Inherent Dignity

Nothing in the universe means anything except insofar as we give it meaning. There are cultural concepts we have that are useful and ones that are toxic baggage from the deep past. There are concepts that are very culturally specific, some found in the majority of human cultures, and a few that are universal. Some concepts should be more popular and some less so, at least most of us seem to feel that way – right or left or otherwise.

All that nonsense is my disclaimer to the idea I’m about to say something founded in fact. I’m in the realm of principles and emotions, of value judgments. I’m basing everything that follows on a few judgments that should be non-controversial, but are apparently loopy unrealistic ultra-leftist radicalism: One, that it would be desirable for more people to be happy and healthy, and for fewer to be sad sick or dying. Two, that there’s a balance of justice in the world. That while justice is elusive, it exists as a concept to which we should strive. Rights should be upheld, wrongs should be minimized or eliminated when possible.

I believe that every living thing suffers from indignities by merit of being alive. We have to eat, we have to excrete, we have to messily grow and messily break down and die. The cell isn’t a harmonious little clockwork humming away until it gradually winds down into peaceful oblivion. It’s a writhing storm of lightning-fast chemical reactions and spiraling globs of goo slapping and twisting and bursting until it disorders into death and rot.

The fact we’re all born into this messy situation and are compelled to do something with it, this lends us an inherent dignity. The struggle to keep it together, from keeping our asses clean to ducking bullets, to be or not to be and the whole nine.

It isn’t easy. We deserve every break we can get. I include non-human animals in that. If we’re going to kill animals – and we will – ideally we shouldn’t torture them first, shouldn’t do it for shitty reasons. Nourishing humans is a good reason. We’ve been omnivorous a long time. Medical science is good too. Killing for fun? No, man. Fuck anyone who does that. I’m including you, Jed. (Yes I know someone named Jed.) That was cool of you to go to the DAPL protest, but hunting? That’s some shit, and fuck you for it.

This article would be more powerful without the dissembling and sides, but I feel compelled. Sorry.

Human animals (and advanced social animals like dogs) have a struggle that other species escape: Self-valuation. We are biologically compelled to find our place among our kind, by ranking ourselves and others. When AmeriKKKa’s wig daddies wrote about the self-evident nature of our human rights, they didn’t bother to notice that all around them there were people with bad self-esteem, for whom their own rights are not self-evident. People who often lose the most basic battle in life: They don’t feel like they deserve to live.

In the face of all that struggle and indignity, we deserve respect. We deserve to be acknowledged for our individual agency, that we deserve to have the things we desire, so long as they don’t harm others. And that we shouldn’t have to exist for others. No one should be able to use us as the butt of a joke, or use our bodies minds or lives for any purpose that we do not freely consent to.

I did not freely consent to working too hard in a hellish retail environment, I was forced into it by the unreasonable cost of rent. #RentIsTheft y’all. By the unreasonable cost of everything, at that. Retail work needs to happen but it shouldn’t have to be like it is, and we shouldn’t have to choose between doing it like this and hitting the skids.

Human need complicates that right to happiness and health, because there is more need than people willing to consent to providing for it. Still, the math should be pretty damn simple. If people truly need something in order to be healthy, society should figure out a way to provide it. The direct providers of care should be well compensated – so that they will feel willing to consent to providing care – and as charity is utterly inadequate, they should be funded from taxes.

That’s a little off the rails. What am I getting at?

I feel the inherent dignity of the animals around me – humans most of all. I see what we need and what we deserve. I see humans and I see their rights written on their pain, on the indignities they have to bear as frail mortals. Some people don’t see the inherent dignity of others. For them other people are a means to an end, as meaningless to them and as far from their caring as the cow at the slaughterhouse.

I’m tired of living with the cruelties of the selfish enshrined in law and society all around me, tired of the tyranny of injustice. It’s why I have a tag on this blog, Wake Me When the World is Over. It’s an expression of despair. I fight against that despair every day, by helping other people, by cleaning the cat box, by doing whatever I’m capable of to maintain my inherent dignity and uphold that of others. But it doesn’t feel great, knowing that we have so far to go in the struggle, knowing the likely fate of all the needy people around me and directly in my life. And I feel the need to express that. Sorry if any of you find that discouraging, I don’t want it to be.

Anyhow, Solidarity. Long live the fighters. And when we can sleep, let it be deep and peaceful.


In Praise of Marvel’s Flops: Inhumans

So Marvel just finished airing the safe-to-say series finale of Inhumans, their most panned production to date, and it got me feeling like, hey, somebody oughtta stick up for anyone that is getting crapped on that hard. So. Marvel’s Inhumans.

In a moment of perfect timing during the last episode, the words “Created by Scott Buck” appeared on the screen just as the villain of the show was saying, “You realize this is all your fault.” But was it? Must we assign blame? Can we accept this moment, this thing as it is, and move on without recriminations? I dunno. Just sayin’.

Inhumanoids is the story of the inhumans, who are a race of superheroes resulting from the work of Ancient AliensTM. They live on the moon. A lot of them have short foreheads, which makes me think the casting director has a short forehead, and just thought, hey, these people look good and normal. And they do, I mean, my head looks like the comic version of Karnak, so maybe it’s a matter of perspective. Even so, it gets a song in my head.

The faces of Anson Mount, Serinda Swan, and Iwan Rheon crudely photoshopped onto monchichis.
Mon chi-Chi! Mon, chi-chi.

Stop: Spoiler time.

The title of this post isn’t a lie. But I have to mention the bad before I can get to the promised praise…
[Read more…]

Legal Advice on a Novel

I’m trying NaNoWriMo again, for what that’s worth. My concept involves the events of Revelations and some real life politicians. Question: To what extent is it kosher for me include public figures in a work of fiction? Could they sue for defamation, when the intent is clearly absurd parody?

It may not be as simple as the “fair use” a lot of youtube heads hang onto. Different forms of media have different laws governing them. Any lawyers know off the tops of your heads collective?


Thinking on a Mage Game

Self care is retreating into worlds of imagination and letting the world burn. OK, no, we have to try to fight the good fight forever, I’ll be back to it, but for now I’m letting entertainment take me away. That means RPGs in this household, and the month of Halloween means spooky themes.

So I’m trying to run a short term game in Mage: The Ascension, with the aim of spookiness, and I’m not even using the Nephandi. Using the theme of Bad Religion, I’m making a story that’s Celestial Chorus cultists vs. Technocracy authorities. Waco in Oregon, with my player running a child in a bad situation.

I’m confident the player won’t read this, so I’m using this space to make my notes. Some of y’all nerds may find this interesting, if only to quibble and deride, or as a launching point to describing your own experiences with the RPG in question, or whatever. The rest of you can skip it.

>>PC is older brother in small family of four. Ma and Pa have been taken into a semi-rural cult of heretical catholics, under the guidance of a rogue Celestial Chorister.

>>The mage in question has found and cultivated an unusually large group of people with minor occult abilities, and taken his successes as a sign that global ascension can be achieved.

>>The ATF is interested in the cult, having been tipped off about them doing culty things, and wanting to know if that included a weapons stockpile. Through the ATF, the Technocracy gets a notion it could be reality deviants and sends in some agents.

>>PC is disturbed by his parents bringing them into a cult, and further when they actually start to get powers. They’re trained as weak hedge wizards, the power that grants them enforces faith and turns them into zealots.

>>Mage cult leader recognizes a true mage’s avatar is bound to PC’s younger brother, and tells the family the child is special, could be a saint if raised in the light, and they get weirder.

>>PC should get idea of escape, maybe is approached by agents during a supply run in the nearest suburb. May possibly betray fam.

>>I was thinking of having the technomancers offer to turn the PC into a cyborg that can mow down the whole cult from the inside, get some body horror in that way. Not sure tho, and probly the kid won’t go for it.

>>I should have alternate plans for each path the player can take. Not sure what to expect yet. But I’m starting tonight anyway, and winging it. Will add edits to this post as things become more clear.

EDIT ONE:
>>Just remembered I was thinking the kid could try to contact the catholic church for help with the heretics scaring him, and have the Celestial Chorus send in someone to try to rein in the rogue mage.

EDIT TWO:
>>First sesh. PC (age 16) is named James, his little brother (age 7) is named Peter, Mom and Dad are still Mom and Dad, the rogue Chorister is Father Tony, and four years of background were passed mostly in summary mode. Parents have magic ability to summon a light, may require killing a bird, or they just did that for fun.

EDIT THREE:
>>We were hoping to do a lot more RP this Halloween than ended up being possible, and I came to realize what I ultimately wanted out of this game required too much groundwork to function as a spooky good time thing. Live and learn. I wish that wasn’t so often the case with RPGs. 😛 Anyhow, might finish it some day but life is so hectic and there’s so many things ahead of it, it’s not seeming too likely.

Rick & Morty Fandom Does Monty Python

Monty Python’s Life of Brian is an important cultural artifact, I think, whether or not one is capable of really loving it years after the fact. The comedy troupe’s second most quoted movie’s most quoted scene has Brian, who has been mistaken for the messiah, attempting to reject the role of demagogue. He addresses a massive crowd saying, “You are all individuals.” The crowd chants back in unison, “We are all individuals.” One contrarian says, “I’m not!”

I don’t think we’ll ever see a better recreation of this scene in real life than this weird Rick & Morty sauce fiasco. I don’t know from the show, except that it seems very nihilistic (right up my alley) and overly elaborate (less so). But clearly it’s trying to be chaotic and unconventional. Meanwhile, the fans decided to march in lockstep to do something very odd and shitty. Then the contrarian pens an article (the one I linked) where he claims (perhaps rightly) to understand the show more than the others, and demonstrate his difference from the crowd.

End scene.

The mobilization of an unfortunately politically important group of people makes one long for different circumstances. Says Dan Sheehan on Twitter,

“Rick & Morty should do an episode about how Rick’s second favorite sauce is Universal Healthcare”


Worried About My Circuses

Bread and circuses. I can eat – housing costs have been the real enemy of well-being in the USA – so I got bread covered. And circuses are OK, but the economy has hurt my ability to get out to every one of them. I missed Wonder Woman this summer, only got to see Spiderman once, as much as I liked it. But Hollyweird is losing money, and that means it’s about to get crappy.

It’s gonna get crappy because detached billionaire corporate fuckos always take the wrong lesson from travail, change the wrong things. I don’t mind them working smarter with the budget, reducing the level of detail in the spectacle some. I’m betting they could be less shit with how they advertise too. We don’t need saturation advertising to remember to watch something like Guardians 2, come on.

No, they won’t get smarter. They’ll just panic and pander to China harder. Maybe make Chris Pratt a personal slave to Xi Jinping for a week, suck off some party officials, include giant subplots about how the sino-socialist wage slave system makes Stark tech awesome. Nobody committing suicide at the iron man suit factory, pay no mind to the giant nets.


Climate Change Denialists, Cover This

I knew when they were talking about how hot this summer was going to be, when the temperatures were spiking in spring, that there were going to be days that were both hot and hazy. I could feel it coming. They don’t happen often here so a few times in my past have been memorable.

Anyhow, I knew there were going to be days that were both overcast and over 80 degrees, but I had no idea it was going to be from the fucking Pacific Northwest being on fire. Earlier this month Vancouver BC had a bunch of wildfires that sent smoke south of Seattle to where I live. Then there’s yesterday, when Eastern Washington caught fire so badly that ash was raining on cars reminiscent of the explosion of Mt. St. Helens.

So, climate change denialists, if you wanna keep up the bluster, you’re gonna have to put in some extra legwork. Vacuum the haze out of the sky. Clean all our cars. Blow little fans on us, install AC for us everywhere we are, everywhere we’re burning up, and tell us “haha, sure is reasonable out today! Nothing of note here.”

Get a move on, boys. Half the world’s on fire and the other half is drowning.


You’re the Terrorists, DHS

So the nationalistically named Department of Homeland Security has decided that my peoples in antifascism are terrorists. Even that fucking centrist crapsack Trevor Noah has decided to go out of his way to shit on the movement. I’d actually like to thank the DHS for reinforcing the dogshit coming from moderates right now, because if there’s anything that might give the more clever of them pause, it’s the Orange Regime agreeing with them.

I’ll thank them for that demonstration, but must hector them on accuracy. Antifa are terrorists? What is a terrorist? I could see some individual antifas might meet the criteria, but they’re outnumbered by an order of magnitude by white cops that kill to reinforce mortal terror in the African American population. So. DHS? FBI? DEA? Any other breed or stripe of fucking cop? If antifa as a whole is terrorist because some individuals may have committed some violence for their ideology, then every last cop is a both a terrorist and white supremacist by the same metric.

I don’t have the power to make the terms. The state does. So if the state says it’s terrorist to be me, then I’m a terrorist. Likewise if the state decided to decree people like me to be fifty foot purple nuns with laser vision, then we’d be fifty foot purple nuns with laser vision. It doesn’t make it true anywhere except in this fucked-ass Bizarro world they’re forging.

Anyway, Fuck The Motherfucking Man. Seriously, I’m so goddamn burned out and tired of EVERYTHING in power right now. Able-bodied cishet white men? Fuck all of them, fuck anyone who is any of those things to the extent they fit the description, and to the extent I fit those descriptors (a lot), fuck me too. More than anything I’m tired of LIES, of living in a world run by unchecked lies so bald-faced and outrageous that they make me wanna rip my fucking face off. Fuck you, Trump, fuck your world of lies, and fuck anyone who plays the fife in the goddamn hell parade.

Sincerely, a terrorist.


Why Do Diseases Hurt Us?

It seems like the ideal way to be a parasite is to allow your host animals to proliferate and be well. The healthier the host, the more nourishment they can provide the parasite. So I have a few questions for those in the know:

Why do virii and bacteria harm us, when they’d be better off if we were healthy?

Are there any truly harmless parasites in the average human? The mites in eyelashes seem pretty chill.

As I think of it, some diseases can only spread if the host coughs, sneezes, or vomits, but is that the reason for all of it? A sexually transmitted disease that negatively affects one’s sexiness seems like it should be very unlikely.

To wax Agent Smith-ish for a moment, humans seem to be demolishing the planet on which we depend for life. It’s an instinctive race to grab the most resources that has produced economic and political systems that remove all guilt and forethought, do nothing but grease the slide into hell.

Are parasites doing the same? Does life clamor its way into these overly-successful dead ends every time? Is the cycle of mass extinctions a natural mirror of our boom-bust economics? I don’t know. But I do know this: Nature sucks. Nothing more to add, today.