Categories
culture

Opinion | Swiss Army knife or AR-15? The judge is right that there’s no difference! – The Washington Post

Opinion | Swiss Army knife or AR-15? The judge is right that there’s no difference! – The Washington Post:

What two items could be more directly and obviously comparable than an AR-15 and a Swiss Army knife? I can’t think of how many times I’ve used an AR-15 to open a bottle of wine. Whenever I need a toothpick but cannot find one, I just whip out my AR-15. Conversely, whenever I am entering a theater of war, I always remember to pack my Swiss Army knife. That way, if anyone comes at me, I can offer to help them open a bottle, which will be so confusing to them that perhaps I can just get up and walk away before anyone notices I have gone. I very much understand how things work in theaters of war.

I was thankful during the pandemic to find Alexandra Petri writing for the Washington Post. Her delightfully absurd (in the spirit of Monty Python) opinions always provoke anything from giggles to guffaws. Must see! Would read again!

Categories
culture politics

More News Isn’t Good News

Several weeks ago I signed up for journalist Dan Rather's free mailing list (there is a paid version too). As a recovering journalist, something he wrote recently touched on a topic I often consider; the endless and ever-expanding explosion of news content.

For all the outlets, all the niches, all the competition, what does this change do for how we are getting our news? And how is it changing? Are we better informed? Hearing from more diverse voices? More overwhelmed? More distracted? More confused? How do each of you sort through the news? What sources do you turn to? These are the questions on which I would love to hear your feedback.

That's a lot to unpack. During my childhood, before I cared for such things, news came from three TV stations sharing updates at 6 and 11 p.m. There were two daily metro newspapers (the liberal Free Press in the morning followed by the more conservative Times in the afternoon).

My gut tells me that while the number of crimes and violent acts has increased since the 1970s, the percentage of criminals relative to a larger population isn't much greater today. Our generation's curse is seeing all of the news from everwhere. The growth of the internet and 24-hour cable news networks has transformed what used to be local drama into national tragedies. Any freakish thing that happens has the potential to become headline news around the world.

I have to answer "Yes!" to Dan's questions about being overwhelmed and distracted. There is so much more than local news reported on our TVs and other media.

Dan continued with a broad question. Has your news consumption changed with the new presidency?

Feel free to respond in any way you wish, but I would like to specifically ask if your news consumption has changed with the new presidential administration. Do you read or watch less news? More? Different sources? More or less on social media? Look for more news that isn’t about politics?

Again, "Yes!"

During the five years of the Trump era I felt it was a civic duty to tune into the news if only to see how he had harmed America during the night. I rarely watch the news now because that fear is no longer stuck in my brain. I sleep better knowing our president is focused on governance, not Twitter statistics and adolescent social media clout.

Categories
art culture nerd writing

Poe

Tonight I reread some Edgar Allen Poe, one of my favorite writers since I was a child. I remember being heartbroken while riding home from vacation with my parents. The blood drained from my face as I screamed. I left a volume of Poe behind in a drawer, to be read never more.

Now, I have two copies of Poe on the shelf. Tonight I read:

  • The Tell-Tale Heart
  • The Cask of Amontillado
  • Some Words with a Mummy

Good times.

Categories
culture politics

What Happened to Being Kind?

During a communications conference I attended years ago, two comedians leading a session about improv introduced the concept of “Yes, and….” They explained it was always easier to take someone else’s idea and build on it in a positive way. Choosing “No, but…” is a negative path, they said, and can quickly suck the joy out of improvisation. Some of the time, it could even make the participants and audience angry instead of happy.

Nobody wants that. Right?

This could be interpreted as choosing to be kind to others instead of mean. We seem to have taken a dark turn from a “Yes, and…” world to a “No, but…” society. Wearing masks for our collective health is one example. It seems like it would be easy to say, “I am wearing a mask to protect you.” The other person would say, “Yes, and I am wearing my mask to protect you, too.”

That isn’t how it seems to be going though. We have chosen to say, “I am wearing a mask to protect you.” The other person on a darker path says, “No, I’m not going to wear a mask even if it kills you, me, my family, or anyone else around me.”

They say it’s a violation of personal liberty, a violation of their right to choose.1 The way I see it, that is akin to walking around slapping strangers. We are living through a pandemic and their right to choose ends when it begins to harm others. Their so-called liberty shouldn’t impede my right to live free of sickness.

If we’re going to make it through this pandemic together, society needs Love in the Time of COVID2. We’re really in trouble if we can’t remember how to be kind to one another.


  1. Ironic, given the stance on abortion of most mask deniers. 
  2. You probably have some time on your hands. Go read something by Gabriel García Márquez. 
Categories
culture politics

Consider the Ouroboros

Scanning the audience who attend Trump's rallies, less-educated white voters seem to comprise his base. Could this lead to a political ouroboros of voters? An electorate that doesn't appear to understand their unrequited affinity for the president leads them on a doomed downward spiral as his economic policies swallow them whole to benefit the rich?

Consider this tweet from @KBAnderson.

The party of less-educated whites is devoted to making economic life worse for the less-educated.

The “pro-life” party has caused 100,000 unnecessary deaths.

The supposed party of Christian honor is the party of utter cynicism.

They can’t be shamed. They must be vanquished.

Yesterday was National Voter Registration Day. Please make sure you are registered and pleases go vote.

Categories
art culture

Photos of Roadside Americana

Download 11,710 Free-to-Use Photos of Roadside Americana:

The Library of Congress has published over 11,000 high-resolution shots of U.S. roadside attractions, and released the images (to which it had purchased the rights) into the public domain. The photos were taken by architectural critic and photographer John Margolies, who spent forty years documenting his travels along U.S. highways, photographing billboards, drive-ins, diners, car washes, mini-golf, novelty buildings, and other roadside constructions.

These are great and free to use! You can view all of them at the Library of Congress, though many are easier to review on Flickr.

Categories
culture politics

COVID-19 and the American Idiot

Watching the row of men toting long guns, marching shoulder-to-shoulder toward the capitol, sent a bead of cold sweat rolling down my back to meet the shivers crawling up my spine.

This isn’t the opening of a new novella about the Civil War. It’s my recollection of watching spoiled middle-aged men threaten the government of Michigan because they are temporarily inconvenienced by those who would keep them safe and healthy. The world is in crisis from covid-19.

Welcome to a new kind of tension
All across the alienation
Where everything isn’t meant to be okay
—Green Day, American Idiot

Watching strangers die while the disillusioned fight for their right to die (and ultimately, for their right to kill others) is difficult, but hearing people I actually know personally who refuse to take the global pandemic seriously; well, it’s painful. You don’t have to be an epidemiologist to know something is wrong, and something is very wrong in America right now. Our nation is sick and those who want to help the nation heal are outnumbered by those who want to get a haircut in a crowded barbershop before busting through a line of diners to hit the buffet.

My wife Julie and I are lucky. We are perfectly matched to prefer each other’s company to the company of others. Both of us work at home and have much of our needs delivered.

On that note, we are thankful for those who deliver mail and goods to our house. We’re thankful for the police and firefighters and garbage collectors and everyone who is essential to keeping things moving. On the flip side, we watch these deluded masses, these protesters, these American idiots, with a growing resentment. Despite their saber-rattling claims of protecting their rights, these are no patriots.

One cannot discuss a void of patriotism without mentioning Donald Trump. He didn’t create the virus, but he ignored it. No amount of gobbledygook and political double-speak can delete his earlier statements and those of his comrades at Fox News. I’m not going to do the digging for you, but there are examples aplenty of their downplaying of the virus. Calling it a hoax and making asinine statements about having only 15 cases in the US, soon to be zero.

The strongest thing Trump did was call for a partial ban on travel focused on China. He then proceeded to invest nothing with the borrowed time. Some businessman, huh?


Here for your entertainment: Green Day!

Categories
culture life

Fragile, yet Resilient

Humans are fragile.
Flesh and blood. Walking bags of bones and meat brought to life by a smattering of thoughts—some good, some bad. When we’re hurt, we bleed, and it’s not that hard to hurt us.

If you prick us, do we not bleed? if you tickle us, do we not laugh? if you poison us, do we not die? and if you wrong us, shall we not revenge?”. (Act III, scene I).”
—William Shakespeare, The Merchant of Venice

No weapon is necessary to hurt us or even to kill us. Viruses have been hunting humans for millennia and there is a new killer. A virus called severe acute respiratory syndrome coronavirus 2 (SARS-CoV-2) leads to COVID-19, the disease brought on by this microorganism far too small to see.
As I understand it, the symptoms are similar to the flu. The lungs fill with fluid until the victim is drowning, gasping for breath until no breath can be taken.
Human beings. Us. We have never encountered this version of illness. The difference with COVID-19 is that over-the-counter medication won’t necessarily get you through it until you’re better. We have zero immunity to this disease. Think polio. Think smallpox and measles. Even consider the annual flu season. Those diseases were beaten back with a vaccine.
As of today, there is no known vaccine for COVID-19. If you get it, you’ve got it. Maybe you will get better, but if you don’t you will die.
The best tool we have to fight this threat is to resist human nature and stay away from each other. Individuals should resist joining up with their tribes, whether they are friends at the bar or the church. Be patient, let scientists work, and they will discover a vaccine. Vaccination will be our revenge on this disease. Some of us will die, but humans will survive.
Humans are resilient.

Categories
art culture music

David Byrne Ladies and Gentlemen

At the time of this recording on Saturday Night Live (hosted by John Mulaney), David Byrne is 67 years old. I hope to be doing so well at that age.

Categories
culture humor video

Bosom Buddies Remake (Updated with more!)

One of the weirdest, funniest things I’ve seen in a while.

Update! Found another one.