"Yeah, well, you know, that's just like, uh, your opinion, man."

Necessary Adjustments

05:01 Monday, 8 August 2022
Current Wx: Temp: 76.12°F Pressure: 1015hPa Humidity: 92% Wind: 1.01mph

I seemed to sleep better in New York. I don't know why. I wasn't fond of the bed in the lake house, the mattress seemed to be concave. But I think I slept better.

Anyway, insomnia has its uses.

I've been riding my bike every morning for the last week or so, trying to get back into a routine. Previously, I'd ride after taking a walk. This meant it was later in the morning, sometime between 0730 and 0800. There's a lot of traffic at that hour.

So I started riding the bike first, about 0530. That gets me back in time to start my walk before the sun is up. It's been working well. I saw an Atlas rocket launch last week just as I was about to get home, that was pretty cool. And I can get an idea of what the sunrise might look like, so I put the drone up a couple of times before I went for walk.

But every time I rode, I'd remember that I needed to adjust the handlebars. And every time I finished riding, I'd forget about it. Mostly because I was soaked with sweat, and interested in getting in the house to cool off a bit and have some water.

Well, lying awake this morning, I figured I'd get up and go out in the garage and just adjust the damn handlebars. So I did. Adjusted the seat too. I think I'll be more comfortable this morning.

The garage is fricking hot in the summer. I had the door open and two fans going and I was still sweating like crazy. That shouldn't be the case much longer. I've gone ahead and contracted to have the garage air conditioned.

I insulated the door last summer, and it's helped a bit. I need to insulate the ceiling, but I figured I'd wait until after they'd installed the AC unit so the electrician wouldn't be crawling through all that fiberglass or whatever. I'll take care of that after they finish.

The guy on the architectural review committee that approved our application said he'd done his. He said the only thing he didn't like was that his car windows fogged up every morning when he pulled out.

Well, that won't be a problem for me! He's cooling the garage too much, below the dew point. That may cause a problem for his tools eventually, because every time he opens the door all the cold air slides out and the very humid air replaces it, causing condensation on everything it touches.

I don't want to expend too much energy on cooling a space that we don't live in. I just need to make it less hot. So I'll probably set the thermostat for 80°F at first and see how that feels and how much energy it takes. Adjust upward from there, if necessary. The house thermostat is at 77°F, and I don't need the garage as cool as the house.

If I'm working in the garage, like this morning, I'll keep the door shut and turn the AC down a bit. I can work out on the elliptical/stair stepper thing I've got in there too. It was 86°F in the garage, 76°F outside and even with the door open and two fans running, the garage only cooled down to 85°F while I was out there. And then stepping back into the house actually felt cold. As I'm writing this, the ceiling fan is on.

Which brings me to just about the time I need to roll out. So I'll post this, turn off the fan and go for a ride. Weather suggests chance of drizzle. We'll see.

Thanks for dropping by. Hope you have a good day!

The Bomb

09:49 Saturday, 6 August 2022
Current Wx: Temp: 84.99°F Pressure: 1022hPa Humidity: 80% Wind: 6.91mph

I finished reading The Making of the Atomic Bomb, by Richard Rhodes this week. Today happens to be the 77th anniversary of the first use of the "A-Bomb" on Hiroshima.

It's a good book. Maybe a great book. It left me feeling uncomfortable. Conflicted.

The story of the development of the bomb was fascinating, sometimes exciting. For much of the book, I was amazed by the ingenuity and intelligence of the people involved. I was astonished by the level of effort the federal government was able to bring to create sufficient quantities of enriched uranium and plutonium to build the bombs.

The book is also a really great introduction into the history and development of nuclear physics, and how the physicists doing the work and making the discoveries viewed the knowledge they were revealing.

Those parts of the book were wonderful.

Rhodes goes on to describe the use of the bomb on Hiroshima and Nagasaki.

It's unsparing.

Whatever feelings of respect or admiration or awe I had up to that point were dispelled by the graphic descriptions of almost literally "unthinkable" horror. Unthinkable, until then I suppose.

Of the accounts of the survivors, the ones that really stood out to me were about how they didn't associate the event with the war at first. Many people, gravely injured, surrounded by horror, simply thought the world had ended, and that they were the only ones left alive. There was simply no context for what they'd experienced.

I suppose there really still isn't.

Some may wish to draw some relative comparisons in horror or inhumanity by comparing the use of atomic weapons with the deliberate fire-bombing of cities. I don't think there's any useful comparison, really. Yes, fire-bombing of civilian population centers with hundreds of thousands of innocent people killed is horrific. An obscenity.

I think the use of nuclear weapons is altogether different. I don't think you can simply say "dead is dead," "murder is murder." I think it's on the same level as the Holocaust, though I suppose that would be subject to violent disagreement from some. We were the "good guys," after all.

Well, we were the victors, anyway. So we get to settle the accounts.

Something to think about.

I encourage anyone to read the book.

Dear Brutus

05:32 Monday, 1 August 2022
Current Wx: Temp: 75.43°F Pressure: 1017hPa Humidity: 94% Wind: 6.91mph

There's a lot being written these days about the survival of American democracy, prompted by the events of January 6th, the rise of white christian nationalism and a seeming desire for a form of authoritarianism in government.

All good reasons, I think.

There are various ideas about the remedy. Eliminate the Electoral College. Andrew Yang is forming a third party. Abolish the filibuster. Campaign finance reform. Greater regulation of social media or "Big Data."

I suppose they all have their merits, but I don't think they'll be enough.

Something more fundamental needs to change, and I don't see how that's going to happen.

As this post's title alludes, the problem isn't in our institutions or rules and regulations, it's in our character.

Now, this criticism plays into the hands of the religious fundamentalists of whatever variety, so it's a bit dangerous as well. Religion is subject to the same failures of human frailty as any other institution, as has been repeatedly demonstrated, often to great horror.

And let's not delude ourselves too much. "American democracy" has never been as admirable or virtuous as we'd like to believe. Even those politicians and elected officials who may claim some amount of legitimate virtue or admirable character in public life were complicated individuals with weaknesses and personal and public failings in abundance.

What may be different today is that we've abandoned even the pretense of caring about exhibiting "good character." In our frustration with everything, we're ready for all our champions to be their own worst versions of themselves. We seem to be demanding it.

Which is perhaps our own worst version of ourselves.

There's something about power and money that brings out the the weakness or the worst in many people, and yet compels them to seek it.

I don't know how you fix that. You can't shame it out of them. About the best you can hope to do is identify those who are the worst or the weakest, and keep them as far away from power as possible.

I feel like I need to digress here and point out that all "power" is an illusion. It is, but as illusions go, it's one of the most powerful, if that's not a tautology.

If there's any hope, it has to be with the kids. But we're a poor example for them. I'm afraid they'll just grow up to be new versions of us.

If there were only one thing I could change, it'd be this fixation on zero-sum thinking, on "winning" and "losing." The narrative that anything less than total success is total failure. It's the accelerant that's driving this fire out of control.

Maybe we can change that.

I don't know.