Sunday, December 27, 2009
Tuesday, December 22, 2009
Because I have noticed, while reading this book, that I am a hypocrite. Well, apparently at least.
I support loggers and hunters (the good ones). I despise tree-spikers and green nazis. I am a sodbuster at heart, and a carpenter by trade. I make my subsistence on the rape and pillage. Trees are ruthlessly cut down in the forest, sliced into little bits, and used to make continually larger houses for people who can't afford them, until they all go bust and take us with them, simultaneously casting the housing market, the stock market, the lumber mills, paper mills, loggers, and builders into the dark, where there is wailing and gnashing of teeth. And yet, I find my solace in the open space, in hiking, camping, challenging four wheel drive roads, and other pursuits which require the open space which Doug holds so dearly and clearly wants me out of.
HYPOCRITE! I say one thing and do another. I want to have my cake and eat it too. I want the grizzer bears to return and flourish. I want to hike and not be eaten. If necessary, I will shoot to defend myself. But the important thing is this.
I WILL NOT APOLOGIZE FOR MY ACTIONS.
If I am to be a hypocrite in someones eyes, I care not how they judge me. Though I may suffer under injustices, forced upon me by 'politically correct' points of view, I will not be their victim, and I will not play their game. I will speak my mind, and act as my conscience directs me, and not request forgiveness where I feel there is nothing to be absolved. I will continue to support hunting and the logging industry, as some of the finest and most caring outdoorsmen I know, that go to bat most often for the forests and its creatures, are loggers. Obviously this is not all of them.
To those that are only interested in the pillage and the money, in hunting for the kill and not for the experience of it, I hope beyond hope that you burn in this life, and I know you will in the next. I will not ask you to apologize either. If your conscience is content with clear cuts and destruction, act as you will and we shall oppose you. If you are content within yourself to kill a deer, without caring, and continue to hunt, transferring your tag to a bigger deer and leaving the old in a ditch, act as you will and we shall report you. Despite my aggressive tendencies regarding logging and hunting, I will not back you in actions which I find reprehensible, just as I will not support the groups which commit heinous acts in the defense of the deer and trees. So it makes me a hypocrite. So what. If you don't like it, counteract it. Just don't apologize for it. I think we've had enough of that crap.
I think Doug Peacock would rather see me in plain light than have me make insincere promises for my supposed wrongs. There is more respect due to an honorable opponent than a cowardly friend.
Tuesday, November 3, 2009
Language is only one very minor example. In the realm of mathematics, calculators have replaced the human brain for even the most basic of math. I agree that calculators are a supremely useful instrument, allowing the user to handle complex numbers with ease and saving time, energy, and scratch paper the world over, but simple addition? I occasionally astound people by performing multiplication or division in my head, but I assure you I am no Genius (actually, several of you will probably assure both me and each other of that fact). I simply retain some minor skill for organizing figures in my head.
Skill loss is not limited to intellectual activity. With the compartmentalizing of tasks, the loss becomes endemic to our society. Working on ones car is another example. At the dawn of the automobile era, one learned to operate and repair their personal vehicle. If it broke down a long way from town, one either had to effect field expedient repairs or take to one's heels and return with more expertise. As vehicles (always a complex system) began to grow more complicated, mechanics became a very important sector of society. These were men (yes, and women) who learned a complex skill set, and could be employed in the repair and upkeep of one's automobile. The burden of skill was no longer universal. Over time, complexity began to skyrocket, and the possession of a universal skillset was no longer feasible. Mechanics began to move into specialties. One now had a transmission shop, an engine shop, a lube shop, auto body shop, etc. Even within the trade there was now a loss of skill. Eventually, computers became so prevalent that diagnostics were performed like magic, and pieces of the industry began to disappear completely. Components are no longer repaired, they are replaced, in increasingly larger sub-assemblies.
In Carpentry, much the same thing. Once, a carpenter had to know every aspect of construction, from the digging to the roofing. Later, the industry started to separate into fields. Excavators dig the hole, concrete boys pour the foundation. The framers that throw the walls are not always the same ones that stand the roof, increasingly not even the same ones that throw down the floor. When the roof is on, call the shinglers, when the house is tight, get the sparkies and tinners, plumbers and rockers, mudders, trim guys, carpetlayers. Very very few of us can cross the trades with any hope of success.
Hundreds of years ago, men with primitive hand tools cut and joined the supports for roof of the Cathedral of Notre Dame. Now, few framers know how to properly cut in rafters. Pre-made trusses delivered to the job site are the basis for our roof system, and man, they better be right, cause I'm not sure how to fix them. We need an engineer for that. We no longer possess the knowledge and the skillsets that our grandparents took for granted.
This, by way of introduction, brings us back to the kitchen. Food, as we all are aware, is one of the most basic and irrefutable needs of humanity. In the Microwave Era, how many of us are possessed of the skillset that our Grandmothers used to put a daily meal on the table? I remember my grandmother and, when she had the time, my mother baking bread. Even then, it was a luxury item, something to enjoy, rather than a staple. The simple, ubiquitous loaf of white bread has been available so long that, in living memory, few people in this country can recall when homebaked bread was the rule, rather than the exception. I got a recipe from the Mother Earth News (a crazy hippy magazine, and great fun) about baking bread. Its a simplified recipe, put together by a pastry chef and her chemist husband, that grew into an entire book called Artisan Bread in 5 Minutes a Day. I tried it, and I must admit, the results have been stunning. How many of us have ever made sandwich and thought, 'man, this bread is good!' Bread was always just the carrier. This recipe has replaced Sara Lee in our home. It takes about 20 minutes of active time, every week, to make the dough, and 5 minutes of active time to bake sandwich bread. And its CHEAP!
I figured out one day (with, yes, the help of a calculator) that there are about 24 loaves of bread in a ten pound bag of flour. If you are buying the cheapest possible loaf of bread at the store, that's about $24 worth of bread. A ten pound bag of flour ($6), plus the yeast ($6 gets you about 10 batches, so $4) and salt ($1 or so) comes to $11. That's less than half price for the CHEAPEST bread. When compared to the breads it most resembles, the difference is staggering. Fresh baked artisan style breads (round loaf, french breads, etc) from the bakery department are $4-6 per loaf. That's $96 to $120 worth of bread. For $11. Factor in that it is delicious and that you are not reliant on other people to do the work for you. Tastes even better, doesn't it? Want another example? Beef Jerky...
Beef Jerky is where this whole journey started for me. My brother and I found that when we made jerky out of venison, somehow it disappeared a lot faster than the actual deer meat did. Deer steaks are quite small, and some people are not that fond of the flavor and texture of wild game, but everybody seemed to love the jerky. I decided that, for a hike I did last year in Northern Arizona, jerky would be a good food to have with me. Unfortunately, being that I'm a carpenter in the middle of a housing market decline, I had limited funds with which to purchase it. After finding some recipes and acquiring some curing salt, I began to make jerky with whatever beef roasts were the cheapest at the local supermarket. Rather than paying the $25 per pound (not kidding, those $6 dollar packages of jerky are usually only 3-5 oz) I was buying roasts for $1.57 and the spices last forever! With the finished weight about half of the raw weight, plus the cost of spices and curing salt, I figured I was making jerky for about $5 per pound or less. ONE FIFTH of the cost of purchasing it. I eventually started making my own pastrami, corned beef, and ham, as well. The whole thing came together this weekend when my sister was in town for a visit, and we made sandwiches, on homemade bread, with home cured meats. The only things I didn't make myself were the spices and the condiments. I think my grandmother would be proud of me. Plus, since my fiancee and I have started to buy food in more and more basic states, eliminating the frozen bag dinners and heavily processed foods, we are eating better, the food tastes better, and we have cut our grocery bill by easily 25%.
I've learned to make bread, salami, ham, corned beef, pastrami, jerky, and sauerkraut. I've butchered my own deer, cut my own steaks, made homemade pizza, and canned chicken stock. Maybe I don't save as much money on the corned beef and pastrami as I do on the bread and the jerky, but its fun, satisfying and in-dependent. Both the chicken stock and the sauerkraut taste better than ANY that I've ever purchased at the store. And let me tell you, whether its curing the sauerkraut in the cupboard for three weeks, or opening a jar of homemade chicken stock that's been waiting in the pantry for a month or two, NOTHING teaches confidence like taking that first bite. In-dependence... its Delicious...
Now that's what I call Counter-Culture...
Thursday, October 29, 2009
This horribly efficient weapon was directly responsible for the death of over 48 million individuals between the years of 1933 and 1945. What is even more unlikely is the fact that, even in the years following the war, no effort was reliably made by the Western Nations to curb its use. The Soviet Union made many advances in controlling its use, but since the fall of that nation, it is becoming more and more prevalent in Russian Society.
In fact, huge quantities of this weapon have been made in the years following, and it is still being produced, in its various forms, to this day. Here in the United States and abroad, this weapon is being peddled to youths and minorities at an alarming rate. Millions upon millions of them have been sold this year alone. What is more, the owners of these death machines do not appear to consider them to be dangerous at all. In fact, at this moment I have one sitting in front of me. It sits there, looking innocent, when others of its ilk have the blood of many on them.
It was not introduced in World War II. The roots of this insidious machine reach far back through the annals of history. From its crude and humble origins, it has been the tool of genocide and violence. Still massed produced and sold, it has been customized and redesigned an untold number of times.
Still haven't guessed what tool this is?
Here's another hint: currently, there ARE nations that have managed to control its use, either by limiting its supply only to the government or by carefully monitoring its availability. In certain areas of the world, governments have even managed to nearly eliminate its use entirely.
One more chance to guess.
For the answer, click here.
Now that you know what it is, should we get on with outlawing it in this country?
Monday, October 26, 2009
Sunday, October 25, 2009
To the South there are the ruins of civilizations that held sway for nearly a thousand years, where gangs of ruthless thugs do daily battle for dominion over the civilian population.
Within the span of written history, multiple major civilizations have risen to prosperity and then vanished, or at the least faded to obscurity, sometimes in the span of less than a single generation. In the last thirty years, Afghanistan has been degraded from First to Third world status, giving a snapshot of the progression from 'modern' society to embattle enclave, to pawn state, to anarchy.
Be wary should the rising stars begin to send aid to criminal elements to our South. We should not easily forget that once, the Visigoths were the mercenaries of Rome, an outcast portion of their society, refugees from beyond the borders. We would do well to treat our citizens better than they.
Wednesday, October 21, 2009
Viva Le Revolution! Maybe I should be careful what I say, I am in the military and as much as I hate it Obama is still my boss, but dammit when the hell are Americans going to be proud of being Americans again? We all have to quit being lazy and earn our pride once again. Sift through the bullshit, kick out the fat cats and institute a Republic that WILL stand for us! It's time for a REAL change! We need it now more than ever. However, remember JFK’s quote “Ask not what your country can do for you, but ask what you can do for your country.” We all feel like we are entitled to our riches, but this country was built on people that struggled in a new world to just survive. In other words, why is Paris Hilton famous? Why are our beloved sports stars being paid millions a year? For that matter, why has Brad Pitt become the man that every woman wants to be with and every man wants to be? What exactly have these people done to benefit society? The answer is entertainment! We have become a civilization that doesn’t care about society. All of these people are merely our court jesters. Their only value in life is to distract us from a little thing that I like to call life. What is sad is that a lot of Americans see these people as our “heroes”. Is it only because the ‘idiot box’ told us so? In my opinion, people should be paid based on how much they help society. Do you remember when 8 men from the “Black Sox” back in 1919 were so poor that they threw the World Series just to make a good living? Now, I’m not saying these men should have been paid such ridiculously low wages (they should have been paid a decent “working man’s wage”), but these men as well as our modern day sports icons should be paid in the amount that they have helped us….Like I said, they are merely court jesters. The only people actually being paid what they’re worth are doctors, let’s face it these people save our lives daily. How about our teachers, policemen, firemen, soldiers, and paramedics? How much do you think these people make a year? They’re amongst the least paid people in America. These people are our REAL heroes and yet we cast them aside and just expect them to do there jobs. For example: Whenever there is a war, the soldiers are sent to a foreign land where they are scared and unsure of what the enemy is planning…do you think they went there for the pay? How about when a teacher comes across a troubled student that has a learning defect …do you think she is planning on how much money she will earn from selling this story to a Hollywood agency? Or a fireman that hears a scream from the second story of a burning apartment complex and sprints into a wall of fire, hoping that the patient will still be alive by the time that he gets to the top of the stairs?...Do you think any of these people have chosen the almighty dollar when they decided to join their respective career fields? The answer is NO! These people joined their respective career paths for one reason…they care! They care about you and me! Why are these people not praised? Why do they not make the millions of dollars a year that our court jesters make? Our values need to change America! Why not celebrate the heroes amongst us? I really don’t care how far you can throw a football…Can you save a life?...Can you climb a stairwell not knowing what you’ll find at the top of a burning building? Can you educate the youth?...Can you stop a terrorist from planting an IED that will kill my cousin?...Can you…? I have to admit that I’m slightly bias, I’m both a soldier and a volunteer fireman, but that doesn’t mean that I am obliged to sit idly by and watch MY America fall to the people that are blinded to the glitz of Hollywood! WAKE UP AMERICA!! It’s up to our generation now to fix our priorities! The real heroes are the heroes amongst us!! We live in the greatest free nation on the planet, yet we are hiding from ourselves. After 9/11 I saw that most of us are true patriots. We’ve all receded in our shells since then, but the spirit is still within us all! It’s time for ALL of us to stand up and do whatever it takes to do what we need to do to take back our America. WE ARE THE NEW PATRIOTS!!! The only way to change America now is to voice ourselves!
At the end of this he issues an open invitation to debate at his personal email address, however I have removed that for privacy reasons. If you do feel the need to debate, however, contact me here and I will supply it to you.
Go forth, then, and be proud of what you do.
Saturday, October 17, 2009
This letter was recently submitted to the Arizona Republic:
I hope our lawmakers saw the video of a shootout in an Ohio bar last week involving "law-abiding citizens."
The graphic video should send chills down the spine of any intelligent individual and should get our leaders to rethink their policy of allowing concealed arms in bars.
- Stuart Epstein,Scottsdale
Now read a related News story involving the quoted incident.
Hmmmm, notice any discrepancies? Oh, wait, yes, the fact that their actions were not only illegal, but were also possibly related to additional felony activities in the parking lot! In addition, Police in Toledo have charged two of the men involved with felonious assault, discharging a firearm, and possessing a weapon in a liquor permit premise. Ohio state law, it turns out, does NOT allow the carry of weapons in bars. Far from getting 'our leaders to rethink their policy,' this video is an eloquent example of the sort of violence present in the world, which is why we “law-abiding citizens” maintain our constant vigilance. Mr Epstein got one thing correct, however. The video does send chills down ones spine. For one thing, after all those shots were fired, there were no casualties. Thank God for gangbangers that can't shoot straight.