kemibe

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Let’s go out with a bang

This appeared on the Internet recently. It’s a very common trope, and the more reasons that emerge to disbelieve it, the more people like this one dig in their heels and engage unwittingly in intellectual self-abasement.

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When someone overdoses on heroin, political leaders and other members of society don’t typically start jabbering about the number of responsible high-seekers who can use opioids safely, or the vast number who take prescription painkillers without selling them to people who then grind them up and snort them, etc. Sure, the government doesn’t actually care about the opioid epidemic at the moment, but no one is actually coming out and saying that drugs aren’t the problem in drug addiction and overdose deaths.
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And like that — “poof!” — you’re a cowardly shitbag

Of all the obnoxious things people perpetrate against their friends and more-than-friends — stealing, infidelity, broken promises, and other forms of disloyalty — I think that ghosting is the worst.

For those who don’t know, this just means disappearing from someone’s life without any explanation. It happens plenty on social media between people who aren’t actually friends, which doesn’t count, and it’s a common tactic of potential employers, which is infuriating but also doesn’t fall under the umbrella of what I’m describing here.

I’ve noticed that the correlation between situations I would expect to result in ghosting and the ones that actually do is fairly weak. That is, the few times it’s happened to me, and in the instances on my friends’ lives that I know of, the people who have done it have had far less apparent reason(s) for doing it than various others who have been given every reason to commit a ghosting, but haven’t.

Interestingly, the only three times it has happened to me that I can think of have involved perpetrators from a very small U.S. region. (In one instance, it was actually a welcome thing because the other party was a bucket case with nothing to offer me or anyone else besides static and nonsense.) This place may be the Iten Province of ghosting; this wouldn’t surprise me, since anyone who’s been near it, from apocalyptic warmongers to noble civic leaders, would cheerfully agree that continuously shelling this locale for about a week straight would improve its overall profile and that of the U.S. and humankind overall.

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Guns really are dicks, or something like that

About half of gun owners say that having a gun is either a very important or somewhat important part of their identity.

Think about that. How many of you can point to a single material possession you think defines you in any way? You might say “My car” or even “My college degree” (with the latter obviously symbolizing an experience rather than standing as a “possession” in the usual sense). But what sort of person actually associates a weapon, or any one object, with a strong sense of self?

Apparently, millions of people who own guns do Read the rest of this entry »

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The gushing sewer pipe in the middle of Bill O’Reilly’s face

In the aftermath of the school shooting in Parkland, Florida, the right-wing media has advanced two ideas about the students who survived it and are speaking publicly about it: they’re too young and emotionally distraught to have valid opinions on the issue of gun control, yet at the same time they’re savvy operators being coached or even paid by liberals to parade themselves in front of the cameras and therefore cannot be trusted on the matter gun control.

Either way, the message is the same: “Don’t engage these silly kids on this issue.”

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I’m not going to claim that I ever endured anything remotely resembling what these students did. But as a high-school sophomore in December 1985, I was, in fact, present for a school shooting at a time when those were extremely rare (the lone fatality was the shotgun-toting former student himself). And one month later, a teacher at my high school was killed on national television along with six others in a space-shuttle mishap while virtually all of us, from the superintendent of schools to the cafeteria ladies, watched. I saw my teachers and other adults on the scene sobbing and wandering the hallways in shock, no better prepared to handle this unexpected plot twist than any of us kids were;  this collective breakdown was itself an unreal tableau.

I would say that counts as trauma by any reasonable standard. And it didn’t mean our brains were hobbled.

When you’re a teenager, no matter how skeptical and scornful you might be toward your elders — especially teachers and parents — at some level, you tend to believe that they are better or stronger than you, or at least immune to crippling fits of emotion. That’s how it was in the 1980s, anyway, and it was still true in 2001, as I saw during the 9/11 attacks. You tend to think that only obvious psychopaths like Jeffrey Dahmer are ruined grown-ups, and you tell yourself you’ll never confront such monsters anyway.

As a result, I cannot imagine how appalled I would have been in the wake of Challenger disaster to see a supposed adult – a news figure, no less, or at least a flapping  face on a TV screen — attempt to delegitimize my and my classmates’ ideas and feelings by declaring, in effect, “Whatever those Concord High kids are saying about the space program, NASA, Morton Thiokol — they’re not reliable commentators on any of it.” Sure, we were kids, but a lot of is were already a fuck of a lot more on the ball and worth listening to out there than at least half of the adults in this country.

But we didn’t know it. In those days, there was no national-scale media-propaganda outlet set aside especially for stupid and insane people, as there is now. Carnival-barker media figures like O’Reilly, Tucker Carlson, Sean Hannity, and every other squint-eyed piece of shit out there didn’t exist except in their ugly formative stages. Unfortunately, the sort of ignorant, resentful, incompetent mouth-breathing, Bible-banging bumpkins did, and they were an untapped market, unknowingly waited for a series of wrinkly peckers to metaphorically (in most cases) fellate (or worse).

Anyone suggesting that the kids in Parkland have an emotional stake in  what they’re saying is absolutely correct. But trying to say this doesn’t matter is both obviously stupid and cruel. And people like Bill O’Reilly know it.

Also, my inclusion of that response from Shannon Moore, whoever she is (“a witch in search of her hat” is my first guess) was no accident. Despite being a simpleton, this “Christian” — who on her profile at least has the honesty to refer to herself as an aspiring writer,  which makes sense given the wealth of basic grammatical and factual errors on her shitblog —  is among the many amateur conserva-pundits pretending as though a handful of young people eating detergent constitutes a generation-wide phenomenon. Millions of howling rednecks, most of them older Americans like Shannon Moore, believe the crap spraying from the face-anuses of O’Reilly and Donald Trump every day, and most of them are “Christians” who think the cheerleader-fondling Roy Moore should have been elected because party loyalty. I’d say the latter peer group constitutes a greater danger to society than the former one does. Fortunately, they’re older and will die fairly soon, although not soon enough, the damage they’ve done will live on even as their bloated corpses rot unpretentiously away, the charred imaginary souls within destined for a Hell that unfortunately is as much of a lie as the rest of the nonsense these syphilitic twats believe.

If Trump were serious about an infrastructure overhaul, he would find a way to permanently plug the gushing sewer pipes extending from the faces of O’Reilly, Hannity, Carlson, Laura Ingraham, Dana Loesch, and of course himself and the various misbred proto-hominid life forms in his own family. He would find a way to detoxify the source of these messes, so whatever later emerged into the restored face-conduits was less obviously wrongheaded and inflammatory.

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Mass shooter kills 137 good guys with guns at NRA gathering

PECKERWOOD HEIGHTS, Tenn. — An armed gunman attending a National Rifle Association convention opened fire on his fellow Second Amendment enthusiasts yesterday, killing 137 and wounding 823 others and orphaning dozens of rifles — some as young as six days old — in a matter of eight horrific minutes.

The massacre, believed to be the deadliest U.S. shooting to occur so far today, took place inside the spacious theater of the Christian school that hosted the gathering. A video presentation instructing NRA members how to properly deal with irrational analysts intent on linking guns to gun violence had been playing for approximately 20 minutes when a 46-year-old former Marine combat veteran calmly trained the AR-15 military-style automatic weapon he had been casually brandishing on the front row of viewers and began dischargingn rounds of at a rate of 10 bullets per second while slowly rotating the muzzle clockwise. Before anyone could do more than let fly howls of terror and dismay, witnesses said, the man — whose name the gun lobby is declining to release owing to a high likelihood of negative media coverage by cowardly leftists — had also deployed a light anti-tank weapon, tossed several lethal grenades, and a tricked-up Kalashnikov capable of firing tiny conical thermonuclear warheads with a muzzle velocity of 1,100 meters per second.

“Sometimes,” marveled an owner of 54 firearms from Who The Fuck Cares, Texas, “bad people just find a way to make guns do stuff guns was never intented to do, and good people get killed.”

The dozens of surviving NRA members who were literally inches to feet away from people who lost their lives vowed to find the ultimate reason for this grisly attack, adding that had any armed private citizens been on hand to intercede, well over 130 of the fallen with various kinds of guns still strapped to their shredded corpses would surely have lived to see another NRA convention.

“Ole Jim there would have been ready for something like this,” said one survivor, pointing to a slain man lying a few feet away whose head now consisted of a pool of blood, skull fragments, and brain matter. “He was always packin’ heat and had an eye for miscreants. No psycho could’ve got the jump on him.”

“We’re sending our heartfelt thoughts and prayers to the deceased and their families, as well as each other,” declared Wayne Lapierre, the cult’s supreme leader for many harvest moons in a row now. “We feel it’s unfortunate that the Democrats, in their haste to blame NRA members whenever some nutbag from a domestic terror sponsor commits violent gun act, are probably going to politicize this first like they always do.”

At press time, a naked Dana Loesch was attempting to crack a coconut open with her thighs as part of filming another “We’ll Die Before You Take Our Guns” YouTube video for the NRA.

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The Space Shuttle Challenger disaster: an anthology of reflections and perspectives

Today marks the 32nd anniversary of the loss of the Space Shuttle Challenger and its seven-astronaut crew. On January 28, 1986, the craft was ripped apart 73 seconds after it lifted off from Cape Canaveral, Florida. All seven astronauts on board lost their lives, probably when the still-intact and depressurized crew cabin crashed into the Atlantic Ocean.

At the time, two-thirds of a lifetime ago, I was a sophomore at Concord High School, where Christa McAuliffe taught social studies. I was also a lifelong aficionado of astronomy and the space program, and was surely between girlfriends. As a result, I formed a lot of memories of this event and its aftermath – in terms of both the Concord community and NASA – in the days, weeks, months, and years that followed.

In 2007, I expanded on these memories in a series of five posts on the Chimp Refuge, then housed at ScienceBlogs.com; one year later I underwent a surprising experience related to the disaster, leading me to write another post. Links to all six of these entries are below, but — not to sound too much like a K-Tel record ad from the 1970s — I have collected all of them into this post. That’s right, for the first time, you can get all of these amazing hits in one place!

I have monkeyed with this migrating content so many times over the years that I am not confident of how many of the links, internal and otherwise, might be dead. But technical perfection is not the goal here, which may strike alert readers as sadly ironic. 

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Reality doesn’t bite, it gnaws and gnaws

Lots of people who were around before the advent of the World Wide Web blame the Internet for the apparent decline in people’s respect for one another in the past 25 or so years. They imagine that the ability to remain anonymous, the tendency of people on social media to form thought-bubbles, and even Donald Trump’s Twitter account have made inroads on people’s sense of honor and dignity.

I’m an optimist, so I accept that little has changed since I was a kid, and that in any society, most people are dishonest, uninformed, corrupt, incompetent, and self-serving by default and to varying degrees at different times. This has always been true and always will be until the warm, although admittedly abrupt, embrace of a multitude of glorious mushroom clouds erases us all in a giddy thermonuclear rapture.
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This is what everyday insanity looks like

And most of it isn’t even my own.

I’m going to try to present the continuation of this nonsense in a somewhat more succinct form than I did last time. This is partly because all words devoted to Kim Duclos’ hijinks are by some measure a waste of time, but also because I don’t think I need to belabor the obvious by overthrowing my analysis into the mix; there are no alternative interpretations of Kim’s idiocy other than “it’s idiocy.”

About a week after the appearance of the “Thoughts on removing posts from homeless individuals asking for help?”  thread on the Boulder subreddit — a topic I learned of days after the fact and stayed out of — someone submitted a link to an article in 5280 Magazine about dangerous people camping in the foothills west of town. It didn’t take long for the human-bullfrog hybrid behind “legal_throwaway34,” having a tropism for anything that lets her blather about her caricature of me as well as indirectly vent her own long-ago-disclosed fears about becoming homeless, to find her way to this thread. She posted this:
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What next? Vaccines don’t really cause autism?

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 »

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Lunatic troll doubles down on self-abasement: part 89 in an infinite series

Perhaps you’ve encountered this kind of thing before: Someone is caught in an undeniable, flat-out  lie on the Internet, and instead of fessing up or simply disappearing, he or she compounds the entire uproarious fuckup with ever-more-ridiculous lies while becoming markedly more agitated after every reply from her interlocutors. This person decides she will fight until the bitter end, reality be damned, her headlong rush into sheer humiliation notwithstanding.

In adopting a “go big or go home” mentality with respect to all-important Internet wars, this brand of troll ignores a simple, critical fact: from the moment the exchange first started, there was zero chance of her “winning,” by any definition.

I mentioned that I’d be addressing Kim Duclos’ using the death of one of my friends as tool for hammering away at her usual bullshit: that I’m a homeless, criminal, abusive gutter-drunk who relies on some combination of the local shelter, the charity of the woman I beat up, running prowess, thievery, and mind control to get what I want out of my sad and hopeless life. Kind of like a combination of Alex DeLarge, James Bond, and Jeff Lebowski.
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A mini wrap-up, new stuff, and people whose 2018 has begun badly

The start to my 2018 has been unusually stressful, as much owing to venturing out of my comfort zone as to “problems.” So far, after receiving a delightful and unexpected end-of-year pay bonus from my primary work client on December 31st, I’ve gotten into a minor car accident (I won’t get into whose fault that might have been here), managed to misplace $100 in cash (a downstream effect of thinking I’d lost a debit card in December during a run without actually having done so), been interviewed by the Boulder Daily Camera about the Christmas morning death of one of my friends, and spoken at a Boulder City Council meeting concerning issues related to that death. I’ve also experienced a few other minor setbacks and frustrations lately, but nothing really new or worth writing about — even in this space, which is clearly nothing more than a repository for cognitive flatulence that would otherwise be allowed to dissipate unnoticed.

But compared to Kim Duclos, I’m on pace to conquer the entire solar system by Saint Patrick’s Day, including the Oort Cloud. More on that relentless one-monkey shit-war under the fold, but inasmuch as Kim’s thought processes include any deliberation at all, she seems to have accepted that she has turned her own life into a bad joke from which she knows she will never escape, and is therefore willingly offering herself up as a rhetorical punching bag at regular intervals. (I know this theory is false, and that Kim is just an unbalanced dimwit who thinks that using the same shady tactics that have resulted only in the deepening of her own shame and sense of powerlessness 99 times in 99 tries will somehow prove fruitful on her 100th attempt. But as a comparatively normal person, I can’t help but view others’ behavior and decision-making through an everyday lens.)

I already summarized my 2017 from an overall perspective on my other blog. Since a lot of my life, however grudgingly at times, involves running, assessing how any given year has gone necessarily entails figuring out what was good and bad about my training, performances, outlook, and general relationship to the sport. Last year, having started on the ground fitness floor in December 2016, I worked up to consistent 65- to 75-mile weeks didn’t miss a day of running until mid-July, and along the way managed a sub-par but not wildly disappointing 38:31 at the Bolder Boulder on Memorial Day. I weathered my midsummer knee injury with unprecedented composure (in years past, I often drank my way through such issues) but when I came back after my five-week layoff, I realized that what I suspected at the start of the year was mostly true: I just don’t care enough about the possibility of rising to a less mediocre level to put a lot of focused work into that, even if my body allows it.
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Don’t blame public schools for poor substrate and losing ideological battles

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.

9ae2616cf9cd4d27e2ce01e15bd72516I 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.)

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And I thought *I* was an overcaffeinated asshole

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.

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MMXVII

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 »

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Maybe this was Ted Kaczynski’s real fear

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.

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On the night before Christmas, dreams froze forever

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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Ivanka Trump is the genius of the gang

…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.

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More Ivanka’s groove: chillin’ with fellow MENSA impresario Paris Hilton (ANG/Fame Pictures)

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.

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The unlimited limits of an education

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 »

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Simplifying the DSM

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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Who are the real cynics?

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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