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Now Greta Thunberg makes sense

Not until I had sat under a hemlock tree overlooking a quiet ravine with a flintlock rifle across my knees for two hours in the morning cold did it occur to me: In the context of angry liberals, abrasive hypocrite Greta Thunberg does make sense.

Thunberg is the carefully manufactured Hollywood and mainstream media creation from Norway, or Sweden, whichever it doesn’t matter, whose mental health her wealthy and abusive parents sacrificed on the altar of gaining political advantage and notoriety. She is a 17-year-old high school drop-out, with apparent learning disabilities that normal, loving parents would try to heal, not enhance. Her message continues to be that everyone else in Western Civilization must cease using fossil fuels and abandon capitalism while she flies in jets and other capitalist-created transportation all over the planet making sure that we all feel her rage and judgment, and do as she says. Like some sort of malevolent angel.

And though for the longest time I kept wondering how trying to shame people into submission was really going to work in this day and age, it’s her angry judgmentalism part that turned on the light bulb in my head this morning.

“Yes, we can ride together, but you must not mention The Name That Cannot be Said,” said a long-time dear friend of mine about an east coast fishing trip we were planning. His sore feelings about the 2016 election result were still evident, and the other old friend whom we were planning to see on a certain leftwing island enclave felt the same. Even though we had not discussed the election, no, we avoided it, when we did talk, the anger and judgmentalism were tangible.

No, I would not wear a MAGA hat, I said. No, I would not get drunk on the beach late at night and begin dancing around the campfire “Trump! Trump Trump! USA USA USA!”

“I could not vouch for your safety if you did that,” said the tender islander.

“But I would not do it in any case, knowing that it would bother you. I love you guys, and I do not live to bother my friends,” said I, allowing images of hungry bluefish and striped bass and screaming fishing reels to cloud my thoughts and thereby unwittingly admitting to my support for The Name That Must Not be Said, and then feeling his judgmental words cut deep into a relationship decades old and already tested by many trials together.

So it seems that while Thunberg is probably not necessarily designed to cast a wide net and gain new adherents to the climate religion and big centralized government control thingy she is so angry about, her role is probably more to rally the faithful. To give them a fresh new figurehead. Someone through which today’s young people – totally devoid of life experience – can channel their inner despot and ignorant judgmentalism.

These ever-angrier young people haven’t a clue about life, making a living, paying rent, making an economy run, science, climate, etc., but if there is one thing they will be good for, it’s shock troops. The western equivalent of the cruel and merciless children of the Chinese cultural revolution. Young people to defiantly harm their own parents and elders in the name of some greater good.

And so now Greta Thunberg makes sense to me. She is a deliberately unhappy cheerleader, not searching for solutions, but for sacrificial scapegoats upon whom her anger must justifiably be poured in a cleansing action that will bring holistic stability to all humankind.

She is the climate messiah, beginning a jihad, bringing unholy fire.

This day a year ago while trapping: Cat up a tree!

Cat Up a Tree!

Text and Photos by Josh First (copyrighted)

A year ago it was a couple days before trapping season opened for bobcats and fishers, which always begins the Saturday before Christmas. Already 2018 was the wettest year on record, and rain, much less constant nonstop rain, not only crushes outdoor work like logging and construction, it also makes trapping nearly impossible.
All 2018 the rain fell, reducing good trapping time to almost zero for most of us who would normally run ourselves ragged during trapping season beginning in mid-November and ending in mid February.

I dislike trapping in rainy conditions, because it is uncomfortable, messy, and technically difficult, due to trap sets needing constant fixing up; and I really dislike processing muddy critters. Mud-covered fur is time consuming, and usually it is not worth it in my tight schedule. So from 2018’s trapping season opening day in late October, I waited six weeks, until a brief rain lull in mid-December, to put out some carefully planned traps.

Though I was aiming mostly for canids like fox and coyote, both bobcat and fisher were a reasonable hope. I have caught bobcats in and out of season in the past, but never a fisher. These are two neat animals worth working hard for, and each of which will quite willingly enter baited cubbies where foot hold traps can get some shelter from rain and snow.

So on the Wednesday afternoon before that Saturday bobcat and fisher opener, a half-dozen footholds (cubbies and flat sets) and a few large cage traps were set in strategic places near where I had seen fisher tracks or bobcats across a 100-acre area of mixed farmland and woods in Dauphin County. Bait is used in the cage traps to pull in the inevitable and limitless possums, skunks, and raccoons, so that, hopefully, only the cool critters find the footholds. And both bobcats and fishers will enter cage traps, so they do serve double duty.

One pass-through pee post set was put in a location where I have previously caught coyotes, foxes, and raccoons. It is at a corner of a dirt farm road, a woods road, a hay field, and brushy-hedged crop field where heavy woods meets an active agricultural area. Just about every local furbearer walks the brushy area, this road, and the field edges leading to it.

Coyote pee and coyote gland lure were put on top of a two-inch-thick dry pine limb sticking up 14 inches, placed at the seam where the goldenrod meets the farm road. A few pieces of goldenrod stem on the other side created the pass-through effect, so the animal’s body would line up with the hidden trap just exactly so. About eight inches away from the post an offset MB 550 attached to an eight-foot heavy chain linked to a heavy two-prong coyote drag was bedded level atop soft goldenrod tops to protect the trap from freezing to the wet dirt underneath, then covered judiciously in waxed dirt, then finished with more soft goldenrod tops and weed tips blended on top. The trap was perfectly “blended in” and hidden from sight.

The chain was stretched out away, into the reverting goldenrod field, and well covered and camouflaged with weeds, and the rusty-brown colored steel drag itself unobtrusively hooked into the dirt. With four heavy swivels well spaced between the trap and the drag, I felt confident that whatever would step on the trap pan while passing between the weeds to smell the pee post would commit its full weight, and be safely held fast, no matter where it went afterwards. I expected the animal to head directly to the nearby brushy hedges, where the grapple and chain would immediately become entangled, thereby holding the animal for the next 24-hour trap check.

Usually predators take a couple days to fully investigate my traps, and when setting this on a late Wednesday, I anticipated catching something in one of the sets on Friday night/ early Saturday morning. Though aiming for a bobcat, fox, coyote, or fisher, the truth is I had put off trapping so long that season that I would have been happy to catch just about anything.

The next day, Thursday, I did a cursory trap circuit check in my truck, looking out the window while driving past set after set. “No…No…No…footprints all around but no step on the pan…no…no…nothing” as I went by each trap location.

Pulling up to the pee post set, my eye was immediately drawn to the pee post itself lying on the ground, though the trap bed itself did not appear disturbed. Usually the post is knocked over by the chain after an animal has stepped on the trap and fled. So I got out to check, and was not surprised to see the drag gone. Following an obvious path of bent weeds and scuffed dirt leading away towards the closest brushy forest edge, my eyes naturally looked along that edge for a hung-up drag and critter.

With my hands on my hips, I stood and kept scanning the brushy woods-field edge. I was unable to locate anything, and felt mystified about how the critter could have escaped beyond such a thick, natural entanglement area. Mystery remained until a hiss to my right reached my ear, steering my eyes in that direction.

“Why is that long-legged grey fox up in that honey locust like that?” was my first thought.

Then another thought followed the first: “Why does that grey fox look like a big cat?”

And then the bobcat came into focus. It was a nice sized young male, probably 25 pounds, about six feet up in a young honey locust, a tree that has plenty of sharp thorns and very hard wood. The drag was just touching the ground, and the chain was wound about the lowest branches.

OK, I thought, I’ll have this resolved in a few minutes. Seemed like no big deal to pull down the cat, use the catch pole to hold it steady while I released the trap from its foot and let it go unharmed.

Fast forward an hour, and each time I had tried different ways to bring it down out of the tree unharmed, the cat had moved farther up. With bobcat season two days away, by law the cat had to be released, but I was unsuccessful with each solution I tried.

Fretting and scratched by the locust thorns, I left, did some work, and returned a few hours later, hoping the cat had climbed down and was entangled in the ground brush nearby. On the ground it would be easy to release using a catch pole. Easier than up that tree!

But when I got back, the bobcat was still up the tree, and climbed yet higher as I approached it.

Time for Plan B, which is where I admit that I need help. Usually takes me a long, long time to implement Plan B, and so I called the Pennsylvania Game Commission southeastern regional office. At first the dispatcher congratulated me on catching the bobcat, but then moments later expressed his sympathy for me having to release such a fine trophy, as the season was yet to begin. He forwarded my message to a local Game Warden, who then fairly quickly met me right at the honey locust. In fact, he arrived so quickly that I could not help but wonder if he had been watching me the whole time, either chuckling at my clumsy efforts, or waiting to see what else I might do, or both.

“Thank you for coming. When my kids were little, their favorite book was Cat Up a Tree! And here it is in real life. Should we call the fire department?” I said to Game Warden Scott Frederick, half-jokingly. In that colorful book, the fire department saves the day by saving the cat stuck up in the tree, and we (and how I so liked the ‘we’ part) did indeed have a daggone cat way up in a tree. But unlike the book, we had no long ladders, or hero firemen, by the honey locust tree that day.

I asked my wife to film our escapade, but under questioning I revealed that pretty much anything could happen to anybody around this, so she said something like “No, I’m not recording two idiot men playing with matches.” I think her imagination had the warden and I emerging from the dense, high brush scratched head to toe, our clothes in ragged tatters, like some cartoon involving the Looney Tunes Tasmanian Devil. She wanted no part of it. This is why women live longer than men.

Warden Frederick tried to the untangle the chain and reach the animal, but with each new inch of loose chain, the bobcat sensed freedom and used the slack to climb ever higher. Upon reaching a tight chain again, he would stop his ascent, alternating between hissing at us and letting fly with whatever he could rustle up in his bowels. I came to learn that bobcats have an impressive amount and array of bad smells stored inside them. Neither Warden Frederick nor I smelled peachy at that point, but I gave in and laughed at him when he really got it good from the cat.

Eventually we had tried and tried every which way to get the cat down unharmed, the day waxed late, and so we decided that if the cat would not come down, then the tree had to come down.

A honey locust is a hard, tough tree, a pioneer species with twisting grain and sharp hooked thorns. Oftimes while being sawed, they don’t fall the way you think they will. In addition to its loud scary noise, a chain saw would remove too much wood too quickly to allow us to fully control which way the tree would fall, and a hand saw was too slow. So we used an axe to drop the tree, one carefully placed chop at a time. This gave us the best control over the tree’s slow descent, but it was sweaty work, and directly beneath the bobcat. So I let Warden Frederick do it.

Meanwhile, the bobcat climbed to the very top of the tree, clinging like a lookout in a ship’s crow’s nest, and swayed to the rhythm of the chop-chop-chop below.

As the tree gave way to the axe and slowly sank to the ground, the bobcat sensed its getaway approaching. But Warden Frederick was waiting with a catch pole. While I wish I had some humorous Game News Field Note material here to describe what happened next, the truth is Warden Frederick properly and quickly looped the bobcat’s shoulder and neck, under the armpit, thereby safely pinning the animal to the ground without risk to its esophagus (cats have really weak throat areas and they must be handled carefully). I got some last quick photos, threw a blanket over the bobcat to calm him down (the bobcat, not Warden Frederick), and then easily pulled the trap off of its foot.

Both of us inspected its foot and leg for damage, and seeing none, I stepped back, pulled the blanket, and the catch pole loop came off the bobcat. As many other trappers have experienced when releasing a trapped bobcat, this one sat on its haunches and hissed at us. He thought he was still stuck. Eventually he turned and fast- walked into the brush.

“Well, that’s it, I’m now officially jinxed, or ‘lynxed’,” I said to Warden Frederick. “From here on out I will catch only possums and skunks for the rest of the season.”

And in fact, for the rest of that epic rainy trapping season, such as it was, I caught a grand total of just five possums, one skunk, and one raccoon. It was my worst trapping season, numbers-wise, in many years. But in hindsight, it was also pretty rewarding to watch the Game Warden work like that. Both hard and smart, I mean. Citizens don’t get to see our public servants perform these kinds of feats very often, and with a good nature to boot. So in that sense, I had a uniquely good season. Thank you, Warden Frederick. Now I can’t wait for mountain lions to move into Pennsylvania!

[Why do I trap? I trap to save ducklings, goslings, baby songbirds, nesting grouse, woodcock, and turkeys from an endless number of ground predators like skunks, possums, raccoons, foxes and coyotes, all of which continue to pulse out from suburban sprawl habitats in artificially high numbers. These artificially high numbers of predators do tremendous damage to ground nesting birds, and basically cars and trappers are their sole adversaries. So if you are against trapping, you must hate cute little ducklings. Foothold traps do not crush bones or kill animals, they simply hold them, and as we can and did here, animals can be released from footholds totally unhurt]

using the catch pole in the tree did not work

Look at that perfect high catch, his foot still on the pan. This is the correct way to use a foothold trap, as it results in no physical damage to the animal

If you ever want to feel like you are getting your tax money’s worth, look closely at this photo of PA Game Warden Frederick chopping at that honey locust. Except that the PA Game Commission operates on hunting license fees, timber sales, and natural gas leases! No tax money goes to the PGC, and yet they provide so many taxpayer services.

The four swivels and the long chain are visible here. The swivels prevent the chain from binding as the animal moves around, which gives the animal complete 360 degree movement. This is important so the animal does not torque its leg or hurt itself trying to get free. The long chain is needed to get hung up quickly in brush

The unharmed bobcat can be seen hissing at Scott, who has the catch pole loop around its upper body, pinning it to the ground. After taking this picture, I threw a blanket (Scott’s, not mine) over it to calm it down, inspected its leg for any damage, and when we each determined the animal was not hurt, Scott then released it. Using a catch pole on a bobcat requires getting the loop under its armpit and around the neck, so the esophagus is not damaged.

Some thoughts on PA deer season

We are already halfway through our two-week deer season in Pennsylvania, and already many hunters are discussing the merits of the first-ever Saturday opener. Pennsylvania has had a Monday opener for many decades, and where I grew up not only did the schools close on that Monday, there was a festive atmosphere that was palpable for the week leading up to it.

Gotta say, both Saturday and Monday were the quietest first days of deer season that I have ever heard. Very few shots heard either day, an observation made by a lot of other hunters.

One cannot help but wonder if the holiday atmosphere and the special quality of taking a work day off to gather together with family and friends to hunt has been lost with the Saturday opener. Yes, it would be ironic, because the change was done to expand hunting opportunities, given that most people do not work on Saturday like they do work on Mondays. But for many hunters it seems that having deer season now begin as just another weekend event of many other weekend events caused it to lose its specialness.

We shall see from the deer hunting results!

Separately, Pennsylvania now has a both a new trespass law and a new private land boundary marking law. Private land can now be marked “POSTED – NO TRESPASSING” by simply painting a vibrant purple paint stripe at least eight (8) inches long and one inch wide every 100 feet along the boundary of any private property. Seems that I am not alone in having my Posted signs ripped down by jealous jerks. Seems like I am not alone in working really really hard to create good whitetail deer habitat on my land, only to have some jealous people decide that it is so unfair that they can’t take advantage of all my hard work and also hunt there. So they rip down Posted signs and help themselves to my land and the land of many, many other private property owners.

Last Saturday we experienced a hunter trespassing on us, along with his young son. Why they would expect to be allowed to pass through the middle of our property, a place we hardly ever go because it is a deer sanctuary, is beyond imagination. They literally walked right through a long line of Posted signs, as if they did not exist. Their thinking seemed to be “So what if we ruin your hunting? We are simply trying to have a good hunting experience ourselves.”

But someone’s good hunting experience should never come at the expense of someone else’s hunt, especially if it results from trespassing on their property.

Think about it this way: A property owner spends all year toiling to make his property attractive to deer, and he creates sanctuaries around the property where not even he will go beginning in September, so the deer can relax there and not feel pressured. And then someone else who is not invited decides that they either want to hunt on that same property, or they want to pass through it to get to some other property, like public land. When they pass through, they disturb the deer and greatly reduce the quality of the hunting there.

Is this OK behavior?

As someone who works hard on his property to make it a quality hunting place, I can say that it is not OK behavior. It is a form of theft; trespassers are stealing from private property owners.

Dear trespassers – do you want people stealing from you? No? OK, so then you know how we feel when you steal from us. Don’t do it!

It will be interesting to see how the new trespass law and the new boundary marking law begin to change one of Pennsylvania’s least desirable cultures – the culture of defiant trespass. That just has to change.

Hope everyone has a productive, fun and safe rest of the season. When it is over, we begin our trapping season and small game hunting.

 

 

Cabela’s-Bass Pro merger = Lower Quality for Sportsmen

[UPDATED SEE BOTTOM for IMPORTANT DETAILS] Cabela’s hit its stride about ten years ago. A national, trend-setting family-owned outdoor business, the company took from the best and discarded the rest. Innovation there never stopped, as they improved on Zeiss-quality optics made for price-pinched Americans, and innovated rain-proof soft fleece parkas suitable for stalking deer with a recurve bow in wind, rain or snow, and all combinations thereof.

No one else made these products, and certainly not at their prices.

Some might say that Cabela’s took the best names and put their own name on it, and there may be some truth in terms of boots and optics. But when it came to outdoor clothing, the company did its own thing, making outdoor sports so much more fun. Every now and then they would do a run of virgin wool hunting shirts. Outside of Filson and Pendleton, it is tough to think of virgin wool shirts being offered anywhere else.  While the Cabela’s shirts were not near the quality of the Filson or Pendelton, they were not anywhere near the price, either. These were true working wool shirts for a fair price that you would not regret tearing or getting soaked in bear blood.

Perhaps there are some industry insiders with a tale to tell here, and I would stand corrected if proven wrong.

Along came competitor Bass Pro a few years ago, and bought out the Cabela family. The merged Cabela’s-Bass Pro union made little sense for innovation, and those outdoorsmen who greatly benefited from Cabela’s unique service held their collective breath. Bass Pro has been known for marketing all the usual stuff, plus a lot of Chinese junk, and also their own RedHead label clothing and some equipment.

RedHead has been around for a long time. An LC Smith 20-gauge double barrel in my care came in its apparently original Red Head canvas case. Nicely made, quality product. From the 1940s, when just about everything was made with pride.

Fast forward to now and RedHead is not known for high quality, or for innovation. It is mostly slapped-together variants of better-made products by Cabela’s and others. I guess the wool socks are pretty good. But most of it is not high quality. At all.

So fast forward to me getting on-site freezing-rained out of a distant hunting trip I had planned all year. All of the usual high quality equipment that has worked for me all these many years would not have worked under the unusual wet and very cold conditions I found myself in; in fact, had I stayed out there in that freezing rain, I would have undoubtedly gotten hypothermic and probably died. My kit was not designed for that unforeseen situation, and so I hightailed it out of the back country and glumly slunk home. No deer is worth dying for.

But I feel determined to never have this happen again. We get so few of these opportunities as it is; once we are out there in the middle of nowhere, we must take advantage of all the hunting time there we can make.

Subsequently looking for new clothing and kit capable of both light weight and all the other properties has left me slack-jawed. The Cabelas-Bass Pro merger has resulted in a really narrowed field of high quality outdoor clothing and kit. Instead of maintaining Cabela’s high standing products and focus on continuous unique product development, Bass Pro has cut off the innovation pipeline, used inferior materials in successful old product lines, and substituted other more expensive makers like Sitka and ScentLok for the old standby Cabela’s brands.

Very few of the high quality products that Cabela’s made, like lightweight, waterproof, silent parkas in different camouflage patterns, are available any longer.

So it seems that the merger has not benefited sportsmen, and that Bass Pro is just slowly squeezing whatever value it can get out of Cabela’s before it eventually shuts it down and forces sportsmen to consider the solely mediocre stuff that Bass Pro specializes in.

So for those of you who enjoy shopping for high quality outdoor gear, get ye to a local Cabela’s store soon. Look on the closeout racks for the stuff you used to take for granted; it won’t be coming back. Buy the old Cabela’s stuff before the company is openly yet one more victim of short-sighted corporate greed and sloth.

OK, so click on the old Cabela’s button for their amazing “Instinct” hunting clothing…

 

you clicked on the Instinct button and….and there is nothing there. Under Bass Pro ownership, Cabela’s is abandoning its long history of gear innovation and product design specifically done for serious hunters.

UPDATE 12/15/19: Turns out there was a much bigger reason for the downfall of Cabela’s. Here is the kind of in-depth reporting that Americans deserve: https://youtu.be/UatnTSwEUoc

It’s that time of year again, Pt. II

It is now “that time of year again,” but Part Two.

A month ago your firewood had better have been laid up and close to perfectly dry, or you were going to have an uncomfortably cold winter in rural America.

Now, a month later, a whole bunch of hunting seasons are upon us. Small game, trapping, deer archery, bear archery…and many people are afield a serious amount of time. Some people try to catch the deer rut in a couple different states with their bow. It can become a crazed time, where the humans are just as worn down and rutted up by the prospect of catching unawares a big old wary buck who, in his brief moment of annual craziness, lets down his guard.

Usually, I do not begin trapping in earnest until December, when all pelts are truly prime and when the bobcat and fisher seasons begin. Early on I set out cage traps to thin out the skunks and possums that will otherwise clog up my best sets later on. Never one to sell furs, trapping for me has always been about helping ground-nesting birds against an overabundance of nest-raiding mammals pulsing out from suburban sprawl habitats. With Russia and China in bad financial and economic situations the past five years, wild fur has not been in as big demand as the past. This lower demand has led many professional trappers to abandon their lines and wait for prices to come back up. In turn, that let-off in trapping pressure results in TONS of raccoons, possums, skunks etc running around. Over the past couple of weeks I have seen more road-kill raccoons than in many years past all together.

And this high population of raccoons means higher rates of rabies, trash-raiding, fights with pets, etc.

My favorite type of hunt is the solo wilderness excursion. Sleeping in a cold tent, bundled against the night time freeze, waking up to some snow on everything, enjoying a hot tea to start the day, and wandering into the wind, trying to find buck or bear tracks. Or in the case of a big male bear, making sure he isn’t on my track, like two years ago.

Is there danger in this? Sure. Then there is danger in being hit by a car, or falling and damaging a body part. There is danger in never experiencing life, and thinking that the modern risk-free cocoon most of us live in is either normal or healthy. It is neither.

And so it is that time of year again, when every fiber in my body says “Get outside, NOW!” It is a time of forgotten or deliberately misplaced professional obligations, phone calls returned on a Friday afternoon, instead of the prior Monday morning. I hope friends and colleagues will forgive me if I am a little late in getting back.

Nature is calling on the phone, it’s for me, and I gotta run.

I’ll be back. Promise.

YouTube II: What I like

For those who might have misunderstand the last post, I do like YouTube, and below are just a few examples of what I like about that site to prove it.

Why do I visit YouTube? For one, I like to learn new things, gain technical information, find ways to do things that I regularly do and yet struggle with, like professional-level chainsaw maintenance. Then there’s the endless entertainment – humor, music, and especially the unintentionally funny videos where people representing themselves as experts instead prove the complete opposite.

First, we begin with down home redneck humor  and part 2

Next up: seems like every week there’s a new political analyst from South Succotash USA who is light years better than all the tarted up partisan political activists in mainstream media. Here is Matt Christensen analyzing  people casually calling for government-led civilian gun confiscation , and here is Laurel commenting along with liberal professors discussing a possible civil war , and finally the brave and actual for real news reporter Laura Loomer

Probably the best outdoor channel, Leatherwood Outdoors; here John is hunting edible mushrooms

Incredible instinctive bow hunter and spearer of grizzly bears Tim Wells

Funny black guy Terrence Williams talking about how he is not moving to Africa and how American blacks hurt American blacks

Serious black guy Malcolm X, speaking about how white liberals destroy American blacks

Somehow YouTube presented this guy to me as suggested viewing, and my first impression of his “intense face” was that he was a maniac. Which of course I had to see for myself. Turns out he is one of the people who makes a living off of his YouTube videos, and he is in fact interesting and knowledegable. We present “Wranglerstar

RCBS reloading because every patriot should know how to reload ammunition

Assorted music: la femme d’argent by Air Safari, and Itshak Perlman playing Mendelssohn 

For those who remember what it was like once (before people showed up literally everywhere all the time on planet Earth) to drive on a country road and actually find a quiet spot where you could…without being interrupted, a song about the joys of that by Jason Aldean

And of course Blake Shelton’s Kiss my Country Ass, just because if they are at all curious, big government control folks like those listed above ought to know how a lot of us really feel about their anti freedom policies

Rimsky Korsakov Schehezerade, which can only ever be the 1969 recording by the official USSR symphony orchestra, whose world-class members played out of both genuine love and understanding of great music and out of great fear of official punishment for perceived failure.

And finally, My Pretty Pony just to throw that monkey wrench into your digital profile, especially if you watch country music and reloading videos and you want to at least appear eccentric to the digital watchers.

And no, this is not a complete list by a long shot, so don’t think you are profiling me at all by looking at this. Heck, it could all be fake just to make people think I think a certain way, when I don’t actually…

Everything I know I learned from YouTube

YouTube is way beyond me, but what little I do know about it has shaped my life.

Every day people are vying for upvotes and clicks on YouTube, posting everything from my favorite “Idiots with Chainsaws and More Epic Tree Fails” to biting the heads off of chickens and the ubiquitous smart pet tricks. Guys (it is always guys) post all kinds of wildly incorrect videos about reloading and shooting old guns, and of course they are disinterested in helpful (knowledgeable) comments aimed at keeping all their fingers and eyeballs. They are, after all, posting on YouTube; therefore, goes their thinking, they are automatically experts at what they are posting about.

YouTube sensations might be a flash in the pan, a momentary glamor shot, or they might become an overnight millionaire. While I still do not understand how that works, my children assure me it actually happens. And then, my kids gleefully tell me, the overnight millionaires become dogfood as some perceived slight they are said to have committed is mob-magnified into the worst thing since Hitler, and then back down they go into the seething pit of unknowns…

Me, I am just a super unsophisticated user of YouTube. Listening to Mozart and Beethoven on endless play loops is probably my biggest utilization of the site, followed by leaving “My Pretty Pony” series on auto-play for hours while I am working or doing chores, just to throw monkey wrenches into the digital portfolio being built around my online habits and preferences.

But then there is the creeping recognition that just about every chore I do these days is prefaced with a visit to YouTube, just to find out the best way to screw in a light bulb, or to rake Fall leaves, paint our basement walls, or to do some other small thing that in the dinosaur days we just figured out ourselves through small trials and error, or we called Dad and asked how he did it.

Now, because I have come to rely on it so much, I walk around daily with a head full of YouTube, even if I am not necessarily spending much time on the site itself. Could I even live without it?

This reliance on YouTube has spawned all kinds of urban myth jokes, usually self-directed by surgeons, dentists, and car mechanics, who all begin their work on your open heart surgery by saying “Don’t worry, I learned to do this by watching a video on YouTube,” and then their big toothy smile is the last thing you see as your brain succumbs to the anesthetic.

And your last thought is “I’ll bet she did use YouTube!” for the simple reason that all of us have become YouTube junkies for even the mundane things we do. To the point where just about everything that is in the front of my brain, that is, the frontburner of my life, has YouTube images floating all about them. It seems that everything I know I learned from YouTube.

And it does not help balance things out, you know, leaven out the evolutionary YouTube gene, that when the tractor tire went flat, I reflexively turned to YouTube for help on how to re-inflate it. Yes, videos show you how you can use an overabundance of lighter fluid to inflate the tire back onto the rim. Lots of videos about this, with varying levels of success, that usually being inversely proportional to the level of entertainment. Because, while trying that lighter fluid thing, you might also accidentally and very explosively send the steel rim flying across the barn and out through the wall into the woods, too. Which is not necessarily a bad thing, because even if you fail to inflate the tire onto the rim and send it sailing into the next county, if you are smart and you filmed the resulting fiery disaster, you still have a cool YouTube video that will get you lots of clicks. That’s your fallback plan with the lighter fluid.

About the tractor tire: I opted for the sedate old guy’s video that showed how to use trailer ratchet straps to squish the tire onto the rim. After applying a lot of used motor oil to the tire bead, which helped slide the tire up, I did what the guy did on his video with ratchet straps. And I’ll be damned, when I turned on the compressor and injected air into the tire, it fully inflated then and has stayed inflated for months.

No, I did not film my own attempts to re-inflate the tire using the ratchet straps, and that is because the truth is I just don’t really know much about YouTube. I am there for the music, which come to think about it actually sounds like a never-ending cacophony symphony.

 

Greta the baby pied piper parrot

Climate change is just the highest profile policy issue where its proponents have failed to persuade people with scientific facts. Instead of trying harder to explain the actual facts, and thereby win over convinced converts, climate change proponents always resort to bullying, shaming, and mocking people who remain uncertain, unpersuaded, unsure of what has been told to them, and then especially skeptical of all the resulting hype and abuse. Think of a teacher who, having failed to effectively explain a subject to a classroom then resorts to emotional blackmail and criticism of the audience. The truth is that the failure to connect with and educate the audience lies with the teacher, or in the case of climate change, its proponents.

Enter the latest unpersuasive advocate of human-caused climate change, the Swedish child Greta Thunberg. Yes, an unremarkable 16-year-old high school drop-out is now the newest face in this highly politicized subject involving multidisciplinary sciences and an entire planet. Yes, Thunberg is a child without any education degrees or really any formal education at all, lecturing and hectoring adults about what they absolutely must do right now with their hard-earned money and freedoms, and just listen to her, dammit.

I have no idea where Thunberg came from, in the sense of how or why she became an activist media darling activist. Nothing about her is particularly outstanding; not charisma, not intelligence, not education or mastery of science. Suddenly she was The Voice Of Reason, or at least The Voice Of Pesky Mosquitoes That Won’t Go Away. This little kid is just a little kid, that’s all she is, so “Oh c’mon!” is what I am thinking.

How can she be taken seriously, how can the quality of our national policy debate have sunk this low? And then I remembered that the face of the big government civilian disarmament effort is an attention hog named Hogg, himself also an unimpressive annoying little foot-stomping brat. And like so many other 16-year-olds across the planet, Greta is a foot-stamping, pouting, demanding little brat who wants what she wants and she wants it right now. It doesn’t mean she knows anything, or that she is correct about climate change, or that my 16-year-old son actually should be handed the keys to my pickup truck and given five hundred bucks for the weekend, either. This is just the way that sixteen-year-olds behave, and real adults ignore them at least and often righteously put them in their place.

Sixteen-year-olds have this habit of wanting all the adult stuff without having actually worked hard and earned it. It is what makes sixteen year olds both exasperating and yet so adorable. They are so clearly in an in-between place, between child and young adult, between having their own thoughts and learning new things. In America, most sixteen-year-olds like Greta are high school sophomores.

Do you remember what the word “sophomore” means? Yes, that’s right, it means “wise fool.” That is, a sophomore is a person who exhibits the traits exactly in between wisdom and foolishness. True to being a sophomore in meaning if not in actual school, Thunberg has the language skills of a young adult, but the reasoning abilities of a child.

The more we think about this unphenomenal child phenomenon policy thing, the more evident it is what a game it is. Thunberg is just the young white equivalent of what Obama represented. If she can’t persuade us with actual facts, she will pout and cry and try to bully us with childish tantrums. And if our adult inclinations kick in, and we contest Thunberg’s bullcrap, why then we are just a bunch of big meanies who made little kids cry. It was the same argument used to buffer Obama from being held accountable for his endless lies — anyone opposing him was racist, mean etc. For shame that anyone would even dare to question these good people! (sarcasm)

And so today was Thunberg’s big day. She led a bunch of American government schools in a student “strike” over her inability to actually persuade thinking people that human caused climate change is real. While students at government (“public”) schools are too young to go on strike, the sound of the word ‘strike’ is so grown up sounding and exciting, and anyhow, it is kind of sexy Marxist chic. Thunberg thinks the strike is better than actually getting an education, and in her own words, climate change policy and socialism are inseparable.

Ah-hah!

And so a bunch of Democrat union controlled government school administrators and political activists posing as teachers actually encouraged their students to miss a day of taxpayer funded education and go do something else, maybe get more leftist indoctrination, maybe protest, against whom or for what none could really say. But a day away from school is what so many kids crave anyhow, and so away some of them went. Maybe some of them want to be just like Thunberg: A high school dropout and professionally aggrieved whiny brat on an endless mission to harangue her elders. Great; it sounds like another Chinese cultural revolution, except now in America by yet more foreigners who want more of our free taxpayer stuff given to them.

Thunberg does not know the science about climate change, but she does know how to parrot liberal talking points. And so maybe we can finally categorize her as a baby pied piper parrot, a malignant force leading small children astray, away from hearth and home and all that is good. I think this description is more scientifically accurate than anything Thunberg says about supposed human caused climate change.

Climate change turned this little human into a parrot

 

 

 

Scary and mean little kid!

“And Duetschland vill haff a glorious thousand year reich!” This angry child is frightening. Is she the next Adolf Hitler in training?

is Penn State for real?

I know, I know, PSU alum are not supposed to criticize our Mother Ship, Penn State University. But the cold hard facts are material, and it is important to at least raise one’s voice about important things.

For the record, I do not hate Penn State, though I have severed my commitment to PSU football because of the brutally unfair way the PSU board treated my hero and universally admired icon  coach Joe Paterno. No, the opposite is true, I care very much about PSU.  I am grateful for the stellar undergraduate education I received there. In fact, I received as good or better an education at PSU as or than available at supposedly elite Ivy League schools. That is because PSU is so large, has so many facilities and professors, that anyone who really wants to be educated, to talk with their professors, to spend time debating and studying with like-minded students, can spend all their time as a student being educated. If they but want to.

Which is pretty much what I did there. I served on the Student Senate, ran for student body president, engaged in all kinds of political activism, and studied, studied, studied. My professors, notably Art Goldschmidt, Jackson Spielvogel, Jim Eisenstein, and especially Ed Keynes, helped me grow as only a devoted educator can do. I served many of my best professors as a teaching or research assistant. They each studied me, saw my strengths and weaknesses, and challenged me in ways and in areas where I needed to grow the most, and where that growth would matter the most to my eventual debut as an educated adult.

On the other hand, my impression of Ivy League schools is that they are so one-dimensional and politically correct, that one must only gain entry and then spend four years parroting and agreeing with one’s professors to get out with a degree. No growth, no challenge, no self-development at the Ivy league schools, just indoctrination by the staff and parroting back by the students. Where is the value in that?

So what the hell is going on at Penn State with the sky-high tuition? At $38,000 a year IN STATE tuition, PSU ranks right up there with many private schools as well as public universities OUT of state.

Being run now strictly as a profit-loss bottom-line business, as opposed to an educational institution, PSU sets tuition fees that are affordable only to wealthy students, crazy parents, foreign students backed by foreign governments, and  the children of PSU employees.  Ye olde regular American or Pennsylvanian family simply cannot afford the Pennsylvania STATE university.

This situation is exacerbated by a so-called professional caste of elected officials, state representatives and state senators, who tell us all the time that they are professionals and they know what they are doing. What they are doing with PSU is constantly shoveling into its gaping maw more and more taxpayer money, with zero strings attached. No special scholarships for highly qualifying Pennsylvania students. No accountability to the taxpayers, no service to the Pennsylvania public.

And for those who justify this unfair situation because PSU is a big research station, OK, you name the program and let’s look into it. Some are pretty good, and some are worthless. For example, PSU has its own breeder reactor, so we know the PSU students of nuclear physics are probably getting cutting-edge education from nuclear physics researchers there. On the other hand, fake “climate researcher” Michael Mann was just hugely discredited in a court of law, and ordered to pay big legal fees as a result. Mann could not produce in court the data he used to make his name peddling phony science. As we all know, science is totally about reproducability, the ability to reproduce experiments and outcomes that other scientists have claimed. Mann cannot do that. Mann has been a political activist first and foremost, and has besmirched PSU’s good name as a research institution.

Maybe Mann can be now sued by Pennsylvania taxpayers for his fraud, and compelled to create a scholarship fund with his many ill-gotten gains.

We can call it the “Penn State Real Science Scholarship Fund.” And if it has only five bucks in it, it will still be a hell of a lot more than PSU has so far designated to supporting qualified in-state students who want to study real subjects.

 

Happy Economy: Consumers & Local Banks vs. The World

The US economy is strong, and it has been strong since a flood of consumer confidence swept in behind a new president who ushered in to a miserable bipartisan vacuum a refreshing cleansing confidence.

Added to that confidence was –and very much is– a renewed pride in America, in being American, and in American-made products. By mid-2017 a sense of 1950s community once lost and now found again birthed a strong antidote to Obama’s “new normal” of slow American decline.

And we can’t just blame Obama. Yes, Obama hates America and did everything he could to destroy our nation from inside and outside. But he was helped significantly by ye olde typical career Republicans who saw money to be made in America’s decline, just as there was money to be made in its growth. But growth is harder, and why work hard if you don’t really have to, they reasoned. Either way, growth or defeat, the big money Republicans bought their many pet congressmen to safeguard their investments and stood by watching as they hit big on a global economy shifting from their American home turf to China, India, the EU, and other undeserving recipients of America’s health.

In fact, America’s veins were opened up and flowing out. Our life force was draining away, and a host of hungry nations were perched around us, like vultures, picking away at the juicy scraps that fell from our Rust Belt homes and boarded up churches. Both Democrats and Republicans were pumping away, pushing our citizens’ energy force, our very national being, into the waiting mouths of so many other nations. And so our American economy had sputtered, dying

That is, until Trump inspired US consumers, and the local banks they work with and rely upon to take what are big steps in their quality of life.

And so like a thing alive, the American economy has powered forward like it has not moved in decades. And why would the economy not be alive? Our collective economy is us, of us, an organic part of us and an extension of us. America has a sense of good health again, and so it follows that our economy is healthy again, too. And it is getting stronger, despite transparent and treasonous attempts to destroy our economy by the Democrat Party and everyone else allied with them, including the governments and industries of China and Russia.

It is sickening that an entire American political party will do everything it can to badmouth, damage or destroy America’s economy simply in order to artificially malign a president they oppose. The cost to America is enormous! Then again, this is the same political party that advocates for illegal invaders over American citizens, for law-breakers and against law-followers, that claims Social Security will be tossed overboard by the other political party and then does everything in its power to give all of our Social Security money to their new chums, the illegal invaders.

So yes, I guess destroying America’s economy and hurting the American citizens standing in the way is to be expected from the Democrat Party and their communications arm, the Mainstream Media.

One discrete sector of the national economy that is changing is the timber industry. When four hundred million (400,000,000 !) middle-income Chinese aspire to own the nice kitchens and hardwood floors that define comfortable life in America, a huge sucking sound can be heard ’round the world as unquantifiable amounts of natural resources are pulled in to that huge nation. And when the Chinese economy began to falter in early 2018, even before the tariff battle, the Chinese domestic demand for American timber dried up. We then learned in late 2018 that the red oak, residual ash, and black walnut that had been bringing us huge export revenue but which were then beginning to stack up in East Coast log yards were not once destined for Chinese factories re-exporting their finished goods back to America. No, those logs and lumber were being used up domestically in China, as China grew its own middle-income population. A population that is now up against the ropes and cannot buy American hardwoods that make pretty kitchens and flooring.

Accordingly the American timber industry is going through a shake-up due to the way timber buyers invested and spent. The fact is that even as they close in China, new cabinet and flooring factories are opening up in several other Asian countries.

And so now on the battlefield it is the confident American consumer and her local bank officers standing strong against the evil political tide that seeks to reverse what has been accomplished, just begun really, since November 2016.  It is happy healthy family and local community versus a global colossus hungry for endless cash, endless money, endless wealth, at any cost, and a domestic political party hungry for power at any cost, even the cost of individual liberties and American success.

In this fight I put my money on the American consumer, not just because I think she is a tough and hard working bunch, but because I am an American. I want her– you, me, us — to win this fight.