Three Decades of Social Media Still Unable to Produce Anything More Useful Than a Cat Meme

Every so often I give social media a quick look to see if it has produced anything useful whatsoever yet.

It still hasn't. Cat memes are still the highest level of intellect it can produce.

The Constitutional Crisis

I thought at first the constitutional crisis might not happen until after Donald Trump gets inaugurated, but now I am thinking it may be sooner.

My original thought was that the Executive Branch would go into crisis once Trump and his hand-picked cronies get into the White House and realize they are completely unprepared for the task at hand.

However, after allegations by the CIA that Russia hacked the election in favor of Mr. Trump, it appears we are smack dab in the middle of the constitutional crisis right now, because the legitimacy of the Presidential election itself is now in question.

On the bright side, this current crisis is easily fixable, without the difficultiez that would exist after Inauguration Day. One solution is for the Electoral College to act in the way it was constitutionally designed to work. The forefathers did not trust the public to behave in a rational and fair manner - mostly rightly so - and so they made allowances for Electors to have the final say and fix biases and discrepancies. They are in fact duty bound to do so. They could honor the popular vote and cast their electoral votes for Hillary Clinton, or at the very least abstain from voting for Trump, which could swing the election in Mrs. Clinton's favor if enough of them did so.

That would be the least extreme remedy to the current constitutional crisis. A more extreme and difficult one would be to hold new elections, though there is little guarantee that the same problems that plagued the first run through would not happen again, particularly tampering with voting machines.

Remedying the constitutional crisis of an unfit President after Inauguration Day is uglier. Mike Pence could declare Donald Trump unfit and with the blessing of Congress basically sack Trump and become President himself. That would be a disaster.

Other crisis resolution measures probably exist. What do you suggest, dear reader? The only certainty is that a constitutional crisis is at hand, no matter how you look at it.

Cabal

Hanz toyed with the jump drive in his trouser pocket as he waited for the portly election official, Ted Kearney, to sort through his ring of keys and open the door to the room in the Waukesha County Courthouse that housed the electronic voting machines for most of the polling places in the county.

"Here we go," Kearney said inserting a key into the deadbolt and pushing open the door to the windowless room. "Now I hope you understand that I'll need to be present while you're updating the machines."

"Understood," Hanz said with a smile and a nod. This is almost too easy, he thought. "All I need to do is upload the new code from this jump drive." He pulled the certified drive from his breast pocket and dangled it in front of Kearney like a hypnotist mesmerizing his subject. "It only takes about a minute to do one machine. What are there...like forty macines here?"

"Sixty two," said Kearney. "So about an hour then?"

The man looked a little nervous to Hanz.

"Something the matter?" Hanz asked.

"Well, I'm a little emarassed to mention it, but I've got a bit of a prostate thing," Kearney said sheepishly. "It's got me running to the john pretty regular. I'm just trying to work it so I don't have to interrupt you while you're doing your thing, but I can already tell I'm gonna get the call here in a few minutes..."

Hanz held up his hand. "Look these jump drives pretty much do my work for me," Hanz said. "If you need to go, I can step out in the hall and wait. Not a problem, as long as I get to Brookfield by noon."

"Alright then. Much appreciated," said Kearney.

"For now, if you don't mind, maybe you can help me boot up some of these machines for me...save me some time?" Hanz inquired.

"I can handle flipping a switch," Kearney said. "Beyond that any computerized stuff is way over my head."

"I'll start with this one," Hanz said, picking up one of the black metallic laptop-sized voting machines and flipping up its digital screen. "You just press this Power button. Go on down the line and turn on as many as you can."

The chubby election official did as he was told. Hanz put the machine he was holding on one of the desks that lined the wall of the room and pulled a chair up to it. The machines were ugly no frills affairs that ran simple programs to record and tally votes. They slotted into the voting booths via specialized 10 pin ports. Although the devices had USB ports, these were inaccessible while the machines were ported to the voting booth. But they were freely available to cleared Election Commission officials like Hanz.

Once the device had completely booted up, Hanz glanced over at Kearney to ensure the man was preoccupied with his task. Then he quickly reached into his pants pocket and withdrew the dummy jump drive, identical in every way to the certified one in the breast pocket of his shirt, and slotted it into the USB port on the side of the box. There was no indication that anything was happening until a pop-up window appeared about a minute later that said System updated. No risk found.

Hanz sighed with relief knowing that the hacked code had successfully installed.

Kearney was about halfway through turning on the other machines as Hanz began the upload to a second machine.

"Everything OK?" Kearney inquired merrily from across the room.

"Right as rain," Hanz said. "No bugs apparently."

"That's a relief," Kearney said. The man made three runs to the restroom before Hanz finished all the machines.

When the last machine was done, Hanz palmed the dummy jump drive, an old trick he'd learned as an amateur magician years earlier, and held the certified drive out to Kearney.

"All done," Hanz said. "Now you keep this locked up somewhere safe until after the election in case of an audit."

Kearney took the drive. "Yep. We put it in the wall safe right here," Kearney said walking over to a keypad coded door on one of the walls of the room. He pressed a few of the numbered keys with his chubby fingers and pulled the door open to reveal the sizeable interior of a felt lined security safe similar to one you might find in a hotel or on a cruise ship. It didn't look very secure to Hanz, but he didn't care. His work was done.

After Hanz had left the courthouse he dropped the dummy jump drive on the concrete of the parking lot and ground it to shreds with the heel of his foot. He had several more in the glove compartment of his car and if all went well he would have hacked several election precincts in Wisconsin by the end of the day. Hanz got in his car, pulled out his cell phone, and dialed a number.

It rang a couple times and then someone answered. "Grossman. Who's this?" said his client, Glenn Grossman, a hardcore conservative Wisconsin state legislator.

"Klemmer," said Hanz. "It's done."

"Any issues?" Grossman asked.

"Clean," Hanz said.

"You know the protocol," Grossman said. "Payment will be direct deposited within 24 hours. This conversation never happened. The Fourth Reich thanks you for your service. Heil Fuhrer Trump."

"Heil Trump," Hanz replied and hung up.

Author's Note: This is fiction.

Study Finds Most of Society's Problems Caused by 3Ds

FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE
Contact: Joe Leonard, ragbraijoe@yahoo.com

Madison WI, December 1, 2016 - In a recent study, scientists observing human society have concluded that 99% of society's problems derive from three main groups of people: douchebags, dumbsh!ts, and drama kings/queens (dubbed "the 3Ds").

"Douchebags are individuals who willfully enjoy stirring sh!t up and dumbsh!ts are individuals who unwittingly eff sh!t up," said Dr. Mason Scott, principal investigator on the multi-year study of the world's societies that looked at the underlying causes of the world's effed up sh!t. "Drama kings and queens are the specific subset of individuals who cannot survive without a bunch of effed up sh!t happening in their lives, so they in turn spawn more of the former two groups. Together, these three groups cause 99% of society's problems. The remaining 1% of society's problems stem from natural disasters that are beyond human control."

An example cited in the study was the drinking water lead poisoning in Flint MI.

"There you had an example of douchebags doing some bad sh!t to people on purpose and then dumbsh!ts effing the sh!t up even more," said Doris Runkimflunch, an overworked and exploited graduate student who culled thousands of news reports for the study. "Their was douchebaggy racism and greed that catalyzed the problem, followed by complete and total ball dropping by dumbsh!t EPA regulators, the Justice Department, and the corporate mainstream media. Then you had drama kings making all kinds of wild conspiracy theories that just effed everything completely up."

One of the 2020 underdog Party Party candidates for President of the United States, Cactus Joe, has integrated the results of this highly scientific study into his policy on fighting domestic terrorism.

"When I'm elected by write-in voting in 2020 (you know...because I am against money in politics of any kind), one of my first acts after inauguration will be to turn Guantanamo Bay Cuba into a detention center for known douchebags, dumbsh!ts, and drama kings and queens," Cactus said. "Don't get me wrong...it will not be a prison. In fact, I want it to be a tropical island paradise, completely non-punitive and with free booze and luxuries (you know...cuz I'm not a douchebag). It will be quite pleasant and the 3D people can excercise their douchy dumbsh!t drama freely there, but away from normal society. If they give up their 3D ways, they can return to their homes."

Critics have pointed out that Guantanamo Bay would be far too small to house the more than half of the world's population that would initially fall into the 3Ds classification. Cactus Joe refutes this but has proposed a backup plan.

"I am in talks with Australia about renting out a good part of their country for the overflow," Cactus said. "It would be kind of a halfway house for recovering 3Ds. The place was once a penal colony for British douchebags and dumbsh!ts, and most of the land mass is currently uninhabited. It wouldn't be quite as nice as Cuba as far as tropical island paradises go, but it is still an island that is far away from most people, and the brutal heat and poisonous animals would encourage 3Ds to quickly normalize in order to get away from those threats."

The Australians have said the cost for such a plan would exceed the world's GDP by about one million fold because the Aussie's don't like the idea of douchebags and dumbsh!ts swarming their country either.

Walmart to Host Rare 26 Hour "Black Hole" Friday Sale

In an effort to maximize Black Friday profits and edge out the competition, Walmarts across the country will harness a rarely used law of physics to keep their doors open for a time-busting 26 hours on Friday November 25th.

"Last year we noticed that several of our stores in geographic regions with large morbidly obese populations, one of our primary demographics, like Mississippi, had more hours of sales than there are hours in a day," said Tom Schiller, a spokesperson for Walmart. "We couldn't make sense of that until we were approached by a quantum physicist who speculated that these stores might be experiencing a relativistic phenomenon where concentrated areas of high mass actually warp the fabric of the universe, slowing down time."

This year, by densely packing America's heaviest people into stores, Walmart will create small areas of extreme human mass, thus generating pockets of higher gravity than the surrounding areas. Anxious holiday shoppers are unofficially calling the event "Black Hole Friday."

"Because of Einstein's Theory of General Relativity, time actually moves more slowly in these regions of high gravity," said Seth Rheingold, a physicist contracted by Walmart to optimize space-time for the best customer shopping experience on Black Friday. "To observers in the parking lot, customers inside the store will appear to be moving more slowly, even though these customers will perceive time normally within the store. Once customers leave the gravitational sink inside a Walmart store, they will find they still have a couple of additional hours left for any other holiday shopping they need to do."

Walmart officials are cautioning eager customers not to rush to get into their local Walmarts for Black Friday deals. "Our biggest concern for our most popular stores is generating too much relativistic time warping," Rheingold said. "It is theoretically possible that having too many high mass people in such a small area could actually create so much gravity that an event horizon will form around the store, similar to a black hole, and literally trap customers inside until well after Christmas, which would kind of defeat the purpose of early holiday shopping anyway. So just take your time, because that's something Walmart customers will uniquely have a great deal more of on Black Friday."

Some obesity advocacy groups have criticized Walmart for exploiting overweight people and have threatened legal action.

"We love our rotund customers and are simply making the best use of a natural phenomenon," Schiller said in response to these criticisms. "We couldn't offer these extra hours of Black Friday savings without these massive people. They are our bread and butter, and you better believe we will be offering some special savings 'by the pound' just for them."

Why America Will Be An Intolerable Place to Drive Under a Trump Presidency


You probably have already noticed it if you do any significant amount of driving on the roads where you live...there are way more dickheaded drivers driving since election day. There have always been these kinds of drivers, but since the surprise election of Donald Trump as POTUS, the number of them has been rising meteorically. This is not coincidence nor your imagination. It's a direct result of Donald Trump's win on election day. Here's why...

Trump's candidacy brought a lot of douchebags out of the woodwork: misogynists, racists, rapists, ethnocentrists, Christian religious extremists, homophobes, and several other subgroups collectively known as "haters." Trump gave voice and a perceived legitimacy to these kinds of people. After all, if a hater can viably run for President, then hating must be legit right? Wrong. But that is neither here nor there. The point is that the haters felt legitimized, and feelings are all that really matter in the fabricated reality TV universe we now live in (Thanks, Kim Kardashian!). The Corporate Mainstream Media certainly seemed to think Trump was legit. However, Trump was never expected to win, even by a lot of his own more reality-based supporters. When he did, Trump supporters and non-supporters alike went off the deep end completely. Trump supporters now had full licence not just to think and say hateful things, but even to DO them. Trump's win has given his supporters a sort of hate mandate (a mand-hate, if you will...) and they now have a sense of superiority that you can expect them to fully exercise in public, such as on the roads.

Conversely, just about everyone who was and is not a Trump supporter is super feckin' pissed off and angry post election day. Their fuses are short and they have a lot of inner angst to work through, especially Hillary Clinton supporters, whose candidate pretty much failed them (she should have trounced Trump handily but she played her 1% elitist card too soon and alienated a lot of independents and progressives).

When these two groups of people - Trump supporting haters and angry as hell, though otherwise goodhearted, liberals - take to the roadways, it's a recipe for pain. Trump supporters translate their perceived legitimacy and superiority into aggressive douchebaggy driving (weaving their Audis in and out of traffic or riding their gigantic gas guzzling pickup trucks - in honor of Trump's small hand size - right up on your rear bumper), whilst angry and resentful liberals, more prone to passive-aggressive lashing out, might drive painfully slowly or indecisively, or give you the stink eye for no good reason. You can probably see that this combination is a recipe for some intolerably shitty assed driving on America's roadways.

For the rest of us who just want to drive from point A to point B as conveniently and hassle free as possible, the best option is to avoid these types of drivers as best you can. When you see such drivers, keep your distance or take an alternate route if you can. If a douchey Trumpie driver in a souped up Hummer tailgates you ridiculously close, gradually slow down to a safe speed to ensure you don't get rear ended. Sure an accident would totally be the Trump supporter's fault but you don't need the headache of dealing with car damage and police reports and your insurance going up. Plus, slowing down will put the brakes on their bullying behavior and force them to take evasive measures, like coal rolling past you, engines ablaze. When they go by, wave at them and smile to thank them for getting the hell out of your comfort zone (this will, ironically, infuriate them). When you see angry liberals creating traffic hazards by, say, stopping on busy thoroughfares to altruistically let pedestrians jay walk, keep a level head and just wait out their overcompensation. Keep an ample distance between your car and the one ahead in case other lefty drivers swoop in to save their small slice of America.

As an Uber driver, I am more cognizant of the subtle effects of various factors on traffic conditions. For example, I have noticed that drivers tend to be significantly nicer and better behaved during the morning commute than during the evening one. This is because morning drivers have not yet been totally aggravated by a full day of workplace bullshit and might be content with their good sleep the night before and a belly full of breakfast and coffee. But evening drivers just want to escape said workplace bullshit as quickly as possible so they can get home and drown their misery in booze or mindless televised entertainment. They don't want anyone to get in their way and they'll let you know it if you do. I remember when I worked at the vitamin company several years ago. If you left work at the same time as the Customer Service people did, you walked across the parking lot at your peril. After a day of politely talking to bitchy (likely Trump supporting) customers, to say the CS folks left work in "mood" is an understatement. Once they got in their cars, it was pedal to the metal and may God have mercy on your soul if you got in their path.

The Internet Has Caused Three Bad Things

The Internet has:

1. Made people dumber.
2. Made people douchier.
3. Made people lazier.

There is some, albeit rare, good information on the Internet. That's why it's so odd that people seem to want to get their information from inaccurate memes and unverifiable sources. They tend to access information selectively that reinforces their pre-existing beliefs about the world and universe. This serves to solidify erroneous beliefs, making it much harder to educate people about reality. The more you use the Internet for information, the structurally dumber you become, though this state is reversible.

For whatever reason, a lot of people are douchebags in the Internet, even if they are nice people in real life. Just look at the comments on any controversial article posted on the Internet. People devolve into insulting each other or other groups rather than intelligently discussing the topic at hand. This ties into #1 above, because as people become less and less able to accept information contrary to their beliefs, they instinctively lash out against any info that disrupts the internal consistency of their world view. Some people take them at face value because they were posted on a trusted friend's Facebook wall, for example, even though that friend may have in turn got it from a discredited source. The originator of the post might have been someone you don't know and should not trust. This goes back to people gravitating toward information on the Internet that they want to believe, rather than that which is factually true.

The solution to these problems is very simple. Stop or greatly reduce your exposure to the Internet. However, this is far more difficult than it sounds. The Internet is useful for a lot of thing, like finding a good Thai restaurant, for example. But even as you are researching Asian eateries, you may be distracted by useless information on the Internet. Internet information merchants are masters of baiting people into consuming their tangential information (hence the term "click bait"). Never fall for memes that have tag lines like, "and you won't believe what happened next." Trust me, you will believe what happened next and you'll be nonplussed, maybe even a little disappointed. But psychologically, you are now primed to click on the next click bait meme that comes along because you are seeking the elusive reward that the first meme did not provide, like a rat pressing a lever repeatedly because it believes that one of those lever presses will eventually yield a reward. Internet memes offer you just enough reward to keep you perpetually clicking and continuously unsatisfied.

In Retrospect, Hillary Clinton Probably Should Have Had Bernie Sanders as VP

Hindsight is 20/20, but we learned a few things from this Presidential election. First off, populism won yesterday, and that can be viewed as a positive thing. In this case it was harnessed by diabolical forces for evil. The Republicans milked populism for all it was worth. The Democrats failed to recognize the power of populism and they paid dearly. Bernie Sanders was the populist choice on the left and the DNC should have recognized his unexpected success in the primaries for what it was...populism. But they opted for the status quo, the safe, low risk path. No risk, no reward.

Hillary Clinton should have asked Sanders to be her VP. He's already a senator and being VP would have given him a lot of power in the Senate, like the ability to break tie votes in favor of progressive values. He also would have kept Clinton honest. But most importantly, he would have given Clinton some populist cred. Sanders supporters who voted 3rd party or not at all might have voted for a Clinton/Sanders ticket. But Tim Kaine? WTF? She garnered no additional votes with the white male milquetoast status quo pick. I still have no idea who Kaine is or even if I am spelling his name right for that matter.

Say what you will about Donald Trump, and I am sure you will, but he was diabolically brilliant in his performance as a Presidential candidate, completely harnessing angry fearful populism to his evil ends. The man is not stupid. He is evil and narcissistic, but not dumb. He played America for suckers in a way that would make P.T. Barnum blush.

I am no political pundit, so take this analysis for what it's worth. I am clearly no less wrong than the people who get paid to be pundits because they were all wrong. Trump's trademark slogan should be directed at the corporate mainstream media pundits: "You're fired!"

I hope the DNC fires their pundits and policy wonks and finds a way to tap the spigot of populism, because after Trump has his druthers in the White House, people are going to be looking for a populist savior. I hope the DNC does not miss their chance in four years because that would be weak sauce and America is through with weak sauce.

Pre-Planning for a Trump Presidency

CONGRESS

Hey, losers. You might want to put your heads together over the next couple months and put a few laws in place that restrict the President's ability to launch nuclear weapons. Because right now, the President has that sole and completely unregulated authority, and it's not entirely clear Mr. Trump understands that nukes are intended only as a deterrent (i.e., they serve the world better when NOT used). Mr. Trump also has an ornery disposition and he does not take criticism or insults well. Just sayin'. He lives in a TV reality where bombs only kill the bad guys.

OBAMACARE RECIPIENTS

Eat healthy and go to the gym. A lot. Take vitamins.

MUSLIM AMERICANS

Run! Just put on your sneakers and fuckin' run. Go to Canada or pretty much anywhere else. Even Iraq will be better than here in about two months.

UNDOCUMENTED IMMIGRANTS

Marry an American citizen and pop off an anchor baby as soon as you can. I hear there will be lots of low wage wall building jobs soon.

AFRICAN AMERICANS

Avoid areas known to be frequented by police, such as streets.

WOMEN

Brush up on episodes of Mad Men and prepare for all out pussy grabbing. But don't get knocked up!

MILLENIALS

I got nothing. Sorry your future was snatched from you. I guess we all assumed more of you would vote. Our bad. I'd suggest nomadically touring Europe for a while, maybe working as a barrista here and there to pay your way.

Things Were Going So Well...


This morning, I awoke in a hellish nightmare landscape where Bill Maher called it exactly right. Fear and hate prevailed and the terrorists won.

Things were going so well. My life was good. I was happy and secure and free under Obama.
In two months that will all change as a buffoonish narcissistic dictator assumes the White House and the United States of America is effectively beheaded.

My partner Deborah and I have two months to determine our next move, which likely involves a move to Australia.

I'd like to give you my analysis of what happened...but fuck it. America chose doom and there's not much I can say that will make a bit of difference. Read the book "On the Beach" if you want a basic, albeit fictional, overview.
My deepest sympathies to the millenials. Sorry your future was truncated.

Dear Millenials

You should vote.

You have your whole lives ahead of you and the decisions you make today affect your future.

Don't fuck it up.

Doomed

Yes, you should vote. Probably for Hillary Clinton. Definitely not for Donald Trump.

But in the grand scheme, it's really too little too late at this point.

The fact that Donald Trump was even nominated for Republican POTUS is proof enough that American democracy is in rapid decline, much less that the race for the White House is as close as it is (mainstream mass media and their corporate advertising overlords are directly to blame for that: no horse race = low ratings/viewers). Clinton should be crushing this thing.

But this is what you get when you defund and dismantle public education (history, science, civics, democracy, math, etc.) and social infrastructure (socialism) for 30+ years. The smoker who gets cancer after 30 years of smoking 2 packs a day should not take the diagnosis as an unexpected shock. And at that point, it's too late...the patient is probably going to die short of a miracle.

That sounds pessimistic, but I'm actually optimistic that maybe this will wake people up. But if we keep on smoking after the cancer diagnosis, forget about it.

How to Tell if Your Social Media Post is Not Worth Posting

1. Write your social media post.
2. Delete it without posting.
3. Is the world better or worse off because of steps 1 and 2?

Boom.

My $0.02 Cents on Police Violence (and Worth Half That!)

After 9/11, police forces in America were militarized. This is often overlooked, but is a major contributor to the current epidemic of police violence on unarmed and innocent civilians, predominantly minorities.

Militaries fight enemies. Police forces protect communities. There is a reason these are separate entities. Militaries do not police. They enter hostile areas and eliminate enemies, often with collateral damage. Police forces are supposed to work WITH communities and protect the areas they police. When you militarize police forces, you change the paradigm. Now police become separate from their communities, invaders, occupiers, and adversaries. The police then view the communities they are supposed to protect as hostile and everyone becomes a potential threat (foes not friends). That's why we have such high levels of unprovoked police violence against civilians, and subsequent protests.*

When the police are no longer protectors, they become the enemies of their communities. Then it becomes WAR not policing. Then you have race riots like the one happening in Charlotte NC as I am writing this.

*It is worth noting that police violence kills far more Americans on American soil than foreign terrorism, even when you include the deaths on 9/11. So Americans have collectively dropped the ball somewhere. [SOURCE]

Snowden

Overall, I liked the Oliver Stone biopic movie "Snowden." It had a few slow moments, but it was still quite educational and had a few thrills. I left the movie even more strongly convinced that Edward Snowden was a true patriot not a turncoat. He spoke truth to power as is necessary in a democracy, and the Corporate Powers have demonized him because democracy does not maximize their profits.

The most frightening thing I learned from the movie is that the NSA can access the camera on your smart phone, tablet, or laptop AT ANY TIME, FOR ANY REASON, and WITHOUT YOUR KNOWLEDGE (the light won't even turn on to let you know you are being spied on). I guess this was all common knowledge after Snowden leaked the info, but I had always been skeptical until seeing this movie.

So now there is tape over my laptop camera and I am not voting for any candidate who doesn't promise to stop NSA wiretapping (I haven't heard either Clinton or Trump indicate this and my vote is sequestered until they unlock it with such a promise).

There are people who say they don't care if the NSA spies on them, because they have nothing to hide. To them I say, please give me access to your smart phone and email so I can see what's on it. You have nothing to hide after all...so what's the harm?

Awesome Discovery

I determined that just about as many people come to my bands' shows when I promote the performances as when I don't (somewhere between zero and epsilon*), and this is a very liberating revelation, because the substantial time and energy I have been investing in promo can now be redirected to making the rock-n-roll even better. And it was already pretty feckin' good.

* Epsilon: A Greek mathematical symbol representing and arbitrarily small positive quantity.

The Provinces Need Better Music

Your Mom (the band) is rocking a phenomenal show at the Knucklehead Pub provincial roadhouse in Eagle WI. As I feared, the locals are fearful of this level of rock-n-roll magic, having never been exposed to it before. The fans of the band that trekked here from the big city, Madison, though are quite used to shakin' booty for your mom. If they could only teach the provincials that there's nothing to fear and they can feel safe loosening their sphincters and letting our music penetrate them...

Hillary Got Pneumonia

Politicians are not special. They don't have to disclose anything about their personal health any more than you or I do. There are laws (HIPAA) that protect the privacy of every citizens' health records. So I don't care or need to know about a presidential candidates health history.

But I do expect politicians to be honest with themselves and responsible to the people. If you are too sick to run for and subsequently be President, don't. Period.

That being said, pneumonia is a totally treatable illness and not a disqualifier for the Presidency. I assume neither candidate has any serious health issues that undermine their long term leadership abilities.

But this begs a more general question. Both candidates are pretty old and nearing the average life span for a human being. In other words, Clinton and Trump are both at about a 50% risk of dropping dead. What happens if one of them succumbs to a fatal illness before the November election? I honestly have no idea. Presumably the parties would put forward runner up candidates, like say Bernie Sanders or (God forbid) Ted Cruz.

Life Sucks. Then You Keep Coming Back for More.

It's amazing what people will disclose about their sh!tty lives in public. I am at Tires Plus for an oil change, waiting in the lounge for them to change a bulb on my car that's out. That's probably the maximum amount of drama I'll experience today and it's more than enough.

But there's a fat old woman sitting across from me in the lounge and she's bitching to someone on her smart phone about some super sh!tty drama that's going on in her life. Police, court cases, evictions, drug houses, captives, kidnapping, escapees, crazy people, "sex insanity," child molestation, rape, etc.

Wow. I'd totally disenfranchise a life like that...just move somewhere else and disappear. But even if I didn't do that, I would not share my sh!tty drama with complete strangers in public.

Who knows how much of her blabbery is actually true vs sensationalization of a much more mundane reality? But it seems to me, people who share their negative experiences in public are attention seekers who thrive on extreme drama - so much so that they'll manufacture it if needed - and that seems to be what the woman at Tires Plus is.

Cone Shell High

The three teenage girls walked together along the west Florida beach, combing the strip of sea shell littered sand between the placid Gulf and the palm trees on the sand dunes behind them. They had just left school for the day and gossiped amongst themselves as their eyes scanned the flotsam left by the tide.

"Is this one?" asked Camille, stooping over a multi-colored, fist-sized conical shell in a shallow tide pool.

Beth stooped to look as well and then glanced at the image printed on a piece of paper in her hand. "That looks like it," Beth reported.

Camille carefully picked up the shell and said to the moist slug that occupied it, "Hi, guy. You wanna get me high?"

Beth and Caroline laughed.

"Put it in the bag," Caroline commanded, holding open a plastic grocery bag into which Camille deposited her shell. "Don't get stung before we find a couple more for me and Beth."

"Beth and I," Beth corrected her.

"Actually, I think 'me and Beth' is right," Camille said.

"Whatever," Beth said, making a dismissive gesture with her hand. "Fuck English, let's get fucked up."

A few yards further down the beach, Caroline found another cone shell similar in size and appearance to Camille's and tossed it in the bag. It took longer for Beth to find an appropriate shell. She picked up several but found them all empty. Eventually, she plucked one off the side of a rock. It was smaller than the shells the other girls had found, but it had a creature in it.

"The shape is right," she said, comparing it with the two snail shells already in the bag. "But it's colored differently."

The other two girls compared and contrasted. "Kathy in first period said the color can be way different," Camille said. "I'm sure it's a Magician. It says those are the most common around here."

"It's so funny they call them Magician snails," Caroline commented.

"Magician cones," Beth said. "Alright, let's find a place to commune with the little buggers."

The girls jogged up to the dunes where Caroline took three beach towels from her backpack and laid them out in the shade of a palm tree, forming a triangle with a patch of sand in the center.

"How long does it last?" Caroline asked the other girls, glancing at the sun, still fairly high in the sky.

"Kathy said it acts fast and lasts about an hour," Camille said. "We should be able to walk home before dark."

Caroline dumped the three shells from the plastic bag onto the patch of sand and the girls each sat down on one of the towels, facing each other.

"How do we make them sting us?" Beth asked.

Camille replied, "I think you just hold one in your hand and poke it until it gets mad and stings you." She picked up the shell she had found and the other two girls followed suit, mimicking her actions. She held the mollusc on the palm of her left hand and began poking at its short pink probiscis. As she did so, the snail tipped back its shell slightly and a tiny whiplike appended flicked out from the underside of the shell.

"I think it got me," Camille said, looking at the other girls. "Oh, yeah...it got me," she said. The snail fell from her hand and Camille's eyes rolled back in their sockets as she fell sideways onto her beach towel.

"Mine too," said Caroline, also succumbing a couple of seconds later.

Beth had more difficulty getting her snail to react to her poking and prodding. "C'mon you little dick," she said as she grew increasingly frustrated. She looked at her two friends who lay beside her with slight smiles on their faces, their eyes glazed over and seeming to stare at the palm fronds overhead. "Don't leave me hanging."

Caroline awoke from her trance first and slowly pushed herself to a sitting position. "Wow, that was freaky," she said as Camille showed signs of consciousness.

"My skin feels tingly," Camille said. "Like pins and needles."

"I was like fully aware the whole time but like totally paralyzed and feeling nothing," Caroline said.

"Yeah. I could see like every little detail of the palm leaves, but it was almost like I was floating and I had no body," Camille said. "I had no feeling. It was awesome."

"You want to go again?" Caroline asked.

"Totally," Camille replied. "Let's wait for Beth to wake up."

The two girls looked at Beth lying on her towel.

"Oh my God, Beth!" cried Caroline, pushing herself toward her prostrate friend.

Beth's lips were blue and she was trembling slightly. Her face bore a terrified expression and her eyes bulged from their sockets, the whites heavily bloodshot.

"She doesn't look good," Camille said.

"No shit," Caroline said. "What do we do?"

"Is she breathing?" Camille asked.

Caroline lowered her cheek to Beth's partly open lips and felt no air movement.

"I don't think so," she said.

Camille grasped Beth's forearm and placed a finger on her wrist. "I feel a pulse, but it's weak," she said. "We should call for help."

"I'll call 911," Caroline said, fumbling for her smart phone in her pocket. "Should we give her CPR or something?"

Camille put her lips to Beth's and gently blew. Beth's chest rose as air filled her lungs...

"Is my daughter alright?" Maude, Beth's mom, asked the doctor in the ER.

"She'll live," the doctor said. "But you can't cure stupid."

"What happened?" Maude asked.

"It's some new teen craze," the doctor replied. "We've seen a handful of these cases over the past few weeks. The kids sting thenselves with a type of venemous cone shell - an invasive species from Australia - and it knocks them out in a sort of catatonic state. Not usually lethal unless they get a big dose of venom."

"My daughter did that?" Maude asked. "My Beth?"

"Tried to, according to her friends," the doctor replied. "It looks like she might have confused the Australian snail for our much more poisonous native species. That one is pretty rare but can be easily confused with the Magician cone - that's the one the kids are getting their kicks on."

Unsolicited Advice for Hillary Clinton

Does Hillary Clinton know that her favored suit style is very "Dr. Evil-ish?" Yes, even the red ones.

I think she should consider not wearing these particular cuts.


Just my $0.02 cents.

An Open Letter to the Noobs

The school year is about to begin at the University of Wisconsin - Madison and new faces, most of them fresh out of high school, are appearing in Madison for the first time. The newbies (noobs) are likely to be overwhelmed at first and it will take them a little while to get the swing of things.

For example, bicyclists rule on Madison streets. If you are a noob from somewhere bicycle unfriendly that lacks a bike culture and doesn't have bike lanes all over the place, learn this fast and pay attention while driving or you might be a victim of the infamous "Psycho Biker Bitch." If she catches you violating the rules of the road or the absolute rights of cyclists, you will be pooping out of the new asshole she rips you.

It's OK to be a noob. We all have to start somewhere. But don't be a douchy noob thinking you are better than everyone in your noobish way of doing things, because that will very rarely be true and everyone hates an arrogant noob. If you are a brand spanking new college student, be humble and accept that you have a lot to learn, not only about Madison, but about life. College is the transition period between your sheltered adolescence and the brutality of the real world. Embrace and absorb new knowledge. Take your lumps when necessary and learn from them.

I was a noob in Madison once. When I first arrived here, I accidentally rode my bicycle in the pedestrian lane of the bike path through campus and a little old lady wagged her finger at me so sternly that I think she inflamed her arthritis.

Madison Mayor Paul Soglin's Anti-Homeless Campaign is Solution Worse Than Problem Claims Public

At about 7 PM on Tuesday August 16, a swarm of riot gear-clad Madison police officers descended on State Street in the vicinity of Elizabeth Link Peace Park, closing off a section of Gilman Street for over 30 minutes, snarling traffic and drawing a huge crowd of gawkers to the area.

What was the great emergency that drew this massive fire power to the bustling downtown of shops, restaurants, and boutiques? Hard to tell if you scan the police blotters from around that time, since there is nothing there.

In fact, there was no emergency at all.The police were implementing a city ordinance authored by Madison Mayor Paul Soglin and endorsed by the City Council to ban homeless people from an eight block radius around the State Capital, sources told me. Peace Park is a popular area for the homeless to congregate that is within that radius.

The excessive use of police power to disperse the usually passive homeless in the area was met with derision by local residents, pedestrians, and drivers who were trapped in the cordoned area, some of whom believed there was a real emergency and were panicked, only to discover the threat was virtually non-existent. In fact, the homeless in the area were also terrified (and there can be no question that this action constituted terrorism by police, considering many homeless consider Peace Park their "home"), which apparently caused one or more homeless individuals to resist the police.

While the police may use this resistance to justify their massive show of force, it is certain there would have been no resistance had the police not descended on the area the way they did. There are more constructive ways to encourage the homeless to move elsewhere that are less traumatizing to citizens. Furthermore, using over two dozen police officers to handle such a minor thing as the presence of homeless people means these officers were not available to respond to real crimes elsewhere in the city. The resultant snarling of traffic in the downtown led to accidents and disgruntled drivers.

Clearly, Mayor Soglin's solution to the homelessness problem, as exercised to date, causes far more problems than it solves. The terrorizing of homeless people in downtown Madison has forced some homeless into surrounding neighborhoods that did not have many homeless people before, potentially increasing the risk of homeless related crimes and pan-handling in those neighborhoods. Many have noticed the increase in pan-handlers at busy intersections in outlying areas that did not exist before, yet the Madison police completely ignore these individuals (notwithstanding city ordinances that ban pan-handling). It is this kind of behavior by police and the city that breeds public resentment for cops and politicians. I hope Madison policy makers rethink their current strategy, otherwise incumbents are likely to be voted out come November.

Troy

The Trojan brand of condoms is a bit of an irony when you think about it, which is probably why you shouldn't.

As I understand the history of Western Civilization, the Greeks attacking Troy hid themselves inside an enticing wooden horse and once the city took it inside their walls, the Greek soldiers burst out of the horse and sacked the city.

The condom branding metaphor suggests that while Trojan condoms appear safe, they may actually be deceptively leaky.

Disdain

I met a fellow Uber driver in the cell phone lot of the airport the other day. He was complaining to me about an unruly passenger he had had the night before.

"She wanted me to put on the radio," he said. "I was like...no way! I didn't invest $300 for Sirius [satellite radio] to put on the radio."

That's when I realized he held nothing but disdain and contempt for Uber passengers. He went on to complain that his driver rating was low and he didn't know why.

I knew why.

When I Uber, I treat my passengers with respect and try to accommodate their needs as best I can. I drive Uber to help people get where they need to go. I keep my car clean. I assist with lifting bags for people going to the airport or coming back from shopping. If they prefer to get to their destination via an alternate route, I am fine with it. I offer bottled water and peppermints as a convenience. I definitely have no problem with requests for music on the radio.

Uber driving is basically a small business of one. I registered myself as a limited liability company in Wisconsin (Uberman LLC) mainly for legal and tax reasons, but the success of any small business franchise depends on customer satisfaction. Happy Uber customers will use the rideshare service again and even though they will probably have a different Uber driver next time they use it, everyone benefits from a satisfied customer base. Alienating customers may push them toward competing entities (such as Lyft or taxi cabs). Uber's business model is based on giving greater customer satisfaction at a reduced cost with greater convenience compared with other options. All Uber drivers should take this to heart. If they don't, they shouldn't drive for Uber and they'll get lower ratings from customers that may ultimately result in their being disenfranchised from Uber driving entirely (that's the value of Uber's rating system). I seldom have a "bad" passenger that I have to give a low rating to. Most are super nice. Many are talkative. Some are quiet. 5 star ratings are the norm for my passengers. My passengers seem to give me high marks as well. Rare is the rude or unruly passenger that I have to rate low.

I don't often take Uber as a passenger myself, but when I am driving, I try to always think about how I'd want the experience to be if I were reliant on rideshare to get around. I'd want it to be as pleasant and stress free as possible, definitely not adversarial. The bottled water and mints I offer as free perks cost me almost nothing compared to what I make Ubering and most passengers don't even partake of these offerings. The advantages of being nice to people far outweigh those of being a selfish dick. I wish more people understood this because the world would be a much better place.

What Most People Aren't Getting About Donald Trump

People like to say, "If Donald Trump gets elected, we are doomed." Let me tell you something. America was doomed long before Donald Trump. Trump is just the byproduct of many years of slow, creeping destruction perpetrated by corporatist oligarchs and an irresponsible corporate mainstream media. The system is actually responding the way it was designed to. This is exactly what you should expect when you dismantle public infrastructure and education. People get dumb, then they get angry, and dumb angry people make bad decisions.

So the piper is now being paid. The chickens are coming home to roost. Other cliches.

I hate to be the bearer of bad tidings, but Donald Trump is going to beat Hillary Clinton in November. The DNC betrayed true progressive Democrats by coronating corporatist neoliberal Hillary Clinton, against the will of the people. Some of these people won't vote. Others will vote 3rd party. Some may write in "Bernie Sanders." Many will vote for Clinton, even as the "lesser of two evils." But there are enough of butt hurt Bernie voters to significantly lower Clinton's chances of beating Trump.

The two party system's drawbacks will become very apparent after the November election.

A friend of mine recently had this to say: "I have been voting for the lesser of two evils in every election for 20 years, and what has it ever gotten me?" That's a common feeling. People can only be lied to so much. They do what they are supposed to and reap none of the promised rewards. So why would you expect them to do anything other than say, "Fuck it!" in this election?

In a rational, reality-based world, Clinton should crush a buffoon like Trump in a landslide. But we live in a fabricated reality TV world where belief drives behavior, not facts. Consider that the measles virus has had a resurgence because a handful of people, some of them college educated, believed (against all evidence to the contrary) that vaccines cause autism and harm kids. It's irrational behavior. But that's the world we live in now. Donald Trump will destroy that world, but make no mistake...it's already a fucked world.

"Live life like you're gonna die...cuz you're gonna." -Ben Folds/William Shatner

Please Join the 21st Century

Dear Rural Roadhouses and Dive Bars,

Please join the 21st Century and start accepting credit cards.

Who uses cash anymore? Honestly.

You suck (until you join).

Politico

The world might be going to shite. But just as likely is that most fears about this are overblown. In any case, if the world is going to shite, I'd rather spend my remaining time rocking and biking and  spending time with good people, not worrying myself unnecessarily about complete unknowns.

Tim Kaine...yay.

WTF is America coming to?

What happened to awesomeness?

And why are we settling for far less?

Oh I understand the rationale.

Tim Kaine is perfectly neutral and won't upstage Clinton.

Let all the light shine down on her.

Plus, he's a corporatist too.

Wow, America. You're standards have really sunk.

Say what you will about Trump but the DNC has pretty much elected him President at this point. At least Trump inspires his bigoted, misguided supporters.

Ugh. My disgust with America is thick.

Sure, I'll hold my nose and probably vote for Clinton this time. But I'm only giving her the first four years pro bono. If she hasn't inspired me by 2020, it's third party all the way, irrespective of who the Repugnicans throw up.

She has officially been given notice. Weak sauce will not be tolerated. Maybe she doesn't care about my one puny vote. That's fine. Let's see if she cares about it this November, because I could withdraw my support at any time.

I am simply leveraging my vote to up her game. Isn't that why we vote?

Changing the Rules

Another piece of circumstantial evidence that Republicans (note upper case R) lack a sense of fair play is the attempt by the anti-Trump ("Never Trump" sounds too much like "never nude," which is probably by conscious or unconscious design) wing of the Republican party to change the Republican convention rules in order to disadvantage Donald Trump from getting the nomination. To wit, they are petitioning to "unbind" pledged delegates so that they can essentially change their vote and "unpledge" to the candidate they pledged to vote for based on the popular vote in the primaries. There are a couple of other desired changes as well, but that's the main one. For more deets, visit this link: http://www.politico.com/story/2016/04/republican-leaders-consider-rewriting-convention-rules-221972.

I don't like Donald Trump. No one with a thinking brain and a conscience likes Donald Trump. That being said, republican (note lower case r) primary voters chose Donald Trump as the Republican presidential candidate. No one knows why. But they did.

If you change the rules in the middle of the game (in fact, right before the end of the game), you play right into republican voters' perception that the system is rigged (an accurate perception, though the blame for it is misplaced onto minorities, Muslims, gays, and women, instead of on the actual culprits - corporatism and big banks).

The Democrats aren't much better as far as rigging things goes. They succeeded in disenfranchising the Democratic candidate most true democrats (progressives) wanted, Bernie Sanders, in favor of the moderate corporate hack, Hillary Clinton, the "safe" choice of the elitist left wing establishment.

Republican (lower case r) voters chose Trump. He is a charlatan and he sucks dirty donkey scrote. But this is a democracy, so you give the people what they want. The consequences will speak for themselves. Don't be a sore loser and try to change the rules when you are losing.

Donald Trump should never be President and any Democratic candidate should be able to trounce him handily if he or she plays his or her cards right. But you still have to play your cards within the rules of the game. Hillary Clinton is weak sauce, but that's who the DNC wants to play against the Trump card (see what I did there?).

Though unrelated to the thesis of this post, it bears repeating that Donald Trump bankrupted his own casinos. CASINOS! Businesses designed to make money no matter what. Support for Donald Trump can only be seen as further supporting evidence that fear and hatred are far more powerful drivers of human behavior than rational thought, which begs the question: how has humanity survived on this planet for this long?

Why the Corporate Mainstream Media Preselected Clinton and Trump

It's remarkable that if the presidential election were held today, Clinton and Trump would be virtually tied, and this is likely to be the case come November as well.

This is by design. The corporate mainstream media love a good horse race, even if the horses are lame and unimpressive. To be more precise, the corporate advertisers that underwrite the media love a good horse race to keep people glued to the telly/internet and exposed to their messages of persuasion. The corporate media need the horse race to satisfy their underwriters so they can pay the bills.

It's not to say the corporate advertising CEOs and mass media moguls get together quarterly and hash out some diabolical plan to mesmerize audiences. It's more of a passive Darwinian natural selection sort of thing. Over time, the mass media outlets that most please their corporate advertising overlords are more successful and survive longer than the ones that don't do so. The media naturally act in ways that foster their long term economic survival, and that means attracting and entertaining audiences the advertisers want to reach (demographics).

There may have once been an objective and unbiased mass media in America. Advertisers didn't need to have their greasy fingers in the news media, in theory, because entertainment programming was thrilling enough to keep eyes glued to cathode ray screens and commercials there were hard to avoid. But advancing technologies like VCRs and DVRs and premium cable channels and Netflix allowed consumers to effectively tune out advertisers' messages, and network programming became mediocre over time, so the companies needed to expand their reach.

It's not to say network news programs didn't have commercials. It's just that newscasts were considered to be generally not very compelling most of the time, unless something exciting or tragic were happening in the world, so ratings for network news shows weren't attractive to advertisers, with the exception of sporting events. So you might see toothpaste or restaurant ads during newscasts and that's about it. In order to strengthen the persuasive power of ads during news programming, news shows needed to be more exciting and entertaining.

So began the epoch of "infotainment" and "reality tv." The advertisers encouraged news media gatekeepers to amp up programming with controversial and emotional issues, and to avoid the dull but important stuff. It happened progressively over time, but now the news is filled with nothing but sensational and divisive non-issues like abortion and gay rights and terrorism (a "bogeyman").

The only reason there is some semblance of objectivity in the media today is because of the doctrine of "fair and balanced" news reporting. This is the unspoken rule that you have to give equal time to both sides of an issue in the news. It's completely bogus, because the two sides are selected by media gatekeepers and many issues have more than just two sides. The main goal of "fair and balanced" is actually to "divide and conquer."

America is more divided than ever before and Americans are fearful and insecure as a result of the social cues they consume via corporate mainstream media. The advertisers love this because they can tell you what things to buy in order to quell your insecurities. They can also, indirectly via the media, tell you what candidates you should and should not vote for to ensure a nail-bitingly entertaining (albeit ridiculously slow) horse race.

Why did the media give short shrift to Bernie Sanders, notwithstanding his high popularity with progressive democrats, even though Hillary Clinton was rejected by Americans in 2008 in favor of Barack Obama, a relatively unknown Illinois senator? Bernie Sanders would have trounced Donald Trump by a huge margin according to just about every poll taken on this question. But where's the fun in a landslide clobbering of one "side" by the other? That's not a fair and balanced horse race.

And there it is.

Hand Washing is Important

I have pretty much washed my hands of Presidential politics, now that the two lobed (Republican and Democrat) Corporate Party has all but disenfranchised me. I shant participate again until the General Election.

This mass media fasting has been terrifically liberating. My thoughts are literally clearer and my mood is perhaps as good as or better than I can ever remember. The only time I feel angst is when I am inadvertently exposed to corporate media and I realize how fabricated it is, designed to corral the collective public mindset into the slaughterhouse of the two party system.

I feel like this: https://youtu.be/LGh8YDoLnOU

Sanders

Bernie Sanders is expected to endorse Hillary Clinton today, after negotiating with the DNC to get key progressive issues put in the Democratic platform.

That means these issues would have been ignored without Bernie Sanders. Think about that a little bit today.

The Problem of Police

Police departments started militarizing after 9/11. A militarized police force is an adversarial police force, intended to fight wars against enemies. Police are supposed to protect the communities in which they work, not treat their communities as "the enemy." When police militarize, they declare war on the communities they police and become an invasion force, unwanted and disrespected. So is it surprising when the invaded communities resist and fight back? Tragic, yes. Surprising, no.

We need to rethink the policing paradigm in America. Police need to be part of their communities and fight for their communities against criminals. Until that happens, expect increasing problems with police in some communities.

Here's the thing. In America, you are almost 10 times more likely to be killed by a police officer than a terrorist, especially if you are a minority. It's interesting that there is so much attention paid to fighting terrorism, yet so little paid to reforming the way we police communities, especially communities of color.

Cavalry vs Indians: An Allegory

Let's say, hypothetically, you are a Native American living in the mid 19th century in a place where the "white man" has recently started appearing. Maybe they are there to build a railroad across your land. Maybe you don't really give a sh!t about the intrusion on your land or the trouble the white men sometimes cause. After all, they have cool stuff to trade with your people, clothing and guns and something they call "sugar." It makes your squaws fat, but it is so delicious. However, you notice that whenever the United States Cavalry shows up in the white man's settlements, your people start getting shot for no particular reason and sometimes hanged for crimes they did not commit. After a while, you might start to get a little fearful whenever the Cavalry shows up. Maybe you are tempted to run in the other direction, not because you did anything wrong, but because you are scared and intelligent enough to see a correlation between the Cavalry and a truncated lifespan. You talk to others in your community and discover they have the same fears and agree that the Cavalry poses an elevated threat to the livelihood of people who look like you. So you decide to approach the white men and ask for restraint and perhaps even justice for some of your fallen friends or family. The white men just laugh at you and say your life isn't any more important than anyone else's and if you would just behave and do what the white man tells you to, you have nothing to worry about. But the extrajudicial killings of Native Americans by the Cavalry continue. In fact, they increase because now they think your people might be resisting their authority, collectively. The leaders in your community eventually get fed up with the abuse and decide to declare war on the white man, in self defense. Your chief sends raiding parties to attack the Cavalry and try to eliminate the threat to your livelihood, since justice does not seem to be forthcoming in the white man's judicial system. This only angers the white man. He demonizes your people in public opinion. "Savages!" reads the headline in the news publication from the nearby white man settlement. You don't understand. You thought the Cavalry soldiers were the savages. How could they so brazenly call your people - the victims - savages? The Cavalry retaliates against your people with ridiculous cruelty and violence and bigotry. You want to leave, but the white man is everywhere now and they don't want you in their community. Frankly, you don't want to be in their community. But you have nowhere to go. You feel hopeless, maybe even like life is hardly worth living. You need to feed your family, but the white man has thinned the bison herds to try to make you go away. Eventually, you are forced to work for the white man at the sh!ttiest jobs, just to get by. One day, your son is killed by the Cavalry, and filled with anger and frustration, you go on a rampage, killing every Cavalry soldier you see, until eventually you get shot and killed. "See?" the white man says. "This is the kind of savagery we white men are up against. We need more Cavalry soldiers, armed to the teeth to deal with these low lifes."

Hypothetically.

Cops and Quotas

As an Uber driver, I can say with considerable certainty and credibility that traffic cops do increase their sting operations in the last few days of the month.

The police swear up and down they don't have budgetary quotas to hit that drive this, and that may very well be. But it does occur and something drives it, so the end result is the same.

Furthermore, the end of June is a particularly busy time as far as traffic busts, I observe. I can only hypothesize that this is because this is not only the end of the month but also the end of the governmental fiscal year (July-June).

Cretins

I don't want to generalize across the board, but to say Republican politicians are cretins would be accurate to about a 95% confidence level. Paul Ryan is particularly cretinous, as well as douchy.

Live Your Life

I have noticed, and perhaps you have to, that people who spend a lot of time criticizing other people for their lifestyle choices and giving their opinion about things are, ironically, not very tolerant of criticism directed at them or opinions that conflict with their own. So maybe that says something, like maybe everyone should shut the hell up and live their own lives as best they can rather than trying to impose their beliefs on the world. But that's just my opinion, man.

Fun Show

GUPPY EFFECT played a massively fun show tonight, quasi-acoustically, at the Up North Pub. I opened the show with some solo acoustic numbers and when my band mates arrived, we unleashed "thrice the rocking power" on the unsuspecting patrons of said pub. Sphincters were rent asunder, in a pleasurable manner of course.

There were a few moments when I had the realization that our brand of rock-n-roll is actually the best there is. Not everyone will agree. But those who do agree are typically those who relax their sphincters and let our rock-n-roll glide gently into their souls.

Better

After every mass shooting, everyone spends a couple days sharing their world view about guns and bickering mindlessly, then they move on to other things and forget about it until the next mass shooting and the cycle repeats endlessly. Most peoples' world views are ill informed at best and deranged at worst, and these world views are immune to reason because they are fueled by a much more powerful and irrational force...emotions. So you can spout your beliefs on social media with clever memes that show your intellectual superiority and perhaps cleanse your conscience a little, but if you want change, be the change. Support education so the populace is critical thinking and well informed. Support health care so the mentally ill can get treatment. Support social welfare so people are not desperate and angry. Disenfranchise hate and bigotry and call it out when you see/hear it. Demand a responsible mass media that questions authority rather than just regurgitating unqualified sound bites. Then every day, post on social media what YOU DID to make the world better today. Because you cannot change the world or anyone else. You can only change yourself and make your small plot in the cosmos better.

I Don't Want to Pee With Anyone

There's a lot of dumbassery surrounding who transgender people should be allowed to pee with. Let me tell you something - and I do not think I am alone on this - I don't want to pee...WITH ANYBODY. Men, women, giraffes...none of the above. I want to pee fast, in private, and get the hell out of whatever nasty public restroom I have been forced to pee in. I don't want anyone to talk to me or even look at me, and I will offer others the same sort of laissez faire not giving a shit. I don't like standing next to other men with their dongs hanging out, even if they are heterosexual males like myself just minding their own damn business. I stare at the wall in front of me, a foot or two above eye level, and get the job done. I don't talk, I don't whistle, and I wish heinous deaths on anyone who does either of those things in a public restroom. Restrooms should have signs that say: THIS RESTROOM HAS A STRICT NO WHISTLING AND NO TALKING POLICY. That should be the only basis for kicking someone out of a restroom. Zero tolerance. My $0.02 cents and worth about as much.

DFZ

One can maintain a drama free zone (DFZ) around them at all times and still lead a normal, albeit unconventionally fantastic, life. Drama acceptance has become the norm in our apathetic American society, which no longer rejects extreme drama, and even sometimes glorifies it. But some people are rejecting drama and choosing to lead maximally fulfilling lives, undiminished by the soul sucking forces of negative drama that now permeate almost every facet of American life. These bold individuals are saying NOPE to any and all drama. Instead, they are being totally cool and nice to other people, giving zero @#$&s, doing what the like, and generally minding their own goddam business and chilling the @#$& out at all times.

Middleton WI Illustrates Why People Resent Government

The Madison suburb of Middleton WI is going to spend a month and a half tearing up the street in front of our house and putting in a totally unnecessary sidewalk along the edge of the pristine nature area that lies behind our house. I could stop there and you'd already have enough information to resent Middleton local government. But I'll go on.

Middleton is assessing us for a disproportionate amount of the cost because of the new sidewalk that we don't even want (it was requested by the rich @#$%s who live in the high class subdivision nearby...most of whom are unaffected by this construction and won't be assessed any money at all).

Was there a public debate on this construction? Probably. But when we enquired as to why we were never notified about it, as directly impacted citizens, we were told that notification appeared in the newspaper twice.

That's right. The newspaper, that relic of 20th century journalism that pretty much no one under age 50 reads in the modern age. We did receive a letter in the mail that the construction would be happening. It contained no information about a date/time/place for the public to raise concerns, such as my girlfriend Deborah's disability (we are looking into an injunction under the Americans with Disabilities Act, but that seems like a long shot at this point. Our neighbor is also disabled and not being able to park near our houses for what we are told is at least two full days is a major encumbrance.). The letter did contain a phone number we could call with questions, which Deborah did. The city official she spoke with basically lied, saying we would not be responsible for the cost of the work, and promising to call us back with more information, which he never did, as far as we can tell (if he called, he didn't leave a message).

So it seems pretty likely we'll have to bite the bullet and accept the unlubricated rear entry that Middleton is forcing us into. In our apathetic day and age, we expect no sympathy or understanding from those not affected. People usually don't empathize about such things until it happens to them (and it inevitably will).

But I can still post this in hopes others will read it and come to our aid, legally or financially. Please contact me if you are a person of means who is so inclined. At the very least, this can serve to expose Middleton local government's underhanded tactics. Our leaders wonder why the public resents them, but they seem oblivious to the cause and effect of their behavior, such as that described here.

Leave a comment and let us know what you think.

Australia I Reckon

It's a troubling time to live in America.

Everything has seemingly gone perfectly to plan...if your plan is that of the diabolical Neocons, Wall Street, and the big banks.

We seem to be in remarkable peril of Donald Trump becoming the next President, all rational contraindications notwithstanding (Note: most human beings do not behave rationally). The alternative to Trump, Hillary Clinton, is an avowed neoliberal (don't let the word "liberal" in the moniker mislead you...neoliberalism is an economic philosophy based on laissez faire free market principles, formerly known as "trickle down economics") and a Democrat in name only. If she wins the Democratic nomination for President, which it looks like she might, Americans will have to choose between a far right wing radical Republican (Trump) and a moderate right wing Democrat. The entire left side of the political spectrum - where most of my values lie - will be completely disenfranchised without the appearance of a new progressive third party (a very unlikely possibility).

For the first time in my life, I am actually giving serious consideration to getting the hell out of this crumbling empire. I've joked about it before, but things have gotten really real when a bigoted, thin skinned con man like Trump is the most viable Republican candidate for President. Just that fact alone makes it clear that America has lost its way, and that's very dangerous.

Being 1/2 Australian, expatriating myself from the USA is not especially difficult. I have dual citizenship and can travel to Australia, the country of my birth, freely with my Aussie passport (as well as New Zealand) for a couple grand $US. That being said, it's still a bit disconcerting to think about pulling up roots and relocating "down under." But if Donald Trump becomes President, I don't really see staying in the US as a safe or viable option and will attempt to implement PLAN B, as I call this emergency escape plan.

I'd relocate to Melbourne, Victoria, AUS, mostly because it is the city I am most familiar with, having traveled there several times, but also because it has the honor of being "the world's most livable city," according to the people who make such determinations (Note: how can I land that job?).

The much more difficult aspect of PLAN B's implementation would be convincing my life partner Deborah to join me in expatriating for an indeterminate period of time (probably five years at a minimum). Deborah has strong family ties and has told me it would be difficult to move too far away from them. We have a strong, close relationship but I would be hesitant to put undue strain on it, for when the chips are down, I am not certain where mine would fall, but I suspect unfavorably.
Even if she agreed to give it a shot, there is the question of if and how Deborah could reside in Australia, not having the perk of dual nationalities like me. Deborah and I are likely to become domestic partners before year's end. Notwithstanding Australia's 21st century egalitarian society, I have no idea if Australia recognizes American domestic partnerships or what the rules are for getting a domestic partner naturalized there. Though that may be the biggest hurdle to overcome, it seems likely that the process, if one exists, would be logical, even if complex.

Getting Deborah to embrace such a major life shift would surely have a much less rational solution, probably mostly bereft of logic. When we have briefly discussed the matter frivolously, in what we call our "hypothetical future" nonbinding discussions, she says she has to visit Australia and see what it's like before she could ever consider moving there. So that's hopeful. It means the option is, however tenuously, on the proverbial table. Unfortunately, circumstances preclude us vacationing there before the November 2016 general election.

That being said, I think we should schedule a vacation to Australia for late 2016 or early 2017. By then we should know who the next President is likely to be. If it looks grim (Trump), perhaps we just...oh, I don't know...not come back?

These are just hypotheticals.

Already Doomed

People say "we can't let Trump get elected" because it spells doom for America.

Let me tell you something. America has been doomed for a while now. Just the fact that Trump can become a viable Presidential nominee should illustrate how doomed we already are.

Lizards

I can recommend the Winking Lizard restaurant in Peninsula OH. It's situated along the Cuyahoga River (yeah, the one that caught on fire in the 70s, but has since been revitalized) and is a launch point for bike rides along the scenic Towpath bike trail that runs beside the Ohio Erie Canal lock and damn system. The only possible downside is that it also sits next to the Peninsula Depot, a stop for the Cuyahoga Valley train line. Having opted to sit in the outdoor patio of the restaurant, we were briefly subjected to a loud train horn and a generous cloud of diesel engine smoke. Notwithstanding, the establishment still gets high marks.

Mostly Vegetarian

I'm not a vegetarian, but I have decided to be "mostly vegetarian." When I am hungry, I am going to try to make or buy vegetarian options whenever possible, and eat smaller portion sizes when it's not. Conversely, I'm not going to worry if I unknowingly or inadvertently consume a meat byproduct, nor am I going to go hungry when carnivory is the only choice. I care about the planet and meat consumption is extremely hard on the environment, especially in the USA. If we don't collectively reduce meat consumption, meat production will become unsustainable and we'll be forced to reduce meat consumption anyway. I am being proactive. If I tried to be a full fledged vegetarian, I'd likely fail, then subsequently give up. Taking this less extreme middle of the road approach is a very obtainable goal because it has elasticity built in to adapt to changing circumstances. I care about animals too, especially after working for Standard Process, a vitamin company in Palmyra WI that practices unnecessary animal testing and uses animal organs in its products. But my main impetus for being "mostly vegetarian" is caring about my own species and increasing its tenure on the planet by conserving land, air, water, and other natural resources. I can't change anyone else's beliefs or behavior, only my own, but if everyone did just a little shrinking of their ecological footprints, it would have dramatic effects on quality of life and long term survival of humanity. For example, if all the cars driven in the USA could double their gas mileage tomorrow, dependence on foreign oil would pretty much cease to exist.

Every American is an Ambassador of America

While it's true that American politicians don't represent most of the American populace anymore, empirically speaking, the rest of the world doesn't know that. That's why it is really important that Americans traveling overseas don't behave like douchebags or idiots or both when interacting with people from other countries, even if the other person is themselves a douchebag and/or idiot. Always keep to the higher ground and be nice. The return on investment from being nice, particularly when coupled with real or perceived intellect, is always much greater than that from being mean or bullying. Avoid American ethnocentrism and try to understand and appreciate other cultures, especially if those cultures have been around a helluva lot longer than ours. Americans are not better than anyone else, just different. If you believe America is the greatest country in the world or that you, simply as a consequence of being American, are better than people from other parts of the world, keep those beliefs to yourself, both implicitly and explicitly. When you understand people from other cultures, you come across as a more understanding and considerate person, pretty much by definition. Everyone hates a douchebag.

060316 Op Ed

I could tell you why Donald Trump is so ridiculously popular with fearful, hateful, right wing drama kings (mostly) and queens. But the truth is the return on investment in doing so is so low as to make the endeavor a waste of my time.

Plenty of pundits have it more or less right. But factual correctness is an insignificant variable in this election. This election is dependent almost entirely on emotion, and specifically negative emotion (fear/hate). We know that strong emotion trumps (literally, no pun intended) rational thought in almost every case (take for example when Creationists say they would still reject evolution, even if all the science conclusively proved it). The corporate mainstream media is lost at sea and ratings drive their irresponsible coverage of Donald Trump. We live in a "reality TV" society now, quite possibly by design, and media consumers crave melodrama, even from news sources that are supposed to be objective and rational.

Political races have devolved into a choice between lowest common denominator candidates that mostly appeal to no one. That should be a clue that the system is broken and has been for a long time.

I'm not a Trump alarmist because I want to believe our three branch political system of checks and balances works even when an orangutan is in charge of the Executive branch. That being said, it didn't work especially well the last time we had a subhuman primate in charge (George W. Bush's father still sighs and shakes his head whenever he thinks about his son's tenure at the helm of the USA).

If Bernie Sanders doesn't miraculously win the Democratic nomination, I will be a fully disenfranchised voter, part of the apathy voter bloc. Hillary Clinton is a neoliberal corporatist, farther right on the political spectrum than Ronald Reagan was, and a Democrat in name only. She was once a registered Republican and that does not sit well with me. I may have basically three options come the general election. I can stay home and not vote, letting a small proportion of eligible voters decide the future of America for me. This is probably the best option as far as my friends placing blame on me for the outcome, though my one vote is virtually valueless even in a close election (because of the archaic Electoral College). However, I like to vote. It's my only voice in democracy and I try to leverage it as best I can. That leads to the second option. To wit, I can vote for a third party, such as the Green Party, that better fits my values on issues. I did this for the 2012 presidential election, and President Obama beat "Mittens" Romney in spite of my "throwaway" vote. A case can be made that Hillary Clinton has an obligation to beat Donald Trump handily without my vote, and this option leverages my vote to that end. So that begs the question...if Clinton should and must beat Trump, shouldn't I just grin and bear it and throw my vote at Clinton. That's my third option and also the most distasteful. My vote has value and it has to be legitimately earned. If I vote for Clinton, I am devaluing my vote. I don't want to do that and the only reason I would is if it looks like the election will be perilously close. There is a fourth option, though it's a very improbable one. I could write in a vote for Bernie Sanders, thus joining the protest voter bloc. Call it option 2b. I cannot make a compelling case for this option, especially if Sanders supports Clinton after bowing out of the race.

Signs

It's very rare, but there are times when the level of technical difficulties at a rock-n-roll show are so extreme that the band must simply stop. Stop playing and admit defeat. Pack up. Go home. I hope that none of my bands ever experience this. But I sympathize with any band that does. May the Rock Gods have mercy on their souls.

Australia

At this point, I don't think I need to wait for Trump to get elected to justify leaving the country. The entire moronic presidential farce is enough to illustrate that America is doomed.

Opiates

I am glad I never took prescription opiates, but I feel bad for everyone who did and got addicted.

Americans represent 5% of the world's population and use over 75% of the world's opiates (and fossil fuels, incidentally).

That's effed up.

Pity

The happiness and contentment they felt as they left the bar after the rock show was transformed to revulsion and pity by the drunk woman rolling in the gutter, covered in her own regurgitate and struggling to stand up, as her comrades tried vainly to relieve her pathos. They fled.

Dickish Libs

A couple weeks ago, I pulled over to the side of a road to pick someone up, ensuring I was safely out of the flow of traffic. My passenger wasn't quite ready so I put my hazards on, per standard protocol, since I was not parked, just standing. A couple minutes after I did so, a bicyclist passed my car on the left and yelled, "You're in the bike lane!" Rude! I knew I was in the bike lane, but it was also a parking lane, plus I had my hazards on, the universal sign for chill the fuck out. Plus there was an actual bike lane on the sidewalk. I hate when militant liberal cyclists pull that elitist shit thinking they are better than everyone and not tolerating anything that shakes their worldview. MY BIKE LANE. KEEP OUT!

I hold liberals and progressives (maybe they are the same thing, I don't know or care) to a higher standard and here is why. When conservatives and right wingers act douchey, it's kind of expected. Not that all conservatives and right wingers are douchey, but its within the boundaries of conventional conservative/rightey behavior to be douchey. But liberals need to be more decent, by convention. When they are dicks, they bring all liberals/progressives down to a lower standard.

So, liberals, don't be dicks when there is no reason to. I was helping someone and I did everything by the book. Observe your surroundings and adapt. You make liberals look bad when you act like a douche.

Thanks. Bye.

Infrastructure

You would think that the Flint MI water crisis would be a wakeup call to Americans about their rapidly crumbling infrastructure, but apparently America took an Ambien before bed, because they are sound asleep.

Is John Boehner Just Drunk All the Time Now?

John Boehner looks and sounds like he has just entirely given up on sobriety. He is like your drunk uncle at the wedding.

"For the love of God, don't let Uncle Ray have the microphone!"

Except the wedding is in Washington DC and never ends.

Although to his credit, Ted Cruz probably is "Lucifer in the flesh" and a "miserable SOB."

Death of the Middle Class - A Short Treatise

At one time, it made economic sense to work one job in Corporate America. Pay, benefits, and job security were good enough that you could put all your eggs in one basket and trade your time for economic viability and stability. That was a long time ago. In the 1980s, I think, Corporate America broke this social contract. Nothing was guaranteed anymore and Corporate America collectively adopted a philosophy of profits at any cost, including human cost. Pay and benefits were cut. Job and retirement security were thrown to the wind as companies downsized and liquidated or privatized pension funds. Middle class workers, somewhat surprisingly, swallowed Corporate America's line that these changes were necessary to ensure a strong economy.

What defines a strong economy though?

Isn't it a financially liquid and large middle class? People have to buy things in order for the economy to thrive.

It was during this same time that the two separate American economies formed. The historical economy driven by the middle class shrank while the new financial capitalism (sometimes called "disaster capitalism," though that is a subset of the larger institution) driven by Wall Street speculation (gambling with investor money) grew.

Once the middle class had been fleeced to the point of being unable to support the American economy and run government, except on credit, infrastructure began to collapse. Then Wall Street speculators started betting AGAINST sectors of the American economy to make money, illustrated best by the housing bubble collapse of 2008, but occurring in other sectors as well.

To add insult to injury, after the Wall Street banks collapsed the American and World economies, the middle class was asked* to bail out the banks that had frivolously gambled away their retirement savings, even as bank managers received ridiculous bonuses. Even then, Americans were cowed into believing the banks were "too big to fail" by corporate grafted politicians who warned that the few jobs that existed would be in danger if the middle class did not dig deep into its pocket to save them.

So the middle class has basically been screwed every which way from Sunday and they are pissed ahead of the 2016 Presidential election. Ironically, it is not the rational progressives who are rebelling against the corporate establishment status quo (personified by avowed corporatist Hillary Clinton), but the emotionally driven conservatives, who have sided with anti-establishment (albeit bigoted con man) Donald Trump. I actually have to respect the right wingers a bit, for going all in on rejecting the status quo that favors Wall Street over the middle class. Their fear and hatred is misdirected at minorities and undocumented workers ("They're takin' our jobs!"), when it should be aimed at Wall Street, but their absolute rejection of the other corporate establishment options in the Republican Party is laudable.

Bernie Sanders is the anti-corporate establishment candidate on the left, but progressives are, on the main, rejecting him in favor of status quo keeping Clinton. I can only speculate that, for all their bitching and moaning about Wall Street, the majority of liberals are fairly happy with the status quo, at least enough to fear drastically revolutionizing things, as Sanders proposes to do. It is not surprising that young liberals favor Sanders much more over Clinton, inasmuch as it is their futures that are far more tenuous under the current system. Older liberals who have fairly secure jobs and stable families are not willing to jump ship just yet on the status quo establishment in favor of an unknown. Unemployment notwithstanding, there are still far more liberals with jobs than without, and most of them are in older age demographics. Whereas Trump supporters are driven more by hatred of the "system," liberals are driven more by fear of change.

*Asked is probably the wrong word...as it implies a choice.