Sunday, July 5, 2020

Whoops!

  Seems I got so fired up yesterday that I forgot to add links to this week's news. Well, let me do that now.




 Monday and Wednesday were your basic news round-ups, focusing on the Mississippi flag and the whole "Russians paying Taliban to kill American soldiers, Trump knew and didn't care" thing that seems to not be making a dent in the GOP. Friday was actually a lead-in to yesterday's lament about the state of the world today and the continuing purification of the American Dream, turns out.

 For those that don't know, I do something similar to this at the WordPress site for the weekend. Links to stuff here and a more opinion-oriented piece than the regular News. So now I'm about to head over and stare at the screen until something pops out for that. Salute.

Saturday, July 4, 2020

Must be the season of the witch.

 Well, y'all, I don't know what to tell you. It was just one of those days, I guess. I just wasn't feeling it.

 Woke up, had breakfast, glimpsed at the news, shut off the news in disgust and dispirit, read for a while, and then took a nap. Apart from breakfast rinse, lather, and repeat for the rest of the day. Read some of Flann O'Brien's The Third Policeman and a little of Kim Stanley Robinson's Red Mars. Of course, there was a bit of Hunter Thompson, because it's not only that time of year, we find ourselves in the midst of the same societal insanity where the Good Doctor always shined the brightest.

 Yes, indeed. I simply could not deal with the harsh and ugly realities of Life in America in this, the 2020th Foul Year of Our Lord. We're being ravaged by an epidemic the likes the world has never seen, we have miles to go before it gets even close to "better," over 120,000 in this country alone have died (and we make up one-fifths of the world's number, and there are still far too many of us, some with two much unearned authority, who're running under the flag that it's all overblown if not an outright hoax.

 And the hoax is to save a toad of a man who, if nothing else, has brought back being an absolutely shitty human being back to the American Game. Not just to opponents, but to the people they're supposed to be representing. That loopy gun-toting lady in Colorado who won a U.S. Representative nomination for (of course) the Republican Party first crossed my radar by calling people who disagreed with her "sheeple" and "triggered snowflakes". 

 I've said it before, but I don't know if here: if you use the word "triggered" as a pejorative, you are an awful human being and God's mercy on your soul, you rotten swine. I've seen people "triggered" and it's horrifying. You dick.

 But that's where we are. We are in Mean Times, y'all, when gun sales are through the roof. You can pretend it's one side or the other, but the rise in sales and accompanying education on how to end someone's life with said gun is fairly equally spread across the ideological spectrum. Dark Times are on the way, I feel. I hope I'm wrong, but I think we'll see blood in the streets before my days are done.

 The President, the slimy glob he is, has compared the "radical left" - i.e., anyone who disagrees with him - to the Nazis of World War II. He did this on Independence Day. "Celebrating America," apparently. This is the New Thing, I guess, along with his sudden obsession with statues honoring Confederate generals that we erected at least 50 years after the war specifically to tell Black people to suck it.

 Because that's what's important. Not the forty-plus million out of work and against the wall because the landlords aren't having the same problem. Not the companies that insist their labor come back and make them their capital without providing even the most basic healthcare protection or even a security net to help out the very people that make them rich, because fuck you, plebe, that's why. Daddy needs another winter home, so get back to work and, hell no, you're not getting a livable wage.

 And that right there? That's going to get worse before it gets better. We are an Angry Country right now. People are angry that cops keep killing Black people for just walking down the street. There are people furious that the first group of people dare criticize the Thin Blue Line, especially for killing Black people. People are angry because some people have high-powered weaponry and don't come off as stable enough to own such. Those people are angry at the people who doubt them and, unfortunately, are far too often doubted by people who also own high-powered weaponry while at the same time being stable and careful enough to handle them properly.

 Is it all going to pop like a zit or just ooze away like a... zit, I guess. I don't know. Maybe, maybe not. Maybe Joe Biden is right and once Trump gets the old heave-ho we'll return back to whatever "normal" is. At least until we put another unqualified dingbat into office and they start getting delusions of authority, and it'll happen because we won't do enough to address the inequities of life in this society.

 Happy Independence Day. I'm going to be honest. I live out in the boonies. I'm self-employed and can work from home. Unless something drastic happens, I'm financially stable for at least the next 30 years and I doubt I'll be around that whole time. I can hang in, keep my head down, and eventually grow some pot out in the backyard for personal consumption.

 It's you poor bastards I feel sorry for.

Thursday, July 2, 2020

If I come up with something clever or get inspired, maybe. Don't bet the farm on it, though.

 I haven't filed anything today if you're waiting. Someone's reading this, apparently, even if it's just the webcrawlers. Anyhow, straight talk is my mind's been on idle all day and I've been too lazy to knock it into gear. I'll get something before the day's out. Mahalo.

 It's an hour-and-a-half later. Me and my buddy Otis, the Jack Russell, took a brief constitutional. It didn't really help spark anything, though. We didn't get far, either. These hot, humid days aren't pleasant in the first place and he is getting older. I do think the "hot, humid" here is worse than the "hot, humid" in New Orleans. You weren't ever far from some serious body of water down there, between the Big River and the Old Pontchartrain. Some days felt like there was a breeze coming in off the Gulf, as well.

 Here it's just green and woods and swamp. Everything's closer together and it seems like the only breeze you get is cars passing. Or it's a lead up to a tornado, one or the other.

 Well, I've gone to staring off into space again. Looks like it's going to be one of those nights. I won't have any Actual Paying Work until next week sometime, either. So I'll keep this page open and blither on it until I reach word count.

 I really can't even get worked up about anything today. There's another round of conservative think-piece writers having a big conference so they can tell each other that they're being censored, but that's just tedious. It's the same whine over and over again, usually in publications and on platforms that the average person couldn't even think of having. And they usually get paid stupid amounts of money for their banal opinions and lack of insight. Every time David Brooks trends, I want to tell The New York Times that I can write 6,000 words of gibberish a week - and indeed, I do - and I wouldn't ask for the six-figure salary that lump of moldy bread brings down for some reason.

 Speaking of Twitter, none of the trending topics are really anything I can hang my hat on. The head of FedEx is encouraging Washington Redskins owner Dan Snyder to change the team's name to something less egregiously racist, but that's nothing new. That being said, we are in the midst of a Thing and if you'd have told me the Mississippi flag would be lamped for a change and it'd happen as quick as it happened, I probably wouldn't have believed you.

I'll save any COVID-19 stuff for the News, but it's looking grim out there, folks. Numbers continue to rise, the federal government continues to sit on its thumbs, and far too many of Our Fellow Americans think they have the God-given Constitutional right to spit in your coffee if you ask them to wear a mask. I honestly do hate to be this way, but being a hermit that's walled himself off from human contact turned out to be a mighty shrewd move on my part.

Well, that's word count. I think I'll tie it off here, maybe come back to it later. Be honest, I've been giving Fallout: New Vegas another swing and would like to get back to it. I'd be hell on wheels if I could stick to one game long enough to finish it. In any event, there you go.

Tuesday, June 30, 2020

Don't give me no plastic saddle.

 I wrote most of this last night, jotting down ideas for what I'd write about today. But it all flowed so well, I thought we'd just do a little gonzo thing and roll with it. A little disjointed and stream of consciousness, but that's how it is sometimes.

 I usually don't do this until the weekend, but check out yesterday's News. I did a deep dive into the whole "did Trump know about the Russian bounty on soldiers in Afghanistan and, if so, why didn't he say anything". It's a basic primer and I think I did a pretty good job of it. Granted, all of this was written before yesterday afternoon when the Trump Team decided that "yeah, so what, every president ignores daily briefings" was the hill they were going to die on. And maybe they're right, I don't know. Maybe this won't move the needle much come November. It's certainly not going to shake loose the faithful. It's a hell of a thing regardless.

 I've decided that part of my shtick/identity/unique selling point as a writer is "Trust Me". Several years ago, I got into an ongoing debate about the importance of voting with a distressing number of folks who thought it was an unqualified bad thing to vote or even care. I wonder what those people think now. Anyhow, these days I wouldn't have that argument. You don't want to vote? Fine. You want to make a "symbolic vote" that is supposed to show your displeasure with the system but will probably be ignored? Knock yourself out. You don't want to have any say in how the government that's supposed to work for you operates? Not my problem anymore. I'm not long for this world nor am I leaving anything behind when I go. I still think voting is important and necessary, but won't waste my time on these people anymore.

 In any event, one person's comment made me bow out and has long since stuck in my head. Paraphrasing, she said she didn't vote because she didn't know who she could trust, and that just stopped me in my tracks. Not because it was profound or there was any deep truth to it, but because it struck me as incredibly naive and pretty damn lazy. You go to a new mechanic or use a plumber or go to a restaurant, why do you trust them anymore than you would a politician? I'm not saying trust everyone. I'm not even saying trust anyone. My brother thinks I don't trust anyone and several ex-girlfriends have agreed with him.
 
 But here's the thing. I trust myself. Not in every single thing or scenario, but when it comes to politics and the media, I trust myself to make a good decision, the best decision available anyway. I also know enough about the System to not have any illusions, especially about anyone running for an office higher than a county commissioner. I don't know how to teach anyone to reach that level of self trust beyond "read a lot of philosophy," but it works for me.

 And from that, we extrapolate that you or anyone can "Trust Me". Back when I worked in kitchens, I was an okay cook but my strongest point was I was dependable. Same thing when I worked at small, understaffed newspapers or alt-magazines. You can count on Matt to Get The Job Done, and I take a little pride in that. One of the things my late father told me that's stuck with me is if you say you're going to do something, do it even if you don't want to. Then the next time, refuse to do it.

 So, Trust Me. I'm not going to bullshit you or try to pass off opinion as hard news. I'm only going to be as good as my sources and it's not my problem if you think "Fake News" as it's defined by the President is a real worry beyond it's usually things that hurt his feelings. I try to keep it as balanced and mixed up as possible. For instance, I held off on writing about the Bounties thing when it was just in The New York Times. However, The Washington Post, CNN, The Independent, The Guardian and The Wall Street Journal have all verified it with their own anonymous sources. And even then, so long as those sources stay anonymous, I'd remain skeptical until hard proof comes up. It wasn't Deep Throat that brought down Nixon, it was the actual legwork and uncut journalism Bob Woodward and Carl Bernstein did that made the nut.

 Furthermore, I'm not going to pretend that I'm completely objective. A reporter strives for complete objectivity but recognizes that such a thing is only achieved by box scores and racing results. I've said it before, but if people would just admit that media sources have biases and will always have biases - and that bias is more geared to "making money" than any political ideology - they wouldn't be yapping so much about the "Mainstream Media" not doing the job they think it should do because they don't actually understand what it's supposed to do.

 I am biased, but I won't lie to you. There's nothing in it for me. I don't know if I believe we can actually save ourselves anymore, but I do know that I don't believe I can do anything about it. This is just me having fun, remember, so there's no benefit in me trying to bullshit you. I call Trump a crooked, sleazy dipstick because that's what I've thought he was for nearly four decades.

 As a side note, I don't know if I've said lately how frustrating it is to apply for freelance gigs just to be completely ignored by the publication offering them. Because it is, believe you me. I realize that, at 45 just getting back into the game after being gone for 15 years and basically nothing online but, well, this gibberish, I do not make for the most appealing employee. I'm hip. I get it. My Actual Paying Work all stems from a friend helping me out by letting me help out with his business. I accept that I'm pretty much starting from the bottom despite having over 15 years' worth of experience in the business.

 Still, I dislike being completely ignored. I tried for a gig with the New Orleans Public Defender's Office and although I dislike the way I was turned down for it - the lady sent me the wrong email at first, so she had to tell me she sent the wrong one and then send the right one, for some reason - I'd rather be told no than told nothing. I'm not going to name names, but I've put my name in for a number of publications looking for writers and got nothing in return. 

 I don't need to make money doing this. I make a little money, but mainly I do it for fun. I do wish I had a better grip on what it was I'm actually doing and some feedback - hell, any feedback - would be nice.

 Okay. A few little tweaks here and there, but I think we're done. Maybe we'll come back to it tonight. We'll see.

Saturday, June 27, 2020

That Smokey Joe's a crazy fool.

 Before I get to rolling, here's what I did for the News this week.




 I freely admit that of the three, Friday's is the one most worth reading. In fact, once I get started on the regular Gibberish, it'll tie in neatly with it. Monday and Wednesday aren't bad, per se. I've just had a good bit of Actual Paying Work demanding my attention and my sleep schedule's shot all to hell.

 It's all kind of connected, though, as it's a look at this Thing we find ourselves smack dab in the middle. There's a better than average chance my home state and current residence Mississippi will jettison their state flag in favor of a new one before the days out. Hell, maybe before I finish writing this.

 (UPDATE: They did. I be damned. Check tomorrow's News for more info)

 The NCAA, the SEC and C-USA have all applied the screws to what hurts the most: money from collegiate sports. Granted, I think the casinos in Tunica and off the coast bring in more of the stuff, but the impression I get from them is that we, as a state, can go screw so long as we keep providing a cheap labor force and keep our mouths shut.

 And that's what a lot of this boils down to. It has now become unprofitable to ignore racism, and that's just a fact. Quaker Oats and Aunt Jemima, the flag, white cartoon voice actors saying they won't voice character of color, shows with blackface being pulled from streaming service. It's all part of the Thing. You may not like it, and cry of "cancel culture" or "woke mobs" or that old chestnut "political correctness," but guess what. 

 Catering to you at the expense of others is no longer profitable. So you better learn to love it, because that's just how it is. If your vision of Western Society falls apart because American chattel slavery is shown an unequivocally bad thing, than tough titty, you're money's not as good as that panty-waist SJW you mock. The loss of your cash is considered an acceptable risk by the Forces Of Capitalism, so either adapt or get bent. Ain't that a kick in the head?

  Speak of kicks to the head, after watching this country, the "leaders" and Our Fellow Americans, flounder around with the cold, hard fact that not only has COVID-19 not gone anywhere and maybe we shouldn't have reopened just year, but that it's in fact getting worse than we can handle and we really shouldn't open yet. More and more, we're hearing stories of kids - teenagers, pre-teens, toddlers, babies - dying from the virus in increasing numbers. Young people, middle aged people, they're all in the sights of this weird disease that if it doesn't kill you stone dead within a week, it'll take you months to get over and your body will be permanently damaged.

 And the President's trying to get the Supreme Court to strike down ACA when he's not sulking that a blowout isn't in the cards for November. It's like he's already packed it in and is just trying to get done what he promised the GOP bigwigs he'd do. Oh, Mr. and Mrs. MAGA, you thought he had your best interests at heart, whether it was making you richer or successfully owning the libs? You sweet, stupid child. This is the real world. Grow up and get a helmet.

 But you'll still die for him, yes you will. You'll show your ass in public about how wearing a mask and that's the least you can do is the height of authoritarian tyranny. That's why George Washington crossed the Delaware, so Karen and Jeff can have a night out at Dave & Buster's. Lunatics at city council meetings screaming like stuck pigs because they're asked to be decent human beings, just for a little while.

 Here's Tupelo Mayor Jason Shelton fed up with your shit:
Image

 That pretty much says it. I don't know if it'll do any good anymore. The Dumb have taken over. The Black Iron Prison the re-election of Nixon started 45 tears ago found its ne plus ultra during the Bush Jr. administration. Don't kid yourself. Trump was just topping the cake. Republicans and conservatives in general have been heading in this direction at least my entire lifetime.

 I don't know if we'll survive this and what sort of shape we're in if we do. Trump has permanently fouled the waters of what a president can get away with, and it'll be decades, maybe generations before things "recover". He's placed over 200 unqualified frat boys in federal judge seats, so Republicans will have loyal soldiers making it almost impossible for your grandkids' kids to halt the poisoning of the planet, much less stop the never-ending pounding the Corporate Overlords inflict on their workers.

 Seriously. Why the fuck do you think Bernie Sanders endorsed Joe Biden? He didn't sell you out. He knows that if Trump wins another term, call the game, son. It will be over. It's going to be damn hard to undo the damage he's already done, especially after this mess is all over. Your purity and clean conscience won't save you when that day comes around.

 Over 9,000 new cases in Florida alone. That's on you as much as it's on Trump. You could've stopped this, you could've demanded better. You didn't. Now we have to pick up the pieces and do what we can, with Joe Biden, no less.
 

Thursday, June 25, 2020

Plant that bell and let it ring.

It's been a cool six months since I've smoked any weed. This isn't by choice. I currently live in rural Mississippi, and my only options are buying it from young people that I would otherwise have absolutely no contact with or from a guy my cousin's mother-in-law buys her pills from. He's called "the Tater Man". I ain't buying nothing from "the Tater Man".

 Plus, I'm living with my mother and she's got rules that we will respect. Put simply, my dad passed away a couple of years ago and she turns 71 this year and ain't getting any healthier. Plus, she's taken care of someone - either Daddy or my uncle or my grandmother - for the past 20 years and was apparently at extremely loose ends. I've lost count of the number of people - people I've known all my life or people who've moved into the Valley since I moved out and don't know from Adam's housecat - who've said to me, "Thanks for coming back. We were worried." So far, it's worked for all of us, but back to the topic at hand.

 This is the first time in let's say 15 years that I haven't stayed constantly stoned except when I was on the clock. Good weed, too. I got to a point where I wouldn't mess with any ditchweed, or what they called in New Orleans, reggie. Getting stoned works for me. You know how people will say getting high has a bad effect on them or makes them uncomfortable? Well, I'm the exact opposite. It sharpens the world and brings it all into clarity. What I enjoy straight, I enjoy even more and at a deeper level when I'm high.Same goes for LSD or mushrooms. I don't think I've ever had a bad trip. I've tripped in bad situations, but the trip wasn't the problem.

 One of the many reasons I put off moving home and initially intended to move on as soon as possible was I was worried how the lack of the good smoke would affect me. It really wasn't all that bad, though. I've always been easy-going with occasional storms of gloom and grump, high or not, and that really didn't change too much. I'm not going to lie, though. I would completely whip someone's great aunt for a joint right about now.

 That was last night. This is this morning. I initially started that for the Tumblr site before I realized I was passing on some grade-A Gibberish. So there's that there then. I stayed up most of the night playing Civilization VI. It's really not my sort of game but once I got into it, it was pretty engrossing. I was able to turn Spain into a combination Jewish-Muslim state before I gave in.

 It's 8:30 a.m. and I can feel myself crashing. Luckily, I'm done with the Actual Paying Work for the month, barring requests for rewrites from the Chief. I figure after this month's pay I'll be two-thirds of the way towards the new laptop.

 I wrote this on Twitter but I'll write it here because I think it's a good stroke. In short: if you don't want to "debate" with someone, don't. You don't owe anyone your time, especially if they're not paying for it. Particularly on social media, very few people are arguing from a place of honesty. Most of the time it's just to get you upset so they can mark a "win".

 But here's the thing. Debates, arguments, what have you aren't really meant to win. They're for sharpening your thoughts and clarifying your ideas. It's not a contest, there are no prizes or accolades. You don't owe anyone your emotions and you don't owe anyone the benefit of the doubt. And as for cries of "echo chamber," let's just clear the decks on that right now. First off, anyone who uses that phrase seriously is not worth paying attention to and doesn't deserve your time. Furthermore, if they have Twitter they also have the entire internet at their disposal, just like you do. Because you don't want to waste your time and emotion on some limp-dick jackass who's not going to listen anyway doesn't mean you're in a bubble. Just means you're not going to give your time to a limp-dick jackass.

  You know, I think we'll tie this off here. If something clever comes back around, well... we'll see. We're supposed to have a rainy afternoon and I foresee a lazy day.

Tuesday, June 23, 2020

With the best behind us now, there's no way in and no way out.

 So, this "write it in the morning" stroke has kind of hit a snag the last couple days. I've got no good excuse, really. I haven't been feeling right and haven't been sleeping right the last couple of days. Plus, I've had some Actual Paying Work to get done and that always saps me. Matter of fact, I've got this month's last order to get done tonight.
 
 It's funny. Just Friday I talked to the Therapist on a matter completely unrelated to my head issues but, since we were talking, I told her about how basically pretty good the last couple of months have been to me, what with the actual paying gig and the boost that brings. And like clockwork, I've been gloomy, sullen and withdrawn. Which, of course, I am generally anyway, but more so than usual. She said to think of three things to be thankful for, and at least two are usually "I don't have to punch a clock today" and "I got money coming in from writing". That third one is usually a booger, but generally revolves around being well fed.

 Ah, me. It's been about 45 minutes since I wrote the above paragraph. There's a light but steady rain outside keeping me and my buddy Otis, the Jack Russell, from taking our evening constitutional. I think it's starting to sink into his thick little skull that it's not happening tonight. I really should make myself walk in the morning, too. Really should start going back to the gym while I'm at it.

 So, I don't know what else. As I've noted, I've been pretty shut down the last couple of days, just re-reading Hunter Thompson's Hell's Angels, Jeff Sharlet's The Family and Flann O'Brien's The Third Policeman. There's no telling how many books I'd get through if I didn't spend so much time rereading stuff I've already read. Sometimes, like the HST book, I just like the way it flows. Sometimes, like Shallet's book, it's because it's pertinent to today's events. And sometimes, like the O'Brien book, I'm going back through to see what I missed the first time, 'cause I missed a lot. Plus, it's a fun read.

 It's been a good two hours since I last wrote. The rain cleared out, so me and Otis took our constitutional, a good two-mile round trip walk. Then I helped Momma load up her pickup truck. She's got it in her head to clear out the basement of near forty years of school notebooks, broken toys, broken canning jars, Christmas ornaments, worn-out shoes, and the other flotsam and jetsam of life that's accumulated down there. It's quite a bit and it's an odd feeling to go through your childhood to come out the other end with, "Yeah, go ahead and toss it." But that's how life goes.

 I'm just going to spin wheels until I hit 500, sorry. I had a bit in mind about why it's a good thing I never married - has to do with '80s country music and my own disinclination to bend when challenged - but I'm tired and I still have that APW to get done. Luckily, it's not on a really heavy topic that'll require a lot of work. Speaking of country music, I also had something about why since '80s country is my favorite, I don't have much use for the "save country music" hipsters. In any event, listen to Earl Thomas Conley and Keith Whitley. They're awesome.

Saturday, June 20, 2020

Look how far I had to come to get back where I started from.

 Feeling lazy and disconnected again. We'll just get something down and maybe come back later. In any event, first off, here's what made for the News this week.




 Actual Paying Work bit into things this week, so it was all sort of rushed. Still, Monday and Wednesday were solid. Monday was about some significant Supreme Court decisions, another bunch of murdering cops, and black men being found hanging outside where nobody believes it's suicide. Wednesday was a little closer look at the tussle going on in Mississippi about changing the flag, highlighting some dickbag in Columbus who's going to find his ass in the street. Friday I was lazy, so it's mostly a wrap-up with some more stuff about the flag. Specifically, the SEC telling the state to straighten up or lose out. If nothing else, that might get Mississippi to jump.

 I talked to the Therapist yesterday. Someone's hacked her email. She already knew but was glad I told her. The hack asked me to buy her "niece with cancer" $200 worth of Amazon Gift Cards because I have an Amazon account. I got to thinking, though. One, you don't have to have an Amazon Account to buy Amazon Gift Cards. Two, this lady and her husband got them a little bread and she certainly knows more people than me if she needs a favor that bad. And finally, I really can't see her being that wildly unprofessional. Turns out she doesn't even have a niece. Some people.

I find myself wistful for Gainesville today for some reason. I lived there for about five years to go to the University of Florida to study journalism, and basically all I learned is that I never, ever wanted to get a straight gig or live a normal life. I lived in a trailer for $100 a month, drank too much, did all sorts of drugs, delved into life's left-handed path, went to see all sorts of bands, played in a couple, played video games for three days straight, broke a couple hearts, had mine broken once or twice, and as likely as not didn't bother learning her last name the next morning. And write. God-a-mighty, did I write.

 Somewhere between Gainesville and Athens a tomato box full of composition notebooks fell out of the truck I was using to move that had five years worth of short stories, essays, aborted books, poems, songs, biographical sketches and just general nonsense that I had scribbled down while in Florida. Losing that broke something in me, because I've never done that since. This is as close as I've come,

 Ye gods, it's only 9:50 a.m. Anyhow, as weird as it may sound, I'm in that same head space right now. Apart from the sex, drugs and rock & roll, of course, but I'm having a good time. I'm writing, playing games, learning new things, not stressing bills, blowing on the harp and picking guitar, and just basically enjoying life as it comes. Weird how that works. I wonder if I should have stayed in Gainesville. I haven't been back in over 20 years and haven't talked to anyone I knew there in almost 10. I don't know if I was happy or content there, but I did have me a real good time.

 Hey, while I got you here, I have a Patreon page now. I don't know if throwing me a few bucks would do anything besides encourage my behavior, but why not. No one's actually pledged yet, so be the first kid on your block to do so. I've also got my first two paychecks from my APW, a nice, fat $500. I was kicking around the idea of buying a PlayStation or some other console - mainly because I sort of want to play the new Spider-Man game - but I think I'll save for a new laptop. One I can write and game on.

 Anyhow, that should be enough. Maybe I'll come back after my nap or before the night's alien killing begins. We'll see. Either way, have a pleasant weekend.

Thursday, June 18, 2020

I might live a thousand years before I know what that means.

 Running late today, my apologies. I stayed up fairly late last night doing my Actual Paying Work and, of course, defending humanity from alien invasions. Overslept this morning, and by the time I was done editing and brushing up the APW to send it to the Chief, it was past 3 p.m. I wasn't feeling my sharpest, so I decided to take a nap and here we are.

 Anyhow. I've been keeping an interested eye on these "autonomous zones" that have popped up around the country in the wake of the nation-wide protests against police brutality. Of course, there's the first well-organized one in Seattle, and because there was a mass walkout of police in Atlanta to protest that one guy getting fired and charged with murder for shooting Rayshard Brooks in the back as he was running away. I'm not sure if that counts, though. One was started on the northwest side of Portland yesterday evening but apparently the cops shut it down fairly quickly. It was set up outside the mayor's house, apparently, so it makes sense the law would be Johnny-On-The-Spot there. One's trying to kick up at the Capitol Square in Nashville - which the protesters have renamed "Ida B. Wells Square" - but the Tennessee governor's giving dire forecasts should it become a permanent thing.

 It should be noted a lot of this revolves around how the cops are reacting to the protesters. In Portland, for example, they cut that to the quick, while the thing in Seattle is flourishing basically because the local precinct emptied out the first day. No cops, no worries. In Atlanta, it's more a case of the "blue flu" by petulant po-pop even though Garrett Rolfe has turned himself in. They're not protesting or walking out on the job so much as a bunch of them all turned up sick this morning, amazingly enough. Given one of the issues the protesters have is the out-of-control militarization of the police that's both dangerous to the people and police while being more or less useless for dealing with crime, if Seattle or anyone really wanted to wipe folks out, they could.

 And that's part of the problem, really. Full disclosure, I've never had any real problem with the police. When I was 18, I was detained for four hours because a cop thought I was a guy selling drugs at a popular teen hangout area in Tupelo. Once in New Orleans I was pulled over because I was on the Westbank after midnight giving a black co-worker a ride home, and apparently that's suspicious behavior there. I was shocked, my co-worker and boss (who I had to call for the cop to believe us) were not. More naive me.

 The handful of times I called the police for assistance, I got the distinct impression they resented me cutting into their donut time. Granted, nothing I called for was all that interesting. A broken window or a stolen tag, little stuff like that, and the only reason I called was to have the official paperwork to deal with insurance. Nevertheless, every episode ended with me feeling like they thought me expecting them to do their job was a bit presumptuous. Beyond that, I've got a cousin who used to be a cop and I've had pleasant evenings hanging out and drinking with cops. I wouldn't call any of them "friends," but there you go.

So, I'm fairly ambivalent about cops and having them in general. I understand why some sort of order-keeping force might be useful in a large, varied society. I've generally gotten along with them when I've had to be around them for extended periods of time, but I generally get along with everyone. I've seen with my own two eyes cops abuse power and actively harass the black people they're supposed to be "protecting and serving". And I've spent enough time in the journalism trenches to hear all sorts of horror stories, some told by the cops themselves.

 I understand what the push to "defund the police" means and I don't know if it's an example of bad branding. That small-town police departments the size of Tupelo have twice the riot gear they have as cops as well as armored personnel carriers is ridiculous. This has been an issue since the '90s, as police budgets are often tied to how much they spend. If they don't spend all their allotted one year, they get less the next.

 And there is something in the whole "warrior" mentality we're seeing in police that desperately needs to be nipped in the bud. That they're using the Punisher's logo, despite Gerry Conway's objections, is worrisome. That they see the people they're supposed to be "protecting and serving" as "the enemy" is, well... we've seen how that works out. For me, I don't trust people are packing heat and that includes the fuzz. In my perfect world, most police work would consist of traffic control and keeping the flow of public moving smoothly, & dealing with crimes after the fact. That cops are sent on wellness checks or to deal with potentially suicidal individuals with no more training than they get - usually six weeks at most - is just not working.

 I don't have answers to fix the problem with out-of-control police brutality. I have told the aforementioned cousin that if the police want to repair relations with the community, especially the black part, stop treating black folks like criminals before the fact and especially stop shooting them whenever you feel the least bit threatened. You don't make yourself look better or trustworthy or worthy of respect when you amp up the behavior that got people protesting in the first place.

 But I'll tell you what most unnerves me about this whole deal. When reading about the Atlanta walkout or the autonomous zone in Seattle, I keep seeing conservatives gleeful at the idea of chaos raining down on the ungrateful city dwellers and actively hoping for a city in flames because it won't bend the knee to police violence. I don't believe either Seattle or Atlanta had a particular uptick in violence, but right-wingers are not only convinced  it's inevitable they're actively looking forward to it and encouraging it.

 The same people keep saying society is in danger of collapsing, but I got to say if this is the society they want, I'm fine with it collapsing. If you're cheering the idea of people being crushed under governmental heel because they don't agree that they should be subjugated and second class, you are the bad guy. Full stop.

Tuesday, June 16, 2020

Yeah, man.

 So, a little insight into how I handle the Actual Paying Work. Don't worry, this is relevant. The Bossman assigns me however many pieces for the month maybe the second week. Usually what I do is read the info he gives me, if any, and then do an hour or two of research on my own. Finally, writing then a quick once over read, followed by an edit then another the next morning.

 I used to be able to write stories for the newspaper for 10-12 hours in a row with rarely a break, but I can't do that anymore. Seriously, one 1,000-word piece does a number on me. It's part of the reason I've decided to do my fun writing in the morning. Anyhow, yesterday I had two pieces, and by the time I finished the first and took a break, the story about the possible poisoning of some NYPD officers at a Shake Shack was making the rounds. People - that is conservatives and other forms of authority worshipers - were calling for some poor working-class bastard's head on a pike. And usually, these are the "wait until all the info comes in before making a judgement" whenever a cop kills some black guy for shopping at Wal-Mart.

 By the time I got the second piece done, however - and it was barely midnight - it had come out that an "investigation" was done and, turns out, there was no malicious poisoning aforethought. Apparently, an improperly cleaned shake machine was the culprit. No charges were filed, no cops were poisoned, and no heads were cracked. I'm going to be very generous here and say this wasn't like the situation where the cop thought someone took a bite out of his burger but it turns out he just forgot he did. Nor am I comparing it to the cop who wrote "Pig" on his receipt and tried to blame it on the cashier. And I'm not going to compare it to the many times the police or law enforcement officials have been caught walking back claims or outright lying these last couple of weeks of protesting.

 Things are tense, especially in New York City and the fuzz there don't have the best record when dealing with the public or, for that matter, showing exceptional reasoning skills. It could have very well been an honest mistake and overzealous police, and we're all just lucky and thankful it didn't spiral out of control. Of course, the police could've been lying for whatever reason and trying to get back at Shake Shack for supporting Black Lives Matter. I'm not saying that's why, mind you. I'm just saying, hey... it's a possibility and one that makes more sense than a minimum-wage worker actively trying to poison a police officer in such a clumsy, easily traceable manner, particularly a cop from a police force known for indulging in a bit of the old extra violence from time to time. Let's face it, the burden of proof is always on New York's Finest and they have long since pissed away the benefit of the doubt.

 So the day was already Dumb before it got good and started. Apparently, the quality journalists at Fox News are still pushing the poisoning lie, though I doubt that comes as a surprise to anyone. I know I shouldn't be but I'm always a bit shocked at how blood-thirsty and prone to authority worship conservatives reveal themselves to be on Twitter. Sure, it's a lot of talk and as much hot air as not, but people do have a sense of freedom online to say stuff that'd get their jaws slapped in real life. More than a few are letting us into their head space, and it is not a pleasant place to be.

 I think I'm going to tie this off, finish up my APW, and call it a day. I've set up a Patreon if you feel inclined to toss me a few bucks. Hey, ya never know.