Today is a good day to remember

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Today is a good day to remember who you were in 2015.

You don’t need to romanticize the past, or gloss over the bad parts if you don’t want to. You needn’t discard the hard won lessons of the last four years. But if you can, think back to who you were then. What were you doing? Were you happy doing it? What were your thoughts and feelings about the world?

Today is a good day to remember.

Personally, I was a recent college grad turned cashier. Work was rough sometimes, but I got to make music and play videogames on weekends. I had a garden space of my own. I had some lovely housemates, and those lovely housemates had a dog and two cats. It was a happy household. I read poetry a lot. I dreamed of singing opera professionally on a regular basis. I was sending audition material to grad schools. Deep down, I wasn’t sure if I was really “good enough,” though I can tell you now that this particular story has a happy ending.

And today is a good day to remember. 

I liked to cook a lot. Sometimes I tried new recipes. I rode the bus to and from work, and so would do small grocery shopping trips on my commute. One day it’d be some sausages that were on sale, another day some mushrooms that were getting sad (and cheap). 

Today is a good day to remember. 

Sometimes I would ride the bus into town, and simply wander. I’d ponder the stark contrast between where I lived and the wealthier parts of town, and sometimes be upset by it. I’d sit on any bench that was near running water and let the rushing sound ease any pain I was feeling. If it was in the budget, I would treat myself to a used book. Or maybe a beeswax candle. Nothing brightens up a space like the scent of a quality beeswax candle. 

Today is a good day to remember.

Remember how your brain worked before Twitter and Facebook became almost inescapable. Remember the times before Lord Dampnut dominated every headline. 

Remember when cruelty and apathy was not the norm in so many places. 

Back in 2016, Authoritarianism expert Sarah Kendzior wrote this piece. I remember reading it, and trying to take the advice, but not quite understanding it.

Now I do. 

It will take time to process what we have just been through. As a nation (and a world) we have been under a lot of stress for a long time. Our brains don’t yet understand that a significant chunk of the danger has passed, so we’ll have to help ourselves along.

Because yes, there will be others like Lord Dampnut. And they’ll probably have nice haircuts and speak with their inside voice, so we need to be ready. Not by stressing ourselves out, but by paying attention and participating in elections in large numbers. The more of us that do this, the harder it is to mess with the process. 

That, and there’s plenty of enablers who will go on to write books and try to normalize themselves. Don’t give them any oxygen. 

If you, dear reader, are trying to contemplate how to apply the political lessons you have learned in a world where Lord Dampnut is no longer president, then there are plenty of simple things you can do.

Read up on what our new President has been up to. Do you think these actions are sensible? What do you like? What don’t you like? What do you want to see more of? Learn to examine his actions with honesty and good faith. Use those critical thinking skills!

How are things in your local state legislature? Are there any small offices in your community that you could run for?

If you need a month or two to take a break from traditional politics (or if you plan on fleeing into a forest, never to return) how about donating to a food bank? Or tending a garden for pollinators?
And if you (like so many Americans right now) do not have the resources right now for such things, then please find a way to be kind to yourself. Find a weird old public domain story on Project Gutenberg. Take a look at the Pyramids at Giza, or wherever else you would like to see. Or turn the screen off and read an old paper book, if you prefer.

There is still much to do. COVID19 doesn’t care about politics and it’s had a long time to spread. But a large weight has been lifted, and taking care of mental health is not optional.

Impeachment II- Hey look more gaslighting

I’ve begun and abandoned an embarrassing number of pieces in regards to Trump supporters treating The Capitol like a portable outhouse at an outdoor music festival. Try as I might, I can’t quite get my words into coherent sentences. Whenever I feel close, I suddenly remember that my city got invaded with BORTAC agents because of some graffiti on a courthouse. When this piece of knowledge collides with my realization that Mr. chewbacca bikini will get organic food in jail, I have a rage blackout and have to start all over again.

And no, I don’t have a problem with prisoners getting high quality food or practicing their religion while behind bars, but I have to point out that the U.S. has a rather uneven record in this regard.

During the last impeachment (which is a thing we can say during this administration and that alone is both sad and hilarious) I paid close attention and documented the proceedings in a series of blog posts.

Now doing that feels pointless, because it’s a lot of the same cow excrement all over again.

On my young and humble blog, I have been a broken record about the danger of Bad Faith Arguments. One of the hazards of watching such tactics play out on the government stage is the exhausting effect is has on the people.

Anyone who read the Mueller Report (or even just skimmed it) knows that the Russia investigation was not a waste of time. Yet today, plenty of house Republicans were eager to repeat the tired (and false) talking point that it was a mere political witch hunt. These individuals have access to intelligence sources that would stop any bloggers heart with excitement, and yet they persist in this lie. They keep their speech juuuuuuust civil enough to try and convince onlookers that they are sincere in their convictions, but it’s always a trap. To actually debate them would be pointless. If they won’t break form Lord Dampnut after hiding from violent Q maniacs for hours, then there’s no reaching them. The whole thing is both draining and horrifying to watch.

Which is probably a huge part of why they just lost. So what now?

Honestly, I don’t know for sure what will happen in the coming days. I had hoped that basic self preservation would discourage anyone responsible for security in the Capitol from siding with the folks who were looking to execute Vice President Pence, but it seems that was potentially not the case for all personnel involved. My bad. I underestimate the power of death cults sometimes.

I strongly suspect that Lord Dampnut will ultimately be removed from power and that life will go on. There will unpleasantness, possibly violence, and maybe even more deaths. But I think we’ll get through it and have a semi-functional federal government again soon.

And every single one of us must take care to never take Democracy for granted ever again.

That doesn’t mean we should all be constantly checking twitter (in fact we should really probably stop doing that so much) it just means that we should consistently vote and call out lies when we see them. As we were all just reminded, doing these things saves a lot of trouble.

As for healing, we need that too. But healing can’t happen without accountability and justice. Not on a national scale, anyway.

On a personal scale, however, there are things you can do.

Over the last few weeks, I’ve been trying to reclaim parts of myself that have gone undernourished in these times. I’ve been reading more quality fiction and poetry. I’ve been letting myself enjoy videogames. I have been singing and making music for personal pleasure. And I have, for a moment here and there, found a peace that I have not known for years.

I had originally hoped, when I started this blog, for politics to be merely a fraction of the content. But I’ve had a hard time managing this goal in light of, well, everything. So I now I’ll repeat myself- Politics matter because people matter.

The point of paying attention to current events isn’t to find out if you can actually cry blood. The point of holding powerful people accountable through votes/phone calls/ public commentary is so that we can get a real COVID plan and go play DDR at the local barcade sometime this decade.

Right now, your brain is under the stress of constant uncertainty. But we did not always live like this, and we won’t always live like this. Don’t wait for everything to “feel” calm again. Bake that batch of cookies. Watch that movie that always makes you laugh. Listen to a favorite album or compilation. Do whatever comforting activity you have the time and energy for.

We are so close to this chapter being over. Let’s take care of ourselves and pay attention, so that the next chapter is actually better. COVID-19 is still killing, and not all of Lord Dampnut’s enablers have been brought to justice. But if Georgia overcoming years of gerrymandering and voter suppression in order to flip the senate blue is any hint, Americans are fed the fuck up and change is in the air.

Be well everyone ❤

On Healing

One important lesson that I got from cancer is that the healing process isn’t all sunshine and rainbows. When trying to recover from something that serious, there’s going to be some unpleasantness along the way. The chemo wasn’t fun, but I’m alive now. The surgery wasn’t fun, but I’m alive and I have a really cool scar.

In fact, some of the most important steps in healing from a traumatic event can be almost as painful as the trauma itself. If healing from trauma were easy, there would be significantly less need for therapy and PTSD would be a lot less common that it is.

Just so we’re clear, this is NOT an attempt to shame you for celebrating the most powerful country on the earth rejecting Lord Dampnut. If you feel like celebrating, do it! That’s important too, and goodness knows we’ve earned it.

But assuming that the orange turd is successfully flushed in January (More on that in a bit) there’s still the lasting trauma. And the healing that needs to happen for all of us.

Certainly not ALL healing is an uphill battle. Bubble baths and chocolate have their place. And life should be enjoyed, after all. But in order to move forward and heal as a nation (and as individuals) we will have to have some difficult conversations with ourselves and others.

And we have to hold people accountable.

In the delightful wave of memes and videos that has followed this historic election, there have been no shortage of “reach out to the other side!” takes. And I get it. It’s a nice thought. We can’t all be boiling with rage for the rest of our lives anyway. It gets very tiring, and we are very tired already from reminding our friends and family that crime is illegal and evil is bad while a steady stream of bots promise to reveal the true nature of the demonic rituals happening in Nancy Pelosi’s freezer.

But here’s the thing: Remember that when Trump won the electoral college back in 2016, we (meaning democrats, 3rd parties, moderate Republicans, non-partisans, anyone with functioning empathy ect.) got the same lecture. That we just needed to understand The Trump Voters. Why, they were innocent victims! It wasn’t wealthy businessmen, nay! We coastal elites needed to get off of our high horses and humble ourselves!

So now that it’s become uncomfortably clear that Lord Dampnut is NOT what the bulk of this country wants, why are we getting the same lecture? Why is it our responsibility to reach out to Trump country, but never their responsibility to reach out to us?

As someone who has spent Too Much Time on the internet for most of her life, I am depressingly familiar with how destructive bad faith arguments can be. Debates only work if all parties are willing to change their minds in light of new information. If one or more party is unwilling to consider the possibility that they are wrong, then the “debate” isn’t really a debate at all. It might be an amusing spectacle for anyone who happens to wander through that corner of the internet at the appropriate time, but it’s unlikely that anyone will be learning anything new.

To make matters worse, some participants might walk away from the experience thinking that they “won” even if all they did was tell someone else to eat shit. If you lack the self awareness to question your own ideas when they are challenged with solid evidence, you probably aren’t ready to actually change your mind about anything.

After all, changing your mind about a deeply held conviction is hard. It doesn’t come naturally for most people. Goodness knows I struggle with it, and I’m actually interested in this stuff. I can only imagine what it must be like for someone who spends all of their time looking for Satanic imagery in pop music videos when they finally attempt to decipher real scans of legal documents for the first time.

And there’s another important angle that’s getting lost in all of the pearl clutching and both-sidesing- to permit a delusional extremist group to drive national policy isn’t just bad for us, it’s bad for them too. Sometimes having compassion for your fellow humans means refusing to enable them.

If the driving force behind one’s politics is based on a racist fever dream (white supremacy, for example) then said person is already in dangerous territory in terms of mental health and rational thinking. They have already accepted things that are not true in order to justify their bigotry, and so no amount of cruelty or extremism will ever be enough for them.

And no amount of reason or logic can reach them.

The kindest thing we (Americans with empathy) can do for them is to work around them. Arrest them and charge them when they behave like domestic terrorists, while at the same time ensuring that public education has the resources to teach young people the truth about slavery and it’s aftermath. I’m guessing a lot more people would be sympathetic to Black Lives Matter if they understood the sheer volume of racist shittiness that African Americans have endured in the century and a half since the civil war. Plus, white supremacy-related attacks continue to this day.

And that last part is really important, because it’s not over yet. While there’s no harm in celebrating and being joyful, the reality is that we’ve still got a couple more months before treason weasel is out of office completely. I don’t want to frighten anyone, but I think a little bit of extra vigilance now will make everything easier later. I’d much rather poke fun at some proud boys and and crush their delicate egos now than fight in a civil war in three months.

So please take care to call out bullshit when you see it. Don’t tolerate revisions of the awfulness we all just saw. Vote in local elections, and please do whatever you can to help with the senate runoffs in Georgia. I really don’t want to have to eat my present words as I am forced to build a monument to Qanon out of plastic straws and cheap red ties in 2021.

Now, having spent some time writing about the dark and painful side of healing, I’d like to take a minute to reflect of the softer and fluffier side. Because that matters too.

As I’ve said before, the reason to get involved in politics is not to become so angry that you spontaneously combust into a shower of Southern Poverty Law Center mailers and back issues of Mother Jones. The point of participating in politics is to help government structures run smoothly and fairly so that we can live our fucking lives.

When was the last time you read a book for pleasure? Do it. If you’re having a hard time focusing, then go for some simple poetry, or a light novel or romance if that’s your thing.

Is there a safe area near where you live where you can go for a walk? Do it, if you can. We’re all getting a bit stir crazy, and this helps.

Is there a window in your home or a nearby place where you can star gaze? Do it. If not, there are many free and premium apps available for smart phones that can show you the constellations currently in the sky, even if it’s too cloudy to see them.

Is there a video game you liked to play when you’re a kid? Try playing it again. It might be fun and nostalgic. It might be frustrating. But chances are that it will activate old memories that you thought you’d lost, and that can be very pleasurable in times like this.

If you have the time and means, try a new recipe. If not, try spicing one of your favorite dishes a little differently. Best case scenario, you learn a new flavor that you like. Worst case scenario, you get a better appreciation for something you already love.

None of these things will fix the many crises that the U.S. is currently facing. But they will help you heal.

And all of us will need some healing in the days to come.

When Government works well, it is invisible

Quick note: I know it’s been several weeks, but I do make an effort to fact check and I accidentally passed along some false info about the Dolphins in Venice. That is, they have come closer than usual, but haven’t been seen in the actual canals. Though honestly, at this point, maybe they have? I’m guessing those poor Venetians have plenty of worrisome things going on that might prevent them from filming water for hours. More info about it here

Ok, so maybe I was a little too ambitious.

Like so many, I THOUGHT this could be a productive time. Was I happy that our world has been plunged into chaos because a few incompetent and selfish “leaders” failed to set their egos aside and take the most basic of precautions? Of course not! Was I excited at the possibility of writing more than once in a blue moon? A little!

Then I learned. Oh, how I learned. 

For starters, most human beings are currently reworking their entire lives. I am not an exception. That takes extra mental focus, and the resulting drain doesn’t exactly leave me in the mood to meticulously research some house and senate bills from the 80s and connect the dots to many present problems in drug policy (although that is a fascinating and horrifying topic to study if you have the time and the inclination).

Oh sure, I’ve had more time for reading, and that’s been nice. I’ve made bread. I’ve exercised more. I’ve had more time for meditation, gaming, and hanging out with my roommate and her adorable pet rats.

Unfortunately, a lot of this rings a little hollow when there’s a killer virus sweeping the nation and millions of my fellow citizens are being forced to risk their lives with inadequate pay in order to make rent. That kinda puts a damper on the Buffy The Vampire Slayer marathon if I think about it too much. 

It is a tough, tough time to have functional empathy. And an even tougher time for “essential” employees. 

No matter how hard I wish for it, I probably can’t single-handedly make Jeff Bezos take a pay cut so that the Amazon warehouse workers are taken care of. I can, however, stay home. So I am. Except for a biweekly trip to the store (which my wonderful room mate usually handles because she has the car) we are staying home. Anyone who can, should. The more consistently we do this, the more lives we save and the more hospital beds we keep free. After all, other diseases haven’t gone on vacation just because there’s a dangerous novel virus tearing through the land. 

Besides- when else will it literally be my civic duty to sit on my butt and play Minecraft? I might as well take what joy I can during a pandemic.

So with all this extra time at home, I’ve had a lot of opportunities to think. Most of these thoughts are quite personal, and won’t be shared here. Some of them could be shared here, but are completely frivolous and don’t need to be. For example, I’m still very frustrated at how the eight season long epic Game of Thrones ended. But of course, that’s completely unimportant to the topic at hand. 

I didn’t post today to rant about how powerful women in fiction are often wronged by mediocre male writers, though with all this quarantine restlessness, that post may well materialize. Rather, I want to talk about the role of government in society.


And no, I’m not going to lecture you about the second amendment, or try to sell you overpriced gold.

I want to talk about the government. Not as the ten-story high evil giant wizard that people sometimes picture when they think of “The Government” with a capital G. Rather, I want to talk about the government as it really is- a large collection of people and organizations.

People have a tendency to think of the government as a large, singular entity. Depending on their personal experience/which social media feeds they’ve decided to embrace as fact, that force may be good, evil, or neutral.

I’m one person. I have blind spots and confirmation bias, just as any other person. But I find this view to be entirely too simple. 

The government isn’t one entity. It’s literally thousands of them. 

Libraries. Police stations. Post offices. The courts. The military and all of its branches. Congress and the Senate, as well as state governments. These organizations employ millions of people. 

And that’s not even everyone.

Because sometimes the line between the public and the private sector can start to blur. How about public universities? Or public transit systems that rely on public grants? Food banks?

When we look at it from this angle, the question of whether the government is “good” or “bad” becomes absurd. Because it can be both, and often is.

And here’s the difficult part. Rarely do people write a letter to the editor about how friendly their bus driver was, or how that one case worker really came through for them when they were in a bad place. We don’t often hear about the librarian who helped someone find housing, or the aid who talked their boss into upping the grant money for a struggling district. When generic prescriptions are free because of a bill the Senate passed years ago, we don’t think about it. When we have to cough half of our monthly income to pay for a pill that takes pennies to make, we take notice.

When the government works well, it is invisible. When it fails spectacularly, everyone can see.

To be clear, I’m not suggesting that we should turn a blind eye when the government fails. It is critical that we don’t. Rather, I’m suggesting that to truly understand the pros and cons of our various forms of government, one needs to consider a lot of variables and research the topic carefully. 

And that’s just not a practical activity for most people.

Most working parents don’t have time to sift through old voting sessions, or read the full text of a policy proposal. Most cashiers and delivery workers won’t necessarily feel like researching their local representatives after nine hours of strangers treating them like garbage. 

But the known alternatives to democracy all are pretty terrible, so here we are. The good things that come out of government tend to fly under the radar, and the bad things spill out into the open like radioactive waste into a diaper landfill. Under these circumstances, it can be difficult for the public to make informed decisions about who they should elect.

When word of the $1200 stimulus checks splashed on the interwebs, a particularly irritating meme started making the rounds. There are multiple variations, but the basic premise was that anyone who had posted the words “not my president” in regards to Trump would be hypocrites for taking the money. 

This premise is multiple levels of stupid. 

Lord Dampnut did not personally give everyone $1200. Rather, he signed off on a bill (that he did not write) that did this, among many other things. That money belongs to all of us. It is taxpayer money, not his personal fortune to bestow upon whom he deems worthy.

However much he would like to pretend to be a king, and however much his supporters want to treat him like one, he is a president. Presidents are not all powerful. That’s kinda the whole point of electing a president as opposed to living under a king. We literally fought a war over this. 

More importantly, it was the incompetence of his administration that allowed this pandemic to even reach the levels that made stimulus payments necessary. No one can be expected to perfectly predict every bump in a pandemic, but maybe he could’ve taken it seriously from the start? Praising him for playing a tiny role in the stimulus payments is sort of like praising an arsonist because they took a break from burning down a children’s hospital long enough for firefighters to begin their work. At best, it’s simple ignorance. At worst, it is straight up gaslighting.

And as Whitney Phillips at Wired reminded us back in April, the anti-quarantine/ pro-grandparent sacrificing crowd are actually a minority. That is, most of America is totally fine with enduring some inconvenience to keep their fellow citizens alive. Those who approve of how Trump and his enablers are handling this pandemic actually represent a pretty small group- they’re just really loud, and a handful of them have deep pockets for ad space and astroturfing. 

In a way, containing a virus is a lot like writing good government policy. When containment measures are successful, there are few disruptions to everyday life. In 2014, there were some cases of Ebola in the United States. Yet few of us remember that as a “pandemic” because there were relatively few deaths on U.S. soil. Africa was hit quite hard, and I don’t want to downplay the suffering at that time. But my point is that because the containment measures in the U.S. were largely successful, most of us Americans were able to resume our daily lives.

So now that I’ve spent a lot of time describing a problem (fair and effective government isn’t sexy and so it tends to be very fragile) what might some solutions be?

Well, in the short term, we as a people need to vote out the turd and his buddies. But what about the long term? How do we, as a society, help voters to make good decisions without indoctrination into one particular set of beliefs?

Personally, I think it has to do with making critical thinking a bigger priority in earlier education. Both in schools and at home/socially.

I certainly don’t want to bog down our poor teachers with more unfunded mandates, but I think that many existing curriculums could be tweaked to include a little bit about confirmation bias, or the Dunning-Kruger effect. Such things are important to touch on when discussing, for example, the scientific method. Or perhaps a writing class might include a quick presentation about vetting digital sources. 

And parents/siblings/friends can help as well. We already have “the sex talk,” but what about the “youtube algorithm talk?”

I’m actually being quite serious. Children and teenagers need to understand that video essays on youtube are not vetted for accuracy. Youtube videos can certainly be helpful or educational, but one needs a process for fact checking. Children are not born knowing this, and so we must teach them. 

This is not something that can be accomplished overnight. Rather, it is a cultural shift that is probably going to happen sooner or later because it literally has to. Society can’t function if a significant chunk of the population is prepared to believe dangerous fallacies at the drop of a hat. I know this, because the evidence is playing itself out right in front of us.

In the age of the internet, fact checking and source vetting are not simply tools that your aggressively atheist college professor rants about- they are critical topics that everyone must have some basic grasp of.

And speaking of the internet, now seems like a good time to remind the reader that there are good and wholesome things on this platform as well. I’ve mentioned this before, but I think it’s worth repeating. The internet does not consist entirely of depressing news. There are also videos of animals being great. Patrick Stewart has been providing performances of Shakespeare sonnets on his twitter and facebook pages. These things exist, but you have to make the decision to engage with them.

Democracy will probably always be messy. But as I’ve said before, the whole point of getting fired up about politics and current events is to try and make things better. Otherwise you’re just needlessly raising your blood pressure.

Stay safe, everyone. Be kind to yourself. We’re not going back to “normal” anytime soon, and even as quarantines are lifted and policies shift, the world is going to look a little bit different. Grieve when you need to. But consider the possibility that something better may be ahead. Because as long as we don’t give up, there may well be a brighter future. One where teachers are paid fairly, and grocery store employees can go to the doctor when they’re sick.

Getting into a fight on social media probably won’t bring that future any closer. But hoping, dreaming, planning, and voting? Those things just might help. 

Quarantine tips from Donny

(Hey everyone! Quarantine tips are all the rage right now, and for a good reason! But here at “Sing into the Void,” we like to do things a little differently. So I’ve worked some blogger magic and secured a guest post from a TRUMP SUPPORTER! Yes, this is real. It’s definitely NOT a lighthearted joke with the intention of providing some comic relief in these trying times. So say hello to Donny, the guy who lives in a trailer near my house and sells guns online! Or at least he tries to, but he keeps getting shut down. Yes, I’ve talked to him, but Donny likes to do things his way…)

HELLO FELLOW PATRIOTS! This is Donny, and I’d just like to give a few tips for how to deal with this “coronavirus.” I know I know, I wanted to call it by the REAL name that the President uses, but VoidPrincess told me that was “racist” and threatened to blast classical music on her stereo! She’s done it in the past, and if I hear anymore foreign singing I’m worried my dick will fall off. Sometimes we have to compromise I guess. Anyway, here are my quarantine tips! I came up with them with my drinking buddies last night- it was our weekly booze and wrestling match combo, and it’s not gay because we all say horrible things about our wives while we do it. 

  1. Check your social media as OFTEN AS POSSIBLE. That’s the only way our wonderful president can cut through the FAKE NEWS MEDIA. Definitely don’t take breaks, or read a book, or talk to your family or anything stupid like that. And remember- if the facebook page you’re going to for news from doesn’t have a confederate flag on it, it’s run by George Soros! Hey there, CNN/MSNBC/NPR/PBS/FOX/My own children/that dumb lady at church who keeps telling me that she’s “concerned” that I might have been “mislead” about the “nature of this virus”, your lies will be EXPOSED! 

(Note: I was trying to put my favorite Qanon meme in here, but the LIBERAL BIAS at wordpress is causing me to not remember where I saved it- it was really cool though, it had a skull AND a Guy Fawkes Mask!)

  1. Don’t worry about all that “social distancing” crap that the coastal elites have been pushing. Sure, other developed countries with way better healthcare than us are struggling to keep up with this virus, but that means nothing! This is the best country in the world! If you haven’t sent some old lady to the ICU over a roll of toilet paper in the last week, are you even American?
  1. Don’t let all of this hysteria distract you from the REAL scandal- Democraps nationwide are trying to overturn the 2016 election! And HOW will they do it you ask? By encouraging OTHER democraps to register and vote, so that their candidates get more votes! You heard that right! Our great nation is under siege! From the VOTERS! They pulled the same little stunt in 2018, and now we have a former bartender in congress! DISGUSTING! Call me old fashioned, but I think people ought to get elected to congress the proper way- by being born into a wealthy, white, evangelical family with no genuine understanding of the present economic conditions or sense of civic duty. Otherwise, how can I be sure that my own religion is the RIGHT ONE? I can’t be expected to figure that shit out by myself! 
  1. ….Now where was I? Sorry, I got kind of a rage boner there. Then Hannity came on and, well, took me a little while to clean up the mess. Anyway, quarantine tips? Oh yeah! Don’t be washing your hands TOO much, or you might turn gay. I’m serious guys! If the dorito dust layer on your hands gets too thin, you might get the urge to actually deal with the moldy dishes, or even worse, deal with that six-month-old-pile of laundry near your bed. DON’T LET THAT HAPPEN! It is GOD’S WILL that your home smell like a pack of wet dogs in a rusted-out car, littered with cigarette butts! Do you want to insult GOD?
  1. Whatever you do, DON’T question your own ideas about the role of government in public health. I know it might seem like a lot of trouble could have been spared if our boy Trump had started prepping for this back in January instead of calling it a hoax and getting mad at reporters when they ask simple questions. But that’s just Trump’s genius! He’s always one step ahead of the curve! By doing the exact OPPOSITE of what most people would have done in his position, he’s owning the libs EVEN HARDER! 

Well, I have to go now- There’s a lady reporter on the TV saying mean things about Trump, and if I don’t send death threats to her on the internet, WHO WILL? But anyway, DON’T READ THIS BLOG EITHER. I only agreed to guest post because VoidPrincess gave me a jar of weed. I know that all of this will go WAY OVER her head, but that broken arm of mine has really been smarting lately and I don’t have health insurance. I was using beer to help with the pain, but according to my kids I have a “problem” and “crashing your truck into the church luncheon” makes it “awkward” for the family. Anyway, stay strong patriots! MAGA!

Well, now there’s REALLY no excuse….

….For Bloggers like me. Wheeeeeeee quarantine!

I’m currently in the fun-but-stressful process of shifting my musical teaching and performance services to online formats. It might be a bit before I can churn out any decent long reads, but I do have some useful tidbits to share:

First and foremost, make sure you’re getting your news from a good source (No, headlines on Facebook that you haven’t fact checked don’t count) If you’re short on cash, the Washington Post has a free COVID19 newsletter that is available to non-subscribers. Don’t panic, but DO take this seriously. 

Second, STAY THE FUCK HOME IF YOU ARE ABLE TO DO SO. Labor protections are CRAP in the US, and a lot of important services are currently propped up by low-wage employees with no health insurance or hazard pay. The best thing you can do for those folks right now is not make things worse. This is bigger than any one of us, so don’t be an asshole.

Third, don’t lose sight of the politics going on behind the curtain. Between Trump’s incompetence, and the cruelty of senate Republicans for the last decade (remember how the ACA was supposed to have a public option and WOULDN’T THAT BE HELPFUL RIGHT NOW??) this crisis has been made MUCH worse than it had to be.

While I will be very thankful for any cash stimulus I receive (assuming it doesn’t just go to airlines and hotels, which it might) I’m certain that the GOP will try to spin this in their favor come November. Don’t let them. No mercy for those fuckers.

Finally, a few words of comfort. Or an attempt at them, anyway.

Today in the spring equinox. For Witches and Pagans, it is usually called “Ostara,” and we LOVE to argue about whether or not that name is related to the word “Easter” of the Christian holiday. But that’s not important now.

The important thing is that we can draw comfort and inspiration from what the natural world around us is doing, regardless of our personal faith (or lack thereof). Right now, at least in the northern hemisphere, life is awakening and there is great change. Winter is falling away, and the buds are opening.

The US is learning a hard lesson. One that the youth and the working class have been screaming from the rooftops for years: that the “I got mine and fuck you” approach to wealth distribution has its limits. To get through this, we’re going to have to change. COVID19 is extremely contagious, and it doesn’t care whether or not you have a stocks portfolio.

I don’t want to make light of the suffering and loss of life that has happened. I don’t want to lie to you and tell you that everything will be fine. It won’t. 

But there are bright spots. The drop in pollution, which might buy us a little bit of time with climate change. The Dolphins in Venice, which have become a symbol for what could be possible if we all adjust our behavior.  

And of course, as working from home becomes more acceptable out of necessity, perhaps companies will begin to understand that the sky won’t fall if they hire more disabled people who may need to work from home regularly. 

Oh, and pointless meetings that could have just been an email? Those are all emails now. Finally.

In a similar vein- if you’ve enjoyed this blog, and you have five bucks you can spare (ONLY IF YOU HAVE A GOOD JOB THAT ISN’T GOING AWAY DURING THIS CRISIS PLEASE NO ONE GIVE ME THEIR FOOD/RENT MONEY) that would be very helpful. I have a good safety net saved up and I’m ok for now (and will be for the near future) but I’ve lost a couple of students who didn’t want to make the switch to online lessons and things are uncertain with my church gig (for now they’re continuing to pay us, but if their own resources get too strained they may need to stop). So yeah. Help would be nice if you can offer it, but please PLEASE take care of yourself first.

Stay safe all ❤

Civic duty, apathy, and the American war machine.

Hi! I’m not dead!

Having finally crawled out from under the delightful pile of parties, alcohol, chocolate, the deep swirling vortex of Holiday cheer that blocks out all sensation of time, and thank-you notes, I think I’m ready to do some more writing. 

If I had more time and patience, I would list the precise reasons as to why the killing of Soleimani (in the manner it was performed) was the foreign policy equivalent of lighting an overflowing  porta-potty on fire with a blow-torch with intent of eliminating the odor. As it happens, the Washington Post has a helpful piece about it. Another important bit of writing is this piece by Shadi Hamid at the Atlantic, which reminds us to check our American narcissism at the door when considering foreign policy. 

Instead of rehashing what better writers than I have done, I want to offer a perspective that is a little more unique and personal.

I participated in my first real protest when I was in the 7th grade. A number of students had decided to walk out of their classes to protest the impending Iraq war. One of my favorite teachers expressed admiration, but also called us out (in the kindest way possible) on skipping classes and not our lunch or break. While she definitely had a point, her words now seem somewhat harsh in the light of how the Iraq war “turned out,” for lack of a better phrase.


After all, should a bunch of children really have to skip a meal  just to persuade people (who should know better) that starting a war based on questionable information is a bad idea? Would it really have been appropriate for us to just continue attending our classes as if nothing was wrong? I don’t have the answers now anymore than I did back then, but I think about that day a lot.

In high school, watching the war drag on and fade into the background of the American media landscape was both vindicating and horrifying, to say nothing of the war in Afghanistan. Additionally, high school offered the most detailed history classes I had ever had, and it was at this time that I finally learned of the dark history surrounding Saddam Hussein and the United States. As my teacher put it one day: “Sure he was a dictator, but he was OUR dictator.”

And that’s a difficult thing for an American high school student to contemplate. To watch your country enter a war on bad intel with no exit plan is awful enough, but to realize that your own country is a large part of the reason for troubles in that country in the first place? It’s not just depressing, it’s flat out paralyzing.  

There are other atrocities in America’s past. The Vietnam War, the internment of Japanese Citizens during WW2, and the Banana Republic all come to mind. But the uncomfortable history of the U.S. and Saddam was a sort of turning point for me; That is, it was the moment I truly understood just how little American citizens can trust their government when it comes to war. 

So when some edgelord on social media laments about the pointlessness of it all, or how the American empire can never get anything right, or how all of us are sheep for participating in elections, I actually kind of agree just a little bit. However, I do not often engage in this rhetoric in my own writing, or promote it. 

Here’s why:

When we use the overwhelming injustices of American foreign policy as an excuse to disengage from civics issues, we ultimately just wind up enabling it further. When progressive stay home, alt-right/nazi lunatics don’t and the subsequent election goes differently than it might have. While it is certainly rational to feel shame at some of the actions of our country, abstaining from civic engagement does absolutely nothing to help those who have been harmed by our actions overseas. In fact, it does very little at all, except to stroke one’s own ego. 

I feel this way, in part, because I am old enough to remember the 2000 presidential election. I remember the rhetoric that told us, “Bush and Gore are the same.” I remember being told that Gore was too warlike and status quo. I remember Nader being marketed as the “cool” third party candidate. 

And where that fucking get us?

It’s impossible to say exactly what would have happened, had Gore obtained the oval office and not Bush. But I’m gonna go out on a limb here and suggest that maybe, JUST MAYBE the dude who tried to draw attention to climate change even as he received ridicule from all sides might have been better prepared to perform the duties of the President than the dude we got. Just sayin. 

The military industrial complex (to borrow from Eisenhower’s famous farewell speech) doesn’t just kill people. It kills hope of change and betterment. It strips any enthusiasm that one might have for civic action and drowns hearts and minds in a toxic slurry cynicism and apathy. And obnoxious edgy memes with Guy Fawkes masks in them. Seriously, no one fucking reads those things. Cite sources and present potential solutions like a grown up.  

To make matters worse, this narrative can now be weaponized by social media. If I was a stupidly rich idiot who wanted Trump and his enablers to win again, I wouldn’t engage in unseemly violence- I would just use my resources to bombard voters with memes that make them feel stupid for believing in the possibility of change in foreign policy. They’d stay home, and probably think of themselves as “enlightened” while they did it! problem solved.

No one particular action will dismantle the American war machine. Voting in a more sensible senate would help, but it won’t fix everything. Getting rid of Citizens United would help, but it won’t fix everything. Calling one’s reps and reminding them that we really don’t appreciate our money lining the pockets of sketchy weapons contractors would help, but it won’t fix everything. Protests can help, but they won’t fix everything.

That having been said, some or all of these actions combined? Maybe that’ll do something. I think it already has.

Because the public reaction to the prospect of another war hasn’t really been the same this time around. Maybe it’s because the initiation of the Iraq war is still relatively fresh. Maybe it’s because Trump isn’t nearly as good at speaking as Bush was, and that’s not saying much.

Or maybe it’s because America is finally starting to notice that no one ever asks how we will pay for war.

Healthcare? Too expensive. Infrastructure? Also too expensive. Real actions to help fight climate change? Lol nope. But a war with no real strategy and no exit plan? Make it rain, baby!

As life becomes more and more difficult for our working class, this hypocrisy becomes harder to ignore.

On that day, in seventh grade, I remember a man who heckled us. This man drove by, middle finger raised, and shouted “fuck peace!” He then laughed and drove away, obviously proud of having owned a bunch of middle schoolers who had committed the horrible crime of displaying empathy and basic awareness of world events. The nerve of us!

In the moment, I didn’t much notice or care. Looking back, I realize how sad and pathetic that man really was. 

There will always be those who think this is all pointless. There will always be grown ass men who feel threatened by a bunch of kids taking an interest in their world. 

But we go on.

We keep protesting and voting. We keep educating ourselves and others of the true cost of America’s wars, and what else could have been done with that money. We keep taking care of our communities. We keep living our lives and finding joy where we can. 

And we do it because, as a wise teacher once told me, there is no alternative.