Wednesday, September 21, 2016

Spent the Day with This Young Lady

       It had been a while since I was able to hang out with this young lady! Courtney, a couple friends, and I all went out to eat and shopping today. It was a good time for everyone. Catching up with Courtney in person was great. We do not get to hang out in person much since I left Darlington, much less meet over steaks and burgers. Courtney's mother, Jeannie, gave me a couple pairs of jeans as a gift.


       I am blessed to have Jeannie and Courtney (and Michael) in my life, and love them dearly. They have been there for me when a lot of people were not.  Family is not always by blood, folks.   

Monday, September 19, 2016

Close Shaves

      I finally got my hair cut. It needed it a week earlier, but things kept getting in the way. The bird's nest that was my hair absolutely had to go. I may have been a little overzealous in telling the barber to cut it as short as he could without spiking it. Oh, well. It turned out all right, and I will certainly not need another for a long while. Short hair looks better on me.
    My weight is still hovering around 100 pounds. It appears to be the new normal. No complaints from me about it. I never thought I would hit a hundred pounds in my life, much less maintain it if the mark was ever reached. I have even bounced back from a 24 hour bug a couple weeks ago I was sure might set me back insurmountably. I am doing a fantastic job of shoveling in those calories. Because junk food is the staff of life.
       I will end this post on a beating a dead horse note, because I promised back in June to keep harping on it. Team Chavis still allegedly has my personal belongings boxed up. This is, of course, a lie. They threw all my stuff out as far back as May 2013. but I have, am, and will continue to call their bluff. What do I have to lose? Either they admit what they have done or I get my stuff back. I will make arrangements to pick it up. Team Chavis just has to dig up whatever piddling courage and/or honesty they have within them. I am not optimistic.

Tuesday, September 13, 2016

A Message Into Eternity

    I am an ardent science fiction fan. I especially enjoy post-apocalyptic stories like the original Planet of the Apes film series. Much of my fascination of thee types of stories comes from two major influence growing up. One, my formative year coincided with the waning days of the Cold War when it still appeared the United States and Soviet Union might still fight a devastating nuclear war. Without a defense other than Mutually Assured Destruction (MAD), who would not live with the fear in the back of their minds? The second was attended a strict, Bob Jones University influenced Christian obsessed with End Times prophecy. When your teacher are openly speculating which world leader currently in the news is the Antichrist, it is bound to leave an impact on your psyche.
       At least I found something at semi-constructive to with those emotional hang ups. Not only did I develop an interest in post-apocalyptic science fiction worlds—your mileage may as vary as to how constructive it is—i also developed a ken eye for real world problems that may develop under the now less than absurd notion the human race might actually survive into the distant future. Yes, folks. I do occasionally cast aside my cynicism and look for solutions instead.
      With this in mind, a recent discussion on the problem of the long-term storage of nuclear waste caught my eye. Nuclear waste must be carefully stored until it decays enough to no longer be dangerously radioactive. The process could take as long as 100,000 year. Safe storage is obviously a problem, but so is communicating with human 100,000 years from now not to open the contents of the storage unit. One-hundred thousand years ago would put us in the neolithic period. Imagine someone from that era leaving a message for us. How would we understand it? If we did understand the warning, would we take it seriously or consider it a superstitious curiosity for the anthropologists to ponder?
     It is doubtful any current language would be readily understandable in 100,000 years. Perhaps a universal symbol could be used? We are are going into uncharted territory there. The oldest man made structures on Earth are 10,000 years old. The pyramids are 5,000 years old. Much information can be lost in 100,000 years, particularly if, even if mankind survives, it suffers catastrophic wars and natural disasters in the interim.
       So what is the solution? For now, nuclear waste I being stored as safely as possible as long as possible with the best contemporary security and warnings available. There is always the possibility an economically feasible method of converting nuclear waste into a power source will be developed. Time—literally—will tell.

Monday, September 12, 2016

In Sickness and in Health Until All the Votes Are Tallied

       You have seen the video by now. Democrat presidential candidate Hillary Clinton, leave the 9/11 memorial service on Sunday because she becomes “overheated” in 77 degree weather. Supposedly, she stumbles stepping off the sidewalk curb and must be helped into her van by the Secret Service before being whisked away, sans her pres detail, to her daughter's apartment. At least that is the official line. The reality is Clinton passed out. The Secret service agents were the only thing between her and the concrete. They tossed her in the van like a sack of potatoes.
       Clinton finally admitted today she was diagnosed with pneumonia on Friday, but did not disclose her illness to the public because she did not think her sickness “was a big deal.” not disclosing the diagnosis is a major blunder for a candidate already struggling with an image of dishonesty. Even on the most basic level, Clinton I campaigning in close contact with swarms of people, including the highly susceptible very young and very old, with a contagious and potentially fatal illness. One million Americans develop pneumonia annually. Fifty thousand die from it. Clinton is being incredibly reckless.
       But let us look at the issue in term of how it may affect the election. Clinton's health issues—or more likely her dishonesty about them—may cause doubt in her ability to serve as president. If so, there will likely be a drop in her pull numbers among swing voters. The solid left and right factions are too polarized to budge one way or the other. If Clinton's poll number are affected by her health, it will not be noticeable for about a week.
       Much of it will depend on how Clinton returns to campaigning. If she come back toward the end of the week invigorated, even though still sick, Voters might actually sympathize with her in the same way fan root for an athlete who is “playing hurt.” many of the working class, blue collar voters Clinton needs to lure away from Republican candidate Donald Trump live paycheck to paycheck with no choice but to work through illness. They might empathize with Clinton’s plight. But only to a point. Even a star athlete can only play hurt while he is winning. There is a point at which strong will to power through turns into weakness. Clinton will not get a second chance to suffer an episode of bad heath.
       The mot likely scenario is Clinton returns clearly struggling, but with a more sympathetic eye on her from the pres and public. This is likely why trump wished her well and remains quiet on making Clinton’s health an issue. He does not want to look as though he is bullying an unwell woman. But Clinton is not going to be able to hide any further health issues, particularly if another incident like Sunday's occurs. I expect the race to tighten regardless. Clinton cannot rely on her run out the clock strategy against Trump. She will appear far too weak if she does not come out winging.
       I do not foresee the democrats replacing Clinton. She has spent her adult life wanting to be president. She would campaign in an iron lung if necessary. The party is not going to take the nomination away from her. They are especially not going to take it away from the first woman nominee and hand it off to a man. It is not happening, folks. The democrats would rather focus on taking over Congress in order to strongly oppose President Trump's agenda.

Sunday, September 11, 2016

A 9/11 Remembrance

    The worst attack on United States soil occurred fifteen years ago today. It does not seem like that long ago. Much has happened, both personally and nationally, since the attack. I wrote about 9/11 several times on my old Eye of Polyphemus blog. Those posts are long gone, but thoughts on 9/11 are worth writing down again here.
       I moved to Virginia Beach, Virginia in late July 2001 to attend law school at Regent University. I knew no one in the area save for a family whom my mother and I had been friends with since our video store days in Bennettsville, South Carolina. By the time September 11th rolled around, I still knew hardly anyone other than my roommate, Daniel. Law is much like an academic boot camp in which students are broken down in order to build them back up as lawyers. One can literally spend every waking moment immersed in assignments and yet always feel like there was more work you should do to prepare. There is not much time to make personal connections with classmates other than the shard bond of struggling under the pressure of studying.
       The atmosphere of Virginia Beach did not help much. It was a navy town and vacation resort. The population was a highly transient mix of navy personnel, wealthy snowbirds, and tourists. There was no real sense of community beyond the pride of serving as the home of the Atlantic fleet. There was, however, the hint of the dangers faced from terrorism. The USS Cole, the navy vessel bombed by terrorists in Yemen back in late 2000, was still docked for repairs. All this to say Virginia Beach could be a lonely place aside from a sense of patriotism.
       The lack of personal connections between classmates and the sense of community changed rapidly on September 11th. Daniel and I did not spring for cable since neither of us cared much for television. I always listened to the radio while getting ready in the morning, but since we both had a nine o'clock class, we left the apartment at quarter til. The first plane hit the north tower of the World Trade Center literally as we were walking out the door. I never turned the radio on in my car, so we were completely oblivious on the three minute commute to campus.
       News traveled fast for others. A classmate name Chris, who was from New York, dashed out the front door of the law school building while on his cell phone. He gave off the vibe he had an emergency, but I could not have guessed the truth at that point. Classmates were already gathering in the lobby chattering about a plane hitting the World Trade Center.
       The notion it was the beginning of a terrorist attack had not struck me yet. I figured a private pilot had crashed with his Cessna or some such. Tragic, but not with the implications the truth would bring. It was not until a few long minutes after class was supposed to start a late coming classmate who had been caught up in the news informed us a second plane had struck the south tower and another hit the Pentagon. Now I realized they were hijacked airliner used in a terrorist attacks. You cannot blame me for not understanding sooner. What sort of fevered mind would devise such an evil act?
       Professor Cook arrived a few minutes later and explained everything known so far. The dean canceled classes for the day, but a screen had been set up in the moot court room/auditorium for anyone who wanted to watch the live news. I opted to do so. The place was packed, standing room only. Standing in one place for a tong period of time was not really my thing, but this was important. I settled in and leaned up against the back wall. When I looked up at the screen for the first time, the south tower collapsed. As far as I knew, I just witnessed the deaths of 50,000+ people. Thankfully, evacuations were smooth enough to have spared the vast majority of people. Yet it was the most horrific sight I will ever witness if there is any fairness in the world.
       I stood there watching for abort an hour. We were asked to form prayer circles twice, once for the victims of the World Trade Center and subsequently those in the Pentagon. A number of classmates and I learned each others' names for the first time even though we “knew” each other for nearly a month by then. It was a harsh way to bond, but reality is often harsh. I have often wondered how the sense of community would have developed for the Class of 2004 if9/11 had not happened. I would happily be willing to find out, but history is carved in stone.
       I am not so certain 9/11 resonates today. We were definitely in a post-9//11 era of greater vigilance, but I suspect it has long since been replaced by a post Iraq War era. But that is a political science debate for another time. I have became less cynical—if you can believe that—over the implication of 9/11. I once wrote it was likely the beginning of the end for American civilization. I once compared the hijacker to the Visigoths attacking a modern day Rome clueless it is about to fall. These days, I think Americans themselves pose a greater existential threat.
       So maybe I am not less cynical. I have merely shifted focus. I do not want to end my 9/11 remembrance on a pessimistic note. There is much to be optimistic about if we keep faith. So I will just say God bless America.

Tuesday, September 6, 2016

The Shy Tory Theory and Presidential Election Polling

       The polls in the presidential election between Democrat Hillary Clinton are Republican Donald Trump are currently tightening after weeks of trump lagging behind, but the question many Trump supporters have of whether trump' true level of support is consistently underrepresented by polls is worth examining. The theory is, called the Shy Tory Theory, is borrowed from recent British elections.
       The Shy Tory Theory is the idea people polled may be too embarrassed to admit to a pollster they are going to vote for the conservative party even though they will ultimately cast their ballot for the conservatives. The Tories are the conservative party in the United Kingdom. As with the Republican Party in the United states, the media and entertainment industries paint the Tories as ignorant and intolerant in comparison with the “correct” way to vote—for the liberal alternative. So conservative keep their political leanings a secret to avoid the negative stigma. This is supposedly the explanation to why the Tories were lagging behind in the polls leading up to the last general election, but wound up winning handily.
       It pays to mention before applying the Shy Tory Theory to the American presidential election bad polling in the United Kingdom is the more likely culprit for surprise election results than closeted Tory voters. Polls also failed to predict the successful Brexit back in June. Since then, the methodology of polling has comes under scrutiny rather than the honesty of respondents.
       With good reason. There are three arguments against the Shy Tory Theory impacting trump's poll numbers. One, Trump voters are not generally shy about their support for him. They may certainly be some who are hiding their support in order to keep the peace among friends and family, but most likely not a significant number. Two, it is doubtful a trump supporter would not admit it to a pollster in private over the phone. This is true even for those who will not admit their Trump support to family and friends. Finally, the Bradley Effect, a political science theory stating respondents polled will say they are voting for a black candidate to avoid accusations of racism when they have no intention of voting for that candidate, has been proven false numerous times. Most notably, Barack Obama's poll numbers were proven in two national elections to not be inflated. People polled will honestly say who they are voting for with no fear of social stigma.
       The bottom line is I doubt the Shy Tory Theory, if it is even valid in the United Kingdom, is happening in the presidential election. Bad polling may be affecting matters. Trump and Clinton both over and under performed in various primary contests. Overall, the polls are a solid reflection of the state of the presidential campaign, as well as the most accurate way of predicting the eventual winner.               

Monday, September 5, 2016

Labor Day

       It is a holiday, and that means a selfie I posted. Blaming the post on a holiday is rationalizing narcissism. To make the situation even wore, I decided to part my hair in the middle today without realizing I was going to take a photo. I would have respectably parted my hair in the middle and combed it over like someone may age should. Alas, I am young at heart. My youthful exuberance is preserved for internet posterity now.
       One thing I have apparently lost much of my youthful exuberance for is summer. Labor day marks the end of summer all but officially, and I could not be happier. It is painful for this Parrothead to admit, but the summertime does not mean what it once did. Granted, spring was and still I my favorite season. I liked spring because of anticipation for the fun summer to come. Now that I am long since out of school, there really is no fun summer. Or at least no more so than any other season.
       Thee days, I like to sit outside and watch the world go by. The oppressive South Carolina heat makes enjoying the experience tough. Spring and fall weather are much more conducive. So I am happy fall is fat approaching. It is the bet time of the year for sports as well. There is the baseball postseason, USC Gamecocks football, and the NFL. NASCAR meant something for a time. I probably could not name half a dozen of the current crop of drivers.
       I did not watch a single minute of the Olympics this summer. There is far less drama involved in the games since the Cold War ended. I do usually enjoy the track and field events, if for no other reason than watching the false hopes of American and British runners dashed as some athlete from Kenya or Ethiopia comes zipping passed them from two miles back to win the gold. It never gets old. I am a sociopolitical nerd. I am more intrigued by the lobbying campaigns cities mount in order to host the games. The 2020 Olympics will be held in Tokyo, just like the anime Akira. Hopefully, things will turn out better in reality.
       By the way, it is unwise for a city to host the Olympics. The financial costs of preparing for the games is virtually always far less than the gains. But the reality rarely discourages anyone from making a bid. Los Angeles is making a strong case for the 2024 games in large part because of a new, taxpayer funded football stadium. Never mind the economic problems California has suffered under left-wing Gov. Jerry Brown. But I digress.
       I do not digress too far. This is an election year, and I have been fascinated by the presidential election. Even if I have not been writing about it beyond Twitter barbs and quips, the race between the two unpopular, unlikely candidates is amazing from both a political science and cynical humor point of view. I have both in abundance. Perhaps the theater of the absurd election cycle stumbles to a close, I will fell compelled to comment. Until then, I am gong to enjoy the season for what it is.    

Sunday, September 4, 2016

Score One for Objective Reality

       John Searle, the Slusser Professor of Philosophy at University of California-Berkeley, makes an increasingly rare defense of objective reality against postmodernism by making the claim “There is no way we can state that two plus two equals four or that snow is white with being committed to objective truth.”
       At the risk of opening Pandora's Box, the definition of postmodernism I am working with here is an embrace of the ironic, the virtual over the real, and cultural nihilism. It is a philosophy of anything goes. Since 1999, there has been a frequent notion to carry the idea out even further to the idea nothing can be known objectively because our reality might be similar to The Matrix. The concept has become popular enough to suggest philosophy is now in a post-postmodern era of anything goes. But post-postmodernism, if it even exists as a legitimate school of thought, is so new as to not be well defined.
     If postmodernism or post-postmodernism sounds like so much pointless babble, that is because it is. Both boil down to there is no objective truth other than the objective truth there is no objective truth. Although this is a state I would rank higher than the self-contradictory absolute statement that everything is relative. But as Searle correctly says above, what can be perceived as objectively real must be considered real. Or else we will get caught up in that never ending idea of reality might be a virtual reality like The Matrix, but we can never know for certain.
       So the bottom line is an objective reality exists. Even though we all experience the objective reality subjectively, there are still observable objective concepts, such as two plus two equals four. (I am no mathematician, so let us just assume numbers are objectively real. I imagine there are plenty of mathematically inclined philosophers ready o pounce this second.) an objective truth exists, though it may remain mysterious, for which to strive.     

Saturday, September 3, 2016

Rock Me Like a Brisk Wind and a Touch of Rain

    Tropical Storm Hermine fizzled out as far as Sumter is concerned. We received a downpour, but that is a bout it. I did not lose power as I feared, so no worries about stuck in the dark boredom for who know how long. Some spots to the eat did lose power for a while. Darlington County, for one. Just in time for thousands of visitors for the Labor Day NASCAR race.
       I should clarify the above. I should say I did not lose electricity rather than I did not lose power. In fact, the steady rain outside my window made me incredibly sleepy. I passed out early and snoozed through the remainder of the storm. It has been bright and sunny all day long. There is not even the slightest hint of bad weather the night before. So much for the prediction it is going to rain all weekend.
       Just to follow up, I have little to say about the South Carolina v. Vanderbilt game Thursday night other than it is exactly what I expected from the Gamecocks. They are terribly weak this year, and got lucky Vanderbilt has even less going for them. It is going to be a long, difficult season even for a loyalist like me.         

Friday, September 2, 2016

Rock Me Like a Tropical Storm

   The weather is expected to become increasingly bad as Tropical Storm Hermine travels its way up the coast. Hermine I not a hurricane by any means, but I am till wary of flooding after lat fall's near miss with building an ark to survive. It is already raining buckets, and is expected to continue to do so through the weekend.
       I am putting this blog entry out there now in case the power goes out later. I am trying to go back on a roll with regular blogging, but something always seems to cone up. So you get these trite journal entries as opposed to the self-important naval gazing to which I would much rather be indulging. Oh, well. Better luck once things dry out.
       On the plus side, the storm offer me a chance to post one of my favorite YouTube clips:

              Yes, it is fake.  But it is also hilarious.

Thursday, September 1, 2016

Here is to a New Season of USC Gamecocks Football

      College football officially begins tonight at 8:00 PM on ESPN. The University of South Carolina will play the Vanderbilt University Commodores in Nashville. Last year was tough for my alma mater with head coach Steve Spurrier resigning in the middle of a losing season. But I am a long-suffering Gamecocks fan. I am braced for another tough, but fun season. As opposed to my being a long-suffering Atlanta Braves fan enduring an abysmal, no fun season. Hopefully, the Carolina Panthers can salvage my year in sports.
       But one of the reasons I am clinging to college football in general because the NFL promises to wallow in the moral gutter yet again. I knew the trend would continue when 49ers quarterback Colin Kaepernick refused to honor the national anthem because he cannot salute a country with America's racial problems. I am fine with Kaepernick's actions as an exercise of free speech. But he has made himself a focal point for controversy for the entire season, and others are bound to either follow his lead or counter-protest his actions in an equally obnoxious way. Kaepernick has managed to drain out what little enjoyment was left for me in professional football. We need a few more class acts to join the NFL to make it fun again.
       For the record, I disagree with Kaepernick in not honoring the anthem. America has flaws, and we should work to change those flaws. But it takes maturity to improve. It also takes maturity to recognize the good while working on those flaws. While I am not one to boil it down a trite “Love It or Leave It” response, I am curious if Kaepernick has seriously considered how many of the opportunities he has enjoyed in life are uniquely American.
       I did not intend to go off on a rant here about constructive protest. I am going to go enjoy my heaping dose of sugary, caffeine goodness and wait for the game.