Category: Confirmation bias

Why Is Everything So Complicated?

We are the generation of the soundbite. The Tweet. The meme. We consume our information in tiny little pieces. And most of the time, that’s probably just fine. I don’t need to have a deep understanding of the cattle futures market to decide if I can afford the rib-eye this week or only cube steak. The price is the price and I either have the quan or I don’t.

But every once in a while, big events happen that raise questions. Politicians and pundits jump on these events and start spewing one-liners and soundbites that reinforce their echo chambers. Pretty soon we’re in a full-scale soundbite and meme war that leaves everyone confused and angry. What’s the truth?

I was thinking about this as I read snarky Twitter comments about energy independence, buying Russian oil, and gas prices. Everyone has an answer. Because I’m a dork, I decided to do some light reading on the energy sector and politics. Whew – there is no such thing as “light reading” about this subject! It is a deep, deep rabbit hole. It is hard to describe how many moving parts and global players there are in the energy world.

There are a whole variety of types of crude oil, all coming from different places in the world, all used for different things. Much of the recent increases in our purchase of Russian crude are due to fallout from previous sanctions on other countries like Venezuela, hurricanes in the gulf, and African countries not being able to ramp up production after Covid. We import foreign crude to the East and West coast because we lack the domestic infrastructure to transport our own oil. It’s actually cheaper to purchase non-US crude, than it is to send US crude to the East and West coast from the Midwest or gulf. We often purchase Russian (and other) crude because it has a higher sulfur content than US crude, which is needed for some specific refining processes. The worldwide crude oil market is a very interdependent and complex system. Even when we declared we were “energy independent”, that is a fuzzy interpretation with many moving parts that changed from month to month. We’d offset US products produced from crude and sold, against crude imports and for some quarters and depending upon what the meaning of “is”, is, we’d declare we had greater net exports vs. imports.

This led me to the issue of the current administration shutting down oil and gas leases. Come on, man – drill baby, drill! Well, they did attempt to put a moratorium on new leases in some areas. The courts shut that down. And currently… the Biden administration has outpaced the Trump administration in issuing drilling permits on public lands. Wait, wut? For example, just last fall the Biden admin completed the largest oil and gas lease in US history – 80 million acres in the Gulf of Mexico. Sigh, I’m so confused.

What’s my point? I don’t care what the Fox, CNN, or Twitter pundit says… virtually every issue you’d like to discuss is infinitely more complex than you think it is. Nothing is black and white, yes or no. It takes years for industry and policy experts to develop a real understanding of their domain. I did a tiny bit of reading this morning beyond Twitter, and quickly realized I know absolutely zero about the energy sector. It has tentacles in transportation, logistics, commodity markets, politics, money supply, production, jobs, and on and on. I think it would take at least a semester equivalent class to have at least a beginners grasp on the entirety of the market. And I think that holds true for most things in life. Geopolitics, military strategy, history, everything…

All of which is to reinforce my standard saying… Question everything. Be a Contrarian. It’s ok to endorse the Left or Right’s approach to the world. Just don’t do it blindly. They’re both equal manipulators of the narrative. And under the surface, things are often more complex than you realize.

The truth is rarely pure and never simple

Oscar Wilde

What Did You Learn?

As we wrap up Pandemia year two, you have to ask yourself one question. What did you learn? Well, what is it punk? Sorry, couldn’t resist. On the last day of the year, I’m sitting here drinking my coffee and scrolling through the bottomless pit that is Twitter. And what’s the number one trending hashtag on Twitter at the moment? #AOCLovesDeSantis Why? Because our pal, the mask wearing – vaccine mandate loving – Ron DeSantis hating – Ted Cruz travel critic – and fun loving socialist, Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez was caught in Miami sipping cocktails in the sun while NYC suffers a massive Covid outbreak, and she was, GASP, completely maskless! And that hypocrisy is the perfect summation of the year.

If you haven’t learned the lesson yet, then you either haven’t been paying attention or have your head so far up the establishment’s butt it may be too late to unplug you. The lesson? It’s time to come worship at the Church of Contrarianism. Timothy Leary had it right in the 60’s when he popularized the slogan “Question Authority”. You need to be a contrarian. YOU NEED TO QUESTION EVERYTHING. Why? The “experts” are very often wrong. Politicians are wrong AND they lie. The establishment and deep state only care about maintaining the status quo and will go through extraordinary lengths to keep it. The media is ungodly corrupt and is nothing more than a mouthpiece for the state. The Fed, financial institutions, and the markets could care less about the (your) future – only about continually propping up the system to enrich themselves and the rest of the establishment today.

I don’t mean this to sound like a dark, dystopian vision and to imply that we’re all doomed. We might be – but the good news is that this is not new. Politics has always been corrupt. As our friend Mark Twain said way back in the late 1800’s, “Politicians and diapers must be changed often, and for the same reason”. The robber barons of the same time period manipulated, stole, lied and bribed their way to vast fortunes. They were the Amazons, Alphabet, and Metaverse of today. Pulitzer and Hearst were the vanguard of yellow journalism, collectively shaping the countries opinions (and politicians) to their worldview. There is nothing unique about today.

It’s a clear cycle. Are we simply in the sixth version of the Matrix? (vague geeky reference, sorry) You’re not going to fix it. All you can do is ensure you’ve unplugged yourself from the source. Be a Contrarian. Question what you see. Become ungovernable. Do what you can to hold politicians accountable. Question the conventional wisdom.

Don’t forget, the “experts” filled in skateparks at the beach so kids couldn’t go outside, skate and catch the ‘rona. Surfers were arrested on the beach for surfing… alone. The Michigan governor said you could go to Home Depot, but couldn’t buy paint or garden supplies. The covid virus requires you to wear a mask walking into a restaurant, but you’re safe as soon as you sit down. We need a vaccine mandate because it will prevent you from transmitting the virus to others. Jessie Smollet and Bubba Wallace were victims of hate crimes. The Covington kid and Kyle Rittenhouse are white supremacists. The Fed said the current inflation is transitory and the White House Chief of Staff thinks that economically ’21 “wasn’t all that bad”. The savior of the right, Trump, raised half a billion dollars to “stop the steal”, yet spent only $9 million on lawyers. The Trump machine are grifters just like the rest of the politicians. There literally is no difference between the democratic party and the republican party. The current debt is $30 Trillion. We grew that equally under both parties. The Russian dossier, the “very fine people” hoax, Hunter’s laptop, the Epstein/Maxwell coverups, and the pièce de résistance… the Jan 6 INSURRECTION.

Whew! That was a weird stream of consciousness outpouring, off the top of my head. The point is that what you first read, hear, or watch is rarely the “actual” truth. It takes time and multiple observers to sort through opinion, innuendo, political narratives, and outright lies to uncover the tiny kernel of reality. This is true for the left, right, “scientists”, and social media keyboard warriors. Question. Question everything.

“The science is settled”. “Scientists say…”. “Denier”. “Consensus”. “Experts tell us”. “The majority of people want…”. “The polling is clear”.

Anytime you hear any of those phrases, remember the teaching of the Church of Contrarianism and recite the magic words – BULLSHIT! Something is true when there’s plenty of data and lots of independent parties find the same result and the negative hypothesis is not true. Until then it’s just guessing and opinion.

I’d be ok with opinion and guessing if it was done in good faith. Unfortunately, it rarely is. In the last year have you heard one public official, scientist, or authoritarian figure say, “we were wrong” or “data is indicating something different than we first thought”? Nope. Saving face and politics is way more important than admitting you made a decision without all the data.

It’s all very depressing. But it doesn’t have to be. Join me in the practice of Contrarianism and feel the cowl of the media machine and deep state being pulled away from your eyes. Unplug from the mindless nightly “news” talking heads spouting the same tired divisive crap and you may start to see the two political parties for the hucksters they are. If the Contrarian Church grows large enough, we may be able to wrest some control back from the state before it’s too late. And if not, I can at least sell some T-shirts and perhaps market some Contrarian franchises.

Worst case, unplugging may make you think a bit more. And when unplugged, you’ll have more time to go outside and do real things and have real experiences. Because ultimately, isn’t that what it’s all about? Making real life-memories, and not listening to some internet Contrarian rando tell you what to think?

With that – you filthy animals go out and have yourselves a great and safe New Years! See you on the other side as we wait for whatever new adventures 2022 holds.

In religion and politics people’s beliefs and convictions are in almost every case gotten at second-hand, and without examination, from authorities who have not themselves examined the questions at issue but have taken them at second-hand from other non-examiners, whose opinions about them were not worth a brass farthing.

Mark Twain

Scammed By A Headline

  • Brace yourselves – I’ve discovered some shocking information… the news is dishonest. I know, hard to believe right? While I’m certainly not the sharpest crayon in the box, I feel like I have a pretty good sense of what’s garbage and what’s not when it comes to the news. Unless it’s something you’re predisposed to believe is true because you’ve seen it day in and out. Confirmation bias. If it’s what you expect to hear, then it’s easy to blindly believe the words in front of you.
  • Here’s the backstory. I have been a longtime cycling fan. Starting in high school I dabbled in a few races and briefly thought I was a “real” cyclist. Reality set in pretty quickly and I evolved to a weekend rider and TV race fan. I watched the grand tours religiously year after year. There were days I’d be late to work because I got up early to watch the Tour de France in real time. I was, and continued to be, a big fan of Lance Armstrong through every tour and even after his fall from grace. A few years ago he started a podcast on YouTube with George Hincapie that gave the best race analysis you could find. Lots of “inside the tour” details and great tactical discussions. Every day of the tour I’d watch the recorded replay of the stage and then Lance’s podcast. As the big names all started retiring, I began slowing down on following cycling. Lance’s podcast revived my interest again. And then last year we had all the BLM protests. Sure enough, what pops up in the news headlines?
    • “Disgraced cyclist Lance Armstrong goes “woke,” cancels bike shop’s contract with Austin police”.
    • “Lance Armstrong’s Bike Shop Cancels Police Contract – Still Wants Cops To Protect Them From Threats”.
    • “Lance Armstrong’s Texas bike shop cuts ties with Austin police”.
  • God Damnit! Why can’t these celebrities just stay in their lane? I watch/follow them for their athletic ability or acting, not their politics. Why do they have to ruin things with their woke opinions? That was it, I was done with watching the tour and Lance’s podcast. I did not follow a minute of cycling last year or this year. I didn’t even realize the Tour de France had started this year until I saw the headline about the idiot spectator that caused that huge crash.
  • I was telling someone why I no longer followed the tour and was looking for one of the articles about Lance. Suddenly an article I hadn’t seen before appeared. Turns out Lance found out about the bike shops decision while he was on vacation and didn’t agree with it. He contacted the Austin police chief and brokered a thirty minute meeting with the chief and the bike shop to try and work something out.
    • Armstrong said ” the shop’s decision to cancel the contract is “not a situation that I support.” He also said he was “sick and tired of everybody screaming” at each other over the issue, which pitted the business against the police and some members of the public in a war of words”
  • Turns out Armstrong is a sworn sheriff’s deputy in Colorado. So… I got suckered into some sensationalist news headlines and made a snap judgement about something without making much of an effort to research further. What’s that old saying about assuming something? I lost a few Contrarian street cred points over this one. So what’s the lesson learned? The news lies. Media will always go for the sensationalist headline without bothering to do much, you know, actual journalism. Don’t let yourself be so easily swayed by “popular” opinion. Oh, and this year’s Tour de France is shaping up to be a really good one!

Song of the day: The Clash-Police And Thieves 1977

You’re A Horrible Person

  • I don’t know you, but you are an awful human being. You’re killing the environment. You spew CO2, use plastic, and consume fossil fuels without a care in the world. The earth is dying. We have less than ten years to change course and you clearly don’t care. You’re a racist, entitled, SOB who continually marginalizes the emotions and the past and current lived experiences of people who look different than you. You’re clearly happy that racist cops are mowing people of color down in the street for sport. You earn an unfair amount of money and happily repress people less fortunate because it makes it easier to step on them as you rise higher on the privilege ladder. Clearly you don’t care that people are dying on the border because they don’t look like you. Schools have been teaching outdated historical concepts rooted in systemic racism and oppression. Hiring practices, university admissions, and promotions based upon merit are racist and it doesn’t bother you in the slightest that it’s hurtful and discriminatory. This country is an awful place and it needs to change now. Every single thing about this country is terrible and needs be overturned. The evil, racist, fascist, Nazi, oppressors that occupy this country are done. The constitution is an ancient document written by elite slave owners. The system will be overthrown and clearly violence is the only thing you listen to. If you object, it only proves you’re part of the problem. Get woke, or we’re coming for you. You’ll be doxed, outed, lose your job, and treated like the closet racist you probably are. You will be chased out of restaurants, harassed while in your car, and we will get in your face on the street. If you know what’s good for you, you’ll bend the knee to the church of Diversity, Inclusion, and Equity if you expect to survive in the new and improved America.

    This is the daily onslaught that bombards our brains. It’s an avalanche of nonstop outrages being rammed into our consciousnesses by the news, media, social media, your workplace, and huckster politicians 24×7. Outrage sells. Voters turn out for outrage, not library bond issues. Is it any wonder that everyone is angry at everyone else? It’s nationwide confirmation bias. People are prone to believe what they want to believe. Keep feeding them the right cues and of course they’ll believe the latest and greatest outrage. We’re sheep being led by politicians and corporations to a brand new, reimagined country. Will it be an improvement over what we had? I’m skeptical. Is it too late? I’m reminded of the story of the frog in a pot of slowly boiling water. It’s happening by mob rule, public shaming, intimidation, and violence. Any significant pushback will be ugly and I don’t see the nation going down the road of civil war again. Hopefully I’m wrong. But I don’t think so.
  • I needed to get away from the avalanche of negativity so I took the ginormous motorcycle out for a ride yesterday. It was probably the best ride I’ve had on it so far. Snow has cleared on the roads in the high mountain passes, so I spent a good chunk of the day on twisty roads alongside rivers flowing with new snowmelt, and gazing at spectacular snow covered mountain peaks. It was the middle of the week so I only saw a handful of people all day. It was a much needed mental vacation. And the best news? The new phone solved the navigation problems! We’re back in business.
  • Continuing with the motorcycle theme, Mrs Troutdog’s new bike finally arrived. I’ve done a brief ride on it and I think it will be just the right bike for a new rider to get comfortable with longer distance touring. It makes me happy when we have hobbies we can do together.
  • I purchased a wireless charger for the new phone off of Amazon. Pulled it out of the box and it was DOA. I had little expectation of any sort of help and assumed I’d just have to buy another one. To my surprise the company asked for a video showing what it the unit was doing and then a new one showed up on my doorstep two days later. It works as advertised. I’m not sure what it says when I’m surprised by good customer service.
  • I had a very strange YouTube experience the other day. There’s a couple who’s channel I’ve been following for a while. They sold everything, bought motorcycles and were planning an around the world type trip. I followed them as they figured out gear and practiced with the new bikes getting ready for their trip. They started out on the TET (Trans Euro Trail). Unfortunately several days into the trip the boyfriend had a bizarre, freak accident that left him severely injured. I followed for a few more episodes as they chronicled his hospital stay and recovery, then the episodes trailed off and I forgot about them. Then the other day a new, strangely titled, episode popped up in my feed. I wasn’t going to watch it as I was bored with the hospital/recovery theme. Eventually I clicked on it. Sadly it was the boyfriend announcing that the girlfriend unexpectedly committed suicide. Just awful. It was such a weird feeling. Obviously you feel terrible for them. But, I don’t know them. It’s a random YouTube channel I occasionally follow. It’s not like they were well known celebrities. I guess it’s a reminder that what you see on the screen isn’t real. Meaning, images of happiness, fantastic places, and amazing travels may be manufactured. Of course enjoy the escapism, but don’t try to compare your life to what you see. An apparent amazing life on the screen may not capture the reality behind the scenes. Don’t fall into feelings of inadequacy or fear of missing out based upon what you see on social media.

Song of the day: Matisyahu – One Day (Official Video)

I Don’t Know, But I’ve Been Told

  • GIGO. Garbage In, Garbage Out. If you haven’t heard that expression before, it’s an old-school programing adage. Your belief systems are a product of the inputs you consume. Consistently consume information from just one source and that’s what you’ll believe. A recent, annual, survey that focuses on false beliefs broken down by political ideology, gender, etc… illustrates this. The questions ranged from Covid, race, gender, and the climate. Biden voters had false beliefs 61% of the time, while Trump voters were wrong 42% of the time. If you consume your information solely from CNN, MSNBC, Facebook, and like minded Twitter follows, then of course you’ll have a skewed vision of the world. The same is true of Fox, but per the survey to a lesser degree. Take for example the recent expose of CNN by Project Veritas. Oh, you didn’t hear about it? That’s because there’s zero coverage of it on CNN, MSNBC, Politico, and Twitter permanently banned Veritas’ account. Veritas published video footage of a CNN technical director saying the networks focus was to get Trump out of office. “Look what we did, we got Trump out. I am 100 percent going to say it, and I 100 percent believe that if it wasn’t for CNN, I don’t know that Trump would have got voted out. … I came to CNN because I wanted to be a part of that,” Chester stated. He then said, “[COVID] will taper off to a point that it’s not a problem, anymore. Climate change can take years, so [CNN will] probably be able to milk that quite a bit. … Climate change is going to be the next COVID thing for CNN. … Fear sells.” You would think “The most trusted name in news” getting caught talking about pushing a specific social/political agenda might be a story. The fact that it’s not even mentioned by the major outlets speaks volumes. This really shouldn’t be a surprise, but clearly a large percentage of people take whatever the news media says as gospel. Hear it often enough and it starts to become a core part of your beliefs. The goal of the School Of Contrarianism is not to claim what I say is correct. I’m probably full of shit 38.4% of the time according to the latest surveys. The goal is to get you to question. Question everything. Just because some 23 year old “journalist” did a copy/paste of an AP story and then added their own opinions to give the story some “depth” doesn’t make it correct. We’ve gone from the 1960’s Timothy Leary/counterculture slogan “Question Authority” to becoming mindless lemmings of corporate wokeness. Ever see the movie The Truman Show? That’s us today. We’re all stars of the show, only we don’t know it. (P.S, lemmings don’t really jump off cliffs and commit mass suicide. Boom, mind blown.)
  • Speaking of blindly following a narrative, the Biden administration continues to give focus to the cult of global warming. Here’s a good place to start practicing your path down Contrarianism (TM). In the U.S. Energy Information Administration’s (EIA) the Monthly Energy Review, they report that energy-related CO2 emissions decreased by 11% in the United States in 2020 primarily because of the effects of the COVID-19 pandemic and related restrictions. Furthermore, U.S. energy-related CO2 emissions fell in every end-use (consumer) sector for the first time since 2012. We had a record reduction in CO2 emissions, so we have the first actual laboratory experiment to see what happens with CO2 in the atmosphere. Remember, reduction of CO2 in the atmosphere is the entire goal of the green new deal that’s supposed to save us from this existential threat. So what happened? Nothing. Zero change in atmospheric CO2. Not even a blip. Meanwhile, China’s Vice Minister of Foreign Affairs Le Yucheng on Friday said, “Some countries are asking China to do more on climate change. I am afraid this is not very realistic”. On Wednesday President Biden’s climate czar, John Kerry, admitted Wednesday that the US reducing its emissions to zero wouldn’t make much of a difference in the global climate change fight. Yet we’re moving forward on a $2 trillion climate agenda. How does this even make sense? As a junior Contrarian, start questioning this sort of crap.
  • The Minneapolis City Council has voted 11-1 to oppose the use of tear gas and other munitions as part of Minnesota’s response to civil disorder. Closing arguments in the Chauvin trial start Monday. I’ma gonna grab my popcorn for this one. I’m sure Minneapolis will come out just fine from all this. A few mostly peaceful protesters and some bad words shouted. It’ll all be good.
  • You should read this letter from a parent who’s pulling his kid out of an expensive private school. We’re creating an entire generation of mindless lemmings (I can’t help but perpetuate this lemming myth). I’m reminded of a meme I saw the other day that speaks truth. “Hard times create strong men. Strong men create good times. Good times create weak men. Weak men create hard times”. Sorry for the blatant cisgendering stereotyping. If I’ve insulted your personhood and cosmic aura, I apologize.
  • I decided to install a part on the ginormous motorcycle yesterday. I was going to have the dealership do it, but it kills me to pay someone to do what I’m (mostly) capable of. It took half a day, one trip to the auto parts store for a specialized tool, several skinned knuckles, many four letter words, and watching a how-to video approximately thirty times before I realized there was a specific orientation to get the parts to fit. I should have just gone to the dealership. Do you think I’ve learned my lesson? Probably not. As Forest Gump says, “I’m not a smart man”.

Song of the day: Fatboy Slim – The Rockafeller Skank

Maybe I’m Wrong?

  • I’m often wrong. Some days I feel like I’m wrong more than I’m right. But when it matters, I take extra steps to try and not be wrong. As a healthcare worker, you better hope I doublecheck what I’m doing before I inject something into your bloodstream. Since we’re about to spend a truckload of money to fight the scourge of climate change, don’t you think we should take a moment to doublecheck our work? Our climate czar John Kerry said that we only have 9 years left to avoid climate disaster. In 1989 the UN said we only have 10 years before the planet is destroyed. In 2006 Al Gore said we only have 10 years before global warming destroys the planet. In 2009, NASA’s James Hansen said we only have until 2013. AOC says we have until 2030, so at least there’s a little time left. 45 years ago it was global cooling that would become our biggest issue. Can we all just get our stories straight please? Before Bill Gates funds a program to inject tinfoil into the atmosphere to block the sun, shouldn’t we be pretty sure we’re actually causing global warming? If government and “scientists” were being intellectually honest, they’d fund a red team to try and disprove the global warming theories. Because every single climate model and prediction has been wrong. Not a little bit off, but spectacularly wrong. As the old saying goes, correlation does not imply causation. And since the very premise of the scientific method is to put out a hypothesis and let others try and disprove it, shouldn’t we be doing that? It’s only once it can’t be disproven it becomes accepted theory. The fact that you’re not allowed to question something should bother you. Therefore, I’d like to be proven wrong. Please show me proof that A) the earth is warming at a dangerous rate beyond what could be attributed to natural cycles, and B) that it is without a doubt being caused by man. Probably most importantly, if A and B are actually true then please prove that anything proposed by governments would actually solve A or B. I don’t think you can. So tell me again why we’re going to impact our economy for something nobody can prove with solutions that we’re not sure will even work?
  • Speaking of spending money on lost causes, the US has spent spent more than $787 million dollars on “gender equality projects” in Afghanistan. So tell me again why my taxes need to go up?
  • I found a pretty good YouTube series about a group of guys who take an eight day motorcycle ride around my state. It’s very well done and neat to see some of the local trails that I’ve ridden. It was compelling enough that I blew most of my morning yesterday being nonproductive and watching it. I sent the link to a buddy who started watching it with his young son. His son became so enamored with it, he got out maps so he could follow along where they were going. I love seeing that. That’s the sort of spirit we need to be instilling in young folks. Curiosity and exploration is what built this country. We need more of it.
  • While on the topic of exploration, the Mars landing of the Perseverance rover was very cool. It is amazing what we’re capable of from a technology perspective these days. I do wonder why we have such a heavy focus on Mars though? I get that it may be the end goal, but why all the focus now? Meaning, shouldn’t we be concentrating on how we’re going to build structures, manage food, water, and oxygen, etc… on someplace that’s just a bit closer? Like the moon perhaps? I honestly don’t get why we’re focused on a place that takes a year to get to rather than one that takes a few days. It seems like logistically we could achieve the same technology learning goals easier, by going to the moon rather than Mars. Maybe we are doing that and it just hasn’t hit the news. Perhaps the moon just isn’t sexy enough. I’ll have to do some research.
  • The UCI just announced that it is banning the “super tuck”. If you’re not familiar with this, it’s a technique where a cyclist sits down on the top tube to be more aerodynamic and shifts weight forward for increased speed downhill. Many folks don’t realize the pros can easily hit 50 miles an hour downhill. Doing the super tuck at ludicrous speed takes testicles much bigger than mine, that’s for sure. Oh, sorry to leave you with that image. Here’s a video of super fast cycling descents to make up for it.
  • Last night I had an enormous plate of Mexican food. This morning I’m eating a bowl of croutons as I type this. In a little while we’re going to meet some friends for breakfast and I’ll have a huge breakfast burrito of some sort. Meanwhile I wonder why my pants no longer fit. I saw a quote today that describes my problem exactly. “I have the palate of a raccoon”. Yep, that’s me. Sigh.

Song of the day: The Kinks – Lola (from One For The Road)

Which Movie Are You Watching?

  • Scott Adams had the perfect phrase to describe the situation in our country right now. “One screen, two movies”. Two people see the same event and have completely opposite interpretations. How you see something largely depends on the things that have shaped your perspective. Here’s what I find so interesting, sad, and ironic. We live in a time in which the entirety of human knowledge is instantly available. Video, transcripts, and research of virtually everything is available at your fingertips. Yet, we rarely seek them out. We pick a few sources of information that conform to whatever group we’ve identified with and we stick to them. It becomes an echo chamber that continually reinforces whatever your perspective is. This is the human condition and has been from time beginning. The media and tech empires know this and capitalize on it. Everything is framed as “breaking news alerts” with the most extreme clickbait titles to generate angst and rage against the other side. Why? Because it generates channel loyalty, screen time, pageviews, click-throughs, and ad revenue. Nothing is done by accident. Remember the old adage, if you’re not paying for a product – you are the product. Again, nothing new with this. What is different is the complete bombardment on our senses at all times. We’re inundated non-stop with information. We have screens in our faces virtually 24/7 screaming at us with whatever echo chamber you’ve chosen. With the growing power of the tech oligarchs and our increasing desire to be plugged into the matrix at all times… the power to unintentionally spark an actual civil war seems increasingly possible. Strange times.
  • Speaking of strange times, I find myself applauding Tulsi Gabbard. She’s turned out to be an actual adult voice in the room. I find myself generally agreeing with only about half of her positions on issues, yet would have happily voted for her. It’s hard to find an actual sane voice these days. It still baffles me that the democratic party selected an 80 year old establishment guy who can barely get a sentence out, over someone like her. She destroyed Kamala’s run and scared Hillary enough that they came out with crazy Russian conspiracy accusations against her (what is it with the left’s everything Russia obsession?). I hope she stays in the public eye.
  • I’ve developed tinnitus. I can’t say exactly when I first noticed it, but it’s fairly recent. Last six months or so maybe? It’s a buzzing in the background like the faint hum of a florescent light. I only notice it early in the morning when it’s quiet or sometimes when I lay down to sleep. Not bothering me (yet), just odd. Getting old sucks. Must have been all that damn high volume rock n roll in my youth.
  • I got yelled at over the phone for quite a long time yesterday by a patient’s parent. The patient was in their late twenties and had made some particularly bad life choices, resulting in a hospital stay. The patient was medically cleared and deemed competent to make their own decisions by the neuro-psychiatrist. There was no doubt the patient was going to head straight back to the same scenario that caused the situation in the first place, but what can you do? I understood the parent’s frustration that we were just letting the patient go, but we can’t force someone to make good decisions. The parent yelled at me and accused me of not caring about people, we just wanted the room so we could make more money, and she wanted a laundry list of hospital administrators to get involved. The concept that we can’t hold someone against their will was lost on the parent. The patient was an adult, and as adults we are free to make bad decisions. I know, I’ve made my fair share of ’em. My victory of the day was having enough restraint to not simply hang up. I’m not quite jaded enough to do that. Yet.
  • As I’m stuck inside on a bad weather day my goal is to gather a large list of local, and not so local, “worlds largest ball of mud” attractions. Kooky little museums, sights, and attractions to visit that aren’t the typical “go see Yellowstone” tourist destinations. This is my mission for the year. Suggestions are welcome.

Song of the day: Evanescence – Bring Me To Life (Live)

Yesterday, Today Was Tomorrow

  • Time is a cold hearted bitch. It doesn’t care about you, won’t wait for you, and is moving forward no matter what you do. I constantly need reminding of this. I am crazy guilty of “on Monday I’ll start my diet”, “I will workout tomorrow morning”, or “this spring I will start taking some day trips”. The problem is that tomorrow may or may not come for you. Just this week I had a patient who was young and fit. Had a silly accident and is now paralyzed. It’s a stark reminder that there are no guarantees. All of his plans for tomorrow are gone. For the first time ever, I actually wrote down some goals for the year and shared them with Mrs Troutdog. I didn’t think it would make a difference, but the act of writing them down and being public with them helped make them more real. I always have ideas, things I’d like to do floating around in my head, but rarely act on any of them. Just writing down the goals got me excited enough to start researching and making actual plans. The more I think about my young patient who’s goals are now permanently altered, the more resolved I am to start doing and stop just thinking about plans. It’s time to move forward because time is certainly not going to wait for me.
  • I had to laugh. An ultra left leaning friend on Facebook who’s spent the last four years spewing as much venom as possible towards the bad orange man, posted: “If you are a believer in the disinformation put out by Fox, Newsmax, Oan, Parler and all the other bullshit peddlers of lies – please do me a favor and unfriend me now. After the the last 4 years I’m just ready for truth and decency.” This is the equivalent of sticking your fingers in your ears and chanting nah, nah, nah. Regardless of your personal and political beliefs – if you only seek out information that confirms what you already think, you’re a puppet and a very shallow thinker. And yes, we’re all guilty of this. It’s human nature. All you can do is try your best to look objectively at the world. It doesn’t mean you can’t be passionate about something, just try not to get so wrapped up in your beliefs that you lose sight of reality.
  • The Biden administration is unveiling plans to combat “domestic terrorism”. I wonder if that will include Antifa and BLM? Get ready for Patriot Act 3.0. Remember, if you see something, say something.
  • In 2006 the United States debt to GDP ratio was 60%. Today it’s roughly 136%. In 2001 Argentina’s debt to GDP ratio hit 166%, they defaulted on billions in loans, capital started leaving the country and unemployment reached 19%. They still haven’t recovered. We’re accelerating down a path that isn’t recoverable. Talks continue about printing more trillions. And Buttigieg is talking about possibly taxing Americans on the number of miles they drive to raise more money for infrastructure spending. Not only is that a regressive tax on the poor, it’s a massive intrusion into your privacy.
  • I almost violated my own admonishment to not seek out only information that confirms what I think. Tucker Carlson had a segment the other night that said CNN had conveniently removed the Covid death counter they’ve displayed prominently all election season as soon as Biden was sworn in. I was going to post that, because, of course, disinformation from the left! I did a little bit of research and that may not be really true. What’s reality? My guess is that CNN is showing it less than they did before because it no longer fits the narrative. Tucker is hyping it because it fits his narrative. So the truth is somewhere in the middle. My advice? Turn it all off an go outside for a run.

Song of the day: The Crystal Method “High Roller” (Live)

The Subtle Art Of The Grift

  • If you haven’t seen the 1990’s film The Grifters, you should. It’s good. Grift evolved from the original word graft, which means “to acquire dishonestly”. Dear readers, I’m about to disappoint some of you. You may have picked up on a theme here… I’m not a fan of politicians. Because we’re all guilty of confirmation bias (i.e. finding information to support what we already think and ignoring the opposite), many of you may have assumed I’m a hard core right winger who simply hates the dreaded democrats. My three long time readers will know that’s not true. I generally dislike all of them, regardless of party. And when it comes to Trump, well, my opinion of Trump is complicated and worthy of an essay all it’s own. Where am I going with this? If you’re willing to brave a little contrarian thought, I urge you to read this about Jarrod Kushner and Brad Parscale. Warning, you may become disillusioned if you’ve been a big MAGA supporter. The truth is, and I’ve said this many times, politics doesn’t care about you. If you really think politicians have your best interest in mind, you’re a fool. It’s all of them. Both parties. If you’ve read any of Peter Schweizer’s books you’d have a sense of just how corrupt they are. The Clintons, Romney, Mcconnell, Kerry, Mccain, Biden, Harris, the Trump machine. All of them. Are there principled politicians out there? Of course. But you have to sell more and more of your soul to get to the top. And to remain on top.. well, nobody willingly gives up power, money, and influence. None of this is new and is found in every society from time beginning. The most disillusioning thing about this is that the movements some of these powerful people can spark are real. The MAGA crowd. The Bernie bro’s. These are everyday, average people, who honestly want change, to make a difference, and to build a better life for their families and communities. And they willingly give their money to politicians who have the right narrative and slick talking points, thinking this guy (or gal) is the right one this time. They have my back. Their hard earned dollars are hoovered up by the machine and then distributed to loyalists, lobbyists, lawyers, and shell corporations, never to be seen again. Until the next election season. It’s Lucy, Charlie Brown, and the football, time and time again. When you strip away the veneer, there is virtually no difference between the parties. Their goal is to maintain the status quo. Bush, Obama, and Trump have collectively added $17 trillion dollars to the national debt. Biden is poised to add another four straight out of the gate. Nothing changes, silly grasshopper. I don’t mean to be negative, just a realist.
  • What the fuck is the My Pillow Guy doing delivering messages to the President about replacing the deputy director of the CIA? Sorry, I just… can’t.
  • I was getting on the freeway yesterday and in the middle of the lane there were two skis. Looked like kids skis. I wonder what the story was? Did dad forget to shut the ski rack? Did mom get tired of the kids bickering in the car, said we’re no longer skiing today and pitched ’em out? (the skis, not the kids) Reminded me of a very long time ago when I worked at a ski rental shop. A very distraught soccer mom type came in a few days before Christmas and said she had a serious problem with her skis, would we mind coming out and taking a look? Once outside she burst into tears. She had gone to sports store, bought an expensive ski rack and four sets of skis for the family. They helped her mount everything up and she drove home. Unfortunately she never stopped to check the clearance in the garage when she drove in. All four skis were strapped to the rack, with the front halves snapped up at a 90 degree angle. Not enough P-Tex in the world to fix that.
  • Mrs Troutdog has decided we’re going to a dude ranch. She owns a horse and rides. I don’t. I’ve pet the horse a few times, that’s about it. Clearly I’m the dude in this ranch equation. It actually sounds kinda fun. I like the outdoors, so what’s not to enjoy? Especially if there’s no shoveling of poop in this vacation. I see enough poop in my regular job.
  • Biden has a 100 day Covid plan. It’s actually perfect marketing. The vaccination program is well underway, so he didn’t have to do anything there. And what happens in 100 days? Warm weather and spring. And what do viruses do in warmer weather? They recede. So, the case counts will be down significantly and the media will gush and declare that thanks to a president who actually believes in science, the Covid is being defeated. Perfect! Marketing 101 people.
  • And finishing on a somber note, I don’t check Facebook all that often but did yesterday and noticed a post from someone in the past. I thought to myself I hadn’t seen any posts from him in a while. Scrolling into his feed I was confused by some of the past-tense references people were posting, until I realized he’d passed away a year ago. He was killed by some random person in a road-rage incident. You just never know how much time we have left. Yell at the wrong guy because he cut you off, and they pull out a gun and you’re done. What a waste. He was a good person, single dad with two kids.

Song of the day: Slightly Stoopid – Collie Man (Live at Roberto’s TRI Studios)

A Thought Experiment

  • I’d like you do a little thought experiment. A little contrarian thinking if you will. Wearing a cloth mask is being touted as the only way we’re going to defeat our current pandemic. Ok. Here’s question one. If masks were effective, wouldn’t you expect to see Covid case rates drop significantly where mask mandates are in place? How come you can’t find a single location in this country that can point to a statistically significant drop in cases after a mask mandate? Take LA for example. The people in that city and state are mask zealots. You’re going to get yourself a beatdown in that city if you don’t wear a mask 24/7. Yet, with all that mask compliance, their case rates are soaring. Why is that? You could make the negative argument – just think how much worse it would be if we didn’t wear the masks? Then why aren’t cities without mask mandates exponentially worse than those with them? My point is that it’s now been long enough that we should start seeing signals in the data. Please find me anything that even remotely looks like correlation. You can’t because there isn’t any. Question number two. If a simple cloth mask can prevent me from getting Covid, then I should be able to work on our Covid floor wearing a much more comfortable mask than what I currently do. Yet for some reason the hospital mandates that I wear an N95 mask, procedure mask, face shield, gown and gloves when entering a Covid room. Why is that? I thought a simple bandana was protecting everyone? Don’t get me wrong, as I’ve said many times, I firmly believe wearing a mask has the potential to lower the transmitted viral load and thus may result in a more mild illness. That’s pretty important if you’re in a high risk category. That is NOT the same thing as preventing you from getting Covid.
  • Speaking of the disease that originated in a location which we cannot mention without being labeled as xenophobic, the high priest of Covid Dr Facui, told us back in March that in the history of respiratory borne viruses asymptomatic transmission has never been the driver of outbreaks. Then he changed his tune and we implemented massive lockdowns and mask mandates. And now the data is suggesting, wait for it, Covid is not being spread by asymptomatic transmission. The man’s opinion has consistently drifted in the wind. We shouldn’t wear masks, asymptomatic transmission isn’t a driver of outbreaks, and now the number people required for herd immunity changes based upon public opinion. Why is the media so enamored with this guy?
  • Kamala Harris said some of her favorite childhood memories were of celebrating Kwanzaa. Except she was born before it was invented and it took decades to even become a thing. She moved to Quebec Canada as teenager with her single, Indian mom who was Hindu. What part of a politicians soul is missing that they can utter whatever nonsense thing comes into their head because they think it will make them popular? And why do you even listen to them?
  • And speaking of elections, did you know that we’ve had three presidential elections that took over 100 days to resolve? I didn’t. My point isn’t that I think Trump will win this one (he won’t), but that this is not a new thing. It’s a pity we don’t teach much in the way of useful history anymore. Or journalism.
  • When you adjust daily Covid case rates based upon number of tests run, the case rate hasn’t much changed since April. The media’s drive to report only the most simplistic data will result in our eventual decline to Idiocracy. If you haven’t watched that movie, go find it. It’s really where we’re headed.
  • A court in Shanghai sentenced a citizen journalist to four years in prison Monday after finding her guilty of “picking quarrels and provoking trouble” by reporting on China’s early coronavirus outbreak in Wuhan. Thank god we don’t have thought police here.
  • I may have convinced a friend to descend into the dark hole of gear acquisition that is motorcycle riding. I shall be conducting an information overload today by sending him countless links to motorcycle related videos and gear reviews. He’s already signed up for his first motorcycle class. Resistance is futile.

Song of the day: Propellerheads feat: Miss Shirley Bassey – History Repeating