Charley Horse

I’m getting these weird muscle spasms in my feet. The muscles in the tops and sides of my feet will lock up and pull my toes into strange-looking contortions.

I have no idea what is causing this. It could just be exercise. I used to get charley horses in the calves of my legs after riding my bike all day. I would also periodically get them after long walks. When I was in cardiac rehab the nurses insisted we stretch after each exercise session. That did seem to cut down on the muscle pain afterwards, and so I’ve kept doing the stretches since then. They seem to help. Maybe I should stretch the muscles in my feet as well? That does seem to help relax them afterwards.

It’s all just so damned weird, this getting old crap. Pains in places I didn’t know existed until I was over fifty.


I’ve modified the quadriceps stretch that I’m doing and grabbing the area just above my toes instead of the ankle when stretching. Maybe that will help.

This was the first post written completely in the WordPress mobile interface. Spelling errors are the interfaces fault (damned autocorrect!) I have now fixed those while re-editing on the desktop.

It’s 6:00 AM Again

For as long as the press has existed, it has been shambling and imperfect and improvisational. At our best we get things right on average, and incrementally, with a lot of getting things wrong along the way. Most of us in this business do our imperfect best. But any hope of doing better depends on the ability to learn. Soon the clock will show 6:00 a.m. once more; the alarm will start blaring “I Got You Babe” another time. This day, we can do better.

theatlantic.com

I made the Groundhog Day comparison more than a year ago.

May 13th of 2018, to be precise. Practicing due diligence I should also note that Stonekettle proposed Bedazzled as the film that embodied America under Trump, and it’s inability to cope with the onslaught of abuse and bullshit that Trump’s America embodies. More broadly, he was making the point that you vote for the other guy if the guy that is currently leading the country is so bad at his job that even a vacant office would probably do a better job than he is doing. That seeking power for power’s sake should be a category of exclusion for political office.

The media that James Fallows at The Atlantic is lambasting is simply a part of Trump’s America. Everyone is running around virtually clueless about what is news these days because the firehose of bullshit from the White House never gives them a chance to look up and notice that they are about to drown in bullshit. The media have been trained over years of servicing the metric of who is paying attention? and how many people are paying attention? Trained to produce the click-baitiest headlines and content that they can improvise, and to go where the will-o-the-wisp of viral scandals takes them.

Doing so under the leadership of a creature like President Trump is to follow the Judas goat into the slaughterhouse. unless you want to be killed, following the judas goat or the bellwether is a pretty stupid thing to do. The people who point to their opponents and call them sheeple might have a point if they weren’t so dedicatedly heading down their own road to slaughter. Newspapers and television stations, as well as news websites, should make a point not to follow the trends, not to film where all the eyes are pointed, if they want to survive the dystopian hell we find ourselves in today. It is the news outlets that tell you true things that you don’t already know that are really generating news. The rest of the pack are nothing more than ambulance chasers.

There should be no articles in the media that contain the words Donald Trump Says at this late date in the game. Donald Trump says a lot of things, almost all of them bullshit. Repeating what he says, even listening to what he says, is a waste of time. I know, I know, the media have to keep track of that stuff, and I think that the heroes over at the Washington Post should get the congressional medal of honor for cataloging Trump’s lies. The guys who tape the presidential documents back together for the archive should join them in getting a medal. But the majority of Americans do not care what the bastard says from minute to minute. Trust me. We don’t need to know once he isn’t in office anymore.

Today’s political news can be boiled down to two major points. Some variant of these two headlines should be on every paper, television station and website in the United States. Yesterday, today, tomorrow, ad nauseum until election day. Which two headlines?

The first one should be a running tally of the number of COVID dead in the United States and an underscoring of just how many tens of thousands of deaths could have been avoided had President Trump simply done the job that he took an oath to do. This should be hammered home, again, and again, and again until Trump’s approval numbers start to flag.

The other headline should be variants of this one,

Stories that detail exactly how fucking bad the economy is for the average American. Stories about people losing their homes. Stories about people who are starving. Stories about people who haven’t got a pot to piss in because of President Trump, but they mysteriously will still vote for him this year because they think that Satanists (AKA, Democrats) are having sex with and eating children, and that Joe Biden will initiate the race war that will deliver the United States to the brown-skinned people who really aren’t Americans.

The third viable political headline? Rachel Maddow 9/15/2020

The #MAGA: Qanon Fantasies are just an extension of the Satanic panic of the 90’s. There is no there there. The nitpicking about the politics of Kamala Harris and Joe Biden is nothing more than sour grapes. America wants to return to the Obama years, back when we could go to a movie theater and watch a movie in a crowd and laugh and not worrying about dying in two weeks from a virus you picked up there. The years when the vast majority of Americans could actually afford to go to the theater, or a restaurant or just be able to buy food. America longs for the Obama years and so picked Joe Biden as the nominee to run against the butcher of brown children. The plague-carrying chef that just can’t stop himself from baking his shit into every meal he serves up. Against that backdrop, Joe Biden is a bright spring morning. The kind of day you used to wake up to and be thankful to be alive.

Anyone who votes for Donald Trump and are themselves not wealthy con artists is a fool. Donald Trump is the president of con artists, the kind of con artists that run evangelical churches all across America. Those are his people. His Stormtrumpers.

Stormtrumpers are so afraid of socialism that they will conspire with socialist dictators in order to stop the Democrats from creating American socialism. Never mind that they can’t define what socialism is, they know they are afraid of it and they won’t vote for someone who labels themselves a socialist (this is why Bernie Sanders is not the Democratic nominee. -ed.) Rudy, how far you have fallen. Russia, China and the rest of the enemies of American-styled liberal democracies are working as hard as they can to make sure Trump wins re-election. They want the United States to come apart at the seams. They, like the proud boys they sponsor, want the boogaloo get started. They want us fighting each other and not noticing them as they crack down on their own populations.

We cannot allow this to happen. We have to put our backs to the wheel and get this country back on the road before the zombie hordes catch up to the bus we are traveling in. If we are overrun, then nothing stands between average people and the criminal element that Donald Trump empowers. Vladimir Putin is the poster child for these criminal enterprises, and he hopes to lead a world-wide organization of mobsters that will continue to live amidst wealth while the common people starve. Then we will have the future that George Orwell predicted, just a few short decades after 1984. Vladimir Putin and Xi Jinping would love to be able to indoctrinate their subject peoples to believe whatever silly thing they decree. Xi Jinping is already do it to the Uyghurs.

We need to redefine what politics is in this country. We cannot afford to have half of the country sitting on their hands when it comes time to pick leaders. To paraphrase a podcaster that I listened to recently, Politics is not a marriage. Politics is public transportation. Candidates are just the transportation that you take to get closer to your political goals. You don’t have to spend your entire life with that person, picking up after them, washing their laundry, reminding them where they left their phone and their keys. You just have to acknowledge that they make the right noises and that they have historically acted in a fashion that confirms that the noises they make a generally truthful, and then you vote for the candidate and hope they don’t embarrass or betray you before they leave office.

…if your vote didn’t matter, they wouldn’t be working so damned hard to keep you from exercising it. Get your ass to the polls, no matter what.

stonekettle.com

It’s been three years now. In order to get a sense of the history of what OHM means, I will link a few crucial posts. I wrote The Orange Hate-Monkey (OHM) when it became clear that the Republicans were going to nominate Donald Trump.  I wrote The GOP Cuddles Up To the NSDAP when the GOP refused to ostracize the OHM for his dangerously xenophobic populism. I wrote Caveat Emptor on the day Trump lied with his hand on the Bible and swore to uphold the US constitution. I wrote Bullshit is Bullshit on the day I stopped even trying to catalogue the blatant disregard of the truth by the OHM. It mystifies me why people still listen to him, and why the OHM still holds the office of the president. #MAGA means Misguided Appallingly Gullible Americans. Anyone who believes differently is a MAGA themselves, otherwise known as a Stormtrumper, h/t to Berkeley Breathed.

Mocking Creationism

Facebook – Berkeley Breathed

They deserve to have their beliefs mocked when they dare to air them in a public venue. When they dare to build Ark parks and Creation Museums with public money. If they don’t want to be mocked then they should keep their inane beliefs to themselves. This activity is an essential error correction process. Evolution is science, not belief. Penguin evolution is just hilarity.

FacebookMocking Creationismthaumaturgical.com

September 11, not 9-11

My dad was born on September 11, 1938.  On his sixty-third birthday terrorists destroyed two American icons and shattered forever the illusion that we were beyond the reach of the people intent on doing us harm. There are many lessons to be learned from gaining that insight, but it doesn’t appear that the US has learned anything in the intervening years since September 11, 2001. We relive the events of 9-11 over and over again on each anniversary. Wallowing in our collective angst while repeating the same mistakes that lead to that day, that sprung from that day. Every year on September 11, we are forced to relive the events of 2001 all over again as if we are required to revisit the tragedy when the tragedy has effectively become meaningless.

Every year on this day we bathe in the blood of that day yet again. We watch the towers fall over and over. It’s been 15 goddamned years, but we just can’t get enough. We’ve just got to watch it again and again.

Stonekettle Station, Renegade 9-11

Every year.  Every goddamn year. I picked that quote specifically because goddamn was one of my dad’s most favored curses. I loved to listen to him tell stories, and he loved to tell stories. It was what he lived for. It was probably why he started selling cars, it gave him an excuse to talk to more people. Talking to people was his job description and not something he had to sneak into his days in between greasemonkey tasks at the Phillips 66 station that he inherited from his father.

He worked in the garage for his father as a teenager before he was drafted into the military. The Army then put him to work in the motor pool doing exactly what he had been doing at his father’s garage.

Dad didn’t like military life very much, and left the service after 4 years to return home to Kansas and his family there.  As a teenager I foolishly contemplated joining the military myself, and mentioned it to him to see what he thought. “You like taking orders?” he said. I didn’t, I replied. “Well, then you don’t want to join the military.” That was his thinking on the subject, in a nutshell. He never elaborated more, but that view has stuck with me ever since.

After he divorced my mother dad sold his garage to the guys that had worked faithfully for him for decades and set about making himself known across several states as the car salesman that would get you a fair deal on whatever vehicle you were looking for. The number of returning customers testified to his honesty in dealing with the people that his fellow salesman treated as marks. Not my dad. Every person who wanted a car and came to him looking for the right car for them, left with either the car they were looking for or a memorable story about the salesman that really tried to help them find that one special vehicle they wanted.

That was my father. His major complaints in life were that the fish didn’t bite often enough when we went fishing (his favorite pastime) and that terrorists picked his birthday as the day to strike at America. Every year after 2001 he was forced to relive that horrible day rather than be allowed to celebrate his birthday in peace. Every year until he died, the day that he had looked forward to through childhood had become something terrifying and repugnant. It annoyed him that his day had been the day they picked. I can understand that. It is captured in this sentiment,

This new generation has lived under the shadow of those falling towers every single minute of every single day since the moment they were born.

Stonekettle Station, 9-11 Thirteen Years On

I’m reclaiming today and every September 11th after this one for my father.

Happy birthday dad, wherever you are.

I am reclaiming it for my father and for all the young Americans born since that day. People who deserve more than to be dragged into battles that have been going on since before they were born. I promise to spend more time thinking of him and of them than of the other events that make this day stand out for average Americans.  Because really, why remember if we aren’t going to learn anything from it?

This article has been slightly modified and moved forward from its original post date of September 11, 2016. Based on an article from 2014.

#MAGA: More Money Than Sense

In pontoon boats, sailboats and yachts flying “Trump 2020” flags, hundreds took to Lake Travis on Saturday in a boat parade in support of President Donald Trump’s reelection campaign — but some boats were swamped by choppy water and needed rescue.

statesman.com

I had heard about the Trump Boat Parade and the trouble it was having, but I was feeling so poorly that I didn’t even bother to look up why dozens of boats were floundering and sinking in Lake Travis. I mean, what is this all about? Why are boats sinking in Lake Travis? I almost dismissed the whole thing as a hoax. Then I saw the pictures.

TwitterAAStatesman Photographer

I’ve sailed a bit myself over the years. I’ve sailed mostly on small sailboats that can’t be sunk without first being holed. I’ve sailed (boated?) on motorboats, trolling for fish with my father. I’ve seen conditions like this on various lakes many, many times over my years of infatuation with all things nautical. Do you know what you do when the water looks like this? You stay home and you don’t sail/fish that day. It is as simple as that.

What you don’t do is put your boat in the water with a bunch of other boats and try to sail in tight formation. What happens when you do something as stupid as this is, you lose your boat. These people? These people are the poster children for people with more money than sense. Proof positive that we don’t live in a meritocracy in the United States. If we did, these idiots would be wards of the state.

h/t Stonekettle Station

It’s been three years now. In order to get a sense of the history of what OHM means, I will link a few crucial posts. I wrote The Orange Hate-Monkey (OHM) when it became clear that the Republicans were going to nominate Donald Trump.  I wrote The GOP Cuddles Up To the NSDAP when the GOP refused to ostracize the OHM for his dangerously xenophobic populism. I wrote Caveat Emptor on the day Trump lied with his hand on the Bible and swore to uphold the US constitution. I wrote Bullshit is Bullshit on the day I stopped even trying to catalogue the blatant disregard of the truth by the OHM. It mystifies me why people still listen to him, and why the OHM still holds the office of the president. #MAGA means Misguided Appallingly Gullible Americans. Anyone who believes differently is a MAGA themselves, otherwise known as a Stormtrumper, h/t to Berkeley Breathed.

Summer Doldrums

I haven’t felt like writing, or even up to the attempt at writing, for more than a week now. I don’t know why. It could be my allergies. It could be the tinnitus that is making even listening to podcasts extremely hard. I did manage to finish reading my first physical book in several years. I will write about that experience soon, I hope. I hope I’ll feel up to reading another book soon, too.

I’ve been playing a lot of Horizon: Zero Dawn lately.

That is all I’ve been doing, aside from reading. I haven’t even managed to get online to run with my guild in World of Warcraft. Sinuses feel like they are going to pop out of my head. Sick to my stomach with something, probably just the Irritable Bowel Syndrome acting up.

It is even possible that it is the summer doldrums affecting me in ways that I’m unaccustomed to. I haven’t felt this lethargic at this time of year since 2015. The sum total of all these complaints means I’m on hiatus for the foreseeable future. I’ll see you all when I see you.

Unelectable Ideological Purity

Facebook – Stonekettle

The Party of Trump is about to be taught the same lesson that I learned from a decade of Libertarian Party activism. If you promote fringe beliefs you become an expensive, unelectable and thusly ineffectual governing machine. Without the majority of votes, votes you get from promoting popular goals, you cannot achieve the purpose of a governing body.

The purpose? Being given the authority to govern. That is why political parties exist. They don’t exist to perfect ideologies. They don’t exist to take the most extreme moral stands. They exist to govern.The Republican party has forgotten this fact. They forgot it when they became the Party of Trump. Kasich should have been the Republican nominee in 2016. In 2020 he is speaking at the Democratic National Convention in support of Joe Biden. That, in a nutshell, is why the Republican party will lose. They have even alienated the governors that they helped to elect in previous decades.

Facebook

The Weeds – What the hell is the Republican party doing?

Trump won by a fluke of luck. Two people per precinct sat at home in Michigan in 2016, and Donald Trump became president. No one predicted it because it was a black swan event. An event that hinges on such a small possibility that the math simply can’t be generated to come up with that solution. Just like COVID-19 was a black swan event. A predictable and predicted event that could happen (and almost did happen twice during the Obama administration) could happen at any moment. With just the right virus and the wrong president at the helm of this country. The two events together spell hundreds of thousands of needlessly dead Americans. All of it Trump’s fault, whether he wants to take the blame or not.

Trump is underwater in popularity. His chances of winning in November are once again almost nil. He has no coattails to ride to success, and the Party of Trump is nominating the craziest of the crazies to become legislators, races that solely rely on garnering the majority of votes in their districts. Trump won because he didn’t need a majority of the population, he just needed to flip three Democratic states. When the legislative candidates lose the popular vote they don’t get to have the office, unlike Donald Trump who lost by three million votes but still won in 2016.

I only have two questions in mind for 2020. Will Trump lose in all 50 states? Will the Democrats secure the Senate with a solid majority of the seats? We won’t know for days, possibly weeks after the election. Weeks that Trump will use to spread doubt about the election results in an attempt to retain power. But if the vote is certified as a victory for Biden, then Donald Trump will cease to be president on January 20, 2021. On that day the Party of Trump will cease to exist. Maybe then the ideological purists will recognize their mistakes.

Ad Nonsense

I was trying to watch the Democratic Convention on Youtube. Trying to watch and failing to watch because the Orange Hate-Monkey had bought ads for the entirety of the event, and every time I tried to watch a part of the convention I had to look at OHM Bullshit as part of it. I have to watch ads from the mother fucker that I blocked on Youtube more than a year ago.

That’s the part that blows my mind. I have blocked Donald Trump on Youtube, but ads that run under his user identity on Youtube are not blocked from running. How does that make any sense at all, Google? If I don’t want to see that mother fucker’s face, if I don’t want to listen to his voice, why the hell would you think I might want to see advertisements promoting him? Why would I want to see ads denigrating the man who will be elected president to replace him? That is, if the OHM doesn’t get his henchmen to help him steal this election? Do you just want me to not use your service, Google? I mean, I could go to Prime video and watch the convention without ads, and I will probably look for the videos there if they are still up. If there are parts that I want to watch in the future.

You need to change the name of your integrated ad platform, Google. it is ad nonsense, not adsense. If it was adsense, I wouldn’t be seeing advertisements from Youtube profiles that I have blocked.

A Purloined Purse

I finally make it to work. I have missed several days. Weeks? Months? I don’t know how long I have been gone. I have been gone so long I have even forgotten what the business I work for does. I have forgotten where the time clock is. I have even forgotten how to read the time clock, how to operate it, and what language the time cards are written in. It took so long to find and to operate the arcane contraption that I am several hours late clocking in. I think to myself “I will be blamed for this.”

The office is decorated in glass and chrome like an 80’s bar. It has swag lamps on chains like someplace straight out of the 70’s. The chairs are overstuffed and upholstered in cream-colored plush leather. The entire room is so bright that I feel like I’m being blinded. Like I’m having vertigo and a visual migraine at the same time. “Is this really an office?” I ask myself as I squint through the glare.

I park myself at a table in an empty chair next to the son of a friend. I hadn’t realized we worked at the same place. I remembered him being in high school. The snooty bastard won’t talk to me in anything more than clipped sentences. I remember that I asked him about clocking in, and he had seemed mad even then. I thought he had been mad because I was late and couldn’t make the simple machine work properly.

He’s probably mad because I stole his mother’s purse. I decide to go visit her to take her back the purloined purse, and so I get on the bus that is in front of me. The bus takes me to a familiar place that is not my friend’s house, but rather to a mall I know that isn’t in the city I think I am in. Thought I was in.

I think to myself “this is weird” as I push through the crowded street making my way to the mall. As I am walking in this bustling crowd of people I look down and realize that I am walking in my stocking feet. There is glass and other debris in the road. I need to put on some shoes if I am going to keep walking.

I stop at a convenience store in the mall to buy some shoes. The aisles are long and narrow and snake everywhere in the mall for no apparent reason. I have to go down several dark hallways to find the only pair of sandals in the place. When I get back to the register to pay they charge me $24 for the retread sandals that I had owned as child. Just as weirdly as finding my own sandals in a mall that shouldn’t be where it is, and then having to pay to keep them, my childhood sandals still fit my adult feet perfectly, even with my socks on.

I am now broke from being overcharged for the sandals that I already owned, but I figure I can make it to my friend’s house on foot now that I am wearing shoes, so I start walking again.

As I am walking I notice that the stolen purse I am carrying is turning inside out. I have to change the way I am carrying it so that it still looks like a giant brown pleather purse and not an animal that has somehow turned inside out at the end of my arm. As I am making the purse look right I stumble across my friend stabbing garbage in her yard with a spiked stick. The spike is a sewing needle on the end of a wooden broom handle. I notice that she is bent and wizened like a cartoonish old woman and when she speaks the voice comes out of her cracked old lips in Natasha’s fake Russian accent.

I ask her “what have you been up to? I haven’t seen you in awhile,” and she replies “I’m being quiet after my honeymoon.” and then cackles at me. I wake up in a sweat. What time is it?

Audio of me reading this article. If I get positive feedback I may do more like this.

Editor’ note. I recorded some bad audio of me reading this article. It should be visible directly above this note. I will probably replace the bad audio with some other bad audio, but I also might not. I might just make it and most of this editor’s note disappear. Which one of these event will happen is a coin toss away. Audio is harder for me these days than it was when I owned those sandals. I notice that I slur and mutter. I don’t know if I can correct that or not.

I probably owe a hat/tip to this episode of Radiolab,

Radiolab – The Voice in Your Head – A Tribute to Joe Frank – January 22, 2018

In which Jad Abumrad and Brooke Gladstone muse about the passing of Joe Frank and what his life meant to the two of them. Meant to all of us. I had never heard of Joe Frank before that episode, and I probably would not have listened to his radio program. The inside of my head is weird enough all on its own. I need my distractions to be more pedestrian than the inside of my own head. Am I as good at creating as Joe Frank was? No. Not on my best day. He had to do what he did every week like clockwork for decades. I’m nowhere near as imaginative as that.