As I look back over my history on Facebook, it is your contributions that still make me laugh years later. Make me laugh or make me think that maybe you understood better than I did what it was I should be doing with my life. I wish you were here so that I could tell you; you made a difference, and I miss you.
I am slowly giving up my obsession with death. It is hard to accept that life goes on when it clearly ends suddenly and unexpectedly all around us everyday. Living in anticipation of dying is a boring way to live. I almost want my death to show up in a way that I hadn’t expected. My last thought being “well, I didn’t expect that.” Almost.
As my friends and family slowly drop away, leaving me walking forwards more and more alone, I begin to wonder at the journey itself as it continues. Why does it continue? Maybe I should be trying to enjoy it more? Making more of a difference myself? Time to get back to the writing. It is one of a very few things that I can still do. Can still do and might make a difference.
I’ve never had a fear of missing out, what the kids these days refer to as FOMO. I really don’t know why this is. Growing up in a remote location you got used to the fact that stuff was happening elsewhere and you couldn’t be part of it. Growing up poor meant that there were things happening right in our own town that I couldn’t participate in because I didn’t have the money to be there for the thing when it happened. You will miss out on something. Accept this fact and move on.
This insight about FOMO does not make me an Iconoclast or a non-conformist all by itself. I aspire to rate a label of iconoclasm, the crusader bent on objecting to accepted norms and beliefs in all their forms simply to illustrate the failings of same; and I loathe the knee-jerk non-conformist when I meet one. The petty, childish “I won’t do it!” that never produces positive results. I’ve never had a group that I put myself firmly inside of that was more defined than trekkie, liberal, atheist or libertarian, and all of those labels aside from liberal are represented by people that I’ve strayed away from and don’t want to be part of anymore. Could I be an iconoclast crusading against the vanillafication of trekdom? Maybe.
In some way this knowledge that you can’t be part of everything important, everywhere that it happens, takes the edge off of FOMO for me. I think this understanding is why I unhesitatingly cancel people every day. If I don’t think a post is interesting and scroll past it? Canceled. If I block somebody because I don’t have time for their stupid? Canceled.
I don’t run around telling everyone “cancel this guy, cancel that girl” I don’t need to be an influencer or a trend-setter. I just do the thing and move on. No one cares what your opinions are anymore than you care what a random stranger’s opinions are when it comes to which shoes you will wear today. If you do care, you need help.
Conservatives afraid of being canceled? They are so damned predictable. They accuse everyone else of creating death panels, then continue sentencing the poor to an early death just as they traditionally always have done. They accuse liberals of creating political correctness, then pass laws making sure that only their political views are taught in school. They accuse the liberals of creating a cancel culture, then they set about canceling liberals left and right as they see fit. It never ends and it is never surprising.
However, Conservatives are no longer satisfied with having created their own set of facts and their own news organizations that parrot the things they call politics. Things they call politics but are in fact the same religious beliefs that they also claim to be theirs alone. They maintain a broad spectrum of bullshit outlets that spew a carefully constructed view of the world that they won’t find troublesome. This is why we have such high percentages of Republicans that think that Donald Trump is still president right now, they have news outlets willing to tell them this comforting lie, day-in and day-out.
Because of this fact, the spoon-fed nature of their delusions, there needs to be a journalistic standard of ethics that is enforced by law or by the authority of a licensing board, an opinion I’ve aired before:
It is a common concern. How can we continue on as a country or a people if we can’t agree on a set of facts? Donald Trump is not president. Do you know how I know this? Because he is in Mar-a-Lago living in a made-up world that he has the money to create around him. The benefits of being wealthy on paper. He is not president because someone else is sitting behind the resolute desk and that person now controls the US government. That person could squash Donald Trump like a bug if he so desired.
So why doesn’t he? Therein lies the crux of the problem. Vladimir Putin is now sounding off about the persecution of the January 6th attackers and the stealing of the election from Donald Trump. He is doing this because he knows what he would do if he were sitting in Joe Biden’s shoes right now. What would he do? For starters there wouldn’t be a Mar-a-Lago anymore other than a smoking crater where the place once was, and he would have had most of the people opposing him executed or jailed pending execution. People like Vladimir Putin see restraint as weakness, because they don’t respect anything that isn’t bold action.
If Joe Biden shows any inclination to crush the rebellion at play in the United States, he plays right into Vladimir Putin’s hands, and into the hands of people who hate the United States simply for being the United States in all it’s failed glory. But he has to do something because the threat to the reality of the United States’ existence has never been more dire than it is right now. Not even Nazi Germany or Japan had the impact on the reality of the continuing existence of the United States as a global force that Vladimir Putin has had in getting Donald Trump elected to the presidency. That he has in continuing to support this disgraced, twice-impeached, former holder of the office of the presidency.
We need to cancel this cause celeb, this slow-moving coup d’état that is still in progress. There are traitors in our midst, and we need to sort them out of the rest. That requires investigation, and the investigation should have started already. As others have pointed out, Mitch McConnell still holds all the cards as far as getting anything through the Senate because of the filibuster rule, and this includes an investigation that has support from all sides concerned. The filibuster has to go, even if it means removing the senators who don’t want to see it go as a part of the process.
We need to cancel the Republican groups who are currently trying to cancel the American experiment. We need to secure ballot access for all Americans, even if that means that the Republican base will not support anything the rest of us do for a generation. We need not fear missing out on the future they have planned for the rest of us. That future has been painted in vivid color for anyone brave enough to read the speculative fiction that has been penned over the last hundred years. We can rest assured that future is not a thing we want to experience.
We only made it about 15 minutes into the movie before she says “I’m bored. Next film.” I know why she said it because she said as much when we watched the trailer. “I get a real Vanilla Sky feel from this one. I doubt I’ll like it.” So we stopped watching the movie and we turned instead to watching another movie we’d skipped over a dozen times or more by this point.
What that movie was really isn’t relevant to this article. This article is about the journey I went on when she got up and went to bed, and I turned back to Bliss in order to see if it really was anything like Vanilla Sky. When I finished the movie I was pretty sure that “like Vanilla Sky” wasn’t far off the mark as far as judgment calls go. But I had to be sure, and that started the real journey.
This article contains detailed spoilers. You have been warned.
This is the way I saw the structure when I first noticed it under construction two decades ago, driving through one of the many new power centers that were popping up at the edges of Austin. I didn’t see it as the empty shell that would soon be filled with consumer goods that the average tech junkie would be clamoring for. I saw it as it sits now, a building that was aged and worn from twenty years of hard use, cast aside like an empty cardboard container that only existed to hold a transitory meal of convenience. A tribute to the vanity of consumer culture, unloved and abandoned.
This is life in the city. The structures that seem to erupt suddenly out of the landscape and briefly exist as bustling hives of industry that are almost as suddenly vacant and decaying, a blight on the landscape that was perfectly fine the way it was before the bulldozers showed up to turn a farmer’s field into a parking lot. What, exactly, did this structure offer that wasn’t available at the local mall? The local mall that is now also abandoned or repurposed into something else?
Now the power centers sit just as idle as the malls started doing a decade and more ago, and the real estate developers are looking for the next big thing that they can get us all to go to and spend money we don’t have on things we don’t need. This wouldn’t be so bad if it wasn’t the same behavioral patterns that hollowed out the centers of our cities back in the sixties and seventies. Maybe it is time to stop seeking the next new, shiny thing and take a look around at what already exists that we can make suit the needs of the moment. Let the corporations and the land developers starve. The people don’t need them if they can’t serve the needs of today.
To repair the damage done by these people in these times will not be easy. I may not see the wounds mended in my lifetime. It may take a generation or more. The social damage of the pandemic itself, the fear of our old social lives, in bars and restaurants and dance halls and sports stadiums, will take time to heal (although a percentage of people seem to know no fear already). We will hug and kiss again. But will there still be movie theaters? Will there be bookstores? Will we feel okay in crowded subway cars?
I would say that the lack of workers volunteering to die for minimum wage across the United States today in what is rapidly becoming a post-pandemic world says volumes about the actual rethinking that is going on right now. Whether we will turn these things we’ve learned about ourselves and our world into real world changes remains the question. I will say that if we don’t make the changes, heal the breaches in our lifetimes, those ills will fester and re-emerge the next time society hits a breaking point.
It wasn’t the name of the black man that police killed that made last summer’s protests a fulcrum to leverage change. It was simply the fact that the policeman killed another black man while the rest of the world was forced to watch him do it. The pandemic made change possible by forcing the entire world to become passive observers of what the rest of the world was doing in their lives and in their essential work. Essential work that appears to include killing random black people in every corner of the United States.
The next time we are strapped down and stretched thin like we were last summer, there might be some other breaking point that appears and fulminates the last great war, rather than just a call for the equal justice we all were promised. We really can’t afford to keep kicking the can down the road. We need to step up and make the changes now while the motivation is fresh and our intentions pure. I’m becoming deathly afraid that we don’t know how act of pure intention anymore, or even act at all.
These “audits” don’t have to find anything; the fact that they exist at all is enough to do what they are designed to do: undermine voters’ faith in the system at the same time they indicate that no election result that elects a Democrat is legitimate.
Republicans who sought to undercut or overturn President Joe Biden’s election win are launching campaigns to become their states’ top election officials next year, alarming local officeholders and opponents who are warning about pro-Trump, “ends justify the means” candidates taking big roles in running the vote.
This really isn’t news. Not really. Trumpists been beating this dead horse since the election last November, not just since the attempted coup on January 6th:
This is why I muse about the question of allowing Republicans or their intellectual inheritors to ever regain power in the United States in this article:
…and then agitate for instituting jungle (blanket) primaries in every single state in the Union before 2022. We don’t have a choice. Either we open up the system and destroy the possibility of minority rule in the US forever, or we embrace the idea that we like overlords telling us what to do. Embrace it, because that is what we will get if we ever let the Trumpists that Republicans have turned into back into power. If we allow the possibility of minority rule by any one group of Americans, then someone will seek to wield that power for their group. This is a no-joke emergency we are caught up in right now.
Moscow Mitch thinks we don’t need to investigate the January sixth riot:
This really doesn’t merit a lot of thought. I’m just going to cut and paste what I said here after the first impeachment started against Donald Trump:
I don’t know what the hurry is. Why do we have to have this all done by the end of the year? now? Why not investigate side by side with the police efforts to uncover the depths of crime involved in the attempted coup? Let’s be sure to get every single gory detail on the record for the Republican party to wear to the end of its days.
Republicans were happy to pretend nothing was worth worrying about for two five years while Trump stole the nation blind and Moscow Mitch shoehorned every judicial nominee he stole from Barack Obama through an otherwise catatonic Senate. Republicans were happy to talk about #Benghazi for three years. What’s the rush? I say we keep the impeachment hearings January 6th inquest going until November 3rd, 2020 November 8, 2022. I suggest they hold hearings on election day, even. Draw it out. Reveal the crimes of all of Trump’s yes-men as well as all of his 40 years of financial and real estate crimes. and his instigations to riot in the streets of Washington D.C. after telling black people they couldn’t riot in the same city streets six months earlier.
Paint it all in glorious technicolor detail, for all the world to see. The damage has been done already, anyway. No one will trust the United States again. Not for a generation. I have now given Moscow Mitch’s dismissal of the bill all the thought that it deserves.
One hundred and seventy-five Republicans voted against the January 6th investigation bill. Those seditionists (to use Stonekettle’s term for them) should never have been allowed to sit in congress. Anyone that wasn’t willing to state in advance that the election that put them there was a valid election should not have been seated. This action was permitted by the rules of the House and the Senate and should have been enforced:
If the election that put you here is in question then you shouldn’t be in a body that represents the people. Plain and simple. Congress chose to go this route instead, seating representatives that declared their intentions to muck up the works as much as possible. Now we have seditionists in Congress. I don’t see how this scenario is better than the outrage that would have been engendered when the 175 seditionists were not seated in the first place. This may be complex political maneuvering, but I don’t see how the Democratic strategy is going to win the next election for them.
…which is the only point that matters on this subject. Making sure the Republicans never see power again on the national level. They have made themselves the enemy of democracy. They should be declared a terrorist organization if they don’t change their tune.
The wages are too low, but that isn’t even half of the equation. Fear dominates the markets right now. Breadwinners aren’t willing to go out and risk death for any wage if they don’t have to. Their families rely on them to keep them all afloat. So they will wait and make sure the water of commerce is safe before they will re-enter it.
If you want people to get back to work you are going to have to convince them that their families will not starve without them if they were to die doing whatever it is they do for a living. For example: we need to expand and increase survivor’s benefits from Social Security so that every American who has a family that relies on them for their survival will be able to be at peace with the fact that at least their families will be cared for in the future.
If we did this, insured that families would not go hungry or homeless if the breadwinner dies, and we increased the wages, then you would see people returning to work in droves. Without it you will have to bribe them with dollar figures much higher than what businesses are offering now. A few piddling extra thousand dollars ain’t going to entice people back into the workforce, and making the poor suffer will only make you, the state leadership, the target of their suffering. Look to see red states become more purple in the future if that behavior continues.
…will explain everything you need to know about the delusion that Americans have ever had good, steady jobs that paid well. The haven’t and they won’t until they get smart about politics and economics.
My dad came to me in a dream last night. He was disappointed in me. He wanted to know why I didn’t want to be a man. He and his first son were outraged that I wouldn’t conform, wouldn’t want to be a man like they were.
Then he told me my hair was too long and he demanded I get a haircut from his favorite barber, just like he always did when he hadn’t seen me in a long time. I told him no. No I will not go get my hair cut, I will cut my own hair. Don’t you know that there is a plague still raging out there?
He sort of goggled at the notion of my doing the work myself and after thinking about it for awhile he asked me what I though he should do with his hair. I looked at his hair in my dream. It wasn’t the hair that was on his head on the day he died. That hair was smooth and white. This man’s hair was even patchier than mine has become. I told him I would cut that hair even shorter than he usually wore it. Wear that age with pride, I said.
He cried then and hugged me, and I wondered to myself that if he had only showed that kind of caring and vulnerability more often when I was young and impressionable, I might have been more willing to see myself as a man when I became an adult.