalator Permalink to this item

There has been plenty of speculation about what Trump is really up to with this whole presidential run, because, really, you cannot be serious that he would want such a job or thinks he'd be any good at it.

Previously, his highest and most ego-gratifying work achievement was as a reality TV star who got to fire people. So... was this all a publicity stunt intended to get a raise from NBC? That's Michael Moore's contention and whether or not Moore is just blowing smoke or really does "know this for a fact," as he claims, it's an entertaining story. As long as you can distance yourself from the potential downside of a stunt gone horribly, horribly wrong.

If you're a Republican, it's a downer, because this crazy dude just pushed everybody else on your team off the stage, with antics that now seem like as not to lose the Senate as well as another 4 or 8 years of the Executive branch.

"Trump fell in love with himself all over again, and he soon forgot his mission to get a good deal for a TV show. A TV show? Are you kidding? That’s for losers like Chris Harrison, whoever that is (host of “The Bachelorette”). He was no longer king of the dealmakers—he was King of the World! His tiniest musings would be discussed and dissected everywhere by everybody for days, weeks, months! THAT never happened on “The Apprentice”! Host a TV show? He was the star of EVERY TV SHOW—and soon, winning nearly every primary."

"And then… you can see the moment it finally dawned on him…"

Bespokely Permalink to this item

2016 photo

A variety of link trolls have come my way over the years, but today's offer has one feature of note. Some of them offer a plausible connection to something I've written over the last decade and a half (which covers a lot of ground), even if the idea of updating a three or five year old monthly edition of my blog is a ridiculous proposition. This one's supposed connection is weaker than average: "I noticed your site has published a very interesting article," and links to the whole June edition.

Oh wait, no it doesn't. It pretends to with that in the anchor text, but the hyperlink is to honeycolony dot com, and clickbait with "benefits of equilibrium superfood" in the URL. Yay for honey. (Or maybe the equilibrium superfood is a chicken dinner at Denny's, hinted by the sender's pretend name, "Denny Friars.")

"I am currently working with a brilliant company who operates in the sport and education industry," the message starts, its author apparently oblivious to the not-brilliance of having a clumsy grammatical error in the lede. But this:

"We would like to feature a bespoke piece of content on your site, which we think would be of great interest to you and your audience. For the privilege of being featured on your site, we would be happy to offer you a fee of $50."

That specific amount is further than any such offer has ventured with an opening salvo. It's nice to know that being featured on my site would be worth $50 to someone. And that said piece of content would be "bespoke." Almost alluring enough to make me taste the bait. But no. (On the other hand, if Denny Friars were to follow up and mention this post in particular, I'd give him another chance.)

15.Aug.2016 Permanent URL to this day's entry

(8-15) Wayne, Maine Permalink to this item

1976 photo

After I packed & ate (politely enough) the rain came. Read & hammocked until it was dry & a downhill to Norway and So. Paris. Still weird. From there a tough climb into the clouds, cool & clammy. Long ride down & under through Buckfield. Nice country if somewhat grey, very stiff from yesterday, had to search for the energy. Stopped for a pizza and made it here in the mist. The Smiths are still en route after a jinxed weekend. Big dinner & lots of beds. Three Molson's. Ahhh.

Can't recall what I was finding "weird" about Maine, from the earlier mention of [highway] 5, to this. The town names are kind of funny, recapitulating Europe and other places. The memories of my two-night stay near Wayne are firmer, even if I can't track down the exact place on the map now. Wayne is on an isthmus between Androscoggin and Pocasset lakes, and the farm was up off of the shore of one of them. More things have been built around the lakes, including some more roads. Going by the size and islands and what-not, I'm thinking it must have been above Pocasset L. So, how did I find out about this place? The two brothers I'd rode with in South Dakota and Minnesota had crossed paths with the Smiths, it seems, and been invited to come and visit their "Sunrise Farm" should they find themselves downeast. Don't know if there was an explicit "invite your friends" (or people you meet on the road), but that's the way it worked. They had a barn with ample accomodations for any bicyclists passing through, and hospitality to spare. I think there was a piece of paper, or a business card I was carrying around that said "Sunrise Farm, Wayne Maine." Maybe even a telephone number? That would have been slightly exotic, but phone booths were a thing, and a local call would have cost a dime. ("Long distance" would have been a bit much.)

14.Aug.2016 Permanent URL to this day's entry

Cash talks Permalink to this item

NYT reporting on dodgy Donald Trump’s dodgy campaign chief, what could we add to this? My emphasis:

"Handwritten ledgers show $12.7 million in undisclosed cash payments designated for Mr. Manafort from Mr. Yanukovych’s pro-Russian political party from 2007 to 2012, according to Ukraine’s newly formed National Anti-Corruption Bureau. Investigators assert that the disbursements were part of an illegal off-the-books system whose recipients also included election officials."

Update: Ton of buzz on this. WaPo's rundown includes this tweet from an editor at Fusion, a site owned by Univision:

Speaking as someone who has a story coming this week: This is just the beginning for Manafort. It gets worse.

— Adam Weinstein (@AdamWeinstein) August 15, 2016

(8-14) Crooked River, Maine Permalink to this item

1976 photo

Took off early in the cloud-filled notch = the White Mtns. Downhill, saw clear brooks, the baby flume, a walk thru the woods, up the flume and over the pool. Incredible. Nice & early too, so they didn't get my $1.25. Another superb bkfst. and goodbye to the notch steeped in mist. Started up the Kancamagus highway in high spirits, an exhilarating climb, not too steep. As I crested the pass, a van pulled along[side me] and handed me a Schlitz. The ride down was long & fine, had to hitch up to recover my shorts. Thru the mountains along clean rivers, just like Idaho. Too dark here...

(8-15) Grey morning. Long gentle down to pie in Conway, Then back to roller coasters and into Maine. Stopped for a while to munch & climb the Jockey Cap – beautiful view of the whole area. By the time I got out of Bridgton, about 5 Maine was coming at me pretty weird. But away from the city, things smoothed out as I kept climbing & coasting. Stopped at a tavern for 2 Buds: light & dark draught, then across the river to this 'rest area.' After a bath, I got invited via 4 ears of corn to a big family outing here. Chatted & got stuffed before dark & climbing in. Nice to meet some Maine people.

Map of day 40

The journal entry started at last light and finished the next (tomorrow) morning. After the early hike through the woods before opening time (and so all to myself), the ride up the Kancamagus was a nice, long grade and brought back happy memories of the Rocky Mountains. On a Saturday morning, when I passed that vanload of slightly dodgy young men in a pullout near the top, I was reminded of my first night's lesson outside Kooskia, Idaho: be careful where you stay on weekends. When they rolled out just after I rode by, and came up behind me at my pace, my spider sense was tingly enough, but then next to me with the van's side door swung open (back in the days before vans had sliding doors), it seemed like something bad might be about to happen.

Instead, the fellow grinning in the doorway asked "wanna beer?" and I said "sure!" He popped the top and handed to me on the roll, I toasted my fellow men and crested the high point of the eastern half of my trip, never mind that it was 10 in the morning. I stopped after the first downhill pitch to put on warmer clothes, and forgot to tie down my shorts, so yet another hitchhiking backtrack to fetch left gear, no big deal.

Day 40 took me into the penultimate state on my list, number 11 (plus the province of Ontario). The Jockey Cap is a little (cap-shaped) granite protuberance sticking above the forest around Fryeburg. There is a lot of forest.

13.Aug.2016 Permanent URL to this day's entry

Donald Trump's tax returns Permalink to this item

For someone who likes to brag about how rich he is, and how generous he is (ha ha), and how of course he only pays as much as he has to (which the IRS always has to sort out), Trump's determination to keep the legal documentation of (some of) his financial affairs secret is impressive.

All that bragadoccio, and so little substance.

We can only assume that the steady criticism from the opposition (and his party's 2012 nominee) bothers him less than what would rain down when the numbers are published. Chances are good his accountants' estimate of how much he has to pay is a big, fat zero, and maybe they're right, given all the loopholes for real estate developers. There's more than just location, location, location that makes real estate valuable; the location of roads, water supply, sewer systems, electricity, communications, mass transit, airports, police and fire protection matter too. All those things depend on taxes in one form or another. And real estate wheelers and dealers do their best to avoid paying for them, whether by generous tax breaks cooked into the rules, or by fobbing them off to the wheeled and dealed.

James B. Stewart couldn't get many professionals to speak for attribution "because their clients benefit from the same tax breaks available to Mr. Trump," but there's ample evidence to speculate that Trump is dodging any tax liability. Were he not intent on appealing to the disaffected and economically displaced, he'd celebrate that for how smart he is, and how clever his people are to pay nothing. He's certainly not above "boasting that he pays as little as the law allows."

That means everyone else is supporting Trump's lavish lifestyle. Would they celebrate him sticking a thumb in the eye of the tax man, if they stopped to consider what his "success" is costing them? It's not like he's going to share anything. He talks a great game about creating jobs, but that kind of talk is as cheap as he is.

There are things that need to be explained, most of all, "For the umpteenth time, what is Trump hiding?" How much income, how much tax on it, how much he owes the Russians, Deutsche Bank, Paul Manafort, whomever?

The Clintons showed theirs, with its whopping last-year bill of more than $3 million (at a 34.2% rate), and charitable contributions of almost 10% of their gross income.

The last time Trump's feet were held to the fire, after he "pledged" to give to veterans but didn't deliver, it cost him a million bucks, and he's probably still smarting from that. Looking deeper, the the Washington Post could only find $10,000 over 7 years.

Big talk, but not much delivery from those little hands.

Update: Even Trump's running mate might do the right thing before he does.

(8-13) Friday Franconia Notch Permalink to this item

Went to the house last night for a cola & the Waltons & a pleasant chat. Got a good hard rain in the night and the sun came out with the new day. Climbed up into the misty hills and to Thoreau country. Sweaty but superb. Stopped in West Danville to send out postcards and when I got outside it had clouded over. The ride 'down' involved some good climbs, but a goodly amt. of free flying. Found "Archies" in St. Johnsbury to be an excellent & inexpensive eatery. The rain waited till I was undercover, ketp me in town for a walk around. The road out was a good climb & it started to sprinkle on me near the top. I crested & raced on down & out of it to New Hampshire. Stopped in Littleton for a pleasant shop, the rain didn't come. So I went off, following the signs led me to I-93. No sign so I said why not. I made about 6-7 miles before I got pulled over. Farthead N.H. moto cop. He checked & found out I wasn't lying, told me to get off "at the clearing." Sure. Rode to the Franconia exit & then a grueling climb up 18. 2 walker sections, I rode one. I was ready to pay 75¢ at the top to jump in Echo Lake. 6" of it, bit the gravel & dug the cold water. The White Mts. = incredible view. Rode the tram to the top & saw the Old Man before it started pouring which it still is. Sleeping at the gift shop porch tonite.

Map of days 38 and 39

12.Aug.2016 Permanent URL to this day's entry

(8-12) A stream in Vt. Permalink to this item

Vt. covered bridge

The accommodations make the trip. Even a motel can be shitty (esp. w/a fart behind the bar) and the woods can be sublime. The day started with a strong & humid south wind. Did a grueling climb up from Milton and to a view of the Green Mtns. Made it Cambridge 3 mins. late for bkfst. Ended up with a burger & fries in Jeffersonville. I didn't go far today, but it was uphill overall (along the Lamoille R.) & hot & humid. So by the time the "Come & Eat" sign nabbed me outside Hardwick, I was all in. My heart wasn't in it any more. The whole ordeal. When I left, I was feeling lonely & depressed, just rode slow looking for a campsite. I found a dirt road following the stream and followed it past an old trailer to the end, someone's homestead. Said "oh well" and turned to leave. Someone called to me & I went back. They guessed my desire and said I could stay by the trailer. A beautiful little knoll with a grove of pines next to the creek. After going back to the diner for a needed poop, I took a bath in the brisk, clean water, and sat back in my hammock with some fresh veg. A look ahead on the map is very promising—my spirits have done an about face.

Some of the places and scenes are fixed more firmly in memory than others. Looking at the map and route along Lamoille R. up past Hardwick, I don't see any likely dead-end roads up a creek. Things are probably more built-up and connected now. And I can't picture the homestead, trailer, or nice people who showed a vagabond some hospitality.

11.Aug.2016 Permanent URL to this day's entry

(8-11) Grand Isle, Vermont Permalink to this item

Over 100 miles today, thru the Adirondacks. I read while the sun dried my tent—another dewy night. Very cold before dawn. Out on the road, it was fantastic, warm yet cool, a fine downhill start, through N.Y. woods. Stopped at Piercefield for #2 bkfst, & Tupper Lake for #3. The last was restaurant style, an excellent $2 job. Sat out in the shade to let it settle and then a mountain ride. 3 East is heaven (west must be hell). Had a beer at Nick's & Vern's and wobbled onward. Big downhills & easy up, what can I say? Rode around the cool bay of Lake Champlain & caught the ferry to Vt. Got a bum steer on a campground on the mainland so I came back to this motel for a delightful shower & now to get drunk.

Map of days 35-37

Remap! The mileage was one clue, but when I tracked down Piercefield and Tupper Lake, I found the longer, more southerly route I must've taken, with a short day yesterday. When I get done with this, I'm going to include the whole interactive map (made with Google My Maps, btw), and you can get a better look than these stills I'm coming up with. One firm memory, reinforced by one of the precious, crappy snapshots, is the glorious light in the clouds over the big lake for my ferry ride, and the vastness of the lake stretching all the way north to the Canadian border.

L. Champlain

10.Aug.2016 Permanent URL to this day's entry

Sore loser Permalink to this item

If you're explaining, you're losing, and hoo boy, is Trump looking the part after his attempted "joke" produced more than its intended effect.

It was "funny" because of the double entendre, about, you know, using a gun to take care of his problem that he's losing to Hillary. And now we have the follow-on spectacle of Rudy Giuliani "explaining," that anyone taking Trump's "joke" the least bit seriously is "corrupt." And if anyone said that Trump might have been serious (or even... just tap tap tapping on the stochastic terrorism vein?) to him, he would say "Are you out of your mind?"

Good question.

Giuliani's interpretation of Trump's remarks is that "if Hillary Clinton were elected president she would get to appoint judges to the Supreme Court, and among the other things that they would do to destroy us would be to do away with the Second Amendment and your right to bear arms."

Among the other things that they would do to destroy us.

So, I've got a question for Rudy Giuliani: "Are you out of your mind?"

Speaker of the House Paul Ryan's inimitable analysis was that "it sounds like just a joke gone bad." That was without bothering to listen to what Trump said.

The latest wailing from the Trump campaign is not those babies at a rally, but the big baby at the podium talking about the coming election being "rigged." Remember he covered his primary season bets by saying those were rigged as well. "100 percent crooked," he said, and he ought to know about that kind of stuff.

For this round, Politico let Stuart Stevens, chief strategist for Mitt Romney’s 2012 campaign summarize:

"On some level, he knows he's running a scam on the Republican Party. They put more Trumps onstage at RNC than Hispanics. At some level, he knows this is a con, just like when he said Trump University would make you rich and he knew it wouldn't.

"He's just preparing himself for the humiliation of defeat. His problem is he doesn't have a pre-nup with voters — they get to decide. He can't rig it in advance. The whole idea of a guy who inherited a company, inherited all his wealth, and is now talking about a ‘rigged system'? He is the poster child of a rigged system living on Fifth Avenue."

(8-10) Canton, NY, USA Permalink to this item

International bridge over the St. Lawrence Seaway

Lots of starch (have another fried cake?) and the view from the Geer's. Weird, but nice. Rode [down] the Seaway in the mugginess and my shorts (at last!) Kingston was wild, lots of museums, steeped in history. The 2 forts I wanted to see charged admission, so I got the outside tour. Sailboats & marinas. The ride was farms for a while, could've been Wisconsin, then views of the river, saw 3 or 4 of the big ones cruisin' in. Kept thinking of food, saving my [Canadian] $ for the toll. Made it on cheese, fruit & peanuts to Johnstown & the trippy bridge. Steel, rivets & bolts, a view down the Seaway. Greeted by a swarm of bugs and Customs. They just checked my record & let me through. Celebrated with a banana split & shopped at P&C. Food! 68 had a nice paved shoulder & I rolled through NY farms 18 miles to Canton & Billy's Bar. Had 3, watched Al Bundy & off to [Willow Island Park in the Grass River]. Had some laughs at the young drunks, made camp & ate as the bugs came. The night was humid with a full (?) moon behind clouds & weird dreams. Patty Gormley & Dave stopped for a chat... The morning is grey & very damp, I think about 100% humidity. Putting on clothes was gross. Here at the inn to see if I can outwait the weather....


Morning/evening entries take some parsing. Saturday night in Algonquin Provincial Park, Sunday night (and Monday morning) in Kingston, Ontario, up the Seaway, and over the Ogdensburg-Prescott International Bridge out of Johnstown, to Monday the 9th in Canton, for an unlikely camp spot in the middle of town, and this morning entry. Then...

Map of days 35 and 36

(8-10) Adirondack Park
After a protracted bkfst, I sat out in the lobby & read & "lived vicariously" w/ this old lady from Florida who came up summers. She was amusing & very intelligent & kind. When it stopped raining, I got a cigar (still smoking, eh?) and walked through the cemetery, talking to myself in my phony accent. Rode slowly off on the drying hiway, a nice, relaxing pace. Stopped at a "corners" grocery store where I enjoyed the proprietor's hospitality for an hour or so. On & up, drinking a beer and enjoying the climbs & coasts. Into the park as the sun was getting thru, seemed to all be posted lands. I found a "free" meadow and set up on some soft starry moss. The sun is setting & the sky has cleared. Hope it holds. Sometimes rainy days turn out all right.

The journal page has the look of it, dotted with drops that blur the ink, and bled to the facing photo, "TWO-HORSE POWER, Prairie du Chien, James Strzok," a pulling contest at a fair, maybe. The rain gave me time for the most voluble pair of entries of any single day of the trip. If I'd had fenders and good rain gear—innovations that I would not enjoy for some years to come—it would have been a different story.

I found that I naturally picked up the local accents as I rode through the vowel shifts of North American and Canadian English, the better to be understood in conversation, and because it was amusing to pay attention to the changes. Not that I was attempting camouflage, so obviously "not from around here" in all but the very middle of the trip. North of the border was the most abrupt shift, and back in the states, I was loathe to let go of the most entertaining of the lot.

One last picture from Canada, a poor snapshot of the fountain with arch in Kingston's Confederation Park, but showing my high-loaded bike leaning against the bench there. Seems that I'd traded the little green handlebar bag I started with for something bigger and redder.

Photo from Kingston, Ontario

9.Aug.2016 Permanent URL to this day's entry

Kingston (8-9) Permalink to this item

Map, day 34

Monday morning, you sure look fine. Got away w/Saturday night, sunset on Tea L. My morning swim was cancelled due to the cold & grey. Had a fine day in the park, expensive breakfast, 2 good hikes (one through a bog) and the park museum. The occasional showers caught me 3 miles from the east gate and I got good & soaked. After drying somewhat & calling home & Bruce, I had the rangers trying to get me a ride to Whitney (4 mi.) The ride turned out to be from 3 Penn. kids boogiing back home. They got me to town, out of the rain, and over 100 miles down the road, ready for a trip up the Seaway. I bought a round of beer & a plate of fr fries ('cause it was Sunday) for $5! El rip-off. Rode into town & found out about L. Ontario Park – free camping, amusements, black & white squirrels & now free breakfast as the sun comes sneaking thru.

Well, $5 was worth more back in the day, and most of my daily spend for food. But the 100 mile boost saved me a day and a half, and the round for the kids was a great deal.

I'm sure Ontario has more to offer the bicycle tourist these days (and more lanes on the Trans-Canada), but my choice of route, and some wet weather in early August combined to make hopping and skipping through a more attractive option. Ok, going to get back to bicycling, through upstate NY, shortly.

Battery at Kingston, Ontario

7.Aug.2016 Permanent URL to this day's entry

(8-7) Sundridge Permalink to this item

Climbed in as the sun went down & presently the dew began to collect. Soon there was a good ground fog but I slept. Some late nighters stopped in to chat. By the time the moon set I was waiting for dawn. Slowly, slowly. Then it was up & burned off the fog & steamed my bag. Got dry & left in an hour or 2. Then the ride. Streams of tourists, once again the wind shifts around to face NE and a shithead trucker to scare me (about 2" clearance). More overpriced tourist restaurants & to top it, a sign that diverted me a mile down a torn up road when I could've stayed on the hiway & gone 2 blocks off.

It's a hard life
Up on the road
you better check it out well first
Lord, you'll wish you never came.

But a huge breakfast (w/ 2 free slices of toast) here changes the outlook, n'est-ce pas? Bilingual is more fun. The night: getting soaked, lumpy spot, cold feet. Dreamt of winter... driving the Skylark back for fun.

Map, day 33

Tea Lake, Algonquin Prov. Pk.
After breakfast, it seemed downhill & I started feeling better. Close to Huntsville I got off 11 for a few blessedly quiet miles. Huntsville was bustling, I went to A&P, Mike's Milk & a big shade tree for lunch. Took off & into the hill & lake district, got 8 miles before remembering my Swiss knife under the shade tree. Swore & cried. Calmed down, hid the bike & stuck out my thumb. Not too long before 2 college kids working here picked me up. Good chat, did errands in town & rode back to my bike. From there it was hilly, at least. The last 10 miles (after pie) were roller coasters & about 6 heartbreakers. Thought I was gonna die. But made it to this lovely spot (which I am using on the sly = no $3.50) for dinner & sunset over the lake. I'm sort of in spot 7½, 8 is empty but a sign said campground full, so we shall see.

Had to look up that lyric from a song that had slipped out of memory, to see it was Roger Daltrey's solo album, "It's a Hard Life," which I loved, and just the right wail for a lonely traveler, caught in the rain, having to sleep out on the highway. It's all a bit precious from this far away; a bit of free toast to turn things around.

It was a big swing from a comfy motel stay in Wahnapitae to getting soaked and cold feet on a lumpy spot in Trout Creek, journaled the next morning, before riding on and into the Provincial Park for Saturday night, Aug. 7.

Tea Lake

6.Aug.2016 Permanent URL to this day's entry

(8-6) Trout Creek Permalink to this item

Spent the day bicycling. Slept late (bien sûr) & dried things out. Felt strong. 20 miles to a bad spot for bkfst. (25¢/cup) & talked to 2 women cyclers there. Passed them & then they me, that was it. The road started hilly & lush with lots of rocks, became flat unitl L. Nipissing. Shopped in Sturgeon Falls & ate at an overlook of the lake. Got to North bay mid P.M. & spaced thru an incredible downtown row of every imaginable shop. Stopped at A&W and then at the lake as I turned south. Wind is still no help, hwy. 11 still narrow & busy. Rode thru the evening to here and quaffed 2 cool draughts before finding my way to the agricultural grnds. Going to brave the bugs under the stars tonite. Beautiful weather again, sunny & cool.

"Of course," because I stayed at a motel; the day bicycling, as opposed to taking a bus ride.

5.Aug.2016 Permanent URL to this day's entry

(8-5) Motel Norvic (Huit milles à l'est de Sudbury) Wahnapitae, Ont. Permalink to this item

Spent yesterday p.m. hassling with the bike man, walking around "Soo" and ogling the young women. Finally found a tavern (at the Greyhound) and tried some Canadian beers while reading Hesse. Cashed a cheque to buy and got $5 extra in change, nice. Went back to the bike shop & watched him make my wheel. Rode thru town about six with a strong wind at my back. When I got to the 2-lane, I tried hitching for a while. So I tried it. Yes it's narrow. Yes, it's busy. But the evening was pleasant and I rode on & up & down along the 12" edge. I stopped here & there & ended up in the schoolyard of Desbarats. Had soup & jumped in my tent as the mosquitoes swarmed. The rain came in the night and lasted past the day. It looked like it would rain a week so I rolled out & went to the cafe for breakfast. Left after it had quit and tried to dry out before I left. The route was that tight line. Decided to quit & stopped outside Thessalon & tried the thumb. After a couple hours decided it was useless & went into town & caught the bus. 130 mile in the afternoon for $7. Sleepy. Nice scenery too fast. Sudbury was cold & windy. Had dinner at the U & I = lasagna. Rode off on another evening. Still no shoulder dammit. A stiff crosswind makes it really tricky to stay on. And the westbound semis shove you back. Stopped here & talked the girl down to $6 (from $12 retail) and a free beer besides. The only way to get rid of the rainy morning blues. Out of the big city, the scenery is despoiled, barren. Looks like Western Wash. now. More is man 'made' tho.

Photo on the Trans-Canada

The section of the Trans-Canada highway I'd stumbled on to was one of those "not suited for bicycling." Two lanes, heavy truck traffic both directions, and just about no pavement right of the fog line. No detailed map to get me to an alternate route.

I wasn't looking to prove anything to myself at this point, and while making my way by bike was what this was about, the bus alternative to route around unpleasantness seemed like a great trade-off. My daily spend for food (which was mostly all I was spending) was about $7, so two-day's distance for that price was a 50% discount.

The despoilation around Sudbury turns out to be of mixed provenance. A good bit of it is from mining, but that has to do with the nickel and other good stuff to be found in the Sudbury Nickel Irruptive, the "second-largest known impact crater or astrobleme on Earth," estimated to be almost 2 billion years old. That 10 to 15 km bolide left a serious mark.

Map, day 32

4.Aug.2016 Permanent URL to this day's entry

(8-4) Sault Ste. Marie, Ontario Permalink to this item

These 2 cities will not be fondly remembered. The Mich. side diverted me down to the turkey trap district (the greatest) & on the way down, caught a good hole in the pavement, kinking my back rim. So my excellent start today (got here before noon) was wasted. I hit the road around 7:00, ate in Trout Lake at a $ trap & had a beautiful, quiet & swift ride through the forest, gray skies & lots of scents, few turistas. Out of Hiawatha & into flat farmlands. Turned north & along I-75 to this. Canada's side is puked by the steel mills. The international bridge was fantastic views (only 75¢) & Customs no hassle at all.

One positive memory of the crossing was the thrill of standing on the steel grate in the middle of that international bridge, over the flow of Lake Superior rushing into Huron, seeing, feeling, hearing and smelling the power of the Great Lakes as if I were floating above them, up there where the U.P. bridges the three largest.

A bicycle tourist was a rather novel thing for Customs, I imagine, and pretty obviously not a likely way to smuggle contraband. Plus, the Canadians were pretty easy-going about letting Americans in.

Map of day 30 and 31

3.Aug.2016 Permanent URL to this day's entry

Trout Lake (8-3) Permalink to this item

The morning came dewy & clear, got an early start. Rode to bkfst. at the Chat & Nibble in Manistique. A fine ride over the top of Lake Michigan. Did 40+ miles on U.S. 2 with no shoulder & made it alive. One last look at the lake, feel the cold wind. Beautiful days for riding—clear & cool. Rode up into the center, some good hills but still very flat. Got water at a house. Poor folks. Nothing towns. Stopped here because I saw bikers and a lake, didn't get into either. Talked with Gary and his Grand P's. Know-it-all Hoosiers, thanks for dinner & drinks. Pedaling feels good, stopped early tho. Canada tomorrow.

2.Aug.2016 Permanent URL to this day's entry

Could this really have happened? Permalink to this item

Heard on the radio, NPR's usually a reliable source, and it's trending on Twitter, anyway. A veteran and recipient of the Purple Heart apparently gave his medal to Donald Trump, out of... well, who knows? And Trump told the story to a rally wherever he was rallying today, and said,

"I always wanted to get the Purple Heart. This was much easier."

Much easier than going to Viet Nam, for sure. And getting wounded and everything.

He always wanted a Purple Heart? That's what he said, but it's beyond hard to believe. I would guess that no human in the history of this country has ever uttered that sentence before. Is he going to use it for defense against the next Gold Star family he wants to insult? "Don't give me that crap," he'll say, "I have a Purple Heart."

In the meantime, Khizr and Ghazala Khan's conversation with Judy Woodruff on last night's PBS Newshour was some relief from the insanity of the current presidential campaign.

Well, here it is on tonight's Newshour, it did happen. The sincerity of the retired Lt. Colonel is touching, even in a tiny video bite. And as for Donald Trump... at least he now has a heart. It's kind of a reverse Wizard of Oz.

Hiawatha Nat'l Forest Permalink to this item

Map of day 29

Away from it all. Did 70 miles pretty easily today. Stopped for bkfst, shopping & boogied north on U.S. 2. Aside from the tourists, quite scenic. Some puffball clouds and hills even. Continuous flat is somewhat monotonous. Decided to follow the southern route & after 2 pieces of pie I ran into a couple headed west via bicycle (at Rapid River), turned east & raced for 10 miles. Weather from NNW, wind from S over the bay. I'm close to the edge of the forest, off in an isolated meadow under clear evening sky.

Ok, Google Permalink to this item

Noticed the prompt in the search box, inviting me to say "Ok, Google" and search with my words. I said "find upper TV," with something particular in my mind that's not particularly in its. It offered "find a TV." How about "find windsurfing weather forecast for upper Treasure Valley."

That's got it. Very cool.

And hey, I should be up at the lake this morning. Also, I should be redesigning that web page so it's more readable on a phone.

Stepping over $hundreds to find a penny Permalink to this item

After shifting from being not-early adopters, to not-mainstream, to the dwindling population of "you don't have a cellphone?" we took the deep plunge yesterday. After an hour-long chat over lunch with an above-average CenturyLink agent, and inferring that their reselling of Verizon was apparently the same price as buying it directly, the deal breaker was CL's inability to deliver today or tomorrow, the requirement for which is a pathetic testament to poor planning. It's not like this hasn't been on my to-do list for years, or anything.


"Which carrier" was decided by the awful experience we had with T-Mobile here in Idaho, and it not working for all those places we mobile to from time to time. If you look at a nationwide coverage map, and perhaps most striking on Verizon's, it's mostly filled in, other than... all the interesting places, eh. The Cascades, the Redwoods, the Ozarks, is that? West Virginia, northern Maine, Texas hill country (?), the Sierra Nevada, Area 51, and most of Idaho. Sprint or AT&T might have worked, but the only one that we heard from neighbors and friends that works really reliably beyond the pale was Verizon.

We went to the store, at a time when the queue was modest, barely enough time to wander around the brightly lit array of gadgetry, lots of familiar names and unfamiliar variations, and accessories, and flashy bits.

The pricing (you know all this, of course, but humor me) is obfuscated, and fragmented, and spread out over time to conceal how much you're about to spend now, and forever. Let's start with the most basic data plan, size (S), 2GB/mo seems like god's own plenty, especially with unlimited talk and text. What would we do with 2GB? If we figure that out, we can bump it up to the next tier. I'm sure it will happen eventually, but probably not this month. $35. That's affordable. Oh, and $20 per line, plus the phones. Plus an activation fee. (But just this once. For each line.) And... the phones.

Those ranged from free (after a few months' charges get refunded), to seemingly inexpensive, to quite expensive, but always with a number in one or the low 2-digits (multiplied by 24). Oh, except that basic model (which would have been absolutely ample for one of our two lines) that's "free" wasn't in stock. Wouldn't you know!

The perky young salesperson was new to the job, but not new to smartphones (let alone cellphones—who is?), and answered all our questions well enough, I guess, and tried to imagine what mattered to us, and I don't suppose she gets a cut of the sale? Verizon should be so generous. There were some accessories. You have to have a case, right? (So, ah, why doesn't the damn thing come with one, then?) We could've got "protection." And so on, through pages of contract that make a car rental contract look like pleasant reading.

Not that we read any of that stuff. The process was all managed by her fingers tapping and swiping around on an iPad, scans of barcodes and what-not, a credit check, three fingered-in "signatures" and we'll email all of this to you, 'k? Sure... what could go wrong?

Well, one thing: our very old Samsung flip phone wouldn't talk to the new Samsung and cough up its address book. We had... oh, I don't know, 30 contacts in there? 40? Not enough to press the point with the more experienced agent who tried and failed with Bluetooth and then took it to the back with a cable and failed with that, too. There is a web interface, thank goodness, we don't have to do it all through the phone.

Getting into our new web account took a bit of doing, and at one point it gave me the choice of a password/token it would send to the phone, or one that it would email me, and the address it said it was going to email to was WRONG, with of course no way for me to correct it, and how could they have the wrong address, because they'd already sent me a bunch of emails?! Including "please verify," we're signed up for paperless billing, and our device purchase is complete. Once in, I could see paperlessly, that there were eighteen documents waiting for me. Receipts with no prices, receipts with prices (BIG prices), first payment receipts, estimated first bill receipts, installment sale details, a privacy notice with a conveniently limited decision tree. ("We don't share" most of the items, and the ones that say "Yes" say "No," we can't limit sharing.)

That talks about Verizon being a "financial company," by virtue of it making "installment financial transactions." And they protect my personal information (thank goodness) with "security measures that comply with federal law. These measures include computer safeguards and secured files and buildings. We safeguard your personal information through a variety of technical, administrative, and physical safeguards, and employees are trained on the importance of protecting privacy to avoid improper access to information."

And out here on the pointy end of the phone? How's my protection in cyberspace? Three years ago, Consumer Reports laid out some guidelines for how to keep your phone safe which I imagine still apply.

"[W]hen you take your phone into your confidence, so to speak, you’re also taking in a host of parties that make all of those wonderful mobile services possible, including app developers, your wireless carrier and phone manufacturer, mobile advertisers, and the maker of your phone’s operating system."

Also, anybody who happens to get their hands on your phone. What could go wrong?

Many users don’t secure their phones.

(And sales gal didn't talk to us about any of that. They do have regular classes at the store, though!)

Malicious software is a real threat. Way more so than on a desktop or laptop computer, I'm sure. I was surprised to read that in 2012, only "5.6 million smart-phone users experienced undesired behavior on their phones such as the sending of unauthorized text messages or the accessing of accounts without their permission." (Versus 31% on home computers; I bet those numbers have flipped in the last 3 years.)

"We recommend that users who use a lot of apps consider installing a security app."

Users’ whereabouts can be exposed.

"[O]nce you use an app that requires your location, such as mapping, tracking stays on until you turn it off."

Apps are often too intrusive. "Before many apps can be installed or used, they ask for permission to perform various actions, such as reading your contact list. But not all of the permissions that apps request are essential to the app. ..." And even if they're forthright about disclosing what all they're going to do, can you find that disclosure, and decide how far you want to go? Decisions are distilled down to YES or NO.

"Roughly 48 million users had stopped installing an app in the previous year because it requested too many privileges, our survey suggests."

It’s hard to control your privacy.

Oh, I almost forgot—walking over to our water company to pay our bill (with a paper check; one of the last businesses we do that for; but they're just around the corner from our house), I found a penny, just laying on the street. Woot.

1.Aug.2016 Permanent URL to this day's entry

Fox Park, Mich. (Aug. 1) Permalink to this item

Map of day #28

A tiring day. Started in the dewy field with a blue sky and still air. Lots of wildflowers on the drive north along the bay. This side is very flat with lots of marshes and cattails. Y to Oconto and S to Peshtigo. I stopped for a while at a county park when clouds rolled in from the NW and threatened. False alarm. A burger in Marinette and frustrated shopping in Menominee. Stayed at a Mobile station with no power for another false alarm with convincingly high winds. When I took off, it took the rain 5 minutes to hit and I dove for a gas station/grocery. Had a 3 mile drive on wet & then dry & sunny. When it once again threatened, I raced in a drizzle for about 5-6 quick miles. Stopped in a nice county park & bathed in the bay. It showered & I left, only to get in another one for 2 or 4 minutes. After that it was dry and sunny to here. Now the wind has freshened and is from the NE, blowing the waves up to the beach. This is a beautiful park, lots of spots along the sunrise shore, filled with fine trees (& flies). The rest of yesterday: 6 miles on the white line, Pehtigo to Marinette. Views of the Door peninsula. Went to see Bill about H2O & we talked, drove to Cedar River for a pitcher and left my vest so we did a replay and got the hitchhiker back here. A beautiful and chilly night. This morning (Aug. 2) is sunny & pleasant except for the [alliterative expletive] flies. Ran into the bay to greet the day.

My first home away from home, the fall after high school, was in Fish Creek, Wisconsin, over on the other side of Green Bay, in the middle of the Door peninsula. This was my first time seeing it from the other side of the bay. The third night out from Milwaukee put me just north of Washington Island, off the tip of the "thumb," and into state #7.


Tom von Alten
ISSN 1534-0007