Ink & Bourbon
Tilting at windmills. Because those windmills think they're better than us.

Having a Smug-gasm

Gold is falling. And I’m riding a delightful wave of Schadenfreude.

I wondered just why I was so happy at their misfortune, so I though long and hard about it. And it ties into my psychology, philosophy and pretty much everything I hold dear.

First, I’ll admit up front,  I’m not a finances guy. I’ve never had the extra money to invest, short of putting some money in my son’s college fund or the 401K that my employer matches, and that makes sense to me only because the matching funds are basically free money. As far as I see it, it makes more sense to pay off your high interest credit card or car loan or mortgage, which guarantees you a return on that outlay, just in interest you won’t have to pay, than to gamble on an market.  If you understand markets, and you think gold is a good investment, and you buy it along with shares of Apple Computer and Amazon and whatever else, that’s fine.

Gold is different. First off, it’s marketed heavily by charlatans and blowhards to people who drive me nuts with their willingness to believe any insanity so long as it doesn’t come from a reputable source.  Don’t trust CNN or any other MSM (main stream media) but the blog of some white supremacist living in a trailer in the Mojave dessert, recycling his own piss must be right about gold, just like he was right about that Kenyan Socialist in the white house.

So I’m already disposed to be frustrated by these guys. But the thing about gold is that it’s not like buying canned goods or ammo or putting up a solar panel. Gold is a medium of exchange. It has value because society says it does. Now, don’t get me wrong, I like having a nice medium of exchange. Just try to buy a gallon of gas by bartering a pig and figure how to make change. So that’s fine.

But Dollars and Lire and Euros are media of exchange that work just fine. If you are huddled in your bunker listening to ham radio and laughing at those of us who have all our wealth in currency, wondering what we will do when the SHTF (shit hits the fan, for those of you who don’t own any cammo) lemme break it to you gently. Nobody will give you baked beans or firewood or oral sex for your gold after society breaks down, because gold is only worth what society says it’s worth.

So, yeah, part of my anger is at the gullibility of people who point at the rest of us as gullible for believing, say, CNN or our long standing societal institutions. But that’s not all.

Many of the gold bugs who make me weep for the human race fall into the ranks of Doomsday Preppers, or as we used to call the guy with a bomb shelter in his backyard before we had basic cable, whackjobs.

Now, yes, I do accept that there are disasters, and bad things happen and being prepared for a flood or a power outage or a tornado is a good idea. If you live in a flood zone, own a boat. If you live in Tornado Alley, a storm cellar does not make you a whackjob, it makes you prudent.

But the idea that society its teetering on the brink doesn’t impress me.  We’ve seen this for millennia, literally. The first millennium, the second millennium, Y2K, gay marriage, women’s suffrage, the Emancipation proclamation, none of these things ended society, and I think we’ll make it through the Obama administration just fine.

But, let’s give the benefit of the doubt and assume that, yes, this time, really, the S will HTF. The reason I go from amused mockery of the Doomer to actual anger is this:

I’m angry at the guy with the “bug out bag” because the original term was attributed to soldiers who deserted their posts in battle. On one side of the Chosin reservoir, men “bugged out” and their buddies died. On the other side, men held together and brought all hands out.

I think, when the shit does hit the fan, if you are a decent human being, you don’t hide in the bunker, you roll up your sleeves and pitch in a start shoveling.

In any crisis we see this. Hurricane Sandy didn’t lead to lawless gangs wandering the streets. It lead to a drop in crime, it lead to vast outpouring or co-operation among New Yorkers and Jersey-ites, not known as the most touchy-feely or people. We saw the people of Boston, my beloved angry, rude, cantankerous city, step up and help when the bombs went off at the marathon.

Who do you want to be around when, and if the S does HTF? Actually, it won’t mater, the guy with the bug out bag full of gold will have run off and gotten out of the way of the guy who will be there for you.

So, yeah, I will laugh at the guy who lost his shirt buying gold because Glen Beck told him to.

Just Be There for Each Other

Boston is my city. I’ve lived all my life within an easy half hour drive to the Hub. Except at rush hour, when it’s an easy two or three hour drive.  I have close family living in the city proper. All my life, going “into town” meant Boston. I still say “hahbah” for “harbor.”

I’ve spent the last thirteen years working on the ambulance in Boston’s northern suburbs. EMS being what it is, I have friends and co-workers and former partners working at every service and hospital inside of Route 128.

The vents of April 15th hit a lot of people close to me very hard –excuse me –hahd, and I just want to say a few things.

As frustrating as it is, there’s a lot we can’t do right now, a lot we shouldn’t do right now, and only one thing we should.

We can’t change what happened. We can’t erase the fact that on a beautiful day, when the city was enjoying the annual celebration that is the marathon, bombs tore through the crowd, killing and maiming people who wanted nothing more than to share in the camaraderie of the event. There is no cause, no goal that can excuse that.

Most of us can’t do much right now to prepare for this kind of thing, or prevent the next time or punish those who carried this out. There are people working on it, and when they know more, we will be better able to act. As a paramedic, I’m sure our procedures will be updated, and when they are, I’ll make adjustments.

What we should not do is speculate. Let’s not scapegoat foreign terrorists or the militia movements or anyone else just yet. Better to be uncertain now and right tomorrow than certain and wrong today.

The one thing we can do, must do, is support and respect one another in our time of shared loss.  Don’t post graphic photos. Don’t belittle anybody’s urges to pray or hope or provide comfort, even if you disagree with their beliefs. Don’t call for revenge. In time, we can demand justice. Don’t utter the words “false flag” or “conspiracy”within striking distance of me.

Just be kind. Be a friend. Hug your kids and your family, buy your coworker a cup of coffee, let those close to you know that you care, because there may not be another chance.

And, Boston, remember: Don’t be a peckahhead.  Just be wicked pissah to each othah.

Dancing on Graves for Fun and Profit

Do not speak ill of the dead, we’re told.

Why not?

The dead are beyond the reach of my slings and arrows. More dangerous, to my mind is the whitewashing of misdeeds done by the recently deceased.

I will agree that Westboro Baptist style celebration at the death of young men and women taken too soon is offensive to the grieving family. It is insensitive and hateful.

But if a person dies in the fullness of time, and that person’s acts were harmful to many, I don’t see why a little fist pump is so bad a thing. If an old, miserable dick dies, I think it’s fine to be happy that our world is a bit less dickish.

Margaret Thatcher began her reign of evil by abolishing free milk for schoolchildren aged seven to eleven. Turning back Vietnamese refugees, because of “concerns” about the number of Asian immigrants, demolishing labor unions, privatizing services, making the first cuts to the NHS, and the utter tone deaf awfulness of her response to the crisis in Northern Ireland all show a callus disregard of basic human dignity and needs of anyone not wealthy and English.

I won’t shed a tear at the end of a life, when countless thousands of more innocent lives were destroyed or made harder by policies she championed.

To show my UK friends that it’s not a matter of national identity, I assure everyone I’m shining my tap shoes for dancing on the graves of Donald Rumsfeld and Dick Cheney as well.

So I will happily accept criticism of my comments and attitude, while echoing the sentiments of Labor MP George Galloway who tweeted “Tramp the dirt down.”