I ain’t gonna work on Marky’s troll farm no more

“News media has become a marketing industry for the most profitable culture in preparation for next season. They control the speech, they control the narrative and will destroy anyone who gets big enough the matter. Now with the permanent ban of Milo Yiannopoulos from Twitter, many are asking if free speech as a concept is under siege. The answer is of course a mighty YES! However, it’s not coming directly from the State this time. Today it’s coming from the corporate cultural and the daytime talk shows they invest in. This is an age of government partnership, as though acting indirectly is less communist. As if killing less people when we steal their production is less fascist.” – Anthony J. Mountjoy

“To alert advertisers caught on junk or blatant fake news sites, Storyzy sends them an email with eloquent screenshots attached. ‘We contacted about 400 brands, says Pierre-Albert Ruquier, marketing director and co-founder of Storyzy. Reaction varies. Some clearly don’t care and don’t even bother to respond. The biggest advertisers usually refer us to their media buying partners. We talk to most of them, even though we are often received coldly. Weirdly enough, we are also sent to large to consulting firms that advise big clients on brand safety issues. The vast majority of advertisers don’t know where their ads land. Or choose to ignore it. That’s why when they refer us to their media buying agency these won’t budge. The reason is that almost all campaigns are ROI-based, a field dominated by behavioral targeting and retargeting.’” – Frederic Filloux

“This is a very boring, simple explanation as to why the NFL’s ratings are declining. It is not an opportunity for you to shoehorn in your feelings about Colin Kaepernick protesting the game. No one really cares about your feelings about Colin Kaepernick’s protest, because if you are the kind of person who gets really offended by Colin Kaepernick’s protest, then your feelings in 2017 are the most boring and predictable thing about you, and telling on you in a deeply unflattering light. The simpler and also boring systemic problem with the NFL that might actually explain something is its success, and how that success made the ownership class in the NFL fat, lazy, and locked into a business model they have no real reason or incentive to change, even with falling TV ratings. The absence of real risk of failure is a start. Stakeholders in the NFL cannot lose—at least not under the league’s current structure.” Spencer Hall

“Pro football in America is over the hump. Ten years ago it was a very hip and private kind of vice to be into. I remember going to my first 49ers game in 1965 with fifteen beers in a plastic cooler and a Dr. Graybow pipe full of bad hash. The 49ers were still playing in Kezar Stadium then, an old gray hulk at the western end of Haight Street in Golden Gate Park. There were never any sellouts, but the 30,000 or so regulars were extremely heavy drinkers, and at least 10,000 of them were out there for no other reason except to get involved in serious violence … by the end of the third quarter of any game, regardless of the score, there were always two or three huge brawls that would require the cops to clear out whole sections of the grandstand.” Hunter S. Thompson c 1971-72

“I believe marriages would in general be as happy, and often more so, if they were all made by the Lord Chancellor, upon a due consideration of characters and circumstances, without the parties having any choice in the matter.” Dr. Johnson

“In an electric information environment, minority groups can no longer be contained—ignored. Too many people know too much about each other. Our new environment compels commitment and participation. We have become irrevocably involved with, and responsible for, each other.” H. Marshall McLuhan 1967

Here’s a scant few items to move along.

Psycho and Cupid

Most weekdays I have lunch at the desk while also listening to the news on the radio. That means sitting through some amount of talk as the only stations with news these days like to call themselves “news-talk radio.” What you learn from news-talk by either listening or, in my case, being involved with it for all of a week, is that the average person in American has no idea how many books are being published at any given time. The short time I spent with the format was little more than a parade of USPS, UPS, and FedEx delivery people bringing book after book after book. Sometimes when we drive to the WA coast I will look at an old patch of clear cut and wonder if all it went to making the books that turn some portion of financial minutia into alarmist economic porn.

And sometimes I wonder if all those trees were turned into self-help books.

Which is where I came in on the news last Wednesday. While waiting for the headlines I had to sit through an interview with a marriage expert, or rather an expert on why marriages go wrong. His general take was that humans, as far as he knows, are the only primates who fall in love, in turn, as of the late 19th and early 20th Century people adopted love as the central core of marriage. Prior to that he believed that marriage was a utilitarian venture – an easy way to acquire more labor. Put another way – a man can only afford one ox, but he can cook up five little laborers if he can find a woman to go along with his long-term business plan.

Mr. Expert wound up by saying that’s all out the window today. Per him- marriages fail today because people are no longer interested in utility much less love. Today’s marriage is all about finding someone who will turn you into a fully self-actualized human being and if that doesn’t happen in a reasonable amount of time then…

Time to find a lawyer and see who gets custody of the Tony Robbins DVDs.

Companionship? Child rearing? Taking the trash out? Looking out for each other? Seeing what that noise in the basement is? The ability to keep the US mortgage companies in business?

All out the window.

As many of you know, and I’ve said this in this space for a very long time, we don’t hold back. By God, we’re proud of the world-class synchronized snoring routine the two of us have worked on for years and years. Instead that’s all for naught as this entire time – if we were true moderns- Mom would have been busy liberating the blue light from the crystal prisms of my mind.

Or visa versa.

I had no idea.

Speaking of Mom –

Allow me to introduce myself

Here’s a quick 60 seconds of video that sums up Facebook’s latest set of problems.

A couple of days ago Rob Beschizza wrote:

Zuckerberg got played by people smarter than he is. All we see of him now is the bottomless narcissistic injury inflicted by the fact one of them was Donald Trump.

Which brings us back to the subject of marriage.

Those of you who’ve met us know that I married up. In addition to being a hot leggy blonde Mom’s smart and smart if a real razor sharp way. Her current take on FB states that of all the local platforms FB is quicksand.

This came up tangentially. A rage filled FB post has been floating about for a few days regarding how a transaction was handled at a local business. Having once worked in retail it struck me as a customer service thing that went off the rails, but those who’ve read the post have broken out the digital pitchforks and iTorches in order to join the digital lynch mob.

Mom’s had a couple of invites to weigh in on this one. Some invites ask for her wisdom, others want her to put up a quick, “I’VE HAD ENOUGH OF YOU KIDS!” post. She has declined saying that – once you look at that kind of post on social media – you’re sucked in with no way out. Admonish, conjole, beg or rant, nothing changes. There’s something about our natures that pull us in and make us drown in someone else’s anger.

Long story short – pick your battles, but be really, really picky about the ones you chose. Don’t lose your own time and your emotional energy.

k?

And while we’re talking about readily losing your shit…

Profits of Rage

“Trying the politicize science fiction fans is like trying to teach a paramecium to play jazz piano.” Harlan Ellison

Oh yeah?

You should what happens when you try to do that with football fans.

Let’s start with some unassailable rock-solid facts:

1. Tim Tebow is a deeply religious man.

2. Tim Tebow couldn’t make it in the NFL.

As most of you remember from tuning into last Sunday afternoon’s episode of “Oh Say Can You Knee?” Various pundits and double domes were casting about looking for anybody who went genuflecting on the grid iron. The name several landed on was Tim Tebow.

For those of you just tuning – Tim Tebow is no longer a member of the NFL. He suffered from what some call the Heisman Curse, i.e. those who win college football’s highest honor never make it in the NFL. Normally the victims of the curse aren’t much known outside of the city they play in. Tebow was different in that his knee taking, in the name of his faith, made him known to a wider audience. That in turn lead the culture warriors to weaponize this knee taking. Granted, the rage then was minuscule vs. what’s happened in the past couple of weeks, but it part of a larger interpretation of fact by the shadowy figures in the culture wars and those in the media who profit from using our emotions against us.

Put another way – the very recently deceased Hugh Hefner made a fortune playing off men’s essentially horny nature. The cable news outlets, talk radio, and various web sites do the same thing with your misdirected rage. Don’t think that Mom’s the only one who noticed the angry morass on social media. There are others who know that – to slight restate Mr. Pynchon – if they can get you to talk about the wrong thing, then there’s money to be made. Which means that if Mr. Bannon is what he says he is, then in his Lennist America the useful idiot abound and they need little or no direction and the money will come rolling in. (See M. Falloux above)

Say anything.

Throw it out there and see what sticks.

Want an example?

OK – is standing for the National Anthem little more than your own virtue signaling that you understand the previously established form of political correctness?

How’s that?

Been pnwed by your emotions yet?

Give it a second.

Moving along –

Kaepernick?

He’s about two weeks away from starting in the NFL should someone take him on. But as the article mentioned above states – the average NFL team is little more than a portfolio asset these days. So it’s not that Kaepernick is completely frozen out solely based on his actions. Seattle was mentioned as his most likely landing spot as it would come with the least amount of public outrage. But Seattle has a solid starting quarterback in Russell Wilson who is 1-1 in Super Bowl starts. Like Tebow, Mr. Wilson has an expanded fan base beyond the city he plays in due to his openness about how he and his fiancé were saving themselves for his second marriage.

Kaepernick’s frozen out because there are teams who could use him, but they’re getting by as there’s money in mediocrity. Behind the scenes there a mess of teams who don’t want him because those teams might improve and that might upset the delicate balance of the bottom line.

Hell, if you want to be mad at somebody – go pick on Jerry Jones.

The Cowboys haven’t won the Super Bowl since 1995 and they’ve been out of the playoffs for 11 of the subsequent years while turning his multi-million dollar investment into a $4 billion asset.

And did you see the J-man take a knee last week?

You sure did!

Long story short – anybody looking to display the head of the NFL as if it were the Gorgon or Meuda’s is a fool. The NFL has been its own best tackle dummy for several years now. The only thing Mr. Trump has done is give them an external push down the stairs because, God knows, the’ve been taking that tumble for some time.

Why?

The number of games on tv is its own form of pollution. What was one or two games on a weekend and one on Monday night has turned in a 12 to 14 broadcast marathon on Sundays. Prime time now has both Monday and Thursday night games and if that’s not enough the NFL has their own damn cable channel, streaming service, and a cozy deal with DirectTV. The commissioner has tried to edge the CTE problem and he wouldn’t let Junior Seau’s daughter give a speech that basically said – my Dad’s job ended his life early.

So before winding this up let’s go to the replay:

“In an electric information environment, minority groups can no longer be contained—ignored. Too many people know too much about each other. Our new environment compels commitment and participation. We have become irrevocably involved with, and responsible for, each other.” H. Marshall McLuhan 1967

Moving from the industrially based media of the 20th Century to the wide open digital present means we move from the slightly off key chorus of the few voices to relentless cacophony. Like an old Altman movie we drop in and out of no end of conversations. We struggle to listen to one at a time. In that environment we are enthralled by the shouters, the loud ones who put forth their point of view leaving us to do the one thing none of us want to do.

Master our emotions.

Feel free to have your spouse help you. You know, the other day I heard that marriage is nothing more than getting your old lady and/or old man to get you to go placidly amid the noise and haste and remember what peace there may be in silence.

And then tell you to take out the trash.

With that – let’s go out on one of Mom’s favorite videos.

Father Knows Best

“Texans invent their own metaphors and similes, often of a scatological nature, which is kind of fun. As a group, they tell good stories well. The reason they’re good at stories is because this is what anthropologists call an oral culture. That means people here don’t read or write much. Neither would you if all you had to read was the Dallas Morning News.” Molly Ivins

“The Clinton campaign has struggled to win support among young voters of every description, including traditional Democratic Party voters: women, African-Americans, people of Latinamerican or Hispanic origin, etc. … The AOL Email login-screen ad bought by her campaign is either an act of monumental cluelessness about how to reach those young voters, or (more likely), it’s an indication that the campaign feels the need to double-down on the older voters who constitute the bulk of Hillary Clinton supporters.” Cory Doctrow

“Advice, as it always gives a temporary appearance of superiority, can never be very grateful, even when it is most necessary or most judicious. But for the same reason everyone is eager to instruct his neighbors. To be wise or to be virtuous is to buy dignity and importance at a high price; but when nothing is necessary to elevation but detection of the follies or faults of others, no man is so insensible to the voice of fame as to linger on the ground.” Dr. Johnson

Going around the dial last weekend I came upon an episode of the old George Reeves Superman show. It opened with the local crime boss busily occupying himself with a yo-yo. The phone rings and he hands the yo-yo to an underling and says, “Keep that going for me, will ya?”

That when I realized I needed to pick the loose bits and pieces from last week’s post.

Originally the second part of last week’s missive was to make the point that those born on the front end of the Baby Boom have no idea that those of us born on the back half have no interest in listening to their tales of protest.

Why?

When I started high school the Paris Accord was signed and Saigon fell just as we were being fitted for caps and gowns. Between those two points – and certainly thereafter – we had nothing to protest. There was no war, no draft, and cultural mores had been loosened sufficiently that whatever we did could not be seen as rebellion. I used to joke that the only protest Boomers like Mom ’n me knew about was Disco Demolition Night.

To clarify – the owner of the team’s last name rhymes with “wreck.”

But you knew that.

The closest I ever came to real protest involved our ongoing efforts in what The POTUS would call “dishonstism.” As some of you know, now and then I’m called upon to be a photodishonestist. Several years ago it came down to me to take pictures of the Occupy’s port protest. Phase one was to follow the local Peace Grannies who were marching as a group that day to stand in front of a stub of the Port of Seattle which had been designated as Ground Zero by the local Occupy organizers. About half the grannies had shown up by the time I got there. Arriving hot on my heels were the anarchist kids from Black Diamond, WA/ Eugene, OR,/Fort Bragg, CA. (circle all that apply) They immediately started handing out pints of milk, instructions on how to use the milk to get the pepper spray out of your eyes, and skull-face bandanas intended to hide faces from police and media cameras. One produced a Sharpie marker and took the arm of one of the grannies, the kid then shouted, “I’M WRITING THE PHONE NUMBER FOR THE BAIL BONDSMAN ON YOUR LEFT ARM AND THE PHONE NUMBER OF OUR LAWYER ON OUT RIGHT ARM!

One took my arm and I said simply, “Media.”

She lowered my arm and replied, “FUCK YOU!”

Then she spit at me.

I then asked her if anyone thought the police would go ballistic on a group of 80 year-old women.

“FUCK YOU, YOU COMPLICIT PIG!”

And that’s where I came in on this movie.

By now the Grannies, Viola, Dottie, Margaret, and Ingrid were huddled up refusing to get anything written on their arms. Out of the corner of my eye I saw more anarchists on bicycles shooting by so I took that as my cue to wander up the street. As I got to the police line you could see the teenager march that was headed for the other side of the port entrance. Kids from high schools al over Seattle marched from downtown to be part of the rally. Looking at the front of the crowd I said to myself, “Gee, there’s a mess of these kids who dress just like my kid.” Pulling out the long telephoto lens it became clear that there was one kid who dressed like my kid because he was my kid.

There front and center was Alaska Wolf Joe.

I walked up to the police captain in charge of the line and said I just needed through for a picture or two. Two officers opened up to let me through. Quickly I took both pictures and my child and got to the other side of the line. I told AWJ there was going to be trouble and we were going upwind – now- to get get away from the pepper spray and tear gas the police brought not to mention awful smelling smoke bombs the anarchists brought to create a cover for their rock throwing.

Fatherly advice comes upon you at the most awkward of times.

A steady breeze out of the south meant the bus shelter to the west of all this was the best place to be. Thanks to the miracle knows as the 150-600mm lens I got what I needed while AWJ got to watch it all unfold.

So what became of all that? What’s going on now since most of those protester/anarchists are creeping every closer to the age of 40?

Since Alaska Wolf Joe subscribes to all the FB groups for card-carriers, dupes, pinkos, fellow travelers, and useful idiots I asked him what the average protester looks like today. He says the kids these days are all about th’ Mao.

He writes:

Here’s all I can say about what I know about Trotskyites: you probably smell like patchouli, have “white person dreads”, and are handing out a newspaper at a rally which no one will read. This is the stereotype as I have garnered it from mediocre young radicals, who are no doubt soured Alinski-ites hell bent on destroying the Christian fabric of this nation with their cold hands covered in the residuum of sin.

Also, with an emphasis on recent thoughts regarding intersectionality and decolonization (which are not exclusively Marxist, more re: bell hooks and Frantz Fanon, among no doubt countless others, though no one is really cited), the dirty word “imperialism” creeps in. Any Western narrative against movements esp. in East Asia or the third world is construed as an imperialist narrative, so most people revise Mao to be a sanitary theoretician fighting the imperialist West as opposed to an absurd dictator trying to destroy culture for his own means. I’d say this stems largely from a focus currently towards PoC or WoC led movements, where to look for figures who went for radically Marxist approaches and had success on a widespread culture means looking generally outside of the West. Also the kids really love materialism now because it isn’t that stuffy thing that ivory tower elitist liberals shove down your throat with the list of Great Books.

Everybody on the same page now?

Good.

As far a future protests go I’ll probably only go those that require me to throw a saddle on ol’ Nikon and ride off.

Moving along –

Good news came along this week.

Somebody wants Mom ’n me to run out a PPT on the current state of the media!

OK it’s for a senior center enrichment group, but it’s the first time anybody wanted to hear what we have to say in a long, long time. Never mind that the only time these folks experienced fake news it was Orson Welles going on and on about martians in New Jersey.

To recap – for several years the Internet’s young hip good looking set always wanted to meet with us. The scuttlebutt said Mom was a regular digital spitfire while I was the Bloggitysphere’s answer to that daring 19th Century man-of-action, Russian Count Vladimir Klappon-Klappov. Then we’d catch up with them and they’d see we were these perpetually rumpled people with wrinkles and gray hair who were about as sexy as the average IKEA showroom. Once that shock wore off they backed away from us, but not before treating us like some old gray muzzled mutt who does little more than sleep and fart all day. They’d smile and they always said the same thing, “Gee Pops, you’re not a puppy anymore are you? Nozzums not, Nozzums not! Who’s a good boy? Who’s a good boy?

Then they’d scratch me behind the ears.

God, how I always hated that.

Oh – before I go and in case you were wondering – The Peace Grannies lived to see another day. In fact, a few years later they managed to shut down an entire Port meeting using what Joe Bob Briggs would call sit-in/hootenanny-fu using little more than the Pete Seeger songbook.

As always we end with music. What follows is what Alaska Wolf Joe said has “All the artistic panache of someone cosplaying as Karl Marx at an anime convention.” while Mom ’n me say it more as a death-by-a-thousand-cuts moment as we had to sit through a three-minute AARP ad before it would roll.

off … lawn … get …kids … you … DAMN!

“The fact that French toys literally prefigure the world of adult functions obviously cannot but prepare the child to accept them all, by constituting for him, even before he can think about it, the alibi of a Nature which has at all times created soldiers, postmen and Vespas. Toys here reveal the list of all the things the adult does not find unusual: war, bureaucracy, ugliness, Martians, etc. It is not so much, in fact, the imitation which is the sign of an abdication, as its literalness: French toys are like a Jivaro head, in which one recognizes, shrunken to the size of an apple, the wrinkles and hair of an adult. There exist, for instance, dolls which urinate; they have an oesophagus, one gives them a bottle, they wet their nappies; soon, no doubt, milk will turn to water in their stomachs. This is meant to prepare the little girl for the causality of house-keeping, to ‘condition’ her to her future role as mother. However, faced with this world of faithful and complicated objects, the child can only identify himself as owner, as user, never as creator; he does not invent the world, he uses it: there are, prepared for him, actions without adventure, without wonder, without joy. He is turned into a little stay-at-home householder who does not even have to invent the mainsprings of adult causality; they are supplied to him ready-made: he has only to help himself, he is never allowed to discover anything from start to finish. The merest set of blocks, provided it is not too refined, implies a very different learning of the world: then, the child does not in any way create meaningful objects, it matters little to him whether they have an adult name; the actions he performs are not those of a user but those of a demiurge. He creates forms which walk, which roll, he creates life, not property: objects now act by themselves, they are no longer an inert and complicated material in the palm of his hand. But such toys are rather rare: French toys are usually based on imitation, they are meant to produce children who are users, not creators.” – Roland Barthes

“The thing about Doctor Who is the constitution of the audience. It covers a huge age range, so you have to entertain little kids and you have to entertain hipsters and students, and middle-aged men who should know better. So sometimes there is a kind of metaphysical and intellectual aspect to it, which is more to the fore than other times. But generally we just blow up monsters. … There are some moments when you feel, that’s a little bit silly, or that’s a bit mawkish or whatever, but then you realise, that’s for children. You would be a fool not to play to them, because it’s their show.” – Peter Capaldi

“It may be doubted, whether the pleasure of seeing children ripening into strength be not overbalanced by the pain of seeing some fall in the blossom, and others blasted in their growth; some shaken down by storms, some tainted with cankers, and some shriveled in the shade; and whether he that extends his care beyond himself does not multiply his anxieties more than his pleasures, and weary himself to no purpose, by superintending what he cannot regulate.” – Dr. Johnson

“I like children. If they’re properly cooked.” ― W.C. Fields

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Time for a little holiday desk cleaning.

Their father’s hell did slowly go by

The question, “How am I supposed to explain the election to my children?” has been shooting around for a few weeks, but no one seems to wonder what would happen if the children explained the election to you.

A couple of days after the election Alaska Wolf Joe phoned.

Alaska Wolf Joe: Tell me about your old girlfriend
Me: It’s not an extensive list, but you’ll have to be a little bit more specific.
AWJ: Debbie The Psychedelic Republican.
Me: She wasn’t my girlfriend, but the rest is accurate.
AWJ: Mom said she was your first girlfriend
Me: Mom exaggerates.
AWJ: Did Debbie do lots of LSD?
Me: Well .. that was the 70s and manufactured hallucinogens were on the wane and the Carlos Castaneda books got people moving towards those fruits-of-the-earth, peyote and magic mushrooms. She used to talk about peyote way in advance of doing any – kinda like how some one would talk about booking an expensive day spa appointment.
AWJ: Did she say anything about turning her back on society or discovering spirituality?
Me: Oh no, in fact she used to spend her summers going door to door for Republican candidates.
AWJ: I’m asking as it confirms my suspicions that old people like you could have done all those drugs and not had to deal with any cognitive dissonance after voting for Trump.
Me: How so?
AWJ: If you were just using drugs as an outlet and not a repudiation of society then Debbie could vote for Trump without having second thoughts. All the 60s did was open up a door to distribution and commodification of drugs with no attachment to any political viewpoint. Did she vote for Trump?
Me: Possibly, probably likely, but we’ll never know for sure. I haven’t seen her in years and years.
AWJ: What other drugs did she do?
Me: One time she crushed up a whole mess of Contac and tried to snort it.
AWJ: What’s Contac?
Me: Something your grandfather used to get full MSRP for during cold and flu season.
AWJ: And don’t send any more of my books, I’m going to take some time away from those and read trashy novels.
Me: Like Mickey Spillane?
AWJ: Who?
Me: Another fast moving item in your grandfather’s inventory. Your grandmother threatened to blister my backside good if she caught me so much as looking at one of his books.
AWJ: Is he the boobs-in-the-moonlight guy?
Me: More or less.

Lately there’s been no end of talk about difficult Thanksgiving dinner conversations. If my mother were alive we would be wondering how we could have a conversation at the dinner table while she screamed like a jackknifed banshee. Even if we set aside the fact that we serve Thanksgiving dinner using her good china, which she believed should only be looked at and never used, there would still be AWJ talking about the Continental philosophers which would have brought our her distaste for all things French. Oh sure, they say they’re Catholics, but all that sinful rich food, the nonstop talk about wine, the chain smoking, and that postcard business…

The less said the better.

Speaking of family-


How is your wife? I have been extra good this year, so I have a long list of presents that I want.

On the day after Thanksgiving I type up my email to Santa. This year the only item I’m interested in is Michael Chabon’s new book. (BTW – Nice shirt, Mike.) The very idea of the book is endlessly fascinating as I know so very little of my own family’s history. My father’s side is an open book with only a few chapters as his father came to this country long after the major wave of 19th Century European immigrants had ceased. Needless to say, thanks to my father’s baby brother, Uncle Jussi, its a warts-and-all book. For those of you just tuning in – Uncle Yuse had a highly flexible set of moral standards. He treated things like the Ten Commandments like a rough outline of good behavior which is why during WW2 he was part of the liberation of Europe liberating anything that wasn’t nailed down or too heavy to carry.

My mother’s family is a book locked away in a trunk because they organized their life around their shame. I know bits and pieces of it, but never enough to anything together. When my grandfather died I was hoping some one should say something. In stead all I got was stern admonitions for being a “college boy with soft hands” who didn’t know anything about hard work.

OH – speaking of urban and rural gaps!

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When you coming back to reality, Dad? “I don’t know when, but you know we’ll have a good time then!”

Mom ’n me are kinda hiding out from the Bookface. In fact we’ve checked ourselves into The Facebook User Protection Program after the election turned lots of people into relentlessly earnest banshees. If you don’t talk about the election they start screaming and what are we supposed to do? As Mom said – there’s nothing we can say that hasn’t been said somewhere else and what would be the point?

We could say, “DITTO!” but I think the Howard Stern guy owns the copyright.

The one small and only thing that I’ll talk about is the fake news as it presents a problem to all of us who have an arm’s length relationship with reality. Unlike Uncle Yuse who saw morality as a loose set of suggestions, some of us have thought from time to time that societal norms can be tinkered with for the sake of fun. While this might have bothered those who act as if society is a rock-solid thing that was built according to specs long ago put out to bid, the goofballery that transpired previously was largely harmless.

Case in point – I have long been a fan of the San Fran Cacophony Society who pulled this bus stunt over 20 years ago. You could say that such things might trace their way back to The Situationists, but that’s always tough. Sure, The Situationists pioneered monkey wrenching art and media, but getting little Billy of the Family Circus to shout obscenities is not necessarily societal liberation.

The larger point here is that people have putting bullshit in plain sight since the 1950s so why is everybody so upset now?

Simple.

Money.

God knows The Situationists weren’t in it to make a buck and neither was a bus full of clowns. Sure, the Subgenius crowd had merch, but none of us believe it was sufficient to buy Strang and Nenslo a place in the Bahamas nor was that their intent. Nor were they ready to serve up their nonsense in COSTCO sized lots.

Where is this all going?

Like I’d know?

Let’s spilt the difference and summarize.

– Bullshit is harmless unless there’s money in it.

– My family history on my mother’s side is a mess that left me with little to work with. Therefore I have no choice but to make stuff up in order to approach and understand of Tolstoy’s old phrase, “Happy families are all alike; every unhappy family is unhappy in its own way.”

– Mom ’n me are fed up with the Bookface and we’re not coming back until everybody gets over themselves which is the same as saying we’ll never be back. OK- we’ll probably be back, but as Mom’s mother liked to say, “You’ve got Christmas and your birthday to think about. If you get everything you want all the time then there won’t be anything special to get when Christmas and your birthday come around.

– If AWJ writes the history of the US the hippies will be credited with commodifying and distributing illicit drugs in a manner similar to how Henry Ford put the automobile into wide spread use. In his history the titans of 20th Century industry will be Ford, General Sarnoff, and some dude name Moondog and his ol’ lady Fireweed.

Now go eat your leftovers.

Maybe you and that selfie stick should get a room

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“There was a desert wind blowing that night. It was one of those hot dry Santa Anas that come down through the mountain passes and curl your hair and make your nerves jump and your skin itch. On nights like that every booze party ends in a fight. Meek little wives feel the edge of the carving knife and study their husbands’ necks. Anything can happen. You can even get a full glass of beer at a cocktail lounge.” – Raymond Chandler

“The LA Times called me a renaissance detective, Sportello. A renaissance detective. Chotto, Kenichiro, Dozo! Motto panukeiku… motto panukeiku! MOTTO PANUKEIKU!LAPD Lt. Det. Christian F. “Bigfoot” Bjornsen

“This is the city. Los Angeles, California. I work here… I carry a badge. It was Tuesday, February 9. It was raining in Los Angeles. We were working bunko, my partner’s Bill Gannon, the boss is Captain Spaulding.” LAPD Sgt. Joe Friday

“When a man is tired of London, he is tired of life; for there is in London all that life can afford.” Dr. Johnson

Nineteen weeks of professional football ending with a Super Bowl loss left behind a collective emotional morass that was not tempered by the early arrival of spring here in The Great North Woods. That left us with little choice but to travel to Los Angeles if for no other reason than to keep our cultural-anthropologist credentials in proper working order. On the short-shank end we were once again reminded of how low the bar is set when it comes to what constitutes a SoCal rain storm and how one celebrity sighting is all you need to remember we are all aging in place. On the other end of the spectrum we discovered that LA and The Great North Woods are now trying to be a good example of what Obi-won meant when he said to Qui-gon, “Look Master, symbiotes!”

Where to begin?

– Outsourcing Your Cool Factor

The bar menu at the LAX Hilton features an entire section of Portland beers. The one I chose is not strictly a Portland beer, but it’s close enough. Earlier in the day Alaska Wolf Joe had sniffed out a coffee place off Gower near Roscoe’s which claimed to be a fully authentic Portland-style coffee place. Certainly the place was decorated minimally enough, and sure, it had lots of vinyl records lying around, but the staff dressed like most of the girls I went to high school with (i.e. elephant bells, platform shoes, and a denim shirt tied at the waist) and there was enough persistent sun streaming through the windows to ruin the overall effect.

Los Angeles was the city who gave us Valentino, Bogart, James Dean, and Jim Morrison. Los Angeles was the city that took on New York City to see who could manufacture the cool.

Now?

Guess that’s Portland’s job.

– A Momentary Lapse in Good Judgement

Goddam Portland. It was bad enough when the Yelp reviews said the best vegan food in Portland was at the strip clubs, now they leapfrogged over us again with their brand new openly bisexual governor.

This is all the goddam football team’s fault. All that Super Bowl nonsense let the uncool people feel good about themselves. Years and years and years of keeping the hoi polloi in check with an endless assault of music, poetry slams, and craft beers was all for nothing. Lately life here is all about wearing NFL authorized merchandise and sucking on bright colorful hard candy. You don’t see that in LA because they know the truth and the truth (below) is something you can’t buy in Seattle.

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That, the aging child star, and a man intent on eating an entire lemon meringue pie while sitting on the hood of his car were all at the Ralph’s off Ventura in Studio City.

We used to have a serious A-game when it came to weird.

Now?

Fucking 12th Man.

Gravitas Defined –

Fact checking the alleged selection of Portland beers at the Hilton proved to be harder than it looked. The lounge has a series of very large tables which everyone shares while I seemed to be the only singleton in the room. The balance of the place were couples who shared one thing in common – one spoke English and the other didn’t. (OK maybe a little.) The couple nearest me was a chipper young woman with a British accent who was very enthusiastically talking about her trip to this year’s Davos conference. Her partner was a man with an indiscernible accent who sucked on her fingers as she talked. Not that she minded, in fact you’d think that Euro Squeeze was sitting there, looking her in the eye, and tossing off the occasional, “How interesting!” for all the difference it made. Instead he kept sucking and smacking and coming up for air now and then with a “Oh … oh… jessssss” or “I hammm lissssening to you … slurp…smack (drool) smack… slurp… smack… (yummy noise).

Slurp.

The New Yorker made the case that Inherent Vice was really a Tom and Jerry cartoon. While I’m still thinking about that one I have no doubt that was I was sitting next to a human reenactment of Pepe LePew’s Greatest Hits.

– Chivalry’s Evolving Nature

On the plane ride home we seemed to be the only people who had not recently been subjected to that crime against humanity known as The Team Building Session. As we arrived in the boarding area it became obvious that we were the only people not wearing bright blue long-sleeve t-shirts with some sort of company logo. Once on the plane we noticed that the back of the shirts mentioned the Washington and Oregon cities where all these folks were from. Not one city in the batch cracked the 15K mark for population, but that didn’t keep the 50+ souls from giving out a big company cheer when the stewardess welcomed them over the PA system. I had the aisle seat next to two of them so I asked what it was all about. They were a couple who owned a home furnishings franchise and their district had won some kind of award so they were feted with a trip to LA for a week long team building exercise.

The Lord giveth.

The Lord taketh away.

Without a trace of irony or humor the husband said, “We were real worried about comin’ down here, what with the gangs in cars full of guns.”

His wife, who was suffering from sort of high yield head cold tried to talk. Between bringing up huge wads of phlegm she got out, “Didn’t see … no… prostitutes…either!”

Hubby jumped in and asked, “Is that what th’ gangs do, drive around with guns to protect their prostitutes?”

I smiled and said, you’re thinking of Orange County.

Speaking of that…

– Who’s the Thought Leader of the Club That’s Made for You and Me?

This was the week when we learned that Foreign Policy magazine was not only interested in discovering Francis Fukuyama’s influence on Iggy Azelea’s career, FP was also intent on running a picture of Ms. Azelea singing into another woman’s butt.

Shocked?

Hardly.

While Ms. A is a few years older than our own Alaska Wolf Joe, they are both Millenials, and they see the world as Ben Jonson wrote,”Helter skelter, very much hang sorrow, care will kill a cat, up-tails all, and a pox on the hangman.” Perhaps it’s their young age that makes their worldview seem more diffused or perhaps it’s our worldview that expect greater consistency. In either case I was subject to a lengthy Alaska Wolf Joe lecture all the way down La Cienega about the Jungle Boat ride at Disneyland is not only colonialist, but a sin against human intelligence by being nothing more than “dumbed down Conrad.” Not wanting to be told, “Mr. Goofy, he dead.” AWJ decided to hang out at the youth hostel in Venice where he explained American police brutality to Germans in exchange for a Pabst.

Prior to going our separate ways he did ask us to see if the Hall of Great Americans in the animatronic Abe Lincoln display on Disney’s Main Street had taken down their Hannah Montana posters.

No, really.

Animatronic Lincoln was a bit of a family joke. When Alaska Wolf Joe was young we’d go to Disneyland and each time Animatronic Abe was out of service. Then a couple of years ago we were there and – at long last – Royal Dano’s voice was once again synched up with Disney Magic. Leaving the performance you get to walk past the portraits of great Americans. The first one you came to was the big smiling face of Miley Cyrus as that Disney Channel favorite, Hannah Montana. This time we skipped Abe and went straight to the gallery where we found that the Hannah Montana poster had been replaced with a large portrait of Bob Hope entertaining the troops.

Putting some thought to the matter – it’s the obvious safe choice. Hope is dead and not likely to tarnish his image. Even if he were alive I’m not sure anyone would care that a 115 year-old man would look straight into the camera and say, “HEY how ’bout that Miley Cyrus, huh? Isn’t she somethin’! rrrrrrrrrrrrrrr The other day I saw her at the recording studio and I had to ask her, ‘Hey Miley, twerkin’ hard or hardly twerkin’?'”

While Cyrus and her fellow Mouse alum, Lindsay Lohan have been banished from The Magic Kingdom and made non-persons in a way that would have made Khruchev and Brezhnev collectively blush (pardon that term) AWJ’s much derided Jungle Boat ride is being rehabilitated. The attacking hippos are now shoo’d away and the threatening natives have been reduced to jokes about old paramours. The rhino that chased the natives up a pole is now referred to as the guys who discovered a unicorn named Gwendolyne. Our captain, the best I’ve encountered in years, asked us to wave and blow kisses at Gwendolyne so she’d let those poor men comes down from that pole.

Despite that, this man blew no kisses, which brings us to our last point.

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– Maybe You and That Selfie Stick Should Get a Room

Those of you who’ve been on the Jungle Boat ride know the ins and outs of getting on and off the boat. While he stayed with his party through the line, his party gave him lots and lots of room just prior to boarding so he and the stick could have some quality time together. Perfectly understandable as it’s the good kind- a wi-fi remote stick. Not that the stick did much for his constant fidgeting and fussing. The man was just a whirlwind of preparation during the two minutes prior to launch.

My only hope is that Gwendolyne will find some one who loves her as much as that guy love his stick…. no wait …

My only hope is that Gwendolyne will find some one who loves her as much as LA loves the selfie.

Made no difference where we were – Ralph’s, Disneyland, waiting to get a table at a restaurant, coffee joints, hotel lobbies, parking garages – you name it. People were constantly taking selfies. That’s a far cry from the days when your Aunt Rose would take a few snapshots, have ’em run off at the drug store, and then stick ’em in a drawer to yellow and crack. Now everyone makes love to the camera and everyone is a photographer. Long ago and far away that sort of thing was left to the professionals – the people who took the pictures and the people who got paid to be in those very pictures.

But that’s all gone now.

And these women are all grandmothers.

I ain't gonna work on Maggie's content farm no more

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“Orthodox economics is in many ways an empty box. Its understanding of the world is similar to that of the physical sciences in the Middle Ages. A few insights have been obtained which will stand the test of time, but they are very few indeed, and the whole basis of conventional economics is deeply flawed… Increasingly, the subject is taught not as a way of learning how the world might operate, but as a set of discovered truths about how the world does operate… It cannot be stated too often that very little of the
content of (economic) textbooks is known to be true, in the sense that many of the statements on, say, engineering are known to be true.” Paul Omerod c.1994

“Whatever happened to economies of scale?… The excellent companies understand that beyond a certain surprisingly small size, diseconomies of scale seem to set in with a vengeance.” Tom Peters

“You keep using that word. I do not think it means what you think it means.” Inigo Montoya

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If it really is true that blogging is back and 2015 is the new 2006 then it is definitely time for some old school blogging.

And what’s the first thing you need for some good old fashion blogging?

A casual disregard for the source material.

I didn’t read Jonathan Chait’s rant in the New York Times last weekend and neither did you. OK, that’s not entirely fair. I did give it a cursory look and Mom gave it a quick speed read. We both agreed that there was no point in putting any quality time into his piece for the same reason that you can stand next to a working heat lamp and know that you’re standing next to a working heat lamp. Even from a distance you could see that Mr. Chait’s bile was ready to jump right off the page and/or screen and neither Mom nor I wanted to stand there and let it get all over our breakfast. We’ve seen this sort of thing before and we pretty much know when to get out of the way.

Hell, we even know where it comes from.

Here’s how it works: Chait, if that really is his name, like all rapidly aging white men, walks around the house and is suddenly overcome with an uneasiness he can’t explain. First, he looks outside and sees no kids on his lawn. Next he makes his way to his desk and shuffles things around and around. That’s when it begins to dawn on him – someone has been moving his cheese. So he hollers downstairs to see if the old lady has seen his cheese, she hollers back, “YOU WERE THE LAST ONE TO HAVE IT!” and that’s when all hell breaks loose.

Then he says to himself, “By God, someone moved my cheese.”

That’s when he swings into action. Sitting at his desk he rapidly and nervously flips through his Rolodex to see if he still has the after hours number for the Old Cronies Desk at the New York Times. His call is answered after two rings by another rapidly aging white man who was dying for the phone to ring so he wouldn’t have to deal with th’ e-mail. For the next hours there is huffing, there is puffing, and there is a precipitous rise in the blood pressure of all involved, and they’re all going to make sure this outrage is contagious.

Long ago and far away the men of America handled this sort of thing by either going to the corner tavern to bitch into a Schlitz or mowing the lawn within an inch of its life. Come Monday they would channel that energy into commerce and that’s why we went to moon, built the best cars in the world, and invented the Marlboro cigarette, a device so ingenious that it slowly but surely shorten the life of Leonid Brehznev, the long sitting premier of the Soviet Union.

Now?

Now that energy is spent belching fire into the dwindling number of pages that make up the Sunday New York Times.

Sadly, Mom ‘n me have a front row seat on all of this. In fact, if the outrage gets ginned up properly herds of old white men convene conferences and panels which means that I have to go downtown and represent us. Prior to departure I always have to rummage through the closet and find THE CLOTHES. While that Harry Potter kid can poke around an old steamer trunk and come up with his Cloak of Invisibility, I have to rifle through the closet to find what can only be called my Cloak of Respectability.

Seriously.

For the better part of three years I meticulously went through the racks of the short ‘n portly section of the major chains until I came up with an outfit that would fool most people into thinking – at first glance at least – that I am not a fat little goofball.

The coat alone is a London Fog.

No shit.

In fact, it proves my father was right when he said that the Army surplus store wasn’t the only place that sold clothes.

Where were we?

Oh yeah, so I put on the suit of lights, which includes a jaunty scarf in the winter months, and I wander into lecture halls so that men far whiter and much older than I am can rant and rave and bitch, but mostly use the word “scale” over and over and over. Supposedly they’re talking about economies of scale, but they don’t know that. The years and years of newspaper training taught them that money was a dirty, dirty thing they should never touch. This left most of them incapable of understanding even rudimentary economics. Their repeated attempts to talk about scale is like trying to have your grade school nuns write erotic poetry. Sure, maybe one or two might make a valiant attempt, one poem might be really good, but in the long run you’ve only got so many people going against the grain of what is deep in their hearts.

And no good can comes of that.

Want proof?

Why did Andrew Sullivan quit this week?

Scale.

Why is neighborhood news a bust?

Never gonna scale.

The last one revolves around the newspapers’ buying up weekly papers in the 80’s and 90’s. Yes, it scaled and then it collapsed. It left countless small towns and neighborhood with a weekly paper that was nothing more than classifieds and legal notices – and that just the ones that didn’t go under in a whipstitch. All that THANK YOU ST. JUDE and sheriff’s auction notices get swept under the rug because they do not serve the argument of scale.

I’d say more, but I have nothing more. Yes, that’s not good old school blogging form, but at least I can leave you with this cheap shot – everything the old white newspaper men sincerely want the rest of us to do can be summed up in this exchange between Peter Cook and Dudley More.

Dudley Moore: Yes, indeed. Do you feel you’ve learnt by your mistakes here?

Peter Cook: I think I have, yes, and I think I can probably repeat them almost perfectly. I know my mistakes inside out.

Dudley Moore: I’m sure you will repeat them. Well, thank you very much, Sir Arthur.

Is there a point here?

No, because this is old school blogging so I’ll end with a couple of long block quotes rather than working on a conclusion.

Hank Green, one of those YouTube vloggers who interviewed Obama, said this about the criticism he and his fellow interviewers received from those in the working media:

There is nothing actually legitimate about Fox News (or MSNBC for that matter) and young people know this. They don’t trust news organizations because news organizations have given them no reason to be trusting. These channels exist not to inform but to uphold the biases and values of particular ideologies. Ideologies and values, by the way, that very few young people embody. Even when they try to strike a balance, they do it by pitting different perspectives against each other in staged arguments. But neither perspective looks familiar to most people under the age of 40, so they just tune out.

The somewhat later he added:

Legacy media isn’t mocking us because we aren’t a legitimate source of information; they’re mocking us because they’re terrified. Their legitimacy came from the fact that they have access to distribution channels and that they get to be in the White House press pool because of some long-ago established procedures that assumed they would use that power in the public interest. In reality, those things are becoming less and less important and less and less true. Distribution is free to anyone with a cell phone and the legitimacy of cable news sounds to me like an oxymoron. The median-aged CNN viewer is 60. For Fox, it’s 68.

None of this has anything to do with political correctness. What it’s about is that the train has left the station and, as Mom’s old boss used to say, you can either be on it or under it. Information has no preference about how it is delivered only people do. If Mr. Chait wishes to revoke his legitimacy by clinging to his old school ways – then so be it.

Me?

I’m gonna go hang up all $350 in clothes with the other stuff that was originally meant for our boys in the Philipines. Once I think I’ve wrung all the $350 I got tied up in those duds I’ll probably take a flyer on going downtown to hear how the damn kids just won’t get off the newspaper’s lawn.

ed.note: The Axis of Drivel graphic was designed by Berlin Wally and appropriated without permission because in old school blogging that’s how we rolled.

Incredulous

“You keep using that word. I do not think it means what you think it means.” Inigo Montoya

This is the week when we found out that condom manufacturers starting putting FourSquare codes on their products. That leads those of us with enquiring minds to ask, “So … that make you the mayor of what exactly?”

I was ready to exhaust the possibilities until the rare night off interceded and we had the opportunity to stay home and go around the dial only to stop suddenlly and say, “ooooooo … FIRE! .. pretty…

OK so we came in somewhere in the middle of this movie so we had to look up what had happened. We found this on Jalopnik:

There is no way to really explain to racing fans what just happened at the Daytona 500, so to non-racing fans this is going to sound fucking crazy, but… a guy who hasn’t won a single race in 397 times might win after a car crashed into a truck FULL OF JET FUEL and exploded.
Yes, you read that right. A truck full of jet fuel on a race track. This is because NASCAR cars can’t race in the wet (which is why this race has been delayed for more than a day). So they have trucks full of jet fuel pulling a helicopter jet engine to dry the track.

With that I would like to officially put all the people who don’t “get” in the Interwebs on notice.

Please don’t ever say we denizens of the Net need to get out and experience life more often again. If you think we spend too much time alone and out of touch with reality then how is it some one comes up with an idea to strip the engine off of a helicopter, attach it to a 200 gallon container full of aviation fuel, and then turn it loose on a wet track full of cars going more than 100 mph?

That does exactly make one think that Danny Ray or Lil’ Bob or whoever came up with that one is coursing through the viens of society.

Are we all clear on that?

Good.

Happy Mother's Day

When my mother was first pregnant with me she passed up the chance to see one of the above-ground atomic tests in Nevada.

Had she gone it probably would have explained alot.

'The pattern is full, Kenneth.'

This was a week of overlooked and unexpected things, not the least of which was how all of us have undervalued the utility of Rebecca Black’s single as it relates to teaching the order of the days for those learning English as a second language. It was also the week where once again we learned why mommie bloggers rarely continue on after their children reach school age. This past Thursday (i.e. yesterday was Thursday, Thursday, oo-ooh-ooh, hoo yeah, yeah yeah, yeah yeah-ah-ah) the point was driven home again. While it might pithy and amusing for a mommie blogger to run out a few hundred words on why Lil’ Iodine won’t poop, it’s something else entirely when Dr. Random walks through the door and announces, “I got on the waiting list for potassium iodide at the vitamin store!”

YMMV.

Therefore it’s little wonder why I have to distract the boy with things like this.

Not that it’s an easy path to take.

Imagine how I felt when he asked, “I don’t get Norman Mailer, do you?”

You’re free to take that on one and if time permits next week I’ll talk about how everybody hates Mom.