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March 29th, 2017

#resist: you're going to need a bigger padlock

Look, I know you can't be outraged 24-7 about every little perceived indignation that the Trump administration and the GOP led congress throw at us these days. And I know that it's been almost 20 years since the chairman on Sun Microsystems noted "You already have zero privacy. Get over it." in a speech to privacy advocates. But this is big. Not enough people are talking about it. It directly affects you.

Congress has passed a bill that allows your ISP to sell your entire online history to the highest bidder. Every thing you do online, laid bare for anyone with the cash to peruse without your consent or permission. No, your incognito tab won't help you. Yes, what porn you like is included in that.

Sound scary? You're goddman right. I get that you search for batteries on Amazon and every ad on facebook is now for batteries. That's the price of Facebook being free. While it's annoying that meta data aggregators can figure out that people who search for incontinence remedies also hate immigrants and can use that to influence those people's voting habits, that's a far cry from someone showing up on your doorstep knowing everything you've done on the internet ever.

What can we do? Well, Trump hasn't signed the bill yet, but don't get your hopes up there obviously. You can contribute to this guy who wants to buy lawmakers data and post it publicly online, but while fun, that solves...

Good news is there's a way to even keep Comcast or AT&T from knowing what you're up to online. It's called a VPN. You may have heard of them, probably for a work thing. Well thanks to all of you dipshits who voted for Republicans, we all need one. All the time and always. Here's an initial article that explains it all. Chances are there'll be companies that step up in the wake of your Congressperson failing to stand up for your privacy, but be prepared to pay to protect yourself from now on. Just remember that you have the freedom to tell these assholes it's none of their business, and hopefully in 18 months, tell them their services are no longer needed as well.

Posted 3:49pm
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March 22nd, 2017

My brain may be on the fritz. In a good way?

We got a new mattress recently. The BDGF finally convinced me that it was necessary, after my cheap ass whinged about the expense for six months. Of course, she was beyond right. I haven't slept so well in years. Turns out that it wasn't just that I'm getting older that was causing my body to constantly ache or that caused me to toss and turn all night long. Who would have guessed (see above for the correct answer)?

As mentioned previously here, the tossing and turning was a problem because once I woke up to any degree, I'd begin to perseverate on all of the shit going down, making falling back to sleep neigh on impossible. This made me cranky due to being overly tired and the whole thing was a snake eating its own tail.

Those days are gone. Mostly. Last night I groggily woke up enough to contemplate which is bigger: The world's largest dog or the world's smallest horse? How close are these two animals in size? Who would win in a fight? Turns out there are some tiny horses out there and some giant ass dogs. I suppose it's still interesting to contemplate a small horse fighting a giant dog, but it seemed like a much more interesting question of size at 4 am this morning.

Needless to say all of this is a welcome respite from bolting upright in the middle of the night seething over the fact that we are led by a racist, misogynist spray tan whose incompetence knows no bounds. I know that is still a fact, but for now if a new mattress is keeping me comfortable enough to dream instead of tiny ponies and giant puppies, well then it was worth every goddman penny I spent.

Posted 10:51am
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March 8th, 2017

Everyone needs a hobby. I need 42.

Do kids still take shop class? It's certainly not compulsory anymore. Not in Ann Arbor anyway. I'm from the middle of nowhere and a million years ago, so I did. I liked it. I learned a lot of skills I tend to use more frequently than I ever would have imagined back then.

I still have the nightstand I made in eighth grade. It's sat next to my bed for over 25 years. That's a lot better value than anything I've ever purchased from IKEA. Plus I made it. There's something to be said for that.

So when we were reconfiguring our bedroom, instead of embarking on the tedious process of visiting furniture showrooms and browsing online for an eternity, I decided to lean on my industrial arts training and build the pieces we needed.

I'm actually fairly pleased with how they came out. Which for someone with my artist's temperament, is saying something. I'm actually thinking about doing some bigger stuff for the rest of the house - getting back into an actual woodshop and seeing what I can do. Plus, when I'm sawing and hammering and sanding I'm not perseverating on how our country is going to hell in a hand basket. Everyone needs a hobby. Especially now.

Posted 10:22am
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March 1st, 2017

#resist: Now Hear This

Dan Savage spent the first few minutes of his podcast this week talking about representation. About Harvey Milk and the recent study showing how the legalization of gay marriage has reduced the rate of suicide attempts. What does it mean for kids to see people that look, act and feel like they do in popular culture? In the government? To be talked about on the news like anyone else? How excited do you get when you see a movie filmed in a place you've been, or hear it use an obscure song you like in its soundtrack?

I've been thinking about representation a lot lately. I haven't always. I didn't always see the importance of it. I do now. I know what it's like to care about people who don't see themselves represented all the time everywhere like I do, and how excited they can get and important it is to them. I think it's a beautiful thing, especially for kids, and even when it's not potentially life or death. It's an idea that we can learn something from, become more compassionate over, and use to make better communities. It's something that I think is too often seen as trite and simple, and anyone who wants to have that debate with me, should go listen to Dan Savage and Harvey Milk first.

- Also listen to Kurt Vonnegut give a sermon on nuclear annihilation. It's always a good idea to listen to Kurt.

Posted 11:05am
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February 24th, 2017

5 innocuous things that are making me happy in and around the present moment

- I'm supposed to be in Montreal right now. Well, I would be in Montreal anyway, if Ann Arbor Public Schools still had a mid-Winter break. Alas, I'm still in the Mitten where it is scheduled to be 68 degrees today, so at least there's a mid-level consolation. Everyone loves moderate temperatures, but being a born and raised midwesterner, I also don't mind winter, and take pride in the fact that we live our lives in defiance of mother nature for several months a year. Take tomorrow, where I will go stand in a parking lot all day drinking delicious beers. And since this is Michigan, tomorrow's high is 32 with a 50% chance of snow. Small price to pay for the chance to sample New Holland's Dragon's Milk: Mexican Spice Cake. The only beer with a name longer than a Star Wars movie.

- Speaking of winter and Montreal, this video shows you exactly how the citizens of Quebecois tell Winter to go fuck itself. That's literally like just a random Tuesday in Montreal. That city is the best.

- I've been saying this for decades, and now I have the endorsement of the Papacy: I'm a better Christian than most Republicans*. That's the Pope guys. He's infallible.

- In music news: Ted Leo kickstarts a new album, Jeff Tweedy molts into Woody Guthrie, new New Pornographers, and the saddest Radiohead song. No offense to science, but for zero dollars you could have just asked the BDGF and she would have answered "all of them."

- Finally, I tried to see every movie nominated for an Oscar** this year in every category. I came up 7 short (4 foreign language films, 2 animated and Fantastic Beasts and Where to Find Them) Chances are that La La Land will win everything anyway, so I'll be watching for the best Trump disses and who will make me cry when giving an impassioned plea towards inclusion. Like the BDGF before me, the answer will be all of them.

*Certainly every elected GOP official in Washington.
**I never intended to watch the two Michael Bay movies that were nominated for technical awards, because I am a man of principle.

Posted 11:47am
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February 17th, 2017

#Resist: 5 2 innocuous things that are making me happy in and around the present moment

- Le Petite Trump!

- Two is all I got. Actually surprised I got that far. Enjoy the weekend.

Posted 4:11pm
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February 14th, 2017

#Resist: harnessing antiquated technology

So the free press of the United States forced the resignation of a highly placed American official colluding with a foreign government. The system is at least still capable of working! Sen. Chaffetz, chairman of the House Oversight Committee, refuses to investigate the scope of this scandal saying 'It's taking care of itself."

So...

1. Cut and paste this, or use your own words, into a google doc and create a pdf:

Dear Mr. Chaffetz,

       I find your lack of concern over Michael Flynn troubling and unconscionable. As an American citizen, I implore you to do your job as the Chairman of the House Oversight Committee and launch a full, bipartisan investigation into this scandal. This is not a time to put party over country, and to act in such a manner is un-American and for you, a dereliction of duty.

2. Go to faxzero.com, attach the pdf, and send it to Sen. Chaffetz at 2022255629

3. You can also call him 202.225.7751

Victories are unfortunately not the time to celebrate anymore, they are a time to redouble efforts, because what we are doing is working.

Happy Valentine's Day! XOXO

Posted 2:30pm
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February 9th, 2017

#Resist: speak truth to power

Who knows exactly how much a call, a letter or showing up at a protest actually helps? Sometimes you show up with a sign and the community feels amazing, and the coverage in the media makes it fell like you're not alone for a few days. Then you make every call you're told to and retweet every plea for action you can find and you still end up with a racist as the Attorney General of the United States.

The former is nice, the latter utterly depressing. When nice is all you can hope for, you look for it where ever you can find it. That's why I wrote the following letters.

The first is to President Bannon, after declaring the press the enemy. The second was sent to Mitch McConnell. It's written on the back of the Coretta Scott King letter, because that's why.

My wildest fantasy doesn't include either of these thunderous assbags ever seeing what I wrote and I don't even imagine some Stepford Wife staffer doing anything other than cataloging it as a "letter of dissent". That doesn't mean it didn't feel good to write. It doesn't mean it wasn't worth it to send. I told the people ruining this country what I thought of them. We all should. Over and over again.

Posted 4:27pm
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February 8th, 2017

Nattering Nabobs of Negativism

I don't sleep well anymore. A large part of this is that I am rapidly fulfilling my destiny to become a dottering old man. Not to put too fine a point on it, but it's rare that I make it to 6am without having to get up to use the bathroom.

That's my body breaking down and being less efficient than it used to be. We all eventually succumb to the ravages of time. But these days, most days, once I'm awake from my biological imperative, I find it hard to go back to sleep.

I won't go as far as to say I have bad dreams, but the minute my brain is turned back on it begins to perseverate on the fact that we now live in a nightmarish hellscape that looms over every ounce of progress we've made as a society in the last 200 years. So I come out of my slumber to a waking nightmare.

I don't remember dreaming about Spiro Agnew (or William Safire) but around 5:30 this morning, I woke up to pee and then spent the next two hours thinking about the nattering nabobs of negativism. Somewhere in the deep recesses of my brain, I'm trying to relate the Nixon White House to what we are currently embroiled in. To what end I have no idea.

I guess I'm just as incredulous as the rest of you and my "survival mode" is to try and put things in context, thus reassuring myself that there will be a morning after. There not being enough hours in the day, I'm apparently still crunching data in my sleep.

What ultimately keeps haunting me is election night. As things went from bad to worse, I kept my optimism that things were still going to be OK, that the fire wall was in place and sanity would rule the day. When that turned out to be woefully wrong, something snapped. I broke, and now my brain is working overtime to try and fix it.

The thing about being so woefully wrong is that it necessitates a shift in worldview, and I liked my previous worldview. These are painful truths about who we are and how things work, and they are so negative and so depressing that the options seem to be a.) never sleep again or b.) stop caring and welcome our new racist, misogynist, idiot overlords. Right now, it's the opening of Rosencrantz and Guildenstern are Dead and I'm flipping that stupid coin over and over and over again.

Posted 9:31am
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February 3rd, 2017

G-G-G-Ghosts?!?

Just because your parents are dead doesn't mean they are out of your life. I mean, obviously? Obviously. Your parents will continue to hang over you long after they can make you feel guilty because you never call.

Hopefully you liked your parents and they were good people and their wisdom and examples continue to be a source of strength for you when you need it. Of course even if those things are true, there's times when you wish they were around to reassure you, like when an Orange Oligarch usurps your country and you feel like you are living in the end times.

That can't happen of course, except when it does? You don't expect to get new information from or about your parents after they're dead, but it can happen. I once found a note from my mother that I had never seen before ten years after she passed. (It was an admonishment of my behavior, so on point.)

This was even cooler. One of my siblings texted me recently to show me a picture of our Dad that's in a new Sports Illustrated coffee table book.

It's not wisdom from beyond the grave, but I can't accurately express how cool seeing this is. How had I never seen this photo before? How perfect is it? How happy will it make me having this book on my shelf? Incredibly. Incredibly happy. Thanks Dad. I really needed that.

Posted 10:20am
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January 31st, 2017

Resist

A lot of people are calling their Senators (or just ones that they think need a push) which is awesome. I'm doing that. You should do that. Here are even more ways to contact those in power, most importantly perhaps is the power of the Fax. Look up your Senator's fax number. Use Fax Zero to send them a fax for free. Everyone I've sent has gone through, so you can be immediate, you can be heard, you don't have to talk on the phone. Triple win.

- I posted this on facebook last weekend, because I'm certain it had a hand in my becoming a card carrying member of the ACLU back in 2005. I've always felt good about that membership, but never more so than last weekend. I now literally carry my card with me everywhere I go, because it reminds me that good people are fighting the good fight. It gives me strength, and I need it.

 

Posted 10:20am
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January 25th, 2017

Resist

- Marching was awesome. We'll march more. Taking five minutes to call a rep and tell them your wishes is an easy way to resist every day. Wanna be the boots on the ground? You can start here with swingleft.org. Or indivisibleguide.com.

- Wanna feel like you still have agency in this world? Remember that our Oompa Loompa Oligarch is a bee hive easily poked. Sign this petition demanding that he release his taxes. Follow @halfonioninabag. Get under his thin skin, fear not his tiny hands.

- I previously implored those that could afford it to make monthly donations to the ACLU, Planned Parenthood, The Trevor Project, NAACP etc. Of course that's not in everyone's means, but what if you got something in return? Yes, you could stream this compilation from Barsuk records for free, but if you purchase it, the money goes to good people who need it. Same goes for this merch, because we are all on board to impeachthemotherfuckeralready.com.*

- Finally, laughter is the best medicine, and we all feel a little sick. So laugh at our pain and impending doom! Triumph hits the inauguration and Broad City provides survival tips.

* Want a button? Hit me up, I'll send you one...

Posted 11:15am
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January 23rd, 2017

Reprieve

Hey guys. I'm going through some shit. I know you are too, so I hope you understand that last post. I don't want to retract anything I said, because I don't do that here (except once because I was politely asked. That and banning former frequent commenter ljv for being a misogynist. That still feels good.) ANYWAY, it's rough out there. I sometimes feel helpless and hopeless.

I didn't Saturday. I marched with 10,000+ in A2 and millions more worldwide in protest of what is happening in this country (the whole being led by a misogynist who admits to sexual assault and restricts access to abortion his "first day" in office). ANYWAY it was awesome. It felt like we might be OK. I mean, we're gonna have to Shawshank this and crawl through a mile of shit to get there, but there is a light.

I was so buoyed, that I went on facebook for the first time in forever Sunday to catch what my friends did the previous day. I had seen 95% on other social media outlets, but I was looking for new tidbits, like an addict looking for a fix. Of course it took five minutes for me to be reminded why I left.

Some idiots who I went to high school with were complaining about how they were watching SNL the night before and were dismayed at how political it was. They "weren't racist or misogynist" of course, but why does everything have to be so political? Ignoring the fact that SNL has survived on politics for 40+ years, I really wanted to say "because ignorant fucks such as yourself have to have empathy and equality spoon fed to you by people who actually give a shit and use their voice for good."

I didn't do that. I removed him from my timeline, along with a few others who I could see as being potential problems down the road. That wasn't the takeaway from dipping my toe in the facebook cesspool though. What went through my mind was that these are almost exclusively people like me, trying to be the change they want to see, and I should probably keep avenues to these people as open as possible. Especially now. So maybe. We'll see. I'm officially ready to straight up defriend the ignorant and bigots, might be interesting.

Posted 10:41am
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January 19th, 2017

Thanks Obama

I mostly hate this stupid country. Eight years of inclusion. Eight years of relative prosperity. Eight years of being represented by someone thoughtful, erudite and steady. I have my own criticisms of the Obama administration, but the vitriol that accompanied his tenure as commander in chief is something I'll never understand.

That's not true. I could have titled this post "This is why we can't have nice things" and just written "racism" and been done with it. Obama's signature achievement (Obamacare) is being repealed to cheers among the right who think that the Affordable Care Act will save them.You fucking people.

Now we're being lead by a giant orange baby who is choosing people so woefully unqualified for their prospective jobs it would be too absurd for a Monty Python sketch. And did I mention they are overwhelmingly racist and misogynist? After listening to everyone on the right say "it's about limited government!" for years, turn out I was right all along. You solipsistic idiots.

Listen, I'm a straight, middle-aged white guy - I'll be fine. But that's not what this is about, except I think it speaks to the crux of this situation. This is about empathy. Some people have none. They are the GOP. Their fucks extend to themselves, or their family, or maybe the people that look and feel and act exactly like they do. You are toilet people. A pox on all your houses.

Maybe this isn't worth saving. I'll fight where I can for disenfranchised and deligitimized, but I think I'm done feeling like this is actually the land of the free and the home of the brave. Too many cowards are working too hard to take that freedom from ordinary people. That's not exceptionalism, it's a kleptocracy. You ignorant fucks can have it.

Posted 10:41am
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January 11th, 2017

All out of fucks to give

I got a text Monday afternoon inviting me to a meeting and asking for help "reforming the Democratic party." My initial reaction upon receiving it was "fuck you, you fucking piece of shit asshole" because I happen to know for a fact that the invitation came from someone who voted third party in the last election. For the foreseeable future, that's my response to anyone who voted for Cheeto Mussolini or Dems who didn't vote for Hillary when they ask me for so much as a stick of gum. For the next four years, setup a google alert and write a personal letter of apology to every woman and minority and LGBTQ person who is harassed or made to feel less safe by this regime's policies or in their name and then I will consider giving you the time of the day. I need your act of contrition before I so much as want to be in the same room as you.

Besides that, I understand that the Democrats need reforming. At least there are things about the Dems that I don't care for and would like to see changed. But despite the fucking colossal ass hats who voted for Jill Stein, Hillary won the popular vote by two and a half million votes. It's not like we need an overhaul here. The planks of the Democrat's platform have gotten more progressive over the years. I don't need to sit in a room with a bunch of Bernie bros for two hours, listening to a bunch of idyllic morons scream their version of "54°40' or fight!" because they've chosen the worst time in history to draw an arbitrary line in the sand and would rather burn this fucking place to the ground rather than work the system.

I'd rather spend my time and energy addressing the things that actually keep the will of the people from being voiced. Things like restoring the Voting Rights Act. Fighting against unconstitutional gerrymandering. Making sure Republican led voter suppression efforts are rolled back and abolished. Getting rid of the Electoral College. Supporting a constitutional amendment overturning Citizens United. I support everyone at that meeting who wants to make the Democratic Party more progressive. And believe me, I am with you in understanding that everyone needs to sit around whinging once in a while. I just happen to think that the positions of the Democrats aren't necessarily the issue, and a bunch of fucking juvenile imbeciles who didn't want to swallow a bitter pill to keep Orange Julius Caesar from power, well fuck you, you fucking piece of shit assholes.

Posted 10:41am
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January 6th, 2017

5 innocuous things that are making me happy in and around the present moment

- On our now annual Xmas sojourn to Montreal, we listened to the audiobook of The Daily Show: An Oral History. Despite the distraction of having famous voices being read by voice actors, one thing was abundantly clear: I miss that goddamn show. As the BDGF put it, "Jon Stewart was what got me through the Bush years. Now what am I supposed to do?" I unfortunately don't have a concrete answer to that, but you can kick that question down the road a bit with this final Luther, Obama's anger translator sketch from last night's Daily Show.

- Rogue One is pretty great as both a Star Wars film and a war movie, but it fucking rules as a Hollywood blockbuster that isn't whiter than a Trump rally. I like to think I've always felt that representation matters, and I know that now more than ever we have to fight for it. If you feel like getting a little emotional (or just want some concrete proof) here's a story that'll make the room real dusty.

- Even with all of the great shizz on TV these days, I miss the show Happy Endings. There's nothing on right now that matches the joke density of that show. Luckily, the cast recently reunited to do a table read of a lost episode. It's a-maaz-ing.

- For true TV nostalgia, may I recommend this debut episode of The Price Is Right from 1972? Goes great with sick and snow days.

- Finally:

You solipsistic idiots and bigots who voted for that jackass-o'-lantern can continue to go fuck yourselves.

Posted 10:35am
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This page is written and maintained by Tyler Brubaker. All content is spewed forth from the author's brain, unless otherwise credited. He views his opinion as much more valid than yours, but welcomes all thoughts and comments.