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.

Christmas must be coming, because the snowflakes are raging

It is becoming one of the most dreaded days of the year: Starbucks announces the pattern on their holiday cardboard cups. Will it be Cthulhu, devouring the world? Will it be the heat death of the universe, captured in a dull gray pattern representative of the faint hiss of radiation from dying galaxies? Will it be a festive splatter of Jesus’s blood as he’s tortured, surrounded by gleeful legionnaires raising their cups of holiday cheer? You never know. It doesn’t matter. Whatever it is, the wattles of the faithful will tremble with rage.

And here they are…

According to a spokesperson,

This year’s hand-drawn cup features scenes of celebrating with loved ones — whoever they may be. We intentionally designed the cup so our customers can interpret it in their own way, adding their own color and illustrations.

And with that, a few loons are off to the races. It’s the GAY AGENDA, they squawk.

Oh, fuck it. Who cares? Go ahead, wax wroth over the pathetic imaginary enemies in your heads, you kooks.

The Morris North Star embarrasses us once again

I completely missed this when it happened, but our local conservative trolls got kicked off the air of the campus radio station a few weeks ago. KUMM allows and encourages student groups to broadcast on our station, and the right-wingers took advantage of that, as is their right. That would have been fine if they’d gone on the air to talk about their political views, but instead, it was their childish version of talk-radio hate speech. They used their time slot to rail against gay and transgender people, and the station manager yanked their show, called “Deplorable Radio”, off the air.

The two hosts of the show, Brandon Albrecht and Tayler Lehmann, are also on the masthead of the alternative Trump-loving student paper, the Morris North Star. Here’s what pissed off the station manager:

“Everybody knows everybody here at Morris. Like, definitely, you see one tranny that’s trying to punch someone, you know it’s automatically that one guy, that you know, I’m talking about. I bet you know. I’m not going to dox anybody and name them on air. But you two know if I say the tranny who looks like he’s going to punch someone.”

Like he says, we know everyone here at Morris, some better than others. I scarcely know any of the North Star clique and probably know the members of MOQSIE slightly better, and that rant made no sense at all. I’m trying to picture who among our small transgender community would look like they’re wanting to punch anybody, and drawing a complete blank. They had events to celebrate coming out week a short while ago, I attended some, and the opposite is true: everyone in that group was actively trying to avoid the right-wing thugs. Those nasty people were actively scheduling their own counter-programming to protest the existence of sexual diversity on campus; MOQSIE put on an informational session on respecting gender differences, for instance, and the North Star scheduled a panel on the “oppression olympics” right afterwards (they concluded that the most oppressed group on campus was white men, of course).

Surprisingly, the entire encounter at the radio station was recorded on video.

The station manager overstepped their (by the way, the City Paper source did not use the correct pronoun for the station manager) bounds with the claim that “tranny” is prohibited by the FCC; it is not. It is still hate speech, and they were entirely within their bounds to appropriately shut down the use of campus facilities to broadcast hate. The FCC doesn’t prohibit saying “Sieg Heil” on the air, either, but if Nazis were doing a radio show here, I would hope someone would step in and say “NO.”

Also weird: one of the things that the thugs were babbling about is how few and weak leftists were on our campus.

As one host observed that the school’s left-wing “Antifa” presence is nicer than branches found elsewhere, host Brandon Albrecht said Morris leftists are merely more timid, because there were fewer of them.

But then you read the comments, and you get stuff like this:

I used to attend U of M Morris and it’s essentially a school full of communists and socialists. The students are so far beyond the left that they were actually threatening students like myself who voted for trump. That school is not a school to educate it’s a school to silence free speech and push their agenda

Which is it? Do we have an overwhelmingly liberal student body, or are we weak and timid?

I’m glad to see somebody standing up to the North Star. This is the same right wing group that called a cop on me a while back for allegedly destroying their newspapers (I didn’t, and they had no evidence) and had me hauled off to the station to make a statement, so I have no sympathy at all for them — being asked to stop spewing hatred on the radio is a reasonable request, one that they’re unable to fulfill.

We have a new house! Kinda sorta.

We live in a somewhat unfashionably old house — not old enough to be exotic, but old enough to be a bit, well, shabby. That’s exactly the right word for it. It was built in the late 1940s by the Wohler family, who were sort of a big deal in these parts, since they owned the most important bar in town, the Old #1. It was sold shortly afterwards to Ed LaFave, a banker, who was also one of the civic leaders who led the effort to get the University of Minnesota Morris built here, in the late 1950s and 60s. So anyway, we’re sort of connected to small town royalty through this house.

LaFave had bought it for his mother — his home was across the street — and she lived her for several decades, which means, of course, that our home is known as Granny LaFave’s House to all the locals. That’s fine, none of the subsequent tenants, including us, have had her endurance, so she earned it. Unfortunately, while the interior was quite nice, the exterior had gotten a bit run down over the years. Here’s what it looked like a few years ago.

There’d been a few poor attempts at tidying it up. One of the worst was that it was covered with nice cedar shakes, but they were painted over white, and that paint was flaking off, and some of the windows were in less than pristine shape, and there were those odd wooden strakes protruding over the windows (I think they used to have some kind of screening over them) that were simply falling off.

So this summer we hired a contractor to give it a complete make-over.

We had the old shakes stripped off and replaced with siding. New windows everywhere, with better insulation. The deck was resurfaced. Some of the stonework was patched up. Now it looks completely different!

Strangely, at the same time all this was going on, the county sent us a notice that they’d decided, for some obscure reason, to change our house number from 300 College Avenue to 209 College Avenue, so now we can pretend we’ve moved to a completely different house with none of the hassle of actually having to move the contents.

Oops. I just doxxed myself.

I made a brief video of walking around the house. Most of you won’t care, but I’m sending this to family — this is the house where my youngest two kids grew up, so they might be curious.

Right now, the interior is cluttered because we had to pull everything away from the walls (because they were doing some major work with new windows), and most of our posessions are piled up in our living room. One of the things we’ll be doing this long Thanksgiving weekend is de-cluttering and moving everything back to where it belongs.

Also, most importantly…that room with the bay windows used to be our daughter’s bedroom, and I’m taking over. We had the interior redone (most importantly: grounded 3 prong outlets everywhere), and I’ll be setting that up as my home office. Yay! Electronics will be neatly organized, I’ll have a quiet writing space, and it’ll have wonderful light!

No, the house is not up for sale, and this is not an advertisement. We’re planning to stay here a good long while yet.

Rules for Gentlemen

Actually, the Rules for Gentlemen are the same as they’ve always been, but unfortunately, there has been one major change: all the get-out-of-jail-free cards have been cancelled. Rendered null and void. Deleted. They aren’t making any more. If you try waving one, it’ll just make you look more corrupt — what made you ever think you deserved an exemption?

So I’m going to be specific. We don’t get to make these excuses ever again.

  • The autistic/mentally ill exemption. Ugh. Gross. Do not ever pull a James Damore and blame your bad behavior and ignorance on autism. Autism doesn’t turn you into an asshole. Neither does mental illness. You don’t get to drag down a lot of innocent people with you and increase their stigma to save your butt.

  • We men are such lovable klutzes. Wrong. Pretending to be ignorant of the rules of normal human behavior isn’t lovable at all. Especially since 5 minutes after you beg unawareness of how to do laundry and complain about the impossibility of navigating the complex social mores of interacting with feeemales, you’re going to hop on the internet and brag about how your sex includes Alexander the Great, Gutenberg, and the guy who invented http among its members.

  • It’s our Man Genes. Nope. There are no such things as Man Genes that dictate your behavior. From the raw material of our genetics, society constructed Socrates, Marcus Aurelius, Leonardo da Vinci, Charles Darwin, and Nelson Mandela. People are complicated and your naive reductionism is noted and dismissed as stupid.

  • The she-was-a-slut excuse. The grossest. It doesn’t matter if she posed for Playboy, had sex with the Philadelphia Eagles, and was standing naked in front of you coated in lube — if she says no, if she doesn’t give consent, you don’t have an invitation to demand so much as a kiss. Her sexual history does not give you liberty to take liberties. I don’t understand why, but this seems to be extraordinarily hard for some people to grasp.

  • But it was only once! It’s never only once. But even if it was that miraculously solitary, incredibly rare, unusual exception of an event, it doesn’t matter. The harm was done. We don’t get permission to run a stop light just once, or to commit murder just once — you don’t get a crime punchcard that lets you off the hook once for each error of judgment.

  • The punishment is too severe. All right, I sort of sympathize with this one — we seem to find ourselves in a world where the only choices are “look the other way” or “nuke it from orbit”, with no gradations in between. But the problem is…we built that world. We looked the other way for everything shy of cannibal baby rape, and our failure to respond to constant escalation of harassment means we haven’t created an appropriate social response to all those intermediate offenses. We put off paying the prices for millennia, and it’s all finally coming due.

  • OK, but I’ll get to pick my penance. Sneaky. You’ll request an ethics review of your actions. By your peers. Who are almost all men. Who include a majority of Republicans. It is very brave to be willing to abide by their judgment, when you know the outcome will be a pat on the back, apologies for dragging you through this process, and uninterrupted resumption of your privilege. Christ, we saw Jeff Sessions glide through his pro forma hearing, suffering only a little finger wagging and ending up…still the attorney general of the whole goddamned United States.

Got it, gentlemen? Pull out your wallet and dump out all those cards granting you exemptions, splash them with a wee bit of your whisky, and set them on fire. You can sit back and sip the remainder of the bottle while weeping — that’s fine. You probably feel naked and vulnerable now, just like everyone else. It’s extremely uncomfortable.

Maybe we can start from scratch and build more equitable principles for dealing with others that gives all of us some protection.