Take a Knee

This isn’t supposed to be a political blog. My intent has always been just to tell jokes and talk about spaceships and shit. I lasted thirty years without having the slightest interest in politics, and I could have easily gone an additional thirty comfortable in my own ignorant apathy. Hell, growing up I never had any idea who my parents voted for in national elections. I don’t think they even discussed it with each other, because honestly, it didn’t really fucking matter. When the choice traditionally fell between one interchangeable blandly incompetent democratic politician, or another assembly line produced inoffensively evil republican politician, there was really nothing worth talking about. I certainly never would have felt compelled to talk about it. Besides, who was I to share my opinion even if I had one? I”m just some regular jagoff, a dumb stupid idiot, who is not even cool.

Unfortunately, thanks to our wildly incompetent, divisive, offensive and childish POTUS, having strong feelings one way or another regarding the current political landscape is, like getting crabs at UCONN, 100% unavoidable. So what is there to be angry about? Take your pick. Environmental protection rollbacks? Affordable healthcare? Education costs? Women’s rights? Current and potential foreign wars? Civil unrest? Tax breaks for the super rich? All very important topics that we should be concerned about, for sure.

Let’s talk about athletes kneeling during the national anthem instead. THAT’S the one. THAT’S the topic worth fighting about.

Here’s what is going on, for those of you who are lucky enough to be living in an isolated cave or impenetrable jungle, and haven’t had access to outside news for some time. Former 49ers quarterback Colin Kaepernick sat down during a televised performance of the National Anthem preceding an NFL football game, in order to protest and draw attention to the issue of police brutality and the unfair treatment of People of Color, which is endemic in our society. After receiving an enormous backlash for his actions, and discussing the issue with a friend who was a military service member, Mr. Kaepernick adjusted his protest to kneeling, which is an otherwise universally accepted position of respect that hurts nobody, but still quietly and unobtrusively gets his point across. Inspired by his actions, other teammates, players for rival teams, and indeed even athletes competing in different sports began to take a knee as well.

Predictably, people lost their fucking minds. Their arguments were many and varied, but generally followed the same basic themes.

Argument 1: Who do these athletes think they are? They’re rich, their lives aren’t so bad. They have nothing to protest about.

To which I say, I did not realize that you had to be personally victimized by injustice to fight against that injustice. I guess we should go remind the people who protest against animal abuse that they aren’t allowed to, because they themselves are not animals. Or maybe we should make a time machine and travel back in time to remind everybody who fought against the Nazi’s treatment of the Jews that they shouldn’t bother if they’re not Jewish themselves. Evidently, you simply cannot stand up for what is right and just, if you’re not a direct victim of injustice. You’re not qualified to have an opinion on the matter. It’s somebody else’s problem and you should just keep your stupid mouth shut. It’s the same logic, right?

Argument 2: They are paid employees of their respective teams. We don’t pay them to have opinions, we pay those boys to battle for our entertainment. Dance monkey, dance. They can feel feelings in their free time. At home. Alone. Where we don’t have to see it, and it will achieve nothing.

Okay, but here’s a thought. The NFL supports the American Cancer Society by wearing pink apparel during games and raising money for the fight against breast cancer. We don’t pay those darn athletes to fight breast cancer. They probably don’t even HAVE breast cancer, so its like, why do they even care? I hate pink. I think it’s an ugly color and I don’t want to see it. I also hate cancer, and I don’t want to be reminded about it. So why aren’t people angry about #NFLPink like they are about kneeling for the national anthem? Is it conceivable that they’re angry, not, like they’re saying, because they don’t think athletes should show support for an important cause, but actually because they just don’t respect the cause those athletes have chosen? Weird.

Argument 3: Our armed forces members are heroes!

That is…potentially true. Doesn’t have anything to do with the flag though. Yes, I get that the flag and the national anthem are deeply tied to our military and our military service members, but they are not one and the same. So protesting one is not necessarily protesting the other. Gandhi often went on hunger strikes. That doesn’t mean he hated food, or chefs. It means he used his hunger strikes as a vehicle for change on a completely separate issue. Athletes are kneeling during the national anthem. This doesn’t mean they hate the national anthem, or the military. It means that they feel so strongly about an important issue that they are willing to endure anger and ridicule and scorn by carrying out an activity that, although it literally couldn’t be more peaceful, or quiet, or unobtrusive, was always going to be unpopular. So maybe we should be asking what problem is so bad that they feel strongly enough about it that they are willing to do something so unpopular to draw attention to it, instead of just being angry at them for doing the unpopular activity. It’s worth thinking about.

Argument 4: These assholes are disrespecting the flag!

I’m going to tell you a little secret. The flag doesn’t care. It’s an inanimate piece of cloth material literally incapable of feeling anything or recognizing disrespect.

…Well, it’s a symbol of the United States, therefore they’re disrespecting the United States!

Okay. But maybe, just maybe the USA deserves a little disrespect right now. You know what they’re really protesting right? You GET it, don’t you? By kneeling, these athletes are saying, hey, this flag is supposed to symbolize a cultural ideal, that of liberty and justice for ALL. And, right now, it’s not keeping that promise. Our country is not keeping that promise. We DON’T have liberty and justice for all, and we want it.

Real talk, that sounds like a great, admirable, righteous thing to protest for to me.

And, if you don’t think they have a legitimate complaint, you’re actually proving that they have a legitimate complaint. Look at it this way. They’re complaining that young, innocent, unarmed black and brown human beings are being mistreated, beaten, and murdered to death with impunity, and you are WAY more offended about the fact that they are complaining, than that young, innocent, unarmed black and brown human beings are being mistreated, beaten, and murdered to death with impunity.

Logic would dictate that you be more concerned with the suffering of actual, real life, living, breathing, human beings, than with a perceived slight against an inanimate object. So, why aren’t you?

US flag

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On North Korea

I am a creature of routine. I prefer eating the same things at the same times for days on end. You could set your watch to the regular motions of my bowels. I have a set sleep schedule, from which any deviation causes me to spiral into a bottomless pit of rage and despair. I enjoy the same books, and the same music, and the same TV shows and movies on repeat to infinity and beyond.

Because I am a creature of routine, I find that I am often stuck slavishly adhering to my habits, even when those habits are no longer desired. In the morning for instance, after I’ve been woken up approximately six minutes before I actually want to get up by the insistent demands of my bladder, and after I’ve stretched the kinks out of my back and shambled downstairs blinking the unpleasant crusties from my eyes , I enjoy a crisp, refreshing bowl of sugary cereal, even though at my age, that really isn’t the healthiest choice to start my mostly sedentary day. Intellectually, I know I should be consuming some sort of fruit, or maybe a couple of egg whites, and not eighteen servings of cocoa blasted sugar bombs, but the thought of eating anything other than a bowl of cereal first thing in the morning to me is simply inconceivable. Equally as unhealthy, while I am eating my cereal, I like to catch up on my social media.

It’s always a disappointment.  First comes Facebook, which honestly, I don’t really even know why I still have, since nobody posts hilarious jokes or sexy pictures except me. Instead, I’m treated to a disheartening parade of newly engaged couples, or newly wedded couples, or newly be-babied couples, all while I know that Mistress is lurking somewhere in the shadowy background of my kitchen like Gollum from the Lord of the Rings, scratching behind her ear with her taloned foot and mumbling demands for a precious ring of her own. Next, I try Snapchat, in the naively optimistic hope that I might have received some tasteful nudes from hitherto unknown admirers. Sadly, this is never the case. I don’t like Twitter, since it doesn’t have enough bright lights or pretty colors, so I finish my tour’de’media with Instagram, which, thanks to its abundance of fitness babes and motorcycle companies I follow, is always a consistently enjoyable note to end on. Also, it has memes.

I don’t know if as a whole, we’ve all collectively recently become depressed nihilistic bastards, wallowing in a mire of existential dread, or if we’ve always been this way, but it’s finally socially acceptable to share our macabre cynicism with a wider audience. Either way, I love me some sadness memes. Of course, the State of the Union being what it is, most of the trending topics have to do with President Trump, and the bewildering circus freak show that is the current White House. His most recent focus has of course been Kim Jong Un, and North Korea, probably in a transparent yet somehow still semi-successful bid to direct our attention away from all the other perplexing bamboozlery going on over there at 1600 Pennsylvania Avenue.

Kim

Here’s the thing about a war with North Korea. It’s a bad idea. It’s a bad idea for so many reasons, and really not a good idea for any reason, but Trump is likely salivating over the idea because he knows that nothing creates a patriotic fervor like a foreign war, especially amongst the type of people who form his support base, and also because he thinks of himself as some sort of godlike gift to this nation, and he figures crushing one of the last great bad guys of our era will cause us to spontaneously erect statues and shrines in his honor.

That’s really it, that’s probably the extent of his thoughts on the matter. He doesn’t want to invade North Korea to save the poor oppressed North Korean people. He doesn’t want to invade North Korea to protect the vulnerable South Koreans. He just feels like him and Kim Jong Un are in a dick wagging contest, and he wants Kim dead and mounted on his wall like a hunting trophy. Trump has, unfortunately, surrounded himself with incompetent stooges, shady businessmen, and military leaders. He has no experienced diplomats to temper his impulsive urges. Admittedly, unlike his other political appointees, I have nothing bad to say about the military leaders Trump has appointed, they are highly respected, experienced, and intelligent individuals, BUT when presented with a problem, military people will invariably come up with military solutions. When the only tool in your toolbox is a hammer, everything suddenly looks like a nail.

This is not a good situation to be in when it comes to North Korea. Especially because any punitive military action we take with North Korea will have huge ramifications for their neighbors, like China and South Korea. This being the case, you would think that we would be closely engaged with our friends and allies in South Korea, but the disheartening fact is that we don’t even have a current ambassador assigned to South Korea. Go figure.

Here’s the thing about North Korea. They don’t actually want a war with us. If we went to war with them, we would crush them. We would have air superiority, naval superiority, technological superiority, strategic superiority and tactical superiority. We would win that fight, likely with little to no actual danger to any United States lands or properties, other than the hundreds of thousands of young soldiers who we would throw away in the meat grinder that is any land war in Asia.

Kim Jong Un is not a dumb man. He’s a fat greedy fuck who wants to eat Doritos, snort coke, and pound hookers while getting a continuous handy job from his cowed, brainwashed and starving populace, but he’s not a dumb man. He knows that he has no friends. He knows that if he pushes too hard, he’ll finally get swatted down like an annoying child. But he also knows that he would make that swatting unbearably costly.

North Korea’s weapons program is not advanced enough to threaten the mainland US, despite their best efforts. They likely do not have reliable long range ballistic missiles. What they do have, is plenty of mid-range missiles. So they can very much devastate the population centers of South Korea. Hell, there’s ten million people in Seoul alone, and that one city happens to be a stone’s throw from the North Korean border.

There’s no way around it. If we bomb, invade, or otherwise antagonize North Korea too much, their nukes are going to fall on South Korea. Our friends and allies will die by the millions. We’re putting our friends in real danger of being bombed, and Trump hasn’t even saw fit to send them an ambassador to talk about the situation. If they get fucked over because of our saber rattling aggressiveness, all the rest of our friends and allies are going to start questioning their safety with us around too.

Even if, by some strange miracle, we are able to win a war and topple the Kim regime quickly and bloodlessly, we still won’t be making any friends. The North Korean people are the most militaristic culture in modern history. Nearly everyone serves in the military. Sure their equipment might be rusty old Soviet cast offs or cheap Chinese knockoffs of Russian throwaways, but Western powers have more than learned that a sufficiently determined indigenous force, even if they’re just armed with sticks and rocks, can still seriously fuck up our shit. So, if the Kim family gets deposed, and another warlord takes his place, we get to keep fighting, probably for years and years and years. I’d guess this to be the most likely scenario, knowing what I know about the indoctrination present in the North Korean culture. That or China or Russia would rush in to claim some land and a cheap labor force, and we and South Korea would push back, and World War Three would start.

Less likely, but probably equally as devastating, is if no one stepped up the fill the void, and the North Koreans were suddenly left to their own devices. It’s basically a medieval country over there. They have no internet, limited electricity, limited reliable technology, limited medical resources, and nonexistent education beyond The Great Leader is Great. They have no idea what the outside world is like. If they lose the stability and control of their current oppressive government, their economy, such as it is, will collapse, and they are going to start starving and dying in droves. For a good many of them, their first idea is going to be to get the fuck out of North Korea. So where will they go? First, they’ll go to China, their ostensible allies, but you know damn well the Chinese are going to lock down that border hard, probably with deadly force. Next, they’ll go to reunite with their cousins in the South, where their influx will, if not stopped, likely cripple the South Korean economy and lead to continued strife and violence. So then their diaspora will look elsewhere.

Who is going to take them in? Us? Come on. We’re not even letting our own Southern neighbors in. We’re not even letting wealthy and well educated Doctors and Scientists from Muslim countries in. We’re certainly not going to welcome a horde of anachronistic Asian peasants across our borders, even if they’re just coming here because we blew the shit out of their homeland and they have nowhere else to go.

So there it is. War with North Korea is a bad idea. It would be a Pyrrhic victory at best, and the start of World War III at the worst. It would cost us a lot, it would cost the rest of the world a lot, it would cost our friends and allies in South Korea a really real lot, and it would cost the poor North Korean people everything. Millions of people on both sides of the 38th Parallel would die. Innocent people. Trump would know that if he had some diplomats to talk to, but alas he doesn’t. He has Fox News and a Twitter account instead.

Oh well, at least the memes will be fire though.

ww3

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Everybody likes an eBook sale!

Everyone will (HOPEFULLY) be happy to know that I’ve been plugging away on my next book, The Night Ripper, and as I draw closer to completing it, i’ll periodically be releasing some FREE short stories set in the same universe as The Night Ripper here on this website. These stories will introduce you to some characters and themes which may or may not be present in the book itself, you’ll just have to wait to find out.

In the mean time, look what is currently on sale for kindle. If you haven’t grabbed a copy yet I mean, shit, it’s $0.99 :

Apostate_Konstantin_Cover_for_Kindle

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Life, Death, and the Paris Climate Agreement

I post something to this site roughly once a month, and for the most part I try to keep those posts light, you know, something sexy and hilarious, just like me. Sometimes however, I feel compelled to drop some real talk instead. This is one of those times.

Yesterday was the anniversary of the infamous D-Day invasion of Normandy, France by allied forces in WWII. This is a day remembered for the bravery and sacrifice of American and Allied soldiers, who stormed the beaches of Normandy against a fortified German army. Their attack is remembered, not just because it was a dramatic and bold large scale assault against an entrenched foe, but because it was also a message. It was a message sent around the world that we and our allies would no longer stand idly by in the face of fascism, tyranny, and oppression. This assault, not through luck, but through grit, determination, and the mutual support of the USA and her allies working together toward a common cause was a turning point in the War, and the beginning of the end for the obscenely inhumane Third Reich. It was also the point where the United States really began asserting themselves as a Super Power, one ostensibly dedicated to being the “good guys.”

D-Day is always extra poignant for me because it is also the anniversary of my father’s much more recent passing, so around this time of year I often find myself introspectively contemplating mortality and death.

Now, being exposed to death at a young age, both from my father’s passing as well as from an inordinate amount of friends who have also died far too young in far too undignified manners,  I have long since come to terms with it emotionally, but still wrestle with its implications philosophically.

My father was, by all accounts a brilliant, hilarious, larger than life individual, but he was killed when I was so young that he’s never been more than a shadow to me. My memories of him are so limited that he was never a real presence in my life. His influence for me was really only noted as an absence in the lives of those around me whom he used to touch. Tragically, as the years go by, that sphere of influence inevitably shrinks. People forget him, people die, his footprint in the world fades. His legacy lives on, in an ephemeral manner, in those who knew him and were influenced by him, in my mother, who handled her heartbreak by devoting herself fully to her children, at the cost of losing a bit of who she was as an individual, and who, based on her cautious and cool relationships with men since then, appears unable or unwilling to open herself up to that level of vulnerability again. So my father, like every other person who has ever passed away, enjoys a sort of limited immortality while his memory lives on in those he left behind, but eventually they too shall pass, and everything he was, everything he did, everything he dreamed, everything he hoped to be, will be well and truly gone.

This is in part what drives me to write, not just because I like being creative, and not because I think I have any extraordinary ability to do so, but because of my hope that my words can live on after I am gone, and like a stone dropped in a pond, cause ripples long after I myself  have faded from sight. I don’t dare hope to reach the level of immortality enjoyed by the greats like Shakespeare, or Tolkien, or Nietzsche, or the mad Arab Abdul Alhazred, author of the dreaded Necronomicon. Mine is a more humble desire, that maybe some day, some nerdy kid with glasses and an unfortunate bowl cut will come across a scuffed up, dog-eared copy of one of my books on the shelf of some second-hand bookstore that smells of dust and cat-pee, and will take it home and read it by flashlight under their covers until long after bedtime, and will go to school the next morning red-eyed and tired, but in some way affected by my words and ideas. That’s the best kind of immortality I could hope for. (Of course this won’t be possible if all of our publications transition to digital copy, and then civilization crumbles and the internet fails and electronics become useless, and we all slip into a new dark age because all of our accumulated digital knowledge is lost forever, but that’s a discussion for another post altogether.)

My understanding and acceptance of the slight, transitory, fleeting nature of our lives also shapes my feelings regarding our place on the planet. This is why I am so wounded by our current president’s decision to remove us from the Paris Climate Agreement. Now, admittedly, the Paris Climate Agreement was burdensome for the United States, much more so than for most of the other Countries involved, but those were burdens we placed on ourselves, and I believe they were not so onerous that it was worth withdrawing from the Agreement.

The countries involved in the Agreement set their own goals, many which were much less ambitious or costly than the goals committed to by the USA, but in a fight like this, every little bit helps, and it behooves us to continue our efforts even if those efforts are not immediately met by everyone else. From a certain point of view, Trump’s action can be seen as a savvy move meant to extricate the United States from an unfair and biased initiative. The problem is, we helped create that initiative.

From a practical standpoint regarding the actual net impact on climate change over time, it is not that important that we have left the Agreement IF we continue our own efforts to combat climate change. It is still very important however because of what it says to the rest of the world. Appearances are very important, and it appears to our allies and rivals and everyone else that we cannot be trusted to honor our obligations or commitments, which is especially damning because we set those obligations and commitments for ourselves. The world is now wondering how selfish the United States could be, that they have reneged on their own promises to do something which benefits literally the entire world in the long term for the express purpose of saving money today. It is saying that our ideals of life, liberty, and happiness for all, which a healthy and vibrant world are necessary to achieve, are actually less important than our ability to make sure American businesses make the most money possible as quickly as possible, right now, today, consequences be damned. It is saying that all the goodwill and trust our soldiers bought with their lives that June 6th in 1944 amongst our allies was a waste, because going forward we may not maintain those relationships or honor our commitments to each other for the greater good.

If the price of remaining in the Paris Accord is some of my tax money going to fight climate change, whether domestically, or abroad in developing nations, I’m okay with that price. There is no ultimate downside to fighting for cleaner air, and water, and land. Cleaner air, and water, and land, is GOOD. We all share one Earth, and the repercussions of climate change will not politely respect our national borders to go bother other people, no matter how big of a wall we build.

Mr. Trump ran on a populous platform fueled by promises to bring coal mining jobs back to coal country, which honestly seems like a pretty crappy promise. Why specify that they be coal jobs? Coal mining is a tough, dangerous, unhealthy, unpleasant, outdated industry. Our nation’s coal miners don’t really want to go back underground. They just want jobs so that they can support their families. If we invested instead in healthy, modern, high tech alternatives like the burgeoning green energy sectors, instead of relying on dwindling fossil fuels, we would both create enduring jobs in wind, solar, water, and other renewable power systems, and we would also make great strides in reducing our carbon footprint and combating climate change. The long term benefits and reduced costs are undeniable, and if a former miner were able to choose between earning a living wage breathing more coal dust underground, or working in the clean air and sunshine erecting a windmill or solar farm, I think we all know what they would likely pick.

Here’s my philosophy. We are stewards of this world. We are not its conquerors, we are its caretakers. We are here for a short time only. Our lives, as previously discussed are short. Fleeting. Insignificant. We don’t really own this world. We don’t even rent it. We’re more like hotel guests. If the entire history of Earth was condensed to a single day, humans have been around for two minutes. We’ve barely had time to check in, and we’ve already pretty much wrecked our hotel room. I don’t know what kind of person you are, but I don’t want to be the type of dick who wrecks his hotel room.

Especially since I won’t even have immigrant cleaners available to pick up after me because Trump wants to deport them all.

Soon me, and everybody I’ve ever known will be dead. That’s unavoidable. We don’t have to take the world with us. If my legacy is a few remembered lines of prose and a healthier planet, I’ll consider it a life well lived.

Earth

The one and only, no refunds, no replacements, so don’t break it you dumb idiots – God, probably

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The Legend of Florida Man aka Our Trip to Miami Beach

It began, as these things often do, with a birthday party. The party in question was two weekends ago, for my thousand year old grandmomma. Full disclosure, I had mixed feelings about going to the party, mainly because we had celebrated Mistress’ thirtieth birthday party well into the wee hours of the evening before, and I was nursing a disastrous hangover, courtesy of my overindulgence in crisply refreshing american lagers and enough fat rails of Dr. Rockso’s White Lightning to build a train track from here to the Rio Grande. Additionally, even though Grandma and I have been acquainted for the entirety of my life, we don’t really know each other at all. To me, she’s the loving but no-nonsense matriarch of the family, the mother to my mother, and the scarily old woman who sits in a plush recliner in the corner of her living room, her short, white hair poofed around her head like a wispy halo, and the tiny bits of her papery old lady skin which are not covered in knitted afghan blankets mottled and discolored like an overripe banana. To her, I’m just another one of the vaguely familiar, but bewilderingly multitudinous mass of grandchildren who intrude upon her tranquility during holidays and birthday celebrations. Even before she started going deaf, for years the extent of our personal communication has been limited to “You being good?”, Grandma’s generic catch-all query to all of her numerous descendants, and my reassuring reply of “Yes, Grandma.”

As it was however, I forced my abused body into motion and Mistress and I made the short drive across state lines to share in her birthday celebrations. Once there, after completing the obligatory round of affectionate greetings with those various aunts, uncles, cousins, plus ones, and hangers-on in attendance, and filling a plate with the somewhat untrustworthy smorgasbord of food available at any holiday potluck, Mistress and I were discussing our upcoming trip to Miami when I was startled to find my arm grabbed by Grandma’s claw-like grandma hand. Since we were not within striking distance of her recliner, and she is generally only semi-mobile at best, and that’s with the help of a walker cane, I’m still not sure how she had threaded her way through the crowded room without solicitous younger relatives clearing her path like the Genie of the lamp announcing the entrance of Prince Ali Alibaba from Disney’s Aladdin. Even more disconcerting, she then addressed me by name, something I had been fairly certain she had never bothered to learn, blessed as she is with an overabundance of grandchildren, of which I am in no way the most interesting or memorable. She said, “Max. When you enter the land of the newlyweds and nearly-deads, beware the Florida Man.”

I don’t know about you, but when a deaf, infirm, anachronistic dowager references an internet meme, and when a previously sunny, warm day turns dark and forbidding while she does it, I sit up and take notice. Understandably shaken, I soon excused myself from the party, and returned home with Mistress, where I began to research.

It didn’t look good.

“Florida Man, accused of murder, wants to show his penis to the jury…”

“Florida Man choked co-worker for talking to his girlfriend…”

“Florida Man exposes penis during church service…”

“Florida Man’s dogs test positive for cocaine…”

“FloridaMan crashes car into zebra…”

“Florida Man steals 200 pairs of panties…”

“Florida Man attacks mailboxes with machete naked…”

“Florida Man seduced by horse…”

“Florida Man killed Florida State mascot for gumbo recipe…”

As my research progressed, I grew more and more disgusted. Unfortunately, I also grew more and more intrigued. Who was this Florida Man? Where did he get his strange super powers? When would his reign of bizarre terror end? Could he be defeated? I tried to hide my obsession from Mistress, but as we boarded the plane for our flight to Miami, I think she suspected the direction our vacation was about to take.

No longer would we simply be resting in the warm sand of Miami Beach, pickling our insides with overpriced beverages, and playing “hot-or-not” with the various passerby. Nay. I was on a mission. I needed answers. I needed to find the Florida Man.

What was clear, is that he is a shy and elusive creature, but prone to outstanding bursts of physical violence of a hilarious and ironic nature. If Mistress and I just waited around for him to appear, we would surely fail in our quest. We needed to be mobile. Step one, we would need a car. Since their was no 1989 Camaro RS with a leaky T-tops roof and color mismatched replacement passenger door conveniently waiting for us when we got off the plane, we had to use the next best thing, a rental Ford Fiesta. Our hope was that its particular mix of rickety inexpensiveness, shoddy domestic craftsmanship, and exotic latin name would appeal to the conflicted sensibilities of the unpredictably patriotic FloridaMan, allowing us to get closer than would be possible in a nicer foreign vehicle.

Once our transportation was secured, we drove to our lodging, an Airbnb rental in the North Beach area of Miami Beach. I won’t give you much details, since there is currently a war on between Airbnb and the local hotel industry in Miami beach, and I wouldn’t want our lovely hostess to be caught in the crossfire should this post garner national attention, which it likely will since it’s topic concerns such a polarizing figure as the mighty Florida Man. Suffice to say, it was a small ranch style home which we shared with another couple who were also on holiday. Unfortunately, they spoke very little English, so I was unable to impress upon them the great danger posed by Florida Man. They may well be dead now, their faces consumed by Florida Man in a fit of bath-salts fueled pique, but I maintain hope that they were able to enjoy the entirety of their vacation unmolested.

IMG_2041

Our Airbnb room. That painting wasn’t the only elephant trunk in the room that weekend if you know what I mean.

Since our flight was late and we arrived at our rental in the evening, we resolved to get some sleep before we began our search, so we settled down for a night of uneasy Florida dreams on the creaky and uncomfortable pull out mattress present in our Airbnb bedroom. I was briefly woken around 4 am by the distressing sound of multiple cats screaming outside our bedroom window. Probably because Florida Man was nearby, perhaps murdering his auntie-wife with a coconut or popping his scrotum through the gaps in a chain link fence for no discernible reason, or doing some other Florida Man type activity. In the morning, unrefreshed, but resolved to move forward with our quest, Mistress and I decided to spend the day at the beach. Although or quarry was more likely to be found in the mosquito infested backwater swamps further inland than a well patrolled busy beach, we figured that only by thinking like the Florida Man could we hope to root him out, so a devastating case of sunburn and heat exhaustion would be invaluable in bubbling our brains back to the troglodytic level of self-restraint and common sense usually demonstrated by the mysterious creature.

After drinking a disgusting slurry of room temperature shower beers, and fully crisping ourselves for the entire morning in North Beach, we drove to South Beach to see what all the fuss was about. South Beach was…not my scene. Imagine an overcrowded beach full of mostly unattractive old people with leathery walnut brown skin. Imagine a road along that beach full of bumper to bumper traffic, with everybody driving the finest of expensive exotic high performance super-cars at .2 miles per hour screaming look at me, look at me, look at me, while their underutilized and abused vehicles overheat in the unforgiving sun, and on the other side of the road are a series of overcrowded mediocre restaurants serving over-sized, over-priced drinks to sunburnt tourists who really shouldn’t be day drinking any more, and all of them are wearing less clothing than they should, and are also screaming look at me, look at me, look at me in a vulgar display of wealth particular to the newly wealthy or strangely insecure. This is South Beach, a shrine to classless ostentation and self-centered peacockery.

IMG_2028

Personal favorite gimmicky drink of the trip

Escaping that nightmarish pit, we returned to North Beach, where we went out to dinner, eschewing the various delicious looking Cuban restaurants near our rental for a stomach churning brinner feast at the local Denny’s, high cuisine for Florida Man.

The next day, we beat a path inland, driving out to the everglades where we chartered an airboat to assist us in our hunt. Unfortunately, all we ended up seeing was a bunch of fascinating scenery on the river of grass, full of interesting creatures and exciting experiences. It was quite lovely, a lot of fun, and entirely disappointing. Who cares if we had seen a million alligators? We hadn’t seen the only prey we really cared about.

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My Alligator bride eagerly waiting for me to go into the water

To cheer ourselves up, on the way back to our Airbnb rental we stopped in the Wynwood neighborhood of Miami, a former commercial district which has been fully hipsterified with a plethora of incredible street art, trendy bars, and various art and music exhibitions. It was pretty cool, but it was not the type of place where we would come face to face with the Florida Man.

The following day, somewhat dejected from our failure to find FloridaMan in the swamps, which had been, we thought, the plan most likely to succeed, we returned to the beach to recenter ourselves and plan our next move. Mistress Kay, suffering from a bit of a hangover, and a distinct lack of determination, was content to admit defeat and enjoy the remainder of our trip relaxing in the ocean, but I would hear none of it. I had come to this crappy panhandle with a distinct goal, and damn it I was going to do everything in my power to achieve it.

Everything.

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I’m not proud of what came next. I left Mistress there on that beach. Taking the car, I careened back inland, stopping just long enough to buy a trunk full of cheap liquor and a few pounds of crystallized meth amphetamines. Posting up in an empty Walmart parking lot, I evidently spent the next several hours putting all of the substances which had filled the trunk of the Fiesta into my body with single-minded purpose. I say evidently, because I, not surprisingly, don’t remember what happened after that. I do know that my plan was to achieve a mental state of heightened shenaniganry close to the thought patterns of the volatile Florida Man, in the hopes that in this state, I would be drawn to him like a moth to a flame or iron filings to a powerful magnet.

Unfortunately, exactly what happened after then will always be a mystery, since I eventually blacked out, and awoke two days later face down on the floor of a double-wide trailer home in a burnt down trailer park, naked, covered in mosquito and hooker bites, in a puddle of blood and viscera from my disemboweled alligator bride, whom I had stabbed with a broken moonshine jar during an argument over Pokemon Go. In my obsessed quest to find Florida Man, I had found something far worse. I had become that which I hunted. I WAS Florida Man. With the right circumstances, we are ALL Florida Man.

Legend has it that this knowledge drove me mad, and I remain in Florida to this day, lurking in the darkness, biding my time, waiting for the next opportunity to strike. Beware the Florida Man.

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Where do you get your news?

Everybody is selling something. If you take nothing else away from this post, try your best to remember that. Everybody is selling something. Everybody has an angle. Everybody has motives behind everything they do. People do not act in opposition to their own self-interests. They do what they think is best for themselves, and usually, themselves alone. This is an immutable law of basic human shitcockery.

Your news sources are not immune to this law. In America, this is doubly true, because news organizations are literally selling something. They are selling themselves. In certain closed societies, the available news outlets may be a wholly regulated tool of the government, allowed to produce and distribute only carefully censored and approved information or propaganda. It doesn’t take a tremendous leap of imagination to understand that the news reports available in a place like, say, North Korea are going to be biased. It’s literally not allowed to be anything but. In America however, ostensibly the home of the free, the fact that the news you regularly consume is oftentimes equally as biased is a harder pill to swallow, when really, the only difference between the two is that, instead of a repressive government controlling the media to assert and maintain its domination over an ill-informed populace, American media spins its stories for the sake of money alone.

That’s the downfall of the free press. While they may be free to publish whatever they want, their incentive for doing so is to make money. In order to make money, they need to secure and build an audience, all while competing with rival news organizations. In order to secure and build their audiences, these news organizations need to identify the desires of their target demographics, and then report the news in a way that is palatable to that audience. At the end of the day, Conservative news outlets will put a conservative spin on their pieces, and liberal news outlets will put a liberal spin on theirs.

Let’s be real. According to left-leaning networks like CNN, Trump is about to be impeached, the government is crumbling, and we’re one dead black kid away from all out race war. If you follow the more conservative networks like Fox News however, you’ll read that the economy is doing great, domestic businesses are super optimistic, and everyone on the left is a whiny entitled libtard idiot gay fag who wears ladies underwear. So, which one is it? Are things looking up? Or down? Is Trump doing well? Or horribly? Are we closer to global nuclear annihilation? Or further? As with most things, the truth is probably closer to somewhere in the middle than either the right or the left care to admit.

Now, that’s fine if you have the media literacy to be aware of what’s happening, and realize that the information being brought to you has been washed and filtered to better fit with a preexisting mindset, and if you’re willing to put the effort into reviewing alternative sources to see how people with different biases can jump to wholly different conclusions from the same basic information.

If you don’t have that basic understanding of how the world works, and don’t recognize that everyone who tells you anything has an agenda however, you could very quickly find yourself surprised when reality doesn’t adhere to your truncated worldview. If, for example, you want to keep up to date with any news relating to the color purple, and you only get your purple-related news from http://www.purplesuckssomuch.com, the news you hear is obviously going to be very different than the news available about purple over on http://www.purpleisthebest.net. In a perfect world, all the purple-centric news would be available from a completely unbiased, factual, data-driven news site like http://www.judgmentfreeinformationaboutpurple.org, but unfortunately we don’t live in a perfect world, we live in a world where people are easily bored, and want to be entertained by their news and also want their news to confirm their already existing preconceptions about stuff and things.

The annoying part of all this is that we had a news organization like that, and we wasted it. Al-Jazeera America was the news network we needed, and we let it slip through our fingers, mostly because it just reported the facts in a dry, uninteresting manner, but also to an embarrassing degree because it had an Arabic name, and for a damnably large percentage of the American population, anything Arabic=Muslim=ISIS=Osama Bin Laden=Scary.

So what should you do? Well first off, if you get your news from a website, or TV network, or print publication that is known to be either liberal or conservative, stop. Don’t do it. You’re doing yourself a disservice by only getting half the story. If you’re being entertained by your news provider, that’s a bad sign. News shouldn’t be entertaining. It should just be. This is what happened. This is what happened. This is what happened. Now you are informed. Please form your own opinions, we will not do it for you. Good day.

I suggest that you obtain your news from a non-American based source. Something like BBC news, which, although still probably biased, is a globally respected news organization that is leaps and bounds less biased than American news networks, AND has the added benefit of not being beholden to the American people, so it can report on American issues in a more fact driven, less reactionary, less politically charged manner. After foreign news sources, I would go with not-for-profit news outlets, like NPR or PBS. Although a haven for left-leaning intellectual mouth breathers, NPR and PBS do a pretty good job of facilitating true discussion and reporting facts as opposed to speculation or opinions. Beyond that, if you simply must continue using domestic, for-profit news organizations, stick to the boring, less inflammatory ones like the Wall Street Journal. Don’t get distracted by the pretty lights and slick packaging available from less reputable news sources.

I believe in you America. I believe we can indeed be the greatest nation in the world, but in order to do so, we need to be savvy, media-literate, and well-informed. Don’t drink the Kool-aid. Don’t let the news tell you what to think. Get the facts, and decide for yourself.

So how about it? Where do you get your news?

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Guys, I have concerns about the Trump presidency

I have concerns, people. Legitimate, logical, common-sensical, rational, nonpartisan concerns. Honestly, I don’t really care which political party is in control. I’m no die-hard Democrat, or Republican. I’m just a bro, who up until this election was pretty much 100% apolitical. So pump the brakes before you accuse me of being a whiny, entitled, sore-loser libtard. That, I am not. Instead, keep reading, because this post concerns you, regardless of your political affiliation.

What I am, is a cautious, informed, logical person, who doesn’t like the picture currently developing for our nation’s near future.

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This is it. This is the picture.

I am concerned by Trump’s cabinet picks. Besides being a mix of billionaires and multi-millionaires with little to no history of public service or concern for regular people, an alarming portion of them appear to be either dangerously under-qualified, or downright inimical to the position they have been chosen to fill. To name just a few, there are people like Scott Pruitt, a man who hates the EPA, nominated to run the EPA. Betsy Devos, nominated as secretary of education, who has zero experience with public education. Rex Tillerson, nominated for Secretary of State, who as an Exxonmobile executive with close ties to Vladimir Putin has both financial and diplomatic conflicts of interest written all over him.  Avowed racist Jeff Sessions, nominated for attorney general, who was previously denied federal judgeship in our existing racist judiciary system for being too racist. Andy Puzder, nominated for secretary of Labor, a fast food CEO vehemently against workers rights, who will be responsible for protecting workers rights in a time of rising income inequality. And the list goes on. You don’t have to be Democrat or Republican, Liberal or Conservative, Male or Female, Black or White, Human or Meat Popsicle, to have legitimate concerns about what these cabinet picks mean. It looks like Trump, who ran and was elected on a populist platform fueled by the anger of regular old blue collar workers, is already turning his back on those regular folks in favor of rich campaign donors and greedy business oligarchs whose first and most pressing concern is increasing their personal profits. Which really, isn’t all that surprising when you think about it.

I am concerned by the rampant anti-intellectualism apparent in Trump and his supporters. Being upset and emotional and passionate have their place. So does being calm and thinking really fucking hard about things. Facts are more important than opinions. Sometimes the right choice is the hard choice. Sometimes you need to fucking admit that you don’t understand something, and that you need to research it further. No matter who you are, no matter what you feel, no matter who you support, you will benefit from reading more, learning more, thinking more, debating more. You will not benefit from slipping into a Brave New World style shallow meme-based immediate gratification type culture. Decadence and Pride are dangerous to any culture. Including ours.

I am concerned by Trump’s petulance. He’s an incoming president with catastrophically low approval ratings, and he’s more concerned that fewer people came to his inauguration than to President Obama’s than he is about the actual issues facing our nation, to the point where he’s spent an embarrassing amount of time and energy telling people not to talk about the inauguration attendance, time and energy that would have been better spent focusing on the massively attended women’s marches which occurred across the country the following day. Mr. Trump, you are now responsible for the safety, health, well-being and security of these women. You are a public servant. They are your public. You serve them. So maybe when millions and millions of your bosses gather together to tell you about their concerns with your conduct, you should stop pouting and fucking listen.

I am concerned by how vulnerable Trump’s presidency makes women, minorities, LGBTQs, people of color, Muslims, and any other people in our nation and across the world who may be considered undesirable by him and his bigoted supporters. I don’t know how to convince those vulnerable people that they will be safe and respected, because I don’t know that they will be safe and respected. I think that our long, arduous, unsteady march forward against social injustice and hate is going to take a rough beating over the next four years. I think that is bad. I think a lot of Trump supporters are saying not to worry about it, but I’m moderately familiar with our history, and there are a lot of disturbing parallels between what is happening now, and what happened in Germany in the early 1930s. That turned out poorly for everyone involved.

I am concerned by what the Trump presidency means for our environment. He has already surrounded himself with climate change deniers. The science is solid here people. Climate change is real, and it is dangerous, and it is affected by our actions. Trump has already supported the interests of fossil fuel companies over the interests of the American public and the environment. He is set to completely reverse  several years of hard earned environmental improvements, for the sake of the almighty dollar. Instead of investing in new, state of the art, renewable energy infrastructure, which would create jobs both now AND in the future while cleaning up our air and water, and generally making the entire world a safer, healthier, more beautiful place to live, he is dead set on further stripping our land of its very finite fossil fuel resources, which will create jobs for now, at a devastating cost to future generations. Look, I like being slightly richer, right now, this instant, as much as the next guy, but I also enjoy doing stupid hippy things like breathing clean air and not going extinct. Let’s put it this way, would you rather visit Sweden, a modern country lauded for its renewable energy efforts, or China?

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Stockholm, Capital of Sweden. Look at all that gross greenery and disgusting clean air.

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Beijing, Capital of China. Looks GREAT.

Unfortunately, it appears that Mr. Trump is adamant about competing economically with China, a country known for its closed media, untruthful government, low wages, poor working conditions, and deadly pollution, by becoming more like China. Competing with China and growing our own economy stronger is good. Great even. Doing it in a reckless and short-sited manner, bad. As an American who would rather work hard now to improve the health and well-being of our country and entire planet for future generations, this short-sited greed and reckless behavior concerns me.

I am concerned by Mr. Trump’s choices regarding our national finances. I agree, we need to control our budget and decrease our debt. I disagree with his methods. I do not think we need to decrease our investments in social services. We shouldn’t defund planned parenthood. We shouldn’t eradicate the safety net of nationalized health insurance without having completely revamped our for-profit healthcare system. Here’s a simplified version of our national budget, if our nation was a person:

Food: $13.1, Transportation: $26.30, Housing: $63.20, Medical: $66.00, Education: $70.00, Guns: $598.50, Social Security/Unemployment benefits: $29.10.

That’s enough to give you a partial picture of what the budget looks like. It doesn’t include everything that our government spends money on partially because i’m lazy and don’t feel like typing more, and partially because I’ve shown enough data to prove my simple point. If you’d like to break it down further, here’s a simple info-graphic:

gov spend

Now forgive me, but I think I see something in there that stands out, something that could possibly be trimmed to balance the budget. But I’m not going to tell you what it is. I’ll give you a hint, it’s not unemployment benefits. It’s not education. It’s not medicine. It’s not housing. It’s not transportation. It’s not food. But again, I’m not going to tell you what it is.

I did not vote for Mr. Trump. I know a lot of people who did not vote for Mr. Trump. I also know a lot of people who did vote for Mr. Trump. I’m going to need to ask both of those groups of people to grow up, stop pointing fingers at each other, and to work together, because if something bad happens, it’s going to happen to all of us, so we’re going to need to confront it without being in denial, we’re going to need to identify a solution, and we’re going to have to fix it. Us. Not anyone else. Because sometimes when the employee fucks up, the Bosses need to step in and clean up the mess.

Trump and the government are the employees. We’re the bosses. Don’t forget that.

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