Jeremy Morris is one reason we have a War on Christmas

This story is infuriating. Jeremy Morris is a Christian fanatic and zealous Republican — he named his dog Ronald Reagan — who claims to love Christmas. When you read the story, though, it’s clear that he’s far more interested in bullying and antagonizing his neighbors with an overwrought Christmas display, and throwing his weight around, than he is in actually practicing Christian charity. He is “owning the libs” personified. So he puts on an extravagant Christmas display involving hundreds of thousands of lights, paid actors, and a camel, and basically dares his neighbors to complain. And when they do, he declares that they must be anti-Christian.

Be prepared. There are no good guys in this story. He gets into a legal battle with his Home Owners Association, and HOAs are intrinsically evil — they accuse him of attracting riff-raff from a nearby Walmart to their pristine real estate. The Three Percenters offered to help Morris out. Everyone is claiming the precious sanctity of their religion, and when he goes to court, he wins, with a jury of North Idahoan Christians all agreeing that forcing a rich lawyer to tone down his kitschy display of blaring Christmas carols and blinking lights and prancing Santa Clauses is discriminating against Christianity.

Lovely country out there in North Idaho. It’s too bad it’s full of assholes.

I thought I was in hell, but it’s only purgatory

I’m in an airport. I’ve been in an airport all afternoon. Airports are terrible places, vacant and uninteresting, where people only go to get out of them as soon as they possibly can, and the height of misery is being compelled to stay in one longer than planned. But I find a moment of grimdark happiness in reading an article by Laurie Penny, in which she is trapped in an even worse place: a cruise ship. And just to double-down…a cruise ship full of cryptocurrency fanatics.

On this half-empty passenger ship with its swirling ’80s carpets right out of The Shining, there is very little sober talk of blockchain’s obstacles or limitations. Nobody mentions how wildly ecologically unsound the whole project is—some estimates have bitcoin burning as much energy as the entire nation of Ireland for a relatively small pool of users. Instead, the core and only existential question is which of the various coins and ICOs (initial coin offerings) will make you the richest the fastest before dawn.

Freedom here means freedom of money, and only freedom of money—and what freedom of money means is the freedom to amass great stocks of it without being taxed or traced. Occasionally, people even talk about this on panels, though nobody is really here for the conference part of the conference.

At least nobody in this airport is talking incessantly about money…or rather, there are such people, but they roam the place like Martians, easily avoided because they wear bluetooth ear-pieces and their mouths constantly move as they prowl about, focused entirely on the conversation they find so important. Nobody talks to much of anyone here. They move. They squat next to precious electrical outlets. They hover morosely over luggage they’ve been warned will be confiscated if they leave it untended.

Another thing we lack, mostly, in airports is women in obvious bondage.

One of the ways men bond is by demonstrating collective power over women. This is why business deals are still done in strip clubs, even in Silicon Valley, and why tech conferences are famous for their “booth babes.” It creates an atmosphere of complicity and privilege. It makes rich men partners in crime. This is useful if you plan to get ethically imaginative with your investments. Hence the half-naked models, who are all working a lot harder than any of the guys in shirtsleeves.

The cruise’s panelists all tout decentralization’s promises of shared responsibility, community, and freedom, but the version I see here means that nobody knows precisely who is responsible for all of this. It’s nobody’s specific fault that we’re trapped on a floating live-action walkthrough of how un-trammelled free-market capitalism can be bad for women, given that money and power are things women tend to have less of.

See? It could be worse, I tell myself, while checking the clock again for that moment of transition when I get to leave the land of dull carpet and interminable chairs to be confined in a tube with virtually no freedom to move for 3 hours.

48 minutes to boarding, O Blessed Sweet Relief from Waiting.

No, I don’t want a lecture from John McAfee to ease the boredom.

The death of expertise continues apace

We know Donald Trump despises the UN, so I’m interpreting this as an act of spite: he’s appointing to the post of UN Ambassador one of those interchangeable blonde Fox News talking heads, Heather Nauert. She’s not a diplomat, she’s had no real training from the State Department (she has been a spokesman), and she seems to be prone to gaffes. But we all also know what Trump considers “qualifications”.

She has been a strong defender of Trump’s at the podium, something he has clearly noticed.

She’s excellent, she’s been with us a long time, she’s been a supporter for a long time, Trump told reporters on Nov. 1.

Sycophancy has replaced competence as the key requirement for high positions in government. The other day I saw a Jordan Peterson clip in which he was babbling about how Western culture was a meritocracy and how hierarchies in society were a reflection of degree of competence. I laughed. He has no idea at all.

Never admire anyone, ever

I’m looking forward to this new Aquaman movie with Jason Mamoa. It’s about time someone did that story right.

But then I read this anecdote from Amber Heard, his co-star. She liked to read between takes.

“He adopted this method of ripping out the pages of my book so I would pay attention to him,” she said on Good Morning America. “It would drive me crazy because I’d have 30 pages left and it would be gone.”

I literally gasped in horror. Defacing books is an extreme, radical act, not to be done lightly. He was doing it just to get attention, and he was doing it to someone else’s books.

I hope Heard has a big part in the movie, because I’m going to watch it as if her character is the true protagonist, and Mamoa is the nasty big lunk she’s got to work around.

I was born too late

See, I just barely missed my chance to witness an Elasmotherium.

Scientists originally thought that Elasmotherium sibiricum, commonly referred to as “Siberian Unicorn,” died out around 100,000 to 200,000 years ago. But a recent study published in Nature Ecology & Evolution, a peer-reviewed journal, reveals the species was alive until at least 39,000 years ago, a contemporary of both humans and Neanderthals.

Awesome. Although I do have to think about whether it would be a fair trade-off to have been born 40,000 years ago in Siberia in order to see an animal that would stomp me flat.