log: MNI

WORMDATE: L2: 545 -149,191: 1-1,993: 25.7 %

수학이 시작되다. After this course, if all goes well, I’ll have my AA in anthropology and be transferring to ASU’s online program. I’m looking forward to that.

It also sounds like Cali is reopening today. Glad to hear it. I think. Maybe I’m just a bit gun-shy but these re-openings have been rushed before. I don’t know what the situation is there though. Maybe it’s fine. All I know, really, is that all the people I’m still in contact with in Cali have gotten their shots. So that’s a good thing. I hope it goes well.

But, holy shit, what a terrible clusterfuck the whole thing has been and still is. Probably, one of the more disturbing aspects of the whole mess is just how much death, misery, and bankruptcy America will tolerate without making serious changes. To think it went through this without adopting universal healthcare, serious welfare programs, or fundamentally altering its attitudes about all that much really. In some cases, it even seems the country is doing a victory lap. A parade around a graveyard. The shit is fucked up.

In anthropology, there’s a concept called Minimum Number of Individuals (MNI). It refers to the fewest number of people or animals in an assemblage of bones. So, like, you find left two femurs in the pile, that means that at least two people are represented because, well, no one has two left femurs. It’s basically a conservative way of estimating how many people or animals are in that pile of bones. The number could always be higher. I feel like the pandemic in America has given us a sort of MNI on what it will take to improve the country.

600,000 dead in about a year and half, one of the biggest economic hits since The Great Depression, mixed with record profits for billionaires, and it seems like there’s not going to be much, if any, sort of societal reckoning. The pandemic felled workers at incredible rates while companies totally ignored the situation and still no general strike – not even many local ones and, many of those that did happen, happened without unions. There was a lot of mobilization around the police murder of George Floyd. Even that gets a bit depressing when one thinks how much work it took to get that cop convicted when that cop killed that guy in broad daylight, in public, and on camera. Like, Jesus Christ . . .

Now, there might be some signs of hope. The movement to fund social programs and defund the police seems to have some real traction. The bargaining power of workers also seems to have increased. Hopefully, that bargaining power will become organized and collective because, if it depends on individuals, it will just fucking evaporate.

Crisis precipitates change but there’s no guarantee that things will change for the better. And, far as I can see, America is even less capable of addressing its problems than it was five years ago. And its problems have grown worse, not better. Like, if a pandemic doesn’t result in a universal healthcare system, I don’t have much hope in a mass shooting resulting in gun control. If record profits mixed with dying workers doesn’t get you a strike, I don’t know what the fuck does. I’m not an accelerationist. If I was, if you are, this is the sort of shit that should give a person pause. Quite possibly, the crisis never gets bad enough.

The crisis doesn’t even matter all that much. At least, not nearly as much as organization. If the workforce is organized well enough, a boss just being a pest would be enough to make a change. There’s no incident severe enough to change shit for the better without organization. With organization, you don’t need to wait for mass death to make changes. So, pretty clear where I stand on all that? Guillotines! Anyway . . .

Keeping to my exercise program. Endurance and strength has improved. Been raining the past few days though, which makes the path through the forest a little too slippery for my liking. My night vision has also improved. Seems like I’m using the flashlight less and less.

There’s even an owl kicking around. If I have its call properly identified (and I think I do) it’s a Eurasian Long-Eared Owl. Heard its alarm call. That alarm call sounds like some terrible beast. And, given the environment, a long-eared owl makes sense. They don’t mind urban environments and particularly like tree stands near clearings. Last time I saw one, making a positive ID, it was in a similar sort of place. I saw that one at dusk in Ontario. Much easier to see them at dusk. The only owl I’ve ever seen at night is a Snowy Owl and that one landed on a log right next to me while I was drinking in a field.

I have another bird friend, who I think might also be an owl –maybe even the same– but whose call I can’t quite pinpoint. I spent some time playing silly buggers with it a few nights ago. It would call from close by. I’d go get closer. It would call again from behind me. And so forth. I tried to record it. It went silent. I really want to figure out who that one is.

Also, I’m very happy to see that Jeff Lemire got a show on Netflix. Sweet Tooth. And it’s doing well too! I worked with Jeff for a few years in what was, I think, the last day job he ever had. I’m no judge of comics but he’s a damn fine line cook. Always liked working with Jeff. Hell, before Sweet Tooth was ever a book, I can remember him working on sketches for those characters by dim lamp at table B1 during slow nights.

Jeff drew the header for this site, blurbed my novel, which he read well before it was ever published — he was one of two beta readers– and he even did a bunch of art for that novel. The originals of that art hang on my walls. I should try to find the files to show you. He had even done cover art for my book, which he was willing to do for free, and which my publisher, in their infinite wisdom, rejected. Now, I’m actually happy with the cover they chose. It wasn’t my first choice. I had no choice, actually. I saw the cover at the same time everyone else did. That’s how that worked then. No idea how it works now.

Although we’ve fallen out of touch through the years –shit happens– I still really like Jeff and it’s always fucking terrific to see him doing well. It’s amazing to see the little sketches drawn on the back table of an empty restaurant on my TV. I mean, he did give me a whole bunch of the Sweet Tooth comics back in the day but, being a terrible person, I never actually read any of them. (Still have them though — wonder if I can sell them for suit money?) I read other stuff by him but, Satan help me, have a really hard time reading comics. I’m like illiterate with comics. But I did watch the show and I even liked it. Weird fucking show. It’s good though.

And I’d tell you to go watch Sweet Tooth but the days of people needing me to tell them to support Jeff Lemire are so dead and gone. It’s a bit like me telling you to go check out the new BTS or something. There’s a staff for that. But it is great to see him do well. Always so nice to see people do well — god knows, there’s a lot of carnage on the side of a lot of roads. I would say the whole thing is weird but, I dunno, if you knew him, it makes sense.

So, go watch that show or whatever. I got to hop in the shower and get dressed.

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