Protesters Tap Water Supply at Detroit Mayor’s Mansion

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The saga of America’s most dysfunctional city continues…

Well, I thought this was kind of a funny act of political theater.   Based on the photograph of the protestors and it being “Detroit Citizens Against Tar Sands” behind it, I’m going to guess that these guys aren’t the ones who had their water turned off (there’s a certain bourgeois tinge to this kind of activism).

I’ve heard different stats, but this article has about 40,000 people without water in Detroit, stemming from a recent crackdown on past due bills.   The city is still in dire straits financially and so are many of the city’s residents.   People can’t pay their bills and the city can’t keep giving something for nothing because they’re broke too.   It’s been called a “human rights crisis” and it is a tragedy but there’s not really a lot of options for the city.   How will they raise the capital to unfuck the situation?   By collecting past due bills, which the majority of the citizens are behind?

Running water is one thing that separates us from, well, much of the third world.  A lot of places don’t have it and it’s one thing we really take for granted that we have so much of it.  It should be a real psychological blow to the United States that we now have a part of the country where people aren’t getting access to water.    Yes they could just pay their bills and get it but they can’t afford it.   I know it’s easy to say that “those people” have a bad habit of blowing their money on bullshit before spending it on practical things, but I have a hard time believing that someone wouldn’t prioritize running water over frivolous things once faced with the prospect of having it shut off.   I believe that a lot of people aren’t capable of paying their back bills and would if they could.    I’m sure that there’s enough cases of poor prioritization leading up to getting behind but still….

Also, not having running water sucks.   In my own life I can think of the great “floods of ’93” when Des Moines Water Works flooded and we were out of water for about two weeks.   We had people shipping in bottled water and the city bringing in bladders of non-potable water set up at schools and parks where you could go get it to flush toilets, clean things, etc.   Walking a couple of blocks to get a bucket of water to flush the toilet sucked.    That was just a temporary inconvenience.

I also remember a house of a friend in high school that was where all the local latch key punk kids hung out because it was pretty much Indian country.    They had the water shut off.   Mom was a terrible hoarder and the place was the biggest shit-infested rat hole I’ve ever been in.   Not having water caused uh, complications in the household.   Dishes piled up, nothing got cleaned and people started pissing into bags and throwing it in the tub.  Eventually the tub rotted out, or so the story goes.   The house had to be torn down once they finally moved out.   If you didn’t want to shit into a bag, you had to walk to the gas station down the street.    The moral of that story is that when there’s no water in marginal situations, it can cause a bad situation to really, really get worse.   Most of these neighborhoods in Detroit are probably beyond “marginal” and when people owe more in water bills than their home’s value (so some stories say), bailing doesn’t sound like a bad idea leaving more abandoned (and completely fucked) housing in the Detroit area.

I guess I have spent some time in the third world without running water…parts of Iraq!   Yeah, it’s miserable.   It’s kind of a gross subject, but one thing we’re extremely fortunate for in the United States is the fact that most of us don’t have to deal with shit.   Like human feces.  We flush it down the toilet (with clean water) and that’s that.   When you don’t have water, the “there is no ‘away'” maxim really applies here.   We don’t have to deal with the smell and hygiene problems that come along with it in an urban area and I’m sure that’s about to become reality in Detroit, if it hasn’t already, compounding the people’s misery.

The really ironic thing is that Detroit might be one of the most water-rich places on the planet being right on the Great Lakes.

 

One YEAR After by William Forstchen to Release Soon

Looks like the sequel to William Forstchen’s One Second After will be released on September 15, 2015 and available for preorder now.

I thought One Second After was a really good book that stood above most others in the doom & gloom/apocalyptic fiction world.   Forstchen manages to paint a vivid picture of what life would be like immediately after an EMP attack in his small North Carolinian town and it wasn’t pretty.   The scenes of eating pets, elderly people devouring the thawed frozen waffles in the looted grocery store and the struggle of the main character’s type I diabetic in a world where insulin just wasn’t coming will stick with me for a long time.

I’m looking forward to seeing what this one will have.   Sure, the immediate aftermath (I think I went a couple months out from the initial attack) is exciting, but a story about society beginning to pick up the pieces with all the challenges that a major EMP attack has the potential to be a be a good story with lots of things to think about.

Based on the way One Second After didn’t sugarcoat anything or have any survivalist super hero characters, I imagine this one will be just as powerful as the first.

Millennials Who Are Financially Secure Have One Thing In Common…

…Rich parents, according to this article.

I think there’s tinges of resenting people that have more than you and hints that “someone should do something about it” to the article, but it brings up some good points slightly under the surface.

Anecdotally I think it’s a pretty fair general statement that most millennials that are above the curve probably had some sort of help from parents (not even necessarily “rich” ones) with their two biggest expenses being housing and education.  The idea of putting something aside for your children was a pretty common one for boomers, like making a college fund for little Jimmy and Chloe.  Some people resent this but as the article suggests, it can be a great way to help get your children a notch up on life.   Yeah, there’s definitely trustafarians that squander intragenerational wealth in their early years but whatever.   I don’t see anything wrong with this and I hope that when the time comes I can help little Henry  financially with something meaningful in his life, whatever that may be.

I think the first thing that jumps out at me is the issue of the cost of higher education and the emphasis on it that our parents (hey, I think I’m technically a millennial) put on it which turned out to be a flop for more of us than we would like to admit.   Most of us with an IQ anywhere north of room temperature were given the “College Uber Alles” speech all throughout school and warned that if we didn’t go to college, we would wind up flipping burgers and living in our parents’ basement….Hey, that sounds a lot like what a lot of millennials are doing right now, only with several hundred dollars a month in student loans and maybe something little more glamorous than flipping burgers, like serving coffee or opening mail.

I know it’s too late for most people struggling with student loans to return their education, like an ill-fitting sweater from the Gap, but is it time we as a society start talking seriously about whether or not college is *really* a good idea for everyone and whether or not the current system of going for four years to get a general degree is really the right way to go about?  Hard questions need to be asked and I’ve noticed that I haven’t seen any of the lifetime earning charts where they compare someone with a high school diploma, a dropout, a bachelor’s degree and a masters side by side in the past 10 years or so, just like the ones we were bombarded with in school.    Higher education as we know it today is great for some people and for others, even well-intentioned ones it winds up being more trouble than its worth when you factor in employment prospects and the final bill.

The other issue is housing.   If the millennials aren’t able to afford “starter housing” now, how will they be able to afford their friend’s dad’s 5 bedroom 4 bath McMansion in the suburbs when it’s time for Mr. Johnston to check out into the condo he has lined up in Florida?   The article does some math on how long it would take for the average millennial to save up a 10% down payment with student loans and a mediocre income and it’s usually somewhere in the neighborhood of a decade.     Something’s gotta give there or else there’s going to be a shitload of these left to rot on the market or sold at incredibly low prices to the handful of people who can afford it.

So younger folks are getting priced out of the “hip, cool” markets of Generation X, like San Francisco, Portland, New York, Austin and Seattle?  I wonder how living patterns will change over the next decade or two.   I wonder if more millennials will start looking towards the small towns that have been gutted over the past generation with rock-bottom housing prices or even the smaller cities where the cost of living is significantly lower, like the places that currently have around 50,000-100,000 people.     I can also see places like Des Moines, Omaha Duluth and Dubuque on the upswing from this trend, just thinking in my immediate area.    It would be interesting if this situation sparked a migration back into America’s small towns.

The really really big thing that jumps out to me is the idea that it shows how it’s likely that there’s going to be a huge wealth gap between generations.   The baby boomers are about to start liquidating everything to pay for retirement AND apparently keeping little Johnny above the water….Who’s going to be there to buy their McMansions, small businesses/practices, shares in their IRA/401ks?   I really don’t know.   There’s always someone out there to buy and of course prices will drop accordingly, but the question is who because it doesn’t look like there’s going to be a large and vibrant American middle class to pick up the (large and economically vibrant) pieces when it’s time for the baby boomers to check out.

If we want to talk about wealth inequality today, just wait until all of this shit starts panning out…

 

With that said, I truly believe that there will be some great opportunities for regular folks when the wealth starts reshufflin’ if they play their cards right.

#100Days100Nights – Gang Warfare in Los Angeles

Los Angeles Gangs Are Aiming To Kill 100 People In 100 Days, Even Have Own Hashtag

So in Los Angeles “100 Days and 100 Nights” is going on, a challenge issued by a set of Crips to kill 100 people in the course of 100 days.   There’s all kinds of warnings going around social media with the hashtag #100Days100Nights to steer clear of parts of Los Angeles during these next four months.   It kind of sounds like a “don’t flash your headlights” urban legend, but there has been an uptick in murders in LA to correspond with it.

Most of us probably live in decent enough places, but I suppose this is a reminder that the people of the abyss aren’t as far away from us as we imagine sometimes.  There are places nearby that are lawless and violence isn’t a “what if” but a hard reality.

Anyways, the thing that this story has me wondering is whatever really happened to the Bloods and the Crips?   I know they still exist, but I don’t see anywhere near the same amount of activity as I remember from when I was a kid.   During the 90’s I remember seeing Crip, Vice Lord and BGD graffiti pretty often and whenever you would go to the mall or something you’d always see the scary looking guys in blue or red.    I didn’t exactly live in the “hood” either, just a pretty normal neighborhood that ran the gauntlet from lower middle class all the way up to….middle class in a modest sized city.   If you would go to a mall that was closer to more, uh, “urban” neighborhoods you would see a lot more of the scary guys in blue or red.

I know MS-13 has made a name for themselves since then, but who really “runs the streets” these days?   Are the Bloods and Crips still the largest and most active or now is it mostly local unaffiliated gangs that rule their roost these days?    Whenever I see the list of locally active gangs that the police put out I’ll recognize about a quarter of the names and then there will be a bunch of silly-sounding gangs that I’ve never heard of.

I really have no idea of who’s who anymore, like who the significant gangs are and what their deal is, who their rivals are, etc.   This kind of thing has always fascinated me, but it’s also good at a practical level to know these things in order to better understand where you are, even if most gang violence is kept within the gang world.

I know that the kind of criminality associated with these kinds of gangs is down since the crack epidemic of the 80’s and 90’s, but did these guys kind of wane with the crack epidemic and everything associated with it?   I suspect that gangs today are a little more localized and loose in self-definition today, like you might have a bunch of guys in a certain neighborhood that act like a gang and have some kind of mutually identifying style (or ethnicity) but might not have a name for themselves.   I could be wrong and there could still be a shit ton of national-level gang activity.  I guess I’m really not sure.

RT Trolls US Government….Again

Russia Today (RT), a state-owned Russian international news channel is one of my favorite sources of news… They seem to cover the kinds of topics I’m interested in and they usually have a little more bite to their editorial content compared to the milquetoast to passive-aggressive and bland western media.   You have to take everything with a grain of salt due to who’s signing the checks over there, for sure.    Not only a they a good news source, sometimes they’re really funny and good at trolling US and western governments.

Yesterday they broke an article about a new type of diamond discovered in the Kamchatka peninsula (Russian Far East on the Pacific…lots of plants come from here, but that’s a different story) and on their facebook post they said:   The new diamonds were formed by volcanic gases under pressure and are a result of crystallization under the influence of electrical discharges of lightning. Democracy coming soon to volcanoes across the globe.

Ha ha.    Nice one, guys.

How A Wind Turbine Is Made…With A Lot of Resources

My local power company posted a video of a start to finish erection (ha ha) of a wind turbine, it’s pretty cool:

In my part of the world there are a ton of these windmills out in the countryside and anytime you get on I-80 you see “wide load” semis with windmill parts cruising down the rode.  It’s amazing how big just one blade is.    Iowa is one of the leading states in wind energy…we get a lot of wind, we have a lot of flat land with nothing happening on it except row crops and we have the population centers to use the energy produced.   I think they even started putting these windmills on state logos.    It’s a big business here.

The video is put out by MidAmerican, who of course is really into wind energy.   I know there’s hangups about killing birds and noise, but the thing that really jumps out at me after watching this is how energy-intensive these things really are to make.   I’ve read things before about how wind energy is doomed because of the initial investment in resources/capital required, but this video really puts it into perspective.

There’s about 50 tons of steel rebar, 54 truckloads of concrete, each blade weighs 23,000lbs, the base tower is about 100,000 lbs, the midtower is 115,000lbs and then there’s some other odds and ends.   Plus you need a decent sized crew and a shitload of equipment (trucks, excavators and cranes…like the really, really big ones).   I’ve also heard that there’s a notable amount of rare earth metals up in there and silver.    Definitely nothing to scoff at.   I’m not exactly sure what the energy return is on one of those, but I imagine it takes a while to break even (if it all?).

When it comes to alternative energy, I think a lot of people think that all it takes is the right people to get on board and the government to sign some checks and then voila! we’ll have all the “green” energy we’ll ever need and keep rolling on.   If we ever came to a point where the whole fossil fuels thing wasn’t cutting it anymore, we would have a hell of a time coming up with the energy to ramp up production on these things.   If we were hurting for energy, our economy would tank and we would also have a hard time getting the capital together for these kinds of projects.   If energy were scarce, simply mining or even recycling the raw materials to come up with what was needed would be a tall order too…

The initial investment is so high on these things that it almost seems like they can’t sustain themselves past the first generation or so.   What I mean by that is that I don’t think we can get the kind of energy (in the right places) off of wind and other renewables in order to mine the resources, transport them, fabricate them and assemble them like we can with fossil fuels.   The rare earths are another story.  Maybe I’m wrong, but it doesn’t seem like it’s possible to make these happen without the kind of energy access we have now.

It’s not that I hate renewable energy or anything, but I have a hard time putting faith into the idea that we’ll be able to carry on the way we do now on windmills, solar panels, African girls pissing into a machine they made, etc.

Making Friends With The ‘Axis of Evil’

This week there has been two big developments in the world:  The nuclear deal with Iran and the reestablishment of diplomatic relations with Cuba.   I can’t say I’m a huge fan of Barry O’s presidency, but I would give him a pat on the back for both of these things so I have to give him/them some credit for this.

Let’s talk Cuba first…  I have a feeling this one has been on the shelf for a while so I don’t really view it as a “breakthrough” but rather a decision to flip a switch.   Cuba certainly has qualms about the United States, but they’ve always been open to dealing with us in various manners.   For instance, if an American citizen goes to Cuba they’re completely cool with it but the US State Department isn’t.   I think establishing relations with Cuba was something we kept in our pocket until we needed a good public relations victory in the world because virtually nobody was on board with the embargo and we lost a lot of face in Latin America because of it.

I’m glad they did flip the switch on this one simply because it’s just the right thing to do.   Yeah, Cuba isn’t perfect but I’m sure we have great relations with at least a dozen other countries that are more odious than this one.  I won’t name any names though….    Anyways, it’s hard to pretend that Cuba is any kind of existential threat.    I think they’re going to benefit economically from increased ties with the yankees and I think we have a lot we can learn from the Cubans on getting by on less (see The Power of Community: How Cuba Survived Peak Oil).  Plus I’d really love to visit Havana, looks like an amazing city.

I don’t know if burying the hatchet with Cuba will change anyone’s opinion on us, but it will give them one less grievance.   It sure isn’t going to hurt anything and I don’t think anyone will be harmed by relations with Cuba.

Now on to Iran….    A lot of people have been freaking out about this one and about how “you can’t trust those towelheads!”.    I’m sure if you look back throughout history, you could come to the conclusion that treaties are meant to be broken and they haven’t really stopped a state from doing something they really wanted to do.   But for everyone worked up about the Iranians, let’s recap some of the things we’ve done to them:

-During WWII the Soviets and British invaded them.   We (the US) had a policy where we said we were out to stop aggression in the world and get people to stop invading everyone else.  The Iranians called us and said “Hey, your dudes are in our country and you said you wouldn’t stand for this kind of thing” and Roosevelt of course didn’t see it fit to keep his word.   Many Iranians died in a famine caused by the invasion.

– In 1953 they tried to nationalize their oil supplies.   No dice.   The CIA and MI5 put in the Shah, who was a real asshole to keep the multinationals happy.   This isn’t conspiracy theory, it’s out in the open.    See: Operation Ajax.    Iran loses a popular democratic government and gets a tyrant.

–  Sometime in the 80’s we shot down a passenger plane and killed something like 250.  That didn’t sit well and it didn’t sound like a legit accident.

–  We supported both Iraq and Iran during the war between the two states, causing the conflict to go on for almost a decade.  Both sides paid dearly, especially Iran.   When I was in Iraq there were lots of cripples from the war.   Definitely an ugly conflict that we facilitated.

–   Being behind killing a few scientists here and there.

So yeah, they have reasons to not trust us either.    Keep that in mind…

Anyways, the treaty isn’t going to magically stop war but it’s a great start and something that the US and Iran can build on, unless the Republicans and Jews, er, uh, Israeli lobby get their way.    I believe they are rational actors (note that they haven’t done anything to anyone in a long time) and I believe that deep down the Obama admin doesn’t want to have a war for whatever reason now – and in the recent past there has been a lot of saber rattling from our camp to the point where I figured this was the biggest threat to our stability and that war with Iran was pretty much certain.

I know a lot of people like to think that Iran is a sand-infested nation of goat-fucking terrorists, but it’s actually a pretty civilized and advanced place.   They do good work in the way of science & technology and have a beautiful culture with rich literature, music and even cinema.   Although they are very devout, they have a moderately progressive society where minorities (including Jews and Christians) get adequate representation in government and society and even women, despite the burka thing.    It’s really not the hellhole that people make it out to be.   Other nations have been dragging their feet on the sanctions thing, but are eager to do business with Iran…and the world economy could use a fully-integrated Iran for new markets, new ideas and resources.   It’s just good business.

At the end of the day, I have a hard time believing that Iran is all that evil and out to destroy the world.  I know they’re not exactly angels but neither are we.    I think we can reach a real equilibrium with these guys and coexist peacefully on the planet if we really want to.   Same with Cuba, of course.

So yeah, I think these are two positive developments that will help deescalate tensions in the world, even if it’s only the first step.    Good work to everyone who helped make it happen…

Visiting The Minuteman Missile National Historic Site

A couple weeks ago I went on my first “family vacation” with two women, three kids and one infant in a rented mini-van to the Black Hills of South Dakota.   When I saw that there was the Minuteman Missile museum on our way, I knew we had to stop.   As a Cold War History aficionado, I can’t just drive past something like that.

After several hours of driving, the familiar Midwestern cornbelt gave way to the vastness of the Great Plains and ultimately into the unglaciated steppes west of the Missouri River and ultimately to the unearthly Badlands of South Dakota.  Although there’s a certain charm to the Great Plains, they’re not exactly the most hospitable places to live due to the weather, resource availability and subsequent desolation.    If you look at one of those maps of the US at night where you can see the lights, you won’t really see shit except a trickle along major highways in a space that covers the western 2/3 of the Dakotas down into Oklahoma.   The isolation of this area made it a great place to keep a good share of the American nuclear missile arsenal, away from industrial and population centers.   There are silos scattered across the Dakotas, Nebraska and Wyoming.

I didn’t get a chance to tour the silos due to time constraints but the visitor center had all kinds of cool stuff from the era about civil defense and nuclear missiles, like the instruction manual for shooting a missile, manuals on digging bomb shelters, infographics on dealing with the aftermath of a nuclear war, pictures of equipment and descriptions of how the nuclear arsenal works…and stuff from the Soviet Union as well, which was cool to see.   They also had displays of some of the high/low/interesting points of the Cold War.

The thing that got me though was that pretty much everything was just taped to the wall.   Yeah, it’s like they went to Kinko’s and had them print something off at poster size and then used painter’s tape to affix it to the wall.    You would think that with all the money the feds usually throw at things like this they could get some display cases or something to dress it up a bit.   It was a little bizarre that something like this was so chinsy.

The recent attack on four Marines in Tennessee has maybe made some people think that technically we live on a battleground, but that hasn’t really been reality for a while.   It’s hard to think that during the Cold War pretty much everywhere in the US had a Soviet (or Chinese) ICBM with their name on it.   Some of the stuff at the museum made a good point on pointing this out that they were on the “front lines of the Cold War” right in the geographic center of North America (it’s really close, actually).   Although being a missile bubba in the USAF isn’t the sexiest job in the world, I’m sure those dudes came up with some pretty good gallows/sardonic humor knowing that if shit ever got hot, they had the lives of millions in the USSR at their fingertips and the USSR probably had several nukes pointed right at them.   It probably was a nerve wracking job on a lot of levels.

I’m never really one for gift shops, but this one was actually really interesting to me.   They had an awesome library of Cold War books and I even bought a t-shirt, which is something I normally don’t do.   It has a missile on it blasting through the USSR’s flag and apparently it looks a lot like a penis.   Even my mom thought so.    It’s still a sweet shirt though.

Anyways, I think this is worth the stop if you’re in the area (it’s right off I-94 at the Badlands) and into Cold War history at all.   I think I could’ve spent a little longer there than I did, but I was kind of drained after 8 hours on the road and little sleep the night before plus having the kids in tow.    As a big Red Dawn fan, it was also kind of nice to put a place to the “missile silos in the Dakotas” which were of course taken out in the preliminary hours in that fictional depiction of the Third World War.

On another note, I thought the rest of the trip in the Black Hills was really cool.   I didn’t realize how mountainy it really is there.   I just expected some rocky hills.   The scenery was beautiful and we saw all kinds of critters like bison, antelope, pronghorn deer, etc. out and about.    I loved driving through the windy mountain roads….although everyone else got carsick.  Definitely a part of the country that should’ve been on my radar a long time ago.    Check out the scenery:

 

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Check out the sweet painter’s tape:

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The Chickens’ First Egg!

 

Yesterday before work I stopped in to check on my chickens and give them food and water before leaving.   I figured they were a couple weeks off from laying but on a whim I checked their nesting box….and found the first egg.  My eyes got as wide as saucers as I filled with boyish amazement and ran inside to show Mary this egg, which is about twice the size of a robin’s egg.   I have to admit, I was kind of giddy about it and told a few people at work.  There’s a feeling of achievement to it – congratulations on not getting these birds killed, here’s a tiny egg!

Mary is great at chronicling our lives via photo (I’m not) so she put this up on Facebook and Instagram:
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We’ll keep feeding them well and letting them free range for several hours a day and the eggs should start trickling in to the point where we’re getting some steady production from them.

So yeah, we did it.   Good job, us.

A Few Thoughts As The Confederate Flag “Issue” Winds Down….

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So everyone went bat-shit crazy about the Confederate flag recently and it appears as if we’re ready as a society to move on to the next hot button issue.    Although I usually ignore this kind of thing, I actually thought this one was more interesting than some of the other ones we’ve had lately:   vaccinating kids (booooooring!), Kaitlyn Jenner, the slew of police shootings and gay bakeries.   The “debate” was full of the usual things you’d expect like accusations of racism and meaningless bullshit lines like “that flag stands for racism and ignorance!” and then the other side trying to prove that they’re not racist through various means (my favorite is the “look, here’s a youtube video of a black guy that agrees with me!”)

Personally, I respect the Confederate flag.   Aesthetically it’s kind of cool and I get what it represents.   The St. Andrew’s cross represents the overwhelming Scots-Irish heritage of the South, the stars represent the states.   It represents the geography and shared culture of the South.  It’s a flag that just makes sense for the people/place it represents.    I don’t really have any cultural ties to the South (although I do have some Scots-Irish heritage…some of my people wandered out of the Appalachians eventually landing in Iowa), I appreciate the strong sense of regionalism and the things that make them distinct.

Is it racist?   I don’t know.   I believe it has an ethnic component to it but I could understand a black person in Mississippi identifying with it as a regional thing.   In fact, I’m pretty sure I’ve seen Confederate flags on Southern rap albums, like Lil’ Jon, as a way to differentiate themselves from say, New York or LA.    If we want to demonizing it for being the flag that flew over legalized slavery, well, Ol’ Glory flew over slavery for about 100 years and that can’t be ignored.   The flag is used a symbol of Southern pride but yeah, it is also used to push buttons or to flat out intimidate at times.

One trend I’ve noticed every time this subject or secession comes up, a common response is something along the lines of talking about these “rednecks”, “hillbillies”, “inbred”, “white trash”, “trailer trash”, “crackers”, etc. then acting indignant that these people are unsatisfied with the current state of the Union or making some claim about how “we’re all one big happy family in the United States”.   Reading the comments on these kinds of stories makes me really understand why the South would want to leave.   It’s a little disturbing that it’s socially acceptable to completely shit all over these people because it’s all done in the name of peace, love and equality.    We live in a society where people get raked across the coals for saying things deemed insensitive to other groups but it’s completely ok to call someone who lives in a trailer park “trailer trash” or white people below a certain socioeconomic threshold in the wrong locations “white trash”.    There’s no consistency and often it’s the people who howl the loudest when people make comments about other groups that are the first in line to take jabs at Southerners.

At the national level I always get a little nervous when Southerners, “red states” and/or rural people are in the hot seat because being from “flyover country” in Iowa because we’re probably the next in line.   We get a lot of condescending attitudes from people on the coasts and/or major cities as well, just not anywhere near the same extent as the rural South gets.    I guess there’s a little bit of “places no one cares about” solidarity there.

The other thing that I think has been bizarre about this issue is how often I’ve seen/heard things like “traitors” and “unamerican” about Confederate flag supporters and the gloating over defeating/conquering the South from the kinds of people that you normally wouldn’t expect that kind of talk from.   You have center-leftists out there sounding like Joe McCarthy or the kind of blood-and-guts flagwavers of the post 9/11 era.   “Why would you support the flag that fired on American troops at Fort Sumter?!?!?”.   It’s just strange to get so worked up over the “bad guys” in a war that’s been over for 150 years.    There’s a bumper sticker that’s been around for a while with a crossed out Confederate flag that says “you lost, get over it”.   Well, United States of America, you won, get over it.    We’re still buying into 150 year old war propaganda about the people 400 miles away and how evil they are.

The “how dare you go against the Federal government” attitude is a little alarming.    After my own experiences in Iraq and looking into some of the shady things the US government has pulled, I don’t buy the narrative that the US government is always in the right and the official story is the truth.   Yeah, slavery was bad and the South shouldn’t have had them, but I have a really hard time accepting the idea that the Civil War was good against evil.   Hell, there were slaves in some Union states that didn’t get freed until after the war.    I think I have a different view on the South’s motives than the average Northerner would.   Maybe that’s part of it?

The other thing I think is interesting is the fact that the people who fly the Confederate flag as a sign of Southern pride AND the people who fly it just to push buttons really don’t give a fuck what a bunch of people in New York and Minnesota think about it.  In a way this issue is kind of one-sided and although some politicians are caving on having the flag on government property, no one is going to lose any sentimental feelings for the flag or be convinced of anything different.   If anything, I think this little flair-up will just add to the “rebel” mystique of it.   It’s unacceptable to a bunch of liberals up in Boston?  Good!

The cultural antagonism between the North and South goes back a long time, some have even made the case that it goes back to clashes between the lowland Scots (ancestors of the South) and the English (the ancestors of the Puritans that settled the Northeast and ran For more on that subject I highly recommend James Webb’s Born Fighting: How the Scots-Irish Shaped America , which is one of the best popular history books I’ve ever read and it made me feel proud to be (partially) descended from “the wrong kind of white people”, as the “Things White People Like” blog describes them.

Although the “debate” is kind of one-sided, there are a lot of people coming to the “rescue” of the Confederate flag.   I think this has more to do with feeling like their group (whites, Southerners, conservatives, Christians, rural folks, etc.) being attacked rather than defending the actions of a defunct Confederate government.

Oh, one last thing…  The idea that banning a flag or sweeping it under the rug is going to stop things like the Charleston shooting or is in any way a meaningful response to that tragedy is completely fucking stupid.   Only in America would we believe that a bullshit gesture like that will keep all the bad things away from us.   I understand not liking the flag, not wanting to see it or viewing it as a sign of institutional racism on our continent but I guarantee you the guy that did it wasn’t inspired at all by the flag flying over the South Carolina courthouse or “General Lee” on Dukes of Hazard.   It almost seems like a cop-out to avoid having a difficult conversation about race relations in the United States.   We like to do things like this instead of focusing on the real, underlying issues that can be uncomfortable to talk about.

 

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