Tuesday, Aug 20th

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The Road to Hell is, Well, Hellish

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We've all heard the Road to Hell is paved with good intentions.  Except that it's not.  The road to Hell is hellacious.  It's not even paved.  It's chip-sealed.

Three days ago, I'd never so much as heard the term.  That was before our few-mile-long access road was invaded by a D-Day armada of construction vehicles and a herd of dinosaur-sized trucks filled with gravel.

Our road was tarred and our little world rocked -- literally.  Now, I am certain of the decline of the American empire.  There had not been much lingering doubt.

This unexceptional chip-sealing process, for use in this land of American exceptionalism, involves laying down a lane or so of hot, fluid asphalt -- tar, more or less -- on top of an old asphalt road that's been prepped-and-swept, then immediately topping it with gravel that's gone through a wash-and-dry cycle.


As Far Out as Uplifting Moments Can Go

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The human species keeps experiencing threshold moments.  At times it seems everything's right on the brink.  This time, there's a nice change:  It's a good thing.  There's even a love story here, as sincere and big-hearted as space.

First, the news: Fans of sci-fi and science fact are coming up on a special moment:  knowing an object of human origin is about to move into interstellar space.

Nearly 35 years after launch, two Voyager spacecraft, sent aloft less than three weeks apart, in the summer of 1977, are thrumming along fine, and continue to send back intriguing accounts of their journeys.


All This Underwear, All These Twists

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You never know what will get the group's boxers and BVDs in a bundle.  Topics range pretty far and wide, like always, down at Hack's BBQ Shack, in our usual booth.

There was the usual chit-chat first -- checking the temp on club members' relationships, jabbering a drizzle of baseball, tallying injuries from any DIY jobs, and finding out where everyone else's job search was pegged for the week on the Barf-O-Meter.

We talked shop -- blogging for free, from home.  We don't talk about the crank-it-up, on-demand, enforced gold mine of the Olympic games, thank goodness. No-one's much interested in corporate somersaults, or in teevee.

Half of our members are likely using their sets as boat anchors, paperweights, or goldfish bowl display cases.  The other half probably doesn't yet know that there's been a transition to digital, and that their old analog sets will now only get static from Mars.


Shaking Hands, High Overhead

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You think things are scary now with drone aircraft, give it a few years:  You may find yourself being plucked from the ground and carried aloft, or abruptly instructed by loudspeaker to shake hands with The Man, hovering silently, just overhead.

Engineers at Drexel University have a grant from the National Science Foundation to see if "dexterous limbs" can be successfully added to drones.

The "Mobile Manipulating UAVs" (Unmanned Aerial Vehicles) as they are being called, once developed, would be capable of performing "active near ground tasks."


Motion Carries! And the Winner Is...

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We nonpartisan, equal-opportunity critics of political office holders, and the cuckoo process by which self-governance is currently practiced in this country, have, around our own meeting table, been chewing on a particular cud, in between beers, for some months:  What to call Republicans that is not as obscene, foul, or belligerent as most everyone would actually like.

Call it a party game that we've been enjoying, somewhat perversely.  Republicans started it, insisting on repeatedly calling their opponents the "Democrat Party," making sure they really leaned, vocally, on the "-rat" at the end.

It's all so childish, of course,  as is answering back in kind -- which makes it all the more irresistible to tickle, and such rich fodder to tackle, for our discussions down at Hack's BBQ Shack.


I Scared Gore Vidal

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Living and working in LA was always pretty ugly but starting in the early 80’s it became especially brutal. All the dirty effing hippies were out of a job and the stupid swaggering Republicans who took over walked around like they owned the place … because they did. In the early 80’s nobody in the “Entertainment Industry” talked about making records or movies anymore. Now everybody made … product. And if I wanted to work in “The Industry” I had better jettison any idea I might have about doing something good and wrap my head around cranking out the movie equivalent of Velveeta Cheese ... The Sequel.

The balancing act of artistic vision vs. making money created a dynamic that made for some pretty good movies. But accountants and lawyers found out you could make a whole lot more money if you threw away the script and just filmed the bottom line.


Getting Attention at Any Cost

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It certainly sounded outrageous:  A man was given 30 days in jail for having water on his property.  It certainly sounded like local government had slipped a major cog in its normally dull wheel, shambling off into abuse.

A few minutes later, after an online search and scanning various written pieces, it was far less certain what was really going on.

The initial piece was shrill in its tone.  Worse, it left out key information:  The man had dammed up a creek flow, a tributary to a river, without permission to do so.  He had done that before, and had done it again.  The first time, he received probation from the court; the second time, he drew 30 days in jail, to help get his attention.


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