Ditch Trump, vote Bernie Sanders

It is hard to be a Trump supporter these days.

In the beginning, sure, voting for Trump seemed to make a lot of sense. Life had been tough for the last several years leading up to the 2016 election, and neither the incompetent Democrats nor your beloved Republican Party had really done anything to help you. So what were you supposed to do? A change was necessary. You needed an outsider. A bad boy. A scrappy underdog who wouldn’t be cowed by all the corrupt billionaires that have spent the last few decades buying the loyalty of our politicians – to the point that the politicians now only protect the interests of those self-same billionaires, corporate lobbyists, and special interest mutli-mega-pacs, while the rest of us normal citizens are left forgotten and ignored. So who better to change up the stagnant political landscape, than another corrupt billionaire? When Trump was elected president, you were no longer ignored and forgotten. Oh no, your message was heard, loud and clear across the world! Greedy, self-serving, uncompassionate, elite, out-of-touch, corrupt politicians may have been ruining this country, but now you had a greedy, self-serving, uncompassionate, elite, out-of-touch, corrupt politician of your very own, so naturally the country was saved. Things would finally be done differently. And oh boy have things been done differently.

For a while, that was enough. The establishment had been shaken, and business as usual was no longer possible. You considered that an undeniable win, even if it was never very clear exactly what Mr. Trump would do to benefit you specifically.

But then, concerns began to surface.

Sure, it’s not completely essential to have an educated, articulate President who speaks in a calm, collected, well-informed manner. But you’ve surely become  at least somewhat uncomfortable with our elected leader’s habit of speaking in rambling, incoherent, coked-out diatribes, and cranking out crackpot tweets riddled with spelling errors and gross inaccuracies while sitting on the shitter at 2am.

And no, of course the President doesn’t need to be kind all of the time, but you couldn’t help but think that making fun of a war hero, or a physically disabled reporter, or bullying a mentally disabled child might not be an appropriate way for the most powerful man in the world to act.

And sure, it’s hard to reconcile the traditional family values your preferred party so loudly promotes with the ugly reality of a misogynistic lecher who has had multiple divorces, received multiple accusations of predatory sexual behavior, and paid hush money to hide an extra-marital affair with a porn star while his wife was pregnant with his child, but nobody is perfect after all.

But then there was also that thing where he stole from and had to pay a $2 million dollar fine to 8 different charities? That definitely was not cool.

And also that thing where he created a fake Real Estate University, and had to pay a $25 million dollar lawsuit to victims of his sham.

Plus, it’s not really cool how he has already spent over 300 years worth of presidential salary playing golf at his Florida resort, where all the rooms he is renting out to his various staff and security are being charged at full price, rooms which are being paid for by the American taxpayer, and profits from which are funneling directly into his own pocket.

Additionally, it is frustrating how he claimed he would “drain the swamp,” but all the career politicians are still firmly entrenched in their cushy elected roles, and the only people being fired, or quitting, and oftentimes going on to be tried and convicted of crimes to an alarming degree, seem to be people he hired to begin with.

Oh, and also, he was impeached. Sure, he was acquitted in his senate trial, but you’re understandably concerned with the fact that the judge of the trial admitted that he would not be impartial before the trial even began, and they blocked all the witnesses from testifying before the senate, and hid evidence, and took almost no time to deliberate before voting exclusively along party lines, except for one devout Republican who considered his oath before God to tell the truth to be more important than the orders he received from his political party to lie, and then, as soon as President Trump was acquitted he illegally retaliated by firing all of the witnesses and openly admitted to doing the very thing he was on trial for, almost as if to gloat about his invulnerability, like a sociopathic serial killer.

So yes, it must be hard to be a Trump supporter these days. You wanted a loose cannon to shake things up on Capital hill, and you got it, but the problem with a loose cannon is it tends to cause destruction all over the place, not just where you’ve pointed it.

There comes a point where it’s just too exhausting to keep up your support for a man that ticks all the boxes necessary to be the villain of a 1980’s coming-of-age teen movie. Privileged Country club jock? Check. Documented coward? Check. Irredeemable bully to anybody weaker or poorer? Check. Problematic views and actions towards women? Check. More concerned with looking good and maintaining his social standing than doing what is right, just, or fair? Definitely check.

So what is a frustrated Trump supporter to do? You’re still disgusted with the established political system. You still want to root for an outsider. A bad boy. A scrappy underdog who won’t be cowed  by all the corrupt billionaires and their purchased politicians. Luckily, there is another option! You can still stick it to the man, without continuing to support a cruel and deranged lunatic constantly mired in scandal.

I submit to you: Bernie Sanders.

I know your initial knee-jerk reaction is OH NO, HE’S A SOCIALIST, and worse he’s a DEMOCRAT, but allow me to explain. First, technically he’s an independent, who just happens to be campaigning in the Democratic primaries. Second, I know that socialism is a dirty word, but we already have plenty of socialist programs in the United States, like Social Security, Medicare, SNAP food stamps and other social welfare programs, and Labor Unions whose efforts earned us the 40 hour work week, and overtime pay, and minimum wage. Without them we’d likely still all be slinging pig shit barefoot in a tannery for 16 hours a day, seven days a week, for six cents an hour and a diet Mr. Pibb. It’s no coincidence that America’s economy was doing the best, and America’s middle class was at it’s strongest when Labor Unions were also at their strongest. And what’s wrong with social welfare nets? Do you really hate the poorest and most vulnerable among us so much that you’d rather not pay the $80 per year that Welfare costs? Surely you agree that $80 is a low price to pay to know that an innocent child might not starve to death because their family is going through a tough situation. Plus I’m sure you’re not going to complain about receiving those Social Security checks and Medicare benefits you collect upon retirement. Besides, we already pay tax-payer funded subsidies to enormously wealthy corporations as bailouts, so why is it okay to use socialist policies on the rich and powerful, but not us regular folk? Maybe a certain limited level of democratic socialism isn’t such a terrible fate after all. Besides, Bernie Sanders is not even exactly a socialist in the traditional sense of the word, he’s not interested in seizing the means of production and abolishing private ownership. He simply wants to adopt some socialist programs that other capitalist countries have successfully implemented, in order to combat inequality and extreme poverty in the United States.

LET ME REITERATE. THE UNITED STATES WILL NEVER BE A SOCIALIST COUNTRY. True authoritarian socialism has never worked, and will never work. Even success stories for full Democratic Socialism are few and far between. The United States is the poster child for democracy and capitalism. We are rich and we are powerful, in no small part due to our successful capitalist innovation and drive. That does not mean that there is not vast room for improvement in the way we support and protect our most vulnerable classes.

SO I’LL SAY IT AGAIN. THE UNITED STATES WILL NEVER BE A SOCIALIST COUNTRY. PURE SOCIALISM DOES NOT WORK. WHAT DOES WORK HOWEVER, ARE ADOPTING SOCIALIST POLICIES INTO A DEMOCRATIC CAPITALIST SOCIETY TO HELP PROTECT THE WORKING CLASS.

This DOES WORK. Countries that have successfully adopted varying levels of socialist policies include Bolivia (which has drastically cut extreme poverty and has the highest GDP growth rate in South America), Norway, Sweden, Finland, Denmark, Great Britain, Canada, the Netherlands, Spain, Ireland, Belgium, Switzerland, Australia, Japan, and New Zealand.

When you think about failed socialist states, and poverty stricken hellholes, do any of those countries come to mind? No they do not. All of those beautiful countries, countries whose citizens consistently rank happier than citizens from the United States, succeed in no small part due to the robust social welfare systems they have in place that promote equality and protect their citizens when things go wrong.

So let me repeat yet again – Bernie is not in any way going to remove the ownership of businesses and properties from private hands. What he will do, is continue to fight for the rights of the common working man. You know, men like all of us. And you’ve got to give the old bastard his due, he’s been in this fight his entire life. He’s dedicated his entire career to civil service on behalf of the American people. If that’s not enough to convince you to vote for Bernie, just wait, there’s more!

Look, I know you HATE Democrats. You probably post snappy political memes on Facebook all day that claim Democrats are Stupid, and Un-American, and Lazy, and Greedy, and Brown. But…I’m a Democrat. For those of you who know me personally, is that what you really think of me? When you think of someone who is stupid, or un-American, or lazy, or greedy, or brown, is it really me that pops into your head?  I’m going to go out on a limb and guess that it isn’t. That would be like me thinking you are the stereotypical villainous Republican – Racist, Sexist, Homophobic, Hateful, Cruel, Hypocritical, Uneducated, Misinformed, Greedy, and unempathetic. But here’s the thing, you’re my friends and I know you aren’t those things, even if that’s what the Facebook memes say. So maybe, just maybe, Democrats aren’t the cartoonish super-villains you seem to think they are either.

Even if you can’t be convinced otherwise, and you’re sure that all Democrats, including me, are evil traitors, you should still consider voting for Bernie Sanders, because you see, the Do Nothing Democrats hate him too. You know the old saying – the enemy of my enemy is my friend. The Establishment Democrats, just like the Establishment Republicans, are all bought and paid for by those rascally billionaires, corporations, and pacs. Except for Bernie. Bernie Sanders, unlike the mainstream Democrats, and unlike Mr. Trump, refuses to accept money from billionaires and special interest groups, and is running his entire grassroots campaign entirely off of small donations from regular American citizens. That means if he gets elected, he’ll continue to fight for our best interests because he won’t have been bribed to act otherwise. Because of this, the DNC is really scrambling to stomp out his message, but despite their best efforts, his support keeps growing and growing. So while the DNC would love to see one of their billionaire-butt-licking puppet stooges like Buttigieg, Warren, or Biden take the reins, and their fake news network spin doctors are doing their best to suppress or explain away Sanders’ popularity, Bernie’s star keeps rising because he, like Trump, represents the normal, real American people’s frustration with the current corrupted system. In most cases, the narrative manipulation by the fake news media isn’t even subtle, it’s blatantly obvious, like this recent article with the headline AI picks Buttigieg ‘the candidate to beat Trump’, where if you actually look past the headline at the actual forecast, Buttigieg is actually in a distant second place with 17.9 percent, while Bernie wins handily with 24.9 percent. Saying the AI picked Buttigieg is a blatant lie.

The #Bernieblackout is real folks, here’s another example of mainstream media simply ignoring Bernie’s surging popularity, and refusing to mention his name even though he won the New Hampshire primary:

berniefirst

As a Trump supporter, you know all about the frustrating spin created by the fake news media. So I’m sure you can empathize with Bernie Sanders and his supporters, who are getting shut out and silenced, bigly. (Be careful though, the left leaning news outlets are not alone in spreading misinformation and fake news. In fact, a rigorous study conducted by Fairleigh University found that watching Fox news actually made you less informed than watching No News At All. So if you’re relying exclusively on Fox for your news…don’t. It turns out it’s the fakest news of all.)

Beyond the cathartic knowledge that voting for Bernie Sanders will be thumbing your nose at the DNC elites and the fake news media, there are actual, tangible benefits to supporting our favorite grumpy old Jew from Vermont.

Let’s talk about the economy. Trump is the first to toot his own horn when it comes to, well, anything, but especially the “economy”, specifically how well the stock market is doing, and how low the unemployment rate is. But what does that really mean for us normal people? The truth is, it doesn’t mean much. A booming stock market benefits…people with stocks, and that for the most part means wealthy people. So while the stock market soars, and the rich get richer, those of us who need to work for a paycheck, and then spend our paychecks on things like food and shelter, and can’t afford to invest heavily, are left falling further and further behind. Without regulation, a capitalist system is all about maximizing profit. This usually comes at the expense of us normal wage earners. Don’t forget, slavery is capitalist. Child-labor is capitalist. Unchecked Capitalism can be just as dangerous as unchecked communism, or fascism, or socialism. Always remember, while business owners enjoy increased dividends on their stock options, their increased profits oftentimes actually come from demanding more and more from their workers, and giving them less and less. In a perfect system, companies would provide great benefits and pay strong wages to their workers, since all their profit is built off of the efforts of their work force, and they want to take care of their people. In the real world however, what is actually happening is unmitigated greed is causing companies to pay their workers less than a living wage, while demanding ever increasing levels of productivity, while those at the top get richer and richer in a single-minded hunger for more profits.

US-household-income-by-income-level-2017

Look at this census data. It shows how income has remained stagnant for all levels of earners for over fifty years, except the rich. They’re doing just fine. Thanks to President Trump’s tax breaks for the rich, the very people who need the tax breaks the least are making even more money than ever before, while those of us who would benefit the most from a break are once again forgotten, so not only has our national debt skyrocketed, but the income inequality level has grown ever wider.

Take the company I work for, for example. It’s a great company, and I like working there. It’s also a fairly big company, with 16,400 employees. Last year, the top-five highest paid members of the board of directors made over 34,000,000 dollars. Between the five of them, they could have given an additional $2,000 to every single one of their sixteen thousand four hundred employees, and still walked away with an entirely respectable wage of $240,000 each, more than enough to support a family in comfort and style. These top five board members did not express their gratitude toward their hard working employees with $2000 bonus checks however. Instead, they notified us that they won’t be giving out raises this year, and we might be in danger of downsizing to cut expenses. They made 34 million dollars, could stop working tomorrow and still live their entire remaining lives in obscene luxury, and they’re threatening to lay off people barely making 34 thousand dollars a year. And this is from a great company that for the most part takes care of its workers, not even a dystopian hellhole like Walmart or Amazon where the lowest earners rely on government welfare to survive while their owners are literally the richest human beings that have ever existed throughout all time. But hey, at least the stock market is up, right?

Added on top of this gross income inequality, we have skyrocketing costs of living. Trump is so very proud of the low unemployment rate, and even ignoring the fact that the economy was already rebounding strongly long before he ever entered office, and he personally isn’t responsible for the low unemployment numbers at all, the sad fact of the matter is that being employed does not mean you aren’t living in poverty. Take a look at this graphic –

MSPUS

From the 1960s to today, you can see the steady climb in median home price in the United States, a reasonable indicator for overall cost of living. Now remember that previous graphic I posted earlier, that shows income remaining steady and in some places going down from the 1960s until today? Yeah, you can see the issue. Everything is getting more and more expensive, but we are not getting paid more. So what gives?

Bernie Sanders has made it a campaign promise to raise the minimum wage to $15 an hour. The current federal minimum wage is $7.25 an hour. In 1965 it was $1.25, or $10.30 in today equivalent dollars. So from 1965 until now the minimum wage has actually gone down, while cost of living has, as can clearly be seen, gone up, up, up. During that time, GDP, profits, and income for the top few percent has also gone up, up, up, so it’s not like the money isn’t there to support a higher minimum wage, it’s just ending up in fewer and fewer pockets, where it does the least good.

Bernie believes, and I wholeheartedly agree, that if you work full time, you should be able to support yourself. The minimum wage should actually reflect the lowest amount needed to legitimately survive. If you’re getting paid less than that, your employer is saying that the value of your labor is so low, that you don’t even deserve to live. That is wrong. If your argument against raising the minimum wage is that you currently make $15 an hour doing something higher skilled than what traditional minimum wage employment looks like…you’re an idiot. Or cruel. Instead of saying, hey, I deserve to be compensated higher for my skilled labor, which is true, you do, you’re saying hey, I don’t care if someone else’s income won’t allow them to live a dignified, successful life, as long as I’m doing better than them, which is wrong. Here’s the thing! You BOTH deserve to be compensated higher for your labor. If minimum wage is $15/hr, and you currently make $15/hr doing some sort of highly skilled job, YOUR INCOME WILL BE RAISED HIGHER TOO. Do you know why? Because you’ll have leverage. If you can make the same income doing something easier, then if your employer doesn’t raise your wage to an appropriate level, you can just leave. Go do the easier job for the same amount of money! You won’t be any worse off, and your employer will still have to fill that harder, more skilled position, something they won’t be able to do without paying at the higher rate it deserves. Since that is the case, it makes financial sense for them to keep you, a trained, proven employee, and pay you that higher rate you’ve earned. Once we have that freedom to leave and still make a living if we are not compensated fairly at our skilled job, we suddenly have the bargaining power again, and we will be able to start closing the ever expanding income inequality gap. Remember, the money is there. Typical CEO compensation has grown 940% since 1978, while typical worker compensation has only grown 12%. Why is their labor so much more valuable than ours? If a millionaire gets an extra million dollars,  or a billionaire gets an extra billion dollars, does it really improve their quality of life? No, it does not. It’s just numbers on a ledger at that point. It’s doesn’t really add to the economy. But for someone making $30,000, a few extra thousand dollars a year would absolutely be life changing. That might mean the difference between renting and buying a home. It might mean the difference between taking the bus or buying a car. It might mean the difference between remaining child-free or having a child. What do you think is better for the economy? Hundreds of thousands of people in a resurgent middle class building houses and buying cars and having children, or a few wealthy billionaires hoarding more cash away in some Cayman Island tax haven account?

An increased minimum wage isn’t the only thing that would benefit us normal struggling folk. Bernie Sanders is dedicated to not only increasing our income, but also reducing our expenses. Like I mentioned before, cost of living has gone up steadily since the 1960s, while income has remained steady. In almost no way is that more apparent than the increased costs of education.

market-watch-chart

 

The above chart paints a stark picture of the problem. College just keeps getting more and more expensive, while we keep getting less and less capable of paying for it. Bernie Sanders is committed to changing the way our public college and universities do business. A change is needed, because unfortunately higher education is already out of reach for most normal people, at a time when the changing and ever more competitive job market makes those higher education degrees all the more necessary. Gone are the days when a blue collar laborer can hop onto an assembly line at a manufacturing plant and make a comfortable living. Skilled blue collar jobs can’t be the answer for everybody either. Not everybody can go to a trade school and get a high paying job as a welder, or plumber, or electrician. There simply aren’t enough of those jobs available. Most of the jobs which are available are “degree preferred” or “degree required,” even if they’re bullshit, low-paying, basically menial jobs that don’t really even require a degree in practice, since that’s just the way the job market is these days, so most of us have to get college educations in order to support ourselves. So before you make fun of the young people who support Bernie’s student loan forgiveness idea, try to walk a mile in their shoes. I’ll give you an example. It’s me. I’m the example.

I went to a modest public State University, worked hard for four years, and got a useful bachelors degree which eventually helped me find the decent job I have today. I do not have student loans. The only reason I was able to do that was because my father was killed violently while working, and I received compensation to pay for school. My wife, the mighty Wife Kay, also went to that same modest public State University, and received her bachelors degree, and actually makes more than me at her current job. Unfortunately, since she did not have the good fortune of having a parent die messily, and since her inconveniently still alive parents were not in a place financially where they could gift her tens of thousands of dollars, she had to take out student loans to pay for her education. We graduated 12 years ago. She is still paying off those loans, and the interest is so high that most of the principle remains untouched. So for well over a decade, she has been working hard, usually at multiple jobs, over 60 hours a week, and has been paying enough money every single month to cover the mortgage for a decent home toward these loans, and we still have tens of thousands of dollars remaining in debt. That is disgusting. She is the exact opposite of lazy or greedy, and she’s been nearly drowning for over 12 years. Think about if I had loans too. Our lives would be completely different. We would never have been able to purchase our house. We wouldn’t even be close to thinking about having children. We’d be in a position where we’d just be making interest payments on the costs incurred for a pair of bachelor degrees at a modest public university from now until the end of time, and our lives would never really get anywhere. Now imagine if neither of us had student loans. Our lives would be completely different again, this time for the better. We could have bought our house ten years earlier, instead of renting with multiple roommates into our thirties. We could have significant amounts of money saved toward retirement. We could have pumped money into the economy with various additional purchases. We could have had children already. So think about that reality the next time you hear about ideas like Student loan forgiveness. Instead of immediately assuming young people are just lazy and greedy and don’t want to pay their debts, recognize that their lives are actually being ruined, and they sincerely need help. People used to be able to work part time 4 hours a day at minimum wage and pay cash for public college. Now you’d need to work over 20 hours a day, seven days a week, 365 days a year at minimum wage to pay cash for public college. Private colleges are even more expensive. It’s simply impossible to work your way through school without the type of high paying job you can’t expect to obtain without already having degree, so that means for those of us without rich parents, loans have become essential, because the current employment landscape makes college degrees essential. So for the sake of our future students, something needs to change regarding the cost of higher education, and for those recent students whose lives are literally being ruined by their educational loan debt, student loan forgiveness may, without hyperbole, be the only chance they have to ever have a successful, comfortable life where they can pump their income back into the economy, and create growth, instead of just losing it all making interest payments on insurmountable debt.

The third, and to me, the most important thing Bernie Sanders is focused on, is health care. Single-payer healthcare. Universal healthcare. Nationalized medicine. Socialized medicine. Medicare for all. Whatever you want to call it, it, more than anything else, is absolutely essential right now. The truth of the matter is that America’s healthcare system is so broken, that people are dying from preventable illnesses and fixable injuries simply because they can’t afford to fix them, even though we live in the richest, most prosperous, most powerful nation that has ever existed. If you know me, or if you follow this website, you know that one of my closest friends is currently fighting stage IV colon cancer, so this shit is personal for me. She is a young, hard working, otherwise healthy woman, with “good” health insurance, and her treatments are still costing her tens of thousands of dollars out of pocket. Not only does she have to focus on not dying from the cancer, she also has to focus on figuring out if she’ll still have a job after her treatment is complete, and how to pay her bills while she is in treatment. Our current system is barbaric, and most upsettingly, it’s not even necessary. Universal healthcare isn’t some crackpot’s pipe dream. Out of 34 developed nations, 33 have figured it out. The USA is the only one still languishing in the dark ages of for profit medicine. I know most people’s arguments against socialized healthcare, or really any social programs, is cost. They don’t want to pay an extra six cents a year so that tiny Tim Cratchit can get a new crutch and some cough syrup, and live to see another Christmas. But the cost projections pretty definitively show that Medicare for all would actually cost us LESS. Right now we all pay out of pocket for care, or for various private, for profit health insurances. If we had Medicare for all, some more money would be taken out of our paychecks for taxes, yes, BUT we would no longer pay all the money that is taken out of our paychecks for our current health insurance, so the net amount paid out would actually be less. On top of that, a single payer system would actually make the cost of medicine go down EXPONENTIALLY. Our current system is the wild west, an uncontrolled gold rush of profiteering and extortion. Take insulin for example. It’s creator sold the patent for $1, because it was meant to help people. It costs about $5 to create a vial of this live-saving and entirely necessary medication. In the USA, even though it only costs $5 to make, an insulin vial costs us over $500 to receive. That’s a profit margin of nearly 10,000%. That is unquestionably criminal. And it’s not just insulin, these types of price gouging activities are rampant throughout the entire healthcare industry, even for something as simple as say, a cough drop. A regular old cough drop, the type you can buy a bag of at any drug store, costs about $.03 retail. In a hospital, a single cough drop costs $10. Ten dollars for a cough drop. That’s an increase of over THIRTY THREE THOUSAND PERCENT. A single payer healthcare system, which would make the government the sole customer for these various drug manufacturers and healthcare companies helps reduce these criminally inflated healthcare prices by giving us bargaining power. If the government is your sole buyer, you can’t overcharge your one customer, because if you do, they’ll just take their business elsewhere, thus forcing prices to remain competitive.

Another argument people like to make against socialized healthcare is that it forces you to pay into healthcare, even if you do not personally use it, thus taking away your “freedom” to choose whether or not you would like to be covered. Besides being needlessly obtuse, because paying into such a system would likely actually save you money, I argue that you are mistaken. I think it would actually increase our freedom. In our current system, many people are trapped in horrible, underpaying, unfulfilling jobs that they hate, simply because they are afraid to lose their medical benefits. With Medicare For All, you would now have the freedom to leave that terrible job and find something better, because you have the security of knowing that you won’t lose access to healthcare. It will also give us the freedom from being ruined by medical debt. Freedom from bankruptcy and ruined lives just because you slip and break your leg on a patch of ice, or wake up one day with a tumor the size of a cantaloupe protruding from your forehead.

I believe that the cost of such a system would actually be less than healthcare is now. This is based on the fact that person for person, healthcare in the US actually costs about twice as much as it does in the rest of the developed world. If we were getting twice as good care, then maybe that would almost make sense, but we’re not. We’re actually getting worse care. So why are we fighting this?

I know that Republican rhetoric points to individual freedoms as being more important than lumbering government oversight, and I agree wholeheartedly. The problem is, we currently aren’t really even enjoying all that many individual freedoms. We’re instead being taken advantage of by a rigged economy designed to benefit the tiny top richest percent, while the great majority of us are forced to sell our labor for far less than it is worth, pay outrageous prices for the education essential to improve our lot in life, and risk losing it all to a criminally greedy healthcare system if even the slightest thing goes wrong. Social systems cost money, and if Mr. Sanders gets his way and gets all the various protections and coverages he desires, costs would be higher, but there is a relatively untapped resource of nearly immeasurable wealth being wasted by the super rich. It used to be that the richest among us would be taxed at about 70%, which is a large percentage of their income sure, but when your income is that high, the actual impact on your financial well-being is much less noticeable than a person with a normal income being taxed at 30%. Since the rich would be the least impacted by an increased tax rate, I have no problem with our government bumping their tax rate back up to a higher level. I say this even as I hope to one day become one of those rich people myself. If I’m obscenely wealthy and funds I’m not even using because I simply don’t need them are spent on feeding a starving child, or repairing crumbling infrastructure, or paying for a sick young woman’s cancer treatment, I’m okay with that.

President Trump is a very “Me” focused individual. Everything is about him. When things are going well, according to him it’s because of him. When things are going poorly, it’s everybody else’s fault. Mr. Trump’s tagline when he campaigned in 2016 was “I alone can fix America.” Really, Mr. Trump? We didn’t need a King in 1776, and we don’t need one now. You’re either vastly over-confident in your own abilities, or vastly under-estimating the quality of ours. America doesn’t need four more years of such a self-centered individual.

Appropriately, Bernie Sanders’ tagline is – “Not me. Us.”

The main stream media will do everything in its power to obfuscate and conceal Bernie Sanders’ message. So take some time, and look him up yourself. I think you might find what he has to say makes a lot of sense. If you were a Trump supporter, but you’re having second thoughts, I think Bernie might be your man. If you’re a Democrat already, multiple polls pretty clearly show that Bernie has the best change of beating Trump in the general election, so don’t let the DNC shoot themselves in the foot again by promoting another unpopular candidate over Bernie just because he’s not a corporate stooge who will blindly toe the party line.

Everybody, regardless of political affiliation should remember that all of our politicians are elected representatives. Their entire reason for existence is to represent US. If they’re not doing that, if they’re taking the role to gain wealth, power, and recognition for themselves, they’re shitting on everything their positions stand for. That includes whoever is in the presidency. That’s why I believe Bernie, with his long career dedicated to fighting for the common man, is our best choice for the next President of the United States.

FTB

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It puts the lotion on the skin, and then it hits the beach again

Last week Wife Kay and I celebrated our first anniversary as a married couple, and the week before that, we went on our honeymoon. Since the honeymoon happened before our anniversary, technically it wasn’t even belated. I’m not sure why anybody would want to hear about our honeymoon, since it, like almost every other honeymoon anyone has ever been on, mostly just involved drinking fruity cocktails and slime time, but obviously I’m going to tell you about it anyway.

Our trip started, naturally enough, with a last minute shopping spree. Wife Kay needed some travel essentials, like new luggage even though she already had luggage, and new clothes even though she already had clothes, and new jewelry even though she already had jewelry, and new travel-sized toiletries, even though she already had travel-sized toiletries. I’ve been wearing the same six outfits since I stopped growing my sophomore year of high-school, so I was all set for clothes, and I generally pack for my travels by fashioning a hobo bindle from a red handkerchief tied to the end of a stick, so all I splurged on was some sunscreen, and a tub of body powder to keep my gentleman plums minty fresh in the tropical heat.

That’s right, tropical heat. For our honeymoon we fled the cold, dead winter, and traveled to the mysterious and exotic Caribbean. Specifically, to the lovely paired islands of St. Kitts (and Nevis). If you’re not familiar with St. Kitts (and Nevis), you’re an idiot, because I’ve totally known about them for years and definitely didn’t just learn about them for the first time right when we booked our honeymoon. If you want the whole history of the islands, go ahead and look it up yourself, this is a humor blog written by a dumb guy, not a Wikipedia article.

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Our first flight, from Connecticut to Miami, Florida, was notable only for its turbulence. That, or the pilot was reenacting his favorite dogfight scenes from disc number three of the History Channel’s Dogfights: The Complete Series DVD Megaset. Our second flight, from Miami to St. Kitts (and Nevis), was equally turbulent, but we were distracted from both the constant jostling, creaking, and groaning of the aerial Pringles can we were strapped within, and the ominous wailing and prayers emanating from the cockpit, by the hilarious amount of dogs on board.  I counted at least fifteen fuzzy pals patrolling the economy cabin on our overcrowded flight.

I assumed that there were so many dogs on the plane because we were actually traveling to the macabre Island of Dr. Moreau, where we would all be surgically vivisected and turned into chimeric abominations; half-man, half-beast monstrosities doomed to live out our few remaining pain-filled days bowing to the capricious whims of a deranged madman. My seatmate informed me that it was actually because St. Kitts has a renowned veterinary college, and many of the international students who were returning from their winter break were traveling with their “service” animals on that flight. I will be honest, I’m pretty sure I was right, and they were wrong, because once we landed I never saw those people or those animals ever again, not a likely feat on an island approximately the size of a suburban backyard. I must also be honest, I didn’t realize that pets could travel in the cabin with their owners on airplanes now, so I felt bad for leaving Wife Kay in a crate in the cargo hold.

After what can only generously be called a landing, and more accurately be called a partially controlled crash onto the tarmac at the St. Kitts (and Nevis) airport, located just north of Basseterre, the capital city of St. Kitts (but not Nevis), Wife Kay and I were sweaty, less than gruntled, and more than ready for the short taxi ride to our accommodations for the week. The accommodations in question were a townhouse style villa right on the beach at the Marriot vacation resort, which dominates Frigate Bay, a touristy locale on the Atlantic side of the island. The villa was…exemplary. It had a lovely view of the ocean from the balcony, a full kitchen and laundry room, two large bedrooms, two full bathrooms, a normal sized shower, a “friends welcome” sized shower, and a “close friends welcome” sized jacuzzi tub. It took us longer to explore the villa, designate which bathroom would be the pooping bathroom, which bedroom would be the farting bedroom, and which bedroom we would actually stay in than it took to drive from the airport to the resort. Truthfully, the villa was better equipped and actually had more square footage than our entire house back in CT. It also cost more per night than our house’s monthly mortgage, but we were able to stay there for free because we are Instagram influencers with almost dozens of followers, and because I run this wildly popular blog site, which averages nearly a visitor a week. Also, and more truthfully, because we are incredibly lucky to have rich and generous friends who graciously offered to let us use some of their Marriott club points and sample a small taste of the bourgeois lifestyle before we had to return to our leaky peasant hovel and toils in their potato fields.

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The Marriott resort on St. Kitts (and Nevis), was in some way a microcosm of the islands themselves. It was beautiful, it was welcoming, it was expensive, and it was strangely empty. St. Kitts (and Nevis) are not cheap places to visit. They are both tiny islands, each with total populations smaller than most mainland towns,  and after shutting down sugar production in 2005, they really don’t export anything, and have to import quite a bit, so prices are pretty high for even the most basic food and drinks, with a 12% sales tax added on top for an extra kick in the nads. I’m not sure where the locals go to eat, but it wasn’t any of the restaurants we tried out, which rarely cost us less than $200 USD for our meal (Plus drinks. Like a lot of drinks. Jeez that’s a lot of drinks). The restaurants at the resort were, as a general rule of thumb, the most “crowded”, the most expensive, and had the least impressive food. I say “crowded” because even on the resort, nothing was actually full to capacity, making me wonder about the long term sustainability of tourism on the island. We were there during the “busy” season and it was in no way busy. Not that we were complaining, we enjoyed the solitude, it gave us plenty of time for day drinking and nighttime slime based activities. The further we traveled from the resort, even though it was never inexpensive, the cheaper and better the food became – with fresh seafood and produce making up a large part of the menus – and the emptier the restaurants were, a hard and fast rule that remained so immutable that at the best restaurant we ate at by far, Poinciana, we were actually the only patrons, and the skilled French chef who crafted our meal spent the evening lurking in the shadows near our table chain smoking cigarettes and sobbing into his apron.

 

The first night we arrived on St Kitts (and Nevis), after settling in to our villa we had a subpar dinner at the resort steakhouse, polished off a bottle of wine, clapped some cheeks, and passed the fuck out. The next day we got up bright and early at the crack of 11:30, enjoyed a morning coffee on the balcony and a healthy bm (not on the balcony), and then made our first big decision of the trip – whether to go to the pool or the beach. We ultimately chose the pool, lured in by the siren song of a swim up bar serving colorful rum cocktails. Drinks in hand, we claimed some comfortable lounge chairs, fired up our kindles, equipped our mirrored sunglasses so we could scope out booty cuties, and then… that’s it. That’s what we did all day. Soaked up some sun, rum, and bums, and lived our best lives. In the evening after a desultory 36 seconds of booze-soaked sliming we summoned the ambition to leave the resort for the first time, but only made it to a brewery and sports bar across the street where we really enjoyed some of the local craft beer selection and did not really enjoy our plate of over-priced uninspired nachos, which had that crappy orange liquid cheese they serve at ballparks and bowling alleys but still somehow cost like $20 USD.

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Day two started much like day one had, but this time we chose the beach instead of the pool. We liberally doused our still translucent winter skin in high SPF sunscreen, grabbed a couple of lounge chairs and a cabana, and sprawled out for another day of sun, sloth, and scoping for snipes, with frequent breaks to cool off in the ocean, and diligent hydration from the bottles of piss warm wine we had stashed in our beach bag. That evening, we traveled slightly further afield from the Resort for dinner, ultimately stopping at The Rock Lobster, a Frigate Bay landmark and obvious tourist trap that I simply could not resist because the name made me chuckle. After that, naturally, came the slime.

Day three, we chose not to mess with success, and returned to the resort pool. We had enjoyed our first day there, the fruity cocktails at the swim up bar were looking good again, and our complexion had finally begun transitioning from sickly Victorian orphan child, to supple, bronzed and beautiful, plus, this being our honeymoon, we didn’t feel compelled to actually achieve anything of note on the trip besides lounging about like a couple of well fed harbor seals napping on a pier. Everything was going well with that plan too, until we saw her.

Bonnie McMurray. Her name wasn’t actually Bonnie McMurray, nor was she the lovely actress who plays the character Bonnie McMurray on the Canadian television show Letterkenny, that’s just a code name Wife Kay and I use for any beautiful woman who is probably a little too young for us to be ogling without feeling slightly guilty about it.  The young woman who will heretofore be referred to as Bonnie McMurray appeared to be in her early to mid-twenties, was slender, shapely, barely dressed, and had an abundance of the type of tattoos that scream either hipster barista, or hipster bartender, or I don’t know, hipster florist or something.

This lass had actually already caught our eye the first day we were at the pool, since she was lovely, possibly close to our age, and appeared to be enjoying the comforts of the resort alone, but we failed to introduce ourselves at that time, an oversight I resolved to correct immediately. Luckily, if there is ONE THING I know about unaccompanied young women vacationing far from home, wearing ear buds and sitting by themselves at a resort pool, it’s that they CRAVE being approached by a slightly sun-burned, slightly drunken, slightly older man, so being the agreeable and generous fellow I am, I was happy to oblige, and the next time I COMPLETELY COINCIDENTALLY happened to walk by her lounge chair and catch her eye, I hit her with this beauty of a line – “I like your tattoos.”

I know, with lines that smooth, it almost wasn’t even fair, the poor girl didn’t have a chance. We struck up a friendly conversation, and were shortly joined by Wife Kay, who was either being the greatest wing woman of all time, trying to box me out and shoot her own shot, or simply preparing to roll me into the pool if I caught a face full of pepper spray. Thanks to my polished delivery of irresistible pick up lines, and Wife Kay’s intervention, codename Bonnie McMurray was actually quite happy to chat with us, so we spent a pleasant afternoon bonding with our newest friend. It turns out she, like us, was from the United States, but unlike us old hags, was a youthful 23 years old, was a florist/bartender (called it!) from a Western state we have a passing familiarity with, and was actually a frequent visitor to St. Kitts (and Nevis), since her parents owned a house there. While her parents were puttering around doing home ownership things, Bonnie would slip into a bikini and wander to the nearby resort for a lounge and a drink or three, an activity I guarantee nobody has ever complained about. After parting ways, Wife Kay and I washed up, napped a bit, and then hiked out to the previously mentioned Poinciana restaurant, an excellent end to an excellent day.

Day four, we began to get adventurous. Well, we left the resort anyway. We took a taxi down some twisty turny cliff-side mountain roads until we reached Cockleshell Beach, a popular destination on the Caribbean side of the island. Filled with casual beach bars and shacks, and frequented by day visitors from the nearby cruise ship dock, this was the first place we went on the island that was actually crowded. For a few hours. Then the cruise ship passengers all left at once in one huge exodus, relinquishing to us the quiet and peaceful island we had grown to know and love. Around late afternoon Wife Kay and I grew hungry, so we took a stroll further down the beach searching for a tempting looking beach restaurant for food. What we ultimately saw at the end of the beach looked very tempting, but it wasn’t a restaurant.

Ohhhh Bonnie McMurray. She must have missed us, because who do we find frolicking in the playful surf, none other than our new best friend, and we were happily reunited beside the aptly named Cockleshell Beach Bar. Our dalliance was not to last on this day however, as Bonnie’s parents were at the beach as well, and they did not seem interested in waiting around while their daughter got day drunk with a strange older couple. Their loss, we’re fun. Our budding romance quashed by unreasonable elders who didn’t understand our love, Wife Kay and I once again parted ways with the ever delightful Bonnie McMurray, and after an only slightly scary open-aired bus ride on the curvy mountain road back to the resort, we once again completed our now well-established routine of washing up, shooting ropes, and wandering around to find food. Ultimately we just got sushi at the resort that night, we wanted an early evening, because for the first time on our trip, we had actual plans for the morning.

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Day five was ATV day. With help from the tours desk we had booked a shared shuttle to cross the island and head up into the hills with a handful of other guests from the resort who also wanted to rent ATVs, so we needed to be up and ready at the unreasonably early time of 10:30.  The drive to the abandoned sugar plantation where we would be riding took about 40 minutes, and reminded Wife Kay and I of how happy we were that the island wasn’t crowded. Our companions on the trip consisted of:

  • The stoically silent local driver, who maybe thought he was trying out for a Formula one race team because he drove way too fast.
  • A gangly middle-aged Canadian man, replete with polo shirt, jean shorts, white knee-socks, and belt-clip Blackberry PDA, accompanied by his slightly overweight, leathery-skinned, possibly mail-order, participation trophy wife.
  •  A Pennsylvanian family consisting of a boisterous fat-bellied salesman of some sort who had clearly been working for commission for so long that he didn’t know how to turn it off anymore, his openly racist, let me speak to the manager haircut, total Karen of a housewife, their surprisingly pleasant if a bit flighty college-aged daughter, and their daughter’s best friend, who also seemed like a sweet girl, but was probably a nefarious smuggler of some sort.

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Once we got to the ATV rental place, we met our guide Ivan, a wonderfully friendly and professional young man who had grown up right near the property we would be riding on, and was a bottomless font of knowledge about the plantation, the rain forest, the local wild-life, and who could also rip sick wheelies on the tired old Suzuki quadbikes we were all using. Ivan was a figure-it-out-as-you-go kind of fellow, because no sooner had we plopped some helmets on our heads and chosen our machines and he was blasting off down a muddy path into the woods, with the rest of us scrambling to catch up. This method actually worked out well because it allowed us to find a natural order to where we were placed in the single-file line which we were forced to take on the narrow trails. Ivan would race ahead, and we would try to follow. This resulted in the two experienced riders, myself and Canada man, staying right with Ivan, and the typically fearless and naturally talented Wife Kay soon keeping pace as well, while the rest of the group somewhat awkwardly bumbled along behind at whatever speed they were comfortable with. We spent all morning and into the afternoon exploring the property, a huge estate with crumbling old plantation ruins, rolling fields of grass and cane, thick rainforest, and various free roaming animals including cows, goats, chickens, turkeys, birds, mongooses, and my personal favorite, monkeys. 10/10, would rip sick wheelies with Ivan again. Once the ATVs were returned, and our driver came back to pick us up, we suffered through the somehow more harrowing shuttle ride back to the Marriott, grabbed a bite of lunch, and rushed back to the resort pool.

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Wife Kay enjoying the pool. Max Tyson enjoying Wife Kay.

We had to rush. Bonnie McMurray was there. Visibly excited by our return, Bonnie was more than happy to join us for drinks at the pool bar, so we spent the next few hours bonding further, although at one point we were momentarily interrupted by some drunk lady coming up to tell Bonnie she liked her tattoos. I know, right? Some people are so desperate, it’s downright embarrassing. Once the sun went down and the pool emptied out, we bade our dear friend adieu, paid our painfully hefty bar tab, and freshened up for dinner, which was spent at a hibachi place down the road from the resort which Bonnie had recommended. It was, in keeping with the trend to date, basically empty. We chose to get sushi at the bar, I’m not about to make a hibachi chef do his whole song and dance for just two people, no matter how much I like the onion volcano and the little toy man who shoots sake from his tiny plastic peepee. With dinner wrapped up we stumbled back to the resort for some Blitzkrieg bop and the night sweats.

Day Six was another early morning, this time because we had a boat to catch. We were going to Nevis.

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Nevis is St. Kitts’ smaller, wealthier, more creepily Christian partner island. In order to get over there we caught the ferry, a fairly small water taxi from Basseterre, an 11 mile aquatic commute that I’m sure several people take every single day. My stepfather was a commercial fisherman, and as a child I had the intense displeasure of being brought along a few times when he went open water fishing even though he knew I would get wildly seasick, so although I don’t love ocean boating, I am reasonably experienced at it, and a steady diet of Dramamine pills keeps me comfortable. The trip had some surface chop but nothing really out of the ordinary, certainly nothing to be concerned about, but Wife Kay as it turns out had never been in open water on such a small vessel before, so even though she does not suffer from motion sickness at all, she surprisingly was the uncomfortable one on the trip. By that I mean every time we bumped through a particularly aggressive wave, or listed heavily, or water splashed up into the cabin, especially on the three mile stretch directly in between the two islands, where there was no protection at all from the wind and waves, she really thought we were going to die, and I could see her calculating whether her odds would be better if she killed me before we sank so that she could get a spare life jacket. Die we did not however, and when we got off at the dock in Nevis we joined an island tour that brought us to such notable landmarks as the house where Alexander Hamilton was born, as well as a natural hot springs upon which the first hotel in the Caribbean was built, the very first Christian church in the Caribbean, the freshwater spring Admiral Nelson would use to refill his ships water barrels, the posh old Nisbet plantation beach club, and the picturesque Pinney beach, where we enjoyed a refreshing lunch and drinks at a place called the Lime Bar before lounging in the sand until we had to hitch a ride back to the dock and catch the ferry for an enjoyable (for me) and terrifying (for Wife Kay) float back to St. Kitts. That night we braved a rain squall to find yet another excellent and incomprehensibly empty restaurant for dinner, this time a mostly open air venue called JamRock that had a massively well-stocked bar and literally no walls so like, how do they not get robbed all the time? Well, nobody robbed them while we were there, which is good because if somebody tried I would have totally stood up, and ran away as fast as my soggy flip flops would allow. With a few liberated bottles of my own naturally.

That night, Wife Kay and I took our final soak in the tub, drank our final bottle of wine, and washed our dirty drawers. Alas, all good things must eventually come to an end, and day seven was our final day in paradise. Our flight was in the late afternoon, so we had one more lazy morning by the pool before trundling to the airport for our return to winter sadness. There was a brief hiccup at the airport where I was temporarily apprehended by the St. Kitts customs and border security for “random screening”. My first thought was JamRock! How did they know I was thinking about stealing their booze? My second thought was oh hey, they nabbed that girl from the ATV trip too. That’s right, one of the Pennsylvania girls was also stuck in security limbo, looking lost and afraid, and if there’s ONE THING I know about scared young women being hassled by airport security in a foreign country, it’s that they CRAVE also being bothered by some guy they met once who is probably closer to their dad’s age than their own, so I happily sat down beside her and started loudly asking her if she was smuggling again and why she hadn’t learned her lesson the first few times. The bad news is, for some reason neither her, nor the well armed security personnel surrounding us enjoyed my jokes as much as I thought they would. The good news is I got a personal security escort and got to board the plane early. So I had that going for me, which is nice.

All in all, I had a wonderful honeymoon trip with Queen Kay. I read like ten books on my kindle, relaxed and unwound for a week full of sun, laughs, good booze, great food, and the slimiest time with my dearly beloved. 11/10, best honeymoon ever, would do again.

 

 

Oh, and don’t worry. We got Bonnie McMurray’s number.

 

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So what if there is Climate Change?

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Another day in paradise, 2021 colorized

 

The majority of scientists who study these sorts of things are in agreement. Climate change is happening, the earth is warming up due to greenhouse gas emissions, and humans are at least partially to blame.

9 in 10 scientists agree that climate change is occurring, and more than half of them believe that humans are contributing to the process. The 10th scientist, the one who disagrees might be a free-thinking ultra genius who actually has the extra-true secret correct data and isn’t a sheep beholden to big solar or whoever is the “bad” guy in this scenario, but the fact that his name is Dr. Diesel, he lives in a tower on top of an off-shore oil rig, his paychecks come from ExxonMobil, and his research is published exclusively on petroleumdidnothingwrong/polarbearssuck.gop, means his data is probably suspect, and his conclusions are likely biased.

It’s like a toothpaste commercial, where 9 in 10 dentists recommend brushing your fucking teeth, and the 10th dentist doesn’t because he has stock in dentures. He wants your teeth to rot out of your head, because he profits off of the alternative.

Look, at the end of the day the scientific process is just that, a process. Maybe that tenth scientist IS right. Maybe the other nine are actually the ones who are biased and suspect. Mathematical models can be flawed. The data can be incorrect or insufficient. We can be interpreting it inaccurately. The scientific consensus regarding climate change can be wrong.

So what?

What if global warming isn’t actually occurring? What if it is occurring, but it’s not caused by humans? What if it’s occurring, but it’s part of a naturally cyclical fluctuation and the earth will soon grow colder again no matter what we do?

Look at it this way. If all the climate change alarmists are correct, and they get their way we will:

Invest in renewable energy sources.

Protect our limited clean water.

Prevent further deforestation, and the trees will produce oxygen, and we’ll be able to breathe.

Reduce air pollution, increasing our quality of life.

Save over 70% of the existing animal species, which are expected to go extinct if climate change continues.

Prevent polar ice melt and global flooding.

We won’t be beholden to big oil and we won’t have to engage in unwinnable wars just to control foreign oil fields.

Now, what if the climate change alarmists get their way, but they’re wrong? Do you mean we’ll have invested in renewable energy sources, protected our clean water, prevented deforestation, reduced pollution, saved the animals, kept Ohio from becoming beachfront property, and separated ourselves from the avaricious greed of immoral oil companies FOR NO REASON!? Do you mean we’ll have a greener, cleaner, healthier, more enjoyable future when we could have just done nothing!?

THE HORROR.

If climate change is occurring, and human industry is contributing to it, we owe it to ourselves to do as much as we can to save the planet. We only have the one after all.

If climate change is occurring, but it’s just a natural process and humans aren’t actually the cause, we can still take steps to mitigate the effects. If you’re sailing a sailboat on the ocean and a storm comes up, even though the boat obviously did not cause the storm, it is still going to be stuck in it, and it makes sense to take mitigating actions like dropping the sails, tying yourself to the ships wheel, and chugging a bottle of grog to make the storm less unpleasant.

Even if climate change isn’t actually occurring at all, there seem to be only benefits to acting like it is. I mean, a smog free city is much more pleasant than a smog-filled one. Rain is much nicer when it’s not acid. Rivers are much more enjoyable when they’re not on fire from chemical pollutants. So why do some people so vehemently deny any evidence of man-made climate change, and fight against the goals of people who don’t deny the evidence? What is their end game? What’s a win for them? We all spend our holidays camping in a stinking garbage dump instead of a national park? We all ride eternal, shiny and chrome, on the Fury road?

And why do those people hate Greta Thunberg so much?

Maybe Greta Thunberg, 2019 Time person of the year, passionate climate activist, and small child, is just a dumb idiot who is not even cool, and Donald Trump, 73 year old fully grown adult man and President of the most powerful nation in the history of the world is entirely justified in bullying her via twitter, because that is a respectful, classy, distinguished, mature thing for any adult, and especially a world leader, to do to another person, especially a child, especially a child with a disability, but I just don’t see it.

I see Ms. Thunberg as a hard working young woman who is fighting for something she sincerely believes in, and even if she’s wrong, or being manipulated by opportunistic adults, all of her efforts are only going to improve our lives and the lives of future generations. Even if she is wrong, this young girl has already spent the few years she has been alive legitimately trying to save us all.

What have you done with your life?

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The C Word

I’ve been having a bit of a hard time recently. This may be a surprise to those of you unlucky enough to know me personally because, at first glance, all seems well. My health is as good as can be expected for a man of my age and with my history of poor life choices. Additionally, Mistress and I got married at the beginning of the year, and I haven’t messed it up yet. I have also been consistently getting stronger while enjoying my new powerlifting hobby. Added to that, my career is going well, and I get to work from home most of the week, so my daily look generally involves wearing a lot professionally tailored collared shirts paired with raggedy sweat pants, a style adopted by most modern telecommuters that I like to think is the spiritual successor of the mullet, but instead of business up front and party in the rear, it’s business up top and party down below. Exquisite fashion choices aside, my routine is also enjoyable in that it usually involves a constant stream from Netflix or Hulu playing in the background to stave off my crushing loneliness, and the freedom to partake of a nice cool glass of refreshing maple syrup whenever I feel like it.

It must sound like heaven to you, and truly, it is, but I must remind you not to judge a book by its cover, because, not only do I need to hide how much maple syrup I drink from my concerned wife, as I mentioned before, I’ve been having a hard time lately.

My problems are twofold. First, I have not been writing as much as I need to be. A quick glance at my posting history on this website is ample evidence of this. The frequency of my blog posts has been unacceptably low for the entire year, to the point where this website seems almost defunct and forgotten, with no real excuse or apology provided. Less readily apparent has been my lack of discipline while working on The Day Traitor, the sequel to my most recent novel, The Night Ripper. I had hoped to have The Day Traitor completed before the end of this year. Sadly, that will not be happening, so for both that and for my abysmal blog posting record recently, I apologize profusely.

Unfortunately, I have no real excuse. I’ve just been lazy, and have been letting self-imposed pressure get to my head. I want to release blog posts, and I want to complete The Day Traitor, a story which I have almost fully written in my head and am quite excited about, but every time I’ve sat down to actually make some progress putting words to paper, I’ve allowed distractions or insecurities to steal my attention, which has been further stressing me out, causing more distractions and increased insecurities, in a vicious cycle of spinning in place with no forward progress.

Usually my disgust and self-loathing keeps me operating at a barely contained level of simmering rage from which I draw my herculean powers of motivation and drive, a state which I have grown accustomed to and reliant on, so having the mushy, disgusting pile of salt-water and congealed bacon fat that makes up my brain betray me with a pedestrian, garden variety type of demotivational depression is infuriating. Luckily, it has grown so infuriating that I believe I may finally be powering through my malaise upon a burgeoning wellspring of rage and creative expression. So hopefully that means more poorly written blog posts, hacked together crackpot DIY house projects, and shitty paintings, as well as solid progress on The Day Traitor coming from me in the near future.

My second issue I am struggling with does not affect me alone, but is more of a family problem. If you know me personally, or have followed this blog for any length of time, you are surely aware of my wife, the artist formerly known as Mistress Kay. What you may not know, is that (T.A.F.K.A) Mistress Kay and I have…a Molds.

Having a Molds is hard to describe. Molds is more or less my wife’s wife. She is her best friend. She is Mistress Kay’s slightly more platonic other soul mate. Molds is at this point an intrinsic facet of my life, as much an integral part of my daily experience as my constant joint pain and persistent jock itch. She and Mistress Kay are inseparable, and I, like any man who gets to share his life with not only one, but two beautiful women, am just happy to be included. Plus sometimes they both show me their boobies, and that’s really neat.

What exactly is your complaint, you may be asking. So you’ve got yourself a lovely pair of sister-wives, oh jeez, what a drag. Do you really have something bothering you Max, or are you just trying to sneak in a quick humble-brag? We get it, you have two women in your life who love each other very much and grudgingly tolerate you, how nice that must be. Fuck you Max, you’re a peepee head and a dumb idiot who is not even cool.

Okay, you know what…that’s fair. But allow me to explain what troubles me.

When a boy and a girl grow up, and love each other very much, and they get married, people naturally begin to expect certain…things to eventually happen. Things involving the C word. You see, when a boy and a girl love each other so very very much, even if they don’t plan it, sometimes it’s only natural for….something… to start growing in the girl. My situation is that this… something, this C word… has started growing, not in my Mistress Kay as you might traditionally assume, but in my Molds.

The C word I refer to is of course, Cancer.

Our Girl has got tumors. I’m not sure exactly how many, but any number above zero seems like a huge amount when it’s somebody precious to you, so you’ll perhaps understand why this news is so distressing. In July, Molds was admitted to the hospital for pain from what was initially thought to possibly be appendicitis. After a barrage of tests which I can only assume involved various mystical auguries by laudanum prescribing, crow-masked plague doctors and possibly a soothing visit or two from the godmother of modern nursing and “Lady with the Lamp” herself, Florence Nightingale; Molds was diagnosed with Stage IV Colorectal Cancer, affecting her colon and both her ovaries, or, as the scientific journals describe it – PeePee PooPoo Cancer. Evidently, colon cancer rates are skyrocketing among young people, possibly due to constantly carrying cell phones within 6 inches of our buttholes at all times, possibly due to the fact that the closest thing to probiotics we received from “healthy” snacks as children came from slurping neon-colored slime out of a plastic Gogurt tube, possibly due to the fact that we all enjoy weird butt stuff in the bedroom way more than previous generations, or possibly due to the fact that even though Toto blessed the rains down in Africa back in 1981, that blessing has since worn off and we’re all doomed because of it. Or, maybe all of those things are actually the only thing keeping our butthole cancer rates from being higher and it could actually be much worse. I can’t be certain. Even though I know my way around cutting-edge medical technology like trepanation drills, rusty bone saws, leeches, and cocaine, I’m not actually a doctor.

Since her diagnosis, Molds has, with her customary grace, can-do attitude, and only a minimal amount of bitching and moaning, gone through surgery and multiple rounds of chemo, with more surgery and more chemo still to come in her future. Molds is a strong young woman, and she is receiving care in one of the top cancer treatment hospitals in the entire country, which also happens to be the hospital system she already works in as a nurse, so I like to think they’re pulling out all the stops to treat her, even the super secret good medicine that big pharma doesn’t allow us disgusting normies to use, but still this is a scary, stressful, upsetting process. As you can imagine, there have been a lot of tears shed in my home of late, even more than the normal amount which occurs daily when Mistress Kay comes home from the local strip club smelling of cheap wine, and beats me with a tube sock full of dead batteries for not having her TV dinner ready and favorite sports ball highlights show queued on the big screen.

Molds is in the right place, surrounded by the right people, to fight this fight, but we can all help make that fight hurt less. I always thought the first (and only) GoFundMe I would ever be involved with would be collecting donations to straight up murder myself by launching my annoying ass via trebuchet directly into an active volcano, but as it turns out I am now involved in an only slightly less worthy fundraising endeavor. I previously posted the following on my personal Facebook page, but since this website has a larger following, it can’t hurt to share it here as well:

In civilized countries healthcare is affordable and accessible. Unfortunately, we do not live in a civilized country. Molds is a hard working nurse who has “great” health insurance, but even after doing everything “right”, her cancer treatment is still going to be a tough financial burden to bear.

Let’s make sure she doesn’t have to bear it alone.

We made this GOFUNDME account to take some of the financial strain away from the treatment process, so that Molds can focus on what’s important – recovering from her stage IV PeePee PooPoo cancer.

By donating, you’ll help our favorite friend/sister-wife receive the very finest cancer care available through the judicious application of medicinal herbs, voodoo exorcisms, and whatever elixirs of mercury are undoubtedly still in use by the barbaric American medical system. When I last checked in on her, the chemo was having some effect, but she was still suffering from ghosts in her blood, and had been prescribed various arsenic and opium filled nostrums purchased from the back of a traveling horse cart, so at least she’s got that going for her.

Mollys Kicking Butt Cancer in the Butt GoFundMe

 

maxsamolds

Our happy little family

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Max’s Unpopular Opinions

The entirety of this blog site consists of my dumb opinions on various random topics, and since I am admittedly a fairly stupid guy, most of those opinions are unpopular with at least a small portion of my readership. Sure, some opinions, like my belief that almost all politicians are greedy and corrupt assholes, are fairly uncontroversial and universally held, while others (like my opinion that our current president is every bit as much of a greedy and corrupt asshole as all of those career politicians, with the only difference being that he doesn’t even pretend to the thin veneer of diplomacy most of them adhere to and also he is much, much, MUCH stupider than your average bullying high school dropout) might really only be shared by slightly more than half of my audience. That is the great thing about opinions. Everybody has them, and they can all be different. I like to think that my opinions are based on an above average amount of information gathering, critical thinking, and reflection, but even my most logical and well-supported opinions will still have at least some naysayers and detractors. That is fair. Everybody is entitled to their own opinion on a subject. Please don’t confuse opinions with facts however. If you refuse to acknowledge a proven fact, you’re simply an idiot and an asshole, and your point of view is irrelevant.

For example, I do not like chocolate. I dislike the taste. That is my opinion, and it is an unpopular opinion, but I am entitled to it, and you are entitled to disagree with it if you so choose. If I said that chocolate does not exist however, that is not an opinion. That is just wrong. Chocolate, by every conceivable metric of measurement, does indeed exist. So while I cannot validly argue that chocolate does not exist, I can validly argue about my opinion regarding the disgusting taste of chocolate for forever and a day, even if almost 90% of the population disagrees with me.

So that is what I am going to do. I am going to argue my case for some of my most unpopular opinions, because why not? Sometimes it is refreshing to alienate and alarm as many people as humanly possible, and I am in a contentious mood today. I am confident that I have some opinions that even my staunchest supporters and closest friends will find distasteful, rude, and downright ignorant. I can’t wait to share them with you.

Unpopular Opinion 1: Sports fans are creepy weirdos.

I love playing sports, both competitively, and just for funsies with friends. I don’t really enjoy watching other people play sports though. What is the point of watching other people have fun? There is no real draw for me. Be that as it may, I have nothing against people who do enjoy watching sporting events. Those who can’t do, teach, right, so I guess those who can’t play, watch.

Enthusiastic Sports Fans on the other hand, are super creepy. You know the type. They wear all of the overpriced branded merchandise, they obsess over team rosters and statistics, they watch every game, and they are more passionate about watching overpaid strangers play games than they are about their own jobs or families. Far be it for me to gate keep what is acceptable fun and where people can derive pleasure, but come on. If someone asks how the team you root for played last night, and you say “We” did really well, you’re an idiot. You are not on the team. You are in no way essential to their success. They don’t even know you exist. Additionally, if you have a rabid fanaticism for a sports team that you probably only like due to completely arbitrary criteria like the geographic location where you were born, or the pleasing colors on their jerseys, and you’re willing to get in actual literal physical fights about them…you might be mentally handicapped. If you spiral into a depressive episode because “your” team lost the big game of shooty hoops or slappy sticks, maybe you should take a step back and remember that YOU are not on the team, and you’re upset because strangers you don’t actually know lost at a game that they were playing.

Obviously, sports are wildly popular, if they weren’t, professional male athletes wouldn’t earn hundreds of thousands or even millions of dollars, and professional female athletes wouldn’t earn hundreds or even thousands of dollars to play them. There is still a difference between enjoying witnessing peak athletes at the top of their game exhibit world class athleticism in a competitive endeavor, and being a rabid fan of one particular team or franchise.

Unpopular Opinion 1.5: I think professional male athletes SHOULD get paid more than professional female athletes, in sports where males perform better than females.

Sure, pay should be comparable in sports like auto racing, or shooting, or bowling, or billiards, or golf, or basically any sport where men and women can and do compete equally against each other, but in sports where men and women NEED to compete in separate leagues due to wildly different physical abilities, the better, more exciting league should obviously get paid more money, because that league is more entertaining to watch. Due to the fact that men are generally much faster and stronger than women…those better leagues are pretty much always the men’s league. So no, I’m not offended that male soccer teams make much more money than female soccer teams, because male soccer teams are much better at soccer than female soccer teams. In fact, a world class professional female soccer team would probably be beaten by any old average high school boys soccer team. I would actually be offended if the female teams were making the same amount as their male counterparts, because the product they provide – entertaining athletic competition – is an inferior product, so female soccer leagues have less fans and sell less tickets, and less merchandise, and consequently make less money, so obviously the athletes should be paid less money. The same goes for male vs. female basketball, or hockey, or baseball/softball, or boxing, or rugby or American football, or really anything that women athletes simply can’t do, or can’t do as well as male athletes. Which brings me to:

Unpopular Opinion 2: Transgender people are deserving of respect, love, and equal rights just like everybody else BUT they shouldn’t be allowed to compete in athletics as the gender they are transitioning to.

There have been a few recent examples of Male to Female transgender athletes, athletes that biologically were born male, but are transitioning or have transitioned to female, competing in female sports, and absolutely crushing the competition. Well yeah…of course they are. Even though they are women, and may have even undergone gender reconstruction surgery and are taking a cocktail of hormone replacement drugs to help their bodies better reflect who they are on the inside, their bodies are still male bodies. It is telling that, even though there are obviously Female to Male transgender athletes too, none of them are getting attention for dominating in male sports, because even with male hormones making their bodies stronger, hairier and more durable, they are still at a natural disadvantage because the bodies they were born with are female bodies, and female bodies are for the most part smaller and weaker than male bodies. So when a person who has a biologically male body competes in a female league, they are at an unfair advantage. If a female athlete took a bunch of performance enhancing drugs like steroids and HGH and doped their blood and did whatever else they could do to obtain an unfair advantage over their competition, they would be barred from competing in that sport. MTF transgender athletes have just as much, if not more of an unfair advantage encoded directly into their DNA. Therefore, I am of the opinion that although transgender people should be able to present how they choose, and live their lives with their outside reflecting who they are on the inside, and enjoy love and work and existence free from stigma or persecution, they should not be allowed to compete in any cisgendered sports leagues where biological sex creates an unfair advantage.

Unpopular Opinion 2.5: Transgender people do not necessarily have a right to be part of the armed forces.

Me, I think if any able bodied, physically healthy and emotionally stable person wants to serve in the armed forces, good for them, they should be allowed to. As soon as somebody’s physical or mental irregularities cost more money or make them less fit for duty however, to me they are no longer a desirable option. I mean, our current president was excused from military service because of alleged bone spurs. That simple little detail (and massive amounts of money, I’m sure) was all it took to make the Commander in Chief of our armed forces (go figure) unfit for military service.

Ultimately, the purpose of our armed forces is to deter or win wars, by efficiently delivering death to our enemies as inexpensively as possible to the American taxpayer. The purpose of the military is not to be a fair, non-discriminatory, equal opportunity employer, and not to be a safe space. So yes, while transgender people are deserving of as much respect and civil protections as anybody else, the military’s hiring policies should be exclusively focused on allowing us to win wars inexpensively, efficiently, and expeditiously. If the military came out with some sort of fusion powered power armor that made our soldiers nearly impervious in battle, but could only be worn by people above 6’7” tall, I would have no problem with them only accepting 6’7”+ soldiers into their ranks. Alternatively, if they mass produced highly effective tiny battle tanks and fighter jets that could only fit pygmy dwarf operators, I would not cry foul that my 6’2” ass would not be accepted to use one. By the same token, if allowing only cisgendered, physically healthy, mentally stable individuals to serve in the military creates the least expensive, most effective fighting force possible, in my opinion, that is fine. While we’re on the topic of the military:

Unpopular Opinion 3: Military service members are not heroes.

We’re not supposed to criticize the military. Well to that I say Phooey. The minute you can’t criticize something is the minute it most needs criticism. This idea that our military servicemen and women are all heroes is completely preposterous. Don’t get me wrong, there can be heroes in the military. There might even be a higher percentage of heroes in the military than in civilian roles, not because military members are inherently more heroic, but because dangerous situations where heroics are required occur at a greater frequency in war than in peacetime. That does NOT mean that “the military” as a whole is heroic, or even that the majority of military service members are heroes simply for wearing the uniform.

Is the local gangbanger who enlists for four years to obtain training and knowledge that will help his gang expand and control their turf upon his return a hero? Probably not.

Is the 18 year old kid whose first girlfriend just dumped him so he walked into the army recruiters office at the local strip mall all angsty and brokenhearted a hero? Doubtful.

Is the clever sociopath who simply likes killing and figures it’s easier and more convenient to do so overseas with explicit governmental permission a hero? Nope.

Granted, the hypothetical service members described above are hopefully few and far between, but that doesn’t change the fact that what our military servicemen and women most often are, are young and impressionable. Young men and women are not known for their maturity or critical thinking skills. These are boys who buy a V6 Camaro from a Chevy dealership at the edge of base with their sign on bonus and financed at 29% interest, and get married after dating a girl for 2 months to get better housing. Then after enough slimy back room deals happen in congress, they’re shipped off to some shithole oil producing country to follow orders to kill or be killed in an illegal, irrational war – not to protect the citizens  and soil of their own country, but instead just so some corporate conglomerate can make more money, and meanwhile their new wife is starring in casting couch videos on pornhub within a week of deployment.

Some people enlist to get vocational job training. Some enlist to pay for college. Some go to the academy or through OCS to become officers, and make a career out of it. To many it’s just a job, and not even an especially exciting or dangerous one, depending on their posting and MOS. Lots of people have jobs. They aren’t automatically heroes. So, it is my opinion that while members of the military certainly can and do act heroically when the situation calls for it, simply putting on the uniform does not a hero make.

Unpopular Opinion 4: Experiencing emotions is healthy, but being controlled by your emotions is immature and childish.

There is a big push to fight toxic masculinity and to teach boys to experience and express their emotions in a healthier way. Emotions are natural, and healthy, and essential to our well-being. You absolutely should be able to acknowledge and express your emotions. That is only half of the equation however. Even dumb babies can express emotions. When they’re sad they cry, when they’re happy they laugh. What babies cannot do, and what mature adults can, is remain in control of their emotions, and react reasonably to external stimuli. An immature child will feel annoyed by something and become angry, and then lash out in anger by throwing a temper tantrum. A mature adult should have the self-restraint and self-awareness to think logically through their initial surge of emotion, determine where it is coming from and whether their reaction to it is appropriate given the situation, and then avoid an unsightly loss of control.

Say somebody at work annoys you. Is it appropriate to blow up in a hissy fit, and cry and scream and throw things? No, obviously not. Should you be able to look at the situation logically and realize that maybe you are feeling so strongly about the issue because you didn’t get enough sleep last night, or you haven’t eaten lunch yet and your blood sugar is dropping, or you’re on your period and your hormones have you feeling a little over sensitive, thus allowing you to understand and then overcome your initial, illogical and inappropriate emotional reaction? Yes.

Even if your reaction is appropriate, a mature adult should always be able to overcome that emotional response anyway, and act in a calm and collected manner. Your emotions should never burden your friends and loved ones. If you’re feeling upset, you should always at the minimum be able to politely excuse yourself to go work through those negative emotions alone. If you’re a grumpy, cranky old bastard whose bitching and moaning ruins everybody else’s day, and you insist upon bringing everybody else down with your negative feelings, I think not only are you immature and childish for being controlled by those feelings, you are also incredibly selfish for forcing others to experience those feelings too. Feel all the negative feelings you want, just please stoically suffer in silence like an adult. You can practice this with my next unpopular opinion.

Unpopular Opinion 5: Abortion is not killing a person, and even if it is, so what?

First of all, I don’t think a fertilized egg is a human being, so there should be no question that a woman should be able to scrape it out of her hoo ha if she so chooses. Secondly, even if it is a potential human being, I say that the mother’s bodily autonomy always exceeds any right to life that the little clump of cells that might someday turn into an unwanted child may have. Third of all, that’s her unwanted child. She can do whatever she wants with it. I think if parents have a baby and it comes out wonky or they just decide they don’t want it, they should be able to throw it off a cliff, Spartan style. Who cares? It’s their baby, they can do what they want with it. If they tried to throw someone else’s baby off a cliff, I would understand the argument against their right to do so, but if it’s their baby, pitcher take the mound.

What are we going to do, run out of babies? Our planet is over-crowded, we can use the extra elbow room. What are we going to miss out on, some great genius inventor philanthropist who will save us all? Doubtful. Even beloved, wanted babies, from nurturing, supportive parents pretty much all turn out mediocre at best, and really rather shitty  most of the time. An unwanted baby from ill-equipped and unready parents almost always ends up worse than that. It’s no secret that access to safe and legal abortions following Roe vs Wade led to a huge down turn in crime several years later, and it’s because all of the babies that would have been born to parents without the finances, education, and desire to raise them well, were never actually born to grow up to be criminals and delinquents. So, yes, I think abortions should be legal everywhere. Comprehensive sex education focusing on actual education, along with freely available birth control should also be available everywhere. It’s our ass-backwards, puritanical, abstinence-only, outdated, religiously inspired sexual mores that actually create the need for many abortions to begin with, so I think it’s pretty fucking stupid for conservative religious zealots to oppose abortions when they’re also responsible for perpetuating the ignorance and misinformation that make the need for abortions more likely. So again, abortions should be legal, but also, so should baby murders, because fuck em, we’ve got plenty. If THAT opinion wasn’t enough to turn you against me, try this one on for size:

Unpopular Opinion 6: I don’t like dogs.

I very much prefer cats. I’ve owned both dogs and cats, and cats are way easier. First, to get a cat, you just need to leave your door open for like 12 minutes and a random garbage cat will wander out from under a bush and into your house and decide to adopt you. That’s it, that’s the entire process. To get a dog you have to choose the breed you want, find the breeder, who inevitably lives 2000 miles away, pay them thousands of dollars so they can get a brother and sister dog to mate, then they send you the neurotic inbred offspring 6 months later, and you have to go to the airport to pick it up, and it always has worms and shits all over your house nonstop for the first week, then you get to spend years teaching it not to gnaw on your baseboards or hump your furniture until finally it gets hip dysplasia and even after a 7 thousand dollar surgery it still drags itself around the house like Herbert the Pervert’s dog from Family Guy, creeping everybody out for the last two years of its short and expensive life.

Dogs are stressful. After a long tiring day at work, the last thing I want to do is to come home and immediately be bombarded by a loud, smelly, excited, jumping, barking animal whose entire life revolves around me. It’s too in your face and abrasive, and not at all relaxing. A cat on the other hand will be quietly napping on the couch and maybe open one eye for a second as if to say, oh hey, you still exist? That’s cool. Then they go back to napping. It’s only once you’re unpacked and in your comfortable house clothes and actually relaxing yourself that they saunter over to give and receive some casual affection.

Plus, you can have a more independent lifestyle with a cat. If I end up going out after work and make a late night of it, there’s no rush to get home before the cat pees or craps on the floor like a dog would. If I have a weekend away from home, I don’t need to schedule someone to come feed/walk/watch the cat, I can set out some extra food and water and he’s just fine on his own.

Not to mention, cats are less stressful for your guests. If you go to a house with a cat, you might never even know it, because the cat will leave you alone. If you go to a house with a dog, you know it immediately, because it’s barking at the door as soon as you arrive, and then it’s jumping on you and clawing you, then it’s drooling on you, then it’s barking at the window at the mailman, then it’s jumping on you again, then it’s trying to steal your food, then it’s barking if you walk into a different room, then it’s barking if you try to leave, then it’s got a weird red rocket boner and it’s humping everything, then it’s eating your shoes, then your host needs to take it for a walk to get it to poop, then they need to pick up its poop, and the entire time it hasn’t stopped making noise or being hyper, and it’s a complete nightmare.

Having a dog is like sharing your home with an insane stalker who has an unlimited supply of methamphetamine so he never runs out of energy, and also he insists on cock blocking you if you bring a girl around. Having a cat is like having a moderately aloof roommate who you’re pretty cool with, and sometimes you hang out but sometimes you don’t and that’s okay, and he’s totally down with being your wingman and helping you get laid. All he asks is to get to sit on the dresser by your bed and watch it all go down.

 

So there you have it. Eight homegrown, wildly unpopular opinions that have hopefully made you uncomfortable. If you’re wondering how I could be so monstrous, I don’t know what to tell you. That’s just the way I feel, man.

If you actually agree with me on most of them however…you’re gross and I like the cut of your jib. Let’s be friends.

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Weddings, and what comes after.

As you may or may not be aware, two months ago Mistress Kay allowed me to upgrade her to Wife Kay, because she is a foolish, foolish woman who makes questionable life choices (thank the gods). In the days and weeks since then, I have had ample time to reflect upon the wedding process, the wedding industry, marriage, and our future. Also, Wife Kay showed me her boobies, and they were neat.

Here are my thoughts regarding the wedding process – it was a pain in the buns. Don’t get me wrong, I had an excellent time at our wedding. It was one of the best days I’ve ever had. Everything leading up to it however…was less so. This is not to say that I would like to change anything, it was a learning process after all, and part of learning what works is learning what doesn’t. It’s just a bit of a bummer that after learning all these useful lessons, now that the wedding is over, we’ll never actually get to use that knowledge. We already had the wedding. I don’t anticipate having another. I suppose if Wife Kay ever comes to her senses and realizes how far down she married, she might divorce me, and then maybe I can possibly get a job as the wedding coordinator for her next wedding, but barring that unlikely scenario…our wedding planning days are over.

Most people who complain about the wedding industry complain about the costs involved. I am one of those people. Here’s the thing. I am a man of relatively modest means. I would consider our wedding to be fairly expensive. Ultimately we spent between $35-40k for everything involved. I know to some, that number would seem exorbitantly high, and to a surprisingly large amount of others, it would seem fairly frugal. My complaint is not that we spent that much money. We did it right. We both have good stable jobs. Hell, we both worked second part-time evening jobs in retail to save extra money exclusively for the wedding. We already own a house. We have no children. We have no other pressing financial obligations that we needed to be saving all of our pennies for. So over the course of the year and a half leading up from our engagement to our wedding date, we were able to save all the money we needed to pay cash for our wedding expenses. Sure, maybe it would have been wiser to have kept all that money to invest in some Roth investment accounts or moderate risk index funds or something, but fuck it, right? We wanted to throw a huge party to celebrate our life together and create special memories with our closest friends and family, and we did just that. I have no complaints about the amount of money we spent, because it was our money to spend, and our choice to spend it. I just wish some of the money was spent differently. Because that’s the thing about the wedding industry. Everybody has an opinion about what is “necessary” for a wedding to be done “right”, and I frankly didn’t give a damn.

Here is what was important to me: Gathering all my friends and family together. Eating good food. Drinking good drinks. Dancing to good music. Having comfortable and safe accommodations. Marrying the woman I love. Taking our clothes off at the end of the night for some unsupervised and mutually agreeable slime time. For those things, I would gladly pay the bill ten times over. They are what mattered.

Here is what is important according to the wedding industry: The rings. The wedding website. The save the dates. The invitations. The bride’s dress. The Grooms tuxedo. The bridesmaids and groomsmen’s matching dresses and tuxedos. The ceremony decor. The reception decor. The center pieces. The guest welcome bags. The cake. Every little piece of flotsam and jetsam you’re supposed to purchase to make your special day “special”. I could have done with out every single one of those things, and still had exactly as much fun and still ended up a happily married man, and I have a sneaking suspicion nobody else would have missed them either.

So why did we get all of those things? Because the wedding industry is insidious and it begins digging its dirty little claws into women from when they’re little baby girls, and it’s hard to walk away from all of those preconceived expectations. All of that pressure and all of that rhetoric about what is necessary and normal and traditional was targeted squarely at Mistress Kay from when she was a silly little Child Kay, so once we embarked on this wedding journey together, she had a hard time letting go of the little details that I was apathetic about or even overtly against, and in the interest of protecting myself from a potential bridezilla in the making, I just rolled over like a Vichy Frenchman in the spring of 1940 and opened my checkbook at the first hint of tears. Oh yeah, and that’s another complaint I have about the wedding industry. Whenever we went out together to meet vendors and make our purchases, nearly all of them treated Mistress Kay like she was some sort of Empress Kay, and treated me like I was nothing more than a bipedal ATM, if they acknowledged me at all. It left a real sour taste in my mouth.

Now that the wedding is over and done with, and we’ve had some time to rest and recuperate, we’ve begun dealing with the next inevitable stage in a young couple’s married life together.

The “When are you having BABIES!?” stage.

FIRST OF ALL – That’s a really uncomfortable question to me because when it is asked, I’m actually hearing ARE YOU HAVING UNPROTECTED SEX!? TELL US MORE ABOUT THE SEX!

SECOND OF ALL – I don’t know when we’re having babies. Maybe in three years when Wife Kay’s student loans are paid off and she doesn’t have to work 60 hour weeks any more. Maybe never. Maybe before then if we mess up during our WILD BOUTS OF UNPROTECTED SEX YOU WERE SO CURIOUS ABOUT AUNT MARTHA.

My feelings on children are complex. We have reached an age where most of our peers have settled down, and for the first time in our lives, we’re really surrounded by babies. They’ve changed from being an abstract thing that happens accidentally to cigarette smokers and immigrants, and become a very concrete and real thing that happens to our friends and relatives ON PURPOSE. Wife Kay is very much feeling the fever, since my sister and three of our close friends all have adorable little babies that she can squish and cuddle and coo over while her biological impulses scream like a London air raid siren during the summer of 1940.

Me? I’m a guy. I don’t really have that same biological timeline screaming at me. I could conceivably still be cranking out kids into my seventies if I ever get rich enough to employ impressionable young secretaries and I subscribe to a Viagra delivery service. Admittedly, those kids would probably come out looking half melted like the monsters from the Hills Have Eyes, but still, it’s possible. What I’m saying is, I’m not feeling the baby fever. Not yet.

I fear that for all of adolescence and into young adulthood, children were the worst possible consequence of sex, beating out HIV and waking up in a bathtub full of ice with a missing kidney by a wide margin. HIV and date rape induced black market organ harvesting are both treatable conditions. A child is a forever consequence. Asking me to suddenly consider children to be the best possible consequence of sex instead of the worst is too monumental of a paradigm shift to easily undertake. I’m trying but…it’s a work in progress.

My concerns about children are that I like sleep, and money, and a clean house, and being physically fit, and occasional binge-drinking or recreational drug use. It is my understanding that children are inimical to sleep, and money, and cleanliness, and health and beauty, and casually self-destructive risky behavior.

Everybody who has children that I’ve asked have all said Oh, yeah, you definitely should have kids, they’re WONDERFUL, THEY’RE AMAZING, YOU’LL NEVER EXPERIENCE SUCH UNCONDITIONAL LOVE, IT’S THE MOST GREATEST BEST THING EVER IN THE HISTORY OF TIME, but I can’t help but notice that their voices all sound slightly hysterical, and their puffy bloodshot sleep-deprived eyes are crying out silently for an end to their unceasing nightmare, and the raggedy unwashed clothes they use to hide their doughy amorphous shameful parental bodies are all artfully speckled with puke and snot and feces, and they look more broken then Italian supply lines in the first North Africa campaign of winter 1940, so forgive me if I’m hesitant to take them at their word on the subject.

I also struggle with the ethical implications of having children. Our world is over-crowded and dying. There are already more human beings in existence than we can practically support while bound to our one much abused planet. We don’t NEED more children. So who am I to use up more precious resources growing my family? What is so special about my particular mix of genetics that it absolutely must go on? I’m a fairly dumb guy who’s not even cool. Why should my undoubtedly mediocre offspring receive the limited resources that could be better served going to a higher potential individual?

Then again, I never said I wasn’t a selfish man, and having a little dude or dudette to pal around with would be pretty cool. So who knows.

Que Sera, Sera, right?

MarissaMax_132

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On Publication

first-printing-pressEach time I’ve released a new book, I have been quickly contacted by friends and aspiring writers who are curious about the publication process. Their questions are almost always some form of – How you do that?

Although I do not consider myself a successful author by any means, nor do I pretend to be a bottomless font of information regarding the publishing industry, I do have some limited knowledge that I am happy to share. None of the following information can really be considered a special secret or insider tip, you’ll have to speak with someone who is actually a good writer for those. This is just a very basic and general overview of the publishing process, which I gathered from my own limited experience and admittedly lazy and incomplete research into the subject.

Step one – You’ve written something, or you have something you want to write about. Awesome! It might seem silly, but that really is the most important part. If you don’t have a product, or the idea behind a product, you can’t move to step two.

Step two –Now you need to decide what you want to do with your story. Do you just want to get it out there so you can hold a physical copy in your hands, and other interested people can buy copies too? Or do you want to see your work in bookstores everywhere, while you make millions of dollars and become a famous celebrity? Or maybe you’re aiming for a more modest mix of the two?

The way the publishing world is set up currently, you have multiple options. The first option is Self-Publishing. Self-Publishing is nice because it is the quickest way to see your words in print, and you have complete control of your work. You can choose the format, you can choose the cover art, you can choose the paper size and type, you can choose literally every facet of the book, and you are guaranteed to see your vision in print at the end of the process. You simply write something, edit it, design a cover, (or have someone else design one for you), and send the files to a Print on Demand company. They’ll check to make sure the files you submitted meet their technical needs (correct margins, right page count, boring formatting stuff like that), and then they’ll print it for you, and make it available for purchase by others, no questions asked, no matter what the actual story is.

You CAN spend money to do this with a vanity publisher, but you DO NOT NEED TO. While some companies like Xlibris and others provide publishing packages where you pay an upfront fee and they help with editing and formatting your work, designing a cover, and also do some limited marketing and distribution work on your behalf, I personally don’t think the service they provide is worth the money you pay into it. Especially because there are other self-publishing companies like Kindle Direct Publishing (THIS IS WHAT I HAVE USED) which have ZERO up-front costs, and you can still end up with a completely professional, successful product that is then available for purchase online in paperback or as an ebook, and can also be ordered and stocked by independent and even large scale bookstores, if they decide they want to stock it. I don’t have enough experience to recommend any particular printing company, you’ll have to do your own research to see which company works best for you and your needs.

Most of these modern self-publishing companies work because they are Print on Demand. That means they print one copy of your book every single time it is ordered. They then take their cut of the book purchase price to cover their printing cost, and you receive the remainder as a royalty for each book sold. The royalty amount is modest, from a few cents to maybe a few dollars every book, depending on the price point you set for the book, but these amounts are comparable to or sometimes even higher than the type of royalties you might see from a traditionally published book. The reason they can be so competitive with their rates is because there is no risk involved for them. They only print a book when it is purchased, so they never run into a situation where they have thousands of your book sitting in a warehouse somewhere unsold because nobody liked it. (This can and does happen with traditionally published books, which is why traditional publishing companies are so picky about what manuscripts they accept. Every new book and every new author they choose to do business with is a risk that they might never profit from).

One problem with Self-Publishing is that you have to do a lot more by yourself, both to create the book, and to successfully sell it. First, you need to make sure the book is edited and readable, without the resources of a traditional publishing house working on your behalf. You can rely on friends and fellow writers to help with this a bit (maybe, people are lazy), or you can pay independent editors and copywriters who will edit it for a fee. Or you can just be really careful and do it yourself, if you are a dumb idiot and you think you have a good grasp of the fundamentals of writing (This is what I do because I’m impatient and foolish). I’ve seen a lot of authors fail because even though they have a really interesting and compelling story to tell, they’re simply bad writers, and their story is unreadable.

Another problem with Self-Publishing is that you’re responsible for getting exposure for your book. You won’t have the luxury of it just showing up in global brick and mortar bookstore chains where anybody might pick it off the shelf. Since literally the only barrier to entry in Self-Publishing is moderate literacy, there are a LOT of crappy self-published books out there. So consumers are cautious about buying self-published books from unknown authors. That means you need to have a plan to garner interest in your book. Basically, you need to find your fans. You can always pay for marketing and advertisements yourself, on platforms like amazon and Facebook, and that will get people who otherwise wouldn’t have the opportunity to see your book to see it BUT these campaigns cost money, and don’t always pay off. How many ads have you seen on Facebook? A million? How many have you actually clicked on? Probably none.

If you have a website that people already follow, that’s a perfect platform to increase sales, because your followers will already know about you and will be interested in your book. You can also work on building a mailing list of people who you think are interested in what you have to say, or interested in the topic you’ve written about, and will appreciate getting an email whenever you have something new out for sale. If you want to sell a lot of books, you will also need to market yourself aggressively. You can rent a table at book fairs, or set up author signings at bookstores who agree to carry your book. Additionally, if there is a pre-existing group of people who would be interested in your book’s topic, you can reach out to them directly. Like say, if you write a non-fiction book about a specific type of car, you can find out of there is an owners club or fan club for that type of car, and contact them about your book. You can also reach out to local radio stations or podcasters, especially if your book relates to a topic they’re interested in, and they might be happy to do an on air interview with you. You’ll never know if you don’t ask, and as a new author, especially a self-published author, you’ll never sell many copies of your book if you don’t sell yourself first.

The road to publication via self-publishing is short. As quickly as you finish writing your story, you can get it released. If you just want to publish as an ebook, all you need is a relatively well formatted Word document that you can upload to any number of ebook publishers who will make it available for sale pretty much immediately. If you want to publish in paperback or hardcover format, you have a few extra steps to complete like designing the cover, obtaining an ISBN (International Standard Book Number), and converting your manuscript to PDF, but once you have those it’s basically the same exact upload process to have your book be available in print.

If that’s all you wanted, then congratulations, you’ve achieved your goal! You wrote a book, and now that book exists! That’s pretty cool. If you’re just interested in writing as a fun hobby and think it would be neat to have your books available for sale, Self-Publishing probably works for you.

If your goal is to actually make a lot of money self-publishing, while it is not impossible by any means, the road to SUCCESS in self-publishing is long and arduous. It is VERY rare that a self-published author releases their first book and it gets read by the right people and generates enough buzz that it sells well. There’s just too much competition out there. You CAN build a solidly successful career self-publishing however, if you continue producing good work and releasing books year after year. Your fan base will grow geometrically, and with every new book released you will make that many more sales, which will draw that much more interest to your work, which will snowball until eventually you realize hey, I’m paying my bills by writing, I’m a real writer. That’s pretty cool. To succeed at that takes a LOT of grinding however. You need to write consistently, and what you write needs to consistently be good. It’s a full time job and then some.

So what about traditional publishing? What does the life cycle of a traditionally published book look like? Here is the spark notes version of the process:

Step One – You have written a story, or at least a significant portion of a story that you are confident other people will be interested in reading

Step Two – You find an agent. Most traditional publishers do not accept unsolicited manuscripts. That means that even if you have the greatest story ever written, if you, as a random new author, send it directly to the publishing company, it will never be read. By anybody. Ever. It will be thrown out, no question. There are some smaller indie publishers that are open to direct submissions, but they will only be accepting certain types of stories, in certain months, in certain limited numbers, so your odds of finding a home for your manuscript that way are definitely limited. (But not impossible, so definitely do your research!)

This is where an agency comes in. An agent is your hype man. They will represent you to the editors of publishing companies, and will give you the greatest chance of your manuscript being successfully picked up by somebody. Different publishers are interested in different things. Some like genre fiction. Some like literary fiction. Some like non-fiction. Some like all of those things at different times throughout the year. A good agent will do their research and know what publishers are looking for at a given time, and will send your manuscript only to the ones who will likely be willing to check it out. So how do you get an agent? Ironically, it’s pretty similar to what an agent will do when they are shopping out your manuscript to the publishing company. You will have to do your research, see what agencies out there are interested in the type of story you have written or are writing, and which of them are currently accepting manuscript submissions. Then, you will follow whatever rules they have for submissions (full manuscript sent in the mail? First ten pages and a synopsis? Emailed query letter?), you will send out your submission, and then you will wait. 9 times out of 10, you will get no response ever, or if you’re lucky, you’ll get a form letter basically saying thanks but no thanks. If you are VERY lucky however, you might get an individualized denial response back with specific criticisms or advice about your story. Even though that’s a no as well, it’s exciting because it means they actually read your submission. That means you’re getting closer. Basically this process can continue indefinitely as long as you have the energy and will. You keep sending out submissions, and improving your story, and sending out submissions, and improving your story and on and on and on many times over until an agent finally responds and says YES, I would like to work with you. This can take a LONG time. Agents are the first gatekeepers on the road to traditional publication. They receive a LOT of manuscripts from hopeful authors. Some submissions they receive are great. Some are just good. And some are undoubtedly really, really bad. You need to make sure your manuscript is as good as it can possibly be, before you even think about sending it out, because you are up against a huge amount of competition.

If an agent is intrigued by what you have written, and they think it is worth their valuable time and energy to try to get published, then the hard stuff begins. You negotiate with the agency about what their representation will cost (usually commission on the published book, something in the 15% range, NOT an upfront cost from you, that would be ridiculous) and they start the manuscript submission process all over with the publishing companies, all while you’re still working to edit and improve and polish your story. Editors are obscenely busy. They’re not interested in working with  a diamond in the rough. If you’re an unknown author that they can’t guarantee will sell, they want you to already have as close to a finished product as possible before they will spend any of their time bringing it to market. You can find what agencies exist and what types of manuscripts they are soliciting with publications like the Writer’s Digest or Writer’s Marketplace, or even with simple online searches. You can also look up your favorite authors or authors of books similar to what you’ve written, and see who represented them.

Step Three – If your agent finally succeeds in selling your manuscript to a publishing company, they will have their editors review it, and even if you think it’s perfect, your revision and improvement process starts all over again. Since the publishing company has purchased the rights to your book, this is the point where they can demand drastic rewrites, if they so choose. The manuscript is now their baby, not yours. You’re just the hired labor.

Your agent will be essential to help negotiate the best deal for your book with the publisher. Since the agent will be paid from their contracted portion of your profits, it behooves them to negotiate the best possible contract on your behalf, which generally involves some sort of advance payment, and then if sales are successful enough to cover the publisher’s initial advance cost that they paid you, you will start collecting royalties on subsequent sales. A lot of sales need to occur for this to happen however, because the publishing company will be out both the money they spent on your advance, as well as all the cost tied up in printing and distributing your book to countless bookstores. If the books don’t sell well, you may never see another dime beyond that advance payment, and there is nothing you can really do because the publisher now owns the rights to the book, not you. You can probably buy it back from them, and they would likely be willing to do it to cover the rest of their costs on an unsuccessful book, but then you’re right back where you started if you were to self-publish from the get go.

Traditional publishing is risky to you as an author because you might never get to see your book in print. You just might never find an agent or publishing company that is interested in it, and that’s as much due to luck as anything else. The rewards if you succeed however are so high! If your book is published, and it is a hit, and the right people start buying it and talking about it, you can become rich and famous! Talk shows, movie options, book signings, the whole enchilada. Obviously that result is pretty rare. Especially for new authors.

My biggest advice to you is to keep writing! The more you write, the better you get at writing, AND the more opportunity you will have to sell something successfully. If you’re thinking about writing as a business, your stories are your products. The more products you have, and the better they are, AND the better you get at making your stories visible to potential buyers, the more successful you will become.

If there is any particular part of this whole process you’re most curious about or want some help with, let me know! Conversely, if you know of a better way, or think that some of the information I’ve provided is just plain wrong, by all means, educate me.

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