Sunday, June 27, 2021

The Stupidity of the Carolina Squat

 For me anything that falls under the umbrella of “popular culture” is something I usually try and ignore. Whatever popular culture once was it is now overwhelmingly a banal wasteland paradoxically overflowing with lackluster personalities and social influencers who while not quite parasites on the butt of society certainly offer nothing of value to it.

Case in point has to be the Kardashians and anyone else associated with their popularity. There was a time when I thought they would fade into the static of American life like numerous others who found fame but couldn't justify it. Now, I have this strange idea that they will be remembered for hundreds of years in the future as a new type of demigods. I've got to admit, not bad for a family whose first dose of fame came from a “leaked” sex tape.

Despite my best efforts to ignore popular culture, aspects of it do penetrate my defenses making me take notice. That happened a few weeks back while I was stopped at a red light.

One of those massive monster trucks pulled up beside me. The funny thing though was that it was obvious that the front end was pointed up at a near forty-five degree angle. Like the back end of the truck was carrying a massive load weighing down the suspension. No, that wasn't the case. When the light turned green the driver of the truck hauled ass leaving me behind in all his truck exhaust glory.

Given the angle of the truck I could easily see the bed was empty of cargo. I didn't think much more of the truck until I saw another configured the same way a day or two later, then again not a couple of days later. By that point it was obvious these truck were not suffering from some sort of mechanical failure but were being alter to that configuration on purpose.

Eventually, I learned that these trucks with the front end pointed up, or the rear end modified to be lower was called the “Carolina Squat.”

Curiosity got the better of me and I did a little internet sleuthing. This trend originated in California and was used on the Baja desert racing circuit where it was called the “California Lean” or “Cali Lean.” Lowering the back end had a practical purpose in the sandy terrain and hilly landscape. When contestants hit a jump at high speed, the rear end would hit the ground first helping to avoid a crash. However this modification has no practical purpose when the vehicle stay strictly on highways and streets.

Leave it to the unrepentant ignorant rednecks of the American South to grab onto this trend in an attempt to impress someone. It was bad enough when years ago they started raising the wheel-bases of their trucks to the point small step ladders were needed to climb up into the cab. Throw in chrome rims that can run into the thousands of dollars alone and the American South once again can be thought of as a backwards bunch of idiots desperately attempting to overcome some perceived shortfall in manhood.

The shortfalls of the Carolina Squat include a total loss in towing capability, a dangerous reduction in proper handling along with simply being unable to see the road. Mainly because the truck's headlights will be pointed up and not down at the road ahead.

Leave it to Southerners to lead the charge into another level of stupidity.

Sunday, June 20, 2021

You Know This is Coming

 For reasons that usually escape me I'm a fan of most of H.P. Lovecraft's stories. Cosmic horror filled with powerful entities totally ambivalent to humanity's existence is a level of science fiction that may have a closer approximation to reality than I'm comfortable with. 

 All that is beside the point with the key idea here being horror, painful intense dread of something perceived as bad or evil. Humans excel at horror, we are adept at torturing and killing each other on industrial-sized scales. As recent science podcast I listened to said ants are another type of animal that will wipe out an entire competitor population. Then again ants aren't sentient while we have plenty of religions and beliefs that say killing each other is bad. So on a certain level between ants and humans I'm not sure who has the moral high ground.

It appears humans have begun to reach for a new level of horror with the possibility of an "Ethnic Bioweapon" that could be designed to eliminate inconvenient populations of fellow humans. As the picture says, it might be possible to design a virus that targets specific genotypes. A terrifying prospect to say the least, but honestly you know Old Adolph Hitler would have jumped for joy to have such a weapon in his inventory.

And as you can already guess, human wisdom and morals has not advanced at all sense the end of the Second World War. I'd even go as far as to write that here in the "Land of the Free and the Home of the Brave" our moral high ground has greatly eroded in recent years. And well, you know there were those little oopsies with how we treated the Native Americans and the African slaves. Given the fear and anger oozing like a newly reopened sore from the crowd wanting to Make America Great Again I'm sure a few of the more rabid members would love to have an ethnic bioweapon. 

The following source is unknown:

 U.S. Secretary of Defense William Cohen considered such a "genetic weapon" plausible, and believed the former Soviet Union had undertaken some research on the influence of various substances on human genes. In its 2000 policy paper Rebuilding America's Defenses, think-tank Project for the New American Century (PNAC) described ethnic bioweapons as a "politically useful tool" that US adversaries could have incentive to develop and utilize. This weapon could be used to kill people with a specific code in their DNA essentially and effectively whipping them from the face of the earth.


Thursday, June 17, 2021

Rainy Day Revelations



Saturday morning began like all the others since the divorce. Still half-asleep, I rolled over towards what had been her side of the bed not truly conscious of the fact that she was gone. At least the drowsy sense of panic only lasted a second or two before my brain fully rebooted for the day. The worst aspect of the situation was now just the unending silence making the house seem like a tomb.

Kathy let me keep the house in the divorce settlement, quite the consolation prize for a failed marriage. As a kid, I would stay with my grandparents for a week or two during summer vacation. In the afternoons my grandmother would makes us lunch and we would both sit in front of the television and watch game shows.

I enjoyed this time with her and we would talk about the various constants and how some succeeded where others failed. We would also laugh at their reactions to the contests the host put them through. Of course, the big winners at the end of an episode jumped around frantically as the off-screen announcer listed off the various prizes, cash, and trips they were taking home. As the closing music played the host and the big winner would then cross the stage to the glamorous models standing next to the various prizes or posing in front of the elaborate displays showing the exotic tropical destination the lucky guy or girl would enjoy.

For a brief second or two, the camera would flashback over to that day's runner-up contestant. He or she would still be standing behind their assigned podium with a stunned and dismayed look. The announcer would then quickly say that the runner-up, meaning the loser, would receive a year supply of Rice-A-Roni for their troubles. That's how I still felt, I got the house while the woman I loved had moved out and taken up residence in one of her parents' fancy downtown condos.

I laid there in bed for a minute feeling the loneliness closing in and again started thinking about getting a dog. Kathy was severely allergic to dogs, something that I had accepted when we married. Kathy also hated the sight of dog shit when we went walking in the park. The offending dog and its lazy, irresponsible owner could be long gone but she acted like we had stumbled across some disgusting alien monster struggling to free itself from its slimy birth pod.

Getting a dog was a definite possibility. My parents and former in-laws still chatted and even had the occasional Sunday brunches even though blood loyalty to their children had strained their sickly sweet friendships. As the eggs benedict and mimosas are served I can see my ex-mother-in-law asking the perfunctory question about how was I doing. I can then see my mom answering in an equally offhand manner that Steven had adopted some mutt from the shelter. The two couples would then smile and maybe even laugh a little then go about their usual, more important discussions.

Just for shits and giggles, I then imagined my former mother-in-law telling Kathy sometime later that I was destroying the house she had so perfectly decorated by bringing in some furry mongrel to chew up the furniture and shit all over the carpets. Kathy's hatred for dogs went beyond simple allergies, it was more based on her belief that any animal would destroy or spoil her masterwork of style and balance.

After talking with her mother, Kathy would then fret for days before finally calling me at work to ask about some item of hers she couldn't find and that was probably still stored up in the attic. During our stilted conversation, she would mention that she heard I had adopted a dog. And I would casually mention that yes, I had a dog and that it had unfortunately laid some turds in the living room and foyer but that you couldn't really see the stains. The tone in her voice would then drop giving away the fact that she was upset.

Yeah, whenever I decided to get my ass out of bed I would look online for the biggest dogs up for adoption.

It took several more minutes but eventually, I did get out of bed and went through the motions of taking a shit, showering, and shaving. Yes, I also brush my teeth, no need for tooth decay to interrupt my post-divorce malaise.

Coffee was the next goal and with a cup of steaming hot good stuff in my hand, I opened the kitchen window shades and looked outside. It was pouring rain, the skies were a dark gray pretty much guaranteeing it would stay that way all day. The lawn desperately needs cutting but the rain was making any yard work impossible. I'm sure the Home Owners Association wouldn't see it that way but since the divorce, I didn't give a fuck what they thought.

Still, I needed something to do for the morning before pet adoption places opened. Then it occurred to me that Kathy did have a huge amount of junk stored in the attic. While her condo overflowed in luxury and comfort, storage space was at a minimum. I had agreed to let her keep the crap here, mainly out of some ridiculous idea that she might realize her true feelings and come back to me and her precious house. It might be fun to look through the vast amount of stuff she couldn't part with but yet didn't want in her new home.

That was eighteen months ago and before I learned about Chad. When Chad entered the picture I wondered for a few days if the suddenness of Kathy's decision to end our marriage was because they were having an affair. That they would stay apart for over a year before announcing their relationship. I looked into the matter and learned that Chad had never stepped foot in Atlanta until his company transferred him here. It was Kathy's sister, Jenny, that confirmed to me that they hadn't made the beast with two backs until well after the divorce.

Jenny had always liked me and after we bumped into each other at a coffee shop told me that it was true love at first sight for the two. It was at a work-related party and apparently, Cupid's arrow had a direct hit on the two on the first try. Jenny then laughingly confided that they were soul mates because they were both extreme compulsive-obsessives.

Climbing up into the attic I was sort of stunned at the amount of stuff she left behind. Being the last survivor of our failed endeavor I didn't have any reason to visit the attic. My extraneous crap was all down in the extra, unused bedroom.

Looking things over Kathy's boxes were of course labeled and neatly organized like toy soldiers. Poor Chad, I hope the bastard was truly in her anal-retentive league. I opened the box labeled books and wasn't surprised to find a collection of hardcover and paperback novels arranged in neat order, like puzzle pieces. It wouldn't have surprised me if Kathy had organized them into some sort of secret code like something from a Dan Brown ancient conspiracy novel.

The selection of books did seem unusual for her. They ran the gambit from the typical romance novel, spy thrillers, to science fiction and even horror. It was almost bizarre on a certain level. Other boxes had papers from college, clothes that I never saw her wear, and even pictures from her family that had to date as far back as the 1930s.

Several hours passed with me going through every box. As her now ex-husband it was wrong for me to go through her stuff. One box even had love letters to a high school sweetheart that was now some high-level advisor to a US senator. This guy's existence was old information, Kathy told me about him while we were dating. But as I read the ancient letters that were sent during their junior year of high school I discovered the old boyfriend had admitted to her that he was bi-curious and had a crush on some guy on the football team. I found this revelation hilarious since this old boyfriend worked for the right-wing asshole from Texas.

After going through the last box I was suddenly overwhelmed with the thought that everything here made up the entirety of Kathy's life. There was even a copy of our divorce papers. But the one group of items missing was anything from our almost six years of marriage. No box containing pictures of our wedding, various vacations, or mementos two stupidly in love people give each other. It was a true gut punch to think that down in the spare bedroom I had a box storing all the birthday cards she gave me from the time we meet till that last year of marriage. Other boxes I kept had all the pictures I took of her, including the topless one she posed for on a beach in Puerto Rico.

That's when I noticed one last box in the corner. It wasn't labeled but when I picked it up I heard items sliding around. I lifted the lid off and saw five leather-bound journals inside. I picked up one and flipped through the pages, it was filled with her expertly neat handwriting. The leather cover of each journal had the year embossed in gold so it was easy to see where they began. The last one had the year she asked me for a divorce.

I flipped through the pages of that last journal to find the last entry. Sure enough, it was dated the day Kathy called me at work asking to meet her at the deli I liked for lunch.

Sitting on the floor of the attic I had a sudden flash of the emotions I felt as Kathy calmly told me in that deli she had hired a lawyer to draw up divorce papers. There wasn't any need for marriage counseling nor talking, she wanted a divorce. It would happen one way or the other and it would be best if we parted on friendly terms.

Sitting in that booth waiting for our order I felt the pit of my stomach sink into a churning, sour abyss. I looked at the woman who I loved more than anyone in the world numb from the shock of her words. There was no denying the reality of the situation. It was totally unexpected but I knew it wasn't some nightmare, it was real.

Some would say I was too shocked to agree with anything but I said yes to everything. I agreed to the divorce and didn't make a scene as my world collapsed. Kathy left a few minutes later leaving her lunch order untouched. Like a moron, I stayed behind and ate mine as if nothing weird had happened. I even left a tip on the table for the waitress as well as Kathy's untouched order. I'm sure the waitress asked me whether or not I wanted it packed up to go but I didn't hear her.

I never got any answers from Kathy as to why she ended it. And I'm sure if I had forced the situation and demanded them like some macho guy from the movies she would have refused. Her only response would have been a look of disappointment and heavy sighing like a parent might give to a slow child.

But now with these journals, I know the answers will be in Kathy's exact handwriting. Still sitting in the attic feeling the sweat pouring down my face and body, part of me knew I wouldn't like what I read.

That the answers I deserve would come with pain.

That same part of me said I should quit right there and forgot everything I had already seen. But it was too late for that, I was a true graverobber who had disturbed the ancient tomb and let loose all the cursed spirits.

I took the box down to the living room and began to read.

Saturday, June 12, 2021

My Thoughts on the Bizarre UAPs


One of my most enduring but ultimately irrational aspirations was to live long enough to see humans make first contact with an alien civilization. This can be traced back to my childhood in the 1970's when I would browse the covers of cheap paperback books about UFOs and ancient astronauts at the local department store.

The subject of UFOs was a hot topic at that moment in popular culture with one of the paperbacks supposedly having a picture of an “energy being” on the cover. To my young and uneducated eyes still dealing with implications of the stories presented in Star Trek and other science fiction stories I was enthralled at the idea.

The fact that this energy being looked like a bunch of sparkles in a rough humanoid shape was something I didn't question at the time. Luckily for me, especially since I received most of my education in South Carolina which has never been a place famous for teaching rational thought, I eventually came to understand the vast, overwhelming majority of UFO encounters could easily be explained away with entirely earthly answers. Of course that meant any reported alien encounters associated with UFOs was the result of an intoxicating substances or an outright hoax. Probably like the dumbass trying to make a buck passing off a fake humanoid energy being.

Becoming a extreme UFO skeptic was a far better outcome for myself than turning into some redneck prole freaking out over a reported strange light in the sky. Real science turned me on to the idea of finding primitive but no less interesting organisms living deep underground on Mars or floating in the liquid oceans of the ice covered moons of Jupiter or Saturn.

Well a funny thing happened recently with UFOs or more accurately, Unidentified Aerial Phenomenon (UAP) as the Department of Defense is calling them and I find myself at a complete loss as what to think.

I'll be honest and write that I totally ignored the initial news reports of the United States Navy confirming the authenticity of leaked video showing UAPs being tracked my navy jets doing maneuvers that break the laws of physics. For example we're talking about UAPs making sudden 90 degree turns that produce several hundred gee forces.

Human pilots can take around nine gees before passing out with the structure of our planes able to take a few more before flying apart. These videos also show science fiction-like acceleration with no visible means of propulsion. No super-heated air coming from jets or even wings to provide lift. One in particular even has a UAP going trans-medium diving into the ocean and disappearing in the depths.

When I finally started paying attention to these reports it has been strongly alluded that other, still classified videos show these UAPs in high-definition performing other maneuvers that defy the laws of physics.

My initial thoughts about UAPs leaned towards Russia and/or China achieving some sort of technological breakthrough in both physics and structural engineering. That these UAPs were unmanned drones since any pilot flying such a craft would be turned into a thin paste of human salsa the second they attempted any type of maneuver that produced hundreds of gees.

Further reports featuring the navy aviators who tracked these UAPs as well as experts in field of aviation engineering suggested to me that for Russia or China to have produced these things the breakthroughs required would have taken the minds of people like Einstein, DaVinci, Tesla, Edison, Newton, and Hawking all at once. We're not talking next generation technology here, breaking the laws of physics, as these craft apparently can easily do, would literally require something done in science fiction set at least two or three hundred years in the future. Science doesn't work in a vacuum, so I am highly skeptical of some modern day science wizard developing inertial dampers for high gee turns and anti-gravity for wingless, hypersonic flying machines in his, or her garage.

I don't believe in conspiracies so the idea that this technology, which would have required thousands of scientists and a greater number of trained technicians as well a huge number of secondary support personnel to develop was kept secret for the decades required is ridiculous. So, where does that leave us?

Frankly I find it extremely hard to believe that an alien civilization advanced enough to travel the distance between stars would just decided to harass bored navy folks on the open oceans of Earth. Yes, there are reports that the Russians and the Chinese have their own investigations of UAPs. More disturbing and even scary are the reports of these craft are interfering with the operation of nuclear technology. We're talking about taking nuclear weapons offline and in the case of Russia bringing them back online as well as buzzing around nuclear power plants.

One video, produced by the Washington Post has the expert appearing saying something along the lines that these craft could be coming from “inner space”, “outer space”, or the “space between.” Okay, since these UAPs have moved beyond redneck proles and anal probing and into the halls of the Pentagon and official reports demanded by the United States Senate I've moved beyond happily puzzled into the realm of the concerned. Simply put none of this makes any sense, not as a genuine First Contact scenario and not as a geopolitical, national security issue.   

Included are two videos that I find highly credible.