family, illiteracy, politics, Uncategorized

Ain’t We Lucky We Got ‘Em. Good Times.

This won’t be the most coherent post I’ve ever written. I’m too angry for that.
* * *
Remember the WTO protests in Seattle 18 years ago? Whatever the genuine issues were, all you likely saw about the event on television was images of kids throwing rocks and looting stores.
Without the full context of what was being protested, it was easy to conclude who the bad guys were, wasn’t it? Assholes in masks showed up, thinking they’d send a message to someone. All they did was get dismissed.
Remember the police-brutality protests in Ferguson two years ago? Whatever the issues were, all you likely saw about the event on television was riots, looting, and how much an unarmed kid who was shot and killed deserved to get shot and killed. Very little about the atmosphere that Ferguson’s poor citizens live within, every day. It was easy to conclude who the bad guys were. Assholes showed up, either intending to start a violent confrontation to have some fun, or to discredit the entire protest, or thinking they’d send a message to someone.
Three or four weeks ago, I’d never heard the word “antifa.” Now I know it means “a bunch of very different groups that range from peaceful people who have a clear anti-violent message to people with a long list of unrelated grievances, who’ll show up hoping to get a picture of themselves throwing rocks while shouting about nothing relating to American Nazis.” But not to people who feel a need to defend a President they voted for, who has in turn defended those Nazis. That’s not what they believe.
A lot of them—people who should have a longer memory and an awareness of history—have found it easy to conclude that both entire sides are bad, therefore they don’t have to care about either. Their President is looking out for them, isn’t he?
* * *
In many such public confrontations, the ones that the news uses to define an entire category of protester are usually the ones who least represent the central issue. They’re just the handful of assholes who become the visual thumbnail for an entire protest.
But white supremacists and Nazis don’t deserve differentiation. They show up to intimidate, bully, inflict wounds, or kill. It’s people like them who are responsible for the fact that my immediate family is so small. They show up with automatic weapons and riot gear, while advocating genocide of entire races and religions. They want to beat on people they know won’t fight back.
By all means, ridicule anti-fascist protest groups who can’t communicate a clear message, and who indulge themselves with the belief that their incoherent laundry lists of demands, echo-chamber rhetoric, and tunnel-visioned dogma somehow contain the power to persuade the undecided. They’re wasting time and resources, because this problem has already been solved, and some of the many groups they’re protesting already know this.
* * *
Here’s the problem, though. Those assholes who got on the news are the ones who represent the entire issue for the people you might be arguing with on social media. Anyone you’re trying to inform or persuade of what you’re aware of right now is coming back at you with the video of some violent asshole, repeated throughout the day, while a news twinkie repeats the words that ostensibly characterize the entire opposition.
You can say all you like about what Nazis, supremacists, or the Klan believe, represent, or have done. Your friend, acquaintance, or uncle will then What-About you until you realize you’re dealing with someone who feels underserved, frightened, and has undergone some very effective neuro-linguistic programming. They’ve been very effectively distracted by professional scapegoating.
I don’t know how to fight that.

Remembering scapegoats. And you might already be one!

On Holocaust Remembrance Day, let’s all try to remember that the lessons this event has to teach us are not the sole province of Jews. The Holocaust is not a reason to defend every act Israel’s government has ever committed against other displaced people.

Because my parents’ families weren’t the only groups targeted by Nazis.

Then, or now.


Seriously? You’ve wasted entire national elections because…?

I’m mortified to have only just now learned that the Green Party doesn’t bother to field candidates for local elections. And yet they still expect to win the trust of an entire population after not having bothered to do the years of work required to participate in a system at the presidential level.

I can only conclude that they don’t really want to do that work at all. Especially after having nominated someone who’s even less qualified than Nader was.

No specifics about how their “policies” will be funded. Just platitudes. They’re not even committed to acquiring power for themselves. They’re just hogging camera time.


Just do it right the first time.

I remember a temp print production gig in a previous decade, working at a small agency alongside a terrific designer who did elaborate print forms for a single big client that eventually took all their work in-house. This guy designed typefaces and did elaborate calligraphy, and I loved chatting with him about stuff like that.

As the new guy, I was tasked with making corrections to pieces that had already been set up, until such time as I could be trusted to make new stuff.

This guy’s form layouts were a dense thicket of impossibly overlapping tiny text boxes, tiny empty frames which only contained color, and tiny line objects. No paragraph styles to speak of. No indication that the designer had used the software’s capabilities to make repetitive work easier. All ad hoc. All inflicted pain.

Years later, I realized what that meant.

I’d very much like to think I’m leaving less of a mess for people who’ll someday have to work with the forms I’m constructing now.

For fuck’s sake.

politics, Uncategorized

Happy Fourth of Something.

About two-thirds of my life ago, I began to realize that what most people loudly and proudly call “patriotism” was just a mechanism they’d been raised with. Part of a ritual that distracted them from whatever deal they’d allowed their government to trade for their sweat and blood. As it has been since we learned to walk upright.

As someone very wealthy (and publicly devout) once said to my father-in-law over lunch on the other side of the world: “There are no countries. There are no religions. There is only business.”

If only more people realized this. The United States of America is a contract whose terms have changed over the past thirty years, and not for the better.

    Please sign the attached rider which commits your children and grandchildren to sacrifice their lives while killing people who signed a far worse contract with their own leadership. Note that your user agreement has been amended to modify those sections labeled “Bill of Rights,” “Social Security and Medicare,” and “Consumer Protection.”

Yes, we’re still getting a better deal for our money than a lot of folks elsewhere can ever look forward to. But that list is shrinking.

    Your apathy is greatly appreciated. We look forward to doing business with you and your DNA for the remainder of your lives.

Save your fervor for your loved ones. Reserve your faith for people you actually know.

politics, spew, Uncategorized

Today’s emails.

Autoreply from the office of Representative Partyhack Whiteman:

Thank you for taking the time to contact me. While I am fully consumed with the everyday activities necessary to make the ever-escalating promises that raise campaign funds from bigger corporate sources, your opinions are still very important to me.

Rest assured that all communications I receive are registered and sorted by my sycophantic office interns (who desire nothing more than to share in the benefits of my institutionalized influence-peddling and the money-laundering favors they provide me), and I will try to respond to you with a condescending, context-free reply as soon as possible.

Rep. Partyhack Whiteman