Category Archives: Athenae

Guns at the Statehouse

One of my earliest memories is of a dead deer.

I think it was a deer. Might have been an elk.

Anyway, big dead animal. Hanging suspended from the garage ceiling, its blood draining into a bucket below.

Smelled pretty bad. My mom wasn’t thrilled. That was the spot, after all, where she was supposed to park her car, and my dad killed this critter, dragged it home, and was now preparing it to be made into sausages. Stew meat. Salami.

Plus a taxidermy head, to be mounted on the wall in the living room.

Dad had bagged this thing and we were gonna use every inch of it, because that’s what you do with something you kill. You eat it, or wear it, but you sure as hell don’t waste it. You respect it, and the process by which it arrived in your driveway, your freezer, your belly. Somebody earned that.

I thought about that deer watching hundreds of assclowns parade around downtown Richmond, VA comparing extremely mild firearms regulations to Jim Crow laws, heaving their camo-coated butts up and down the streets in front of the statehouse wearing riot shields against, I dunno, a run on the Applebees salad bar or something.

It was the kind of protest where the organizers had to beg people not to wear Nazi shit or carry Confederate flags, lest someone come to the conclusion that a big group of pasty pantloads in MAGA paraphernalia was in some way racist. Some people, of course, brought Confederate stuff anyway. Others just went the “racially tinged” route and stuck to teabagging.

And they’re all so exhausting. These fucking toolsheds, pointing loaded weapons in the air and at each other, with the trigger discipline of 8-year-olds in a video arcade, in their Kevlar vests with the plates all removed so they could stuff snacks and water bottles in the pockets. The tactical vests on the service dogs. The night vision goggles in broad daylight. The way the ammo belts stretched and strained.

I saw a lot of people calling this stuff cosplay. Calling this international exhibition of braggadocio and dumbassery cosplay is insulting to cosplayers, who generally a) care about the accuracy of their costumes b) wear custom gear that fits them c) make sure their weapons are clean.

Then there was all the yelling about tyranny. Just fucking … just stop. The American Revolution was not a reaction to wife-beaters being denied their fourth Glock. Crispus Attucks and co. did not die so that you could open fire on the wicker reindeer in the Christmas section at Menards.

Those guys were fighting the entire British Army with four sticks and a bucket of snowballs, you don’t get to put on their clothes, not when you duck and cover every time somebody in your cube farm makes microwave popcorn. Samuel Maverick called, and he said your mom has musket balls.

But back to the dead deer at the beginning of this post.

You see, back when I was growing up, the guys who went hunting and ate what they killed mocked the kind of urban cowboys whose trophies all had powder burns. Buy some deer meat from a guy, that’s fine, but sit in a tree drinking beer all day waiting for a buck to wander underneath so you can shoot down on it, or worse, go to a “preserve” where you can kill it in a cage, like screw you, pal. Work for your supper.

Hunting for food and shooting for sport were presumed to be actual pursuits, engaged in deliberately. You go to the range or some deserted area to practice. You have a rifle for deer, handgun for bear or mountain lion when you’re camping. You lock them up away from your kids. You sure as shit don’t keep them loaded. And you don’t jaw on all day in public about what guns you have and where. That’s a good way to get robbed, or worse.

At some point in the past 30 years these guys who knew how to handle their weapons made common cause with a whole bunch of other people, who were loud and scared and stupid. The latter group weren’t into shooting for food or for fun. They were into it because it was life and death, them or the brown hordes, and in order not to die, they had to arm themselves however they saw fit. As was their inalienable right.

When people who actually did deal in life and death, like officers of the law or members of the military, pointed out that their weapons were subject to processes and procedures, the people who saw a buck to be made lobbying legislators ginned up the usual phony “savages coming to steal your white women and children” nonsense and suddenly everyone who wasn’t a member of the NRA was a wine-sipping communist puss.

That we can’t see that it was about money, that people benefited from this fear and rage and it sure as shit wasn’t the ordinary hunters and sportsmen, will never fail to make me crazy. As much as I make fun of those guys up there, those angry morons, they’re only buying the bullshit. The NRA and gun manufacturers and the GOP are shoveling it, and they don’t even have the tiny shriveled sack to stand on the street for it.

They leave that to the men and women who, really, should be home with their kill, making salami.

A.

VetBro Branding

Inject this into my veins: 

Baker, like all MercMerch™ vetbro entrepreneurs in MAGAmerica2020™, deploys one of the strongest weapons in the veteran’s arsenal—shame—against others, the way the Air Force deployed Agent Orange in Vietnam, while somehow remaining immune himself to any of the weapon’s ill effects. It’s the audacity of dopes: The average pirate in the Gulf of Aden has more integrity than a guy who left the Marines, war unwon, to make more money killing people overseas for a private contractor before his next act—pulling the service-disabled veteran card to sell coffee and build his bro brand.

Patch, please hear this message from one service-disabled veteran small-business owner to another: It’s time to cut the shit, bud.

These brands are, of course, just responding to the incredible demand from couch-surfing pussies who wet themselves when a car backfires in their cul-de-sac and shouldn’t be allowed on the same continent as combat. The tactical flipflops, I mean, come the shit on. That’s almost poetry, that there. Anyone who’s on their feet more than half an hour a day knows if you don’t protect your toes from getting hurt your toes WILL exact revenge.

(I’m not anti-flip-flop, but I wouldn’t wear them to mow my lawn, and that’s the least dangerous activity someone should be doing if they want to get within 1,000 miles of being able to use “tactical” as an adjective.)

This entire subsection of our culture is so fucking dumb and loud and it’s all we see in suburbia. The MAGA-hatted among us love to believe that they’re in some kind of pitched battle against, I dunno, being forced to see non-white people on TV or something, and they need to GEAR UP for that fight.

None of them are going to fight anything scarier than traffic to the H.H. Gregg’s, but they don’t need to. Since 9-11 we’ve conflated cheering for a war with fighting it, and instead of naming and shaming every warblogger fuck who made their bones calling actual veterans terrorist-loving commies, we put them on our editorial pages and invited them on the Sunday shows.

Instead of forever mocking cowardly hypocrites like Jonah Goldberg, we gave them a whole-ass major political party, fully two-thirds of our national discourse, and elected the entire ethos president in the form of Donald Trump. The bullies are in charge now, and they need outfits and accoutrement. The VetBros are stepping up to provide it, and thank goodness. Otherwise what would all these brave men and women wear, while their brownshirts were in the wash?

A.

CEO Pay is Fine and Great and There Are No Problems

Just burn it the fuck down: 

Dennis Muilenburg, Boeing’s former CEO, left the company with $80.7 million in pay and benefits, after being fired over two aircraft crashes that killed 346 people in total. His compensation dwarfs the $50 million set aside for families of the crash victims.

Boeing denied Muilenberg severance pay and forced him to forfeit stock awards worth tens of millions of dollars, but he keeps $62 million in pay and pension benefits. He also keeps unexercised stock options worth $18.5 million.

Records handed to Congress paint a picture of Boeing as an organization rife with cover-ups and attempts to dodge regulatory oversight. In an internal message, one employee described the 737 Max, the aircraft model which crashed in October 2018 and again in March 2019, as “designed by clowns who in turn are supervised by monkeys.”

Do you guys know how fired I would get if there was 80 million dollars in it for me?

I wouldn’t even bother to kill the 300-plus people in totally avoidable disasters, that’s how fired. Like forget the wide-ranging amount of fuckery this guy is accused of perpetrating. That’s just showing off. Just do some garden-variety Bad Shit, get myself canned, and step three is an in-ground pool full of ice and champagne.

If I had 80 million promised to me just for leaving the job I was supposed to do, I would leave that job in seconds. I would take my 80 million dollars, I would buy Barbados, and I would invite you all to come live there.

Provided the people of Barbados were cool with that. I assume they would be, because I would drop about 40 million of those dollars from a helicopter my first day there. Finders keepers, fuckers! Who cares, I got 40 million more. In my entire life, not if I bought all of an entire nation, would I be able to spend that kind of cash.

Course, I don’t have multiple wrongful death lawsuits headed my way.

This fucking guy, and every fucking guy like him: Excused from responsibility, and still getting paid to cock things up, while some of the best people on the planet go broke teaching preschool. This is the kind of horseshit we mean when we say “tax the rich out of existence,” not your cousin with the second Lexus. We mean this prick. Eighty MILLION dollars. What, and I cannot stress this enough, the fuck.

There are SO MANY OF HIM. So many shitty dudes out there who keep getting paid to screw up good people’s lives. Maybe that’s not new, I mean robber barons used to literally rob baronies, but the scale of it certainly is, and the speed with which they are hoovering up all the available resources of the earth seems to be increasing rapidly. The only people who should make this kind of money are hospice nurses and the 18-year-olds fighting the wars that fuel this company when they come home with missing limbs and brain damage.

These kinds of exorbitant exit packages are always justified with a mountain of bullshit about paying people to take risks and insulating them from the consequences of said risks so that they can be very special geniuses and shit. Most of them are boring idiots whose only good ideas are like, “what if we built a really big plane but instead of flying it crashed a lot,” don’t tell me this human conference call was worth one tenth of the lousiest janitor at the local park district field house. If we took every dollar he earned and used that paper to make pinatas it would be better spent.

I mean what incentive do you have to succeed, if you get paid no matter what? My incentive to work is to keep feeding my kid and my two asshole cats, maybe help a few folks, maybe die someplace warm. If I didn’t have to haul my two herniated discs and clicky knees onto a bus and a train every day it would not incentivize me to design a new airplane, it would incentivize me to do jack dick while under some blankets in front of the fire. I want to make stews and watch Band of Brothers for the 49th time but other people in this house have ideas like “keeping the electricity on” and “not getting foreclosed.” BORING.

Give me 80 million dollars after I do my job so badly they boot me out the door. I’ll sing as I pack up all my shit and buy the first round at the “fuck yeah you got fired” party I’m throwing with the bar I just purchased. In Ireland. Actually it’s Ireland. I bought the whole thing and you’re all invited.

Things make no fucking sense right now.

A.

They Did This On Purpose

Read this and think about what you learned about history, and why: 

Here’s another example: Teenagers in both states will learn about the Harlem Renaissance and debates about the movement’s impact on African-American life.

But Texas students will read that some critics “dismissed the quality of literature produced.”

I get frustrated day after day after day listening to Our Thought Leaders lamenting how divided we “have become” and how polarized “things are” like a storm just moved in and nobody knows why. Children for decades have been deliberately taught different stories, for a very specific reason, and the article presents this as if that reason doesn’t exist.

California and Texas textbooks sometimes offer different explanations for white backlash to black advancement after the Civil War, from Reconstruction to housing discrimination in the 20th century.

Southern whites resisted Reconstruction, according to a McGraw-Hill textbook, because they “did not want African-Americans to have more rights.” But the Texas edition offers an additional reason: Reforms cost money, and that meant higher taxes.

Whole paragraphs on redlining and restrictive deeds appear only in the California editions of textbooks, partly as a result of different state standards. Texas’ social studies guidelines do not mention housing discrimination at all.

It’s as if “discrimination exists” and “no, reverse racism does” are two competing ideas with no way to prove the fact of one or the other. Whites were just scared of their taxes paying for black people? Sure, okay, that certainly seems to be what’s happening here:

reconstruction nast

No racial discrimination there, at all. Nothing irrational about that resistance to black political power.

If you accept that “both sides” want their version of history taught because they both benefit from it, you have to outline what those benefits are. The right benefits electorally and financially from actively discriminating in housing, employment, voting rights, and any number of a thousand other areas, and has for decades. Their version of history supports an ideology that actively prevents low-income people and non-whites from accessing huge swaths of American life.

That is a CONSEQUENCE of their actions. That is a result that can be seen and measured, a direct outcome of the story they tell.

For this to be equivalent to the left’s desire to, say, honestly describe what happened to Native Americans when whitey showed up, there would have to be an ongoing and systemic effort to prevent white people from gaining rights that were historically given to non-whites. That’s … not occurring, not even in socialist California. I know we joke all the time about how we need to stop electing white people but as far as I know no one’s actually trying to make that the case.

That there is the PERCEPTION that any uplift to non-whites, non-straights, non-Christians comes at the expense of all you nice Land Rovering ladies at book club is not anybody’s problem but yours, and it’s certainly not an argument to teach history differently, Jesus tits.

Texas policymakers feel strongly about giving students a positive view of the American economy; since 1995, state law has required that high school economics courses offer an “emphasis on the free enterprise system and its benefits.” That emphasis seems to have made its way into the history curriculum as well.

California’s curriculum materials, by contrast, sometimes read like a brief from a Bernie Sanders rally. “The yawning gap between the haves and have-nots and what is to be done about it is one of the great questions of this time,” says the state’s 2016 social studies framework.

Bernie Sanders would slap that line right out of his own mouth, it’s so tame, and I’m far from a Bernie stan. What is the point of that dig? Tee hee, so silly and communist, the idea that people talk about inequality.

We’re saying there are two versions of this story, and one of them is “everything is GREAT” and another is “let’s think about stuff.” Those aren’t even competing ideas, much less competing on equal ground.

Again, who benefits from the narrative that the American economy is OMG BESTEST EVARR!11!? The people in power, who are generally Republican, and oppose taxes on corporations, and want you to believe that the reason there ain’t no raises coming this year is that they just can’t afford it.

We are not teaching two different versions of history because we’re just so horrifically divided. We are horrifically divided because there is a concerted effort to paint a picture of American history that devalues certain voices, to its distinct financial and political benefit. Division hasn’t HAPPENED. It’s been done, and we see who’s made out like bandits, and who’s suffered.

A.

Just One More Blogger Ethics Panel

This is an old joke, young’uns, about the early days of blogging, during which Serious Journalists opined that we needed lots of review over those dastardly writers on the internet, lest they have undisclosed conflicts of interest! THE HORROR.

Meanwhile, everybody was just fine partying with this fuck: 

And on Wednesday (Jan 8), Mr Murdoch’s News Corp, the largest media company in Australia, was found to be part of another wave of misinformation. An independent study found online bots and trolls exaggerating the role of arson in the fires, at the same time that an article in The Australian making similar assertions became the most popular offering on the newspaper’s website.

It’s all part of what critics see as a relentless effort led by the powerful media outlet to do what it has also done in the United States and Britain – shift blame to the left, protect conservative leaders and divert attention from climate change.

“It’s really reckless and extremely harmful,” said Dr Joelle Gergis, an award-winning climate scientist at the Australian National University. “It’s insidious because it grows. Once you plant those seeds of doubt, it stops an important conversation from taking place.”

I swear, I am not deaf to the arguments about Facebook and Google ruining democracy but if both those companies got grounded from the internet tomorrow we’d still be left with the two forces that have done the most damage to small-l liberalism thriving. Fox News and talk radio turned people angry, reactive and afraid, and channeled all that fear and loathing into votes for the GOP and all its works. So long as both those things blare in every suburban podiatrist’s office ain’t nothing gonna ever change.

The linked article above is mostly about climate change and Murdoch’s effect thereupon but overall we are talking about the worldwide policies of austerity and racism that have impoverished millions and moved civilized societies backwards and mostly erased any gains made during the post-WWII era. Yes, old racist white people are buying up what Murdoch is selling in droves but let’s not let Murdoch off the hook for being the supplier.

A.

Not Everything Sucks: Packers Edition

My large adult football sons give each other gifts. 

Turner uses the hashtag “#Irie” on many of his social media posts. The word is synonymous with “good” in Jamaican Patois and has become the focus of Turner’s positive movement of service.

Turner has the Irie Project, a collaboration that includes second-grade students who help create original artistic fashion pieces based on a theme of positivity. The project blends Turner’s love of fashion and passion for spreading positive vibes. Each piece was to be given to Packers players and members of the organization Friday after practice.

They’re all so cute I can’t handle it.

A.

Desertion

On January 2, I signed up for two meal-kit plans and two fitness apps due to some seriously unflattering Christmas photos and also feeling generally like hell after not working out for two months and eating like garbage. The apps were free, of course, til I started “unlocking features” and “connecting other apps” and shit, but the meal plans, together, added up to about $160.

For lunches and dinners for about two weeks.

Now, of course that is insane, and it was fueled by more of a desire for convenience than anything else. Even when I’m not getting suckered into questionable things by social media ads and moments of aging-related panic, I still spend on food. I buy perishable fruits and vegetables, I buy ingredients like sausage from a butcher or a high-end meat counter. I eat a $10 salad (downtown Chicago prices for lunch) instead of a $5 burrito or a peanut butter sandwich from home.

On Sunday I prepped lunches and snacks for me and Kick for the week. I filled and stacked little reusable containers of blueberries and carrots and pita chips and salami-cheese rolls in whole wheat tortilla, strips of fresh bell pepper, soy & rice crackers, quinoa and chicken salad. It took about an hour, was about $30 worth of food. I have both an hour, and $30. What would I do for us if I didn’t?

If you want people to eat healthier, to buy from sustainable farms and local farmers, to prepare their own food instead of using processed, to behave like you do, you need to give them what you have. Which isn’t fancy grocery stores. It’s money. And time.

If I get home at 6, I have time to cook dinner for the family (cauliflower rice, salmon, peanut sauce, veg). If I get home at 7, 7:30, 8, and the kids need homework supervised and the stove’s broken and everybody’s hangry GUESS WHAT WE’RE GOING TO KFC, because I can feed five people meat, potatoes and vegetables for $15 and sometimes you solve the problems in front of you.

These things aren’t inherent virtues. I’m not, like, a better person because I can afford to cook for my kid; I’m just lucky. This stuff is math and physics. Give people money and the time money buys, the leisure and mental room to cook and portion and prep (the “leisure” which was once upon a time referred to as “all the stuff mom did” for middle class kids when she didn’t have to work two jobs to pay her student loans), and they’ll eat healthy. Okay, maybe not AS healthy as our cheftepreneurs would like them to, since sometimes you just want some goddamn potato chips, but this isn’t a case of “if only there was a Whole Foods here nobody would have diabetes.”

This is a case of money buys less and less, and wages aren’t going up. This is a case of God forbid you need food assistance, which has been nickel-and-dimed all to shit by people worried about what the poor will buy for their children, and which of course you CAN use to buy oranges and apples, or, like, an entire week’s worth of cereal for the same price. Poor people aren’t idiots and they make the choices in front of them because that’s what we all do.

Food deserts aren’t just created by not having grocery stores. They’re created by the people in them not having any money to spend on food, having to make short-term choices in the little time poverty affords. It’s the people who’ve been deserted, not the landscape, and the problem isn’t getting solved by looking at a map and finding a vacant plot of land on which to plant a Wegman’s.

A.

Okay. We Gotta Do This Again.

Fine. FINE, fuckers.

God, this is exhausting, at least with Vietnam they bothered to lie convincingly.

But if we gotta do this again, we gotta do it again. Like I said on Tuesday night, bite down on a stick and get ready to play hurt because that’s all we ever do. The Iraq war was a series of fights against not only the horrific GOP but the shitsack spineless Democrats who thought the only way to escape Republican wrath was to give Republicans literally anything they wanted. SPOILER ALERT IT DIDN’T WORK SO GOOD.

I’d like to think the Dems learned something, but one of my resolutions from like eleventy-fuck years ago was to stop deluding myself. They ain’t learned shit. They’ve spent the last two days online and on TV hedging their bets like “I’m glad this bad guy is dead BUT” instead of saying something along the lines of I DON’T CARE WHO THE DEAD GUY WAS THE PRESIDENT IS DONALD TRUMP AND WE’RE IMPEACHING HIM RIGHT NOW FOR BEING TOO DUMB NOT TO CONFESS TO CRIMES ON TV.

I sympathize, somewhat, in that carrying out ill-thought-out assassinations, nominating frathouse rapists to the courts, deporting anything that bugs him, and being a racist prick were pretty much explicitly what Trump ran for president on, so how dare we like, act surprised by literally anything. But it’s not acting surprised to say something other than what every Democratic senator besides Russ Feingold said in 2002 which was “I promise I will be very good, sir, and I trust you not to hit me.” That our national original sin is baked into our Constitution doesn’t make it okay if we continue to sin; there’s a reason confessions end with the exhortation to go forth and knocketh that shit right the fuck off. The lack of will to end shit in 2004 doesn’t make anything happening now okay.

It just means we have to have the same fight again. Fine. We’ll have it again. Disillusionment isn’t an excuse for apathy; if we know we can’t stop it, if we even doubt our ability to slow it down, then at the very least we aren’t starting from zero this time.

We know now that debunking lies is useless and even pointing them out is pointless and the only thing that works is changing the subject. Voting the fuckers out. Registering new Democratic voters, getting the ones we have to show up in November and in every local election from now until then and riding for whatever pathetic half-a-loaf compromise bullshit the Dems nominate as if that person is the second coming of Christ Jesus because we know from bitter experience that’s the only way out of this mess. I will be at every protest just like I have been since this shit started but at least now we know there’s no way out but through.

fightemtilwecan't

A.

 

In 2020 Let’s Pivot to Journalism

Wow, nobody’s coming to save journalism, big fucking shock to everyone who isn’t an idiot pretending to be a smart person or a smart person pretending to be Roman Roy: 

“A reckoning” is next, they said. Publishers regret undervaluing their own audiences in favor of brand-diluting social-first content. While interviews for our earlier reports revealed a willingness to shift strategies and fall in line with platform maneuvers, publishers now believe that they must regain control of their revenue streams and put their own audience interests above platform demands. This means a renewed focus on owned-and-operated properties, where publishers control audience experience, data, and revenue.

Publishers now require far more compelling evidence that platform products will be fruitful for their businesses before agreeing to devote time and staff to them. “A year ago [our attitude was], ‘Hey, why not? Let’s give it a shot. [It’s a] fifty-fifty call,’ ” said one local publisher about participating in new platform-product rollouts. “Now somebody would have to show me pretty clearly that the benefit was likely, rather than fifty-fifty, for me to make the change.”

How is it a revelation that if I’m going to put time and money and resources into something it should be likely to benefit me? How is that some kind of admirable sentiment? Wow, such wisdoms, many wows.

You know, it’s really hard to congratulate publishers on coming to Jesus after they’ve already set all the money on fire and fired everybody. Happy you showed up, I guess, but your predecessors dynamited the place so you’ll pardon us if we don’t throw you a party for getting here now.

I’m angry about this stuff because I saw how much of the destruction happened to newspapers before the mobile Internet really took off, and I’m incandescently enraged about this stuff because in my off-time these days I raise money for a journalism venture and goddamn if every single day somebody isn’t trying to figure out a way to do anything BUT throw money at journalism.

“What if Facebook …”

“What if Google …”

“What if Apple …”

“What if this one consulting firm …”

“What if this spin-off events company …”

“What if this special edition …”

What if YOU, how about? What if you just did what you know needs to be done? What if you just did the work? What if you stopped flailing at every trend you heard about at a conference in the hopes that somehow this would magically become easy, and if you just … got the ten best people you know in a room, and you figured out how to do what you know needs to be done?

I see this screaming all day long, from actual no-shit journalists who should know better: JOURNALISM IS EXPENSIVE. SUBSCRIBE TO YOUR LOCAL PAPER! The former isn’t true and the latter has nothing to do with anything.

Journalism costs money, sure, but it’s not the biggest cash-suck at a media organization, not by any means. CEO bonuses and shareholder dividends and high-end real estate and consultant contracts are expensive. Debt service is expensive. Journalism, compared to those things, is cheap as shit, especially now, when you don’t HAVE TO print it out on dead trees and send tough dirty children to yell READ ALL ABOUT IT.

(You could, and in some cases should, still do that, but you don’t have to.)

Subscribing to your local paper, unless said local is independently owned and operated, just puts more money in the hands of people already acting like hundred dollar bills are the only things with which you can light a fire. Giving money to anything owned by the company formerly known as TRONC is not supporting your local, hard-working journalists, because the ex-TRONCs are taking 75 cents of every dollar and using it to pay off serial sexual harassers and give investors Christmas presents.

The only thing that is going to work going forward is putting all the money toward doing the thing that needs to be done, which is running a news organization. If that’s online, on paper, on TV, whatever, as long as money goes to the journalism. That’s the only thing that’s going to “save” journalism, and it’s about time people figured this out and stopped waiting for some other solution to descend upon them from on high.

Platform initiatives are a bridge for some publishers; for others, however, they’ve become a lifeline. One social media director told the Tow Center, “We absolutely need the money that they’re giving us to innovate, or have a shot at growing our audience, or even [figure] out a path to a subscription strategy. So I am thankful for the money, but I think there’s also some resentment…like, I’m just tired of being at your beck and call.”

No other company is going to have your company’s interests at heart, is the thing. I see so much bitching about Facebook and Google “stealing” or “sucking up” all the ad revenue, as if Facebook and Google somehow owed it to traditional publishers to be dumber, lazier, and poorer than they could be. Far be it from me to defend Zuckerberg or any of his ilk but expecting him to not take advantage of an opportunity is unfair.

You want something stronger, you gotta build it yourself, not just bitch at big tech and yell at your customers and potential customers. Journalists putting a “see, you should pay for this shit, you ungrateful heathens” at the end of every story are pitching their efforts at persuading the wrong people. Direct that sentiment at the boardroom, and if the boardroom won’t listen, direct it to the mirror and found your own fucking newsroom.

Yeah, it’s hard. Yeah, it sucks. I wouldn’t be out here yelling this at you if I didn’t know firsthand how hard it is, how much it sucks, and how little sleep it’s possible to survive on. And if anything else in the history of anything had ever just once fucking WORKED, I wouldn’t be out here telling you to get a day job and eat ramen so you can manage an employee buyout at night or whatever if this really means that much to you. If anything else does work, I ain’t seen it yet.

Facebook and Google don’t care. The execs don’t care. The shareholders don’t care as long as they get paid. So therefore it follows that if you’re the one who cares you’re the one who has to do it.

I know so many dedicated journalists out here busting their asses to turn their indie media profitable, to transition legacy presses to nonprofits, to keep nonprofits going, to run investigative shops on their own, to unionize and organize and fight like fuck to keep the lights on, and it’s an insult to their every waking hour to act like there’s any other way to do this.

Build your own good shit. Stop expecting someone else to be the fire brigade and pick up a bucket.

A.

On Ice

Kick loves ice skating.

As a profoundly un-athletic person whose only physical effort was a running routine that went tits-up after my back got destroyed three years ago, I have refused to invest any emotional energy into my child’s physical prowess. I have no idea if she can do a somersault. She runs kickball bases like a drunk freshman headed for Taco Bell. It’s all fine. She’s tried soccer and tennis with middling enthusiasm, but last winter, she begged to go skating.

Her first lesson, she spent on her butt.

I mean, typical, of course, but she didn’t know that, and she was PISSED. She threw her tiny baby helmet across the park-district locker room like an NHL player denied the Stanley Cup and said, “I am NEVER doing that again.”

I got down on my knees in front of her and looked her right in her red, embarrassed, angry face. “Yes, you are.”

Most of the time this child — with her thinky-face, and her insistence on reading and following directions to the letter, and her boundless loyalty — is her father. But some of the time she’s me, and this was one of those times.

“You sucked at this today. You were really bad at it.”

“I KNOW, and I –”

“And you’re gonna go out there next week and suck at this again.”

Silence.

“You’re gonna suck at this every Saturday for nine more classes because that’s how many Mama paid for. And because EVERYONE sucks at EVERYTHING the first time they do it. And you might get to the end of these nine lessons and still suck.

“At which point you tell me you want to quit, and off we go. But you don’t know yet if you’ll keep sucking so you gotta suck a while longer.”

She nodded. This, God help her, made sense to her. She did the next nine lessons, plus a practice a week. She did the next class, plus two practices a week. She got her own skates, her own skate bag, an outfit just for skating. She asked to go to open skates and get extra ice time. She befriended her teacher and classmates and watched skating videos online. She laughed when I called her my rink rat.

She got promoted from the baby class to the big-kid class.

And here’s where things came to a screeching halt again.

Drew Magary wrote this last week, about the economy: 

It’s perfectly natural to only want to work with, and employ, the best people possible. I know I feel better working alongside people I respect and admire. But what about everyone else? What about the B and C and even D players? Do they deserve to eat fucking rat bones for the rest of their lives, just because they couldn’t magically invent gorilla glass on demand for Steve Jobs?

This is the quiet tragedy of 2019 America. Our economy has been optimized and perfected into rendering the bulk of the workforce unacceptable to those in power. If you didn’t fucking graduate from MIT at age 15 and win three different seasons of Shark Tank, you’re fit to be cut. Consulting firms are paid handsomely to sniff you out and prevent you from hindering your poor company’s progress. You are not an A player, and therefore you deserve to rot. Only the special are allowed to survive.

I don’t want to lionize mediocrity or laziness, but: No matter how hard I practice and how much I learn, I am never going to be a concert pianist or a fighter pilot or cure cancer, and there is something deeply wrong with a society that tells us all that we have to dream that big.

I have an acquaintance whose spouse is the sort of person who gets two glasses of wine in her and starts thinking everyone agrees with whatever’s in her head; we were at a party recently and she started bitching about her “loser” son. He lacks ambition, he just screws around, he doesn’t want to make anything of himself, never does anything, blah blah blah.

Did he live with her, smoke weed all day, sell crack to the local kindergartners? Was he in jail, had he impregnated a member of the clergy, did he have to steal for his food? Nope. Turns out this young man has a job, pays his rent on his own place, and on weekends what he most likes to do is play with NERF guns, which honestly sounds fun as hell.

It took everything in my body not to say WHAT IS WRONG WITH YOU, DO YOU NOT KNOW PEOPLE’S KIDS ARE DEAD OR DYING OR IN CAGES? I do not get why our standards have to be sky-high for everybody. Why can’t some of us be okay? “You could have been an astronaut” is not actually TRUE, not for all of us, and there needs to be a place for those of us who are claustrophobic and can’t do science to still exist.

I am hard on my kid; I make her do more schoolwork than her teacher requires and I’m strict about manners and behavior with guests and screen time and such. It feels mean, a lot of the time, because I don’t know where the line is between teaching her something and becoming the villain in a story, because none of us know that line, we’re all just guessing. I know I am hard on her. She knows it, too, but:

I do not care one whit if she can axel or lutz or hip-check bigger kids into the boards. I don’t care if she competes or wins trophies or which trophies, if she does. It does not matter at all to me if she’s good at this or at anything else. Of course I don’t want her to starve or end up being exploited but I live in an area with a lot of competitive preschooling, you know? Like they need to know four languages and be reading textbooks by second grade. And it’s such, such, such bullshit, and it doesn’t produce success, and even if it does, do you know how many miserable smart people I know?

Our expectations cannot be sky-high for everybody. And if the best we can hope for is okay, then we need to be okay with that, and not look at our kids like every thing they do is going to be THE THING, the moment when they shoot into the stratosphere. Some of ’em will be right here on the ground. They’ll have to live here. They’ll have to know how.

In Kick’s big kid class, she wasn’t the fastest anymore, or the best. She was the slowest, again. She fell down the most, again. She flunked the first go, couldn’t go on to the next class, got a “needs improvement” report card, and she’s five, I mean, she doesn’t have a ton of experience with failure.

One day in big-kid class she fell, hard, like I HEARD it sitting in the soundproofed parents’ area where we all try really hard not to watch our kids so that our kids won’t look at us watching them and will pay attention to their own stuff. I heard her just absolutely eat it and I saw her stay down for a minute and I ran over to the other side of the rink figuring that even if she hadn’t cracked her tailbone she’d never want to skate again.

Her teacher had helped her up and they were sitting on the bench by the time I got over to them, and I stopped before they saw me. They were talking, and I saw the teacher ask her a question. I don’t know what she said, but I was watching when Kick answered.

“I’m ready,” she said. “Let’s go back out.”

A.

Still We Sing

History is still singing.

We hear a lot these days about who even cares about books or movies or comics or celebrities anymore, like the world is on fire, right? How can we possibly make room for art? For beauty, joy, laughter?

Well, listen to that, and rethink your despair.

It’s so easy to discount that which keeps us alive. Songs and stories don’t feed us; pace Woody but your machine didn’t kill any fascists. It might have prevented some from being made, though, that’s not nothing, and when all you have left is your voice, you sing.

People sang in bondage for centuries. Prisoners write and paint behind bars. On the Berlin Wall, teenagers drew pictures. Can’t stop the signal; there is no hole so deep from which a melody cannot emerge, reaching upward, singing in the only language humanity has ever had, the only song we’ve ever sung: Here we are.

Here we still are. People are heroic, people are incredible. Jail us, starve us, beat us, kill us, tell us every day we are nothing and no one, take away our homes and hearths, take away our names. Still we sing.

Still, we sing.

A.

Face Value

Oh FFS, journalism: 

Nick: We thought it was interesting when [New York Times White House correspondent] Maggie Haberman retweeted it, and she was kind of like, “What is this?” And then someone was just like, “This is a joke,” and she was like, “Well, jokes need to be more …” She said something like …

She said, “All the best parody has to be explained.”
Nick: Yeah. Like … That doesn’t make any sense! [Laughs.] So that was very weird.

Brad: It’s blatantly a joke! The campaign wouldn’t dryly dub someone saying “Bloomberg” over the song “Moves Like Jagger!”

Nick: Yeah, and I don’t know … It’s your job to not blindly take things in. It’s like their objective is more to just share and retweet shit and get fucking traction for that stuff.

The thing about Maggie’s tweets that’s so crazy is that she shared the video without looking into it first, and then she quote-tweeted someone else’s tweet about it, tsk-tsking her followers about how people share things without looking into them first.
Brad: You can just search our names and it’s all like “mischievous internet comedians” and you would know in three seconds.

Nick: It’s also scary because that fucking psycho Mike Cernovich knew ahead of time that we were faking it.

Brad: And he was retweeting our comedy videos …

Nick: Yeah, it was just kind of like “This is fake” or “This isn’t real.” But then these New York Times people and other folks are just buying into the thing.

I have fallen for my share of internet hoaxes and Onion-style nonsense over the years but I am not out there every day promising to be the solemn guardian of our democracy or whatever. If you’re going to fuck around on Twitter all day, and uncritically share stuff without verifying it even if it looks patently insane, then you don’t get to back off that and be a Sage Arbiter of Truth when it pleases you.

A.

Screw Your Smarter-Than-Thou Cynicism and Your Nihilism and Your Fear

How fucking dare you: 

Federal agencies will receive $25 million from Congress to study gun violence in a government spending deal reached by House and Senate negotiators — a major win for Democrats who have long pushed for dedicated funding to research the issue, a source told The Hill.

“Democrats have broken the ban on funding for the first time in decades,” the source said.

The deal includes $12.5 million each for the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) and National Institutes of Health to study gun violence and ways to prevent it.

It’s the first time in more than 20 years that Congress has appropriated money for gun violence research.

How dare you mark the anniversary of Sandy Hook, as so many people did last week, by posting variations on this stupid garbage trash?

How dare you yell at “Congress” to act when what you need is Republicans to act?

I am so sick of hearing that there’s no difference between the parties, that they’re both beholden to the same people, that it’s all corporatist money and control and so we might as well elect a fascist to teach the normies to suffer. I am so sick of people shrugging off this, that or the other reports of shootings and tragedies with “well yeah, what do you expect,” as if humans didn’t design this system and are helpless to change it.

THIS IS WHAT THEY WANT. They want us to think change is impossible. They want us not to notice it’s happening every single day, all around us, as one person by one person decides they’ve had enough. Seven years ago Moms Demand was a frickin’ Facebook group. How dare you tell them it’s over? If they’re not tired ain’t nobody gets to be tired.

Twenty-five million is nothing, of course. It should be the size of the budget of the U.S. military or at least what we spend keeping Trump and his grifter family safe; it should be whatever the doctors say they need. But it’s not nothing and it’s not the end and you have to wedge a crowbar in the door before you can bust it open.

This happened because people elected Democrats. Not just leftists; boring old milquetoast Joe-Biden-esque people who aren’t tough enough on the banks and say stupid shit on the regular, who give Trump more judges than he deserves and disappoint us every single day. This happened because people voted in people with a basic desire to KEEP OUR CHILDREN ALIVE so how dare you say there’s no difference?

There are real differences, and they matter, and they’re going to matter more as this year drags on, and I just don’t want to hear it, about your feelings, when this is what’s on the table. Stop being so scared and stop thinking it masks the fear, your “it’s over, there’s no point” bullshit.

I get you say that kind of thing so you don’t have to fight. I deeply, deeply get it, and I’m here to tell you that it doesn’t MATTER. You’re dead at the end of this either way, why do you think proving your intelligence and superiority over your fellow live-children enthusiasts are important? Get the fuck out there and embarrass yourself and invest in people who aren’t everything you want, because this is what can happen.

Twenty years, and then a break. How dare you count this out.

A.

There Aren’t SIDES

Here’s some dumbassery to start your Sunday:

Once more and for all the marbles, being a homophobic asshole who doesn’t want other people to exist is not a “side.” A “side” is Bears-Packers, or sausage-pepperoni, or winter-summer. These things are “sides.” They are valid lifestyle choices (well, maybe not the Bears thing) and opinions you can differ from your neighbors upon.

But if you’re out here mad that lesbians exist, that’s just being shit at being a human being.

There isn’t a “debate” about this “issue.” Marriage equality is legal, people are out of the closet kissing each other, the “debate” is over, church lady up there lost, and it’s time for them to move on, not for us to keep indulging them in a conversation about nothing. Christ, these people.

If you are out here, in the year of Our Lord Chrisjen Avasarala 2019  shrieking at a commercial on a Hallmark movie starring, I dunno, Jennifer Love Hewitt or someone, because you had to see two girls get married, you don’t need your SIDE validated. You need a HOBBY.

God, I do not GET the appeal of being this much of a rage-monkey. You know what I did this weekend? I took my kid to see two separate Santas and pet a baby reindeer and then tried to explain why Santa could be in two places in one day and look so very different (“there are decoys,” she said) and baked cookies and watched old episodes of Scooby Doo and ordered presents online and fucked around on my phone and went to a party and wrote this post and if something on TV upset me I changed the channel because there are 800 of them now and 9 streaming services and seven of those services have Star Wars shows. What is WRONG with you, you spend your time screaming at Hallmark about 30 seconds of lesbians?

And as for you “what about the children” ho-bags, lemme tell you something about the children. If you’re forcing them to watch Mother May I Sleep With Santa with you while you suck down your watered-down pink moscato through a curly straw, they are not thinking about the ladies getting hitched when they see that commercial.

What they are thinking, depending on their ages, is how to hit up Santa for that dumb unicorn toy that shits glitter, and/or how soon they can blow your backwards-ass pop-stand and go live somewhere where people aren’t channeling their rage at their cat-appliqued sweater-clad loserdom into ruining everyone else’s fun.

I have to see shit on TV every day that I don’t like. I have to see the literal earth on fire while one-toothed Cletuses talk about how Donald Trump can violate their mothers and they’ll still support him. Put the FEC complaint form DOWN. You don’t have a valid “side.”

And by giving you one, Hallmark’s doing what we’re all doing right now which has led to us being so fucked. Everybody has an opinion and all opinions are equal, even though mine is about how the Bears suck and so do onion rings, and yours is about how women who love women shouldn’t exist. I mean, being a Nazi is a “side” now, to which we must pay the same uncritical attention as we pay to milquetoast lefties who want to teach children to read.

No, that’s not right, we pay less attention to the leftists.

Just stop it. Stop using this dumb shorthand so as not to piss anybody off. Not only will it not work, not all pissed-off-ness is equal, and while Hallmark movies may be harmless fantasy, legitimizing homophobic shittitude as a “side” is anything but.

Schmucks.

A.

Today’s For Rashida Tlaib

And, you know, America, but mostly her:

A.

You Guys It Is HARD Telling Boys Not to Rape

low expectations

I mean, how even are you supposed to do this job? 

Fallout from the #MeToo movement continues to be one of the most polarizing topics in our current political climate. For parents of sons, navigating complex and sensitive conversations with their boys about sexual consent, harassment and assault, and respect for women and LGBTQ people is difficult enough, especially when they’re young. And, it’s only compounded by the fear President Trump is helping to spread that young men could be unjustly accused.

Here’s an idea. Just spitballing. Just throwing this out there. A suggestion for you to pass on to your young men.

DON’T RAPE ANYONE.

I mean, it can’t be that complicated, right? Let me see if I can simplify it further.

Don’t stick your dick into anyone who has not asked for your dick to be put into them.

How much more complex —

“You don’t really know how to have [these conversations], you’re not prepared for them. I don’t think that we had them when we were growing up,” says Gemma Gaudette, a Boise-based radio host and mother to two young sons. “I think going into these tween and teen years it’s like parenting on steroids. It’s this whole new level that I have not been prepared for. I’m reading books and all of this.”

I have news for you, hon.

YOU AREN’T PREPARED FOR ANYTHING.

I know parenting culture tells us that parents, especially women, have special powers of intuition and shit and that we “just know” what to do because “mommy instinct” and other such t-shirt slogans but it’s nonsense. Nobody knows what to do about anything, so you have to ask people and you have to read books and you have to figure stuff out.

THIS IS THE JOB WE SIGNED UP FOR WHEN WE PROCREATED. If we think we can just coast through our kids’ teenage years maybe we’ve forgotten what it’s like to be a kid and how much help you need at the precise moment you’re least equipped to ask for or receive it.

Yeah, it sucks. Land hard, roll left, teach your sons and your daughters to respect men and women.

“I think it’s a really complicated time to be raising boys, because as a feminist I don’t want to be there saying, ‘Oh, boys are the real victims here, and feminism has gone too far.’ … But I think there are some pressures and difficulties, which are very specific to boys in this moment, and they are part of the conversation of feminism and gender roles,” she says.

I hate the framing of “raising boys is different now because you can’t just let them rape anymore.” I think of all the good older men I know, starting with the World’s Best Human, my late grandpa, who grew up in an era when you could smack women on the ass in the workplace and call them sweetie and they had no recourse whatsoever.

Grandpa, far as I ever knew, never once encroached on the autonomy of a single human soul. The idea of backing a girl into a corner and telling her she’d lose her job if she didn’t kiss him would have horrified him, as it would have horrified many people his age who I have been privileged to know. They didn’t have the benefit of #MeToo or parenting books or the idea of enthusiastic consent or numerous sexual harassment seminars.

They just weren’t RAPISTS.

They didn’t get their jollies from making women feel shitty and small. They weren’t bullies or the bullies’ best friends, and they didn’t make hobby out of talking about girls like they were dogs.

Making it seem like it’s all circumstantial — the time we lived in caused all the raping! — or the fault of their mothers not having enough conversations with them about sex — let’s blame yet another woman for men’s actions, why don’t we — not only lets the shitty men off the hook, it erases the good ones whose role modeling we really, really need right now.

It can feel like a difficult balancing act to try to empower girls to continue to fight against systemic discrimination on the basis of sex, while simultaneously trying to give boys proper attention to their specific needs.

Do they … need to rape anyone? What specific needs are we talking about here?

Making this whole thing into a story about how mommies are scared their baby boys will accidentally sexually assault someone is the most ridiculous angle I can imagine for a #MeToo piece. Think of the highest-profile #MeToo cases. They are … not situations where a well-meaning young fellow is caught unawares in circumstances not of his making. Bill Cosby drugged and raped women. Harvey Weinstein coerced and raped women. Matt Lauer HAD A BUTTON THAT LOCKED HIS DOOR SO HE COULD HARASS WOMEN. Brett Kavanaugh and his asshole friends gang-raped a woman while she was unconscious. Charlie Rose, Mark Halperin, Louis CK, none of them, like, tripped and accidentally touched someone’s boob.

I don’t get what’s hard to talk to your sons about.

A.

Above Ideology

Douthat always flaps his mouth-butt when it’s my goddamn turn to blog: 

In the Democratic coalition more than the Republican one, meritocracy and technocracy have long been unifying forces. Bill Clinton and Barack Obama represented somewhat different party factions, but they both embodied wonkery, a vision of competence and expertise governing to some extent above ideology, in which there are assumed to be “correct answers” to policy dilemmas that a disinterested observer could acknowledge and the right technocrat achieve.

Well, when one judges a solution “correct” on the basis of “how many Americans will this solution keep alive,” then yes, Clinton and Obama were “above ideology.” Sure. You fuckwit.

Like what do these people, who are PROFESSIONAL KNOWERS OF POLITICS, think politics IS? What do they think ideology is FOR? I hate more than almost anything else about our current sitch the idea that things can be discounted if they’re “ideological” or “partisan.” Like the whole reason for an ideology is to advocate for the stuff you want done, and you do in fact have ways to evaluate the correctness of that stuff.

I know Pope Douthat, Joseph Ratzinger’s number-one fan, is all about there actually being a right and a wrong, but that doesn’t mean ideology automatically gets in the way of that. Most of the time it helps.

But Sanders is different; he has policy plans, too, but he’s fundamentally a moralist arguing for a politics of righteous struggle, in a way that separates him from Warren as well as from Buttigieg or Bloomberg.

Um, I think part of Bernie’s whole THING is that he has policies he think will bring about his worldview. That he is good at articulating a coherent and moral vision for the future doesn’t mean he has no way to make it happen. What the shit is this. I’m hardly a Bernie fangirl, he’s like my 3rd or 4th choice, but Ross here is calling him a poet as an insult and that’s not all right.

And just as Donald Trump benefited in 2016 — and figures like Ted Cruz and Jeb Bush suffered — from a sense that the G.O.P.’s libertarian and neoconservative intelligentsia bore some responsibility for the double disasters of Iraq and the financial crisis, Sanders benefits from a widespread left-wing disappointment with what the Obama-era politics of expertise produced.

Let’s deal with this in order:

  1. Donald Trump benefited from a four-decade project to nurture racism and white resentment, along with a 24-hour propaganda network devoted to treating him like the second coming.
  2. THEY ACTUALLY WERE RESPONSIBLE FOR THAT SHIT, THERE WAS NO “SENSE” THAT THEY BORE “SOME” RESPONSIBILITY. THEY DID ALL THOSE THINGS ON PURPOSE, AND THE DUMB RACISTS CHEERED THEM, AND NOW THEY’RE CHEERING TRUMP. I’M SORRY I’M YELLING BUT YOU TELL ME, WITH THIS. JESUS SHIT.

Donald Trump did not win because people didn’t want a technocrat no more. He won because white people went insane as a result of having to listen to a black man try to give them most of what they wanted for eight really short years.

So if the exhaustion with technocracy makes a socialist a viable nominee, that exhaustion plus a solid economy explains why the socialist may yet fall to an even more archaic breed — a party politician.

Why is that bad? Why … are we just supposed to accept that as bad? Why is “partisan” not a set of solutions (that may or may not be, gasp, correct) but some kind of disqualification? Why are politicians only rewarded for not being part of the party they’re a part of? I do not GET this.

I mean, it’s Ross, so it’s always possible he’s just an idiot. There’s always that option out there.

A.

Not Everything Sucks: YOU DID IT!

I gave you a week and you did it in almost a day: 

Every year they do a MASSIVE toy drive for the little kids so they can have some holiday presents and they’re well-supplied, but need $500 for gift cards for the 50 or so older kids. Think about how in high school your buds want to go out for a burger, or over to the Starbucks to study, and you don’t have any money to buy anything. Wouldn’t you like to be able to give some kid the ability to feel normal for Christmas?

You raised $500 for the St. Hyacinth Food Pantry. I’m handing over the cash this week and they’ll give out the gift cards during their annual gift-giving event. Thank you, thank you, thank you for giving the families who really need one a very merry Christmas!

foodpantrygiftcards

A.

Giving Tuesday, Get On It

I know all y’all’s favorite nonprofits are all over you today because it’s Giving Tuesday but I wanted to find out if we, The Blog, could get together and raise some funds for the St. Hyacinth Food Pantry this year.

Remember the pantry? It’s the one we started boosting back in 2016 to help out the folks most likely to be hurt by what we’re all now just calling The Way Things Are Nowadays.

Every year they do a MASSIVE toy drive for the little kids so they can have some holiday presents and they’re well-supplied, but need $500 for gift cards for the 50 or so older kids. Think about how in high school your buds want to go out for a burger, or over to the Starbucks to study, and you don’t have any money to buy anything. Wouldn’t you like to be able to give some kid the ability to feel normal for Christmas?

The pantry, run by my uncle and aunt, runs on a shoestring and this year has been serving a large community of refugees, so they could really use this boost to give everybody a happy holiday.

Can we get this done by Friday? HIT UP THE FD PAYPAL LINK HERE AND LET’S FIX SOMETHING WE CAN FIX. 

A.

It’s A Mystery

This is a lot of words about why “we” don’t believe in science anymore just to NOT say “Republicans:” 

We are abandoning our last greatest hope and assuming enormous risk when our policy makers stand at odds with science without any rational foundation for their dissent. The U.S. has long led the world in scientific discovery and putting science into practice to advance human health, energy, agriculture and food safety. Yet, now, amidst impending crisis, are we to deny our own strength and step back from leadership?

I mean …

I can’t imagine why one political party in one country has a stranglehold on all discourse, not to mention funding, for various kinds of science including climate science. Our “policy makers” do not stand at odds with science. Our REPUBLICAN policy makers do, but articles like this perpetuate the fiction that ALL government is the problem, instead of saying outright that right-wing government is the problem.

And it’s frustrating because that maintains the terrible state of things, that cynical LOL EVERYTYHING’S RUINED thing we think is so savvy and cute. If we don’t name the problem, if we don’t say outright that what we need to do is elect NON-REPUBLICANS, we will continue to stand around staring at each other and wondering why there are no more polar bears or whatever.

A.