AuthorTopic: What's Missing?  (Read 1414 times)

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What's Missing?
« on: June 01, 2018, 05:10:59 AM »


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Published on Pray for Calamity on My 30, 2018






Discuss this article at the Psychology Table inside the Diner



My farm truck is fairly old.  It’s a Ford F-150 and it was made in 1992.  While not a vehicle I need every day, if there is a load of firewood or manure to be moved, it is the only thing that will do the trick.  So last week when I went to fire it up and it wouldn’t start, I was frustrated to say the least. Not only was my day’s plate of errands full, but beyond that the truck was blocking our narrow driveway preventing another vehicle from passing.



Lifting my daughter out of the cab I took a deep breath. An azure blue sky beamed overhead as I shifted the truck into neutral, placed my hand firmly against the steel doorframe, and began heaving with my legs.  Slowly the tires began to roll backwards as I used my free hand to steer the truck onto the grass under the shade of a hickory tree.






“OK, fire it,” he yelled. I turned the key in the ignition, and got the nya-nya-nya-nya sound of the starter motor. My friend was under the hood holding the handle of a thin screwdriver, the tip of which was in a wire running out of the distributor.



“Well, you’re getting good spark.” I am not a gear-head by any stretch of the imagination, but I attempt to fix what I can on my cars, which also means I tend to prefer older cars, hence the 1992 Ford.  However, whenever I have an issue I cannot readily tend to myself, I have a friend I call over who is a far better mechanic than myself.



After changing out my cap, rotor, plugs, wires, and ignition coil, and checking to make sure I had fuel pressure at the rail and gas getting into the cylinder, I was stumped. My friend was stumped too.  At this point, it could be numerous things preventing the engine from catching, from a timing issue to a failing in the computer.



Computers in cars. Goddammit why? Even the 92’s have them, primitive as they may be by today’s standards.  Looking at the myriad different color wires running in a tight bundle to the truck’s computer, I have a brief flash, a memory of my friend’s 1970 Ford Mustang. This is a car my friend bought maybe twenty years ago and had worked to restore. The engine was so simple, so clean. Its functional simplicity was like a Japanese tea ceremony.  A loud, roaring, ground shaking tea ceremony.






Mass shootings are almost a weekly occurrence in the United States these days. In fact, more students have died at school in 2018 than US troops have died in combat zones. For a nation with troops on the ground in Iraq, Afghanistan, Syria, Niger, and lord knows where else, that is a morose statistic indeed. After each shooting event, there is a ritual of news coverage and political handwringing, and somewhere in there amongst all of the constitution waving and twitter snark, someone will suggest that the tragedy is the result of the fact that the perpetrator was crazy.



It is a simple argument on its face, for of course, who but a crazy person would commit an act of mass murder? For a particularly shining example of a seemingly very mentally unhinged person acting out violently, we only have to harken back a few weeks to April of this year, when a young man walked into a Nashville, Tennessee Waffle House – naked – brandishing an AR-15.  After fatally shooting four people, another young man, James Shaw, who had been hiding in the bathroom rushed out and disarmed the murderer, who then fled.



Upon capturing the suspect, it was revealed that he had a very storied past of behavior that was more than bizarre. For instance, he had gone to a public pool wearing a lady’s housecoat and exposed his genitals to the lifeguards. Apparently he was under the impression that musician Taylor Swift was stalking him, and he had even once approached the secret service at the White House and demanded to inspect the grounds.



If killers are merely crazy, then there isn’t much we can do about them, I guess the argument goes. We can only throw up our hands and roll the dice every time we go to a movie theater or a restaurant or a high school. Unless someone asks the next most obvious question: What is making so many people crazy?



Or perhaps more accurately: What is making so many Americans crazy?



Or perhaps even more accurately: What is making so many American white men crazy?



Or perhaps even more accurately: What is making so many American white men lash out violently at those around them? 



Of course, I am not the first to ask this question or a variant of it, and the easy answers have flowed forth in a torrent.






Epidemiological studies are often used to make some sort of nutritional claim, like, “Eating pasta helps you lose weight.” These make for great headlines (which is why Barilla pasta finances them) but usually make for a terrible understanding of nutrition. The reason is co-factors. Nutritional epidemiology is basically running surveys. Get a group of people, ask them what they eat, examine their lives over a set window of time, spit out a result.



However, putting aside for a moment that these are not double blind, controlled, randomized, clinical trials which can actually tease out causality, we have to look at all of the lifestyle factors that aren’t being considered. Is this person a smoker? Are they under a lot of stress? Do they drink? Do they exercise? And even after all of that, when some headline about some new epidemiological study tells you that eating this or that thing causes cancer, we have to ask, “Was adding the new thing bad, or is absence of an old thing the problem?”



So when a kid walks into his Santa Fe, Texas high school with a shotgun and executes teachers and students, there will be plenty of talking heads and social media policy gurus who settle on the idea that the young man responsible is crazy. Some will even venture to posit that this modern epidemic of craziness stems from the addition of the internet, video games, cell phones, or movies to young people’s daily activities.



Perhaps we should not just look to what things have been added to the lives of young men, but also look to what has been replaced.



What’s missing?






Social media use has been linked to increasing rates of depression. Is this because people get anxiety seeking the approval that comes in the form of shares and likes? Is it because of the increased level of scrutiny people face when a large portion of their lives becomes public? Or is it because people spend more time engaging with other humans in a non-intimate way, interfacing with keyboards and glowing touchscreens instead of in person with all of the gesture, eye contact, subtle humor, and other nuance of face-to-face interaction?  Is it the new thing, or the lack of the old?



Capitalism is built on a simple premise: Locate a resource, use labor to convert it into a good, sell the good at a profit, repeat.  For generations this has meant a sprawling march of death moving over the globe, seizing lands, razing them, expropriating the resources available, subjugating the masses to labor, and leaving mountains of waste in the rear view. This has made life interesting indeed. In the US, and likely much of the west, even high-end goods are so plentiful that they become valueless nearly instantly. Peruse the racks at any Goodwill and you will find DVD players and video game systems less than ten years old haphazardly strewn about. Yet the songbirds are going silent, and the insects are vanishing.



In any given town in America you could hop on Craigslist and find a functioning small car for less than a thousand dollars. You could certainly find a dollar store of some kind chock full of sugary drinks, vape pipes, cheap home goods, and a discount bin of blu-ray discs. Everything is available everywhere in disgusting heaps of material excess, all so the individual can return to their isolated apartment to enjoy this stuff alone. Atomized. Singular. Powerless. Meaningless. Then they can hoist it into the dumpster before going out into a dying world for more.






Every year I go on an extended camping trip with friends. It is important to me that I spend time with people I care deeply about, who care deeply about me, and that we sit directly on the Earth. We share food together. We laugh and play games. It is a spiritual recharge to head down to a lake or river with one another, and to swim in the cold water, mossy rocks underfoot. At night we tell stories around a fire. Wood smoke whirls towards the charcoal blackness above and we breathe in the night together, and then exhale.   Sitting in a circle we sing. We lean in onto eachothers shoulders.  We slowly fumble towards our respective beds and sleep that good, out of doors sleep.



For the record, I do not actually think that Americans are any crazier than anyone else in the developed world.   I think living in ways that are completely foreign to our evolutionary self throws us out of whack. Eating foods foreign to our guts, sitting for long stretches of time, staring at screens, existing in digital worlds, working jobs which have no direct benefit to ourselves, financial struggle, the bombardment of advertising, the bombardment of propaganda, authoritarian power structures, the almost total lack of ability to effect our world, the list goes on.



There are the things we are doing that are new, and the things we aren’t doing because of it.  Touching the Earth.  Touching plants.  Singing with friends.  Wrestling with friends. Smelling a fire.  Walking long distances through unpredictable, non-man made spaces. Harvesting wild foods. Drinking from springs.  Touching bone.  Touching flesh.  Listening to owls.  Staring at stars.  Engaging in ceremonies thoughtfully designed to highlight our sense of place and wonder within this great and beautiful and tragic mystery called life.



We live lives foreign to our physiology and damaging to our souls in a rapidly changing context that is always requiring that we prove our value to people we do not know.



I cannot help but to think that these things place a massive stress on us, all of us. Despite having everything we seemingly need in the form of food and shelter, something is not right. As we are all individuals with individual circumstances, how we crash land through the plinko game of modern capitalist civilization is anyone’s guess. Some of us adapt, some of us suffer in silence, many of us self medicate, and a tiny fraction – who also happen to have been mystified by narratives about their place in society due to their gender – pick up a gun and kill.



Is it all this new stuff we are surrounded by? Is it something we have lost? Is it a dynamic combination of both?  Who knows, exactly?



What I do know is that in the United States guns are pretty easy to come by. We probably aren’t any crazier than anyone else. The crippling physical and psychological stress of the modern industrial world reaches far outside of US borders.   We just make it a lot easier to slaughter one and other.



If we want to keep the guns around, the culture has to change. I, for one, would happily trade this economy for actual, functioning community.  Though something tells me it would be a hard sell, especially to those who benefit most from our fracture. Until then, the bi-weely festival of carnage is likely to continue undeterred.



Better keep the flag at half mast.






We had fuel, we had air, we had spark, and still that old truck wouldn’t start. Biting the bullet, I had the old mule towed to a nearby mechanic’s shop. Days later he called me on the phone to tell me I had a dead MAP sensor, which is a little doodad that effectively controls fuel system pressure.  A damn doodad.



I had everything I needed for proper function, just not in the exact right amounts at the exact right time.   The devil is in the details.



Offline Eddie

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Re: What's Missing?
« Reply #1 on: June 01, 2018, 07:33:54 AM »
The 4WD is out on my truck. I had it rebuilt a couple of years ago, and I don't even drive it that much. The problem then that killed it and what's wrong with it now, has nothing to do with mechanical problems. It is that GM decided at some point that switching into and out of 4WD should be at the push of a button.

Doing that requires a solenoid valve that is actuated by an electrical switch. Some part of that system was not designed  very well, and my 2004 Sierra 2500HD is one of thousands of old trucks with this problem.

It isn't the only thing about the truck that screams built in obsolescence. For instance, all the dash instruments in my truck are non-functional, including the speedo and the tach. It's because they are digital instruments that are soldered to a board, and the components inevitably fail after a number of years.

My brother, the car mechanic says he can fix this by carefully soldering new "motors" on the board, but he no longer does that because if he slips and ruins the board, it's a fix that costs a couple of thousand bucks instead of the couple of hundred bucks he charged to do the repair.

In other words, there's a liability to consider when he picks up his soldering iron.

The solution is find  an older truck...but the old trucks give trouble too, even if they are easier to understand, and they really are less reliable than the newer ones and have shorter engine life because the fuel delivery system is less efficient. And most of the ones you can find are flat worn out anyway.

The new trucks are fast, the air conditioners kick ass, they have a shit ton of good pulling power, and they are more comfortable to drive.

I will probably have to have my truck towed to the shop, because  I can't get it to shift out of 4WD, and driving it at speed will kill it.

Like P for C, I have to get my truck running quick. The pigs are out of hay, and I need to make another auction sale run right away.

I wish I could afford a new truck, but they are crazy expensive. About double for what I paid for my last brand new truck bought in 1995.
« Last Edit: June 01, 2018, 07:59:17 AM by Eddie »
What makes the desert beautiful is that somewhere it hides a well.

Offline Eddie

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Re: What's Missing?
« Reply #2 on: June 01, 2018, 07:57:46 AM »
Mass shootings are almost a weekly occurrence in the United States these days. In fact, more students have died at school in 2018 than US troops have died in combat zones. For a nation with troops on the ground in Iraq, Afghanistan, Syria, Niger, and lord knows where else, that is a morose statistic indeed. After each shooting event, there is a ritual of news coverage and political handwringing, and somewhere in there amongst all of the constitution waving and twitter snark, someone will suggest that the tragedy is the result of the fact that the perpetrator was crazy.





I hate to argue with somebody who basically gets it right about so much, but this kind of hyperbole doesn't help in my humble opinion. There is NOT a "mass shooting" every week.  This is demonstrably false. There have been 4 real mass shooting attempts this year, and only 3 of them resulted in more than 2 students being killed. While tragic, trying to make it sound much worse than it is just stirs up people too dumb and lazy to do simple arithmetic.

And the comparison with military deaths in combat zones is spurious, because it's an abnormally low year for combat deaths. Of course, neither school shootings or combat deaths make sense in this world, at this time. But we got 'em.

There have been 31 people killed by school shooters in 2018. Yet partisan "sources" like Gun Violence Archive says there have been 107 "mass shootings"

http://www.gunviolencearchive.org/

http://news.wjct.org/post/politifact-florida-more-school-students-killed-2018-us-troops-independent-bill-nelson

My math says that would be a body count of less than .3 people per "mass shooting".

It don't add up. It's media bullshit.

« Last Edit: June 01, 2018, 08:04:51 AM by Eddie »
What makes the desert beautiful is that somewhere it hides a well.

Offline RE

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Re: What's Missing?
« Reply #3 on: June 01, 2018, 08:07:31 AM »
I wish I could afford a new truck, but they are crazy expensive. About double for what I paid for my last brand new truck bought in 1995.

Did you ever consider buying USED? ???  :icon_scratch:

I NEVER buy a new vehicle.  None of my many carz in the last 25 years cost more than $5000.

RE
SAVE AS MANY AS YOU CAN

Offline Eddie

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Re: What's Missing?
« Reply #4 on: June 01, 2018, 08:11:14 AM »
The best used truck I've seen that I'd spend money for is for sale locally for $18,500. It had "low miles" of 145K.

Old trucks with no life left are way overpriced here now. You just can't find a deal anymore. I can't and I'm always looking.
What makes the desert beautiful is that somewhere it hides a well.

Offline RE

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Re: What's Missing?
« Reply #5 on: June 01, 2018, 08:16:26 AM »
The best used truck I've seen that I'd spend money for is for sale locally for $18,500. It had "low miles" of 145K.

Old trucks with no life left are way overpriced here now. You just can't find a deal anymore. I can't and I'm always looking.

Sorry, I don't buy that.  I have never had a problem anywhere I ever lived (all across the lower 48 and Alaska) buying a car for $5000 or less.  I will fly dfown there and buy a fucking truck for you.  I bet you double the cost of the vehicle I can buy a good one for $5K.

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SAVE AS MANY AS YOU CAN

Offline Eddie

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Re: What's Missing?
« Reply #6 on: June 01, 2018, 08:21:47 AM »
You'd be lucky to find one that you could drive for a month without a breakdown for 5K. That's the rock bottom here, price-wise. I could find a 5K truck, but not a good one. Not anymore.

Every hispanic male in Texas has to own a pick-up now. It's a demographic problem, LOL.

I'm being racist again. I should have said "every heterosexual hispanic male in Texas" That's more accurate.
What makes the desert beautiful is that somewhere it hides a well.

Offline Eddie

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Re: What's Missing?
« Reply #7 on: June 01, 2018, 08:29:28 AM »
I do have certain requirements. I want 4WD. I prefer the big gas Chevy (6.0L) and automatic tranny, but I'd be okay with a diesel or a standard if it were a great truck. I also prefer a double cab, because  the back seat of my truck is my mobile toolbox. But once again, I'd consider a single cab.

Whatever I get has to be able to pull my 18 ft flatbed and my 3 yd dump trailer loaded. Most old gas trucks just don't have the power to do that dependably, once they clock 150-200K.
What makes the desert beautiful is that somewhere it hides a well.

Offline RE

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Re: What's Missing?
« Reply #8 on: June 01, 2018, 08:38:43 AM »
You'd be lucky to find one that you could drive for a month without a breakdown for 5K. That's the rock bottom here, price-wise. I could find a 5K truck, but not a good one. Not anymore.

Every hispanic male in Texas has to own a pick-up now. It's a demographic problem, LOL.

I'm being racist again. I should have said "every heterosexual hispanic male in Texas" That's more accurate.

Hispanic Queers don't drive trucks?  JRM would be highly offended by this comment.  ::)

You have been too rich for too long.  If the prices suck in Austin, cross the border to Arkansas.  A day's drive will save you $2000 at least.

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SAVE AS MANY AS YOU CAN

Offline Eddie

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Re: What's Missing?
« Reply #9 on: June 01, 2018, 08:49:31 AM »
Yeah, there are gay guys who like trucks. I get that. Everybody needs a truck here. But young hetero hispanic males are a huge truck market here. Drive around and check it out.

Lesbians drive trucks, but they seem to favor the compacts for some reason. Just like they favor compact cars.

What makes the desert beautiful is that somewhere it hides a well.

Offline RE

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Re: What's Missing?
« Reply #10 on: June 01, 2018, 08:52:45 AM »
Yeah, there are gay guys who like trucks. I get that. Everybody needs a truck here. But young hetero hispanic males are a huge truck market here. Drive around and check it out.

Lesbians drive trucks, but they seem to favor the compacts for some reason. Just like they favor compact cars.



Fortunately you are not in the market for a compact.

RE
SAVE AS MANY AS YOU CAN

Offline Nearingsfault

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Re: What's Missing?
« Reply #11 on: June 01, 2018, 11:50:50 AM »
I do have certain requirements. I want 4WD. I prefer the big gas Chevy (6.0L) and automatic tranny, but I'd be okay with a diesel or a standard if it were a great truck. I also prefer a double cab, because  the back seat of my truck is my mobile toolbox. But once again, I'd consider a single cab.

Whatever I get has to be able to pull my 18 ft flatbed and my 3 yd dump trailer loaded. Most old gas trucks just don't have the power to do that dependably, once they clock 150-200K.
hmm with that set of variables you probably won't find anything used unless you do dealer lease return. Have you ever read the money mustache guy? Before he took off and gained too much popularity I liked him quite a bit. He had a lot ro say about over carring. The point is just if you start with those variables you will only come too one answer. I did construction and reno for 14 years out of suv's and a jeep. How often do you need that pull capacity versus want the capacity? Just curious. I bought a double axle trailer a few years back with brakes rated for 8000lbs. It was fun but I sold it in 6 months. I had used it 3 times and lent it out 4... I would strategically use those over eager truck buyers to do your heavy hauling for you and car down.  The older less powerful trucks used to work  fine before the  world decided every truck had to have the capability to haul 8000lbs at 70 mph...
If its important then try something, fail, disect, learn from it, try again, and again and again until it kills you or you succeed.

Offline Eddie

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Re: What's Missing?
« Reply #12 on: June 01, 2018, 01:02:14 PM »
I get what you're saying David. I've owned a great many trucks over the years. I actually own two now. I have a mid-90's F350 Ford that isn't roadworthy at the moment. :)

I've done so much with so little so many times in my life now that I'm almost qualified to do anything with nothing. I do understand.

But....Whatever truck I buy next probably has a good chance of being my last truck. I'm less willing to compromise now than I would have been at your age. :)

Besides, finding trucks here like the truck I want is not hard. There are more trucks just like what I described out there than the other possibilities. This IS Texas. But people either hang onto them until the mileage is high, or the dealers get them (including lease returns) and mark them way up. Because demand is so high.

I'll probably buy a new one before too long. I went out to crank my truck a little while ago and the battery was dead....again. This is also a new problem. I just replaced the battery. I think I have a dead short in the key circuit, or some other fault that's pulling a load.

New truck...I wanna new truck.

What makes the desert beautiful is that somewhere it hides a well.

Offline Eddie

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Re: What's Missing?
« Reply #13 on: June 01, 2018, 01:13:54 PM »
I wish I could afford a new truck, but they are crazy expensive. About double for what I paid for my last brand new truck bought in 1995.

Did you ever consider buying USED? ???  :icon_scratch:

I NEVER buy a new vehicle.  None of my many carz in the last 25 years cost more than $5000.

RE

Coming back to this to defend my deal-making skills.  :icon_mrgreen:

The GMC (which you have driven, of course) was a deal. I did buy it used. I spent 4K and threw in a vintage airhead BMW motorcycle I never rode anymore (I do miss it sometimes tho).

I got the Jimmy with about 125K on it. So I don't always buy new. I can count the new cars I've owned in my life on the fingers of one hand.

What makes the desert beautiful is that somewhere it hides a well.

Offline Eddie

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Re: What's Missing?
« Reply #14 on: June 01, 2018, 01:17:06 PM »
I do have certain requirements. I want 4WD. I prefer the big gas Chevy (6.0L) and automatic tranny, but I'd be okay with a diesel or a standard if it were a great truck. I also prefer a double cab, because  the back seat of my truck is my mobile toolbox. But once again, I'd consider a single cab.

Whatever I get has to be able to pull my 18 ft flatbed and my 3 yd dump trailer loaded. Most old gas trucks just don't have the power to do that dependably, once they clock 150-200K.
hmm with that set of variables you probably won't find anything used unless you do dealer lease return. Have you ever read the money mustache guy? Before he took off and gained too much popularity I liked him quite a bit. He had a lot ro say about over carring. The point is just if you start with those variables you will only come too one answer. I did construction and reno for 14 years out of suv's and a jeep. How often do you need that pull capacity versus want the capacity? Just curious. I bought a double axle trailer a few years back with brakes rated for 8000lbs. It was fun but I sold it in 6 months. I had used it 3 times and lent it out 4... I would strategically use those over eager truck buyers to do your heavy hauling for you and car down.  The older less powerful trucks used to work  fine before the  world decided every truck had to have the capability to haul 8000lbs at 70 mph...

I still have that camper fantasy working in the back of my mind too. I'll probably get a single axle 1 ton if I can find one.
What makes the desert beautiful is that somewhere it hides a well.

 

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