VGER

Voyager 2 Probe courtesy NASA JPL

Most of the people who are my acquaintances will know what that means. VGER.

Voyager 2 Probe courtesy NASA JPL
“Now voyager sail thou forth to seek and find.”


Yesterday, February 7, 2020, the Voyager 2 probe that has been inactive for a few weeks, was reactivated. Something happened in January and it shut down and NASA’s JPL (Jet Propulsion Lab) was unsure it would ever reactivate. Fortunately the geniuses at the JPL did get it going and it is sending telemetry once again. Brilliant! Here is the story on Inverse.

I get very emotional when I talk about space exploration. I cried when we got telemetry from Saturn’s rings. I cried today when Voyager 2 was reactivated. It is stunning that in my lifetime space exploration was begun by going to the moon and now we have a probe 11.6B miles from earth sending us info. It’s even more stunning that we can watch live telemetry IN OUR HANDS on a phone. I watched the SpaceX capsule test the other day, LIVE. If you aren’t moved by these things, I don’t know what to tell you. This is mankind’s entry into space. The final frontier.

All this brings me to my reason for this post, which is: VGER. I am a huge Star Trek nerd. I have Vulcan tattoos on my forearms. I was angry about the idiotic Klingons in Discovery and their mangling of the Klingon language. I can talk to you about ship design. I believe that we are not the only sentient beings. There is simply too many galaxies out there for this to be true. Even if EACH galaxy only has one habitable planet, that is still myriad possible species.

I was not a Trek nerd until my 20s. However, around 1980 or 81, I saw Star Trek: The Motion Picture late at night on Home Box Office, as it was called when it was new. (My family are luddites, but by the gods, they’ve always been cutting edge when it comes to TV. The cable company had to run a line to the house when they wanted to get cable!)

This movie was my entré into sci-fi. Yeah, it’s not a great movie, but that didn’t matter. It caught my imagination. It made me think: WHAT IF? What IF the Voyager probe gained sentience? I was fascinated with this and I’ve watched that movie so many times over the years, still pondering the WHAT IF? I saw a few of the Trek films in the theatre during the 80s/90s, but I didn’t fully realise my nerdom until I was introduced to TNG (ST The Next Generation series). I never cared for TOS (original series Trek), but I liked the movies. THEN I found TNG and fell in love all over again. I’m currently entranced with the movie Passengers and the notion of long term space travel that takes 100 years. I think this will be how it’s done before we figure out how to bend space time and/or create warp drive. (YES I think this is possible.)

Over the years, I have become a huge Trek and space exploration nerd. Which brings me back to the emotions I have for SpaceX, the Voyager probes and all the NASA/JPL projects. I hate that the United States has fallen so far into disarray that we can’t even run a proper space program any more, but I’m grateful that Elon Musk has taken the task himself. He realised that the US simply did not have the will to bother with space any longer (because building a racist wall is FAR more important!), and he has the money to finance himself. Boom! There we go: space exploration once again. Thank you Mr Musk, humanity owes you a lot.

I believe that space IS the final frontier. And I believe we’ll get out there one day. And I believe we’ll meet our distant neighbors. I just hope we are not assholes to them. LOL

Space: the final frontier. These are the voyages of the starship Enterprise. Its continuing mission: to explore strange new worlds, to seek out new life and new civilizations, to boldly go where no one has gone before

I’m sad that I won’t live to see all this, but I can dream, I can watch Trek and I can follow what little space news there is to follow. I hope future generations will get their heads out their asses and go forth into the universe. Live long and prosper.

Progressive Capitalism Could Be Our Savior

I’m reading an article about Progressive Capitalism on marketwatch.com. It is a well written article by Joseph E. Stiglitz about neoliberalism’s long term effects and how progressive capitalism could end the decline we’ve been suffering for the last 40 years.

Neoliberalism is the idea that deregulation and trickle down economics will sustain the whole economy and bring prosperity to everyone. It was put forth by Ronald Reagan and Margaret Thatcher in the 80s and it is the driving force behind the economic decline of the US as well as the UK (and Europe in general). It is obvious that trickle down economics does not work and allowing the private sector to self regulate is folly.

The rise of megacorporations and oligopolies that control pricing and have zero competition has brought us high priced and low quality cell services and broadband. It has also brought us outrageously overpriced healthcare that is not sustainable by any stretch – and people are dying because of it.

The U.S., after all, stands alone among developed countries in not recognizing health care as a basic human right. Ironically, while the U.S. spends more on health care — both per capita and as a share of gross domestic product — than any other developed country, its predominantly private system delivers worse outcomes. U.S. life expectancy is barely higher than that of Costa Rica, a middle-income country with one-fifth the per capita GDP of America.

I agree with this statement 100%. It is crystal clear that the private corporation driven healthcare system we have does not work. Yet, it is all we will get as long as insurance corporations and big pharma control the government with lobbying dollars.

The Trump presidency has reminded us that such checks are indispensable for the proper functioning of democracy. But it has also exposed the limits of existing institutions (such as the Electoral College, through which the president is chosen, and the Senate, where a small state like Wyoming, with fewer than 600,000 people, has the same vote as California, with nearly 40 million), underscoring the need for structural political reform.

I’ve said for years that the dismantling of the checks and balances of our government will end in chaos. It’s happening. I’ve also said that the Electoral College should be eliminated completely. It is unnecessary and it is an anachronism. We have the technology to count the votes, so let’s count them. I, for one, am sick to death of having the POTUS installed despite NOT winning the popular vote. This is a huge red flag! Yet, this is what we get as long as fascists are in charge. Fascists love this system because it works for them.

At stake in both America and Europe is our shared prosperity and the future of representative democracy. The explosion of public discontent across the West in recent years reflects a growing sense of economic and in political powerlessness on the part of citizens, who are seeing their chances of having a middle-class life evaporate before their eyes.

Yes, indeed, we’ve watched our chance at a middle class life evaporate. We are currently living at poverty levels. If it weren’t for the credit card debt we’ve run up (about $50k), we’d be homeless right now. We are middle aged people who get jobs making $17/hr. This is seriously fucked up. I see jobs for $12/hr with requirements for a college degree all day long on the job sites. This is how far the economy has fallen. You’re expected to pay hundreds of thousands of dollars for a college degree, then you’re looking at a $12/hr job. How is this even reasonable?? It is NOT. But the whacked out economy with corporations running amok is how we got here. It is the race to the bottom and it is not coming, it is happening. Right before our eyes. We know, we’re living it. We will never retire. There’ll be no Social Security and we have no retirement savings, thanks to using it to start a business, which is the only way we’ll make enough money to pay our debts and keep a roof over our heads. Even with BOTH of us working full time at $17/hr, we’ll barely keep our heads above water. At least with our own company we can make enough to stay afloat and maybe, if we’re REALLY LUCKY, manage to save a little for retirement when we’re too broken to work any more. The Boomers never had to face these sorts of decisions. They got their fat stacks and they tell us to fuck off.

We have conducted a 40-year experiment with neoliberalism. The evidence is in, and by any measure, it has failed. And by the most important measure — the well being of ordinary citizens — it has failed miserably.

Yes, yes it has failed miserably. We are middle aged and broke. We have $50k of CC debt at 25% interest. We have shitty job opportunities. Hell, I can’t even FIND a job. At least Nick found something, but I’m here to tell you that we CANNOT live on $34k before taxes.

We are pretty much forced to pursue this pub concept. It is literally the only way we’ll be able to avoid bankruptcy.

So, I say bring on the progressive capitalism. We need to do something before we are all living in the streets while the top .01% eat cake. And let’s kick out the fascists while we’re at it.

Synagogue Shooting and Ignorance

Y’all know I’ve got no love for E TN or the red South in general, but since the synagogue shooting, I’ve been reminded of something from elementary school.

I have no idea why, but we had a whole section of a year where we studied Judaism. Like a few weeks. We studied all about the faith, we did crafts (I made a Jewish star handkerchief – wish I still had it!) and had a menorah and everything. All this in racist E TN! I’ve always been shocked to hear of the racism towards Jews, I guess because I studied Judaism when I was young. To me, it’s always been just another religion (although I know it’s MUCH more than that to the Tribe).

While I’ll never know the subtleties of Judaism, I know the main tenets and I enjoyed learning about it as a kid. I wish my Jewish friends Shanah Tovah and Happy Hannukah – I even know what “sitting shiva” means.

So, once AGAIN, I assert that if kids are taught about different religions and different cultures and different foods when they are young, they’ll be a LOT less likely to be an ignorant racist hillbilly when they grow up. Knowledge is power and knowledge also erases fear of the unknown…because you know things. Lots of things are scary if you don’t understand them! I credit a lot of my fearlessness to being an information junkie.

America has allowed its citizenry to fall into ignorance in a very widespread way. The public school system is failing to teach, well, ANYTHING that I can discern. This failure of a core system is the very thing that has led to the hateful, ignorant masses who are afraid of everyone because they are so horribly incapable of logical thought and they’ve been taught nothing about history. If you don’t know what fascism is, it’s hard to see it.

When you are raised in a 10 mile radius and never step outside your peers and don’t have the intellect to read about other views, you’ll be an ignorant hillbilly. Plain and simple.

The public school system has failed. It is nothing more than a babysitter that teaches how to take a multiple choice test. The dropout rate in the US is only surpassed by five other developed countries! (2015 article from PBS.) And I say that no matter the rates, kids are NOT getting a well rounded, UNBIASED education in the first place.

And again, I must point to college as the answer to the insufficient primary/secondary school offered by the government. While I don’t feel that college is for everyone and the trades are VERY valuable, I do feel that college can fill in many holes left by half assed government education. Private schools are not accessible to most of the population, which is why I think that government schools should be held to higher standards. And I DON’T mean standardized tests, which are 100% bullshit.

The ESSA law signed in by Obama in 2015 is carrying on the No Child Left Behind act that came before it. At least he tried.

I truly feel sorry for the masses who send their kids to school, assuming they are being taught basic history, reading comprehension, mathematics, art and literature. They are not. They are being taught that the Native Americans “chose to move” to allow for white settlement. They graduate High School reading at a fifth grade level. They are taught fucked up “new math” that makes no sense. Art and music classes were cut long ago. Literature is barely skimmed.

College classes are the only cure available for the lack of education in primary and secondary schools. And college is out of reach for most kids nowadays. And, I’m sad to say, even colleges have succumbed to standardized testing.

Which is why we are a country full of ignorant, uneducated hillbillies. We’ve allowed this to happen. We can stop it, but it won’t be easy. All we can do is VOTE against ignorance and RESIST letting the mob of hillbillies rule this country.

Don’t think for an instant that a synagogue shooting has nothing to do with you. And don’t think that sending troops to the border to shoot people who throw rocks has nothing to do with you, either. These are fascist acts. Don’t wait until the jackboot is on YOUR throat. Because it will be if the majority (hillbillies) keep their Cheeto in office. Those who oppose him and his MAGAts will be next. That means you and me. It’s not just Jews and women. It will be anyone who dares to vote blue. This is how fascism starts. #RESIST

Anthony Bourdain RIP (6.25.56 – 6.8.18)

I am heartbroken at the loss of Bourdain. He was one of the most honest, no bullshit chefs out there. He was also a really good memoir writer.

I really hate that the depression (or whatever it was) got to him and he decided to end it. I uphold his right to do so, but I don’t like losing his unique voice in the food industry. He’s one chef I’d have LOVED to share a meal and a drink with.

Between this and losing sleep with stress and insomnia, it’s been a rough week.

I’m just going to keep cooking, keep planning for the pub and keep MOVING. As Tony once said:

“If I’m an advocate for anything, it’s to move. As far as you can, as much as you can. Across the ocean, or simply across the river. The extent to which you can walk in someone else’s shoes or at least eat their food, it’s a plus for everybody.

Open your mind, get up off the couch, move.”

– Anthony Bourdain

So, this is happening…

Remember over two years ago when we were hot to trot about opening a pub? Well, we have made that dream come true!

When Nick’s job ended and I began at Krobar, we really didn’t know what we’d do. One of Nick’s bosses had expressed interest in funding our pub idea, but then backed out. I was over it and figured I’d just work this shitty Kroger job and try not to get fired. Nick was over it, too.

One day, Nick was tooling around the intertubes, looking at various funding sites, etc., and he came across this thing called the ROBS Program from the IRS. There are several companies who administer them, but Nick contacted Guidant Financial.

When he told me about this Wile E Coyote plan, I was skeptical. Plus, it costs $5k to put it in place and $139/mo administration fees forever after that. But we discussed it and then had a call with a sales weasel from Guidant and after more discussion, we decided to do it.

What ROBS is, is a plan – fully backed by the IRS – that allows you to take your 401k money, roll it into a NEW 401k under your company name, then dump that money into your C corporation bank account. No penalties or fees, other than the $5k you pay Guidant to manage all the paperwork. They issue you “stock” for the $5k, so it’s sort of refunded.

Long story short: we now have $107,681.95 in the IndigoDragon Inc. bank account and we can now start looking for commercial real estate. :) (You can’t look at commercial real estate until you engage a realtor, and for that, you gotta have fat stacks in the bank. Now we do!!)

There are myriad rules when dealing with ROBS and the C corporation, but so far, Guidant support has been good. Dealing with a C corporation rather than the standard LLC or S corp that most small businesses use is a huge PITA, and we’ll get taxed twice (once on the corp and once on our income), but it is a strict rule and it’s the price we’ll pay until we can get out from under the ROBS program. I’m hoping 2-3 years and we can buy out of it and be on our own. But in any case, we are funded, and…

I’m making the announcement:

PLAYER ONE ARCADE PUB IS REAL. WE ARE DOING IT.

We are putting literally every bit of money we have into this project. We eat/sleep/breathe it. It’s all we talk about. Midlife crisis FTW!

I’ve quit the Krobar and shout out to Doug, Thaddeus, Cheri, Aaron, Miranda and everyone who made my last day a BLAST! Man, we had some fun up in the Krobar yesterday! LOL No adult supervision! Wheeeee! Ended up staying on for a bit longer, but they reduced the hours of the bar when I was off for Momo, so I did quit. The wine steward is out of that hellhole, too. FUCK KROGER.

If any of you would like to keep up with our progress on the bar, please follow the Player One Arcade Services FB page. Hopefully I can change the name again and use this page, but I’m not sure, since it’s been changed before. In any case, all announcements and news will be posted on the current FB page and the website. There are benefits to following along early, such as dry run invitations (FREE food and booze!), helping me create the menu and bar (I LOVE INPUT!) and being on our Friends and Family supporter list (discounts and perks!)! Come on over, give us a follow and let’s DO THIS!