The Flame Blame

(C) Ed Hall, Not used by permission. I hope he forgives me. Heck, who’s reading this anyway?

“You might like my latest cartoon” came the message from my political cartoonist acquaintance. I’ve been following him for some time and while our politics rarely line up I at least appreciate his passion and willingness to push buttons and boundaries.

But this time he really pushed one of my buttons.

I’ve been standing on the sidelines and avoiding conversations about the wildfires in California. The few places I did comment with my knowledge and opinions didn’t seem to get anywhere. People have decided to look at the whole situation through whatever political worldview they have chosen for themselves. Even the wildland firefighter community on social media has collapsed into bomb lobbing and insult hurling.

Everyone wants to blame someone.

My cartoonist friend (and the environmentalists) want to blame climate change (and the Republicans). Yes, weather does play a major role in the spread of fire, and in the availability and moisture level of fuels. But just like you can’t blame an ice storm for car accidents, you can’t blame the climate for wildfires.

People are the cause of accidents, whether they be car crashes in an ice storm or devastating wildfires in a drought. The ice did not make the driver crash, the driver’s response to the icy road caused his accident. The climate did not create the devastation, the policies and practices of people in response to the climate created the devastation.

When Trump blamed the fires on lack of management he wasn’t entirely wrong. There is horrible management going on in many of the forests around the country. Much of that mismanagement is concentrated in the western states, particularly the three bordering the Pacific ocean.

Environmental groups, loggers, ranchers, and developers have been knocking heads in that part of the country for decades. The lobbyists for these parties have all gone to the Federal government to get their way in the land management game. Full fire suppression, a lack of timber thinning, a lack of controlled burning, and an explosion of building in the wildland interface are all polices and practices tied to these groups and their lobbying one way or another.

But just like you can’t blame the weather, you can’t blame mismanagement. Because mismanagement has a root.

Blame lies squarely on the concept of Federal ownership and management of land. The Federal government was not created to do such a thing and is not capable of doing it effectively.

Better put: land is best managed by the people who own it and live on it. Those are the people with real skin in the game.

When land belongs to everyone it becomes fodder for political ends. Public ownership means that I get to call the shots for land thousands of miles away from me. This is usually land I will probably never see, and ecosystems which I may never study or understand.

But locals know the land. Locals know what happens when you manage the forest one way or another. They live in it and derive their economic well-being from it. They have a vital interest in making the whole thing work. Mismanagement has direct and dire consequences upon them.

Ironically it is often these locals who lobby the Federal government to do what they wish because they don’t get along with the other locals. The ranchers don’t like the loggers, the loggers don’t get along with the recreation special interests, and no one gets along with the environmentalists. And no one gets along with the Fed either, because while trying to please everyone, the Fed enacts and carries out policies which please no one.

So while the ranchers are happy to have cheap (ie Federally subsidized) open range grazing land they are not happy with the fences the environmentalists want put up to protect the watershed. And the loggers are content to log land managed by their Fed friends but they are not happy with the ranchers for burning up timber while trying to improve grazing conditions. The environmentalists are happy to have a giant monopolized force machine to restrict all human action on nature but they are not happy with… well… anyone.

We should get the Federal government out of the business of land management and turn it all over to the locals. Let the local loggers and the local Hippies and the local ranchers sort it out amongst themselves.

At least then when it burns out of control we know who to blame.

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Dailyish Thoughts #96

“Dumpster fire” is a pretty useful phrase. There is not a better term for so much of what’s going on in the world around me. Not that my life is personally a dumpster fire, but the toxicity of the people I have associated with lately can only be described as such.

Dumpster fires have nasty smoke, spew sparks which light other stuff on fire, and stink to high heaven. The opinions and manners of the keyboard warriors I tangle with are also largely nasty, ignite passionate (and ignorant) debates, and…well… stink.

My gluttony for punishment prevents me from abandoning these people unfortunately. I do hope to channel some of my displeasure into intelligent and well thought out posts.

But for now my brain is simply a pinball machine of thoughts.

Thank you wife for listening to me try to sort out this pinball madness and clear up some of the emotional constipation it has caused.

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Dailyish Thoughts #95

Ever have a week where chaos settled into something calm? When all the puzzle pieces settled into the right spots? Yeah, me neither. Life is messy, y’all. There is so much undone, so much to do, so much I don’t even know needs doing. I’m going to take it all one step at a time. One day at a time. The chaos is not likely to settle in my lifetime, but at least I can learn to master it and make it work out for the duration.

One day at a time.

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Dailyish Thoughts #94

It’s officially the dark season. November through February are my least favorite months. Holidays and birthdays aside, there is nothing redeeming about these months. Darkness and cold…. Yay. It’s not all bad. Like I said, holidays and birthdays. And if we go to the right places, snow.

I miss being home with the kids. Working all the time and not getting to hang out with them is miserable. Especially in a house with rooms. If I had my way I’d have a house with four rooms: a bedroom for the parents, a bathroom, a big room, and a kitchen open to the big room. That way time spent at home is actually worth something.

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Dailyish Thoughts #93

Information overload is a very real thing. BInge watching and social media threads are especially deep sources of wayyyy too much information. And 90% of it is antagonistic nonsense meant to provoke emotions instead of rational thought. The modern level of discourse doesn’t want debate over ideas and philosophies. Feelings are what matter, and feelings are best provoked by continuing to poke people until they burst. Poke people with enough negative ad hominems and eventually they will get violent toward whatever character you want.

So today was an overload. I consumed too much and I think too much about what I consume. Sometimes this results in a good product. Sometimes it just makes my head hurt. Today was the latter.

Onwards into tomorrow (today now). Let’s see if we can get the house clean on my only day off this week.

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Dailyish Thoughts #92

I have missed art. Running myself ragged everyday has left little time to sit still and focus on capturing an image with paint or pencil. Writing posts is nothing like sitting still for awhile and just focusing on an object and studying it’s lines and shapes and trying to interpret them onto paper.

We learned about driver fatigue today in bus training. I have spent so much of my recent life fatigued and I didn’t even realize it. Every symptom of fatigue they described was something I have felt on a daily basis for years. Long term fatigue is dangerous to physical and mental health. Sometimes you just have to shut down your life and take a nap. Don’t be afraid that life is going to pass you by while you sleep, it will be much easier to keep up with if you are rested.

So this weekend is a break for me, at least from the stress of trying to make money. I need to catch up on the house and yard work I have been avoiding.

Eek, there is so much!

Oh, and while I have your attention, please check out this GoFundMe from a Facebook acquaintance and consider giving:

https://www.gofundme.com/u7wjs-adoption-of-run-lin

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Reinvention

People are always talking about changing themselves. They seem discontent with who they are and want to “reinvent” themselves. They go out and get a new haircut or a new wardrobe, they lose certain friends or go on fad diets. Constant change is seen as a good thing, but is it really?

I have spent many years of my life trying to be other people. I let others dictate my moods, my likes, my diet, and even my thoughts and beliefs. Mine is a super sympathetic personality. I mimic. To a fault.

So when I started trying to change that fault of mine the first inclination was to reinvent the wheel and become a whole new me. Reinvention never happened though. Not only is it hard to change old habits, it’s impossible to deny personality traits and innate passions.

There are things that I like that I had spent a ton of energy trying not to like or denying that I liked them out of embarrassment. I was trying to please other people by denying my own tastes. Honestly it makes no sense why I did that, except that I can be very insecure sometimes.

Some people want to reinvent the wheel. But the wheel doesn’t need reinventing. You can’t find something to replace the basic design, it’s already functional enough.

Although you can’t reinvent the wheel, you can improve: You can add rubber tread and a motor, or cogs and a chain, or a belt and a series of wheels. You can make the wheel do what you need it to do.

You can’t easily change your personality, or your tastes. But like the wheel you can make them work in your favor. You can embrace them and run with them.

That’s what I hope to do in the next few months. Perhaps you’ll be seeing some changes around here. Stay tuned!

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Dailyish Thoughts #91

I did my act of violence today. Defensive violence that is. And like many acts of self defense a few blows made it through. You win some and you lose some.

Florida has proven itself a bit bipolar, or super lazy. Vote for tax caps but not decreases. Vote against socialists but in favor of militarizing the police. Vote for the “rights” of victims while effectively taking Constitutional protections from defendants. Not to mention unintended consequences: the hundreds of dogs which will be euthanized because they will be out of a job, all because people want to “protect” them.

Oh well. It’s time for bed. Can’t wait to see the responses of the psychos tomorrow.

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Dailyish Thoughts #90

Tomorrow is election day. I have missed the early voting window. Woops. I gotta make my cheat sheet in between training and working. Chances of actually getting to the polls? Fair to nil. But if I do, I promise to report how it went.

Training for what, you ask? Today was my first day of school bus driver training. I’m already knee deep in rules and procedures! Oh well, I’ll figure it out.

Today’s real adventure was watching a jerk in a big lifted truck drive away after rear ending someone. Word of wisdom for the next time you try to do this sir or madam: don’t stop at the light right next to the person you hit. Pictures were taken, plate numbers recorded, and police called. I suspect you’ve already been visited by a deputy. Or just you know… Admit your mistake and stay at the scene.

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Dailyish Thoughts #89

After four months of living on a dirt road (well, we only spent a month on it) they finally paved it! There is something that makes me smile about new asphalt. The bumps and the dust were driving me to the point of madness. I washed the truck and the next day it was a dust magnet again. Now the dust is gone and all is well in the hood again.

God is good. I spent the day trying to focus on blessings and deal rightly with annoyances. It’s hard to do, but it made the day much better.

Some of those small blessings come in the form of good and cheap yardsale finds. We found the kids some bikes and a pair of rollerskates and the people threw in Nerf guns and cars for free. My only toy from the short trip through the neighborhood is a leaf blower. You know you are getting old when a leaf blower makee you happy.

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