Observations, Thoughts, Rants, Random Bits

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A Change of Heart

I haven’t written about Donald J. Trump for quite a while, maybe longer than a moon takes to shatter. I guess it’s hard to admit I was wrong about the man. I thought he was a toddler slamming his fists together every time he demanded attention, pushing more yellow drops into his diaper.

I was wrong. He’s turned out to be a fine so-called president. He gave a speech and stayed on the teleprompter. I was very proud. He didn’t play with his poop. Good boy.

Truth is I’m tired of trying to keep up with the haters who are down on PJ Trump because of some traitorous Russian connection or some goddamn daily disprovable lie. So what? If we cared about truth and democracy, we would have elected someone else.

DJ is a mastermind who only pretends to be a dunce. He may be stupid, and can’t spell a three letter word, but he’s got a secret to his success. He said it himself that you can’t let the bad dudes see you coming. And who could be worse?

than Ma Smith of Nebraska who isn’t a dude exactly but who’s about to lose her health insurance and go on a rampage against the duly elected government? She must die.

Or Jack Coal Miner of Virginia who can’t send an email without stroking the dog’s ass and doesn’t know SMTP from POP. He’s contemplating Donny’s empty promises while he oils his gun. If we ever needed a law against thinking, the time

is now. Seriously, who worries about China rebuilding the highways to make a president’s friends rich? If you can get to the 7-11 and back without blowing a tire, what difference  the color of the asphalt? It’s only one more beer for the toll. If your brother puts a gun to his head and slowly squeezes because he can’t pay the mounting cost of living and feels there is nowhere else to go, blame

a previous president. Any one of them will do.*

Truth is

(slippery)

but that must not get in our way. The alternative fact of misery due to being fucked over by a man who claims to stand for you is happiness due to the things you want to be true.

Donald J. has demonstrated his commitment. I could lick a camel’s ass and feel no more disgusted. Yet, you are loyal if you are loyal, citizens. It won’t make you rich, but at least you may stay out of jail.

* offer void unless name begins with Barrack or Bill.

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Our Children Are Watching

This morning a large brick fell on my chest. It’s hard to find the words to describe how I feel after the United States went to the polls yesterday to decide what type of country they’d like to be – and decided that what’s important to at least 60 million people is blaming immigrants, Mexicans, Muslims, and journalists for their problems. What’s important is venting rage against mostly phony targets. What’s important are scapegoats and staying as far as possible from self examination. The U.S. is a country without a collective consciousness sufficiently elevated to look in the mirror, and has played into the hands of a one of the most flawed and manipulative human beings on the planet.

What are we supposed to tell our kids and our grandkids now? Hey son! Want to get ahead in life?

  • Be a rude and crass sociopathic bully without an ounce of empathy for others.
  • Have a vengeful heart filled with spite for anybody who doesn’t agree with you.
  • Disregard the truth when it’s not convenient. Live in your own fact free reality.
  • Make fun of others at every opportunity. Bonus points if you denigrate their looks.
  • Create enemies even where they don’t exist. The people don’t care.
  • Treat women like shit. Kiss them without consent. Grab their pussy.
  • If you want to stop violence, kill the parents, grandparents, and children of those who practice it.
  • Be racist, bigoted, dogmatic, intolerant, and narrow-minded.
  • And don’t worry, you can just pretend to be pious. The country is full of religious hypocrites who just want the right words, not the right actions.

The U.S. has demonstrated that it doesn’t care about real human values. It doesn’t care about kindness or compassion. It doesn’t care about dealing with problems from the perspective of empathy or understanding. It doesn’t care about becoming a nation of more enlightened human beings. It has demonstrated to the entire world that self-interest and the desire to live only among those of the same faith, color and customs is what’s most valuable.

I weep for what my former country has become. I weep for those who are so ignorant of history that they are doomed to repeat it. You have elected a deeply flawed human being and in your choice you have revealed to the world your own hearts. This man has shown you clearly who he is, and in your fear, you have ignored his clearly stated intentions. Or worse, your own heart is equally as black and you’ve gone willfully into the darkness.

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The Idolization of Military Service

The Idolization of Military Service

In the summer of 1970, when I was 18 years old, I walked down to my local Army recruiting station and signed up for a three year hitch. I had some vague, noble notions of serving my country, other urges of moving from youth into manhood, the desire to vent an amorphous anger with three round bursts, but my main objective was to make my father (a world war II vet) proud. One thing that I never expected, asked for, nor wanted was public acclaim. I knew as well as anyone that soldiers returning home during this era of the Vietnam war were often reviled for participating in what was broadly seen as an unjust action.

Four and a half decades later, I saw a post on social media of a soldier holding a cardboard sign asking for viewers to “like this picture.” “We need your support,” it read. Following were thousands of comments, mostly of the “thank you” or “God bless you” for your service variety.

I have to admit the whole thing rubbed me the wrong way. I saw this as a lazy way to support the military from the comfort of your chair, and – as I wrote at the time – the equivalent of “yellow-ribbon bumper stickers without the need to get up and go to the garage.” Plus, if a member of the military needs social media bonus points to feel good about his job, it’s likely that he’s in the wrong profession.

The public’s reaction to this request (and other similar requests since) reveals the extent to which a nationalistic fever has swept the U.S. to idolize those who serve in the military even though the causes the military serves are no more just today than they were during the era of my military stint, simply more rooted in revenge.

And, as anybody who is familiar with the films of Bruce Willis knows, vengeance sells. After the attacks of 2001, the fever of supporting the military has grown to the point that now everybody who enters the armed services, whether for the desire to serve, the desire to perform sanctioned kills, or just because it’s an available job, is lavished praise as if each one were a hero.

They’re not heroes, at least not the majority. But that’s not to say they’re bad actors, either. I understand well how inexperience and underdeveloped impulses can propel a young person into military service. And even how the desire to grow and perform well in your chosen field can impel someone to stay in the military for many years.

But there’s nothing romantic nor particularly noble about serving in the military. There’s nothing romantic nor particularly noble about serving your country, period. These are professions, or career paths, like many others. I appreciate those who serve, and I know it can be a tough job, but I don’t see a need to treat each one as if they’re exceptional.

I appreciate those who take on a variety of jobs, from collecting the garbage to taking care of animals to performing life-saving surgeries. These too are functions of society that must be filled. The military is important and necessary, but so are many other things that we don’t feel the need to commend with such fervor.

If nothing else, this gratuitous and reflexive torrent of support for anyone involved in the military has demonstrated how easy it is to sway public opinion with emotional appeals. Violence comes to the homeland and the hardest hit victim is rationality. But fifteen years is enough; the emotional bomb has burst. It’s time to usher in a new age of reason.

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The Other Idiocy of Censorship

The Other Idiocy of Censorship

A few days ago, after Tom Egeland, writer for the Norwegian newspaper Aftenposten, posted to Facebook the iconic Vietnam War photo of a young girl, Kim Phuc, fleeing a napalm attack, Facebook removed the post and suspended Egeland for questioning their decision.

Much has been written about Facebook’s decision (which they later reversed due to the bad publicity), but the outcry and condemnation missed a vital point. Critics rightly argued that the nudity in the photo is not pornographic in any sense of the word, but is rather an important and powerful statement in respect to our shared history.

What’s missing in the criticism however is the idea that we can avoid the truth by covering it up with a little fig leaf of falseness. Take Facebook’s notice to the poster:

We place limitations on the display of nudity to limit the exposure of different people using our platform to sensitive content…  Therefore I ask you to either remove or pixelize this picture.

This is a perfect example of the other idiotic nature of censorship. Not the primary part where certain things are considered offensive in the first place, but the secondary aspect in which we think a small substitution will change the perception or the result.

Absurd. Pixelated genitalia are still genitalia. Blurring the image in this respect does nothing; the viewer knows what’s behind the pixilation and fills in the gaps. This pretense may satisfy a sort of puritan proof, a proof that the censor did indeed exert due diligence and control, but it changes nothing for the viewer.

This same do-something-that-accomplishes-nothing approach drives a television network to bleep certain words, even at times going to the nonsensical extent to blur the speaker’s mouth movements. This same impulse causes otherwise reasonable people to write site algorithms that change “asshole” to “a**hole”, or to say that fricking clown instead of that fucking clown.

Why bother? The speaker or writer is still communicating exactly what they wanted to in the first place. The reader or the viewer is not deceived.  The only thing that happens when this type of idiotic censorship is deployed is that we give the vulgarity (or the nudity), a slap-dash coat of cheap transparent paint.

It’s residual Victorianism that serves no useful purpose, an emperor without clothes. It only makes the company or person that employs these tactics look like dunces who don’t understand how people perceive and think.

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