Tuesday, August 11, 2020

Let it rain.

 Well, we got the word today. Joe Biden announced his Vice-President would be California Senator and former Democratic nominee hopeful Kamala Harris. We'll look a little more into the political side of this tomorrow in the News, but this is a big deal and demands some heavy thinking.

 While such an announcement does need to marinate, most of the reactions have been fairly predictable. Trump's already called her "nasty" because she was mean to Brett "Kegger" Kavanaugh. Congressional dickheads like Sen. John Cornyn of Texas are already trying to paint her as a radical, red-eyed liberal. To the surprise of absolutely no one, the soi-disant "Never Trumpers" are sadly shaking their head and admitting with heavy sighs that due to Harris being the VP nominee, they have no choice but to vote for Trump. And finally, the Sanders dead-enders are further solidifying their stance as irrelevant to the national political stage as they rend their garments in performative rage and hope Trump wins so everyone will like them.

 Really, I've touched on this before, but if you're willing and eager for Trump to win because the Biden-Harris ticket or the DNC, in general, isn't pure enough for you, you are not progressive and you do not have the average folks best interest at heart. You either don't have what it takes to play the game or you're just doing it all for shits and giggles. Yes, I'm talking to you, Walker Bragman, you weaselly little turd.

 Anyhow, Kamala Harris. Look, I'm not going to lie. Of all the Democratic nominees, she's one of the ones I liked, which isn't saying much. I have no illusions about the Democratic Party nor the candidates. They are not going to nominate anyone much to the left of Barack Obama or, for that matter, Bernie Sanders since there's not quite as much difference between the two as some would like to think. That's just how it is and the feet stomping the self-declared Left does every four years won't change that fact.

 So, like Cory Booker or Julián Castro, the main reason I favored her, as far as that goes, was the youth factor. All due respect and one has to admire the vitality of Elizabeth Warren, Sanders, and even Biden at 70-plus, and they're all at least "just fine" at what they do. Again, we're not expecting Eugene Debbs or Emma Goldman, here, so let's be realistic.

 What calls itself the Left in this country really needs to understand a couple of things. One, within a two-party system, you have to build from the bottom. That's what the Modern Conservative Movement did, taking over school boards and city councils in the '60s and '70s. Barry Goldwater and Richard Nixon were not down at all for that hardcore evangelical movement The Family documents, but it suited Ronald Reagan down to his toes, so long as he won. Put a little work in down the ticket and don't expect to be given the Presidency by the folks you've been calling fascists for the past 20 years. We could've done this in 2000 but the Greens decided the smell of their own farts was more pleasing and less work, so here we are.

 Second - and this is the most important thing - if Trump gets another term in office, you can forget any idea of implementing progressive politics on a national level for at least two generations. It's going to be a tough row to hoe to get out of the right-wing pit he and his GOP lackeys have put us in as it is. But if he wins? Man, forget about it. It is done.

 Even worse, you can kiss progressive politics on a state and local level goodbye if he wins come November. More likely than not, a Trump federal government emboldened by a second term will come down hard on states and cities that don't toe the line despite how big a wreck Republican policies obviously make things. I mean, I live in Mississippi and while I probably won't see it, it'd be nice to be a part of what would make this state not a complete shame to call home. Trump wins, that's not going to happen.

 You can call me an alarmist if you want, but that just means you haven't been paying attention. The Gestapo-like tactics of ICE and the Border Patrol have already been tested in Portland, and enough of the goons desperate for an Authoritarian Daddy president is cool and the gang with it. The Postmaster General is actively fucking with how the mail is delivered to stymie vote-by-mail and Republicans have sliced-and-diced funding for local voting precincts, especially in minority areas. Abortion will be almost impossible for all but the rich and well-connected, especially once they replace Ruth Ginsberg with someone who makes Kavanaugh and Neil Gorsuch like refugees from Haight-Ashbury.

 And so long as he gets his cheers from his screaming fans - who've already said they're "just waiting on the word" from the President to "deal with" anyone that needs dealing with - Trump won't give a shit. You have to know this. This has to be glaringly obvious if you're at all serious about making this country and this world a better place for those that come behind you.

 If you can't bring yourself to pull the lever at least against Trump and the GOP, well... it's your world, for you and your kids. I'll be fine either way and only have to hold out another 30 years or so. If all you really care about is moral superiority, political purity, or whatever the hell it is, that's on you, bubba.

Saturday, August 8, 2020

Across the Great Divide.

 The mush brain continues, though I do believe the funk is gone. I'm not dancing on the ceiling by any means, but this sort of bored ennui is a step up from feeling like I've buried alive in the blues. Baby steps, neighbors, baby steps.

 Unfortunately, that means that once again I have no real interest in writing anything and this is just filling up the white space for another night. Apparently during one of his vocal rambles that he calls a press conference, Trump cut and run after CBS reporter Paula Reid called him out on constantly claiming credit for a veteran's bill Obama signed in 2014. Trump signed an extension in 2018 but since he's dumber than a stump, he gets them confused.

 I missed it because I try to avoid watching the man we've allowed access to the nuclear codes speak. It's embarrassing as a human being to watch someone fail at talking in public so egregiously yet wield so much power. Even with his malaprops and constantly confused look, like someone explaining calculus to a hound dog, George W. Bush didn't come off as rock stupid and arrogant about it as Trump does.

 For the record, I would avoid Obama's speeches in public whenever I could and still do. His particular brand of political mojo worked on me like no public official in my lifetime has. I never thought, for example, that Bill Clinton was anything but a guy who'd sell you a pick-up with bad wheel bearings. Reagan always struck me as a befuddled actor even before his mental facilities started to slip, and Bush Sr. came off as a persnickety college vice-president more than anything else.

 But no one is as dumb and arrogant about being so dumb as Donald Trump. And his fans love it. They've been defending him, "Of course he scarpered off, how dare the press question him." They act like his petulance and crybaby behavior is something to be admired, "speaking his mind" and "telling it like it is." No, he's a punk, plain and simple.

 Someone asked me why I concentrate on Republicans and conservatives rather than Democrats and liberals. For one, Democrats and liberals aren't as much fun to write about. Seriously, Obama was hypnotizing but he was also boring. It'd be like writing about a particularly competent college president. Even Nancy Pelosi is fairly dull, to the point where conservatives have to believe an obviously modified video to "prove" she's a drunk.

 But even as entertaining as Republicans are - whether it's Trump or drooling morons like Matt Gaetz or vicious dirtbags like Dan Crenshaw - they're also actively working to fuck people over. People might bemoan the Democrats' reluctance to shake up the Status Quo or buck Corporate America too much, and there's plenty there to criticize.

 Regardless, they're trying to keep what they consider the shape of state from sinking and, more importantly, trying to keep the underclasses from rising up and guillotining rich people. That's the intent behind FDR's New Deal and LBJ's Great Society.

 But Republicans? They want to radically change society to remove ever stride not-rich-white men have made since Reconstruction fell. That's not just civil rights for women or People of Color or LGBT. That's voting rights, that's environmental concerns, that's workers' protections, and that's just the start of it. And a lot of Our Fellow Americans, way too many, are fine with that idea.

 One thing the recent protests against police brutality and lack of accountability is showing us just how many of our neighbors would be fine with an authoritarian government. Indeed, they're pretty convinced that's what this country was supposed to be from its very beginning.

 Anyhow, that's word count. I forgot to add the links at the beginning, so I'll do it here. Wednesday was a deep dig into the explosion that rocked Beirut Tuesday night. It's a good piece, check it out. Monday and Friday were less concentrated and more wrap-ups. Monday was more about Trump's tantrum towards TikTok and Friday looked at just how bad the back-to-school rollout is going, particularly here in Mississippi.

 Enjoy the rest of your weekend.

Thursday, August 6, 2020

Roll away the stone, roll away the stone.

 Once again, I really don't have much on the boiler today. Once again, I woke up this morning and was completely uninterested in dealing with the rest of humanity. Once again, my first glimpse of Twitter confirmed my initial suspicions. And once again, I shut it down for most of the day and spent it all reading about the nature of time and listening to B.B. King. Highly recommended.

 So we'll just do the whole "filling up the white space" thing. About what, I don't know. That funk that sat on me last week is still around. It's not really a case of the blues so much as just being too tired and disinterested to really deal with it all. Things are a mess right now. The "we must send kids back to school, so what if a few will die and many will suffer life-long debilitating effects of catching COVID-19" movement shows no signs of slowing down.

 It'd be tough to convince me that the mindless push for this is basically another way of getting the plebes back to work to make more money for the Powers That Be. If nothing else, our country's reaction to dealing with the pandemic has ripped a number of masks off, and one of them is how little the "job providers" give a shit about who makes them their money.

 That may sound unnecessarily cynical, but I'm not seeing anything to make me think otherwise. Shit, man, I've got nothing. Fact, right there, and I'm not in the mood to debate it. Today's new tactic from the Trump Administration is to try to convince folks that Biden is trying to "hurt God" and get rid of the Second Amendment.

 I never know who shit like this is supposed to convince. The True Believers already think every Democratic president of the last 30 years has been inches away from destroying every firearm in the country. I'm not going to look it up, but there hasn't been a serious threat to the Second Amendment ever. Limits aren't the same thing. But again, as I've said elsewhere, I really don't care about your guns or your access to them. If you don't care your kids get shot up and you never know when some dingbat will decide a whole Wal-Mart needs to die, that's on you.

 What else is there? Hell, I don't know. I have the worst mush brain today. Worse, I have absolutely no time for nonsense. Just had some yo-yo on Twitter try to claim it's "obvious" the "mainstream media" is trying to stir up a "race war" and that's just fucking dumb. I'll say it again; if you think the corporate media is concerned with anything other than making money, you're a fool and probably should be kept away from sharp objects and firearms.

 The New York Attorney General has opened legal proceedings against the NRA based on their financial shenanigans. I don't know if it will have any long-term effects on what's undeniably become a lobbying group for gun manufacturers, and one that's taken a number of hits to its credibility in recent years, at that.

 Okay, that's 500 words. I'm tired and think I'll shut it down. I'll have the News tomorrow. Hopefully, this funk will be gone sooner than later.

Tuesday, August 4, 2020

Hang on in there.

 Man, what a day. Have you seen the Axios interview Jonathan Swan had with Trump? Holy cow, go look at that thing. Words fail me. There is so much bad with it. His fumbling every answer about the government's COVID-19 response is sad. His dismissal of even pretending to give a shit what John Lewis represented is embarrassing. And once again sending good wishes to Ghislaine Maxwell is just mortifying. This is our president, the guy who holds the nuclear codes. That's the worst part.

 You know, this has gone beyond funny, even in a dark, absurdist sense. We have a stone moron as president, someone who doesn't give a shit about the people he represents if it makes him look bad, is undeniable racist to the point where he's willing and eager to screw over people to continue it, and he's probably wrapped up in the largest underage rape scandal in modern history that doesn't involve the Catholic Church.

 He can't even be bothered to act right, that may be what's yanking my chain most of all. All criticism just rolls off him as being either "fake news" or "presidential harassment" or just people in general being mean and jealous of him. I've sort of skipped out on today - yes, the funk is still here - so I don't know what the general reaction from the Base is, apart from their insistence that Joe Biden is in a constant dementia haze and never leaves his basement. That's their entire argument.

 I may have said it here before, but I am not so much "for Joe Biden" as I am "against Donald Trump". I don't know if it's my allegiance to H.L. Menken's dictum that the only way a reporter should look at a politician is down, my cynicism thanks to the quality of elected officials throughout my adulthood, or just the simple fact that I'm kind of a salty bastard. Regardless, I've never been able to catch that spirit some people seem to get when they get behind a candidate.

 Take this election, for example. I liked some of Bernie Sanders' and Elizabeth Warren's ideas, I liked some of the stances Cory Booker and Julián Castro had, and I liked the way Kamala Harris carried herself. I thought any of the five would make fine executive officers but shed no tears when each dropped out. In fact, apart from Bloomberg and Yang and the Starbucks guy, nobody who was a serious contender was all that bad.

 But we wound up with Joe Biden because the majority of Democratic voters felt he was the best man for the job, and the job at hand is getting Donald Trump and his slimy crew out of power. Biden's got the experience and years, but along with that comes with the normal baggage most people pretend isn't gathered by every politician ever. The 1994 Crime Bill is a stain on his record, sure, but the same people who decry that think it's not a big deal than Bernie Sanders was an avid supporter of it.

 That's politics, though, and people who complain about shit like that or pretend it's a killer don't understand how politics works. They don't understand how journalism works either, for that matter. We're not giving the Beltway Media a pass, but Swan's evisceration of Trump in the Axios interview isn't really that hard. He just kept asking follow-up questions and, more importantly, asking "why do you insist that bit of bullshit is reality?" Any journalist can do that. The reason the Beltway Media doesn't is, for the most part, because they have a vested interest in pretending the office of the Presidency isn't up for grabs to any two-bit hustler who stirs up the lizard brains of enough of the country.

 It's not all on them, though. Up to a certain point, the media - any media - is like any other business: they provide the desired service. As consumers of journalism, it's beholden to the public to not accept the very least done, and unfortunately, we have for generations. It really wasn't up until Nixon and Watergate before that Wall of Silence was shattered. Even so, we've allowed ourselves to believe They're All Crooks, The Media Does Nothing But Lie, and There's Nothing We Can Do About It.

 To do otherwise would require us as citizens to do some actual work, to do some actual thinking. Pretending that's Just The Way It Is takes the responsibility off of us and assigns it to some amorphous entity, so it goes on and on. So the real question is "why doesn't the media do its job".

 The real question is "why don't we do our job?" And that is a good question, indeed.

Saturday, August 1, 2020

My brain is cloudy, my soul is upside down.

 I really don't have anything tonight. It's already past 8 p.m. and I've been staring at a blank screen for almost an hour in between reading dumb arguments on Quora. So we'll just gonzo it out tonight until we fill up space and then I'll probably go to sleep.

 I've been sleeping a lot lately. I'm just tired and disenchanted with the world, I guess. All that arguing over the Actual Paying Gig took a lot out of me. I'm hanging in, but I'm tempted to jump ship once I have enough saved up for a laptop. July might be enough to make the nut.

 There's a certain level of pride that comes with getting paid to write again, but I'm really not interested in the hassle. Part of the ongoing jibber-jabber over "cancel culture" is folks joking around about the poor, oppressed $20 thousand a month New York Times writers having to deal with editors, which is worse than the worst thing ever. Yes, even worse than that.

 I'm almost sympathetic to them and that stroke. I used to hate working with editors, going over what I got wrong and how it could be more readable. I recognize the utility in it, I just hated doing it. I wrote it, my job is done, trust me that everything worth knowing is in there. Editing is your job, you do it. I'm taking a nap.

 Now, having to deal with Google searches screwing with whatever it screws with, that's a whole new kettle of fish. I quit pro journalism at what was basically the beginning of the Online Age. It's sort of funny, I remember going to a conference in the '90s and one of the speakers telling us that within 10 years all newspapers would be online. Ten years later saw him wrong, but 20 years was closer.

 Still not there yet, of course, and most publications are going to primarily online because it's too damn expensive to keep up a print entity these days. It's a shame because there's a real opportunity now that everyone and their grandma has a smartphone and all you'd need is an app. However, real journalists got caught with their pants down and now the average schlub gets their news from Facebook. We are a dumb culture.

  Speaking of journalism, as much as I agree the Big Time Media has its issues, I've decided that too much ranting about the "mainstream media" will become one of the phrases I use to decide if someone is worth listening to or not. Like, for instance, "cancel culture." Anyone who claims "cancel culture" is a serious issue isn't worth paying attention to. Anyone who's criticism of the media starts and ends with "they all lie" or "they push agendas" isn't worth paying attention to.

 Your average media outlet - especially one like The Washington Post or CBS news - has little stake in ideological causes and are more concerned with ad revenue. They may be socially liberal, but they are tightly bound to the American Capitalist idea of Profit Über Alles. Any attempt at journalistic integrity is mainly so they don't get sued for what they print or broadcast. If you think otherwise, you're far too naive for me to help.

 That's just how it is. Maybe it can be changed, maybe it can't. I don't know. But the fact that it exists does not render the media as a whole useless. If you understand that bias and recognize how it affects everything about the process - from gathering info down to presentation - it's at least useful.

 But people want to complain. We all think we're the main protagonist of the Big Narrative, and every story has to have an antagonist. It's just easier to think some overwhelming force - capitalism, socialism, religion, atheism - is making people and life awful instead of it just being a case of people being buttholes because they can or know of no other way to be.

 The universe really doesn't care about us at all. Remember: it existed for over 14 billion years without mankind and doesn't really need us around. Calm down. Have a good time. Don't be assholes to each other. It'll be all right.

Thursday, July 30, 2020

Shake and Pop

 We've all sort of gotten used to the President's Twitter game, haven't we? By that I mean we've all accepted that "The Most Powerful Man In The World" who has access to the nuclear trigger is a not-so-bright petulant bore given to throwing temper tantrums and has barely any concept of wit, diplomacy, or even what his job actually is. Every time he gives even a hint of not being a complete buffoon, the big-time media wets itself that he's got a "new tone" or "turning a corner." Within a few days, he lays a tweet on us so awful that I honestly think he loses a few votes. Not the Base, no. They are ride or die.

 So, today he laid this beauty on us:
Image By the time he got to his afternoon tongue wag, he's amended it to mean he's still worried about mail-in voting because the results won't be immediately ready on Election Night. Hell, I don't know what he's talking about, either. I really believe he never paid attention to elections until 2016 and only then because he had to.

 So, all day long people have been trying to calm us down - and this is rightly worrying news - by saying only Congress would have that authority. Maybe so. During Congressional testimony, smirk pig hybrid and Secretary of State Mike Pompeo said the decision would ultimately land with the Department of Justice and Attorney General William "The Pope" Barr, which should fill everyone with confidence.

 And then there's the stroke that if he does manage to delay the election and if it goes on past January 20, by Constitutional fiat the Speaker of the House becomes president. That would be Nancy Pelosi and it would almost be worth it to see wingnut heads across the country pop like zits.

Again, maybe so, but here's what's bugging me, the nagging little thought I can't shake. Not only is Trump dealing with a mafia-loyal Senate and GOP, but he's also got a fairly pliable Supreme Court, one I wouldn't be on. Sure, he doesn't have the House, but let's be honest here. The Democratic party can charitably be described as "feckless" when it comes to dealing with Republican power grabs for at least the past 30 years.

 But that's not what worries me the most, honestly. What worries me is he's got at least 50 million drooling lunatics who are as loyal to him as maybe we've ever seen, to the point where anything that makes him look bad instantly becomes "fake news". Furthermore, they've already said they're willing to go to war with anyone who's against Trump, bragging about their guns and steadfastness. All they're waiting on, they say, is "the word". Whether they will or this is just a lot of talk from people who watch too much television, I don't know, but I'm not inclined to give them the benefit of the doubt.

 I really don't get the American obsession with "strong leadership". Today it was announced that Mississippi led the nation in per capita COVID-19 cases. We also learned that former presidential candidate and Republican "black friend" Herman McCain died due to complications from the virus. He had dealt with Stage 4 colon cancer and, thus, had a weakened immune system. It's very likely, though not completely certain he came down with the virus while attending Trump's return to volksgemeinschaft back at the end of June.

 Both of these were, in some form or fashion, credited to a "lack of leadership," either from Gov. Tate Reeves or Trump. We've heard a lot about leadership in the last few years, especially when pointing out how badly it's being done. Maybe this should be a lesson to us: stop looking for leaders. Maybe stop giving unearned authority its power by already being willing to bend a knee to whoever is "in charge" just because that's how it's always been done.

 This is probably my appreciation for anarchism as a political theory kicking in, but I think a lot of this is because we as a people - and definitely as a culture - are so given to a Narrative that champions a Strong Leader or a Savior. The flip side is we think we're all so easily manipulated that we don't need to put the effort in to be any better. That's where a lot of the opprobrium for the mainstream media comes. They're lazy and profit-over-proof oriented because we let them be. Maybe if we demanded more from the big-time press, they'd deliver. In the meantime, give your support to indie publications, alt-weeklies, and bloggers you trust.

 Okay. That's plenty for today, I think. We'll try to get tomorrow's News out on time. It may be a wrap-up, but to be fair, it has been a busy week.

Tuesday, July 28, 2020

Yeah, yeah, yeah...

 Okay. I pretty much shut it down today and didn't really stir until 4 p.m. The more I worked on that piece last night, the angrier I got until I got what felt like a blood pressure-induced headache. I couldn't sleep for damn, either, so I was pretty whipped when my buddy Otis, the Jack Russell, got me up this morning.

 I've calmed down greatly today, though. I've got two pieces of Actual Paying Work to get done tonight and one's done. I'm not sure where the future lies with this. I'm proud of my buddy for getting this going. He's a good kid and I've been fond of him and his wife for over 10 years. And, frankly, it feels good to get paid to write and to have a purpose to write. But I really don't need to be as angry as I was yesterday. When I can feel my blood pressure rising, that's not a good sign.

 It's been an hour since I wrote the above. I've already written 800 words for the APW and still have another to do. Since it's 11 p.m. and I want to keep continuity, I'm going to go ahead and post this. I really have nothing interesting I want to talk about anyway, but I feel like coming back I will. So there.

I need to rant. Skip it if you want.

 I'm going to piss and moan for a few pages. Skip if you don't care, and don't try to bullshit me, you don't.

Saturday, July 25, 2020

I ain't walkin'. Naw, I'm travelin' in style.

 You know, I've had a fairly pleasant Saturday. Nice breakfast, got some work done, nice nap - not too long, not too short - some fair-to-middling ribs from that place in Peppertown, and a short constitutional with my buddy Otis, the Jack Russell. I really don't have much in me.

 We'll go ahead and get this week's News all linked out before I forget, though. Beyond that, I don't know. We'll kick the ball around and see. Anyhow.




 To be honest, I took on a big slab of Actual Paying Work this past week, and that ate up not only most of my time but also most of my energy. You write 4,000 words on New York labor laws and see how sharp you are. In any event, we took another look at the fascist invasion of Portland Monday while Wednesday centered around the ongoing failure of the Trump Administration when it comes to deal with the COVID-19 problem. Friday we drew out focus in and took a look at how screwed dear ol' Mississippi is about said pandemic. The answer: extremely screwed.

 I usually don't do this, but I'm going to include the News' "Weekend" feature. For the record, it's usually just five hundred words of ramble tamble - much like every day here - and little more than a reason to fill space and write. However, occasionally, I'll write something there worth reading. This time around I wrote about Rep. John Lewis and Bro. C.T. Vivian, two Civil Rights warriors we lost to the ravages of time a week ago Friday. Lives well-lived, stomping the terra.

 Wednesday got a good bit of attention, actually. I imagine it's because I touched on the business with Trump wishing Ghislaine Maxwell "well" and Twitter booting a bunch of Q users for being assholes, slightly loony, and outright threatening. I generally don't get as many hits on the News as I do here. Maybe that's telling me something, but I'll be dipped if I know what it is.

 Speaking of hits, I got a mess here this week. Up to 136 so far, though how many of those are the same ones trying to spam porn in the comments, I don't know. I was inspired Friday, pure gonzo gibberish that it was. Right now, though, I just feel like listening to The Faces and reading Go Down, Moses again. It's too damn hot to be this melancholy.

 I'm definitely not interested in the current zeitgeist on Twitter. Apparently, Andrew Sullivan said something stupid and the only reaction I have to that is why in the blue hell is anyone still taking Andrew Sullivan seriously? The Harper's Letter is still having way more impact than it should. I still can't too worked up that mediocre writers and thinkers who've coasted for the past couple of decades answering to no one but each other are getting made fun of on Twitter.

 And I really have no sympathy for the folks under 40 whose main complaint seems to be that they came on the field too late to not have to listen to the public criticize their nonsense. They know who they are, there's no need to name names. I find as I get older, I give less of a shit about what individuals think, especially individuals who get paid to tell me what they think. I realize that's a little screwy given what I'm doing here, but read your Walt Whitman and leave me be.

 Tedious hypocrite David Brooks bemoaned that besotted contrarian boor Christopher Hitchens couldn't get published today when that is obviously horseshit of the finest kind. Hitchens would be fighting off podcasters with an empty beer stein. As long as you have connections, there is no need for merit. Yeah, I know that sounds bitter because I'm 45 and have probably seen all the success in writing I'll ever see, but it doesn't mean it's wrong.

 It's like when I argue with Momma about taxing the living shit out of Jeff Bezos. "But is it fair?" I honestly don't care if it is or isn't. Life isn't fair. Children are born into poor families with illnesses that will not only promise a short, painful existence but will also manage to bankrupt their parents as if a shattered heart isn't enough.

 Getting a little dark there. Perhaps I should tie this off. I want a candy bar. I'm enjoying myself, but I know I'm running out of stuff to rant about and really don't feel like raving about how awesome The Faces were and how you should totally buy as much stuff as there is out there, but you should. Hell, two-fifths of the band has passed on and two of the remaining three have more money than God. I doubt Kenny Jones is hurting, so buy used copies or if you're feeling it illegal downloads.

 Are those still a thing? I ain't going to lie but when Napster and Kazaa were all the rage, I downloaded a buttload of MP3s of dubious legality. I even sailed around the Pirate Bay for a bit. I usually wound up buying from the bands if they were still an ongoing thing but I have no qualms about taking from record companies and music publishers. Was it thievery? Sure. Do I give a shit? Nope, not one bit.

 Hoo, giving myself away there, I better be careful. You'll never prove it, though, because I've moved on. Apple and Tim Cook get my $10 a month, so I trust them to disseminate that down to the musicians, although I know it really isn't much better. Regardless, The Bottle Rockets, Todd Snider, and The Mavericks still get my money. Come and get me, coppers.

 That's enough, I think. I don't know what else to say and don't feel like raging against anyone anymore. Anyway, I really want that candy bar. Salute.

Thursday, July 23, 2020

Chopping cotton in The Garden of Forking Paths

 There's something called "the Mandela Effect". In short, it's the idea that there's something wonky about reality because people's memories are faulty. Some popular examples are the idea that the universe flip-flops between "Froot Loops" and "Fruit Loops," than the comedian Sinbad played a genie in a movie called Shazaam, and the concept's namesake, the idea that Nelson Mandela died sometime in the '80s while in prison.

 Now. I want to go on record here and say I think the Mandela Effect has less to do with the rubbery nature of reality and more to do with the idea that people's memories are faulty. Similar to how people's perceptions are questionable, even at the best, makes me question concepts like ghosts, physic phenomenons, and so forth. I've done peyote and read Kant. Everything you see is a couple thousandth of a second late, and that's just how it is.

 Your senses don't tell you the Truth, they tell you what humans have evolved to understand so they can make it through reality. We've yet to catch up with moving faster than roughly 30 miles an hour, evolutionarily speaking, so when you're driving down the road, your brain can't process everything so it just "fills in empty spaces". Isn't that a fun thought?

 Anyhow, I said all that to say all this. In the last 48 hours, I've discovered the music of a guy named Roger Tillison. He was a singer-songwriter from Tulsa who came up during the '60s and '70s. He was friends with that whole Tulsa crew, like Leon Russell and Jesse Ed Davis, and spent time in Woodstock when Bob Dylan, The Band, and Bobby Charles were doing their thing. He filled in for Eric Clapton when the latter was too strung out on heroin to play for George Harrison's Concert for Bangladesh.

 He put out a record on Atlantic's Atco subsidiary in 1971 called Roger Tillison's Album. He does a Dylan song ("Down In The Flood"), a Band number ("Get Up Jake"), and a Woody Guthrie deep cut ("The Old Cracked Looking Glass") among other covers and originals. I'd heard the Dylan and Band song, on the same album, actually, but I'd never heard the Guthrie song. It's pretty good. Guy's a solid singer and there's some neat raw, rockin' country-influenced playing, the sort of stuff I really dig. Imagine a grittier Flying Burrito Brothers.

 He didn't put out another record until 2003, Mamble Jamble, and that was initially released only in Japan. He spent most of his time playing in and around Tulsa, occasionally recording with old friends and picking up the odd gig touring. He died in 2013 at 72, and apparently really enjoyed his life the whole time. Good for him, far too many of us don't get to do that.

 Every now and then, I come across a musician or an author I should know about. It happened with Swamp Dogg. Didn't know him from Adam's housecat, regardless of my love for Southern soul, and now I'm a fanatic. Country singer Little David Wilkins cut an album back in the '70s with a classic honky tonker "Who Ever Turned You On, Forgot To Turn You Off". I mean, that just screams Urban Cowboy.

 All that Harper's Letter trying to save well-off op-ed writers from being criticized? There's some dude, name escaped me, but he's such incredibly insufferable bourgeoisie douchebag - like David Brooks and Andrew Sullivan double-teamed Maureen Dowd - that I have no idea how I managed to keep him off my radar for so long. The older I get, the more this happens, and it never fails to blow my mind.

 There's an explanation of the weirdness of quantum mechanics called the Many-Worlds Interpretation. Essentially, since we can't tell a subatomic particle's attributes until it's observed, the who subatomic realm is really weird compared to how the macro-world works. One interpretation, the Copenhagen, is the most popular and says everything is just mathematically a probability until it's observed, wherein it collapses into reality. It's just math, though, the best we can observe because we physically don't have the tools to be more precise.

 The MWI is similar, except that every conservative splits off a different reality. It goes back to Schrodinger's Cat; once the box is open, two universes form. One where the cat is alive and one where it's dead. Again, it's just the math they do to make the science works. Quantum mechanics is an actual thing and one of the best theories in science. It's just weird as shit and makes no sense because the reality we can see and touch doesn't act this way.

 The thing about quantum mechanics is that it's so weird and so hard to wrap your head around, a lot of folks just go nuts with it. From the Tao of Physics to What The Bleep Do We Know, quantum woo has been a lucrative stroke for a lot of folks. In the same neighborhood is the idea that reality and consciousness are tied into the quantum level. There's some legit science going on working on the idea that there's something tying them together.

 I'm not going to pretend that I understand it, because I don't, but the general gist is since the brain uses electrical impulses, it ties into the quantum world. Since it affects that and that affects the macro world, consciousness can affect reality. Now, modern neurobiology doesn't really swing with this and considers whatever computational aspect there is in the quantum world, it doesn't have anything to do with how the brain works or how reality is.

 Still, it's an interesting stroke. One of the more far-out theories - and I think it has something to do with Robert Anton Wilson's "reality tunnels" but I can't recall - is that reality isn't so much defined by consciousness, but consciousness experiences different reality. It's somehow connected to the MWI, but the little splits in the universe are very localized. It also ties into Douglas Adams' who stroke with Probability and the Whole Sort Of General Mish-Mash.

 So maybe I drift through a constantly changing universe, where things pop into and out of existence. I thought for the longest time that country singer Terri Gibbs was so freaked out by her song "Somebody's Knockin'," which talks about being seduced by "the Devil," that she went back to singing purely gospel music. I also thought for the longest time that Michael Martin Murphy used to be part of a family gospel group until drugs and the high-life of the gospel music world wrecked his marriage and drove him to country music. All boosh-whah made up in my own imagination, and I have no idea where it comes from.

 Here's something else to think about. I haven't smoked any pot in over six months. Imagine what I'm like when I'm stoned, and I used to stay stoned all the time.