Tuesday, July 25, 2017

Exits, Boots and Two Articles

Not much is happening in the GPNW.  Jim’s not any worse, but he’s not any better.  Any walk longer than a grocery store or Trader Joe’s is not part of the church of what’s happening now.  I’ve been doing the three mile route.  Soon I’ll work up to the four mile with massive hills.  This area has some steep ones.

As part of the ongoing discussion of an exit plan, we’ve been looking at real estate in the area.  This would be the area with terrible traffic and rain nine months out of the year.  We started the search in Bellevue, not realizing that the goodness of the public schools has driven the price of housing to stratospheric levels.  This is a house built in the 1960’s.  It’s one level, overlooking an RV park and freeway off the back yard.  The neighborhood is such that I would not invite people over after dark.  $600,000.  If you leave Bellevue and go north, an ok house can be obtained for $700,000.  That’s a lot of money.  And then there’s the whole having to buy a rain bike again, riding in the rain, hiking in the rain.  I think we’re done with full time residence in the GPNW.


While we were in Oregon, Jim bought a new pair of hiking boots.  Their sole is not particularly stiff, but we were told they could be re-soled.  Today we made the epic journey into Fremont to consult with Dave Page, Cobbler.

This is the I90 floating bridge.  The center lanes used to be reversible HOV lanes.  Now they are denied to us, light rail is coming.  The bridge on the left sank in 1990.  For whatever reason, the workers left the inspection hatches open.  The bridge filled with water and sank.  Fortunately, the right hand bridge was in service.  They closed it for a few days to inspect the cables that anchor the bridge to the lake bottom.  Traffic in the area was just unbelievable during that time.


The Mount Baker tunnel.  The tile is pretty cool.


When we arrived at the Fremont Bridge, it was up.  A tree was blocking my view, so no photo of that.


The back of the Waiting for the Interurban statue.


So, these are Lowa Renegades.  Not resoleable.  Most hiking boots can not be resoled anymore.  They’re cementing the soles on to the body of the boot.  They last about five or so years, then the cement gives up and they’re done.  It makes them lighter, but I don’t understand why they abandoned the Lowa that Jim has.  About the only boots that can be resoled are in the $300 price range, with full grain leather and a 75 mile break in period.  This is bad progress.  We returned the pair from Oregon to REI.  The sole is too flexible and they can’t be fixed.


This is up the path from the RV park.  It’s a crime scene.  Some genius car jacked a vehicle, and was pursued by police.  He tried to go up the freeway off ramp shoulder, lost control and killed a traffic sign and the guard rail. 


It’s been awhile since I’ve mentioned the current nightmare that is our current administration.  I’ve read two really good articles that really made an impression.

The first article has a lot of words.  It’s written by Alfred McCoy who wrote The Politics of Heroin, which detailed the role of the CIA running drugs during the Viet Nam War. Here are the opening paragraphs.
Even as President Donald Trump faces ever-intensifying investigations into the alleged connections between his top aides and family members and powerful Russian figures, he serves as commander in chief over a U.S. military that is killing an astonishing and growing number of civilians. Under Trump, the U.S. is re-escalating its war in Afghanistan, expanding its operations in Iraq and Syria, conducting covert raids in Somalia and Yemen, and openly facilitating the Saudi’s genocidal military destruction of Yemen.
Meanwhile, China has quietly and rapidly expanded its influence without deploying its military on foreign soil.
A new book by the famed historian Alfred McCoy predicts that China is set to surpass the influence of the U.S. globally, both militarily and economically, by the year 2030. At that point, McCoy asserts the United States empire as we know it will be no more. He sees the Trump presidency as one of the clearest byproducts of the erosion of U.S. global dominance, but not its root cause. At the same time, he also believes Trump may accelerate the empire’s decline.

The second piece is an essay about why the US is on the decline as a world leader.
It’s safe to say, I think, that the American experiment is at an end. No, America might not be finished as in civil war and secession. But it is clearly at an end in three ways.
First, to the world, as a serious democracy. Second, to itself, as a nation with dignity and self-respect. Third, its potential lies in ruins. Even if authoritarianism is toppled tomorrow, the problems of falling life expectancy, an imploding middle class, skyrocketing inequality, and so on, won’t be.
We don’t have to look very far. What does America not have that the rest of the rich world does? Public healthcare, transport, education, and so on. Every single rich nation in the world has sophisticated, broad, and expansive public goods, that improve by the year. Today, even many medium income and even poor nations are building public healthcare, transport, etc. America is the only one that never developed any. Public goods protect societies in deep, profound, invisible ways (we’ll get to that).
Working societies — if they are to endure, grow, and cohere, if they are to prosper, hang together, and really mature — need moral universals. Moral universals are simply things that people believe everyone should have. In the UK, those things — those moral universals — are healthcare and media and welfare. In Germany, they are healthcare and media and welfare and higher education. And so on.
Moral universals anchor a society in a genuinely shared prosperity. Not just because they “spread the wealth”, though they do: because, more deeply, moral universals civilize people. They are what let people grow to become sane, humane, intelligent human beings. A person that is desperate for a meal will resort to whatever they must to feed their kids. A person constantly fed a stream of nonsense by Fox News will end up believing the earth is flat. Moral universals let people act morally, and acting morally is what the process of civilization is.

They’re both fairly depressing reading.  I don’t want to lose the links, so they’re here.
Other than this, I have very little to report.  The truck has been in for service for three solid days with a funny noise.  It appears to be the power steering pump; it was difficult to diagnose.  The new extended warranty is paying for all of it.  Yay!!!!!!!!!!!!!!


  1. Seattle is similar to San Diego in real estate terms. We can no longer afford to live in San Diego even if we wanted to. Our old house, which we sold for $780k, has most recently sold for $1.2M...and it's a pretty darn basic house in a good neighborhood.

    Excellent articles, depressing state of affairs.

  2. Amazing how expensive it is there in the Pacific NW. We could never afford to live there, and the weather ensures we'd never want to.