Blowin’ In the Wind

I’m sure the residents of the Carolinas are relieved to hear that FEMA is on the job and our president says “We are absolutely totally prepared” for Hurricane Florence.

After all, FEMA and Trump did such a magnificent job in Puerto Rico last year. Undercounting the dead by two orders of magnitude. More than half a year to restore power.

But I’m sure the Carolinas will get more and better help than Puerto Rico did. After all, both states electoral votes went to Trump. Heaven help Virginia if Florence shifts to the north, though.

It’s worth noting that Trump will not be going to Jackson, Mississippi for a campaign rally Friday as previously planned. With Florence expected to reach land by early Friday morning, millions of people are evacuating the coast. And rallies aren’t the only events affected. High school and college football games are being rescheduled. Concerts have been canceled.

Notably, Washington, D.C. Mayor Muriel Bowser has declared a state of emergency, citing fears of flooding, downed trees, and power outages.

Regardless, our government soldiers on. The Senate Judiciary Committee plans to vote on the nomination of Brett Kavanaugh to the Supreme Court on Thursday. That said, it’s widely expected that committee Democrats will delay the vote to next week, presumably after Florence has passed and power has been restored to Washington*. Because it wouldn’t do to allow the court to go into session next month short-handed.

* Though I wouldn’t be at all surprised if it hasn’t been restored elsewhere. Crews from further north and inland have already been tagged to assist in the Carolinas, and you know the comfort and safety of our elected officials is paramount, but as far as I can tell, nobody’s paying a whole of attention to the people in between.

Depressing thoughts on what should be a day of remembrance. What I find myself remembering is the way individuals always seem to step up and do what needs to be done in the immediate aftermath of a disaster.

It’s not the big agencies. They show up later–if they show up. It’s certainly not political parties.

Take a minute today and thank a neighbor for being there. Don’t get ridiculous about it. There’s no need to thank that guy down the street who lets his dog dig up your flower bed, or the ones you’re pretty sure are making meth in their basement. But the folks you don’t usually pay much attention to, good or bad. They’re the ones you’re going to rely on when your neighborhood is hit by a hurricane, earthquake, or zombie apocalypse.

Bailing Out

California has approved a change to state law which will do away with bail. Only if the law stands, of course. As might be expected, loud voices have been raised in opposition.

In brief, SB 10 will do away with bail, and require each county to set up its own system of risk assessment to determine which defendants could be released on their own recognizance, be required to submit to electronic monitoring, or held in “preventive detention”.

Naturally, bail bond businesses are objecting the loudest, but they’re hardly alone. The ACLU is opposed, as are a large number of law enforcement organizations.

The primary objection–outside of the bail bond industry, which would be largely destroyed if the law stands–is that it places too much control in the hands of judges. With local jurisdictions able to assign their own weights to whatever factors they consider relevant, and individual judges free to interpret the guidelines, critics of SB 10 fear that it may increase the number of people held in jail pending trial, rather than reduce it.

And certainly, there are any number of ways such a system could be gamed to disproportionately affect minorities and the poor.

The bill was initially proposed in 2016, and has been substantially modified since then. Many of the groups who disapprove of the version just signed by Governor Brown approved of earlier versions. Even the primary author, Senator Bob Hertzberg (Democrat, Van Nuys), seems less than enthralled with the final version. The Chron quotes him as saying that “Our path to a more just criminal justice system is not complete.”

Cynic that I am, I tend to read his comment as “Well, it was the best I could do. Maybe we can fix it later.” And pessimist that I am, I’m doubtful whether fixes will be a high priority.

“Release fast, fix later” may work for software. Maybe. The jury is still out on that. But it’s a bad approach to lawmaking.

Opponents are considering challenging the law in court, and have already started a petition drive to put the question in front of voters in 2020. (The law will take effect in October of 2019 unless blocked in the courts. Or, if the referendum qualifies for the ballot, the law would go on hold.)

One additional factor that I haven’t seen mentioned in the press: it seems likely that under SB 10, electronic monitoring would become more common for pre-trial defendants. However, the defendant is required to pay a fee for the equipment. Seven bucks a day (according to an article from 2016) doesn’t sound like much, but that adds up quickly. If a defendant can’t afford bail, how likely is he to be able to afford two hundred dollars a month?

I’m generally in favor of doing away with bail, but I have to side with the ACLU* on this law.

* While I have some sympathy for the bail bondsmen, I don’t have a lot of patience for the “This change will put me out of work” argument in general, and even less in this case, where the change is intended to save the jobs of many, many more people.

The potential for abuse is too great, the approach is flawed, and the “fix it later” attitude is offensive. Scrap SB 10 and start over.

Two Things

I don’t want to make this another political post, but there’s one thing I feel obligated to say: It’s not over!

Seriously, folks. I’m seeing a lot of celebration over the Manafort conviction and the Cohen plea deal. And yes, they’re worth celebrating.

But it’s not, as many columnists seem to think, the end of Trump. Case in point, Washington Post columnist E.J. Dionne Jr. wrote that “the president’s strategy of diversion and evasion collapsed.”

Which president has he been looking at? Has he read any of Trump’s tweets over the last couple of days? Or any statement coming out of the White House over the last year and a half? This is an administration that runs on denial, obfuscation, and lies.

Has any Republican in Congress snapped out of his paralysis and done anything more concrete than expressing cautious concern? Not that I’ve heard about. Has there been any sign of Republican pushback against Brett Kavanaugh? Not that’s been reported in any news source I’ve got access to.

Until we see Republicans taking action against Trump–or until Democrats control both the House and the Senate–not only is Trump not done for, it’s not even the beginning of the end.

‘Nuff said.

Moving on to something more cheerful.

The affinity between cats and boxes is well known. I–along with every other blogger since the Internet was created–have written about it before.

You can find pictures of cats in boxes with little trouble. Cats in shipping boxes, cats in cereal boxes, and on and on.

But nobody has come up with a box specifically designed for cats to sit in. Until now, anyway.

That’s right. Scott Salzman has, according to the Longmont Times-Call run a successful Kickstarter to launch sales of his purpose-built cat-sitting boxes (not to be confused with the sort of cat boxes normally filled with litter).

That’s right. For a measly ten bucks, you can now offer your cats a box built just for them. No more secondhand, used boxes!

My prediction? Your cats will completely ignore the “Purrfect Cat Box” you buy them, and instead play with the packaging it was shipped in.

Surf’s Up

Looks like all of our problems are solved.

That’s right, Californians can rest easy now that we have an official State Sport. Sorry, rest of the US, you’re on your own.

Okay, yes, I’m sure it was an important lack. After all, every other state already–what? Really? Only twelve? Never mind.

Seriously, though, surfing is now the state sport of California. And yes, I’m sure the five percent of Californians who surf* are totally stoked, Dude. And yes, I know surfing is totally identified with the state in the public mind, thanks to fifty years of music and movies. I’m even aware of California’s many contributions to the technology of the sport.

* That’s a guesstimate. Various surveys show the Californian surfing population somewhere between 1.1 million and 2.5 million. The total state population seems to be right around 40 million. So, five percent.

But, really?

No, I’m not bothered by the fact that surfing is already the state sport of Hawaii, where it was invented. After all, rodeo is the state sport of South Dakota, Texas, and Wyoming, and they seem to be sharing the burdens and joys without significant conflict. And Delaware’s state sport is bicycling, and I’m quite sure bikes weren’t invented there.

I just wonder if this was really the best use of the government’s time. Especially in an election year, with a hell of a lot riding on the results.

I’ve seen it suggested that this action will help fight federal efforts to open the California coastline to oil drilling. Excuse me while I go laugh myself sick.

The bill was authored by a Democrat. Maybe it’s an effort to recruit the surfer vote. “Democrats made surfing the state sport, so come out and vote against Republicans.”

You know, now that I say it, that almost sounds sensible, compared to most of the political news. Maybe we could swing a few older voters further east with similar strategies. Any Democrats in Nevada and New Jersey want to sponsor legislation to make gambling your state sports?

Losing Face

More proof, as if anybody needed it, that Facebook didn’t get where they are today–a dominant force on the Internet, with a bankroll large enough to slide them through public relations disasters that would kill any lesser company–by playing nice.

Not with its users, and certainly not with the outside world.

You’ve probably seen the recent news stories about their detection of several accounts, possibly linked to Russia, that Facebook believes were attempting to sow confusion and create conflict leading up to the November elections.

In brief, these accounts were promoting protests, specifically counter-protests against pro-Nazi–pardon me, Alt-Right–events.

My cynical side wonders whether Facebook would have taken action if the accounts in question had been promoting the original rally rather than the counter-protest, but since there’s no way to know, that’s something of an irrelevant point.

The bottom line here–and Facebook is, of course, focused directly on the bottom line–is they have to be seen to be doing something about Russian interference with American elections.

Not only have they closed the accounts in question, but they’ve taken the additional step of notifying people who expressed interest in the counter-protest that it might be a Russian operation.

Needless to say, this has not been a popular move with the event’s other organizers, who have had to spend the past couple of days proving to Facebook that they’re not fronts for Russian spies, while simultaneously reassuring people that the counter-protest is real.

Naturally, Facebook doesn’t see a problem. They’ve Taken Action! They’ve Caught Spies! They’ve Made Facebook Great Again!

And it’s not like the protest groups are major advertisers, paying Facebook large sums of money to promote their event.

Facebook’s other recent move is to make it harder for their users to see what’s happening outside of Facebook. Until yesterday, it was possible for bloggers to automatically link their blog posts on Facebook. No longer. (It’s not just blogs that are affected by this move, either. Auto-posting of tweets to Facebook won’t be possible anymore, nor will it cross-linking be possible from any other service.)

Sure, you can still manually link a post. Log into Facebook and copy/paste the relevant text or URL. Takes two minutes. Except, of course, if you’re a prolific tweeter, blogger, or what-have-you-er, those two minutes per post are going to add up quickly.

What really stings about this move, though, is that it only affects posting to Profiles, not to Pages.

Grossly oversimplified: Profiles are intended for users–consumers, in other words. Pages are intended for groups or businesses–or, as Facebook would prefer to call them, revenue generators.

Pages get less visibility than Profiles. Unless, of course, the owner of the Page pays Facebook to advertise it.

I did mention that Facebook’s eyes are on the bottom line, right?

So where does this leave me? I make no secret of the fact that I’m on Facebook–with a Profile, not a Page–purely because it’s considered to be a major part of an author’s platform. “How are people–readers!–going to find you if you’re not on Facebook?”

Right or wrong (and I’m well aware of the counter-examples, thanks), that’s the reality we live in right now. Nothing has changed in that regard since the Cambridge Analytica revelations. So leaving Facebook still isn’t an option.

If I want my posts to keep showing up on Facebook, I’ve really only got two choices: post manually, or convert my Profile into a Page (and then pay Facebook to promote it).

Converting wouldn’t stop them from selling my personal information to other advertisers, and I really hate the idea of paying them to sell my information. And I’m not crazy about having to post everything twice (and thank you, Twitter for not setting up a similar block).

This post will get a manual link. Future posts will too, at least for the time being–but I’m not about to link to the Friday cat posts at midnight. My loyal Facebook followers will have to wait until I get to my desk Friday morning.

And we’ll see how it goes. I will undoubtedly forget from time to time. No question that I’ll botch the copy/paste periodically. If the whole thing gets to be too big a hassle, I will give up on Facebook, regardless of the “necessity” of being there.

Because, no matter what Facebook thinks–or, more precisely, wants its users to think–Facebook isn’t the Internet.

Who’s Next?

Sorry, but I’m going to get all political on you again. Feel free to ignore my paranoid rantings.

One of the things that QA and writing have in common is the need to answer the question “Why?”

When testing, it’s not enough to know that a certain sequence of steps causes the program to go blooey*. The tester has to try to determine why; the answer to that question will have implications for who’s going to fix the bug and when–or even if–it’ll get fixed.

* Technical terminology.

Similarly, when writing, it’s not enough to know a character takes a certain action. The author needs to know why; characters who act illogically or do something stupid because the plot requires it make readers throw down the book and not buy anything else by the author.

So I’m doubly inclined to ask “Why?” when my government goes blooey.

In this case, the question is “We have a president who continues to spew lies, ignore the advice of his councilors, threaten war, and generally do the exact opposite of working for the benefit of his country. Why, then, has not a single member of his party–the majority in Congress–acted to restrain him?”

Let’s ignore for the moment the question of why Trump acts the way he does. For the most part, it’s irrelevant to the question we’re looking at now. There’s plenty of evidence to suggest that his actions are driven in part by Russian influence. We’ll take that as a given and move on.

Possibility One: No Congressional Republicans are acting to counter Trump because Russia has something on every single one of them.

It’s possible, but improbable. Diogenes notwithstanding, moderately honest people aren’t hard to find. Granted, the ratio is probably skewed in Congress, but the odds still say that there must be one or two Republican congresscritters who haven’t taken money from the NRA or another Russian front organization, been recorded cheating on their spouses or stealing from church poor boxes, and don’t relax by pushing old ladies down the stairs.

More likely, what we’re seeing is a mass case of mental paralysis. Suppose you’re chatting with your friends at a restaurant. The waitress asks “Would you like some dessert?” and you haven’t even looked at the menu. You stare at her while you try to process the question. Finally, she takes pity on you and says “The cheesecake is good,” and you immediately say, “Great, I’ll have that!” even though you don’t much like cheesecake, and would really prefer the strawberry shortcake.

That’s mental paralysis. The honest Republicans never expected to have to decide between party and country, re-election and personal honor, and they’re frozen. They go along with whatever the party wants because it gets them past the brain lock. And maybe cheesecake isn’t so bad after all.

Sooner or later, though, they may start to decide they’re tired of cheesecake and want that strawberry shortcake. We may have seen the first sign of that with Senator Scott’s move to block the appointment of Ryan Bounds to the 9th Circuit Court of Appeals. Kudos to Senator Scott.

But then, why–there’s that question again–does the party leadership not at least act to replace Trump with somebody less polarizing?

Even if we leave Trump’s value as a distraction, allowing them to push their agenda through, who could they replace him with?

Consider the succession. President, Vice President, Speaker of the House, Senate President Pro Tempore.

If Trump is removed–impeached, forced to resign, assassinated, whatever–Pence becomes president and chooses his new vice president. Who must be confirmed by both houses of Congress. The Republicans would need to get their choice past the Senate without a vice president to break a tie. It would only take one Republican breaking ranks to block a candidate.

And if you think Congressional Democrats have mobilized against Brett Kavanaugh, you ain’t seen nothing yet. That fight could easily drag past the November election.

And let’s get real here. If Trump is actually guilty of conspiring with Russia to swing the election, would anyone believe Pence wasn’t also in the plot up to his eyebrows? If Trump goes down, the Democrats block the appointment of a new vice president, and take control of either house in November, then the games get really interesting.

Remember, while the Speaker is an elected position (voted on by the members of the House), the Senate President Pro Tempore is not. That’s based strictly on length of service in the Senate. If the Democrats flip the Senate–which seems more likely than the House–Patrick Leahy of Vermont steps into the succession. Nominally, he’d be fourth in line, but if the vice presidency is vacant, he’d move up a step.

Meanwhile, over in the House… Suppose compelling evidence of wrongdoing by Pence turns up after Trump’s departure. Pence goes down (eventually). With no vice president, we get President Paul Ryan [shudder] and the same logjam in appointing a VP. Assuming, of course, this all goes down before a new Speaker is elected in January. Yes, we really could have a lame duck Representative become president.

Logically, Ryan is as likely to be guilty of collusion as Pence, if not more so. But that might even be beside the point. If Ryan becomes president, he can’t also be a member of the House. Imagine the confusion if the Republican governor of Wisconsin has to appoint somebody to fill Ryan’s seat until the new Congress is seated in January–especially if a Democrat wins Ryan’s district.

Bottom line here: the current situation is chaos, and there’s no clear path to stability for Republicans who, for whatever reason, won’t or can’t relinquish power.

Stay tuned. December may be a very interesting month, especially if Democrats flip both houses in November.

Good News

Because “A Few Things I Learned At Our Local Fourth of July Event” is too long for WordPress’ title field.

Actually, it’s probably not, but it’s not a limit I want to test.

But I digress–and I haven’t even gotten started yet.

Anyway, in this era of divisions, isn’t it nice to know that some things haven’t changed?

Faced with an unobstructed patch of grass, kids still break into spontaneous somersaults and cartwheels.

An ordinary spherical balloon, inflated with air, can still lure children away from their cellphones.

Giant slides and rock-climbing walls…
05-1
draw block-long lines of kids and putative adults.

Mexican hot chocolate is a perfect drink for those moments when you’re waiting for the fireworks to start and freezing your tail off.

(Would it be crass to point out that without immigration, we wouldn’t have Mexican hot chocolate? What the heck, I’ll be crass. I’ll also point out that two of the four food vendors were of Latin antecedents, and the pizza sellers were Indian. I’ll let you guess about the folks selling kettle corn, funnel cakes, fried oreos, and cotton candy.)

Moving on.

Speaking of tails, the police still come up with–dare I say it? Oh, go ahead–wacky ways to project a friendly image.
05-2
Realistically, the officer wearing the suit was probably the only person there who wasn’t freezing his tail off.

Even in a time of drought, climate change, and consequent heightened fire risk, amateurs still feel the need to stage their own firework shows.

A firework show doesn’t need music, nor does it need smiley-faced and heart-shaped fireworks to be compelling.

And children still find ways to be amusingly cynical. One young girl last night had been oohing and ahhing along with the crowd until a particularly bright, spectacular, waterfall bloom appeared. While the rest of the crowd gasped, she proclaimed in tones of great boredom, “I saw that at Disneyland.”

More Paranoia

Well, despite Thursday’s post, I’m still here. Still pissed off, though, so I hope y’all will indulge me in another day of paranoia.

Possibly I’m only still here because I’m not a registered Democrat. As noted idiot Alex Jones of Info Wars informed the world yesterday, the Democrats are starting a civil war on Wednesday. So the Republicans may be a little too distracted to deal with a single independent shouting into the void.

I’m not sure what the problem is here. Wasn’t Jones one of the people calling for more civility from the left? Just can’t please some people, I suppose.

Yes, Jones really said/tweeted it. Called it “breaking news,” even.

Let’s get real, here. Nobody–and I mean nobody–can start a war on demand. Well, okay. Starting a war is no problem. A few cyberattacks, few grassy-knoll assassinations, and well-placed bombs, and Bob’s your uncle. But on a schedule precise to the day? Excuse me while I go laugh hysterically.

Yeah, the provocation can be scheduled, but until the other side strikes back, you don’t have a war. Remember, it takes two to tango, but only one to Whiskey Tango Foxtrot.

Still, it was nice of Alex to give us a couple of days to get ready. I hear all the Democrat-owned supermarkets and big box stores are having special sales. If your local store isn’t offering two-for-one pricing on Kevlar and popcorn, you know the corporate higher-ups are Republicans.

Come to think of it, if he’s got credible evidence that “Democrats” are going to indulge in major provocation, shouldn’t he be reporting it to, say, an organization whose job is to stop terrorist plots? Oh, no wait, the official word from the right is that the FBI isn’t capable of finding the soles of their shoes, much less a threat to America.

Hmm. Speaking theoretically here–I’m a novelist, this is what I do–if I was trying to provoke a war, I’d make sure those crackers, bullets, and bombs were aimed at the institutions and people most capable of defending whoever or whatever I was rebelling against.

Do you suppose Alex is afraid Democrats don’t consider him important enough to attack and this announcement is his way of trying to raise his importance? “Oh, look, I blew the whistle on your plot. Better kill me before I blow the cover off your next operation!”

Got news for you, Alex. Very few Democrats consider you important enough to waste time or money on. If Info Wars or you personally suffer an attack Wednesday, it’s more likely to have been done by your own side as an excuse to take the next step in their plan. You’re not rich enough or highly placed enough to be making targeting decisions, so by definition, you’re expendable.

Seriously though, this kind of pronouncement is a can’t-lose for Alex and the alt-right lunatics he’s talking to. If anything happens on Independence Day, he can trumpet that he told us so. If nothing happens, his warning saved the day. And either way, it’s an excuse to crack down on somebody.

Maybe the media who laugh at Alex*. Or the ones who ignore him. Or the family of the girl who turned one of the decision-makers down when he asked her out in high school. Or anyone whose skin is darker than cornsilk, isn’t a particular brand of Christian, thinks health insurance is a good idea, or even (gasp) once voted Democrat.

* Yes, that means me, among others.

If the movers and shakers behind DT are ready to move into their endgame, all it would take is the sacrifice of one highly-visible pundit to give them an excuse for their own Kristallnacht. And all that sacrifice would take is a single well-prepared operative and a big pile of disinformation.

Why wait for Justice Kennedy to retire before kicking things off?

Okay, okay. Enough doomsaying and paranoid ramblings. I’ll have something cheerful for you in Thursday’s post–assuming, of course, that the civil war hasn’t started by then.

Final Straw

I don’t usually talk politics here. Generally, I prefer to keep the blog a respite from all the crap we face in our daily lives*. I may gripe a lot–especially about poorly thought-out technology–but it’s rarely a matter of life and death; you can read a post, hopefully snicker at the snark, and move on, safe in the knowledge that the world won’t be appreciably worse if you disagree with me.

* Note to any agents reading this: I think my novels fall into the same category. If you think there’s a place in publishing for stories that let readers escape their cares and woes, let’s talk.

But sometimes the piles of poop get too big and I need to vent.

I don’t expect to say anything you haven’t heard before. If you don’t want to read my political rant, feel free to skip today’s post. There will be toe beans tomorrow.

If there aren’t toe beans, it’s because I’ve been hauled off by the Gestapo. Check with ICE. Think that’s unlikely? Think again. We’re seeing more and more reports of Immigration actions hundreds of miles away from any border. Actions featuring demands for proof of citizenship from anyone who isn’t clearly “our sort,” i.e. a white male.

And yes, I am a white male. But I’ve often been asked if I’m Puerto Rican. That’s “other” enough that I might well be stopped and questioned. I don’t know about you, but I don’t routinely carry proof of citizenship. I’m not even sure what is considered proof today. A driver’s license isn’t. Is a passport? Or would I be better off carrying a picture of Trump’s ass so I could kiss it if questioned?

But I’m digressing slightly.

It’s not the Supreme Court’s triple-whammy on unions, abortion, and travel earlier this week. It’s not even Justice Kennedy’s announced retirement. It’s the current administration’s determination to lie, cheat, steal, and shit all over anything that might stand in their way.

If you think there’s any chance of Justice Kennedy’s seat remaining open until after the November elections–much less until the new Congress is seating in January–you really haven’t been paying attention. He retires July 31. I expect the first confirmation hearing before the Senate recesses on August 6.

Hell, it might even happen before his retirement. I fully expect the nomination of his replacement to be fast-tracked. After all, the Republican machine has a perfect excuse. Remember how bad for the country it was in 2016 when those awful Democrats and that horrible fake president refused to appoint a successor to Justice Scalia?

Don’t laugh. Everything else gets blamed on the Democrats. I’m amazed this hasn’t yet.

And that’s my point.

Part of that lying, cheating, stealing, and crapping is to immediately blame everything on the previous administration. Why? Because the tactic works. Over and over again, the opposition gets caught up in debunking the lies, and the actual issue gets lost.

Hey, here’s a charming little scenario for you. The current Supreme Court just demonstrated their willingness to accept “National Security” as an excuse for unconstitutional actions. The next court isn’t going to be less willing.

So, Justice Kennedy retires July 31. A new justice is rammed through the Senate at the beginning of August. Along about October 15, the White House issues an executive order citing potential foreign interference with the November elections. “As such, in order to safeguard America’s precious liberty, elections will be suspended until their security can be guaranteed.”

Let’s be blunt here. It could happen. And if it does, all the evidence we have–everything that’s happened over the past year and a half–shows that Congress and the Supreme Court will go along with it. Oh, sure, there would be plenty of Republicans expressing grave doubts about the consequences, even condemning the president. But there wouldn’t be any Republican action to override the order, and nothing offered by the Democrats would be allowed onto the floor.

At this point, I consider anyone who continues to self-identify as a Republican part of the problem. I don’t care whether they voted for Trump. Every Republican in Congress is part of the problem. Ditto Republican officials at the state level. They’re supported by Republican fund-raisers. They get votes from party members who–even if they held their noses and voted against Trump–continue to vote Republican tickets.

And anyone who thinks they can “take back” the Republican Party is living in a dream world. It’s gone.

There’s only one solution. If there’s an election in November, vote them out. And in the meantime, don’t get distracted by today’s crisis, tomorrow’s uproar, or next week’s revelation. Half of them are going to be manufactured as distractions from the previous fusses, and the rest are repetitions of one single idea: “We–us, the people in power–own the rest of you. You’re working for our benefit, and if you don’t like it, you can drop dead. We’ll even sell you the gun.”

Don’t argue. It just gives them another opportunity to lie.

Don’t rebut the lies. It only makes them stronger, in the same way a song you hear over and over turns into an earworm.

Between now and November, pick an issue. One issue. Clean water to Flint (or Puerto Rico). Asylum-seekers illegally detained. Police violence against minorities. Whatever is most important to you. Do what you can on that one issue. Don’t let yourself get distracted by any other crisis. There are enough of us to deal with everything–you don’t have to do it all yourself.

And on November 6, get your ass to the polls and vote. Vote your conscience. No politeness. No “Give him a chance.” No “He’s not really as bad as all that.” Just no.

SAST 11

Time for another Short Attention Span Theater. This one’s brought to you by the combined efforts of the local trees copulating furiously and the local felines all attempting to drape themselves across my body simultaneously. This is not a combination of events conducive to deep, restful sleep.

First up is your official notification that I’ll be taking two weeks’ vacation beginning Monday. There will be Friday posts continuing our current survey of toe beans. There will probably not, however, be any other posts. Enjoy the peace and quiet.


Let’s get the awkward item out of the way. If you’re sensitive to a certain four-letter expletive–the one beginning with “F”–I suggest you skip ahead to the next item.

Still here? Okay. This license plate and its handmade addendum were spotted in a mall parking lot.
24-1

I’ll note that the mall in question contains–in addition to a supermarket–a martial arts school, a musical instrument store, and several restaurants that actively court families as patrons. Not, in other words, a venue where most people would consider such language appropriate.

That said, I have to wonder if the owner of the car was the one who amended the license plate, or if it was done by someone who was annoyed by the owner.

The car didn’t have the dinged-up look one expects on a vehicle that frequently behaves rudely in traffic, so I doubt the sign was contributed by someone who’d been cut off entering the lot.

Perhaps it’s an attempt to foil license plate cameras? But those usually target the rear plate.

Or maybe the owner is just an asshole. If so, I’ll just note that there are any number of sites offering information about license plate owners. A quick search turned up several which claim to provide names, contact information, arrest history, and more for as little as three dollars a plate. Something to consider next time you feel the need to insult someone from the supposed safety of your four-wheeled fortress.


I spotted this in a recovery room after a minor medical procedure.
24-2

I have to say that the germ doesn’t look nearly evil enough, nor does it look sufficiently annoyed by the threat of handwashing. Maybe a few soap bubbles would help?

The real question, though, is how many people ask? Not just asking to be obnoxious, but because they’re seriously concerned that the person offering them a juice box might not have washed recently.


24-3What in God’s name are we teaching our kids?

That it’s appropriate to wear a mask at the dinner table? That plagues are equivalent to super heroes?

I won’t even get into how difficult it would be to eat with some of those masks on. But shouldn’t the manufacturers have asked themselves whether there was any value in masks so non-representational they need to have identifying labels?

Apparently I’m not the only one questioning these things. This was in the remaindered/closeout aisle at the local supermarket a few days after Passover.

Which raises another question: Should religious education really be left in the hands of a commercial enterprise?


And finally…
24-4What in God’s name are we teaching our kids?

That even multi-millionaire superheros have to get day jobs to live? That pole dancing is an aspirational career path*?

* No offense intended to those who choose pole dancing as a livelihood, whether or not they remove their clothing while dancing. But I suspect even those pursuing the option would admit that, in terms of long-term income potential and retirement savings, it’s down at the bottom of the list with working the counter at a fast food restaurant.

That one needs a fortune in technological wizardry to swing around a pole? Or is that point? Is there an epidemic of stripping on our nation’s playgrounds, and this is part of a discouragement campaign? If so, it’s a little bit better than cracking eggs in a frying pan.

Is it just me, or does anyone else think Bruce Wayne would be likely to earn more as a stripper than Batman? I mean, I’d find those boots, gloves, and utility belt a real turnoff.