Tuesday, March 28, 2017

Chelsea Michigan

Mrs ERJ and I made a day trip to Chelsea, Michigan.  We are still getting the hang of being retired and this seemed like the kind of thing normal, retired people ought to do.

Chelsea is fifty minutes from Eaton Rapids.  Chelsea is an upscale community that is fifteen miles from a major University city.

The shop that caught our eye was a Toy, Book and Music store called 'Just Imagine'.

Bill Harris is the proprietor and he graciously spent twenty minutes chatting with us when he really wanted to be catching up on his paperwork.
This is a five second video showing a kids book where the picture animates by tilting the book.  It made me think of the animated photos (in newspapers) in the book Harry Potter.

Mr Harris carries a large line of Melissa and Doug toys and educational materials.  Mrs ERJ assures me that Melissa and Doug materials are famous for good quality and reasonable prices.
His materials are skewed toward "manipulative" toys that can activate kinesthetic learning.  Mr Harris is currently stocking toys/games that develop fine motor hand skills.  The local teachers told him that the kids now showing up in Kindergarten knowing how to use iPads but not able to properly hold a pencil or crayon.  Just Imagine to the rescue.
If I understood the packaging, one of these packages has magnetic glitter.  It makes clean-up a breeze.
Music.  More of that kinesthetic learning and getting the brain to knit together.  Plus, being able to play a musical instrument is a great way to woo a lady.
As we chatted with Mr Harris, it became clear that he relied heavily on various members of his family and community to give him guidance regarding the best materials to stock.  For instance, his wife manages the Inspiration Materials shelf.  He relies on one of his daughters to give him "hot tips" on children's books.

He includes old favorites (like books by P.D. Eastman) and books that are likely to become classics.  How does he know which books will become classics?  He picks books that he enjoys reading to children:  Good artwork, engaging story lines, appropriate reading level and sturdy construction.  He is also highly responsive to local teachers who pop in and talk with him.

If you are passing through Chelsea, Michigan and have some grandchildren or nieces/nephews who need spoiling, consider stopping into Just Imagine.  His phone number is (734) 562-2040 and his Facebook page is HERE.  Many more pictures on Facebook and, frankly, they are better photos than the ones I posted here.

Old Stone Building
Chelsea has many examples of outstanding, dressed field stone buildings.

The George P. Glazier building.  Glazier was a big name in wood stoves and went belly-up in 1907.  Vanity buildings are the 1900 versions of sports stadiums.
The United Methodist Church.  Large amounts of pink granite.
The regular masonry buildings were also pretty well executed.
And you may be thinking, "I know I have seen that name, "Chelsea, Michigan" but I just cannot remember where.
Chelsea, Michigan is home to Jiffy Mix.  Each one of those triple silos is twenty feet in diameter and about 120 feet tall.  That is about 800,000 bushels of total capacity.  Figured another way, that is about 20 million packages of Jiffy Mix muffins.
I think we did well for a couple of country mice visiting the big city.  We may have to do that again.

Update on my brother

My brother had surgery for cancer last Wednesday.

Yesterday, we were surprised and pleased to hear that the doctor intend to release him today.  The usual stay after his type of surgery is ten-to-fourteen days and he was going to beat that very handily.  It was heartening because it means he is healing well and the sooner you can get out of the hospital, home of super-germs, the better.

By yesterday, noon they had removed all of the drain tubes except for one, the painkiller pump was out, everything was good to start processing the out-transfer paperwork at 9:30 this morning.

And then the doctor did not like the amount of discharge that was still coming out of the final drain tube.

My niece, who is a sophomore in college and took Psych 101 quickly diagnosed the problem:  The Doctor was having "suppuration anxiety."

Monday, March 27, 2017

Psalm 23

The LORD is my shepherd;
there is nothing I lack.
.
.
Even though I walk through the valley of the shadow of death,
I will fear no evil, for you are with me;
your rod and your staff comfort me.
Doesn't "rod" and "staff" seem redundant?

A quick trip to the internet suggests some differences.
This Basque sheep herder is holding a rod in his right hand and a staff in his left.

The rod is more than a 33" long walking stick.  It was used for defense and for discipline.  As in the phrase "Spare the rod and spoil the child."

The staff is more than a 72" long walking stick.  It was used for defense and also to gather, to scoop up lambs from ledges and to "hook" ewes that would otherwise flee in their mindless, animal panic.  Sheep are not very smart.
Just as sheep are some of the dumbest animals on the planet, sheep herders are some of the toughest.  Modern shepherds are likely to have a Winchester 30-30 or an SKS.  They have more range than the 33" rod.
The author of Psalm 23 is telling us that we do not need to fear evil because God defends us AND because we willingly submit to God's discipline (a key marker of being a member of any organization) AND because we know that God will be there to collect us should we do something stupid that would lead us astray.
The shepherd leads his sheep.  He goes where they go.  He lives where they live.  It is not a "commuter" kind of job.

Key point:  AND, not "or if".

Sunday, March 26, 2017

Welcoming Visitors

We had visitors in our pew this Sunday.  They sat to Mrs ERJ's left.

Last Sunday they sat in the pew in front of us.  I had never seen them before last Sunday.

By all appearances they were two disabled, adult men and a young woman.  One of the men is clearly mute because he used American Sign Language to communicate with the young woman.  The other man was not very reactive.  I suspect that they are from an adult foster care home and the young woman (25?) is their caretaker.

I am impressed that the young woman took them on a "field trip."  I am glad she chose our church and I hope we made all three of them feel welcome.  I take Matthew 25:40 seriously,
"...‘Amen, I say to you, whatever you did for one of these least brothers of mine, you did for me.’" 
And from Luke chapter 18
"People were bringing even infants to him that he might touch them, and when the disciples saw this, they rebuked them. Jesus, however, called the children to himself and said, “Let the children come to me and do not prevent them; for the kingdom of God belongs to such as these. Amen, I say to you, whoever does not accept the kingdom of God like a child will not enter it.”
The man who is mute looked very happy to be in church.  Last week he actively tried to engage us in conversation.  He seemed surprised that we did not understand ASL. It is kind of funny.  When we were not able to answer he made larger gestures.  He was shouting to help us understand.  I think the young woman coached him on "proper" church deportment during the week.

Today he was whispering to the young lady.  That is, he was making his ASL movements small and close to his body.  The other man mostly stared at the railing in front of him but I did see a little bit of head bobbing during the music.  While the calendar might indicate that the two men are adults I suspect that they are children in many ways.

A minor crisis averted
The woman who was sitting to my right is quite old.  I suspect she becomes easily confused.  During the Mass she helped Father Dwight out by saying his parts rather than sticking with the responses.  Father Dwight was too far away to hear her but I doubt that he would mind.  He is has a firm grasp on what is important.

The three visitors stayed in the pew during Communion while the rest of the pew went up to receive it.

The older woman who had been sitting on my right did not recognize our pew on the way back and kept marching up the aisle.  I was a bit behind her because I partook of both forms of Communion, both the Body (bread) and the Blood (wine).  Part of what threw her was the fact that there were three people sitting on the end who had not gone up to Communion rather than an empty pew. 

She had turned around and was heading back by the time I arrived at "our" pew.  Her eyes were scanning, looking for her coat and purse or some other clue.  The three new folks were oblivious of the older lady's confusion.

I shook the mute man's hand (a gesture generally discouraged during communion to emphasize the gravity of the Sacrament) and made a motion like a signal corpsman directing an F-18 on the flight deck to indicate where the older woman needed to go.

The three newcomers pulled their feet back.  The older lady scooted past them like a spry youngster. And the mute man gave me a small, quick, circular (2" diameter) rub on the back as I shuffled in front of them.  I had seen the young woman give that same back rub to the less reactive man the week before.  I think it was meant to reassure, to say "calm down" or "it is going to be OK" or maybe just "you are OK".

I may have to pick up a few phrases in American Sign Language to help them feel welcome.  I want them to know "they are OK".

Violets


I was planting violets in the orchard today.  This clone is Viola odorata
A handful of the clump.  Hand included in photo to give a sense of scale regarding root length.
This is  about one handful of a clump after washing out most of the dirt.
Same handful broken into plantlets.
Clone two.  Assumed to be V. sororiaNothing special about this violet except it can grow in sand and shade at the same time.  The flowers have no fragrance.
The roots are much less impressive than the V. odorata, but perhaps that can be expected when growing on the north side of a building.  The card is 6" by 4".
Clone three.  This has flowers that are blue-and-gray flowers so it is probable V. sororia priceana.  This clone is growing in heavy shade beneath an apple tree that was planted to attract deer.  Like clone two, the flowers have no fragrance.
It has fewer roots and they are shorter than the other V. sororia clone.  Between the three clones I planted about sixty starts.

Saturday, March 25, 2017

Daylilies

One reason that the common, orange daylily ( Hemerocallis) is a good choice as a ground cover in the orchard is because the roots, while dense at the surface, are not that competitive with tree roots.  These two plants are on top of 4" by 6" cards.  As you can see it has massive roots and almost none of them penetrate deeper than six inches.

Doesn't look like much.
They don't look like much now, but they will spread by rhizomes to form a mat.  One key point is that you do NOT want improved varieties like Stella de Oro.  The improved varieties form clumps.  You want the unimproved variety that carpet the bottoms of ditches.  The unimproved variety is a triploid, has sterile seeds and spreads with abandon.

Another attribute of this plant is that it thrives in light shade.  I have seen solid colonies beneath Black Locust and Silver Maples.

A final point is that harvesters are going to walk all over these plants when picking fruit.  They will likely damage a great number of growing points.  The plants will not care.  They will fill back in in the spring.

This approach to planting between the trees is Darwinian.  I don't care if any one species or any give individual fails as long as something more useful than nettles or motherswort fills the ecological niche.

There might be a little dust on the bottle...

Not a picture of Mrs ERJ.  Image from Huffington Post
One of the things that I like about Mrs ERJ, heck, I LOVE about Mrs ERJ is that she likes hanging on to things that work.  She sees no need to "trade-up" when an old dishwasher, or minivan, or dog, or husband has served her faithfully.

She gives me atta-boys when I can make the dishwasher go a little longer or I fix the hose on the vacuum cleaner with Gorilla Glue and an old medicine bottle.



I was thinking about Mrs ERJ the last time I heard this song on the radio.  Country Music fans will recognize the title of that song as the title of this post.  When it comes to Mrs ERJ I don't think there is an "up" to trade to.

I suggest you give your sweetie a kiss if he/she has a little dust on the bottle.

Friday, March 24, 2017

The Pregnant "Yet"


Abstract:
America does not recognize it but we are on the brink of a very ugly divorce.  We have been duped into retaining Chum and Churn as our attorneys.  They are doing everything they can to make the separation as rancorous as possible with the goal of lining their own pockets, Robert Mugabe style.

Normal people look at me and raise one eyebrow.

"What are you preparing for?"  they ask.

"Don't know." I reply.

"Don't you feel kind of stupid?" they ask.  "Nothing has happened, yet."

"Nope.  Don't feel stupid at all." I tell them.  "And you are right. Nothing has happened." I agree, "Yet."

Then I ask, "Did I ever tell you about Jimbo?"

And if they have the time, I tell them about Jimbo.

Living Large
Jimbo made good money.  He, as an individual, grossed about four times the US household median income.  He, his wife and his five (yes, five) boys lived in an exclusive suburb in the northeast corner of Wayne County.  The suburb's first name was Grosse, probably due to the monstrous size of the houses.

Jimbo was proud of his earning ability and the fact that his wife was high maintenance.  But even 4X the US average was not quite enough.  Every three years he would remortgage the house to extract the equity that rising housing prices magically created and use it to pay off the maxed out credit cards.  If I remember correctly he was usually able to rake out $25K-to-$35K every few years.

Life was good.  Jimbo worked his butt off.  His wife started several "businesses" and invariably put them into the ditch.  Nobody cared.  She was doing it for entertainment and for something to talk about at happy hour.  She was the classic dilettante.

Life was just jolly
Life was just jolly until...sagging housing prices aligned with Jimbo's need for liquidity.

The bank was apologetic.  "Mr Jimbo, you currently owe more on your house than it is worth.  We cannot, in good conscience, loan you more money."

Jimbo called around and, indeed, his house was now worth less than it had been worth the last time he had used it as a piggy bank.  The Jimbo ranch was upside-down

Telling Mrs Jimbo
It did not go well.

Jimbo told her that they would have to tighten their belts.  In fact, they should lock up the credit cards and forget they even had them for the next six months.  Not only did they have to live within their means, they had to live BELOW their means so they could make larger than minimum payments to get a little bit of budgetary breathing room.

Mrs Jimbo had never had to budget before.  Ever.  In. Her. Life.

Mr Grenade is not your friend when you pull the pin.  Mrs Jimbo was not Jimbo's friend after he told her there was no more money.

---Editorial Aside---
People are funny about money.  We constantly adjust our expectations and then measure outcomes against those expectations.  Give an employee a 5% raise one year and he expects a 5% raise the next year.  He will be angry if he does not get it.  Give an employee a 5% raise one year, a 7% raise the next year and a 9% raise the third year and he will be livid if he does not get an 11% raise in year four.  Or give an employee a 5% raise in year one, a 6% raise in year two, an 8% raise in year three, an 11% raise in year four and he will get madder than hell if his raise in year five is less than 15%.


In fact, he will be insulted and feel victimized if he receives a 14% raise, a raise larger than any other raise he ever received.  He will look for enemies under every rock.  He will start shooting holes in the bottom of the collective life boat.  He will pull the pin and drop Mr Grenade into the bilge.

To Mrs Jimbo, money was love.  When Jimbo told her that there was not enough money, in her mind there was only one possible scenario:  Jimbo had a girlfriend and did not love her any more.

She filed for divorce.

Jimbo was blindsided.  He tried reasoning with her.  He told her about housing markets, collateral, etc.  It got no traction.  She had run MANY businesses and that had NEVER been a factor.

He tried logic.  He told her, "Look, if seven people cannot make it on $216,000 a year then how do you expect to make it with six people on $108,000 a year?"  He had done a little bit of research and had learned that the courts would never take more than 50% of his gross.

She was unmoved.  Be damned if she let Jimbo's new piece of fluff replace her.

He was shaking his head as he told me that.  He said she went completely irrational whenever he tried to talk to her about money.  It was as if she had just kicked a Yellow Jacket nest and did not have brains to run away.  The Yellow Jackets kept stinging her and making her more and more enraged.

Mr and Mrs Jimbo did end up divorced.  Jimbo moved into a duplex in Sterling Heights that was about a step-and-a-half above a trailer park.  Mrs Jimbo was forced to move out of the house after nine months of not being able to make payments.  She also moved to Sterling Heights and the kids went to a school close to where their father lived.  Seven lives were shredded.

Why is Jimbo's story relevant?

  • As a society, we are living above our means.
  • As a society, many "businesses" are heavily subsidized.
  • Those subsidies give the people involved in those enterprises the illusion that they are doing something valuable
  • The subsidies to a patchwork quilt of entitled classes have increased year-by-year
  • The growth rate of the subsides has increased year-by-year
  • There are vast numbers of entitled classes who will defend their status to the point of pulling the pin from Mr Grenade.
  • The value of the assets or the collateral that underpin the deficit spending is subject to variation 
  • Otherwise rational people become incapable of coherent thought when they "feel" they are being screwed.
So I ask you, gentle reader, to consider the couples you know who have been divorced.  Perhaps 90% of them have been civil.  Perhaps 10% of them have been toxic...maybe even nuclear.  If the media and the deep state are acting as Chum and Churn, what will our cities and towns look like when 10% (or 20% or 30%...because we know folks compare notes) go Mrs Jimbo and drop Mr Grenade into the bilge?

Nothing has happened 
Yet.

Oh, Happy Day!


The $23 bet paid off.  The dishwasher powered up and cycled.

Forgive me while I savor the moment.


Fake News Friday

Highly placed sources informed the Eaton Rapids Joe Blog that the Democratic National Convention is so concerned about man-made global warming that they are diverting funding from political purposes to research mitigating the effects of MMGW  on the North American economies.

Professor Pierre Bismark and Professor Shasha K. Toon of the University of the Dakotas and University of Saskatchewan respectively informed the ERJ blog that they have been given funding to research growing sugar cane and oil palm in Saskatchewan, North Dakota and South Dakota.

A secondary objective is to investigate a polyculture of rice, tilapia and alligators.

"Since it is a cast-iron fact that global temperatures will rise by very large amounts, it is only rational to prepare local economies.  The economies of the Dakotas and Saskatchewan are primarily agricultural.  Therefore we need to find crops to replace canola, barley, sunflowers and wheat." said Bernie Gravely the new head of the DNC.

"There comes a time when you have to stop talking and posturing and put your money where your mouth is." the former Senator concluded.

President Hurrumph, President Neato and Prime Minister True-dat, upstaged by the opposition parties, responded by loosening restrictions on the passage of genetic materials between the three nations.  For example, Canada will now allow the free passage of any species that grows within 1500 km of its southern border.  Thus, it will allow free passage of persimmons, Chestnut Oak, Pecan trees, Trifoliate Orange and similar trees.  The intent is to lead the duck.

In a similar way, the United States will allow OTH (Other Than Human) genetic material to enter the United States from Central America as long as it originates from within 1500 km of the US southern border.

Thursday, March 23, 2017

Cleared a little bit of brush today

A shooting lane runs up the right side of this photo.  The lower edge of the photo is about 50 yards from the shooting position.  Most deer travel through this area in an east-west direction.
The bright green is mostly Norway Spruce.  Great Horned Owl nesting pair in the south block (lower rectangle).
Native range of the American Persimmon in green although random specimens are scattered the entire length of the Wabash river.  The gold star marks the location of Salamander's property.  The distance between Salamander's property and Logansport, Indiana (where I was told by a reliable witness that persimmon trees are common) is about 150 miles.

The patch outlined in orange is about sixty feet by sixty feet and is now cleared.  It will get about 15 persimmon trees planted in three rows of five.  The trees are seedlings from a decent, not great, persimmon tree.  I anticipate grafting trees one, three and five in each row to elite varieties.

K-6, a Claypool persimmon in the bottom of a five gallon bucket.  I think all of the discoloration is due to most of the tannin in the fruit migrating to the skin.

Size comparison between Morris Burton on the left and K-6 on the right.  The K-6 fruit measured 53mm in diameter.  Ugly as a drowned corpse but citrus overtones in its flavor and edible (barely) when crisp, perfection when soft.

This is a screen shot of the area immediately east of the area shown in the first image.  You can see that it is about 20% dead ash trees based on how much of the canopy looks like gray spiders.

Some of the dead ash trees are monsters.
And this is the next "tile" over.  This is about 35% dead ash trees.

LOTS of open ground to plant interesting trees like persimmons, shellbark hickory, assorted "swamp" oaks and the like.

If the ground were better drained I would be planting Chinese Chestnuts.

Once the persimmon start bearing this place will be like the Dairy Queen in July.  This is where ALL the cool deer will want to be.

Planned obsolescence

A comment by MattB from the Comments section of an earlier post:

That thermal fuse (on a dishwasher)  is the manufacturer's way to sell most people a new dishwasher. They last for a planned amount of time...
Never attribute to malice what could be caused by stupidity (or ego, or carelessness or compartmentalization or...)
Once upon a time I worked for a maker of consumer products and was slightly involved in warranty work.

I think it is safe to share this information because it is over thirty years old, neither of the marketing outlets are still operating and I will not identify either of the parties.

One marketing outlet of this company chose a power window switch that looked like this and we will call it the Chromed toggle switch:
Chromed.  Half moon up, half moon down. Push the half moon down to make the window go down.  Push the half moon up to make the window rise.
The other marketing outlet chose a power window switch that looked like this.  We will call this this the paddle switch.
This switch functions by pushing the paddle forward to raise the window and pulling it back to lower the window.
The chromed toggle switch, for some customers, would fail every 3000 miles.  That is, a single vehicle would experience four failures within a 12,000 mile warranty period.

The paddle switch did not have a single failure within the warranty period despite being installed in nearly half a million vehicles.  Said another way, zero failures in six billion miles of operation.

What was the difference?
Both switches were specified by styling.  The "designers" who chose the chromed toggle switch thought it bespoke of elegance and refinement.  Making the switch work was not their problem.

The "designers" who chose the paddle switch were aiming for a younger audience and this switch seemed more "modern" than the chrome toggle switch.

There were some very large difference internal to the switch.

The Chromed Toggle Switch
"Dithering" a switch is when you rapidly make-and-break electrical contact.  Electrical motors are inductive loads.  DC motors act as generators after you remove the voltage.  The kinetic energy (and the inductive component of the electrical load) in the motor's rotor is transformed into electrical energy which ends up creating heat (arc flash) when the switch is opened.
The chromed toggle switch had contacts that were compressed into contact.  When they lifted off the contacts drew an arc which produced much heat and softened the plastic.  That was not a big deal if sufficient time elapsed before the switch was cycled again.  The plastic could cool down and get hard.  If it was cycled while the plastic was still soft the contact would be pushed into the plastic and would not be tall enough to have sufficient compression with the contact on the switch arm.

That brings up the second point.

The designers placed the switch right at the driver's finger tips.  Some drivers used them as "fidgets".  They dithered the switch.  In other cases, shorter drivers had their seats farther forward and the hams of their left hand rested on the switch causing it to dither due to the jiggling of the road.

The problem was exacerbated when the designers insisted on giving the driver control of all four windows.  This block of switches guaranteed that at least one switch would be dithered.  And the failure of one switch forced the replacement of all four of them.

The switches failed like clockwork for the drivers who "fidgeted" the switch or rested the ham of their left hand on it...and that was a LOT of drivers. 

To the best of my memory this switch was in production, unchanged, for over five years.  The problem was not addressed because the engineers who were being taken into the woodshed every year did not have the authority to change the switch.  They would make proposals like "Use higher temperature plastics beneath the bottom contact" or "Increase the size of the bottom contact" or "Increase the internal spring-rate to make it more work to dither and more resistant to the ham-hand effect".  In all cases the changes were never even investigated because the engineers were not able to make a clean-kill business case.  Each fix only chipped away at the failure rate.

The Paddle Switch
If you ever have to design or specify an electrical switch, and it REALLY must work:  Choose a knife-into-clevis technology.  Tell them Eaton Rapids Joe sent you.
The internals of the paddle switch were entirely different.  Rather than a compression contact, the paddle switch had a knife-into-clevis arrangement.  The two leaves of the clevis are in compression and they wipe the knife blade as it drops into position.  The knife, in turn, scrapes the surface of the clevis leaves and removes oxides, cratering due to arcing, bugs, dried milk, soft-drink residue, dried vomitus and the other, normal detritus that can accumulate during operation.

Furthermore, the curvature of the approach to the clevis leaves and the distance they are from the plastic makes them extremely robust with respect to drawn arcs and "dithering".  This architecture is very similar to what you would see in the mechanical contactors that disconnect the juice in 480V junction boxes.

Another thing about the paddle switch is that its orientation and the forces required to activate the switch did not invite dithering.  The operator had to reach 6" for the switch but in this case 6" was as good as a mile.

Perhaps the final advantage of the paddle switch was that the designers did not have a "block" of them.  Presumably one failure drove the purchase of a simpler, $40 part.  But I don't know that because none of the 500,000 paddle switches that were installed in vehicles ever failed during warranty.

Planned obsolescence
Was it planned obsolescence to have a $240 switch fail every 3000 miles?

I don't think so.  I think it was the result of an organization that had become too big; an organization where authority and accountability had been separated in the pursuit of "efficiency".

Never attribute to malice (or planned obsolescence) what can be caused by stupidity.

Wednesday, March 22, 2017

Appliances

First the good news:  
My brother is out of surgery.  He was on the table for ten hours.  Adjacent organs and lymph nodes had lesions.  They biopsied the lesions in real-time (!) and they were benign. 

The tumor had attached to a nearby blood vessel, which was not expected.  They did whatever they did, dumped in two bottles of Stop-Leak...works with any color antifreeze and called it GTG.

He is off the table and is recovering.

The bad news:
I did not get to spend the day out in the woods.

The dishwasher stopped working.

This unit tested out bad.  It is a thermal fuse and is supposed to have zero resistance.  It pegged my meter, that is, open circuit.

The part costs $23 and should be delivered by the brown truck of happiness on Saturday.  I ran the screws back into the holes and pushed the dishwasher back into the cubby.  I did not completely reassemble as I need to tear it back apart on Saturday.

That might not fix the dishwasher.  There is probably a reason the thermal fuse went and I did not address that.  I look at it as a $23 lottery ticket that might allow me to put off spending $400 for a few more years.

My day was still better than my brother's but it was not what I planned.

The Confederate flag and Guyland


Fellow blogger, Pawpaw wrote in the comments of a recent post "...As for the battle flag, it should rightfully go on the dust-heap of history."

I respectfully disagree with Mr. Pawpaw.  Here is why.

Young Knuckleheads
Redundant, no?

Mark Twain once quipped that
Teenagers should be stuffed into a barrel and fed through the bunghole.  Upon turning eighteen the decision should be made whether to let them out or to drive in the bung plug.

More recently, author Michael Kimmel makes the case that young men enter a no-mans-land between ages 14 and 26.  He contends that young men's physical (and reproductive) abilities, mental and emotional capabilities and society's expectations are grossly mismatched during that age span.  Many young men go into a state of suspended animation, a parallel reality of video games, trucks, pot, beer, porn and misogyny.  Kimmel calls this parallel reality "Guyland".

So, who is most likely to fall into "Guyland"?  Who is most likely to see the Confederate flag as a cultural icon that represents them?

Probably the 14-to-26 year olds whose ability to verbally process and argue their case is not up to full, adult standards.  They are verbally overwhelmed.

Driven and on the defensive, they dig in and become oppositional.  They refuse to play the enemy's game on the enemy's home turf.

Like a toddler clamping his mouth shut and refusing to eat whirled peas, the Guylandians exercise the only power they have.

Eliminating the flag will not erase the demographic (or their issues)

So my question is, what will they use to replace the Confederate flag?  The demographic will not go away.  There will always be a bottom 33% of the verbal ability population.  There will always be young knuckleheads acting like, well, knuckleheads.

Eric Hoffer wrote about The True Believer in the book of the same name.  He contends that young men are driven to thuggish organizations by their feelings of alienation and powerlessness.  Alone, they are easy prey for lawyers, fast talkers, used car salesmen and other sharpers.  In the dark of night, within a mob of like-minded thugs they are powerful and cause fear.  They crave this respect.

It matters little to the True Believer whether they are busting heads for Communism or NAZI ideals or Nationalism or whatever.  They crave respect.

If you deprive the knuckleheads of the Confederate flag, what will they run to?  You just pissed all over their respect.

At least the Confederate ideals honor individuality and minimize collective actions like the wholesale busting the shop windows of all the people you do not like (Kristallnacht).  The violence you see on the evening news is rarely perpetrated by folks wearing Confederate flags.

I contend that the Confederate flag is a symbol of defiance, and emblem of "You can't make me!" and an icon of a healthy skepticism of "authority."   And be honest here, as mature adults do you REALLY believe that everybody who claims to have your best interest at heart is worthy of unquestioned authority?

I want to think that most of my excesses of youth are behind me.  But even as I leave my youth, and its needs behind me, there are other knuckleheads just entering Guyland.  I might not have a burning need for the Confederate flag but that does not mean that others do not have a need.  Throwing the Confederate flag on the dust-heap of history would be a mistake because all of the other alternative that would fill that vacuum are worse.