the doomtown gazette

I’m pretty horrible at promotion. I’m pretty happy or whatever passes for “happy” just scribbling in the corner. Ideally, I’d love to figure out a way to get paid for writing without ever being read. (Maybe academia?) In spite of all that, every once in a while, I sort of take a pass at promoting my work. Then I horrify myself and give up. Having said all that

THE DOOMTOWN GAZETTE

That’s right. I’ve gone and changed the named of my Patreon. I wanted to make it a little snappier and, well, I think this is a better name. I tried to punch up the presentation a little bit. Prices and all that are still the same and I couldn’t bring myself to add different tiers.

There is only one tier.

SUPER NUCLEAR LEVEL HYPER MEMBER!!! 

As a SUPER NUCLEAR LEVEL HYPER MEMBER!!! you receive bulletins from THE NOCTURNAL LIBRARY. THESE WILL APPEAR AS NEEDED. ADVISE CAUTIONS!!! You will learn what SECRETS are being held in THE MUSEUM OF A BILLION COSMIC OBJECTS!!! You will TRAVEL THE NEXUS OF MISERY and RETURN A CHANGED PRIMATE!!! COMMUNE WITH THE ANIMAL AND THE DEAD! JOIN NOW! SHOP NOW! JOIN AND SHOP NOW!!!

If that sounds like you’re sort of thing, it’s just $3.33 a month. My posting has been a little more erratic than I’d like lately but it’s still fairly steady and there’s already 86 doses up.

That should be more than enough to keep you busy for some time.

And, all in all, I’m pretty happy with this work. I understand that in some cases it’s probably unreadable and it’s often uneven and I don’t know what anyone would get out of reading any of it, but I dunno – I think it’s pretty solid sci-fi of a type I like. A plotless assault on decency, good taste, and rationality. Like, whatever its problems, being commercial is not one of them. It’s probably pretty fucked up! Some of it, I’m not even sure it’s legal.

So, if you’ve been a supporter, are one now, or if you’ve even just gone to the trouble of sharing a link to my book or The Doomtown Gazette, under whatever name, I’d just really like to say thank you. The little bit of money I make from this really does help. Aside from that, it’s nice to think that there might be some batshit niche for this stuff.

And like, if you ever want to use any of this stuff for your stuff, just let me know.

more of a cryptid

Not that anyone asked. I don’t believe in alcoholics or alcoholism. I also don’t think drug addiction is a disease. That’s not to say that I think it’s a crime or a moral failing. (Though, if done well, it just might be both.) And I do think medical interventions are a lot more use than police interventions, though, let’s face it, the line between the two can be blurry. But a disease? I just have doubts about that one. And alcoholism? As groups like AA think of it? As a sort of demon possession. I think that’s a lot of horseshit. Not that anyone asked.

Generally, I tend to think drug fiends are just selfish manipulative pricks who are experts in converting pain into license. Often, getting off the drugs will help them but it usually doesn’t deal with the personality than made them so terrible while on the drugs. Satan knows, I’ve seen some people sober up just to wonder why they’d even bother. Like, if they were going to keep acting like that, they could at least do everyone the service of putting a lampshade on their head. For some people, getting sober just seems like a new way to become the noisy center of the universe. But, having said that, I think it’s generally pretty good to sober up. And most of this is verdict on myself rather than on anyone else. Not that anyone asked.

So even though I believe these things, I actually don’t have much of a problem with groups like AA. They’re not for me. They might very well work for someone else. I don’t like how the 12 steps monopolize the discourse on drunks and drunkenness and I can’t stand how they often act like they’re the ONE TRUE WAY or how they operate in a weird partnership with the legal system. But, if someone gets some use out of these groups, and if it helps a person, that’s fine. Honestly, good for you. I’m happy if it helped. I can see the appeal. I might think it’s nonsense but we all have to believe some sort of nonsense to get through the day. It’s one of those things where I have my opinions and experiences, other people have theirs, and that’s all fine. No one needs to have the final universal answer on this thing. No one should pretend to. It’s just perspective. Do what you need to. As long as you’re not hurting anyone, I don’t really give much of a fuck. And if you’re making to effort to stop hurting people, that’s also good. So don’t take me too personally!

I’ve been off the drugs and drink for something like ten to fifteen years. There’s been bumps in the road to be sure. (And if the 12 Steppers I’ve known are any indication, a program is no guarantee of avoiding those.) I don’t view those bumps as relapses. Maybe errors in judgement. Sometimes as reasonable responses to intolerable situations. Other times, just as a pretty good time. Overall, I’ve stayed sober without meetings, badges, or any of that. I don’t really think about all that much. I don’t count the days. I just go about life. I find it easier sober.

For starters, no fucking hangovers.

And I used to blackout. Like, a lot. So it’s also nice to wake up knowing where I was, what I said, and what I did. Because, holy fuck, sometimes I still remember things from those blackout days. An image, a word, an act. A mystery. Sometimes, no mystery at all. Hard to say which is worse. And that shit can turn you cold on a hot day. That’s some stay awake staring into the darkness shit. Waiting for the knock on the door shit. I’m happy to produce less of those feelings. I couldn’t take any more of them. Just can’t deal with it.

Not that anyone asked.

Anyway, what brought this on? Just a weird synchronicity.

Happened to read this post by Paul Graham Raven about quitting Twitter and the recent rush to the door due to new ownership. And this part broke off and snagged in my brain.

I expect most folk will stay, and many of those now leaving will find a reason to go back. And again, I ain’t judgin’; when I quit the first time, it was a horrendous blow to my social life that has in many respects never been recovered from. It’s hard to leave a network with sunk social costs; it hurts, even when the network itself is a source of pain. Ask any reformed junkie or alcoholic, they’ll tell you the same: it’s not just the substance you have to quit, it’s the life within which that substance is entirely entangled. That’s a lot to ask of anyone, and no one will ever do it until they really want to—which, to be clear, is a very different thing to thinking they should.

I can relate. For me, quitting drugs and drink not only felt like quitting a social life but also quitting myself. (These days, I’m not sure there’s a difference. I don’t believe in souls and I think my personality is basically my social network.) The oddest part of all that I had no idea who I was without drugs or drink. I mean, what the fuck do I even like? What sort of things do I do? Who the fuck am I? I felt like I had to consciously and deliberately invent a sober version of myself and choose my interests. As scary and painful as that I was, I was also grateful for the chance. One doesn’t usually get to exercise such agency over themselves. Probably everything needs to blow up for that sort of shit to even be possible.

Then I bumped into this piece in WIRED about how AA is falling out of favor and veing replaced by new trends in getting sober. That is, something like:

All the better, I guess, to toast the charismatic influencers who inhabit the highly nonanonymous sobriety … space. (There’s always a space.) You might think there would be an oligopoly in neo-sobriety superstardom, but no, it’s a thousand points of light, and each soberfluencer has staked out a niche approach or at least some trademark design elements. Many also sit in Venn patches with lifestyle masters in apparently related realms: exercise, spirituality, prosperity, productivity, and even conspiracy. From what I’ve divined from a heady three-day scrolling bender, the biggest influencers in the sobriety space fall pretty clearly into three categories: mystical gurus who ground their sobriety in rococo superstitions, professional habit-breakers who regard sobriety as a happiness hack, and reps from the managerial class who advocate for medical interventions and cognitive science to treat a brain malfunction they now refer to as alcohol use disorder.

I mean, leave it to people to abandon AA and find something worse.

I agree with that piece’s author when she says that not getting fucked up is not so much a profitable life hack as it is a first step in being a halfway decent person. Rather than profit, one will first have to deal with profound loss. And learning to help other people is an important part of getting sober. Like, one has to think about other people. To this day, I cannot stand when someone talks about a devoted drunk “battling” or “struggling” with booze and drugs. Seems to me, it’s other people, the people around us, who have to struggle with booze or alcohol. For the drunk? What the fuck do they care? It’s all good. It feels great. It’s a lot of fun. They’ve made their problems into everyone else’s problems.

And, finally, I bumped into this by Robin Sloan, once again about Twitter, that says:

Many people don’t want to quit because they worry: without my Twitter account, who will listen to me? In what way will I matter to the world beyond my apartment, my office, my family? I believe these hesitations reveal something totally unrelated to Twitter. I don’t have words for it, exactly, but if you find yourself fretting in this way, I will gently suggest that it’s worth questing a bit inside yourself to discover what you’re really worried about.

I think that thing that we don’t have words for exactly is important to all of this. I’m not sure what it is or if it’s the same for everyone. Nor am I sure that we can talk about SNS and drugs in the same way or even should. But there is some sort of unthinkable thing there. Some sort of same unthinkable thing. Something to do with what we do to feel real. To remind ourselves that we’re still here and still there and still in the world – whatever the fuck we think all that is. And I don’t think there’s a real need “to discover what you’re really worried about” when the idea of becoming unreal is probably enough to really worry about.

That need to be real is pretty important. I don’t think it’s a bad or shallow thing. (I sure as fuck don’t even think shallow things are bad.) It may just be an urge to participate. That urge is root of a lot of good in the world and a lot of bad. We want to be real people.

But, I think, when it comes to quitting things, a person might have to get comfortable with being irreal. A lot of times quitting comes with a lot of promises about living a more authentic life. I don’t know if that’s possible or even desirable. I’m not even sure what authentic is. But I do think, if you want to quit a thing, you need to get some sort of settlement with not being there and not being real. You might not be authentic. You could just be a cryptid.

And, I guess, if any of this post has a point, it’s that it’s okay to be more of a cryptid.

Not that anyone asked, of course.

March 11, I guess

Today, maybe yesterday, I don’t know –the time change is big math– is, I suppose a pretty big anniversary. It seems like the day shit got real in North America. For me, at this remove, it’s not quite such a big day and not altogether a bad one. If anything, it was kind of a happy day. Not happy. That’s not really the right word. It was more of a relief. It wasn’t that America suddenly had a COVID problem. It had just finally, though clumsily, acknowledged it.

Here, of course, by the time that happened, we had been dealing with the thing since late January. There wasn’t a single day when things changed. Even the 대구 outbreak wasn’t a sudden “shit just got real” moment. Like, a lot of the outrage around that outbreak was due to the fact that gathering together in a church was already definitely something not to do.

It was much more of a gradual escalation here. Gradual but fast. The awareness of a new virus in China and that it had come to Korea. The fear of coughing in public and fear of those who did, the mask advice, sudden mass testing, emergency alerts, advice to avoid gatherings, and measures to make that possible, advice to stay at home. One outbreak laying waste to so much of our efforts.

That outbreak felt like a bomb had gone off. But it had been ticking. And we knew it was a bomb. We were trying to diffuse it when a church tripped over a wire and it exploded. I’m not sure the same can be said about North America. That’s not the feeling I got.

Speaking broadly, I remember watching the case numbers in America and Canada, which were really high even without much testing, and thinking “What the fuck? Are they doing nothing?” It left me feeling half-mad. How much of this was in my head? Had I lost it?

And it wasn’t just the government or the bozos on the beach either. Even just people I knew in North America seemed totally, blissfully, unaware of what was coming or what a pandemic would mean. I saw people –intelligent and well informed people- wondering what this would mean for science fiction conventions and spring training. What would the guidelines for the polyamorous be? Will this be over by summer? Isn’t thinking about closing this or that all a bit of an overreaction? That sort of thing. It just felt like they knew about it in the abstract but just really had no idea how much of life was now over.

I’ve never actually seen a chicken running around with its head cut off. But I imagine seeing one running around like that feels a bit the same. You’re already dead, chicken, lay down! I’ve also heard that after decapitation, the human head retains consciousness for thirty seconds. I now wonder if it also makes plans for next month. It would not surprise me.

I’m not trying to be judgmental here. I don’t have any judgements about the people who couldn’t quite process this before it happened. Just a couple months earlier, I was the same. So I’m sure not trying to say “THE FOOLS!” My goal, rather, is to point out the weird disconnect between what we had been going through over here between what was happening in North America. And why that day wasn’t really a bad one for me.

It ended a disconnect.

It felt almost like a reunion.

My feeling about it was pretty much FINALLY!

Not “finally they have the bug” because that ship had sailed. And certainly not “finally they’re lives are now fucked up too” because I wouldn’t wish this on anyone. But just “finally, they’ve acknowledged the situation.” Finally, they might finally start to do something to fix it.

Of course, it didn’t exactly work out like that.

I expected a clusterfuck and a genocide and it sure looks like we got both. I wish I knew how to stop such things. I don’t. As far as I can figure it, people are far too concerned about distant and abstract power. They have too much imagination. They worry about a lot of shit that’s above their paygrade. They protest the president. They should protest their boss.

Like that fucking arm of power right in front of you? That little finger? Smash that.

I firmly believe that, in this life, people too often waste their time trying to extend their reach. If they were only more concerned with what was already directly in reach and focused their efforts on changing that shit, they could do much more, much faster, and much better.

There’s more risk in attacking the power right in front of you. It’s much scarier to confront your boss than it is to tweet at POTUS. There’s more consequences.

Does that explain the refusal to confront the power right above a person? I don’t think so. I don’t think it’s cowardice. I don’t even think it’s a refusal. I think it’s more of a blind-spot. A type of ignorance. A lot of people just have a lot of it twisted. They just don’t know –right in their very blood and bones– that the power is with them. I can’t blame them. Not when almost every fucking thing in life, media, and our institutions is set up to occlude that power.

So they try to change things from the top down. They think the head is the most important thing and they aim at a head they can’t reach. So the problem must be the reach. They try to extend their reach. They think if they extend their reach, they can then reach the head and then they can change things. So they spend too much time trying to extend their reach and not enough time changing things. They ignore what is in front of them. But we already have enough reach. You’d be fucking amazed with what you can do with what’s right in front of you. If you just, simply, start to do it. Like, fuck’s sake — look how buff prisoners get! A cell can be a gym. As long as you use what’s in front of you even if it’s just your body weight. But if you keep spending your time sending membership applications to GOLD’s, well . . .

It’s just a confusion.

An understandable confusion but still a confusion.

To my mind, always go after the head you can already reach. That’s more than enough work and you actually stand a chance. Not a great one, but at least you stand some fucking chance. And, you do that right, you get more reach anyway so . . .

But, be that as it may, I think we can pretty much agree that this all could have gone a lot better. And although I understand that this may be a sad day for many, I don’t think there’s anything sad about opening your eyes. That’s all that happened a year ago. Eyes opened. The sadness is in the wasted months before and after this day. This was a day when something better seemed possible. And every day still has that possibility.

It was a disappointment, tho. No arguing that.

chewing bone

I’m sure that the meat has already been picked off the election’s bones and the bones chewed down to their marrow. That marrow examined in sub-atomic detail. The corpse dissected and fed upon. Divinations conducted. The standing carcass of the next four years prescribed the recommended courses of action, proper dosages, and had its autopsy performed by forensic psychometrists. I’m sure that’s all already happened.

So I don’t know what I have to add or why I would bother adding it. Basic inability to keep my mouth shut, I guess. I didn’t even watch the inauguration. Had shit to do. And, at the best of times, I have a limited tolerance for Americans slapping themselves on the back.

I’m pretty sure that I have the same sort of feelings on this that a lot of people have. On one hand, Biden is probably totally incapable of making the sort of changes that he will need make to help America –that is, if he even really wants to, which is an open question– but, on the other, at least he’s not a talking bag of piss. Just about whatever he does is going to be a massive improvement over what we just had. A massive immediate improvement.

So while I have little patience for the whole “let’s get back to normal” or “shit is great now” or “America is back” or “politics is boring again” thing, I also have little patience for the “both sides are just as bad” angle. It’s like, yes, we know. But here’s something else I know:

A lot of people talking that “both sides are just as bad” thing now won’t be further left in four years. They’ll be libertarians or republicans or just the sort of idiot nihilists who do it for the lols. Some will probably go further left, some will probably shake out into one of those weird styles of American anarchism, which is often de facto indistinguishable from libertarianism, and some will probably gravitate towards centrism or apathy, which is basically the same thing, but a lot of these people? Keep an eye on them. They’re going to need their fucking hands held. A little bit of knowledge is a dangerous thing. And always watch out for white men shouting “WAKE UP!” Even if they’re right, they’re still, you know . . . White men.

But also – fuck those people who think any criticism of the democrats is an endorsement of the republicans. Governments are supposed to criticized. It’s not a team sport.

The thing to watch out for now is the normalization. At the end of the next four years, maybe at the end of the first, we’ll have a much better idea of what parts of this fascist project have been normalized than we currently do. What problems we have next will, in part, depend on that. Right now, I doubt anyone knows just what shit is sticking to the wall. We’ll see.

I’ve also seen some talk about people losing faith in Q. I suppose that I’m a bit more pessimistic about this development than many. A lot of people believe that people are led into these wild theories because they are too trusting. They believe everything they read. They must. But I think people end up believing these things because they have no trust. It’s feral skepticism. Conspiracy theories are always based on “DON’T BELIEVE.”

So, sure, a lot of people have probably lost faith in that particular collection of conspiracy theories. But will their next step be trusting and rejoining society? I fucking doubt it. To me, it just means that now they don’t even trust Q. The distrust that led them there has deepened.

The root problem has not gotten better. If anything, it’s gotten worse.

I suppose one can hope that some people are just bored of that game and looking for an out and now they have one, and that others may be convinced by evidence, and some can be led back to sense and decency. One can always hope. Meanwhile, some fucking accountability would be nice. There can’t and won’t be healing until then. Maybe never.

As far as the whole thing goes, I suppose my whole mixed feeling is — it can always be worse but, right now, it’s not. And it’s not like life just hands you shit to be happy about one after the other. So, if you’re happy about Trump being out, be fucking happy about it. But not for too long. Because no one should be congratulated about what has happened and is still happening in America. No one has earned the right to feel good about any of it. It’s a fucking mess and it will be for a long time. A lot of people are dead and the dying nowhere near over. There’s a lot to do. Like, a lot. None of it fun, easy, or anything to be happy about.

Some national humility and accountability would go a long way.



log: plaster cast bigfoot foot

WORMDATE: L2-2.5: 665-68,664: 25-1,125

Well, I’ve survived the first week of winter sessions. Though, it now feels weird to use that term “survived” in that context. I mean, a friend and classmate just told me that her and her whole family are now running fevers so . . . I’m probably going to have to use other language to describe getting through schoolwork. Not so much because of sensitivity but because it’s just a bit embarrassing to say. Like, the literal meaning of the word “survive” is very much back for a lot of people. In cases like this, hyperbolic metaphors don’t so much lose their teeth as they do their contact with reality.

Speaking of losing contact with reality, I rejoined twitter. When I try to think of why I might do such a thing, the sad and petty fact of the matter is, I am a sucker for dramatic timing. The service kicked the president off and I just could not resist rejoining. You just don’t get that sort of entrance timing and not walk through the door. Or maybe you don’t, if you have any sense. But I can’t resist a thing like that though. Not proud.

The fucking thing of it tho is I really have no idea how to even use the service anymore. Aside from the technical side, I can’t remember how to think in tweets. Completely lost that skill. Don’t really want it back. And, honestly, I would put, I dunno, let’s say 40% of blame for the mess we’re in at the feet of people thinking in tweets. Not even right, wrong, or in-between tweets, just in the very medium of tweet thinks. They’re not how a brain works. Not really. Not well.

I also just delete everything I tweet because why the fuck would I want it existing? That shit is a haunted house. Impermanence is not an enemy.

As far as the service itself goes, a couple of vague observations:

I wonder if Twitter and Tweeple dwelling within have any actual idea just how totally divorced from reality they’ve become. It’s a bit like . . . Okay, how to put this?

I like the Internet as a way to deliver information but hate it as a producer of information. Like, I think it’s really good at transporting an obscure movie about Bigfoot from the 1970s onto my TV. And that’s a decent role for it. When it comes to SNS, I like when people export their lives or whatever into the service. I don’t care if its presented, performed or inauthentic — I don’t have that typically youthful obsession with AUTHENTICITY. It’s fine. Live your best fake life. I’m good with that. Counterfeits are fine. I’m not so wild on the feedback of SNS modifying this presentation. That’s inevitable but also kind of sad. You end up with those Internet aesthetics and that shit is not diversity so much as a collection of stagnant monocultures. All in love with the mass spectacle.

It’s not contact with or navigation of difference. It’s just coagulating similarities.

Twitter is always responding to Twitter. It’s a whole realm of outrage and support and conversation all about what is happening on Twitter. And I have no doubt that this all feels very important to the people on it and like they’re very plugged into THE WORLD itself but Twitter not at all like the world. Most of the world does not really give a shit about it. Not that you would know this from Twitter. Twitter is only ever really talking to and about Twitter. Now, containment has, of course, been breached, but the fucking place is a dogmatic hallucination factory. It’s like one of those postmod critical things where it’s like — the text is only talking to other texts, but, you know, accurate. In this case, it’s accurate. And terrible.

It just has nothing to do with life. It’s a fucking weird world of its own.

Back to Bigfoot, it kinda reminds of this thing you often see in Bigfoot documentaries where they go into such incredible forensic detail on some aspect of a plaster cast of a Bigfoot footprint. They debate the most minute details, whether that toe could be bent, so on and so forth, and everyone just gets totally into these details. They have really dead-serious and passionate arguments about these details. They just all totally lose sight of not only the foot but even what it’s attached to while taking boththe foot and the Bigfoot for granted. Never mind the actual position of these things in the larger world. You sort of want to be like: “My dudes, are we talking about a giant man ape with big human feet being in your backyard here?”

Twitter reminds me of that.

The other weird thing, after being gone from it for so long, is the amount of real estate just installing and having the app takes up in my head. There’s now a part of my mind labeled TWITTER. It feels like a ball located to the back right of my mind. Feels like a little monkey sitting on my shoulder. Coaxing me into tweeting. Into thinking about what and when I will tweet. Rubbing his grubby little hands all over my thoughts and experiences, trying to get them into tweetable form. I suspect that I was once accustomed to this little monkey. I’m not accustomed to him anymore. I frankly do not care all that much for him. He’s fucking distracting. He’s a useless little fucker. The monkey is on notice. Grim little shit.

So, yeah, I don’t know if I’ll keep or use the account or whatever. And, if you’re big into it, no judgement or whatever. I’ve been friends with drunks, junkies, and whatever too. Insofar as one can be. People need what they need and they do as they please. But it is what it is.

And what else . . .

The numbers are still trending in the right direction here. So that’s good.

And I guess there’s some controversy about the tests for my Korean Civ class. Some students are unhappy with some of the questions. I did fine on the tests and didn’t complain to the professor though my wife was not so lucky. I do get why they’re upset. The professor is saying, in her defense, that the quizzes are meant to be difficult and we were warned. I get that and I’m fine with that. But there is a difference between difficult and unfair. Parts of these tests veered into unfair. That’s to say, they asked questions on facts and subjects that were not covered in the modules or the textbook. Things we were not taught.

An example: We were asked about a specific Buddhist sutra. Now, we were assigned, as two parts of a 33 part assignment, to learn about contemplative and scholastic Buddhism, which also weren’t subjects specifically covered in our textbook or modules. But that’s fine. Just means these are subjects that require independent research. In the course of my readings, and I probably did more than what is average or even sane, this particular sutra never even came up. It’s a pretty specific sutra and it’s really pretty deep in the weeds on one particular topic, which we were learning about more in the context of broader trends in Korean history. I’m no expert but it seems to me to be a level of detail more appropriate to a class on the history of Buddhism in a unit dealing with a particular era of a certain school. In that case, I could see being quizzed about this specific sutra. But this class is much broader.

I think a question like that is basically unfair. There were a few like that.

I don’t mind difficult but, you know, something like that isn’t even hard nor is it particularly educational. It doesn’t teach you understanding of the thing or provide any context. It’s just not even really on the point. It’s just sort of stupid shit masquerading as difficulty.

But still, it’s a really good class.

And today, if I ever get out of this blog post, I got to finish up the chapter in my 한국어 class. Really enjoying this one too. I sort of feel like, once I’m done this class, I’ll have enough raw info and basic tools to actually start practicing and learning the language. The beginning almost seems in sight. As does the end of this post.

log: ludicrous

WORMDATE: L2-2.5: 674-67,360: 35-1,081

춥네요! At -10도, we’re in a bit of a cold snap here. It’s been a while since I’ve been in the cold. Honestly, I kind of missed it. In Cali, I missed the feeling so much that I ended up working in a freezer and swimming in cold water. My skin craved cold. Now, I got it.

While, we’re on the subject of America . . .

Kind of hard to avoid talking about it, I guess. And I’m tired of saying the same things that I’ve been saying for years every single time the situation lurches towards worse. These things basically boil down to: Take it seriously, it’s gone further than you think, fascism can be combatted with a strong, militant, and intersectional labor movement, there needs to be accountability, so on and so forth. I don’t see much of that happening.

Maybe The Capitol Breach will make people take this shit more seriously than children in cages, the prison population, gun drills in schools and massacred children in classrooms, Puerto Rico, Katrina, illegal invasions of foreign countries, hundreds of thousands of dead Americans, drone killings, militarized racist police brutality, concentration camps, torture programs, so on and so forth, but I wouldn’t count on it. I still hear too many people talking about fascism like it’s an incoming threat, not woven into life. As far as resistance goes, 1 in 5 people in LA have COVID, bosses are still fucking around, workers are still getting sick, but I don’t see a strike from the unions. One wonders what it would take. Like – what’s enough? What gets them off the fucking PR media game and shutting shit down.

Some people are fighting and fighting hard. I see that. But, goddamn, too much of the population has mistaken collaboration with common sense.

So, a couple of observations, I guess.

This is just based on a sort of impression, a sense I have of things, but living in South Korea, which had its first peaceful transfer of power in 1997 and is a young democracy, there seems to be a different view of dictatorships than you get in older democracies, and it’s a view that seems pretty common in young democracies. It’s that dictatorship is indistinguishable from corruption. They’re the same thing. Corruption is the dictatorship.

Once again, just based on a sort of impression, a sense I have of things, is that the older democracies view it differently. The older democracies tend to see corruption and dictatorship as separate issues. Their understanding of dictators and how to prevent them is rooted in the age of monarchs. America is probably excellent at fending off The King of England, the British and Canadian House of Commons pretty good at doing the same. Dealing with modern dictatorships? Oligarchs and plutocrats? Corruption? Not so much. These countries and their governments were designed to do something different.

Insofar as America thinks about modern dictators, it tends to view dictators and fascism as a sort of hyper-competence. The TV Nazis are always hyper advanced criminal masterminds. Americans have absorbed an idea that incompetence is incompatible with fascism or dictatorships. You end up hearing a lot of things like “more competent authoritarians than Trump are coming.” In various forms, you hear it said that Trump’s incompetence and idiocy is his liability. Really, it’s his appeal and his strength. Incompetence is his core competence.

It’s better to think of fascism as a core incompetence. A grotesque and corrupt incompetence. It’s a spreading disaster. Things are managed badly, someone else is blamed. They’re managed worse and more people are blamed. The disasters grow larger and more frequent. The blame, violence, and conspiratorial thinking grows in ratio.

It’s a feedback loop of incompetence, blame, and violence.

So when I see something like The Capitol Breach, I think, yes, it was an absurd clown show of a coup and it failed. But it failed on a bigger scale than before. It failed upwards. And that’s what fascism does. It fails upwards. It fails on bigger and bigger scales. It looks ludicrous as it fails. It is ludicrous. Because it is ludicrous, too many people laugh it off as being unserious. As being harmless. As being contained.

But a thing can be ludicrous and dangerous.

The serious part is the ludicrous part.

We are not dealing with some evidence based process of open discourse with a goal of getting towards the truth. The lawsuits against the election were and are ludicrous. But their goal is not to win a lawsuit. They’d like it if they won one but winning is not required. Filing the lawsuit is all that matters. These lawsuits increase the scale of the failure. The filing of lawsuits shows the legal process being exhausted. Losing them shows how deep the conspiracy goes. It shows how necessary violence has become.

You may want to comfort yourself with the lawsuits being ludicrous. You may think that these lawsuits being ludicrous means you’re winning and that the threat of lawsuits is not serious. It’s the opposite. The more ludicrous the lawsuit, the worse the problem actually is. Violence is the threat. Power is the goal. Everything else is just the means. Even the ends are means.

Ludicrous isn’t the end of the thing — ludicrous is the thing.

I have some sympathy for people who can’t wrap their head around this mechanism. It requires some weird thinking to understand any of this. It’s hard to understand a ludicrous failure as being anything other than a ludicrous failure. And I’ve heard plenty of people who seem to understand this, go straight back to their comforting view of prevailing reason when they’re confronted with the new ludicrous failure. “Here it is,” they say. “Can’t possibly survive this one.” They can do that forever. Every single step of the way.

But reason will not prevail. Not by itself, at least.

It’s all just one ludicrous failure after another. Bigger failures. More ludicrous failures. More violent and ludicrous failures. The ludicrous failure of The Beer Hall Putsch becomes the ludicrous failure of Stalingrad and the ludicrous failure of Stalingrad becomes Auschwitz. Last week, let alone last year, starts to look quaint. That’s how this works. The Capitol Breach is not an end nor is it a beginning. It’s just another step along the road. Another opportunity to stop.

So was Trump’s birtherism.

So was Abu Gharib.

I would very much like America to stop. I don’t think it will. For one thing, a massive proportion of the population actually likes this shit. Much more of the population is willing to collaborate with it. Too many think a knitted pink hat is resistance. And those who are fighting are fighting hard but are basically locked out of institutional strength. They’re a frontline who keeps getting stabbed in the back. In the name of “healing.” Of all things.

I’m not saying give up. I’m rather fond of lost causes. Hell, I keep a St. Jude coin in my wallet. But one has to understand how basic the work that needs to be done is. It’s boring shit. You have to talk to your co-workers and figure out when you’re going to walk out. The fight has shrank to the very bottom – to the smallest scales. Friends and family. There’s not really any time to convert, you have to mobilize and organize those who already know. That’s hard enough. And it starts with the people around you. Not on the fucking Internet. At your fucking job. Democracy starts there. It ain’t great. But that’s where the fight is.

And the fight can still be won. But it has to be fought.

a minute off

I never feel stress until I stop feeling it. While I feel it, I don’t. Even when I was a server, I could not tell if I was stressed without looking at the quality of my rollups. If they’d gone to shit, I’d know that I needed to take a breath. And I don’t even know if this means that I handle stress really well or if I handle it really badly. I don’t know if retaining the ability to function, maybe even functioning better, while experiencing the odd complete breakdown and scratching myself until I bleed in my sleep is a good way of handling stress or a bad way of handling stress. All I know it that I handle stress. And that I never really feel stress until I stop feeling it. Yesterday, I stopped feeling some stress. Yesterday, I feel some relief.

It feels fucking good.

I tend to be a bit bleak a lot of the time and this, of course, will not change. But this doesn’t make me immune to happiness. In fact, I like happiness. I just believe that happiness is rare and precious. As such, you should enjoy happiness when you get it. It won’t last forever. Happiness is probably against your better judgement. But if you feel happy, fucking feel it. Happiness, like love, is irrational. That’s part of it’s fun. I like happiness and love and fun. I just hate forcing them. Forcing them makes me miserable.

There’s very little need to force the happiness I feel today. I am well aware that America’s problems have not even begun to be solved. But they are getting worse slower. That’s enough for the moment. It’s a lot better than what we’ve had for some time. And it will make some of the work a lot easier. If you don’t think so, you should try sitting across a negotiation table with your bosses overseen by Trump’s Labor Department some time. It’ll be easier.

The one thing that is stressing me out, a stress I can feel, is all this talk from the Democratic leadership about forgiveness and healing. The whole let bygones be bygones thing. I am not ready for that. I will never be ready for that. I want justice to be served. And a lot of it.

Hell, if it was up to me, we’d be shaving these motherfuckers in the street and branding MAGA into their scalps. Luckily, it’s not up to me. Cooler heads should prevail.

But, I do honestly think the best thing for the country is not for Trump to go quietly. I want him dragged off the White House toilet, kicking and screaming with his dirty underwear around his ankles. I want the misguided and destructive project of rehabilitating him –a project already begun, by the way– to meet its ignoble end in a humiliating and pathetic spectacle — a tantrum that gives those who would forgive him no choice but to finally –after all this death and hate and poison– to FINALLY treat him like the criminal lout he is. He cannot be allowed to pivot to respectability by something as fucking basic and meaningless as reading a concession speech off a teleprompter. Not after what he did. It is not enough.

He belongs in prison. That has not changed.

His enablers, cronies and partners belong in prison. That has not changed.

Putting them on trial is not opposed to healing. Justice is fundamental to healing. You cannot move to forgiveness without there first being a reckoning and an election is just the very start of that reckoning. There needs to be consequences. If various victims of his want, personally, to grant Trump forgiveness, that is their personal business. But the rest of it is for the courts, the law, and the nation to decide. Their feelings are not on trial. His actions must be. My vote for Biden was not a vote to forgive Donald Trump. It was not a vote to cooperate with Republicans. It was, yes, a vote to begin healing. But healing can only start with justice.

Everyone is either under the law or no one is. We are either a nation of laws or we are not. That’s the decision that now has to be made. And it has to be made correctly.

The right lessons must be learned. One of them is that all these institutions proved unable to stop a figure as trifling and ridiculous as Donald Fucking Trump. They were not up to it. The people, even with the paltry organizing of elections, stopped him. Their voice, diluted as it was, followed by large public parties did more to put an end to his shit than any of the other checks and balances. The lesson here is not that the system worked. The lesson is that the system failed. And the system failed while being tested by one of the biggest dopes on Earth. A common cold does not kill a healthy patient. The system must be fixed.

We cannot afford to find ourselves back in this spot again.

But today? Today, I’m just going to feel good.

We’ve all earned a minute off.

hypnoburn

I haven’t watched this much CNN in a long while. Maybe never.

It’s pretty easy to see why. We’re about ten thousand days into this election and I’m yet to see any substantive discussion of policy, what this ongoing uncertainty means to either foreign or domestic policy, or actually any news at all that isn’t The American Election. The coverage mainly consists of some guy tapping a screen, reading numbers, and saying things like “it’s not politics, it’s just math.”

I suppose counting is math. But when those counts get translated into a political result, particularly through the garbed google-translate of The Electoral College- it’s definitely politics.

I also can’t stand the backslapping. America is so fucking proud that its counting votes. Just totally thrilled with itself. Congratulating itself on its patience. But counting votes is to democracy what counting is to math. It’s the most basic shit you can do. And America is doing a horrible job of it. Like, the election has been scheduled for years. A lot of those mail-in ballots should have been counted already. As is, this is all a bit like someone showing up to work drunk and covered in blood and bragging that they were on time.

Meanwhile, they’re twenty minutes late.

There’s something performative about the whole counting thing. And the fucked up thing is that this performance might even be necessary. Maybe we’re at a point when people actually need to be repeatedly reminded for days on end that votes must be counted in a democracy. Depressing to think about that. That can’t be good news. Some shit just needs to be taken for granted. Just so you can do other things.

For my part, I tend to believe that the cogs and wheels of democracy have to run fast and smooth. It has to be like Cesar’s wife – not just innocent but above suspicion. The process should only be noticed when it goes wrong and it being noticed is a pretty good sign that it has gone wrong. Democracy delayed might be democracy denied. The American democracy is broken. It shouldn’t be so hard to vote and counting should never take this long. It shouldn’t even be counted this way. Just elect the president based on the popular vote. There’s already a congress and a senate, there’s no need for an electoral college. But the system is the system. It’s a bullshit system.

For a country allegedly based on the idea that bullshit systems can and should be changed, America sure finds change pretty fucking impossible. Most the time, the discourse doesn’t even want to talk about such “unrealistic” ideas. Pragmatism is too often just avoiding the issue. Social services need to be funded, the cops and the army need to be defunded, guns should be banned, healthcare universal, and the electoral college thrown out. Trump belongs in prison, ICE has to be abolished, and a lot of its employees charged. The whole shit needs a major overhaul.

None of that is impossible.

A lot of it is even pretty fucking popular.

But I would not like to give the impression that I’m sitting around transfixed by the hypnotic spectacle of American collapse. I’m not. CNN is just the background noise while I go about my day. 전 숙제해요. Some part of me even wonders if the country is collapsing, in part, because it makes for better TV. Maybe people just like the show.

Hard to blame them. It’s made counting watchable. Really added some drama to the old 1, 2, 3, 4, 5, 6, 7, 8 . . .

That’s probably a lot of Trump’s appeal. To both the media and the public. He has all the drama of a house on fire. If you can just forget that the house is full of screaming people or convince yourself that they need to burn, he’s solid entertainment. Trump is our national wickerman.

But bullshit like this election? It’s the wood he’s built out of. Just count the votes. And count faster! Fuck’s sake, it’s just counting!

What a mess tho.

thousand yards

A lot of people are pretty stressed today. I don’t blame them but I’m not really one of them. My mood is more thousand yard stare. Is there an emoji for that? A react?

Electoral politics are probably the politics I find least interesting. But I do have a few thoughts and feelings on this still ongoing election. None of them are stress. Not really.

Firstly, I’m disappointed. I wanted a total Biden landslide. And it’s not because I love Joe Biden. Like, I voted for him, but I have serious doubts about him. Not one of those doubts involves him being worse or even the same as Trump. Biden is insufficient. That’s pretty damn different from being a homicidal maniac. I’ll take insufficient. But, you can’t expect me to be happy about insufficient either. I’ll eat my broccoli. Don’t expect a hand-job.

Whatever my feelings on Biden, I would have very much liked to see a complete rout of Trump. That seemed out the window the moment Florida was lost. It’s all too close.

There’s tens of millions of Americans –almost half of the voting public– who woke up, went out, lined up, filled out papers, just to rehire Trump. Like, being indifferent to Trump is fucked up enough. But these are people, millions of people, who went out of their way to vote for him. They took the time. That’s astounding without being surprising. Just how bad of a job do you need to do before these motherfuckers just shrug and stay home?

Like, honestly, just how big of a fuck-up does a republican president have to be?

I mean, Jesus, the republican party should be demolished right now. You should be seeing some new right wing party showing up to take their place. And that whole country should be as resoundingly and quickly blue as Cali.

It sure is not!

This outcome, much like America’s basic inability to count votes or even hold fair and free elections and the gormless never-ending bend-over-backwards appeasement of fascism by the democrats, stuns and disappoints me. But in a very normal sort of way.

A lot of people find their minds turning to Bush versus Gore. I keep thinking of Bush versus Kerry. At that time, Bush had presided over an already disastrous and totally unnecessary war, seen the largest terrorist attack in history happen on his watch, attacked civil liberties, had Abu Gharib under his belt, and done a bunch of shit that I’ve probably forgotten. More than enough to get someone voted out in a sane world and brought up on war crimes charges in a just one. Yet he was reelected. This is the era of the great feeling of unity that many Americans now look back on with nostalgia. A unity that lead straight to mass murder.

I have the same feeling now that I had then. That same feeling of: Just how fucking thick are these people? How racist, callous and full of hate? Just how fucked up is this huge swath of the American public? The answer: Very. Very fucked up. So very, very fucked up.

It’s terrible but stressful? It’s been stressful for years. It’s chronic. Room temperature stress.

It’s just not the sort of thing that any one election can fix.

And, if you view the election as more of a measure of where a country is, this outcome isn’t really providing any new data. It’s a deeply divided nation. America is fucked up. It’s an incredibly racist and angry country. The shit is rotten right to the bones. About half of the voting public actually took time out of their day to vote FOR Trump. And they would vote for worse if they only had the chance. He’s just the worst idea they have for now. They’re out there, scrounging around for even worse ideas. They’ll find them too. Bank on that.

Whatever the outcome of any election, the presence and power of these dopes is going to be an ongoing and destructive problem. Their fascistic credulity is a cancer. It’s not getting better. It’s getting worse. Every single day, it’s getting worse. They’re not fading away.

This basic unwillingness to learn is The Fucking Undoing. You have to learn. It’s fundamental. And this unwillingness isn’t limited to these goofs. Just watching the results come on CNN, it’s absolutely amazing just how similar the coverage is to the last election. It’s all still covered like a sporting event. That’s just not the way to do it.

We still don’t know how this mess will play out in the next few weeks. So far, we’re looking at, if not the worst case scenario, then a still very bad case scenario. It’s also an almost totally predicted scenario. Indeed, watching Trump lurch onto the stage in the dead of the night to declare victory, and thinking about where the manufactured controversies are emerging, I was surprised by the groundwork he’s laid for this most recent assault on democracy. It’s almost surgical. A stunning amount of pre-meditation. We all see him coming. No surprises. This talking bag of piss knows what he’s doing.

Even if this was off-the-cuff, we’d still be left with a bad situation. A close election in a country that has a really hard time throwing elections, and a self-proclaimed president with the backing of violent paramilitaries. Seeing that wall around The White House tells me everything I need to know about Trump’s intentions. A person who plans on moving out doesn’t build a giant wall. A giant wall is a thing you build to keep people from coming in. As far as omens go, it’s not great. This could all get very ugly. It already is too ugly. It’s already too fucked up. It has been for a very long time. An exhausting length of time.

The election could turn into lawyer-ball. It probably will. That may favor the republicans but the more states Biden is able to bag, the harder of a time they’ll have of it. Of course, nothing would surprise me on that front. Given the complete failure of institutions to contain Trump, I would not place much faith in the courts or any other institution or procedure to stop him now. He might also just fuck off in the dead of the night to hide out in some weird country. I doubt it but it wouldn’t surprise me. Not much would.

But these sorts of projections? I just don’t know. And smarter people than me are probably better positioned to worry about all of this than I am. I’m sure that there’s an abundance of articles discussing the technicalities of these matters. I’m not sure any of that will matter. Far as I know, the electoral college isn’t even obligated to listen to the voters. And no one seems to know who any of these fuckers are, so, that’s still a thing that could go wrong . . .

Overall, it seems to me that nothing has much changed. America has had a dictator for four years. What it hasn’t had, yet, is a serious attempt to remove him from office. And getting a guy like this out will require a serious attempt. It needs people in the street and off the job. I doubt we’ll even see enough of that. I’m hoping to be surprised. There needs to be lines set.

One of them was crossed last night. When Trump declared victory and said he did not respect the results of the election before those results were even in, he crossed a line. That statement alone should have put a general strike on the table. That should have hit the table when he first started saying these things and probably before that. This should all be further along than it is. People have had four years to prepare. More time to prepare for this specific situation in the last few weeks. I hope that preparation wasn’t just based on winning an election or turning the shit over to the courts and lawyers. Some things need to happen on the ground and in the streets. People need to be ready to shut the country down.

The results, their very closeness and the basic intransigence of Trump and his supporters, doesn’t give me a lot of hope for that sort of action. But, hope or not, there does come a time, and we may well be there, we have probably been there for a while, when going about life as normal is collaboration with the regime. It should be viewed as such.

It’s a mess right now. But, no matter what happens, I think we all knew that we weren’t going to get through Donald Fucking Trump with things looking better than they did when he started. So, yeah, I’m pissed off, disappointed, disgusted, and irate.

But stressed? Not so much.