“Resisting” All the Way to the Bank

This fuckstick wants a goddamn medal.

To hell with with said fuckstick and every fuckstick like him… and you know damned well, too, that it was a “him” who wrote this shit:

>… there were early whispers within the cabinet of invoking the 25th Amendment, which would start a complex process for removing the president. But no one wanted to precipitate a constitutional crisis.

You fucking jackass, IT’S NOT A CONSTITUTIONAL CRISIS WHEN THERE IS LITERALLY AN AMENDMENT IN THE CONSTITUTION TELLING YOU TO DO IT.

It’s a fucking constitutional crisis when you DON’T.

Crisis Tweet

It’s a constitutional crisis when a bunch of unelected, anonymous functionaries are covering for, and sabotaging the Constitutionally established governmental process in the name of, a president WHO LOST THE GODDAMNED POPULAR VOTE TO BEGIN WITH and who has the lowest approval ratings in the history of American presidential ratings. A president that his own people feel is dangerously deranged.

This is not preserving the Constitution. It is shitting all over it, wiping your ass on it, and declaring publicly that it does not matter if you do so long as you get to pursue your agenda of:

> “tax reform”

Translation: “Eat it, suckers – we pay nothing, you pay for everything, and we’re the only ones who benefit.”

>“deregulation”

Translation: “Corporate citizens are God, and you have no rights whatsoever to stop them from doing whatever they damn well please.”

>…and “a robust military”

Translation: “Defense contractors are making mints, and the vets are on the damn street – oh, and we’re preparing to privatize the VA, too.”.

May all gods holy and unholy alike damn these people to whatever passes for a hell where they eventually wind up.

>We have sunk low with him and allowed our discourse to be stripped of civility.

No, fuckstick, we were “stripped of civility” for the eight years that Fox News, the Republican Party, and its rabid electorate were allowed to figuratively and sometimes literally shout the N-word at President Obama… a behavior that, might I remind all the fucksticks out there in Fuckstickistan, IS THE STRATEGY THAT BUILT TRUMP’S ROAD TO THE WHITE HOUSE IN THE FIRST PLACE.

And then, we have the kicker: Invoking the dead hero McCain, whose decision to treat Sarah Palin as viable presidential material opened the door of the clown car Trump fell out of in the first place.

>All Americans should heed (McCain’s) words and break free of the tribalism trap

“As long as all you queerz, Muslims, Latinos, blackz, wimminz, libotards, immigrants, and other-than-our-brand-of-Christian non-citizens realize that we are going to put you all back in your place under our boots where you belong…”

>…with the high aim of uniting through our shared values and love of this great nation...

“…as long as it’s not some Black Democrat First Family telling us to do it.”

“Resistance,” my ass. How fucking dare these people try and co-opt yet another phrase from Progressive America while they prop up a dictator while committing a treasonous coup against the Constitution?

The fuckstick wants a big thanks from the American people?

Well, I want five minutes in a room with this person, a tire iron, and immunity from prosecution.

I guess neither of us gets what we want.

We get Trump, and yet another day of shitting on whatever is left of the rule of Constitutional law.

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Seattle Summer, 2018

It’s so unnaturally still and quiet outside right now. No birds, no kids, no barking dogs, no people walking and talking. Nothing.

20180821_093727

 
The usual sounds of summer in our neighborhood are gone. Even the whir of fans has been muted by closed windows. The only sound outside our house right now is the distant hum of traffic several blocks away. Normally, the crows outside are croaking up a storm this time of day. Right now? Silent.
 
The summer air smells like winter fireplaces. The sky is dusty red.
 
This is the new normal.
 
Greatness in America.
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I Can’t Hear You: Autism and Perception

Spectrum Perceptions

Okay, that’s a bit of an exaggeration. I can focus decently in one-on-one conversations in quiet places, and I have no idea why they stuck the rude joke on at the ending – it detracts from the video’s validity.
But the way in which the background noise drowns out the conversation and overlaps into my perception of what people are saying? Absolutely accurate.
People who’ve met me in person know that I focus very intently on folks when talking with and listening to them. Some people find it attractive, others find it disconcerting. For me, it’s necessary. Otherwise, I literally cannot understand what you’re saying.
This is especially true at conventions, clubs, festivals, and so forth, where the amount of background stimuli is intense. That word, “intense,” has been applied to me a lot (both as a compliment and as an insult), and after seeing this video I figure that has a lot to do with the amount of focus I have to put on someone in order to remain coherently engaged in our conversation.
Folks who’ve talked to me in conventions and restaurants know I usually bend one ear in their direction. That’s to screen out the ambient sound so I can hear the words you’re saying. Otherwise, it’s all just noise.
Coyote Ward, an austistic-spectrum activist, was adamant that I am on the spectrum too. When someone first suggested that to me about 15 years ago, I felt deeply offended because I didn’t know what that actually looked like. I’d heard of Aspies and autistic people before then, but it was always in a very negative fashion, and as someone who grew up hearing the word “retarded” a lot and being applied to me, I felt pretty defensive about the idea that I was mildly autistic myself.
The more I have learned about the condition – in very large part thanks to Coyote – the more I’m convinced she was right.
I have social savvy, but it’s mostly learned. Reading people and analyzing social behavior has literally been my job since high school. First as an actor, then as a model, now as a writer, that’s what I do and I’ve gotten pretty good at it.
When I recall my childhood, though, and the way I was before I’d honed those skills… let’s just say that if the diagnosis of autistic spectrum disorder (I prefer the term “condition” over “disorder,” but that’s the clinical name for it) had been common knowledge in the United States during the 1970s, I totally would have received that diagnosis. As it was, my parents were told I suffered from “minimal brain dysfunction” – a tactless but not inaccurate description. Friends who’ve known me since high school can attest that I was socially awkward even by teenage standards, and that the person I am now acts radically different than the person I was back then.
For over 20 years, I’ve ascribed my difficulties with perception to dyslexia and dyscalculia. And that’s still true – I DO have those conditions. But the brain is not a discreetly partitioned entity, and sensory-processing conditions are related anyway. So it’s entirely possible I have them all. SPDs run heavy in my family, and while I’m certainly on the lesser end of the spectrum if I’m there at all, this video captured my social perceptions with disturbing acuity.
Watching this will help you understand better why I might have a hard time understanding you in a social situation.
Thank you, Derek Burrow, for posting the video where I could see it, and thank you beloved Coyoteness for helping me understand myself a lot better than I had before I knew you.
And for everybody else, thanks for understanding.
Cheers!
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RPG Sourcebook Writing 101

My friend Lee remarked that they’d love to see someone post a RPG Supplements Writing 101 course. Here was my response:

Powerchords Arrived

Rule #1: Find a premise that gets you going, “I would spend money on THAT!
Rule #2: Outline the book you would spend money to buy.
Rule #3: Constantly ask yourself, while writing it, “If I had spent money on this, what would I expect to see in this book?
Rule #4: Get some people who have bullshit detectors and who are willing to tell you if and when you’ve screwed it up.
Rule #5: Pay attention to them.
Rule #6: Keep your ass in that damn chair even when you hate every word of This Fucking Book… and trust me, you will. Every time.
Rule #7: Keep viewing the book from the perspective of someone who paid money for it, not from the perspective of someone who can’t wait to finish the damn thing.
Rule #8: Keep checking in with your bullshit-detector group.
Rule #9: Don’t give up even when you wish you could.
Rule #10. Print it out, check your work, fix it where necessary, and get yourself a Good-Me present when you’re done.
Repeat as necessary… and remember this:

Anytime you do something many other people have not done, some of them will worship you for doing it when they didn’t, and others will throw shit at you for doing it when they didn’t. Make sure the first group doesn’t go to your head, and that the second group isn’t right… and then keep doing what you do, because you’re the one who’s doing it when many other people are not.

And always remember the core commandment of any media:

KEEP YOUR AUDIENCE ENGAGED.

For more about this topic see the linked post here.

 

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TREASON

Call it what it is: TREASON.

Trump Treason Turkey

 
The Republican congress is complicit.
 
Fox News is an active party to it.
 
The Fraternal Order of Police defends it.
 
The so-called “patriots” who spent eight years screaming for the blood and soul of President Black Dude have been exposed on a daily basis as active partners for the fire-sale sellout of our nation to its historic enemy state.
 
Our system of constitutional government has been broken by the fact that a dominant political faction has demonstrated – through thought, word and deed – that the law means nothing when those who are tasked with enforcing it choose not to do so.
 
Our media, by valorizing a sociopathic con-man as “presidential” and treating him as anything more than the buffoonish caricature of American hubris, has facilitated the annihilation of verifiable facts.
 
Citizens who employ their First Amendment rights to protest incursions by corporate invaders are beaten down and imprisoned by militarized police forces. Republican partisans who perform open, armed rebellion against the previous president are pardoned and flown home in the vice president’s private jet.
 
Amendment 1 has been weaponized to counter its original purpose. Amendment 2 has been used to arm that faction’s partisans. Amendment 14 is ignored except in cases where it allows “corporate citizens” an ever-increasing degree of power. Amendment 4 might as well not even exist, thanks to the Supreme Court’s endless exceptions to it. Let’s not even talk about Amendments 9 and 10, whose protections have been reserved only for those who seek to overthrow the entire system and replace it with their own.
 
We stand at a Zero Hour in American history.
 
And the response to this willful destruction of the nation and its laws is a cascade of excuses and the jeering cry of “libotard.”

By every definition of the word, this is treason.

 
Now what will we do about it?

More to the point – in the face of the most powerful military in human history, a militarized police force that has thrown in with the traitors, and a deeply divided populace for whom no crime is too great if it pisses off their fellow citizens – is what can we do about it which will leave anything left after the catastrophe that follows?

Riot Cop

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Personification of Complexity: Harlan Ellison, 1934-2018

For a brief time, I was here. And for a brief time, I mattered.”
– Harlan Ellison, 1934-2018HarlanAmong the most polarizing figures in American literature, Harlan Ellison epitomized not giving a shit while deeply giving a shit.

He could be charming, yet reprehensible. Generous, yet infuriating. A champion of the oppressed, yet abusive and predatory. He marched with MLK and spent time in jail for civil-rights agitation at a time when that was not a common thing for young white dudes to do. He was an infamous womanizer with a penchant for harassment in the name of a joke. Harlan was among the most eloquent voices in the history of American letters, and he published some godawful shit in the name of getting paid.

Harlan Ellison was one of my favorite writers, a wellspring of cantankerous rage, and among the most influential people in my life. During Reagan’s reign of errors, Ellison’s books – most especially An Edge in My Voice and Stalking the Nightmare – were always close at hand for me. He taught me that fury is creative fuel, that we must fight oppression even when it hurts us to do so, and that we can and must be better than we so often are.

(He also showed me how much fun you could have with the English language, and that words like “bugfuck” made for perfectly acceptable literature, provided you could use them intelligently in a sentence.)

I was fortunate enough to meet him in person several times. Despite his ferocious reputation, he was always polite, funny and kind at those times, even when – as on a panel at some convention I can’t recall offhand, where we disputed the value of publishing online – we disagreed.

Harlan was a living personification of “complex.”

He’s had a lot of shit to answer for over the years, but we are fortunate to have had someone like him – however flawed he was as a person – to light the fires and call accounts and show us just how bad things COULD be and how grand they SHOULD be if we get off our asses and refuse to take the darkness laying down.

Thank you, you cranky bastard.

Your words live on on me.

Harlan Ellison

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Strangling on Our Own Bootstraps.

I have spent most of my adult life poor. Not because I don’t have a work-ethic (the number of credits and accomplishments I have to my name shows otherwise) or because I work in the arts (which pay better and more reliably than any other job I’ve had) but because pervasive poverty [1] is the norm for many Americans of my generation and the generations after me. We work harder, for less, with less stability and security than any American generation since the Great Depression, and less than some even before that.

We are laboring in a system increasingly rigged to cost us more than we can ever afford to save, and this situation has grown more and more unsustainable since the early 1980s, when I entered the workforce.

And yet, we continue to be told it’s our fault. And many of us continue to believe it.

Bootstraps

Casual selfishness and even cruelty [2] is the rule, not the exception in the American workplace. I have caught managers whiting out time cards at a minimum-wage job, had a boss who refused to pay me for time I had worked because I had quit when she refused to take my wedding day off from work. I had a manager at a moving company who stole goods from our customers and then sold them to second-hand stores while letting innocent employees get hung out to dry for his thefts… it goes on and on and on, and all the while we continue to be fed media narratives that it is the poor – even the working poor – who are lazy, unmotivated, reckless spenders, entitled, incompetent, “wanting something for nothing”… the litany goes on and on and on, and even people who are themselves victimized by this practice buy into the bullshit.

Hell, these days being poor and overworked and exploited by the system is even being sold as sexy. “The gig economy,” they call it, as if this was something we’re doing for fun, not out of desperation. It’s chic, it’s cool, it’s about paying more for an “apodment” or a “microloft” than we would have paid for a rental house a decade or so ago. We’re exhorted to “clear out the clutter” so we can move into tiny houses. In truth, it’s a nice way to say, “get sick and you’re on your own.” No benefits, no stability, and nothing to fall back on when mortality and ill fortune strike.

Meanwhile, the paychecks get smaller and the hours get longer and the stockholder shares continue to rise... until they don’t, and then it’s yet another story about how millennials are killing everything again.

Doers

Here’s the truth: We are being lied to, manipulated, literally stolen from and then played against one another by the people who are abusing us under the guise of “job creators.” The Trump administration’s naked corruption simply goes to show that these parties don’t even feel they need to hide it anymore. They’ll shout OHMAHGOD THEREZQUEERZIN YERBATHROOM! and half their constituents will jump on the bandwagon. They’ll point at fictional “very bad hombres,” and their adherents will scream “BUILD THE WALL!” They’ll continue to send an endless parade of young people into the shredder with non-stop “wars for freedom,” and then drop the vets off at the nearest homeless shelter and will still have military people voting for them next election, even when the man who’s eager to send their kids into battle is a draft-dodging tin soldier.
It is a literally gods-damned scam, and it gets more blatant every year.
And yet, these thieving parasites continue to wave the Bible in one hand and Horatio Alger in the other, hoping you’ll never twig to the fact that neither book says what they tell us it says.

Folks say I’m angry. You’re damned right I’m angry. Seriously, I’d much rather not be. I have better things to do with my life than rant about stuff like this online. Hell, I had planned to play myself some much-needed Skyrim this evening. Instead, I found the following article by Barbara Ehrehnreich [3], read it, and found myself hammering out yet another screed about this bottomless subject because some days that’s all I can feel like we can do: shout into the void while we strangle on our own bootstraps, trying to do more than we did before with less than we made 20 years ago, and wondering how the hell we’re ever going get down off this cliff that seems to grow ever-higher each passing year.

 

 workingpoor_title

 

_____________________________
1 – “…One-quarter of American workers makes less than $10 per hour. That creates an income below the federal poverty level. These are the people who wait on you every day. They include cashiers, fast food workers and nurse’s aides. Or maybe they are you.The rich got richer through the recovery from the 2008 financial crisis. In 2012, the top 10 percent of earners took home 50 percent of all income. That’s the highest percent in the last 100 years…

…From 2000 through 2006, the number of Americans living in poverty increased 15 percent. By 2006, nearly 33 million workers earned less than $10 per hour. Their annual income is less than $20,614. This is below the poverty level for a family of four. Most of these low-wage workers receive no health insurance, sick days or pension plans from their employers. That means they can’t get sick and have no hope of retiring.

During this same time period, average wages remained flat. That’s despite an increase of worker productivity of 15 percent. Corporate profits increased 13 percent per year, according to The Big Squeeze by Steven Greenhouse.

Between 1979 and 2007, household income increased 275 percent for the richest 1 percent of households. It rose 65 percent for the top fifth...

, Income Inequality in America: Causes of Income Inequality (theBalance.com, March 25, 2018)

2 – Like that of my now-former the boss at Saxon Shoes, who had a manager take me – after a workplace accident caused by shoddy shelving – to a private clinic where the doctor was a friend and customer of his. That doctor gave me a neck brace, told me to take five days off, and handed me a bunch of x-rays and stuff to take back to the boss. He told me to call him back for a follow-up appointment after those five days. I did as I was told, but when I returned to work the entire incident had “disappeared.” My boss and the managers acted as though I had stayed home of my own volition, and refused to acknowledge that I had been hit in the head by a falling shelf full of shoes.  Oh, no – that never happened. The boss refused to pay me for the time I had been out, and scolded me for staying home when no one had told me to do so. I called the doctor. his receptionist hung up on me. I contacted a lawyer; he called me back to tell me that the doctor and his receptionist had never even heard of me. All records of the incident vanished. It was my word against my employer’s, and no one would take my side. This shit happens ALL THE TIME in American business. I know two other people personally with similar stories, and those are just the ones I know about.

3 – …What I discovered is that in many ways, these jobs are a trap: They pay so little that you cannot accumulate even a couple of hundred dollars to help you make the transition to a better-paying job. They often give you no control over your work schedule, making it impossible to arrange for child care or take a second job. And in many of these jobs, even young women soon begin to experience the physical deterioration—especially knee and back problems—that can bring a painful end to their work life.

I was also dismayed to find that in some ways, it is actually more expensive to be poor than not poor. If you can’t afford the first month’s rent and security deposit you need in order to rent an apartment, you may get stuck in an overpriced residential motel. If you don’t have a kitchen or even a refrigerator and microwave, you will find yourself falling back on convenience store food, which—in addition to its nutritional deficits—is also alarmingly overpriced. If you need a loan, as most poor people eventually do, you will end up paying an interest rate many times more than what a more affluent borrower would be charged. To be poor—especially with children to support and care for—is a perpetual high-wire act…
– Barbara Ehrehnreich, “It is Expensive to be Poor” (Atlantic, Jan 13, 2014)

 

 

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Being the Bully

Joel Eisenberg asks: Ever bullied anyone? Ever regret it? Why’d you do it?

Yes. Yes I did. And yes, I do.

I was a dick in 8th and 9th grade, and badly (though only verbally) abused a few of my classmates, including one who I had been friends with only a few years earlier. Why? Because I got in with a few other kids who bullied them too, and hassling those classmates seemed like a fun thing to do. Also, some of the targets seemed so… pathetic in our eyes, as if they couldn’t help but be abused. In reality, we – their bullies – were despised by other kids but not as despised as our targets were, so we rolled that shit rolled downhill.

I started realizing how awful I was acting around grade 10, knocked that shit off, and distanced myself from most of those “friends.” Ironically, the tools that helped me see what I was doing, and to get a better group of friends, were heavy metal, D&D, and getting involved in the drama department – things that were soon (in two cases at least) scapegoated by adults as being the cause of teen violence and suicide.

This was over 40 years ago, and I still feel ashamed about what I did and how long I did it. I have since apologized to one of our targets, and have not seen the others since high school.

Knowing that I was the perpetrator of social abuse, and realizing that my own angry misery inspired my abuse of others, has kept me at least striving to be more compassionate (not always patient or tactful but compassionate) to the stuff other people are going through.

And because the memory of my behavior back then still leaves such an awful taste in my mouth, I have zero tolerance for such behavior now – most especially when the abuse comes from people we consider to be adults. One of the reasons I can be such a sanctimonious ass sometimes is because I’m still angry at the kid I was back then and the cruel shit he sometimes did.

My then-friends and I were children – angry children sorting out our shit in the only way we knew how. Seeing older and theoretically more mature people continuing such behavior fills me with disgust… a disgust inspired in part because I recognize the harm I inflicted too.

Your Humble Photographer, Phil Brucato

The photo is actually me a few years later. I hated having pictures taken of me back in my mid-teens, and so few if any of them exist.

 

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Ammosexuals Exposing Themselves

I’m not going to post their photos and thereby give them the fame they so desperately crave, so I’ll just say this much about those human fecal stains playing solider with their AR-15s at the various marches today:

The day you wake up and decide that your response to a march staged by kids who’ve had their friends murdered, featuring adults and other kids who’ve had loved ones murdered, who are marching to keep other kids from being murdered, will be to strap on the same type of weapon that murdered those people and then strut around the street as if you’re the injured party there… that’s the day you lose all rights to call yourself a man.

This isn’t patriotism. It’s not courage. It’s the opposite of Christian faith.

It’s just the pathetic declaration that the only argument you have in your favor is the threat of deadly force in the face of children.

Which means that you have already lost.

hissy-fit

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Permanent Wows

Momentary break from politics: I was just listening to Rush’s album Permanent Waves in the car, and realizing that record presents Neil Peart at the absolute pinnacle of his lyrical game.

Rush

 
Peart had his definite ups and downs with regards to lyrical prowess. Though a massive improvement over the “hey now baby” lyricism of his bandmates, he could get pompous, obtuse, goofy, and – as in, say, “New World Man” (the band’s worst song, I feel… and that includes the stuff off their first album and Hold Your Fire), downright cringeworthy. It could fairly be said that Peart stumbled so often because he reached so far. Neil never took the easy way out (well, almost never…), and neither did the band as a whole, which is one reason I love them so much despite their occasional missteps and a decidedly acquired-taste style.
 
This album, though – it’s fucking gold.

I mean, beyond the always-brilliant instrumentation, Permanent Waves features some gorgeous turns of phrase. everything good about Peart’s lyricism is on full display on this record, and the closest thing to a lyrical misstep – “All the busy little creatures/ Living out their destines” – is still light-years above most rock songs, and redeems itself with the following line: “Living in their pools/ they soon forget about the sea… and the hair-raising instrumental transition that follows that line.

 
Look, I know that Rush is a perennial whipping-boy for rockister-than-thous. And I never fucking cared. Even at their worst, the band has been in a class by itself since their second album, Peart’s debut Fly By Night, and did a pretty decent riff on Zeppelin before then. Every Rush album has its own personality, and you can mark the band’s ambitions by what they decided to try (successfully or otherwise) on the album in question. Many bands have been influenced by them, but no one’s ever managed to sound much like them because the post-Rutsey Rush is the sublime chemistry of three driven, visionary, goofy and occasionally pretentious guys who know damn well that no one else can do what they can do when they set their minds to it. No one else sounds like Rush because no one else could possibly BE Rush. You can cover their songs, but you can’t create the sound they made.
 
Permanent Waves marked a course-correction after the brilliant but bloated Hemispheres and the finicky A Farewell to Kings (my second-least-favorite Rush album, after Hold Your Fire, and one that’s guilty of almost everything Rush-haters despise about the band). The guys realized they’d pretty much tapped out the epic-length metaphorical SF faerie-tale thing, and they went for a record that manages to blend metaphysical ruminations about thunderstorms and macro /microcosms with some trenchant (and prescient) commentary about the declining state of popular radio, plus an absolutely gorgeous love-song to ever-flawed humanity. Through it all, Peart’s lyrics never miss a trick. Speaking as a writer, I think this record features some of the best popular music lyrics I’ve ever heard, anywhere. It’s easy to drop some “Ooo babies” and get the singer to sell that sentiment. It’s quite another to craft words like these.

Give Permanent Waves a listen, even if you’ve heard it before. I’ve been listening to this album since 1980 (my fourth rock concert was seeing Rush on tour for this album), and even know I’m hearing new things to love about it.

Rush Gram

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