YES! On the road again... to Mexico and points south. Our first stop was Houston, Texas to visit my brother and his family. On the way, we stopped to camp. It was a great relief to be free from the trappings of American cities. Ahhhh... Back to nature! But not only that, back to freedom!
In the remote Chihuahua Desert at Big Bend, we picnicked along the Rio Grande, the border with Mexico. We met a Mexican man selling cheap art illegally. There is nothing the U.S. authorities can do about it (short of throwing him in jail) since he already sleeps in Mexico every night. Soon we will join him, as we head SOUTH...
I worked two computer gigs for about a year near Boulder, my favorite American city thanks to the excellent bike paths. The work was interesting, but I will refrain from going into details; this is not a blog about computer engineering. Meanwhile, crucially, I sold my house! Now there's nothing stopping us from doing a bit more travelling. We're brewing up a plan to head to Brazil via Central America. There's really nothing like the freedom of travelling on a one-way ticket. We're excited.
One thing is certain, the U.S. economy is a bubble. Houses are too expensive and people have too much debt. And it's not just the housing market. The ideology of constant growth is bankrupt in a world with diminishing resources and a growing population. Meanwhile, corporate bosses have moved most manufacturing to Asia. And then there's peak oil, a very big deal in a land where 90% of the people drive to work and everywhere. Wall Street has become more of a speculative casino than a vehicle for creating value. And then there's WAR. The bubble is going to burst. And when it does, we plan to be elsewhere. Americans have too many guns. Brazil?
Before I start my new job, I intend to wrap up some home-improvement projects, necessary to get my house sold before the bubble bursts. Meanwhile, Lili is studying English.
Lili has her visa and is in the USA :-) We are living in a house with furniture and everything. We still don't feel settled down, but the furniture is a good start!
I've been back in my native lands for a couple of months, putting over 3000 miles on my mom's car. It is nice to see family and friends, to be reunited with my stuff, and to enjoy first-world creature comforts like a consistently hot shower. But Lili still doesn't have a visa for the USA, and it is going to be difficult to sell my house. It's time to start looking for a job.
Driving across the USA, there's little to do but listen to the AM radio talk shows, religious preachers, and farm reports. It never ceases to amaze me that so many so-called Christians promote war and hate. One night in a Kansas hotel I saw Pat Robertson on TV arguing for a preemptive first strike against Iran in the name of God. And if you've never listened to Rush Limbaugh, you should check him out; that is, if you want to hear ignorance and lies. It's pretty amazing that he has America's number one radio show. There is only one left-wing radio station swimming in this sea of right-wing stations, Air America. (There are good community-supported stations in some localities.) But in most of America, Air America is not available, even in places that have Rush Limbaugh and friends on multiple channels simultaneously.
Despite all of that, I have the sense that almost everyone is waking up to the fact that the Bush administration is incompetent at best. After the Katrina disaster, the war, and other scandals and policy failures, those who still promote Bush are either getting rich or they're brainwashed, or both. The challenge now is for the left and center coalition to get organized and define policies that the good people of America will go out and vote for. It would be nice to be able to buy a few thousand radio and TV stations, too.
One thing I've learned, after having visited gorillas, chimpanzees, orangutans and humans in the wild, is that we really are a lot alike. We humans talk better than our furrier cousins, but we don't climb trees as well. This explains why TV is such an effective way to brainwash the masses. Monkey see, monkey do. The good news is that empathy is in our nature. My Trained Ape Theory says that some apes are trained better than others. Let's improve our schools and our media, please.
My hope is that the human apes make the necessary reforms before the wild apes go extinct. This is not going to be easy. People like Rush Limbaugh deride big government. Yes, bloated bureaucracies are undesirable, and yes, corporations create jobs, and nobody likes to pay taxes to subsidize corruption, BUT only government has the power and responsibility to constrain and regulate against those who place greed ahead of all other concerns. Corporations exist to make profit for their owners, and to limit their liability, ahead of all other concerns. Only people have the power over government to force it to wield its power over this institutionalized greed.
Now there is a window of opportunity to make progress on this, thanks to the blatant failure of Bush's policies in the the eyes of almost everyone. We live in interesting times. But even if we fail at political reform and worst-case scenarios occur, like the extinction of all apes, including humans, the Universe will be just fine.