It's Been Fun

I've had a good run here on earth but I'm fairly certain that my time is coming to a close: I got motivated this morning and decided to finally clean out the refrigerator in the basement that broke months ago-- many many months ago, because back in July I said that this fridge broke "several months ago" . . . that's one of the saving graces of this stupid blog, I can actually get a decent timeframe on the significant events in my life-- anyway, I opened the freezer door and was whacked in the face by a horrendous moldy stink, and I felt the mold spores burrow straight into my brain . . . I got some bleach spray and wore a shirt over my mouth and nose for the rest of the clean-up, but I'm certain that the fungus is gestating in my skull, and I'm afraid to look on the internet for the consequences of breathing in fermented refrigerator mold, but I'm sure it's fatal, and I'm sure there's going to be a period of insanity before I die so blue monkey carrot chocolate burp sound licks the claws.

New Brunswick: Taco Trucks on Every Corner!

While I realize this is The Marco Gutierrez Nightmare, the town across the Raritan River from me--New Brunswick-- now has a thriving Hispanic population, and with that scene come the tacos and burritos and enchiladas and posole and mole Oaxaqueno and empanadas and chorizo . . . I could go on and on, but I'm already salivating; anyway, here are two recommended options, one upscale and one incredibly cheap:

1) for the best tamales in town-- and they only cost a buck and a quarter-- head to Punto Y Coma; it's on French Street right in the heart of Little Mexico, and you'll have to dust off your Spanish to order, but it's worth it . . . great tacos al pastor, too, in homemade corn tortillas;

2) for something fancier, if you're looking for a real night out, then head to Esquina Latina . . . this place has more of a weirdly lit dance-club lounge feel, but the sangria is amazing and the food is really good too . . . especially the empanadas, just don't pronounce them "empanyadas," or you'll sound like a rube (as I did).

Doors Open and Doors Close

Richard Linklater's film Everybody Wants Some!! is the story of a college baseball player learning to navigate around a new campus, a new town and-- most importantly-- a new group of dudes; while there is a main character (Jake, a freshman pitcher) the story is less about him and more of an allegory, it's the early '80's, it's Texas, it's a group of college athletes, and class has not yet begun-- so they're not learning anything academic, but they are learning how to get around (as Russell Ziskey says in Stripes, "We're not homosexuals, but we're willing to learn") and all doors are open for these young men: they visit a local bar, a disco, a honky-tonk, a punk show, they host a baseball party-- which is very fratty-- and then, the climax, they really stretch themselves socially and go to a drama party . . . they change superficially for each event by literally changing their clothes-- and Linklater captures the fashion melting pot disaster that was the early '80's, and they also change mentally, and learn to understand the hierarchy of competitive dudes and thrive in it-- as they move through the layers of the campus and the town, the scenes are superfast and various, just as you might remember the first weeks of college, old school college, before honors programs and tiger moms and high school AP classes and incredible tuition costs, back when college was a time to experiment not only with learning, but with your personality . . . you could be anyone you wanted, and move through a frenzy of settings, barely connected by any through plot; the movie almost has a detached documentary feel, there is a time stamp in the corner counting down to when class begins . . . though I wasn't heavily emotionally invested in the characters or the plot, I loved the movie, and I highly recommend going on this optimistic cinematic adventure . . . but if you're in a more dour mood, and want think about doors closing, because of age, situation, and personality-- and you want to laugh like hell about all this existential misery-- then watch Season 5 of Louie . . . Louie also navigates a complex and variegated world, but it's a darker universe than the bright Texas sun in Everybody Wants Some!!-- Louie gets beat up by a trashy girl, spends some painful and enlightening times with a hack comic in Oklahoma, visits a chanting cult by accident, awkwardly attends a school potluck, tries (unsuccessfully) to NOT interact with his driver while he's on the road, bores the hell out of his psychoanalyst, has an intimate encounter with a pregnant surrogate, spends an awful evening with a childhood friend who is now an incompetent and depressed cop, takes an old time picture with some nice ladies, and travels through all the odd, weird, and often inscrutable layers of New York and beyond, and he's barely able to comprehend any of it, he can't seem to fit in or get comfortable, he can't find a bathroom, disappoints himself, his daughters, and his lover, and then takes this misery and processes it into stand-up comedy . . . now that I've sat down and written this reflection in contrast, I'm a bit sad and nostalgic: I miss the opportunity and flexibility that youth and college offers-- or once offered, those days might be gone . . . they are certainly gone for me, and they might be gone for everyone except the ultra-rich-- and I can see my future and it's not bright: the world will get more and more confusing, more and more closed off to me, as I grow older and my neurons stiffen and my ability to tolerate new situations gets worse and worse . . . I don't even know how to write myself out of this corner.

Stop the Country, I Want To Get Off!

In more news that sounds fake but isn't, Betsy DeVos-- the billionaire freelance Christian educational reformer who Trump has chosen for Secretary of Education-- has revealed that she would like to "help advance God's Kingdom" in the pedagogical realm . . . she's not content just donating money to Christian schools, instead she wants to "be in that Shephelah, and to confront the culture," which basically means she wants to fight the good fight against the Philistines-- of which I am one-- and she acknowledges that "the church-- which ought to be in our view more central to the life of the community-- has been displaced by the public school as the center for activity, the center for what goes on in the community" but she hopes with charter schools and tax credits and vouchers that the church can get more and more central and involved in the education of the youth . . . and I know she's not speaking to me, or my area of the country-- but still . . . HOLY SHIT . . . this is a wonderful, wild, weird admission of actual political/religious purpose-- in a way it's lovely because it's so clear and so crazy, an incredibly brazen violation of the separation of church and state, the admission of a deep-held desire for the government to fund religious affiliation-- Christian religious affiliation-- and a bizarre plan to unravel the most accessible democratic institution in American life-- the public school-- which is now a place where parents of any class, status, religion, and/or belief can have an immediate effect . . . a place where local people can run for school board or serve on the PTA or volunteer or coach or simply attend functions and have influence-- and so I love to see her ardent longing laid bare, her yen to turn this special place into a segregated religious institution . . . to place the secular setting where arts and music and sports and various clubs of all stripes and denominations happen under a religious purview, and more importantly, to taint the place where our critical thinking is taught with the tincture of Christian ideology-- hello Creationism!-- and I just love that she says it out loud, for everyone to hear . . . it's a great reminder of how ideologically different people are in this great country of ours; for a loosely connected reason why this is a weird and wild turn of events, listen to Sam Harris talk to Shady Hamid about his new book: Islamic Exceptionalism . . . Hamid explains that one of the major differences between the Islamic nations that often export terror and Western nations that do not, is that Islam is completely intertwined with politics, and there is no separation of church and state, nor is there even the idea that it's possible to separate religion and politics in places like Iran and Saudi Arabia . . . but there's no way that the Senate in the United States of America will approve her, right?

Te Cacharon!

Ian failed a Spanish quiz last week, so my wife has been on his case, to ensure that he's ready for the test this week-- last night Ian was sitting at the dining room table, doing an online quiz on the laptop, reciting Spanish words aloud, when my wife-- who was in the kitchen-- said to him, "What are you doing?" and Ian said, "Doing the quiz" and my wife said, "Look in the window" and Ian turned and looked and he realized that my wife could see the reflection of the laptop screen in the dining room window, and he also realized that his clever ruse of mumbling random Spanish words while he played (an online Centipede-like video game) had failed him . . . te cacharon!

Do NOT Read This Book

I'm in too deep to stop, but it would be hard for me to recommend Callum Roberts' book The Ocean of Life: The Fate of Man and the Sea-- it's just too depressing-- though he tries to keep the tone as hopeful as possible, the weight of the evidence is overwhelming: our oceans, the life within them, and the complex food-chains and filters of our planet are in dire jeopardy, unless we collectively start doing things very differently; here are some awful things I've learned so far:

1) the ocean is absorbing much of the carbon dioxide emitted when we burn fossil fuels, and this is causing a usurious problem that has been overlooked until recently: ocean acidification . . . to an extent that hasn't been seen in 300 million years-- at the end of the Permian, when there was a mass extinction; many corals, marine plants, and shelled animals need "dissolved carbonate minerals" and the lower pH makes it harder for these animals to "crystallize carbonate" out of a solution;

2) a cool fact, a pint of seawater contains two billion viruses, and they are helping to slow the rate at which the ocean is acidifying, but no one knows at what level of pH those tiny organisms won't be able to function-- or if they function too well, then there is an increase in global warming, because they recycle the the nutrients in sunlit waters-- keeping carbon in the cycle, instead of letting it sink into the deep sea;

3) nutrients, fertilizer and run-offs are causing toxic algal blooms at a much greater intensity and rate, red tides and other toxic phytoplankton which, when ingested, can cause hallucinations, nightmares, nerve-damage, cancer, birth defects, and tumors (especially in sea turtles) and the increase of big storms with high-winds has exacerbated airborne instances of sickness and contact, the "storms churn the sea into a spray which can be inhaled," resulting in rashes and lung inflammation . . . but what's bad for us is good for one creature-- the "triple combination of nutrient enrichment, low oxygen, and overfishing" is wonderful for jellyfish, so if you're taking a trip to the beach, make sure you bring meat tenderizer;

4) persistent organic pollutants (POPs for short) are building up in water and ice and animal fat all over the world, chemicals like DDT and PCBs are especially deleterious-- the toxic load carried by male dolphins in Sarasota Bay makes their flesh equivalent to biohazard . . . females have lower amounts of toxins because they pass much of the bad stuff to their offspring through pregnancy and breast feeding . . . and these toxins are making their way up the food chain, into large animals like whales and humans, and there are thousands of new chemicals wending their way through the waters and polar ice and food chains and we don't even know the consequences, so get used to the acronyms, there will be more to come;

5) if the chemicals don't get you, the heavy metals will-- the most toxic is mercury, and the main culprit for mercury pollution are coal-fired power plants . . . Asian plants produce over half of the world's mercury pollution, and it seems they are "hell-bent on building more" such plants . . . and if Trump has his way with deregulation, maybe we'll see more coal burning in America as well . . . anyway, my son loves sushi, but he really shouldn't be eating it, as tuna often exceeds safe levels of mercury . . . but the FDA also recommends that children and pregnant women don't eat swordfish, king mackerel, tilefish, and shark . . .

and I'm not even halfway done with the book, so sorry, but there will be more bad news to come.

The Test 69: Livin' La Vida Cunningham

This week on The Test, Cunningham forces Stacey and I to get in touch with our inner-Latina: check it out, keep score, and see if you're a supermalo estudiante de espanol.

Trump Saves Jobs and the American Economy!

Sorry . . . everyone else is writing fake news clickbait, so I've decided to join them-- I'm also sorry that Trump did not save the American economy when he strong-armed Carrier air-conditioning into staying in Indiana with a stick and a carrot-- respectively: he threatened them with tariffs on products they import into the U.S. and provided them with a 7 million dollar state-subsidized tax break . . . this, of course, is taking America one step closer to the isolationist insanity of North Korea-- not that I think there will be too much more of this, I'm hoping Trump did it purely so he could tweet-brag something, and that this is not as an economic policy . . . anyway, for those of you who are confused at how saving 800 jobs is not such a good thing, first of all, understand this is a drop in the bucket-- we've lost five million manufacturing jobs in America since the year 2000-- and if you want to know the effects of enacting high tariffs and forcing companies to stay in the country, listen to this excellent episode of Planet Money: Tires, Taxes, and the Grizz . . . or read my summary of it, anyway, all this means is that Indiana is subsidizing these jobs, and the threats to enact tariffs on parts and labor in Mexico is going to upset the complex supply chains between the U.S. and Mexico, and so Carrier air-conditioners will get more expensive and Americans will foot that bill-- the same way we foot the bill for Chinese tire tariffs . . . it's always cheaper to just pay off or retrain the 800 workers who lost their jobs and let the globalized market work its magic, but that's not fun to tweet about . . . in future fake news (that just might get real) avocadoes: $45 each!

Spacehog: Things Get Eponymous

A notable Topic of Interlocution at the Park Pub last night-- we attempted to determine the best eponymous song . . . in other words, the best song with the same title as the band that played it; here are some of the contenders:

1) "Bad Company" by Bad Company;

2) "This is Radio Clash" by The Clash;

3) "Black Sabbath" by Black Sabbath;

4) "They Might Be Giants" by They Might Be Giants;

5) "Minor Threat" by Minor Threat;

and there was only one song that was not considered; this song was brought to the attention of the panel by Roman, but despite the fact that it was Roman's name day, "Spacehog" by Spacehog was pronounced not only downright awful, but also very silly.

Let Them Eat Squid

I am in the middle of reading a rather depressing book called The Ocean of Life: The Fate of Man and the Sea, and so far, the theme is that the oceans are depleted-- humans have always pulled an incredible bounty from the sea and that has declined precipitously of late . . . and because we always reset the baseline, we can't even imagine how many fish were in the sea before our own time, unless we take an empirically scientific approach, as Loren McClenachan did with the shifting baseline of fish in the Florida Keys . . . this is not a fun study to read (nor is it amusing to look at the photos . . . but that's the story) and things are only getting worse . . . because of over-fishing of sardines and other filter feeders, and the resultant unchecked algal blooms and sulfuric up-swellings, and the warming of the top layer of the ocean-- a product of global warming-- which causes greater sequestration of oceanic layers and less mixing of the oxygen-deprived middle layer of water and the much warmer nutrient-rich upper layers, the ocean is a much less hospitable for large delicious finned fish and they are becoming more and more rare . . . but while big fish (and aquatic mammals) are on the decline, one of the few big animals that can survive in this ugly environment is the seven-foot, rather-intelligent, rather-vicious Humboldt squid, and this fearsome creature is edible, and so we may not be able to enjoy tuna and mahi-mahi and Chilean sea bass and cod, but we may still have some ersatz seafood on our table, nonetheless: slabs of chewy calamari . . . unless, of course, we make some serious regulatory changes in how much carbon we pump into the atmosphere and how much we harvest from the oceans-- but certainly America, in voting for Donald Trump, has expressed a disinterest in any of this (or perhaps even a malevolent skepticism that any of this science actually exists and holds water) and so when the price of fish skyrockets and there is nothing left to haul in except ten-tentacled suction beasts, we must assume that the powers that be will simply say: "Let them eat squid."

No Such Yuck

A bird shit on my driver-side car door handle last night, but instead of wiping it off, I gingerly opened the door-- gripping the handle with two fingers, thus avoiding the poop-- and I figured that the rain would wash it away by morning, but no such luck . . . apparently bird shit is water-resistant (and I still haven't wiped it off . . . today the rain is supposed to be torrential, so I'm hoping for the best).

This Underground Railroad is Actually Underground

I was pleasantly surprised (and pleasantly horrified) by Colson Whitehead's novel The Underground Railroad . . . I assumed that because of all the critical praise the book received (and because of the content) that reading it would be like eating fiber, good for you but no fun, but I was very wrong; Whitehead starts with the childhood conceit that the underground railroad is actually an underground railroad, and in the spirit of the magical realists, he makes you buy his fantasy . . . and in between the dream-like underground journeys on the train, the main character Cora-- a runaway slave-- who suffered abominably on the plantation and witnessed things even worse than she endured, finds herself in a fragmented variegated mainly hostile country; each stop on her journey is insidiously evil in it's own unique way; there are scenes reminiscent of the Tuskegee experiment, Anne Frank's captivity, Flannery O'Connor's Gothic South, and the stereotypical Southern plantation . . . and the common thread that unites this ugly patchwork of loosely connected territories of racism and abuse, is the slave-hunter Ridgeway and his odd companion/slave Homer, an educated and erudite miniature lackey on a bizarre epic journey far from his African-American roots, making his way in the only way that he can, betraying his people in order to thrive and survive; the book certainly evokes the state of our country today: fragmented, unsympathetic and divisive, and the theme is ominous-- perhaps only a civil war and the consequent reconstruction can mend the rips and tears in the fabric of our nation . . . but despite this heaviness, the novel is a damned good read . . . horrific, hallucinatory, compelling, and epic by turns, and just when you think you can't take it any longer, when you've entered the broken mind of the slave and see no escape from the shackles and chains, then the plot takes off and you're on the train, underground, excited to poke your head above ground in some new place, with some new tone and tenor, possibly better than what came before.

This Sentence Is Not About A Bench

Early Sunday morning at the dog park, behind the bench, in the shadow of the bench, there was a white bench-shaped outline of rime-frost on the dark soil . . . the sun had melted the frost everywhere else, except within the shadow of the bench; forty-six years on this planet, and this was the most beautiful (and first) bench-shaped rime-frost outline I had ever seen.

The Test 68: The Key Piece

This is the episode of The Test we recorded the day after the election-- we decided we wanted to capture some audio as close to the incident as possible-- and you can certainly hear the depression and shock in our voices, but despite this ugly subtext, there's a good test buried amidst the maudlin political ramblings; dig in, give it a shot, and see if you can identify the key piece.

Trump Sez the Chinese Curse is a Hoax

The Chinese Curse is devastatingly simple: may you live in interesting times, and-- unless the Chinese Curse is a Chinese Hoax-- there is no question that we have entered The American Era of the Chinese Curse . . . and I've exhausted myself thinking about the implications of this, and I've been trying to process and digest everything I've seen, read, heard, and thought before I posted on the election, but now that I've heard Trump's pick for Secretary of Education, Betsy DeVos, things have hit close enough to home and I need to vent about it all . . . and so here are some of my thoughts:

1) Betsy DeVos is a union-busting proponent of charter schools and vouchers, and she'd like nothing better than to privatize the most venerable community democratic institution in America, the public school . . . this causes me a great deal of anxiety, both for my job and the future of funding for the public school my children attend . . . and DeVos has ties to Amway . . . yuck;

2) I live in a wonderful liberal enclave where the kids walk to school, play in the streets (and occasionally get hit by cars) and enjoy a fairly safe, often wonderful, multi-cultural, friendly community . . . in my town, the vote tally was 3900 for Clinton and 1100 for Trump, and most of the Trump support seems to have come from the Orthodox Jewish population, who held a Trump rally at a synagogue, and who were probably voting for Trump for the reasons outlined in number one-- they pay Highland Park taxes, but they send their kids to private schools, and Trump would be their best bet on saving some money in this regard;

3) I was excited by Trump's infrastructure promises because I thought I might get air-conditioning in my classroom, but since Trump's infrastructure plan is to incentivize private companies to do infrastructure work and he'd like to appoint someone who wants to dismantle the public education system, I'm not going to hold my breath;

4) Clinton didn't get people out to vote the way Obama did-- perhaps because she was an establishment candidate in an anti-establishment campaign, and the Ohio and Pennsylvania counties that flipped are the ones plagued by heroin and opioid epidemics, so while I thought America was Pretty Great and Addressing Some Issues So It Might Get Greater, the people in these towns really think America Sucks-- they are uneducated, jobless, angry, and addicted to drugs or surrounded by people addicted to drugs, or working a crappy job, or working a decent job but surrounded by people working crappy jobs and addicted to drugs and watching their town go to shit-- and so while I liked some of the policy tweaks Clinton was proposing . . . maybe they would make college cheaper, or provide more pre-K and childcare, or help working mothers, maybe she would strengthen Dodd-Frank, etcetera-- and while she wasn't overtly proposing things I really care about-- she wasn't promoting unionization and radical environmental protection and carbon taxation, at least she wasn't completely opposed to them . . . but my life is generally great, and so while I fear massive change from the status quo, a bunch of people that I don't know or live near were really angry and wanted any kind of change, especially one that would make things worse for immigrants and minorities and terrorists and women, because if you can't find a way to improve your life, the best way to feel better about yourself, is to make someone else's life worse;

5) the best best case scenario of Trump's term (which will probably be eight years, unless he does something really really egregious, because he'll be able to create some short-term-- but very costly-- windfalls in the economy in order to get elected again) is that he fosters some diplomatic ties with Russia, remains a bit isolationist and doesn't get involved in some awful militaristic adventure, doesn't go too nuts with the wall and immigrant thing, and doesn't dismantle too much of the Clean Air and Water Act and other environmental regulations, figures out a way to revise Obamacare without making 22 million people lose healthcare, and basically doesn't get much done . . . but the more typical scenario is that moderate Republicans like John McCain reign him in a bit and we just have a typically terrible Republican term . . . so you can expect tax cuts that will drive up the national deficit, cuts in government programs, a stupid purposeless expensive adventure in the Middle East, a weakening of organized labor, a super-conservative Supreme Court, the return of torture, environmental deregulation and devastation, but a bit of a windfall from tearing all the coal from the mountains and fracking all the gas out of the earth and drilling for oil everywhere, financial deregulation followed by a financial bubble followed by a recession . . . for more on this, just read about the eight years under George W. Bush . . . yuck;

6) Myron Ebell, the climate change contrarian leading Trump's EPA transition team, is a scary motherfucker . . . while the education stuff hits close to home, nothing scares me more about Trump than his belief in conspiracy and hokum, and his lack of understanding of the scientific method . . . he's an anti-vaxxer, for Christ's sake;

7) if you're a guy like me, and just can't understand why anyone would vote for Trump, and would consider him a populist here, then you need to read this great post my friend John sent me . . . it's written by a guy who grew up in a white Jesus-fearing red community, and he says stop trying to understand the rural Christian voters because they don't understand themselves-- they are angry and brand loyal and would never let any "facts" or "critical thinking" or argument or logic sway them otherwise . . . Clinton is a socialist crooked politician and God is a white guy with a  beard who controls the weather and the best news source is the post that makes you happiest on Facebook-- whether it's fake or alt-right propaganda  and white people are superior and no elitist coastal bastard is going to tell you otherwise . . . and these people have been voting against their best interests for quite a while, Thomas Frank fully explains it in his masterpiece What's the Matter with Kansas: How Conservatives Won the Heart of America . . . it's a moral choice that's about brand loyalty, not critical thinking or policy, and if you're brand occasionally talks about grabbing women by the pussy, well, you can put up with that;

8) even if Trump said the things he said purely in order to win the election, the hate and vitriol he spewed against women, Mexicans, immigrants, and Hillary Clinton should never be forgotten and the pussy grabbing remark should be mentioned at every press conference . . . despite blind conservative brand loyalty, I'm surprised that any father with a daughter or any woman at all voted for this crass idiot, and I am ashamed for them . . . and I know that these people who voted for Trump hate me because I pity them for their ignorance and provincialism, it's an ugly dynamic;

9) worst case Trump scenarios are really scary: he's capable of bullying, intimidating, and coercing the press; he might really screw up banking regulations and trade deals; he might hurt the U.S. diplomatically for many years to come; he might start a nuclear war; he might intern all Muslims; the First and Second Amendment will be under attack; he might spend tons and tons of money building a wall; he's angry, petty, and he's been the butt of the joke for decades and now, in the ugliest and weirdest "underdog" victory ever, the butt of the joke-- the Ugliest American-- has become the most powerful man in the free world . . . it's best not to think about these situations and just concentrate on the stuff he will definitely fuck up, and scrutinize him constantly;

10) the press really dropped the ball-- they were vetting Clinton as if she won, and not doing story after story about Trump's crazy conspiracy theories, his lack of core principles, his corrupt business practices, his lack of tax information, his insane business conflicts, and the very real possibility that he might end up running an autocratic kleptocracy . . . he won't be doing political favors for people, he'll be directly enriching himself with his policy moves . . . this one is too depressing to continue;

11) I was trying to explain to my wife why we still have the electoral college, and I was really having trouble-- I know the Founding Fathers wanted to give rural states enough power to have some say and they wanted to promote a more stable two-party system, and the electoral votes make this possible, but it's gotten to the point where there are two Americas . . . and there are a lot more of us progressive city folk, who would like parks and good schools and clean air and water and green energy and multicultural tolerance and more Northern European style policy such as single payer healthcare and better family leave and help with college education and a progressive Supreme Court, and then there are these smaller states that are holding us hostage, and I'm not sure what they want-- and I don't think they know what they want either-- and I don't want to be stereotypical, so I'll refrain from speculating, but if there are any red state Trump supporters who read this blog (not a shot in hell) then please explain in the comments what policy you expected from Trump . . . anyway, we're getting to the point where we should be two separate economic entities, which would be nice, because the blue states are far less reliant on the federal government, and would do much better without the baggage of the red states-- who are incredibly thankless for the money we send to subsidize them;

12) some folks voted for Trump because he'd be tough on terrorism and ISIS, but I can't understand why people in rural America-- the least likely place for a terrorist attack-- are far more fearful of Muslims than the folks on the coasts, and some people voted for Trump because they see him as a bastion of law and order, a voice of reasonable justice wearing "the mantle of anger" amidst the gun violence, flood of immigrants, city riots and kowtowing to minority groups like Black Lives Matter . . . and while I don't agree with any of this, and think these people received their information from fake news on Facebook, at least it's a reason;

13) I'm not saying Trump is like Hitler . . .  that would be hyperbolic, plus Hitler was organized, a compelling speaker, and Hitler actually had a plan of action-- joke stolen from David Cross-- but Hitler promised jobs, Hitler promised revenge for the deals that Germany had made with the world (The Treaty of Versailles) and Hitler was an intimidating bully who hated immigrants and promised to make Germany great again . . . those are just some interesting parallels, but I'm not comparing the two leaders because I don't want to get put on leave, like this teacher;

14) and so that's what it's come down to . . . the majority of the country, myself, included, can't believe what has happened, and many of us would have no problem leaving the red states to fend for themselves-- I would gladly vote to secede from the crap that's going to happen in the next 4-8 years . . . the red states can pollute themselves to hell, cut all the government services, privatize everything, dismantle the schools, ban gay marriage, make kids study Creationism, do lots of heroin, carry semi-automatic weapons everywhere, refuse to vaccinate, insult women and the disabled, deport immigrants, build walls and do whatever insane shit they want to do, with a spray-tanned game-show host as their beloved daddy-leader . . . just don't touch my America, because my America is Pretty Great . . . it could use improvements, but it's certainly never been better than this . . . so all I can hope for is that the political forces in my town and state can keep the political forces of Donald Trump and his ilk at bay, and maybe that's why we have the electoral college and why we are a loose federation of states . . . and readers who voted for Trump, perhaps you could explain yourselves in the comments, because you folks are an angry apocalyptic cipher to me . . . I still haven't gotten to have an actual conversation with a real Trump supporter, which makes me pretty sheltered-- I guess I live behind my own wall of elitist coastal intellectualism, which I've erected out of brain cells and books, but maybe someday soon some folks from Trump's America will make their way over my wall and explain things to me.

Tim Wu Tang Claim Part II

Once in the English Office, our old boss once pronounced her love of email, because it saved her so much time, but my sagacious friend Mike reminded her that it didn't save as much time as not using email at all . . . and if you're my age and you still remember a work environment without email, things worked just fine-- I occasionally have faint recollections of how much less stressful and anxiety free those days were: I'd see you when I saw you, and if you didn't see me, you could tell me the information next month at the meeting.

The Wu Tang Claim Helps Dave Understand the Election and More

I'd like to assure Zman that yes I am working on a post about the election results, but I'm taking my time and trying to process and digest everything before I  put it on wax, and-- oddly-- one of the things that's helping me think about what happened is Tim Wu's new book The Attention Merchants: The Epic Scramble to Get Inside Our Heads . . . the book is ostensibly a history of advertising in America, from snake-oil salesmen pitching addictive spurious cure alls to the first fake news stories created purely to garner attention (my favorite is a report in the New York Sun that Sir John Herschel had discovered four foot tall hairy bat men on the moon . . . people were surprisingly willing to accept this as fact) to Lucky Strike's brilliant campaign proposing that the secret ingredient in their brand of cigarette protected your throat from cough and irritation (It's TOASTED!) and then Wu moves on to things more recent and familiar: radio advertising, product placements, TV commercials for the masses, TV commercials for the unique individual, email, Oprah, clickbait, data harvesting, Google Adwords, Twitter, Facebook, ad-blockers, etcetera . . . as advertising gets more modern, more data-driven, more insidious, and more fragmented, Wu gets more severe in his warnings-- he frames the epic battle to get our attention as a series of technological leaps, which the advertisers soon harness for their own purposes, followed by a revolt of the masses against that particular kind of advertising . . . but we may have reached the end of the road: Wu sees Buzzfeed, essentially clickbait on "the fourth screen," and social media sites like Facebook as the purveyor of "news" as particularly egregious forms of media and while there is hope once more-- for those willing to find it, Netflix and HBO offer some of the best ad free content ever created-- but you've got to pay for it . . . and if you want to learn about it, you can find something of quality on Youtube or in the podcast universe . . . if you're willing to do some research; now I'd like to bring this back to the election and make my Tim Wu Tang Claim: that the media-- driven by clicks and views-- totally dropped the ball with their coverage . . . they focused on speculative poll clickbait instead of doing on the ground journalism-- talking to Trump supporters and doing in depth coverage of the policy and issues that these supporters desired and imagined could Trump deliver, and contrasting this with Clinton policy promises . . . but instead they focused on scandals and silliness; of course, there is a better alternative to mainstream media: I'm quite proud of how I analyzed the race and what I learned about the issues; I avoided internet clickbait for the most part and listened to high-quality long form podcasts like The Weeds, Slate Money, Waking Up With Sam Harris, Radiolab, Common Sense, This American Life, and Planet Money, and I even did my due diligence and listened to Dan Levin and Rush Limbaugh (who were both repetitive blowhards pushing the mainstream media to be less about policy discussion and more about clickbait scandal) and I became something of an expert on the major issues and policies: healthcare and jobs and trade agreements and immigration (and even the spurious email "scandal") and if you like, you can find media that is not fragmented and not totally driven by clicks and views-- there is an alternative to the Facebook/Twitter style news platform, which propagated fake news and bite-sized weirdness (and while some would argue that the podcasts I've listed have a left-leaning slant, if you listened to the many many episodes about the election, they took a much more empathetic and sincere analytical look at the Trump phenomenon than anything on the right di with Hillary Clinton . . . Dan Levin simply chanted "crooked Hillary" and "lock her up" on his show . . . so the mainstream media went right along with this internet model, casting the election as a horse race, with this scandal or that scandal affecting the polls, someone is up, someone is down-- the kind of reporting that could be done without getting out of bed-- and there was no discussion of global warming-- an existential threat-- or the actual implications of repealing NAFTA, or the pros and cons of allowing Medicare to negotiate prescription drug prices, or how unionization might help the jobs we still have in America or anything of substance) and Wu ends with a quotation from William James, who believed that "our life experience would ultimately amount to whatever we paid attention to" and I believe this too, which is why I make my students park their cell-phones at the door and pay attention to me . . . because I truly believe I'm paying attention to and what I'm making them pay attention to is better  than the things the vast majority of the American people pay attention to, and that might be elitist and judgmental, but it's also true . . . I spend my attention reading books written by people smarter than me and listening to long, intelligent podcasts presented by experts in various fields; Wu also reminds us of this by quoting the ironically named James Williams: "Your time is scarce, and your technologies know it," and I think the ultimate lesson here is that we all need to remember this (myself included, while I generally use my attention for critical thinking and creative enlightenment, I still occasionally get sucked in to my stupid fantasy football team, which is great on paper and finally peaking, but it's too late . . . I'm 2 - 9 and I could have spent that time reading or practicing the guitar, instead of shuffling players around an imaginary line-up).

Dave Learns What Women Really Want . . . And It's Sick

After suffering a wicked twenty-four hour stomach virus, I returned to work yesterday, tired but noticeably lighter, and no less than three people-- all women-- expressed their jealousy and wished that they could suffer a twenty-four hour bout of feverish and violent intestinal evacuation, in order to strip off a few pounds before all the holiday gluttony; I told them they were crazy, and this was not a good way to lose weight, but despite my description of the general awfulness of the condition, one woman still insisted that I should have kissed her good-bye on Friday, on the lips, because then she would have lost weight over the weekend.

Two Signs of the Impending Apocalypse

It is no secret that I am past my prime-- on the bell curve of life, I am on the other side of the peak, every day I slide a bit more towards the bottom of the curve, towards senility, dementia, ineptitude, befuddlement, disease, fragility, and decay; on the other hand, my children are on the groovy side of that inevitably morbid roller-coaster ride, and here are two recent anecdotes that illustrate my theme:

1) we played tennis Saturday morning, and Alex and Ian beat me in a game of mixed doubles, and I was trying to win; then Ian played me one-on-one and he beat me to five and decided to continue playing to eleven, for the pound of good chocolate (the running bet is that if Alex or Ian can beat me at ping-pong or tennis in a game to eleven, I'll buy them a pound of chocolate from the good chocolate store in town) and I had to play my ass off to beat him 11-9 . . . I generally I hit the ball hard when I play Ian-- he's good-- but I try to get it back near him so he has a chance to hit it, but he was killing me-- he hit three perfect backhand lobs and was whistling his forehands down the lines, despite the fact that I was running him side to side; I finally got him at the net and put the game away, but this doesn't bode well for the future . . . though right now we play without serving, instead we rally three times to begin the point, so once we start playing with serves, I should enjoy a brief bump in tennis prowess . . . and I think I'm safe for a while with ping-pong, as it doesn't require as much running;

2) Alex was very excited about a National Geographic special on Mars, but the show was on Monday nights at 9 PM, which is past his bedtime (and my bedtime) and so I told him he could read in bed until 9 PM and then, if he was able to stay awake, he could go downstairs and watch the show . . . and he succeeded both times, and though the rest of the house was fast asleep (Ian tried to stay awake as well, but fell asleep reading and Catherine-- who stays up a bit later than me-- was on the school camping trip) and so I've reached the point when my child can and will stay up later than me, and I've given him permission to do so . . . the rest is all downhill.

Dave Successfully Eats Honey-Drizzled Toast . . . Yes!

The honey-drizzled toast I ate twenty minutes ago seems to be content inside my body, unlike all the other food I consumed in the past twenty-four hours  . . . that non-honey-drizzled-toast food kept me up all night, as it couldn't get away from the virus in my stomach fast enough.
A New Sentence Every Day, Hand Crafted from the Finest Corinthian Leather.