It’s a Good Life if You Don’t Weaken

As I sit here playing Fallout 4, on bed rest because of this lung infection that I’ve had for two months and haven’t taken care of until last week, I have the volume turned down on the TV. Any sound that I’m hearing is coming from the windows outside, and from the music that I have playing on my phone. Specifically, I am listening to the Phantom Power album by the Tragically Hip.

Much like millennium, mentioned in a previous post, this music brings me back to a specific time in my life, made golden by the light of memory. The first song I ever heard by The Tragically Hip was Bobcaygeon. It was about 4:30 in the morning at the time of year when the sun starts to rise a bit later each day.

I was depressed, heartbroken, and within a month of fully giving up on life. I hadn’t slept in a week, and my thoughts were barely my own. I had MuchMoreMusic on, because it played calmer music than MuchMusic. Bobcaygeon came on, and I was instantly hooked. The mood, the solitude, the mental state, all could have contributed; and might not have. I’ll never really know.

What I do know is their music helped to carry me to somewhere more stable so I could carry on. This was nearly twenty years ago, and yet memories are burned into my brain, indelible, of sitting in the wan morning light and hearing Gord Downie’s calm sonorous voice. Walking along the bridge west of Celeste at 11 at night after leaving Leon’s house, and Don’t Wake Daddy was just starting up as my boots crunched through the thin sheets of ice on the sidewalk.

Specific moments, frozen in time by one band, as no other has done.

I don’t generally cry when people die, particularly celebrities, as overall I feel like they’re going on to better things. I cried when I read that Gord’s cancer was terminal. I cried through their last concert. I cried when he died. I’m getting misty just writing this.

His job wasn’t nearly done. He left a hole in the world when he left. He was one of few true and pure voices of love and decency.

He will be missed, but memories and music are forever.

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Sarah Jeong’s Racism, and the Newspaper That Defended Her

The New York Times recently hired a prolific racist. When presented with evidence, they chose to defend her and her racism rather than do what is right. This is a five-year documentation of her racism.

The New York Times recently hired a woman named Sarah Jeong. The hiring of this woman was controversial not simply due to the woman’s impressive history of racism, but due to the fact that even when presented with evidence, the New York Times chose to defend her.

I’m sure you’re wondering, how racist could she have been? It couldn’t have been more than one or two things, or the New York Times certainly would not have hired her or defended her. Not only was it more than one or two things, it was more than one or two things spread over the course of five years.

Now, for a little backstory: her defense about this level of racism was that she was simply responding to white racists in like fashion. The mistake she made here was not deleting her Twitter before making that claim. What you are about to see is a shocking level of racism from one single person.

Let’s start with 2013.

Wow, what a trip. Pretty amazing that all that got through, right? If you’re already shocked, I recommend going and getting your pearls, because you’re about to clutch them harder than you’ve ever clutched in your life.

As we move on to 2014, you might notice that it is somewhat more voluminous than the previous year. She starts by joking about a little kid getting shot in an airport. It’s funny ’cause he’s white.

What a trip! Amazingly, her Twitter account survived that year. While 2014 was obviously the most prolific out of these years, you’ll notice that while she gets better, she doesn’t stop.

Now you may ask yourself, how does somebody go three years being so racist without anybody noticing? For your answer, I would direct you to the body of work of Tariq Nasheed. Some people just get the privilege of flying below the radar.

…Anyway, let’s move onto 2017.

Now that we have seen her secret catalog of work on the subject of race, obviously we can understand why Twitter ended up verifying her and the New York Times not only hired, but then defended her. That reason? Excellent journalism.

At this time, I would like to thank Nick Monroe for taking the six hours to dig through her profile and find all of her racist tweets. Donald Trump is pilloried for saying one or two things over the course of a number of decades. We know that Richard Spencer is a racist, yet nobody can produce an amount of evidence to show his racism to equal what is shown here about Sarah Jeong.

When Chris Rock said “it’s alright ’cause it’s all white”, he certainly didn’t have this in mind.

I suppose the question I would leave you all with is this: didn’t somebody once say that if you associate with racists that you are a racist? What sort of publication is the New York Times these days, then?

Just saying, it goes both ways.

Aneurysm in the age of Trump

So imagine this. You’re walking down the street. Maybe you’re on your way back from lunch, about to go back in to work the best job you’ve ever had. This is something you could really spend your life doing, sink your teeth into it. You are “living your best life”, as thousands of single moms on Facebook have written under their Herbalife or Younique link.

Maybe you’ve got a song in your head. “Making my way downtown, faces-”

Then you’re just dead. No transition, no fear, no last words. You don’t even get to say “ow”. One moment you’re all sunshine and roses, the next somebody’s identifying you in a morgue.

Now, when you’re looking down the barrel of something like that, how productive you think it is to sit on the Internet and argue about how Trump is the second coming of Hitler? The simple fact is, he is the president. If you are an American and part of this country, he is your president. Instead of screaming and crying about how racist he is, which he isn’t, and screaming and crying about that one time you think he mocked a disabled reporter, which he didn’t, maybe you could spare a thought for wanting him to simply come up with better policy. So far, I see a lot of people with problems, but nobody with a solution, except to go out on the street and yell “f*** Trump”.

Pro tip: that’s not actually a solution.

I see a lot of people say that things would be so much better if Hillary or Bernie had been elected. Would they? The political stage of the world would not have changed. On the surface, the world might care who the president of the United States is. When it comes right down to it, though, it doesn’t matter who the president is. Venezuela is still going down the crapper. It is doing that purely because of socialism, and Bernie Sanders would not have saved it. The situation in Guatemala that sent thousands of people north to the southern border of the United States would have happened under Hillary’s watch as well. Her press conferences in the past suggest that she probably would’ve done the exact same thing as Donald Trump dead. My question is, how many of you would be celebrating it under Hillary?

A common saying is “it is what it is”. I’ve always hated that saying because I think it can diminish the gravity of the situation. At least, I thought it did. In recent years, particularly through 2017, I am realizing that no matter what happens in any one given place, the world will continue to turn, uncaring. Just like anyone who was going to have an aneurysm and die under Trump was also going to under Hillary or Bernie.

It’s a grim prospect, I realize. To imagine that one’s fate is inevitable seems almost tantamount to nihilism. I do not believe that one’s fate is inevitable, but I do believe that some events are going to happen no matter how you prepare or fight against them. It is your reaction, however, that determines the outcome.

Now, when I said that Trump is your president whether you like it or not, I’m sure that there were at least a few of you who “lit-rally” screamed at your phone or computer that the popular vote went to Hillary and the electoral college screwed us.

Imagine this. Imagine one day we become like Sparta. We start to mock and castigate overweight people, to the point that some of them are dying directly from the hazing they are receiving, like they did in Sparta. Imagine a law being passed by popular vote that outlaws fat blue haired feminists.

It’s unconstitutional, and you don’t really get a say in it, because the popular vote won.

The electoral college exists specifically to stop that sort of mob rule from happening. It exists because at least half of the population is medically too dumb to make rational decisions. Go check it out for yourself; half the population is below a triple digit IQ. That’s kind of a big deal.

Because I love to play with hypotheticals, let’s go with another one.

Imagine if California, based on their population, got to control what happens in the rest of the United States. Within the past year alone, Jerry Brown has made it legal to give somebody AIDS without telling them. More and more cities in California are banning straws, to the point that a second offense can bring jail time. An illegal alien shoots a woman to death? No biggie. At least he didn’t give her a straw.

That is exactly why the electoral college exists. It exists because people like Jerry Brown would have far too much power without it. People who are realistically not smart enough to think more than a step ahead.

Now, if the title has the word aneurysm in it, and it started being about that subject, how did we get off on this tangent?

I suppose that I can bring it back home: when you’re finished with this, and you move on to something else, maybe you shut off your computer and go do some real life things. Maybe you just keep browsing the Internet. Maybe, however, just maybe, an aneurysm in your head bursts and you die with this still up on your screen.

Boy, that would be wacky, wouldn’t it? At least you weren’t browsing furry porn on DeviantART.

Life With an Anxiety Disorder

It was 1987. I was five years old, playing out in front of my house. I was with my friend Darryl, and we were using sticks to try and dig out the edges of a sewer grate because we thought that would be a great way to meet the ninja turtles. The sewer grate was in the middle of the parking lot that was part of our housing complex. On the grass in front of my house, my ThunderCats castle sat, a hose going through the front window. I like the idea of a castle with a waterfall.

Darryl got up quickly, seeing a danger that I couldn’t. I turned and began to stand. At that moment, a car shoved my body to the ground. I woke up about 50 feet away, under the car, having been dislodged by a speedbump. I stood up and ran home, passing out on the grass in front of the house.

I remember sitting in the car on the way to the hospital. I was in the car that hit me. I looked down at my leg, seeing meat and bone. I was interested in it, and tried to touch it. My mom stopped me, and told me I was in shock and that’s why it didn’t hurt. She asked me what I was doing when I got hit. When I told her that I was looking for the ninja turtles, she started asking me questions about them. She was keeping my brain going so I wouldn’t pass out.

At the hospital, things were much different. They didn’t want to anesthetize me because I was in shock, so they stitched my leg immediately and without anesthetic. It was a very cold stinging feeling.

In the years that followed, I remember things like walking back to the school from the schoolyard and feeling like something was pulling me backward. My friend Michael asked me why I’m walking as slow as an ant. I had no idea what it was. At such a young age, it might well have been a ghost holding on to me, preventing me from walking.

I was suddenly terrified to get on buses. The feeling was much stronger then, almost incapacitating. A complete, enveloping terror. My mother couldn’t make heads or tails of it, and eventually took me to a psychiatrist. I was soon diagnosed with a generalized anxiety disorder. The likelihood is that it came from head trauma from being hit by the car.

My ability to socialize was stunted. School was difficult. I had no idea what my triggers were, I had no idea that triggers even existed. I would find myself in blinding terror in the most innocuous of situations. Even as a youngster, I had the presence of mind to explain it to the person in front of me though. That didn’t stop me from getting bullied. The bullying, in fact, became so severe that my mother moved me to a different school. In retrospect, it was easily a very burdensome process for my mother.

Junior high came, and though I made friends, my disorder still relegated me to the realms of obscurity. This lasted through high school. Girls made it very clear to me that they liked me, but I could do nothing about it except seem unfriendly.

As I grow into an adult, I felt afraid to do anything but take the path of least resistance. Getting and keeping a job was difficult. No one understood what my problem was, despite knowing I had this disorder. My doctor, on multiple occasions, even recommended that I go on disability. I didn’t want to. I didn’t want to be limited.

I met my wife online. I had a fairly popular blog in the early 2000’s. Does anyone remember Mightyskunk from open diary? She was one of my readers, and we began talking on MSN, and eventually on the phone. She took a plane ride up to Toronto to meet me. My anxiety attacks lessened around her. She understood me, and even learned to soothe my attacks.

Skipping far ahead, I ended up moving to the United States. She and I got married, and I started holding down good jobs. My confidence grew. I also began looking at my anxiety attacks analytically. I started studying them. Instead of avoiding my triggers, I tried to encounter as many as possible. Eventually I got a drivers license, despite all reason. Driving is one long anxiety trigger.

After years forcing myself into my triggers head-on, my strength against my anxiety disorder has grown. Though regular daily life is still a constant source of terror, I’ve become good at masking my symptoms and sublimating the terror within me. There are still things that I won’t do. I love roller coasters, and go on them any chance I get. The Tower of terror at Disneyland, however, is a different animal. The worst anxiety attack I have ever had was on that ride. Just thinking about it scares me, even though I know it’s deeply irrational. I actually find the humor in the situation.

I still need to pause and compose myself when a person is walking toward me. I still have difficulty making eye contact during handshakes, though that’s mainly due to habit at this point.

In the 30 years that I have spent dealing with a severe anxiety disorder, I have found that confronting it head on is by far the best remedy. Avoiding triggers and succumbing to fear only makes it stronger.

In related news, has anyone out there listened to the Black Eyed Peas? Even if they’re not your kind of band, they cover some interesting subject matter, including anxiety disorders. They actually have a song where they discuss an anxiety disorder, and how truly terrifying it is.

 

I don’t fear none of my enemies

And I don’t fear bullets from Uzi’s

I’ve been dealing with something that’s worse than these

That’ll make you fall to your knees and thats

The anxiety

The sane and the insane rivalry

Paranoia’s brought me to my knees

Lord please please please

Take away my anxiety

What is American culture?

There has been talk over the past few years about the idea that America does not have any culture of its own. This argument is often used when it comes to the idea that American culture is better than any other culture on the planet.

The idea is always brought up that America is a melting pot of cultures, and that’s what makes it so great; which is also what makes it have no culture of its own. While it is true that America is a melting pot of cultures, it is completely untrue that this is a factor that ensures that America will have no culture of its own.

The American Bill of Rights is neither the smallest nor the largest bill of rights to exist on the planet. The Bill of Rights is missing things that many people believe makes it inferior to the bill of rights of other countries, but the American Bill of Rights has one thing that no other country has: the right to free speech.

Congress shall make no law respecting an establishment of religion, or prohibiting the free exercise thereof; or abridging the freedom of speech, or of the press; or the right of the people peaceably to assemble, and to petition the Government for a redress of grievances.

Very few understand just how important and powerful the right to free speech is, and why, on its own, it makes America so much better than any other culture on the planet.

A person’s ability to even say that America has no culture is predicated on the right to free speech, unique to this country. In China, certain TV shows, like Doctor Who, are not allowed, because they offer the possibility of alternate timelines. The Chinese government does not want it to people to think that there could be an alternate timeline, In which possibly communism does not exist, or in which there are many small governments for their country instead of one large one held by one person. In Canada, a country touted by many Socialists, anarchists, and communists, as the best country in the world, does not even have the right to free speech. In fact, you can be fined or jailed for what you say in Canada.

It could be said that the laws against certain speech in Canada are simply to protect specific citizens. Hate speech laws, while good in a very simple sense, are not so when seen from a broader perspective. The definition of hate speech and the definition of racism are nebulous terms that don’t have a definite value. Certain words can flow in and out of a state of verboten on a whim. With the goal posts constantly changing, and the laws in a constant state of flux, there is no freedom. A person knows that even the most innocuous thing today can land them in jail tomorrow. This one thing is a hallmark of countries that lack human rights.

The mere fact that thousands of Americans every day criticize the president, and the fact that celebrities can put on miniature shows in which they kill the president, knowing full well that they will not mysteriously disappear in the middle of the night is a uniquely American thing.

It is almost cliche at this point to reference Tank Man as a sign of individual freedoms in other countries. This is a man that stood in front of a line of tanks, stopping them in their tracks, the ultimate sign of defiance in the face of authority. What people don’t mention, is that Tank Man has been neither seen nor heard from him since that incident. It is unlikely that he managed to leave the general area in which he stood up to the tanks so famously.

Okay, but free speech is just one thing!

Absolutely true. It is just one thing. A very big one thing, but still just one thing. Just like being alive is just one thing. It’s interesting, in fact, how different things would likely be if this one thing didn’t exist and wasn’t enforced.

So what is another thing?

Capitalism. The one system guaranteed to pull a nation and an individual out of poverty. Capitalism, when introduced to a former socialist or communist country, has proven to lift both of the country and the individual out of poverty. Formerly capitalist countries like Venezuela that adopt socialism, almost immediately fall into poverty. Capitalism ensures that an individual, no matter his station at birth, has the ability to attain any station he wishes in life.

Is there anything else?

Plenty of things. Take, for instance, The Second Amendment.

A well regulated Militia, being necessary to the security of a free State, the right of the people to keep and bear Arms, shall not be infringed.

While some other countries do give rights to fire arms to their citizens, The Second Amendment is uniquely American. No other country has it stated so specifically that they want their populace armed well enough to fight off a potentially tyrannical government. This doesn’t mean the government of some other country, either. The Second Amendment is talking specifically about the American government becoming tyrannical, and the need for the American citizenry to be able to fight back and wrest control away from the tyrant.

It is often argued that the Second Amendment was from a time when automatic weapons or high capacity weapons didn’t exist. This is patently untrue.

No other country on the planet has a failsafe for its citizens like America has.

In short, your ability to criticize and fight your own government, as well as criticize the government entities, such as by saying “fuck the police”, without immediately being arrested and disappearing forever, is a big deal, and uniquely American. The fact that the founding fathers wanted you armed as well as possible so that the government can not encroach upon your freedoms is uniquely American.

Citizens in other countries displaying values akin to those espoused in American culture are often jailed immediately, if not outright killed, for being “too westernized”.

Maybe we should be inclined to thank our founding fathers for giving us such uniquely American rights.

Yet More Dangers in Obfuscation

With the meanings of words changing, and some words being given more power while others are given less, it comes as no surprise that a popular magazine would release an article that appears to attempt to normalize incest. 

This article go so far as to change the meaning of incest, however, softening it into genetic sexual attraction. This has been going on for decades, and has even been lampooned in a popular George Carlin rant. Adding softer language to something does not change what it is. Instead, it serves as a line of division with which someone can call themselves proper and another person improper. 

Beyond that, it blurs the lines yet again of hate speech. When will come, the first instance in which someone calls it incest, and another person gets offended because they were merely engaging in genetic sexual attraction?

The term “slippery slope” gets thrown around a lot, but in this case it is clear that we are on one.

Don’t fall.

Be Your Own Advocate

In today’s increasingly selfish and desolate society, it is important to know that there is one person who will always stand up for you:

You.

The Current Meta

Advocacy and allyship groups continue to become more fractured, not being satisfied with their problem being part of a whole host of problems being solved. Instead, their very specific and often undefinable problem must be first in line. The LGBT movement alone has become a warzone in which transgender people now call gay people oppressive. Straight black men are considered the white people of black people. There are even transgender groups that call other transgender people transphobic. It’s mind boggling just how ready people are to be at the throats of people they once allied with or held close.

Even unions, the time-honored vanguard against morally corrupt corporations and small-time bosses who would feed on their workers have become a veritable mafia; using thuggish intimidation tactics and harassment to ensure that equity, not equality, is enforced. Anyone who doesn’t want to be part of the club is going to have a very hard time at their job. The Union wants its dues.

Even party politics has become a mine field. With no side currently being decent, the people who are decent have no home.

Who Can You Turn To?

You’ve made it this far, haven’t you? Despite all of the things that have happened in your life, including the things you were sure you’d never make it out of alive, here you are. Maybe you ought to listen to yourself.

Even if family, friends, and other people wish you success in your endeavors, it is ultimately up to you to push yourself to the finish line. No one can do it for you. The good part of that is, once you’re determined, no one can stop you, either.