Hoboing Around (sticky)

Conrad Cook is a hobo all around the U.S.  This is my “serious” blog, which gets considerably less attention than OneWetSneaker, my science fiction and text game blog.

There are advantages and disadvantages to living on the ground.  Hoboing around is what I’m doing for the foreseeable future.  It’s really not a bad way to live.  I suggest people try it.


Machine Translation Fail (and how to install a link to Google Translate on your WordPress.Com blog)

The Great Buddha statue, Kōtoku Temple, Kamaku...click to translate this post

The news here is that I’m looking to use Google Translate to allow non-English speakers to read my other blog.  That blog is about spirituality.  To test it, I tried translating a page into Chinese and back.

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“Batman Is Just A Rich Cop” says someone on the internet

translate this post

I know people who are blind can’t read these things, so what it says is:

Batman Massacre was a staged Psyop (if you don’t know, the claim being made is that this was a “psychological operation” — a technique of warfare developed by the U.S. military and being used by organized crime, which hires highly trained ex-military and ex-CIA, and is taking over the U.S. government. — Well, most people don’t know how to become a hit man.)

  • Shooter kicks in steel reinforced exit door of movie theatre; impossible:  doors only open inwards.
  • Shooter, dressed as Bain, the movie’s villain, dressed head-to-toe in body armor and wearing a gas mask, tosses in a few canisters of tear gas.
  • Initial reports of shooter having one or more accomplices now changed to “lone gunman.” Continue reading

“KILL THE BAD GUYS” — Badman Killer is Not a Lone Wolf

The Batman Killer, who murdered a lot of people in Aurora, CO movie theater during a showing of the latest Batman movie, has been described by police as a “Lone Wolf.”

At least 14 people were killed and 50 wounded during an early Friday morning screening of the new Batman movie at the theater in Aurora, Colorado.

Cell phone video taken outside the doors of the theater complex showed panicked moviegoers calling out for help or searching for friends.

One man can be seen walking out with assistance, the back of his shirt covered in blood. A woman examines her body, as if checking for wounds. …

One scene stuck in [a witness’s] head — a police officer carrying a little girl in his arms. The girl wasn’t moving.  (source: http://www.cnn.com/2012/07/20/us/colorado-theater-scene/)

NOTE TO POLICE:  Do not encourage murderous psychopaths by providing them with a cool media image, like “Lone Wolf.”

Although in some sense it could be understood that lone wolves are wolf losers.  They’re the wolves that the pack beats up and ostracizes.  The ones who have no place in the pack.  Humans are very much pack animals.

Anthropologists study apes sometimes, to get insight into human nature.  There have been many remarkable discoveries.  Chimps engage in a kind of gang war.  They have been known to murder one another.

In one reported story, a monkey was ostracized from the group.  This means the other males ran him out.  The researcher witnessed him hanging around the area.  One by one, he killed the other males as they left the group to forage.  Then he moved into the harem he had conquered. Continue reading

LIFE HACK: How To Make The Dog Love You

A few years ago someone introduced their dog to a bunch of us.  You know that stupid competition that happens in the schoolyard over the new kid?  People wanted to make friends with the dog.

Nobody made friends with the dog — except me.  I grew up on a farm, and I know animals.  I was the last one over, and the dog was soon licking my hands.  People were amazed.  I even told them I grew up on a farm and I understood animals.

But they were still amazed.  Even the woman who owned the dog just kept saying, “He’s never this friendly.”  She couldn’t understand it.


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Why do we wrap dead soldiers in the flag?

If you’re late to the controversy, Chris Hayes asked this Memorial day whether dead U.S. soldiers are “heroes.” This was in a full and serious study of grief and its role in politics, for example quoting Joe Biden talking about getting the call that his wife and daughter had died. The entire TV show is here. For asking this question, Chris Hayes has been roundly condemned.

What he said was:

“Why do I feel so uncomfortable about the word ‘hero’?  I feel uncomfortable about the word hero because it seems to me that it is so rhetorically proximate to justifications for more war. Um, and, I don’t want to obviously desecrate or disrespect memory of anyone that’s fallen, and obviously there are individual circumstances in which there is genuine, tremendous heroism, you know, hail of gunfire, rescuing fellow soldiers and things like that. But it seems to me that we marshal this word in a way that is problematic. But maybe I’m wrong about that.”

One reply on this was by Kurt Sclitcher:

“But it’s the progressives’ own doing – their sickening performance following the Vietnam War, when they figuratively and literally spit on our troops – so disgusted decent Americans of all political stripes that to do anything but treat our troops with the utmost respect is to draw near-universal contempt and scorn from across the mainstream political spectrum.”

But the talking heads don’t really get at the issue.  They look into the language around it — words like “hero” and “sacrifice.” Why is the death of a soldier a sacrifice?  Why not a cost?

A friend of mine wrote a post urging everyone to remember on Memorial Day the sacrifices made for us all.  I wrote:  “…by Iraqis?”

It’s incredibly dangerous to get into the mindset that, because people have died, and because their death is linked to a cause, that their death is a sacrifice for that cause.  The purpose of making this link is to give value to their death.  But of course valuing death is inherently problematic.

If we pay a soldier’s life for a war, then the cost of the war is (at least) that soldier’s life.  But the word sacrifice tells us the soldier’s life represents the value of the war. Question the war’s value and you implicitly say the soldier died for nothing.

Ergo–You must not question the war’s value.

Some of the rest of us talked about this too.  The Facebook exchange I mention resulted in me PMing a good friend this:

Individual soldiers who volunteer — are not drafted — bear moral responsibility for their personal choices. Some are good people who want to contribute. Some are looking for an opportunity to kill people. Some want money and are willing to kill people to get it. That is the reality.

Random quote: “All of the guys I grew up with ended up either in prison or joining the military.” — I found that illuminating.

Consider Bush Jr’s defense against every evil lunatic thing he did: it is by such appeal to sentiment, that our soldiers are heros and the enemy, who died on their native soil, are terrorists, that the police state is maintained.

Such thinking is from the “point of view” of the state. But America is not a person, and if it were I would hope it would have something to say about the people who kill to profit themselves and claim they’re doing it for her.

I’m writing this to you personally just because I find you generally committed to intellectual honesty, and I think if you look into this honestly you’ll see you’ve been sold a bill of goods, that every soldier who enlists for idealistic reasons has been, and that it is the kind of flag-waving over dead soldiers promulgates that bill of good’s sale.

The flag is what we wrap dead soldiers in when we ship them home. The claim is that this somehow benefits the soldier. In fact, it benefits the flag.

Why do we wrap dead soldiers in the American flag when we bring them home?

In WWII, Himmler said that, “Every airman who dies in combat adds to the strength of our air force.”

That is why we wrap dead soldiers in the flag.

I remember into the first year of the Iraq war, the news reported that one soldier had died.  The soldier had written a letter requesting that, if he died, his death not be used for political purposes, neither to argue for nor against the war.

I do not personally feel that, in our current circumstances, soldiering is a morally defensible profession.  It is wrong to kill people, and the fact that Uncle Sam makes it  legal in war to kill does not make it right. Iraq did not have WMDs. These are not wars on our soil. There are better ways to make the world a better place than killing people.

Bad Family Values – Feminist Version

In a Jezebel article on Why Men Vote Republican, Hugo Schwyzer wrote:

Conservative Republican appeals to men are filled with nostalgia for an era when women could not afford to be as choosy as they seem to be today. The historian-turned-gadfly-candidate Newt Gingrich rarely misses an opportunity to point out that, since the 1960s, liberals have carefully substituted the state for the husband in the lives of American women. Strong public institutions (as well as contraception and access to abortion) reduced women’s dependency on men. As women gained greater autonomy, they no longer felt as compelled to settle for unhappy or abusive marriages. In the traditionalist imagination, this liberation led to abortion, divorce, and promiscuity.

The end result of women’s emancipation has been, as conservatives like Charles Murray and Mary Eberstadt have argued, the psychological dislocation of American men. Raised to be “good providers,” young men cannot possibly compete with a “Leviathan” state that provides far more to women and children. The much-exaggerated contemporary masculinity crisis is the inevitable consequence of robbing men of their natural and primary source of self-esteem, the ability to provide for their families.

It doesn’t take a rocket scientist to figure out that more men than women vote Republican in this country for this very reason. Whether they are able to articulate it or not, I suspect a great many men sense that the weaker the state, the more dependent women become upon them. 

My reply:

As a liberal and former encamper at an Occupy group… This is all true. But I find it remarkable that honest liberals, like Mr. Schwyzer, do not consider it a real problem.

When I was growing up, the “Welfare Queen” theory was a hot topic. An utterly classist, misogynistic rationalization for withdrawing much-needed financial support from unwed mothers.

But in fact as an adult I’ve talked to Those People while waiting to apply for food stamps. It really is a lifestyle decision. Girls in the projects grow up, very often, intending to be professional, state-financed mothers, just as some good girls from Middle America grow up wanting to be housewives. Continue reading