Saturday, December 10, 2016

A Hero for Our Times

This piece is a companion piece to my last post, which touched upon 'fake news'. Oddly enough, I haven't written much about Chuck Tingle, Hugo finalist and Taekwando grandmaster (who clearly knows a thing or two about cultural judo).

Chuck has now created a work of genius, a new fake news site called, in true Tingle fashion, Buttbart. The site is a bit perfunctory at this point, but it contains links to not-for-profit organizations which defend civil rights. Chuck's Twitter feed is a stream of outsider observations, outré gay erotica, bizarre affirmations, and some genuinely nice content. Chuck's mantra is that Love Is Real for All Who Kiss, and the catchphrase of the Resistance is Love Trumps Hate. It's nice to see Dr Chuck Tingle using his unique voice to push back against the regressives.

Friday, December 9, 2016

Gonna Have to Re-Post This

It's been almost five years since I put up a post featuring the Dead Milkmen's song Stuart. At the time of the song's release, I thought it was a funny novelty song, a broad farce about a paranoid denizen of rurality, but in this age of fake news that the mainstream media is struggling to cover (where the fuck were they when they could have made a difference?), I have come to see it as one of the greatest political satires ever written, an amazing achievement considering that it is satirizing an age almost three decades in the future. Stuart remains as funny as ever, but there is now a scintilla of horror to the song's humor:

Who'd a thunk that the bullshit peddlers from Pueblo, Colorado would have such a vast audience? Once upon a time, one had to search hard to find the fringe, now it's become 'normalized' (another media buzzword).

Similarly, the comedy Idiocracy has now taken on the status of a horror film, perhaps a documentary:

Fuck, it's that bad... hell, even the days of We Have an Even Bigger Problem Now don't seem so bad.

Thursday, December 8, 2016

John Glenn Drinks Cocktails with God

This year continues to be a major crapfest, now we read about the death of John Glenn. Sure, Senator Glenn lived to a ripe old age of ninety-five, and accomplished more than just about any other human being did, but it pains me to read of his passing. John Glenn was the best sort of hero- the once-warrior (wars not make one great) who put his fighting behind him in order to pursue the purer path of the adventurer, the explorer, the conqueror of his own fears (strapping oneself into a bier at the tippy-top of a giant explody thing takes a hell of a lot of courage) and of the limits of gravity. The fact that he returned to space in his post-retirement years is another testament to the man's fortitude.

Not being perfect, Glenn was caught up in the Keating Five scandal, but that's a minor blip in an otherwise... uh... stellar career. It's a shame that humanity has allowed itself to get bogged down in venality, tribalism, and willful ignorance, turning away from the legacy of John Glenn and the astronauts, cosmonaunts, and whatever non-U.S. and Russian space-sailors are called- the legacy of further expansion into the Solar System. The heady dreams of a future in the stars became bogged down in parochial concerns, and a refusal to think beyond the next quarter. Glenn wasn't perfect, but he was good, and I wish that we collectively could have been good enough to live up to his achievements. We could have done better, John, we should have done better.

The post title comes from the glorious Mekons' tune Ghosts of American Astronauts- I figured posting it would be sure to get zrm to visit:

Let's hope that Buzz Aldrin has a speedy recovery, and is able to escape from the mad scientists in New Zealand who are holding him captive... don't make us send Ray Comfort back, you kiwi fiends!

Tuesday, December 6, 2016

Failing Upward

Via Tengrain, we find that former North Carolina governor Pat McCrory, the architect of the odious Show Us Your Poopers Law is to be summoned to Trump Tower, perhaps to audition for a position in the Trump Kleptadministration. Tengrain asks what position McCrory might fill in Trump's regime...

I think he's going to head the Office of Inspector Genital.

Monday, December 5, 2016

Happy Birthday, Sweetums!

As is traditional for me on December 5th, I am extended birthday greetings to my older brother, Sweetums. Sweetums received his nickname from my super-sarcastic sister, who was delivering a snarky 'Marcia, Marcia, Marcia' speech about him... "Oh, he's so perfect, he never does anything wrong... oh, Sweetums, Sweetums is so perfect!"

The rest of us decided that she was right, he WAS perfect, and the name 'Sweetums' stuck. It's funny how something meant as a jab can, by virtue of its accuracy, become a moniker. At any rate, Sweetums is still perfect, a good husband, a good father, an all-around good guy, and an amazing brother. Happy birthday, 'Tums.

Sunday, December 4, 2016

This Is Why Sitcoms Aren't Educational

Today, I am working in a site I don't work at all that often... it's sort of in the hinterlands, although still well within the 'commute to New York City' radius. I arrived at work shortly before sundown, and was greeted by one of the resident turkeys flying to roost in the branches of a tall oak tree for the night:

Upon closer look, I saw the rest of the flock (for the record, a bunch of domesticated turkeys is known as a rafter or gang) could be spied roosting in the same tree, about fifty or sixty feet above the ground:

As God is my witness, I know turkeys can fly:

Of course, these are the lean, muscular wild turkeys (Meleagris gallopavo)... to be fair to the WKRP writers, the overfed, overbred domesticated turkeys would probably plummet to the earth unlike their wild forebears.

In the interest of full disclosure, I failed to photograph the other bird which immediately caught my eye when I arrived, the first bald eagle I've seen this season... I did get to see it take wing and fly off over the adjacent tributary of the Hudson.

Legend has it that the turkey was in the running to be our national bird, alongside the bald eagle. Just imagine, if things had gone otherwise, we might be getting e-mailed pictures of crying turkeys from our wingnut acquaintances.

Saturday, December 3, 2016

Make Mordor Great Again

One of my bloggy heroes is Tengrain, who I often refer to as the 'Patron Saint of Small Bloggers'. He's been a great supporter of not only myself, but of other denizens of this bloggerhood. I have to note a bit of not-at-all acrimonious disagreement with him regarding this post, a disagreement which stems from my disagreement with the Washington Monthly post to which he links... the author posits that Hillary Clinton's campaign failed to point to a villain, but I think that's bunk... the real problem is that a bunch of bigots decided that fellow victims, people much more marginalized than themselves, were the villains. There's a lot of cognitive dissonance involved in, for example, watching a bunch of Mexican immigrants laboring in a field and characterizing them as lazy moochers (a perennial calumny aimed at African-Americans who toiled without pay to enrich their masters since before this country existed), and there's a lot of cognitive dissonance involved in believing that a serial-prevaricator and kleptomaniac would do anything to stop the immiseration of the working and middle classes.

Tengrain comments on the post:

One of the great archetypes of literature and film is the little guy triumphing over evil. From David and Goliath to Frodo vs. Mordor, the best heroes are the everyday, average people, who find themselves in an extraordinary situation and somehow or other win.

The problem is that the Trump voters believed that Frodo is the villain, sneaking over the border of Mordor in order to commit terrorist acts against Barad-dûr and to put the Ringwraiths out of work by imposing burdensome regulations against Evil Sorcery. They voted for Sauron, and he’s going to Make Mordor Great Again.

Tengrain continues:

We on the left don’t tell stories, we recite facts. We believe (correctly) that the facts matter, but we don’t know how to give them context. So instead of telling a story, we implore our audience to listen to and study our earnest 200-slide Powerpoint presentation, and learn from their betters… and we end up wondering why we lost?

The problem here is that the stories, based on facts, are out there... We have facts about climate change, but the story is written in blood and wreckage in the 'reddest' region of the Heartland. We have facts about Obamacare, but the story is being written about the loss of benefits that accrued to impoverished Trump voters.

The problem with liberals 'telling stories' is that these stories, rooted in facts, cannot penetrate the bubble of epistemic closure (NY Times link, so ration those clicks). The potential audience for these stories has been pre-conditioned in their churches, their firing ranges, their right-wing media cocoon, to characterize any 'leftist' narratives as lies, facts to the contrary be damned. The typical Donald Trump voter could be hit over the head by a wind-borne Ford F-150 and still believe Dear Leader's lie about Anthropogenic Global Warming being a Chinese hoax.

I don't have any answers to this dilemma... I just don't know what sort of narratives could convince the typical Red State Trump voter. I am an uber-nerd who attends science lectures in a bar, I live in a neighborhood with a very high immigrant population, two of my dearest friends and mentors are Muslim men, I have friends and co-workers from a wide array of backgrounds, creeds, sexual orientations. There is no narrative I can communicate with a Trump loyalist which wouldn't be seen as suspect. I've spoken to these people, and they tend to reveal their true ugliness to me because I look a lot like the guy in my profile picture, and they tend to see me as simpatico.

Again, I wish to stress that I have nothing but love, respect, and admiration for Tengrain, but I just can't see this strategem working. Tragically, the aggrieved white bigots who supported Trump are going to have to hit rock bottom before they reconsider their support for a guy who is going to further immiserate them. Even more tragically, they are going to take the rest of us down with them, and I didn't sign up for a one-way trip down the caldera of Mt Doom.