Can you say “toxic masculinity”, boys and girls?

Even liberals can fall prey to it. Here’s an article about those vile Southern Baptists having a vile conference in which they rail against all them gay sissy boys and transgernders and baby rapers, except Roy Moore, who is their kind of baby raper, and I can share the author’s sentiments about how awful and hypocritical these bigots are. Unfortunately, what caught everyone’s attention is the opening performance of the conference. This one. Of a guy doing a rainbow flag dance.

The comment from our liberal colleague about this performance:

But wow — they opened their conference with the gayest performance they could find among their “straight” participants.

I guess us straight people aren’t allowed to dance, even badly, without turning gay. You know, all those gay people with their flamboyance and their colorful displays and their uninhabited behaviors. We’ve got to categorize people. Men who dance: gay.

We’re all shackled throughout our lifetimes by these expectations that we have to conform to certain behaviors to fit in to our expected roles. I have no desire to dance, not in the slightest, because I’d be really, terribly, embarrassingly bad at it. And why am I bad at it? Because in my narrow little world, it was not encouraged, and you were weird if you, white boy, were dancing. We get it shamed out of us. It’s another stereotype that white people can’t dance, but it’s not because we’re lacking in a basic human capability, it’s because we’re discouraged from learning.

Another example: I spent the first dozen or so years of my life singing, several times a week, in church choir, where we got real training, and where, I like to think, I was even getting pretty good. And then I left religion, and with that, there was the unintended side effect of my voice drying up, because the only situation in which ordinary, poor or middle-class people sing is in church…and hell no, atheists don’t go to church. Sometimes I want to sing, but the only relic of my past training is an acute consciousness of how bad my singing is now.

I’m also afraid that any attempt at trying would conflict with my identity as a straight white atheist.

We’re all going through life pulling on straitjackets, aren’t we?

Hey, I just donated to a kickstarter about Coast Salish economics

How nerdy and SJW can it get? It’s called Potlatch, and it’s a game written with the assistance of Indians to educate people about a misunderstood principle.

Potlatch, the game is a strategic, educational card game based on indigenous philosophies. It is designed to meet K-12 educational standards for teaching about native history, economics, culture, and government. Potlatch, the game, was developed as a community effort with local elders and language experts. The game is written in both English and Lushootseed, the indigenous language of the Pacific Northwest. Game mechanics are based on sharing resources to meet other players’ needs for food, materials, technology, and knowledge.

What sold me was this recommendation, though:

“A big change in thinking from other games. I started out thinking about what I was getting and by the end it was more important the way I was sharing.”

Oh my god. If it’s any good, can we buy a bunch of copies, and then lock all the billionaires of the world in some rooms and force them to play until they grasp the concept?

I blame…the media!

There sure has been a lot of screeching about “witch hunts” and “sex panics” lately. All these recent revelations about handsy celebrities and politicians with a poor sense of boundaries aren’t the perpetrators fault, oh no, boys will be boys and we ought to be willing to overlook a few violations of the personal space of mere Playboy pinups — no, the problem is that people have gotten fed up and are willing to speak up and say “NO!”, which makes them all the equivalent of a Witchfinder General.

I disagree. The social mores have always been crystal clear on these behaviors, and we’ve always known that treating women as chattel is what bad guys do, but there has also always been a set of known exceptions: if you’re rich and powerful, or sufficiently brutish, or an ‘alpha male’, it’s been understood that you get to ignore the requirements, especially on certain celebratory occasions, like when you’ve just conquered a village, or achieved a touchdown, or it’s your birthday, or you haven’t had sex in 3 hours. The Witch Hunters aren’t doing anything unfair or unegalitarian, they’re just declaring your exceptions null and void. Now you have to treat everyone at all times with the same respect you expect to be given to your sister, or your bros.

You can smell the desperation oozing off the press. Lazy journalists are already pining for the good old days when you could split the world they were reporting on in two: there were the Movers & Shakers, the powerful people with special rules, and you could do your job by just reporting what they said; and then there was the complex world of everyone else, who had diverse and rather different ideas about what is right and just, who you could just ignore. What mattered was what white men in nice suits with influential positions might say, and your goal as a journalist was to curry favor with them so that they’d give you a nice quote you could use in a story. Right now, those journalists are busy trying to restore the status quo, so they can stop having to work hard to track down facts and evidence and listen to the Great Mob, who are all Witch Hunters.

Saying there’s a sex panic on the grounds that women don’t like having their asses grabbed is the 2017 way of calling women frigid. In the 1950s, the woman who slapped a man’s face for an unwanted grope was mocked for not being sexually open, for being uptight. Now she’s accused of participating in a “sex panic.” But it’s all the same thing across the generations: When women stand up to say “keep your hands off of me” there’s a good chance they’ll be called prudes. Saying there’s a sex panic is a fancy way of saying that women’s bodies don’t completely belong to them the way their cars do. Someone can damage a woman’s car in a very small way, and insurance companies take it seriously and pay for the repair. She owns that car, and has every right to protect it. But if someone grabs her butt without her permission, she needs to lighten up. What is she, a frigid bitch?

In the America of earlier generations, one thing that silenced women who wanted to report unwanted sexual acts was how important it was not to damage a man’s career, his reputation, his family. Was one unpleasant event really enough to cause so much trouble to a respected member of the community, to a breadwinner? The importance of men’s careers has also become a part of the new resistance. After the first Al Franken accusation, Joan Walsh wrote a piece in The Nation in which she urged readers to remember that Franken was “a champion of Planned Parenthood,” and also “a committed feminist,” which was helpful for those of us who didn’t know that committed feminists sometimes—allegedly—jam their tongues down unwilling women’s throats.

What I find odd about this behavior is the contrast with how desperately they’ve been trying to make excuses for the Odious Trump Voter, who must be featured in regular puff pieces that strain to pretend they’re really nice and just economically distressed, rather than poorly informed (by the media!) bigots who have erected the current flimsy and disastrous power structure, because they want to snuggle up to the Trumpians and get those juicy droppings of words for their editorials. But mere women complaining about grabby assholes? Where’s the conduit to power in that? We’re free to dismiss them as witch hunters.

Not all journalists, of course. Goes without saying. But those Beltway Journalists, jesus…just get rid of the whole lot of them. Take a look at Mark Halperin, chief poisoner of all media. Pay attention, too, to the fact that most of our liberal excuses don’t work. He was not a creature of Fox News, which we all know is the homegrown Pravda of American media; he was the Wormtongue of ABC News, working through his pernicious newsletter, The Note, to debase our understanding of politics.

The Note purported to reveal Washington’s secrets. In fact, its purpose was the exact opposite: to make the city, and US politics, appear impossible to understand. It replaced normal words with jargon. It coined the phrase “Gang of 500,” the clubby network of lobbyists, aides, pols, and hangers-on who supposedly, like the Vatican’s cardinals, secretly ran DC. That wasn’t true — power is so diffuse. But Halperin claimed he knew so much more than we did, and we began to believe it.

Once you believe that, it’s not hard to be convinced that politics is only comprehensible, like nuclear science, to a select few. There were those chosen ones — the people who’d flattered Halperin to get a friendly mention in his newsletter, the ones he declared to be in the know — and the rest of us. Halperin wrote about Washington like it was an intriguing game, the kind that masked aristocrats played to entertain themselves at 19th-century parties: Everyone was both pawn and player, engaged in a set of arcane maneuvers to win an empty jackpot that ultimately meant nothing of true importance.

At the same time, The Note made it seem that tiny events — a cough at a press conference, a hush-hush convo between Chuck Schumer and Mitch McConnell in a corridor — held apocalyptic importance. Cloaked in seriousness, with the imprimatur of Peter Jennings’ ABC News, in reality The Note was not news but simple gossip.

We have to boot Trump and his corrupt cronies from power, but nothing is going to change in the long term until we also eradicate the oily sycophants who have been working to concentrate information in the hands of a select few — the Rupert Murdochs and Jeff Zuckers and the other corporate leeches — and they’re busy little bees right now conniving to get the FCC to undermine Net Neutrality. You know why. Because they’re straining to keep the power of information out of the hands of the people they like to disparage as “witch hunters”. Because you know that if the power structure screws you over in the near future — as you know it will — it’s simpler and easier and more profitable to report on the satisfied sighs of the pigs in power than to relay the groans of the masses. You will not be heard. You will be demonized.

Thanksgiving dinner…success!

I tried something different this year: jollof rice and hot pepper soup, with naan on the side. I have no idea how authentically Nigerian they were, but they were delicious, especially the soup. Something about the base — onions, habeneros, and garlic — was particularly tasty. +1, would cook again.

Dessert will be in about an hour, and I reverted to an American traditional: hot apple pie and ice cream. Come on over, there’s plenty to go around.

Also, much of my highly domestic day was spent scrubbing floors and moving furniture, and I now have a splendid home office, with room to sprawl and lots of bookshelves. My wife is already calling it my man cave, despite the fact that it’s a corner room with lots of windows, and isn’t cave-like at all. In retaliation, I told her that the living room which is now empty (or almost empty) of my junk can be her woman-cave.

OK, so it’s Thanksgiving

Who am I supposed to thank? Should I just be shouting “thank you” into the void, or feel generically grateful without cause or purpose, or be looking for some reason to feel I owe it to the universe to be praising it? Because I’m not feeling it.

This isn’t my kind of holiday. What day is Blamesgiving? Because I’d rather be snarling at a few evil bastards and punching them in face. Donald Trump, Ajit Pai, Mitch McConnell, Paul Ryan, the Alabama Idjit Brigade that’s lobbying for Roy Moore, all the people who picket Planned Parenthood, Republicans in general, Betsy Devos, Ken Ham…my list is endless, and just thinking about them all is making my punchin’ arm tired.

It’s probably a good thing my wife is me clean house and confining me to the kitchen to cook today’s dinner, because otherwise I’d just be boiling in frustration and bitterness.

Maybe you can thank her for keeping me out of your face today.

Dying is bad, dying stupidly is worse

Mike Hughes has built a steam-powered rocket, which is kind of cool. It takes some skill to assemble that kind of thing.

Mike Hughes does not trust in science, which is kind of stupid.

According to the AP, Hughes says he expects his new rocket to hurl him through the skies above the Mojave Desert ghost town of Amboy at up to 500 miles per hour for roughly one mile, attaining a peak altitude of 1,800 feet before it deploys two parachutes. Hughes is a proponent of the Flat Earth theory; the Research Flat Earth group is his main sponsor. Hughes does not “believe in science,” which he told the AP has “no difference” from science fiction.

Now that is a curious statement, because he claims to be doing this stunt in order to test a scientific claim, that the earth is round, which means he is purporting to do this for a scientific purpose. If he actually knew anything about how science works, though, he’d be able to think this through and realize that launching himself 1800 feet in the air to snap a picture a) doesn’t actually test his hypothesis that the earth is flat, and b) has been done safely and intelligently many, many times before. He could attach his camera to a weather balloon that could easily loft itself to 100,000 feet and take many pictures.

So this exercise makes no sense at all, and will probably get him killed. He launched himself before for a shorter distance and came out physically wrecked from the acceleration and the rough landing. Now he’s pumping up his steam rocket for even more acceleration.

What an absurd way to commit suicide, for such a pointless purpose.

I’m raising sea monkeys right now

This video is a surprising history of those sea monkeys that you used to see advertised in comic books — I raise them routinely and mundanely to feed to fish, and I was surprised by a couple of things. First, the “instant life” gimmick was faked — they lied about the contents of the little packages you got when you ordered them (I never did that part, I get the eggs direct), and the other surprise…well, if you must know, skip ahead to around 11 minutes in the video.

Now I’m just glad I never ordered them from the original company, and Braunhut never got a penny of my money.

Burn it all down

Now a Minnesota state senator, Dan Schoen, is resigning.

Lindsey Port, a DFL candidate for office in 2016 who is running again for a House seat next year, said Schoen grabbed her buttocks at a Democratic National Committee meeting in Minneapolis in 2015.

Rep. Erin Maye Quade, DFL-Apple Valley, said Schoen sent her a string of text messages when she was a candidate for office inviting her to drinks, including one not intended for her that read: “I almost got her. Working on her pretty hard, but I almost got her.”

A Senate employee said Schoen sent her an unsolicited photo of male genitalia.

What the fuck has been going on? It’s about time these jerks got booted out of office, but now I’m wondering where all these men who disrespect women came from, how they endured so long without exposure, and how they managed to get elected to office. I’ve always felt a little uncomfortable just giving a friendly hug that women invite, even, and I can’t quite imagine reaching out and grabbing the butt of a co-worker under any circumstances. I also can’t imagine trying to “get” someone.

Never mind me. I’m just an alien from planet Flooforb who accidentally stumbled through a one-way portal to your planet, and I haven’t adapted at all to your social politics yet.

Nor do I want to. Way too much involuntary manipulation and exchange of bodily fluids. Ick.