The Process Due

•28 September 2018 • Leave a Comment

For discussion:


1) an accusation is made

2) under oath

3) accusing a person requesting a benefit (and emphatically NOT a respondant in judicial proceedings)

4) of an act or omission,

5) which would, if true, render them unfit to receive that benefit, and

6) the accusation is facially credible;


the accusation should be held to create a rebuttable presumption of unfitness.

The burden of proof thus shifts firmly to the accused, to either

A) disprove the allegations,

B) demonstrate the incredibility of the accuser, or

C) argue that the allegations, even if true, do not warrant an adverse judgment.

If they are unable to so do, the accuser is given the benefit of the doubt, and the accused is denied the benefit of the position.


In such a circumstance, I think that it would be charitable to offer the accused the benefit of neutral, professional investigation, which might produce such evidence, at their request.


Vow of Poverty

•28 September 2018 • Leave a Comment

For discussion: a framework for reducing congressional self-interest:

  1. A person serving as a member of congress shall be barred from doing any paid work, or any unpaid work for a for-profit corporation, or any unpaid work for a registered lobbyist, for a period of time equal in length to their tenure in congress, to begin at the moment they leave office.
  2. A person serving as a member of congress shall receive their full congressional salary, and medical benefits, during the time wherein this prohibition is in effect.
  3. This shall in no way impair the ability of these persons to serve in other governmental positions, in any branch of government, whether elected, appointed, or related to military service.

The Sartorial

•26 September 2018 • Leave a Comment

While I was on the Trail, I dreamed – a lot – about things to buy. I thought about what I wanted to own. Things to define myself. Things to wear. I spent a lot of time on hostel wifi looking at shoes and watches and suits.

This is somewhat natural. When in A, dream of B. When in a wet tent, dream of a dry house. When in Altras, dream of Allen Edmonds.

I’m sure it also sprung somewhat from the fact that I hadn’t packed enough audiobooks and podcasts (and oral arguments galore). A situation which I am working very hard to remedy for Te Araroa. Thank you, 512GB MicroSD card!

But most of all, it originated from my desire to, like, work for a living. To be working towards something. Making progress. Making anything.

Dreaming of the work itself was – is – too painful, at this point. So I dreamt of the life.

The big problem with this – outside of the numerous practical problems which need no belaboring, I promise you – is that it’s actually a bit counterfactual. If I had a fulfilling job, I would want to treat myself to shiny things the less, not the more. And the more fulfilling the job was, the less I’d care about other things – or things at all.

Indeed: the more luxurious my income, the less I’d want to spend it on luxuries. Because when you have very little money, it is perfectly acceptable to dream of treating yourself. To big things. To little things. What’s the difference? Whereas if you have a lot of money, you have enough that you can actually use it to knock some bodies down. You can work towards guaranteeing your security. Your retirement. The undertaking of projects that are orthagonal to work – hobbies, ventures, cough thru-hiking cough-cough-cough. And beyond that, you can put the money to use – to underwriting new ventures, to endowing charitable works, to – in short – making things.

Having a lot of money is not just an improvement over having a little; it is qualitatively different. Because being in the upper middle class may be luxurious – but it is not powerful.

This is not to say that I disdain – or wish I could disdain – fashion, or fabric, or the owning of things. Not at all. Not were I rich, not were I poor. Even emperors need clothes. I just wish my desires, my daydreams, did not exist in a vacuum – that they could complement a life, rather than supplement it.

Much of my attention towards fashion has been practical. My interest in how I present myself sprung from a desire to maximize my odds of success in a business interview. This is important. It pains me that I am only now pursuing it. But it is not creative. It is about surveying what other people are wearing and trying to match course. It is not about self-determination, it’s about guessing what will look ‘okay’ to a 23-year-old HR rep from Mineola. It is observational, barely analytic, and not at all generative. It doesn’t require daydreaming. It doesn’t even allow it.

There is a case to be made that this, then, is an area wherein I should not bother daydreaming. That I lack context, and to dream of self-presentation without specific context is to shout into the abyss – or pee into the wind.

But if I can dream up an outfit, I can dream up a context, too.

If I had a forty thousand dollar a year legal job in rural Maine, what should I wear? Probably the answer is “it couldn’t possibly matter less.” No help there.

Doesn’t mean it would be a bad life. It would be one that would cost me perhaps $100 a year in broadcloth button-downs and AmPrime khakis; certainly it would be economic! But for such a life, I might as well never have learned the difference between twill and tweed. Not only would it be unnecessary, it would not be of benefit – and could very, very easily be counter-beneficial. As I’m run out of town on a rail for sins against the sumptuary.

I think this context is probably representative of the majority of middle-class jobs that I could enter into. It encapsulates the better part of ‘business casual’ – which encapsulates the better part of the working world.

Whereas, if I had a partner-track job somewhere, the answer to “what should I wear?” would remain rather asymptotic to “whatever everyone else is wearing.” The inputs would change; the algorithm would not. I would still have to study others; it would not give me much opportunity to study fashion, and even less to study myself.

Whereas, if I achieve even a modicum of success – as an entrepreneuer, as a businessman, as a financier, as a lawyer further down that partner track – then I can wear whatever I jolly well want. Then I have freedom. Which allows me – requires me! – to actually make hard choices for myself, backed by research, paying opportunity cost at every turn. It would give me the freedom to work harder – freedom of my favorite kind.

There is, in short, little need for me to daydream about fashion or Things, outside of concurrently daydreaming that I have a great and fulfilling job that has made me rich.


So – let’s pretend that I am rich. That I am successful. That I am fulfilled, day to day.

What do I wear?

I think that larger conundrums can be brought into focus by looking at wristwatches. Not the least because, I know watches way better than I know… anything else, really. Shut up.

Let us look at two wristwatches: the Breguet Type XX, and the Breguet Tradition

The dieselpunk chrono:

Breguet is the house that invented the wristwatch (as well as the self-winding watch, the modern balance spring, the tourbillon) back during the ancien regime and then the Empire. During the World Wars, they were called upon to produce ‘tool watches’ for the military effort. Most luxury houses did the same – Rolex (e.g.) for the British officers; Lange and IWC for the German pilots; Panerai (with Rolex movements) for Italian divers; etc. As a result, some of these timepieces showed lesser or greater amounts of luxury influence. The Breguet Type XX and Type XXI chronographs, made for French pilots, were somewhat at the zenith of this. They are still made today, and are still beautiful watches – and excellent timepieces. Much like Panerai still make the Radiomir, IWC the Pilot’s Watch, and Rolex still, of course, makes the Submariner and GMT-Master that brought us victory and glory in Vietnam. They are functional, attractive, manly I dare say, and full of history.

They are also a watch that was made for a specific context, which is now seventy years gone, and to which I have no connection, nor particular desire for one.

The problem is – this thinking would apply to the vast majority of watches. And… I think it does.

So let us look at a modern marvel of a timepiece.

The steampunk skeleton:

The Breguet “Tradition” is, of course, nothing of the sort. It falls, I think, under the categories of ‘needless ostentation’ and ‘baroque maleficense which aggravates underlying socialist tendencies’. Skeletonized watches always have this effect on me. And I am quite fine that they do. On an intellectual level, they are at best the very model of diminished returns; more likely they are simply and entirely indefensible. They are without function. They gild the lily with abandon. In point of fact they take a (pretty perfectly) good thing and make it more delicate and more difficult to upkeep. It’s not that they aren’t worth the money; they shouldn’t even exist in the first place.

If this is true of skeletons, it is squared and cubed for tourbillons.

On the other hand, these mechanical marvels do inspire in me an, ah, unconscious physical response, the likes of which my forebears might describe as reproductive in functionality.

Why do I like them, if I hate them so? Is it just a response to good branding? Is it just a vague love of the mechanical?

Stepping back, I think it is natural result of wristwatches having become a pure luxury item. Whether it’s there for your pleasure, or to show off to others, is rather immaterial; a wristwatch is an item of the decorous. If you’re going to buy one, buy a nice one; if you’re going to buy a nice one, buy a very nice one; if you have the resources, you might as well skate down the slippery slope, and give Thorstein Veblen a clockwork handjob at the bottom.

In which case, skeletons and tourbillons aren’t just absurdities themselves; they are a reductio ad absurdum argument against mechanical watches in general. They are a blistering indictment of any wristwatch which is not powered by quartz & cased in steel or titanium. They say “if you want to spend $500 on a watch, then you want to spend $5,000, or $50,000, or more. If you don’t, it not from lack of desire – only lack of money.’

To which I might reply: ‘There ought to be more standing between you and being a Wicked Witch of the Wrist than your ability to pay. You should spend your money on other things. Travel and tailor and the tawdry. Spend it. Invest it. Donate it. Give it away. Don’t pay someone to make something that, in truth, ought not to be made. Buy a quartz-powered Seiko, with a sapphire crystal and a bit of WR, and tell M. Breguet to stick his squelette straight up his escapement.”

This is, I think, the perfect representation of my thoughts concerning the sartorial. If I have a cheap job… who gives a fuck. If I have a true Profession, a Career… I will do what dother people do. Even if that means I have to buy a fucking Rolex. But if I were successful… fulfilled, and flush o’ cash… I do not think I would wear a Very Expensive Timepiece. Not a Rolex, not a Sinn. I think I’d probably choose not to wear a mechanical watch at all.

Maybe an SBGA081. Maybe a Snowflake, if I wanted variety. If only the VHP were a little dressier… BUT I DIGRESS.


This logic, I think, applies equally to clothing.

Look at shoes. Leather is archaic. At best it pays homage to naturalism, in a way that reminds me far too much of the renfaire. Mostly it simply showcases our inability to redefine the fashionable apart from the definitions of a previous generation – one part hipsterism, ten parts cowardice.

On the other hand, what are you gonna do, crush hi-tech sports shoes day-to-day? Why?

It’s the chronograph and the skeleton again. Rejection of the ancien-for-the-sake-of-the-ancien does not require us to embrace the self-consciously moderne. They should both be rejected. In favor of practicality. Elegance. Simplicity.

What should I wear? Good slacks. Tailored dress-shirts. A pair of jeans. A killer sweater or three. Merino polo when it’s hot, LL Bean flannel when its not. Seriously – what more does one need?

Really, I should just wear Altras forever.


•19 September 2018 • Leave a Comment

Thru-hiking has offered me a really interesting perspective on my relationship to material goods.

When hiking, I need only what’s in my backpack. (Definitionally. If I need something that I don’t have, then – well – enjoy recovering my body from the mountaintop.)

I rather thought that, at home, I would explode into greater needs. But I’m finding that this isn’t quite so.

-Part of this derives from redundancy. A lot of my hiking gear is just as useful off-trail as on. Good hikin’ shoes are good runnin’ shoes are good everyday casual shoes. Now that I’ve worn merino, I will keep wearing it – I will never, ever, go back to cotton.

-Part of this derives from necessity. I have none. I have no life. That’s fair – I’m about to go hike for another 4-8 months, so, life-having is not a present expectation. But this only goes so far. I’m 31 years old, I have a fair idea of what is needed in my life – and what is needed in Business Casual / Upper Middle Class life across-the-board. And, well, I basically have it. Could step into Life at a moment’s notice.

-But a large part of it is a result of a change of attitude. During the brief time that I’ve been – well – indoors, I find that I’ve brought a certain minimalism back from the Trail. Basically I’ve realized that I would not only be just as happy to own less stuff, I would in fact be happier.

I’ve spent the last few weeks rather aggressively triaging my belongings. I thought I might take a moment to list what I’ve kept. In part as a little day-in-the-life time capsule. In part to remind myself that I have a lot as it is!

-KITCHEN. Chef’s knife (Miyabi birchwood). Rice-cooker (Betty Kawaii). KitchenAid. Blender. Immersion blender. Sous Vide wand. Pasta maker. Cast iron: dutch oven, skillet, broiler pan. Teflon: omelette pan, baking sheets. Silicon: steamer basket, strainer, hand-tools. Wood: cutting board, chopsticks.

-CAFFEINE. Manual coffee grinder. Goose-neck kettle. Pourover cone. Aeropress. Teapot. Infusion basket. Half a dozen mugs – but down from a dozen.

-OFFICE. Desktop computer. Laptop computer (chromebook). Headphones. LED lamp that’s as bright as a major solar event. Might get a projector for watchin’ movies.

-BATHROOM. Electric razor. DE razor. Shaving brush. A dopp kit containing too much product – but I ain’t complainin’.

-CLOTHING. Two long-sleeve dress shirts (white, blue). Three long-sleeve buttondowns (black cotton, light gray linen, dark gray denim). Three short-sleeve button-downs (light gray, light brown, dark brown). Two heavy flannels. Three pairs of chinos (light khaki, mid khaki, dark khaki). Two pairs of raw denim jeans (preposterously light, preposterously heavy). Two polos (merino). Two overcoats (black cashmere, camel trench). Five sweaters (black, dark gray, mid gray, light gray; green donegal that’s my favorite thing ever).

-SUITS. A navy three-piece. I’d like to have several more. But then, I’d like to have the sort of life that requires me to suit up. Or even allows it. I don’t have that. Until I do, it does no good to pretend otherwise. Dream of the life, not of the life-adjuncts!

-ACCESSORIES. A few belts. Suspenders. Collar stays. Cufflinks, tux studs, just in case. Couple of scarves. Small box of Darn Toughs. Fifty neckties… but that’s down from 100, I think that earns me partial credit?

-SHOES. Black dress oxfords. Tan dress boots. Trail runners. Mid-weight hiking boots. Blue suede boat shoes. Might dream of a pair of workboots – Truman’s in Moss Mohawk, anyone?

-WATCHES. White metal, white dial, dress. Stainless, black dial, luxury sport. Yellow metal, white dial, luxury sport. Stainless, black dial, diver, daily. Can still daydream, but basically I’m good.

-MAKER STUFF. A Dremel and press. A Singer and walking-foot. A tool-chest full of crap. A real hell of a Bugout Bag.

-A CAR. And A BIKE. And. Enough hiking gear that I could pass as a Seattle techie.

I may not have a life – but at a moment’s notice, I am ready for one.

Some Thanks

•16 September 2018 • Leave a Comment

I just hit Katahdin and I have some thanks to give.

The Appalachian Trail is a thousand things but first and last it’s the people. The people you meet, the people you talk to, the people you can look at and know “we’re all in this together” and that’s really the best feeling in the world. So to all of you who got me from Georgia to Maine, I want to say: thank you.

Thank you Pigpen and Pollen Moon, Squire and Stretch and Remix, Defib (and the whole Walhalla crew!), Spoons, NoName, Detail & Maverick, the Family – the Crawfords – Ben Kami Dove Eden Seven Memory Filea and Rainier – I miss you guys, Shitsicle, Mongrel, Robin & Buck, Ghost, Sail, Postcard, Fritz Lang (du Legende), Momma Kish & Not Dead, Pit Boss & Play-by-Play ya dingus, Peanut & Floater, Smalls Too and Database, Granite Man, River, Cotton and Lodi, Sunshine and Kylo (its private property!), Grits you crazy lunatic, Darwin HOO HAA HAA, the Bounders, Bookie, Bluegrass, Ringer, Foxtrot #doublecrown, Scars, Honeybear, Inside Out, Professor & Moose you total nutjobs, Pretzel at Neel’s Gap, Kuya at Bear’s Den, GIBBIE!, Service, Helen of Troy, Nurse, the fourth sobo whose name I can’t remember ><, Ramblin’ Man, Greengrass, Ishmael and her boy, Red Hawk & Cribbage, Hopalong, First Aid, Old Man & Cowboy you armadillo-painting lunatics, Bilbo, Bob Dylan, Morotcycle Mama, Lumberjill, Hedwig, Brand New, Beast, Spoons’ parents, One Tee and Raindance, Armor, Tall Boy, Crazy Tree in all his glory, Hops, Soldier Mike, Cave Beaver, Energizer, the man the legend SHARKEY, Flint & Steel, Legs and the other Legs, that dude in the bunny ears, Captain Caveman, the great Sparkplug, Canuck, Woodchuck, Beaker & First Sergeant, my summit buddies Lauren Nat Leland and Troutwater, Pappy you mad lad, JP and all the croo in the Whites, the friggin’ ghost hunter and all the other hostelers along the way, all the trail angels (Pig & Pollen & HENRY), the army preacher and everyone else who stopped to give a stinky forestjew a hitch to town, all the ridge runners and the trail crews and volunteers – THANK YOU, all the ultra runners who blew past me, all the section hikers who gave me a piece of fruit or a can of beer, yes even the god damn day hikers, and I’m still missing DOZENS, and the people off-Trail: the Kousiaes (Kle, Limey, Chubbins, DonDon, who knew you all had trail names?), Mark Hagen, Daniel, Alicia, Glynnis, Lauren Kate, my chatroom of sad Maine Law cockbags, Andy’s dogs, IZZIE!, Glenn & Alys and Dana & Rob, hell yeah Jeremy, THANK YOU MOM!!!, everyone I’m forgetting who got me from Georgia to Maine, and Joe Dodge, and Jensen Bissell, and Grandma Gatewood, and Benton motherfucking McKaye.

And to the Class of 2019 and beyond: do it. It’s wonderful. It’s the life of kings. It’s America. And most of all: hey, the Trail won’t hike itself. So hike your own hike, keep on choochin’, and have some tmaj for me.


AT class of 2018

…dolla dolla billz yall

Handmade’s Tale

•29 July 2018 • Leave a Comment

At what point does something become handmade?

It’s easiest to show by example. Take a, I don’t know, candlestick. These can be made by computer-controlled lathes; all a human has to do is program ’em and feed ’em bits of tree, and voila, candlestick. Not exactly handmade.

If a human actually steps up to a lathe and turns the candlestick, is it then handmade? Or is that just a human operating a machine – “this car climbed Mount Washington” compared to doing it with your own two feet?

In that case, would a person have to hand-carve the thing using nothing but chisel and file for it to qualify as handmade?

And what of the ancillary matters of material and design? Would the person have to design the candlestick, or could they use a pattern? Can they buy the wood in the store, or do they have to cut down the tree too? If they chop the lumber, do they need to make the axe? What if they used a lathe, but built the lathe themselves?

If these might make a thing more handmade, doesn’t it follow that their absence makes a thing less?

I think that more and less betrays the fact that handmade-ness is not binary. It is a range.

Take a garment – a dress, a suit. On the one hand: you buy material; download a pattern; run it through your Singer. It’s a step up from buying the thing off the rack at Uniqlo – but just a step. On the other hand, you could make your outfit out of nothing but a pair of sheep staring up at you. It would involve numerous intermediary steps. It would force you to master – or at least, muster – a legion of techniques. It would put you so far from Entfremdung that you might risk summoning Ted Kaczynski. But the end product would be unassailably handmade. Handmade, as the poets say, af.

So it is a range – from simple assembly on one end, to preposterous made-from-scratch on the other. To define this range, then, I propose the following hierarchy.

The main qualities of any item are MATERIAL – DESIGN – FABRICATION. An item may be more or less handmade as to each of these categories. From least to most, a thing may be ASSEMBLED – PRODUCED – CREATED – MADE FROM SCRATCH – MADE FROM NOTHING.

Let’s go back to the garment-making example to illustrate.


An ASSEMBLED item is one where you just buy the materials at the store. You didn’t make the fabric. You just went to Joann Fabrics.

A PRODUCED item is one where you make the materials out of another made material. In the case of a garment, that would be knitting or weaving the fabric yourself – out of yarn you bought at Webs.

A CREATED item goes yet another step further back – spinning the thread, then weaving it, then stitching it.

An item made from SCRATCH is one where you have stepped back as far as is possible. You start from the basest possible ingredient – a sheep, a bushel of flax-stalks – and progress from there all the way to the finished product.

And then there’s MADE FROM NOTHING, wherein you are responsible for, not acquiring, but creating the basest scratch ingredients. That is to say, you have to raise the sheep yourself.

This applies to one’s TOOLS rather easily, as a tool is just a made item of a different sort. A scissors is just metal, which is the realm of metalwork. You could ASSEMBLE a scissors (or at least, a functional scissors-like thing) from items purchased at a hardware store. You could PRODUCE one by buying blank metal and then making it into scissor-piece shape. You could CREATE it by, not buying metal, but making it yourself – actually smelting iron ore. You could make it from SCRATCH by building your own smelting tower. And you could achieve PURE SCRATCH if you gathered the iron ore yourself.

(Or you could just, y’know, buy a scissors.)

By this framework, one could make a suit that was PURE SCRATCH of MATERIAL, but at the ASSEMBLY level of TOOLS (all one would need is a sewing machine, a scissors, a loom, a spindle, a pair of sheep-shears, some sheep, and a sheep-farm. You know, at minimum.) OR, one could make a suit that was ASSEMBLY-level of MATERIALS, but PURE SCRATCH of TOOLS (you’d have to start by dredging up ironsands from the bottom of an Irish bog scoop by scoop with your tiny weak little human hands… but once you finished the scissors and needle, you could just buy fabric at the store, and go from there).

I think that DESIGN can be forced to take most of the same bit. ASSEMBLAGE is just sticking to a pattern, without alteration. PRODUCTION adds or subtracts whole elements from the pattern (peaked to notched lapels; add a ticket pocket) but otherwise keeping it the same. CREATION makes smaller changes (make the lapels 1/4″ narrower or wider).

The concepts of SCRATCH and PURE SCRATCH are a bit more difficult, since there are few designs which are not born of other designs. This at least in the context of this example, whereby we have not set out to make a thing that fulfills a particular function, we have set out to make “a suit” and so we are already trying to fulfill a preexisting notion of design. Say that SCRATCH involves drawing up the pattern yourself, but having it still fulfill the elements of some Platonic ideal of what one is creating, however nebulous or sublime. And then PURE SCRATCH has one approach a problem (“this person needs to be nonnaked”) without regard to precedent, such that the result might be a garment, but it probably won’t be what one would call a “suit.”

These rules have internal application, as the scissors you make for your clothing project might be more or less designed, even though this might only add or subtract a modicum of handmade-ness to the final product. They might even be downright recursive, as to make the scissors you might use a hammer – but are you gonna make the hammer, too?

On the one hand, handmade-ness is probably of maximally diminishing returns for most projects. Do you really need to design special scissors just to cut a piece of cloth? Do you really need to fabricate scissors that are not, in fact, special, just to say you made ’em? Do you really need to aggregate to yourself all the different skills necessary to create, not just this item, but all the items needed to make it – or even, all the items needed to make all the items required in all its various steps of manufacture? Does a knife-sharpener also need be a knife-maker need be an ironmonger need be a miner? Does every tailor need to raise his own damn sheep?

On the other hand, it would seem an incredible accomplishment to truly, truly, make a suit from scratch. You would have to learn all the techniques required at each step of the way. By the end you would not only have a suit, you would have a panoply of skills. You would have achieved complete veritcal integration, cradle to grave. The suit would be less purpose than proof.

It would, for academic purposes if nothing else, be remarkably interesting to lay out all the steps needed to make a particular final product. I would like to know what one would need in order to make, say, one suit – and to make, or approximate, all the impedimenta needed for intermediate steps.

Would I then like to take the time to make said suit, and all else between?

Let’s be real: probably.

AT loadouts

•25 June 2018 • Leave a Comment



Expendables include: fuel canister, lighter, some tape wrapped around my poles, 5 backup strike-anywhere matches, 10 backup aquamira tabs, hand sanz, neosporin, and TP

I know it looks minimal, but I really think I have everything I need. At this point I’m just pretty streamlined.

(not listed: fooooooooooooood)

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