HOLY SHIT! No U.S.-Mexico border wall is forthcoming after all, and Mexico was never going to pay for it anyway.
This is a stunner, like the idea going around that the Holocaust is a historical event and that the Apollo missions unfolded exactly as the official record describes.
I have mentioned a few times that I’ve lost a scattering of Facebook friends since the 2016 campaign started, which doesn’t bother me, and a couple of actual friends, which of course does. I did not cut off the other people or browbeat them personally over their voting choices, and would never weigh politics more heavily than real friendship, unless, of course, there was simply no way to establish a meaningful barrier between the two. Read the rest of this entry »
When people refer to a failure of the public school system, what they really mean — often unknowingly, because humans are excellent at not knowing things — is a failure of biology combined with a perverse and resounding success of large-scale tribalism.
I would love to believe that the “It’s 9 degrees outside! Explain that, global warming cultists!” cry that Fox News-dependent primates unfurl every winter is meant as a joke, and that the loudest voices in this off-key yahoo chorus are merely sowing doubt for the sake of political leverage. But in fact, when one visits the comment sections of Fox News (sometimes I get lost), one quickly realizes that huge swaths of the population really do not grasp the notion of — among countless other climate-related concepts — local cooling as a consequence of general warming. It really isn’t that hard to understand, for example, that as polar ice melts, this has effects on atmospheric circulation that can push especially cold air from the Arctic into lower, but still cool, latitudes — say, where Boston and Minneapolis sit.
But people are not machines, and they need to be engaged in what they are being taught to grasp non-intuitive scientific concepts like the one I just outlined. I can think of a number of things I came to understand only after poring over the material numerous times, something I did only because I was highly motivated to learn them and, importantly, not encumbered by cultural reasons to reject them.
When a kid from an Evangelical household in the Bumpkin Belt who passes through his K-12 years and emerges scarcely less ignorant about certain things than he started, it’s probably not primarily the fault of any of the well-meaning teachers he may have had. It’s most likely because he belongs to a tribe that requires him to mightily reject certain concepts, no matter how sensible these appear to kids of a similar age not poisoned by extremely tenacious religious and political dogma. These kids look for all the world like basic morons, but even the smarter ones are capable of sounding no more informed than a typical house plant when it comes to things like evolution and the age of the cosmos, because their parents have inculcated hopelessly fucked-up ideas into their heads.
Now, if people were actually intelligent by some external and reliable standard, we might be better at absorbing and accepting facts. But really, humans are only smart because we’re the best of a weak and pitiful Earthly lot. If I stumbled into a basketball game among pre-schoolers, I am pretty sure I could absolutely annihilate any five-member team the kids could throw together all by myself, especially as soon as I figured out how to get away with vicious flagrant fouls. But this would not offer a valid reason for proclaiming myself a basketball star. We humans might be fairly smart compared to the rest of the animals on our own planet, but compare what even the greatest of humankind’s feeble minds are capable of in relation to even the most virus-riddled CPU from the 1980s, and it’s far more lopsided than “no contest.”
I could spend a lot of time emphasizing where the political left screws up in these areas, too, but I’m trying to offload the least loyal friends I have before moving on to the ones I’m less eager to offend. It’s also a lot easier in this political ecosystem to see where folks normally associated with the right frantically fist-fuck so many basic and seemingly undeniable concepts into unrecognizability. None of those poor waddling souls are aware that Fox News is nothing more than long, slow, non-pharmacological lethal injection that erodes whatever higher cognitive functions they once may have possessed, leaving them only with the capacity to feed themselves and make sojourns to secure groceries, watch stock-car races, and vote for the kinds of people who make the permanent “news” haze seem even more rewarding.
So, while shitty teachers abound just as incompetent workers populate almost every occupation with aplomb, trying to blame the public-school system for the reason so many people grow up making all the sense of farm animals equipped with goat-thought-to-speech devices is wrongheaded, and is a facile argument made by shitpile-hominid hybrids like Betsy DeVos so they can promote even bleaker collective intellects than the one in which all of us sad sacks are continually drowning.
People are dumb and hapless. I am, you are, and most people both of us know are probably even worse off. Life is a thankless task none of us asked to undertake, and the practices we adopt to stave off ennui and misery often make things worse. We are fucked in the head, so it only stands to reason that any solutions we create are bound to magnify the problems. We create tribes filled with, and invariably led by, monumentally ignorant noisy motherfuckers whose ability to maintain a veneer of superior intelligence in the eyes of the deluded is their only real cognitive accomplishment. Blaming schools for the collective intellectual ruin of our citizenry is like blaming aeronautical engineers when a hijacked plane is crashed into a building. We’re a bunch of fucking idiots who gather in groups to jabber, fornicate, and use drugs so it doesn’t seem so bad, and creating enemies of each other is just one more tonic for this sad party.
(You can probably understand why the notion of a global thermonuclear war fails to trouble me much.)
There is seemingly no product intended for oral use that Gwynneth Paltrow doesn’t think is better suited for insertion into the anus or vagina. She is now pimping coffee enemas.
The fact that Paltrow was wealthy before she even started “Goop” makes her a special sort of menace, because she can afford to pay scurrilous doctors to make bogus claims on behalf of her products, which range from useless at best to harmful at worst.
It’s no wonder Coldplay has sucked forever. Who knows what sort of “treatments” Chris Martin and his various non-facial orifices were subjected to before he and Paltrow were divorced four years ago.
Paltrow will probably be the next U.S. Health and Human Services secretary, as long as she can make a case for intrarectal Big Macs and Diet Coke.
I’m reluctant to formally review and grade my performance in life over any well-demarcated time frame. When someone asks me, for example, “What were the high points and low points of April for you?” my mind’s natural tendency is to recognize but downplay the highlights and successes, and home in on and exaggerate the lowlights and failures. The fact that I know this is a common cognitive distortion does little to diminish my indulgence in it.
But here we are at the start of a calendar year, and I seem to frame everything in my life in terms of lists and numbers anyway (a natural tendency for someone who’s been a distance runner or involved in distance running for 33+ years). So, I can produce a list of things to be pleased about, almost none of which I claim credit for orchestrating from scratch, but all of which I at least showed up for. Read the rest of this entry »
My knowledge of computers and operating systems is fairly pedestrian these days, but as a kid I was ahead of the curve for a while, learning BASIC when I was 10 or 11 and later writing some baseball- and running-simulation programs on an IBM PC Jr. (It helped that my dad was a programmer.) My earliest efforts were on an Atari 400/800.
In those days, it was a rare thing even for relatively “with it” adults to know anything about computers that didn’t involve playing games. If someone saw you punching keys with a screen in front of you and called out “Hey nerd,” you probably looked his way with an expression not of hurt but of pride. Only nerds knew how to *really* use computers. (I wasn’t a nerd myself, though. I was extremely suave. In addition to spending summer vacations running endless simulations of 5K races involving fictional runners on nonexistent teams at imaginary schools, I could solve a Rubik’s cube, play chess, create my own scaled-down rip-offs of “Choose Your Own Adventure” books, and execute a variety of other social maneuvers that 13- and 14-year-old girls found irresistible.)
I remember wondering, maybe aloud but perhaps to myself, what would happen if one were to somehow locate a tribe of prehistoric cave people and furnish them with computers. (This was in addition to, of course, furnishing them with well-cooked food and reliable shelter, but only after they reached a certain level of proficiency with Astrosmash and Zork.)
35 years later, I don’t have to wonder anymore. It’s called Twitter, and it has a lot of first-degree relatives.
A few years ago, here in Boulder, I met a guy slightly younger than me named Benji. He was from Wichita Falls, Texas, but had been in the area for six or seven years. We became acquainted under circumstances most people would consider odd, but were pretty ordinary in my world, and his, at the time. He had a winter jacket with him that he didn’t need and didn’t fit him all that well, so he gave it to me. I didn’t “need” it either, but it fit me perfectly, and it has outlasted whatever winter wear I had at the time.
The last time I saw Benji, this fall, near the King Soopers on 30th Street, he was clearly not doing well in a number predictable ways. He had lost his phone and his backpack, and had therefore been parted from pretty much everything he’d had. But he was full of his usual drawling wry humor, and had just gotten hired at a local restaurant, not for the first time. Benji had hard time keeping jobs, but not because he wasn’t a reliable worker. He was actually a relentless worker, experienced in the hospitality industry, and it was plain from the way he spoke that he had the capability to take charge of an industrial kitchen environment. But when his demons started knocking him around, they wouldn’t let up and Benji would be AWOL for long periods.
Benji froze to death somewhere on the streets of Boulder on Christmas Eve, maybe early Christmas morning. I wish I could say I was surprised to learn this.
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…in the same way the most recently emptied dumpster behind a crackhouse is a sterile environment. To label Ivanka or any of the other hapless individuals saddled with a complement of Donald Trump’s ramshackle DNA “intelligent” — as many pundits erroneously did during the 2016 Presidential Campaign, but none are doing now — is a category error, unless, and in some cases even if, the point of comparison is a plant or nonliving object.
With respect to taxes and the deficit, she’s not even pretending to be honest or scholarly. That’s not surprising; Fox & Friends is maybe the loopiest show on a network that is nothing more than a shit-hurling propaganda arm of the White House. And the freedom to ignore reality outright surely comes a relief to the cogitation-averse Ms. Trump; the First Daughter is a misquoter of Einstein — and quoting the man correctly is often a cardinal sign of pseudo-intellectualism — who recoils from topics more complex than a shitty handbag in the same way most people’s minds recoil at having Donald Trump’s discolored and scowling moon-face thrust into an otherwise productive sexual fantasy.
Concerning the decision Sen. Bob Corker (R-Who the Fuck Cares Anymore) made to vote for the final tax bill after it was tweaked in such a way as to assure Corker a personal windfall, Ivanka declared:
“He really believes that tax relief, coupled with the administration’s deregulatory actions, will create the growth that will start to erode and ultimately eliminate the national debt that has been accrued over the last several decades.”
It would be fun, sort of, to give Ms. Trump credit for being cagey here, and for framing everything as something Corker thinks, independent of her own views, in case later events threatened to toss her own rank bullshit back into her face. But she is clearly an idiot or else she wouldn’t even use the combination of words she used her. This is someone who doesn’t merely know the value of the national debt and what the new tax law is assured of doing to it; she obviously has no idea of the factors that increase or decrease its value. She resembles, and very well may be, a tall, Matt Groening-drawn chimpanzee with an overbite and a crude text-to-speech engine implanted in its brain.
Imagine someone telling you, “The best way to improve your fitness is to simply exercise less. If you feel like you’re carrying some extra baggage on your frame, just chillax, and all of that inactivity will stimulate your finally rested body to burn all of the calories its has accrued in past decades.”
That person would have as firm a grasp on human physiology and metabolism as Ivanka Trump has on economics, or any Trump has on anything not related to snarfing Big Macs and Diet Cokes in front of the tube all day, posing as a businesswoman when your crowning achievement in life is being an heiress to a fortune, and repeatedly humiliating yourself on Twitter.
Two weeks ago, shortly before the Roy Moore-Doug Jones face-off in Alabama, an exterminator came to my home to humanely dispatch from the premises a mother raccoon, which had taken up residence somewhere between the second-floor ceiling and the roof in early December. As I returned from a run, he and the homeowner were talking about the potential debacle of a Senate race that was underway, and the exterminator, who looked exactly like Bruce Campbell in his Evil Dead days only bigger, mentioned that he was married to someone who worked for the Denver Office of the District Attorney and had met Moore years ago, long before most people outside of Alabama and atheist blogs had heard of him. When this Denver lawyer, who was part of a group hosting Moore and others from Alabama at a conference, learned that Moore was not only a lawyer but a judge, she was apparently stunned, given his startling lack of knowledge of everything related to the law, or the bench, or reality.
Maybe it’s not a good idea to use Roy Moore as an example of anything other than a demented, theocratic shitbag. But he did at one time manage to get a law degree. That’s supposedly not the easiest thing in the world, even in the decerebrate South.
One of the fun paradoxes of getting a college education is discovering that it’s possible to earn a bachelor’s degree in a given scientific while remaining largely ignorant of that discipline, even if you receive high grades at a reputable school. Read the rest of this entry »
Long ago, people believed mental illness was the result of demonic possession or other “supernatural” forces. Today, mental problems are typically described as resulting from imbalances in neurochemistry, even though there is no such thing as neurochemical balance.
I think it’s time to adopt a more progressive model, which includes exactly three psychiatric states (independent of drug use):
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Cynical though I may appear, I can’t stand defeatist and vacuous arguments of the form, “Z is inevitable owing to a variety of causes, so there’s no reason to eliminate known cause Y.”
I shared an apartment with six other people my junior year of college, two women and four men. This story is not going anywhere close to where you assholes think it is. We five menfolk were collectively intemperate at times when it came to dousing our minds with liquid and botanical intoxicants, and we were also basically kids. So the downstairs was usually somewhere between messy and post-apocalyptic.
I, the neatnik of the bunch (hey, even Trump has staff members someone somewhere thinks of as bright), was one of the two residents who regularly tried cleaning up the place. (The women were not slobs, but they also never stayed downstairs when they were home, so the indoor landfill may as well have been in a different apartment.) One day, three of my roommates walked in just after I’d spent an hour getting the dishes, beer cans and bottles, plates, boxes, discarded newspapers, and dead rodents (OK, it wasn’t that bad) out of the house or into their proper places. The first thing my roommate Brian did when he noticed was zing a bottle cap across the room with an expert flick of his thumb and forefinger. It landed behind a couch I’d just dug out.
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Is calling someone “Pocahontas” an ethnic slur? Assume that it’s not. Why are the people insulted that Trump is being accused of racism for his remarks in Hawaii yesterday even bothering? When you defend someone who doesn’t even hide his own fondness for racial discord against allegations of a racial slur, you only add to the barrage of reasons a lot of people you encounter probably think you’re an idiot. Alternatively, you could be deflecting, like this asshole.
Imagine someone who’s been bragging for two decades that his daddy cheats on his income taxes every year bristling at the very suggestion that his dad went through a highway tollbooth this morning without paying.
But it’s worse than this, of course, because I’ve never seen Trump sound more drunk or mentally disabled than he did during that soliloquy, and identifying anything as such is akin to saying you know for sure which Bazooka Joe comic strip is the least funny. I’ve concluded that a startling number of people, in addition to those who simply like the tumult, genuinely do not know that Trump invariably sounds like someone trying to say the words to “Yellow Submarine” backward while failing to remember all but seven of them. When they say that he sounds like an intelligent speaker, they mean it. This has me once again aching for either the immediate construction and grand opening of the U.S.A. DumberDome (inside joke, sort of) or an intense, nationwide campaign of forced sterilization (hyperbole, maybe).
I liken the current crop of Americans — everyone born since, say, the end of WWII — to several generations of mindless trust-fund kids. We act as if we worked to achieve something great, when from an objective perspective this is complete horseshit; all we’ve done is fortuitously “choose” our shared place of birth, with our forebears having done all the work to get us to where we are.
Make no mistake, I feel incredibly lucky to have been born here and to live here. With almost no exceptions, I feel physically comfortable and safe every moment of every day, have never wanted for food or shelter even in lean times, and have never been under the direct threat of harm from the government or any other organized entity.
At the same time, we’re basically like the one kid in the privileged family who, instead of using his station and what he was given to propel himself further forward, still manages to act like a leering moron most of the time. Yeah, he’s got a degree from a good school and makes good money and has a circle of friends, but most people who meet him recognize that he’s a bumbling, spiteful frat-boy with a silver spoon hanging out of his ass and becoming more tarnished by the day.
There is nothing inherently wonderful, wise, or progressive about Americans as a whole. No country similar to the U.S. socioeconomically has a sizable fraction of people eager to embrace incredibly stupid concepts and practices. You won’t find any prosperous nations besides this one where an astonishing percentage of the population believes in, among various other forms of obvious horseshit, biblical creationism. I’m not sure how we rate versus other countries in the areas of anti-vaccination loons, anti-ESCR, and related solecisms, but I’m guessing we’re not far in front of the puttering sag wagon in those races either.
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As soon as my mother told me she’d seen Chuck Foley’s obituary on Monday, I had a couple of immediate thoughts: one, I didn’t realize Mr. Foley was already over 60 when I graduated from CHS, and two, only with the benefit of adult hindsight had I come to understand the composure and skill with which he had handled a couple of things no one could have seen coming. This article in yesterday’s focuses on the latter.
When the police wound up shooting to death a student who had recently dropped out during my first-period sophomore English class (Mr. Fenton, room 201 or 202; I think we were reading Silas Marner at the time, and if not that, Great Expectations) it was a genuinely shocking event. Understand that in 1985, the incidence of kids bringing guns to school, with or without lethal consequences, was practically zero. And it wasn’t the kind of thing that happened in a relatively affluent, low-crime place like Concord.
Consider this idea that KKKers and white supremacists apparently maintain: they are genetically or otherwise superior to Jewish people. This aspect of their belief system is often ignored because they’re so preoccupied with hating black people.
I don’t know about all of your experiences, but I know quite a few Jewish people for someone who doesn’t get out any more than he needs to. I was actually shocked to learn in my mid-twenties that only about 2 percent of the U.S. population is Jewish, given how many Jews I had hung around with, studied under, and lived with by that point.
There aren’t a whole lot of things about the Jewish people I know that qualify as inferior by even the most outlandish measures. My landlord is a retired dentist who at 70 has a second home on a another continent, surfs, rides his bike around like a maniac, and pretty much dominates Match dot com. One of my best friends is a successful runner and accountant who owns a home in Boulder. My supervisor, a woman from Israel, is a math genius but only on the side because of the other things she’s involved in. This sampling barely scratches the surface; I am just talking here about people with whom I interact almost every day. I often forget that they are Jewish because they never mention it and are all approximately as devout as I am, although I may have to fire up an interfaith prayer group for the locals just for kicks.
Contrast this with a typical cross-section of a Klan meeting, as I understand such gatherings from television and the Web. I am going to offer the tentative opinion that these folks are doing a sterling job of keeping under wraps whatever aspects of themselves they believe to be supreme in either relative or absolute terms. Many are struggling with weight and employment issues, and are not among the most well-spoken, even-tempered men of the citizenry. Collectively, they seem to take perverse pride in saying and doing the most misguided things imaginable while cameras are rolling or the screen-shot police are deployed. They seem wondrously oblivious to operating in accordance with pre-Korean War societal norms. A startling number of their vocal churchgoers wind up embroiled in apocalyptically embarrassing sex scandals.
Now I could be accused of selection bias here, and like I said, there aren’t that many Jewish people in all of the United States — around six million. But when was the last time you read about a cadre of drunken Jews getting caught trying to steal the ATM out of a Waffle House with a pickup and a winch? Or observed a potential member of U.S. Congress named Solomon Goldberg rambling on about how evolution is bullshit and the gay agenda is ruining schools? Alternatively, how many fellows named Cletus Jessup or Homer Gantry do you know who are completing neurosurgery residencies or publishing papers in theoretical physics journals?
I mean, it’s one thing to be jealous, if that’s what this is all about. But come on, trying to dress it all up as smugness and superiority? Time for a new strategy.
- People would be using computers to videoconference in real time
- The notion of “writing letters” would be a quaint memory for most
- Most entertainment (music, movies) would not be stored on the physical media of the day, but retained digitally in remote places or on tiny devices
- The Red Sox would win three or more World Series
- I would run a marathon at 5:30 pace
- I would settle in Colorado
- The U.S. President would be both deranged, stupid, and proudly immoral
- A lot of people would be happy that the POTUS was deranged, stupid, and proudly immoral
- That POTUS would be Donald Trump
According to another depressing poll from the Pew Research Center, churches and banks earn more trust from Americans than colleges and the media. Not surprisingly, Republicans and right-leaning people are more openly hostile toward reality and more eager to embrace horseshit and ruinous influences than others.
Say what you will about the media and higher education, but lying to people for the purpose of parting them from their money is almost the sole intent of the people running churches and banks. Read the rest of this entry »
Donald Trump walks into a hotel room. Vladimir Putin is standing at the foot of the bed with his pants around his ankles, clasping his rigid phallus, which Trump enviously notes is nearly four inches long. Ivanka lies naked on the bed, arms and legs akimbo, a pool of yuck betwixt her meticulously groomed thighs, and even more vacant look than usual on her kewpie-doll features.
“Did you just fuck my daughter?” Trump asks incredulously (and again, with no small amount of envy).
“Of course not,” declares Putin, nonchalantly tucking his rapidly deflating meat-whistle into his goofy pants. “We were just discussing policy.”
“Great!” booms Trump, his familiar ugly rictus of a “smile” quickly polluting his features. “We’re done here — but would you consider naming some good folks to my new U.S. Anti-Extramarital Affairs Council? Send me your best.”
Donald Trump remains a bloated old shitbag who looks so openly irate and stressed and confused while performing the most basic of tasks, like signing his own name, that it’s impossible to not feel a modicum of pity at the sight of him in addition to the frustration and despair any decent or sane person has to experience when confronted with the fact that we Americans live in a country that elected such a worthless human being president, and therefore live in a country with numerous people whose major function as citizens is taking up space unnecessarily until they blessedly expire and rot into forgotten irrelevance, as Trump himself will do one day erelong.
I’d love to tell him all of this to his face, but the real impact of this executive order, like so many of his preceding ones, is probably minimal. He’s basically telling preachers of the swamp-dwelling Elmer Gantry type that they can officially tell parishioners whom to vote for, which is like giving a teenage boy permission to masturbate vigorously and often. Read the rest of this entry »
It seems that the inspirational-quotes genre — and I’m talking about entire Twitter feeds and e-mail lists devoted to the phenomenon, not the posting of a few go-get-’ems here and there — should be self-limiting. Exhortations to ditch negative people and situations in favor of joyful smiles and unconditional love would disappear from circulation if these quotes were actually inspirational in the literal sense, because people the world over would simply put all of these messages to practical use and no longer need to continually receive them.
But of course it doesn’t work this way. The people I know who love posting kum-ba-ya fluff are often inspired to do no more than repeat this exact process every day, and worse, they are usually contemptuous gasbags and founts of banality who blame others for their dismal life choices and attendant poor outcomes. Read the rest of this entry »
I grew up in a nonreligious household in what was even then a notably irreligious part of the country (an hour north of Boston in New Hampshire). Dad had gone to Catholic school in the Midwest but never bought the scheme; Mom had gone to some nondenominational Protestant church as a matter of social course and was told little more than “Don’t wear make-up and short skirts.” There was no Internet, all of my churchgoing friends were Catholic, and discussions of theology among friends and family members were just not a part of my life. I did understand that atheists were a much-tsk-tsked bunch of people, but this was mostly an abstraction. Read the rest of this entry »