Category Archives: Athenae

Safe Passage

This is the thing that worries me: 

Mr. Trump, when he said he was considering a quarantine for the region, offered no details about how his administration would enforce it. Speaking to CNN, Gov. Andrew Cuomo of New York criticized the idea, calling it “a declaration of war on states.”

He also questioned the logistical challenges, as well as the message, that such an order would present. “If you start walling off areas all across the country, it would just be totally bizarre, counterproductive, anti-American, antisocial,” he said.

Because: if my state is closed and yours is open, how do I get to you if you are sick? And don’t tell me I can’t, if I love you, if you’re my mother or brother or child, I will tear my way through your barricades, anyone would. We’ve had these walls before and people always find a way to scale them.

We don’t know how long this is going to last. This is why federal action matters, why we’re one country: we have this openness between us, or at least we used to, and it works as long as somebody can make a rule that applies to both you and me.

But “state’s rights,” amirite? The feds are always the enemy until you need them.

If some states are cut off and others aren’t, then you’ll start seeing the shortages people initially worried about when supplies were plentiful and shipping was open. It’s not like we make things everywhere; we depend on trucking, on rail lines, on airplanes still flying. Commercial air travel, okay, shut it down, but you ground cargo planes and suddenly that decision to buy 500 packs of toilet paper looks only sensible and right.

(I have told Mr. A he is no longer allowed to make fun of my propensity to hoard flour and yeast, and he will no longer suffer my mocking him for buying hand soap no matter how much we have in the house.)

We used to hear this every six months or so, what happens if Texas or South Carolina or Maine or somebody secedes, travel and treaties and repercussions for anyone on the borders, but with Dickhead L’Orange shooting his mouth off while his feet are up on the Resolute desk it goes from being hysterical to horrifying with a quickness.

Scout and I were joking on Twitter the other day: the Midwest needs to have a non-aggression pact. Can we open shipping lines across the Great Lakes? Who owns enough barges and paper factories to make this stuff work? We don’t grow everything everywhere; hydroponic farms and the window herb gardens aside we ain’t growing much for the next 4 months anyway.

I have a freezer full of food and this is the kind of talk that has me browsing for basement chest freezers and looking up deer hunting season. You barely have to hunt the ones in our forest preserve, they’ll come right up to you for some Cheez-Its. The plans for the garden gets more elaborate every time he opens his mouth. I’m not joking, this is what causes people to panic. To flee.

Are we going to stop them at the border? What happens when they don’t stop? I wish we didn’t know. 

A.

People Have This

This is great:

“I thought, ‘Tyler, you always wanted to feed people. That’s what you wanted to do, so keep doing that,’” he said. “There is good in this world. We will work together to feed people.”

So Sailsbery and The Black Sheep staff set up a free breakfast and lunch giveaway for those in need during the coronavirus pandemic.

The plan is to give away meals from 9:30 to 10:30 a.m. and 3:30 until 9 p.m. every Tuesday through Friday “for as long as we can or until the schools reopen,” according to the restaurant’s website.

I just keep thinking about how good people are. Not just in this crisis but always. Everybody can share some dumb moral panic story about a kid being an idiot, or tell the tale of this one guy their cousin knows, but people are so, so good.

We want to help. We want to make things better. We want to do right and we have to be told at every turn by a propaganda machine run 24-7 for GOP money that help and better and right are fictions and STILL after 20 years of that drumbeat two-thirds of this country will, when the floor drops out, try to help the people on either side of them.

We have had leadership that has harnessed that capacity, and leadership that hasn’t, and we see how all of that plays out every single day. People have always fought back, don’t get me wrong, this is and always will be up to only us, one man alone who has had enough, etc, but sometimes we need a push to get out there. We need a direction for all our directionless energy.

I get so mad about George W. Bush and his creatures, still, because for about 20 minutes after 9/11 there was, in fact, a moment when people would have done ANYTHING. He had 90 percent approval for a few days, he could have told people to enlist en masse and they would have, everybody thought this was World War II again and we were all Captain America.

He told us to go shopping. We went to war with Iraq. Everybody working at Ground Zero started dying of cancer. We’ve been paying for that frustrated, stymied, miserable moment when all our good intentions and capacities were thwarted, ever since.

If you tell people this is the crisis of their time, you’d better be able to tell them what to do next. Otherwise you’re just riling them up and sealing them in, no one to listen or talk back, no work to put their hands into.

Yesterday one of my neighbors hung a sheet out his window, the words WE GOT THIS EVERYBODY painted on it in brilliant colors. Our local Facebook group, which a month ago was suspicious and vaguely racist in response to every loud noise, is organizing scavenger hunts: Go put this, that, the other thing in your window for kids to find on walks. People are donating supplies and materials, who needs this, I’m going out, do you need something delivered. We are a small country, my neighborhood, and we are caring for each other.

It could be like that everywhere. We could all be like that. Why don’t we see it? Why don’t we connect it, the caring you do for your neighbors, with what we are asked to do for each other when it’s roads and schools and healthcare? You’d share your food with the family next door, wouldn’t you? Some of you already do. The family next door is everybody.

From the story linked above:

Sailsbery got emotional when he recalled some of the messages he has received. Some families apologized for their need, and he said they shouldn’t feel bad.

“It’s hard,” he said. “You get messages like, ‘I need four meals for my kids. And is this just for kids because we don’t have any food either.’”

We have been in social isolation, as a country, for so goddamn long.

A.

Who the Heroes Have Always Been

Last night I was putting Kick through her evening paces — bathing, teeth-brushing, cat-petting, story-reading, delaying, water-getting, more delaying, singing, one-more-hugging — and I heard my neighbors outside yelling Bon Jovi songs into the air.

My friends and I text each other constantly: You okay? I’m going out, need anything? Skype, chat, check-ins, bitching about small stuff, who said he was going to put the dishes away and didn’t. Whose kids are driving them crazy. Whose dog won’t stop barking.

Who’s still working, day and night, keeping people well or trying to. Teaching in prison. Caring for pets. Delivering food. Do you need a mask, I can make you one. I have extra sanitizer, I can leave it on your porch.

The world has shrunk to the ten, twenty people I love the most. Sometimes, when Kick and Mr. A and I are at the dinner table, the world shrinks to three. The tiniest circle there is. We don’t pray, but sometimes we hold each other’s hands, as if blood is salt and can protect us.

Friends miles away have tested positive. People I admire have tested positive. Loved ones of loved ones won’t stop going out, don’t believe this is real, and we despair: I can’t get on a plane to go see my dying sister, but you are going to the Cracker Barrel?

There’s so much longing for a crisis, in our culture. We fetishize what we do when the chips are down, when the earth is caving in: Then I’ll be in my element. Then I will feel important. Then I will do something that matters.

Then I, I, I, I.

We all think we’re gonna lead the rebellion, rebuild the city, become part of the brave band of heroes who will be lauded forever in history as if that’s a thing that has ever existed, as if we’ve ever been able to choose who gets the headline.

We wait for that moment when we can raise a flag and make a speech and we think that’s how the work gets done. Where are our LEADERS, we lament, and call out for Thai food, and forget to tip the man who brings it. We yell at the checkout girl. We mutter darkly about the boys on the corner.

Where is the crisis? It’s all around us. I interviewed a comedian, after 9/11, in those awful stunted days when nothing felt normal and we didn’t yet know how stupid it was all going to be. I can’t remember his name but I’ll never forget what he said when I asked about laughter, about how even:

“Every day is 9/11 for somebody.”

I am good, in a crisis. I always have been. I am comfortable where the disaster is. Six months later, when things have improved for me (when, goddamnit), a switch will flip, I will stop sleeping, stop eating, stop taking my pills, ask a therapist: why now?

Mental illness loves best the vacuum adrenaline leaves behind.

These things have such a long train, pulling behind them. So many died from Hurricane Katrina, years after Katrina; from Ground Zero, decades after the fire went out. Stress on bodies, skipped treatments or appointments. None of this is worth it to feel like you matter.

Keep your really bitchin’ charter schools and condos. I will take my friends.

I have tons of ideas about what’s to be done. I think every day about writing: A new WPA, for everything from bridge-building to archiving. What leadership is truly worth, why we clamor for Joe Biden or Bernie Sanders to STEP UP AND LEAD when in truth we don’t know whose voice we’ll need til we hear it and we can’t hear it over the sound of Fox. I rage for a moment and then turn away.

We do yoga in the basement, poke things with sticks on long walks. The cats sleep on my feet. I put off drinking til 5, even on weekends. When the sun comes out I run outside and turn my face up to the sky.

We write thank-you cards to firefighters and sanitation workers. Kick and I watch every Disney movie twice while Mr. A snores on the couch.

The phone buzzes; my mother, Mr. A’s cousins, my high school friends: I’m okay. Are you? We joke, we make a time for Google hangouts, we game out future paychecks and toilet paper supplies and who still has cleaning products. We order pizza. We tip as much cash as we can scrounge. We wash our hands.

I would like to say when this is over — as if this is ever going to be over, as if over exists, as if it ever has — we will remember, we will be kinder, but I do remember, from the time before this, and the time before that, and the time before the time before the time before that.

We have always been all that we have.

A.

You Already Know Where It Goes

So here’s what’s gonna happen.

A lot of people are going to get sick. They won’t know for sure if they’re sick, because there aren’t enough tests, and nobody can afford the ones that we do have.

Because nobody will know anything for sure, and a lot of people will be sick, most businesses will stay closed. Most will be unable to pay their employees, so a lot of people are going to be sick and broke.

Sick broke people make decisions aimed at not being sick or broke no more. Not all of those decisions will be harmless to themselves or others.

The prospect of sick broke people making bad decisions will freak a lot of upper class people out.

Those people will call their suburban police departments, which in case you haven’t noticed are strapped for war every second of the day even though their biggest call in a month is barely a moving violation. Those police departments will respond to every shoplifter like they’re John Dillinger and things will start getting out of hand.

A crime that would barely make a blip in a weekly newspaper’s police blotter will get blown up by the Rush/Fox/morning news industrial complex until I start getting texts from out-of-town relatives who already think living anywhere with two stoplights is asking to be robbed and murdered. Like six guys will knock over a liquor store and ordinarily that’s Thursday, but before the week is out your dad will have sixteen emails from the NRA all saying some variation on “DO YOU WANT YOUR WHITE WOMEN RAPED? CLICK HERE TO ANSWER NO AND GET A FREE T-SHIRT AND A GRENADE LAUNCHER.”

The same types of guys who were dragging their guns around the Virginia statehouse a month ago will be spray-painting LOOTERS WILL BE SHOT ON SIGHT on their garages and then the politicians will start in with JUST ASKING QUESTIONS or some such. Those questions will not be about why people are sick and broke, by the way. The questions will be about how violent white people should get right now, and how few consequences they can possibly face for said violence.

I don’t know where we go after that.

A.

Every Genocide Needs a Soundtrack

A few years back I got irrationally obsessed with reading books about the Rwandan genocide including this excellent, harrowing one, and one thing that stuck with me from it was the role talk radio played in stoking violence and encouraging people to turn on their neighbors.

This is a transcript from one of those stations, assuring its listeners that no matter what they see and hear on other channels, THIS is the real story:

.. When talking, we should be aware that we are talking to other people, and to intelligent people. Because what will cause harm to the Rwandans, what will harm the politics of this country is that a person thinks that he is the only one who can play politics, he thinks that he is the only one who can speak, he thinks that he is the only one who holds the truth, that members of other political parties are not intelligent, that they are stupid, that they do not understand, that he should con them because he has the opportunity to talk, that he should say whatever he wants… Here, on RTLM, on your independent radio, we will hOt stand that. You will tell lies people, and we will tell them the truth.”

Does that sound familiar to you? It should: 

  • In a fearmongering, over-the-top opening monologue, Fox Business host Trish Regan claimed coronavirus is “yet another attempt to impeach the president” as “the chorus of hate being leveled at the president is nearing a crescendo.”

  • Fox Business host Lou Dobbs reported that coronavirus “has now infected 113,000 people … in 111 countries and territories around the world” and, in nearly the same breath, claimed that “the national left-wing media [are] playing up fears of the coronavirus.”

  • On Lou Dobbs TonightSiegel dismissed the World Health Organization as “overly political” and “incompetent,” arguing that coronavirus is being politicized to attack Trump.

We’re not yet at the stage where Fox is advocating that Trump nuke Wuhan but their listeners are already there and have been for a week or so. We’ve been talking since mid-2016 about how this stuff doesn’t start with the ovens. It starts with people whispering that there’s a secret only the worthy know, and Rush and his imitators have been saying that shit since the moment they went on the air.

A sane country would have shut down any broadcast knowingly disseminating false information in the name of public safety. This whole country is a crowded theater and they’re screaming fire.

BUH BUH BUH says you, a person who thinks reality is a simulation, BUH WHO DECIDES WHAT IS FALSE? Isn’t this always the pretext governments use to shut down dissent, that it’s unsafe? Well, this isn’t “dissent.” What Fox is doing is not opining on how the president should handle the crisis. They’re saying there IS NO CRISIS and then telling people to go out and make the nonexistent crisis worse.

There aren’t any equivalents to this. This isn’t a free speech issue. This isn’t an issue of civil rights. Before you throw internet conspiracies on the left in my face, consider the difference between six people on a blog saying “something seems dodgy here” and a NATIONAL BROADCAST NETWORK THAT’S ON EVERY TV IN THE AIRPORT, from which everyone takes their cues including THE PRESIDENT.

GO TO A RESTAURANT THE GUBMINT CAN’T CONTROL YOU, says the government, and had we the Republican party of even 20 years ago, much less the glory days, we’d have at least one or two people on ACTUAL BOTH SIDES saying look, this is insane, but no, the entire Senate and GOP House contingent has to take their cues from these people. Mike DeWine is a cock, okay, but I give him credit for acting like he’s in charge of people’s safety, unlike most of his colleagues. Look at this fucking prick. Great job, Kansas Republicans.

Lots and lots of people are going to get sick and die in the coming weeks. Fox News is encouraging this, if not actually making it happen. Once it does, and/or there’s violence or looting or reasonable responses like, say, a bunch of people getting really pissed and throwing things, then it will be time for law and order and suppressing the unruly masses, none of which, conveniently, will be white.

But god forbid someone suggest you forgo green beer and Buffalo Wild Wings and stop pouring hate into your ears like poison. I’ve read way too much about how this ends.

A.

Not Everything Sucks

It’s easy to imagine that in places where life is already hard, our current circumstances would make life harder. And they have, and they’ve made people braver, as well: 

Before long, word of the project had spread, and about two dozen people came together to help, working 13-hour days to turn the abandoned house into a welcoming checkpoint. “The house was full of 3-4 feet of snow,” said Bekoalok, who has limited mobility and volunteered from home as a coordinator. “They had to shovel the house out, and they put Visqueen on the windows, so that light comes in but the cold doesn’t.”

People donated hot plates, a generator, lights and a wood stove. They drilled a hole in the river for water, chopped firewood so that mushers would have a ready supply, and hung up a banner to welcome them. They put encouraging signs along the trail to tell teams they were almost there. “We had our youngest elders to babies hauling wood and water,” said Sookiayak, estimating that the youngest helpers were 4 years old.

A.

Laborare Est Orare, Motherfuckers

This National Day of Prayer.

I just.

You want to pray? Give money to a food pantry.

You want to pray? Call your parents, your siblings, anyone you’re lucky enough to love.

You want to pray? Put a note on your window, as one of my neighbors did yesterday, with your phone number: LOW RISK PERSON WILLING TO PICK UP MEDICINE OR GROCERIES, PLEASE TEXT.

You want to pray? Vote early or by mail.

You want to pray? My church cancelled communion LAST WEEK. They cancelled mass on Wednesday. That was prayer.

You want to pray? Drive someone to work so they don’t have to take the bus or the train. Drive yourself to work so you’re not on the bus or the train.

You want to pray? Give your fucking employees as many days off as you can. Bow your fucking head that way, you fucking fucks. God, I am so angry at everybody who’s got to barista right now. I am so angry on behalf of the gas station attendants whose workplaces never close, never ever, no matter what.

I am so fucking angry at everybody who wants to tongue-fondle Jesus on TV but won’t lift a finger to pay for free testing, and that includes politicians and the pastors who support them and the voters who fall in line while their parents and grandparents get sick. Joel Fucking Osteen could take what he spends on lunch and test everyone in this country. Jeff Bezos could do that AND pay everybody’s sick leave. But Our Father, Who Art in Heaven, amirite?

Our Father says Get Off Your Ass and bake a pie or something, in His holy name. This is such crap. Yes, in absence of everything else useful send some good thoughts skyward but there is so much to do and no one in any position of power deserves to be kneeling right now unless it’s to tie someone else’s shoes.

A.

 

First Draft Community Help Thread

On my way to work this morning I got on my usual bus, which was carrying its customary assortment of metropolitan itinerants in varying stages of consciousness and togetherness. At the next stop a young woman got on with a baby, maybe a little less than a year, and sat down, baby on lap. It was 8 a.m. and she had a look I’ve seen so many times in the mirror since I became a parent: The day has barely started and I am already so completely done.

The baby gummed fingers and pacifier and waved tiny hands in the air, and the homeless fellow across the bus took notice. Started talking to the baby. Leaning into the baby’s face, making silly noises, praising the baby. “Ooh, you’re a beauty. So pretty, so pretty!” The baby babbled happily back, and he started singing. The mother leaned back, head against the window, and closed her eyes. A moment’s peace. We can give that to each other.

Lots of us are going to be worn out by this, and not just emotionally, not just mentally. Lots of us are going to be, or already are, on the edge financially. On unpaid leave from jobs we can’t afford to stay away from, laid off because a conference or festival or expected customer doesn’t appear. I’d like to give us this thread as a way to help.

Are you in need? Can you help someone who is? Can we talk to each other, here, reply to a comment, post someone’s Venmo or CashApp or Paypal from another site, draw attention to a GoFundMe, ask if anyone knows anyone at such-and-such to help smooth the way?

Post it below. Don’t worry about asking, or if you can’t reply, but I thought it might be useful, while we’re all on this bus together, to offer a few words of encouragement to each other and maybe sing a song.

Bickering

I know, it’s Politico, I’m better off reading the inside of the wrapper of the “health” food bar I just ate for information on how stuff works:

Bickering. Or, as we call it in the world where we don’t pretend to be dumber than we are for hate-clicks, FIGURING OUT THE BEST WAY TO DO THIS. These solipsistic fucksticks know this, they know that what they call “bickering” is actually WORK in the sense that ideally politicians would bitch each other out and then compromise and get down to work but it’s hard to compromise when one side is like “but make the tests free tho” and the other side is all “THE PLAGUE IS GOOD AND WE SHOULD EAT IT ON TOAST.”

I don’t know why I expect the discourse about actual real things to be better than the stuff about elections. Smart people who should know better are posting things like, “Why won’t the Democrats propose paid sick leave and cheap/free health care” as if that’s not THE GODDAMN PARTY PLATFORM, basically. Democratic politicians have been proposing that for years and if you don’t HEAR about it maybe the problem isn’t the words they’re making with their mouth-holes. Maybe the problem is they can’t get coverage for anything that isn’t the T-word.

Again, forever, let’s spend all our time crabbing at the only people with a plan and hashtagging #WhereIsTheHouse, Nancy Pelosi’s at your mom’s, okay. And she’s busy.

Fucking hell, no matter what they do this is the message: Republicans are bad, Democrats are bad and also dumb about how they’re being bad, the two sides “bicker,” let’s infantilize grown adults and make everybody throw their hands up and say “who can change anything.”

Fucking schmucks.

A.

Not Everything Sucks

Quince Mountain is in the Idtitarod: 

In dog mushing — a sport where both humans and dogs compete regardless of gender — Mountain, 40, has found a welcoming community. It’s a privilege few trans athletes get to experience, he acknowledged, and one the musher has rarely encountered himself. Gender always posed problems for the athlete, who was assigned female at birth but described himself as a gender-nonconforming kid throughout his youth. He remembered trying out for the softball team at his Wisconsin high school. Despite being faster and more aggressive than many of the girls, he said he didn’t make the cut.

“I don’t know what it was, but I had a lot of trouble taking part in girls’ sports,” Mountain said. “I was often told that I was too aggressive, that I didn’t fit in with the team, wasn’t good for the cohesion of the team, that kind of thing.”

As an adult, Mountain found support in the small community of dog mushing. His fans, the “Ugly Dogs,” a group of mushing enthusiasts who follow him and his wife, fellow musher Blair Braverman, on social media, raised $57,000 for him to compete in the Iditarod and qualifying races. Whenever he’s feeling down or discouraged, he said he can turn to the Ugly Dogs for support.

My family used to vacation near Mountain, where BraverMountain Mushing is located, and it’s … people don’t believe me when I tell them suburban Wisconsin is far more Trumpist than the rural areas are. But out in the wild nobody cares about anything except what you can do, and everybody helps everybody else because everybody will need help at some point because that’s how it is.

I don’t know shit about shit when it comes to dogs, or sports, or outdoor anything (my idea of roughing it is a hotel without a pool) but I’m a sucker for good stories about unlikely victories in the face of impossible odds. I started reading Blair Braverman’s work last year, before her first Iditarod, and that’s how we all wound up mailing LEGOs to Alaska.

Follow Quince’s progress via the #Qditarod tag here.

A.

Please Stop

I know “please everyone quit bitching on the internet” is like the least likely thing to actually happen but I figured I would try to talk about how awful we are all being about our preferred primary candidates right now.

Yes, all of us. Bernie Brothers. Even the Biden Bros. Maybe especially you three weirdos stanning Tulsi, whatever you’re about. What is the appeal?

I just log on every day and it’s “Biden is basically Trump” and “Bernie will never get anything done” and meanwhile the Republicans are over there debating how many people they can put on death-ships to offshore them so that the coronavirus numbers go down.

(Why are they even worried about that, honestly? We’ve been in a post-consequences-for-the-GOP world since approximately 1980 and 2016 made it clear that public opinion don’t matter for shit if Mitch ain’t moving. Stop acting like THIS ONE is gonna be THE THING that brings them down.

Nothing will bring them down but retaking the Senate so decisively that the five conservative Democrats who are always a pain in our asses don’t matter anymore, we get 75 Dems in there or nothing changes.)

We are spending all our time talking about how the Democratic Party is dumb and bad and rigged and conservative and can’t do anything right and I’m just … Can we please, while we are debating the best way to solve systemic racism and extreme income inequality, at least TRY to remember the GOP is fighting over who gets to hold the fire hoses and unleash the K-9s?

Maybe I just follow the wrong people but lately it’s just nonstop THIS IS WHY DEMOCRATS SUCK ASS every time crazy old Joey B. Shark eats his own kicks and I feel like REPUBLICANS HAVE GIVEN THEMSELVES OVER TO FASCISM BECAUSE THEY HAD TO LISTEN TO A BLACK MAN FOR 8 YEARS is getting lost here.

Can we direct some of the vitriol we’re pouring into our own coffees every morning into whatever human-based sludge McConnell has his leather slaves pump into him to keep him alive? Donate to Amy McGrath and THEN get on The Internet Dot Com to write a long post about how Kamala is a cop and Hillary should go away. Fucking Jesus, all I want to hear from now until the end of time is FUCK DONALD TRUMP, let this be our national anthem:

And I get that “Trump is bad” isn’t a platform or an argument except … kind of, it is? When nothing else gets through, when you can’t get coverage for anything that doesn’t have the T-word in it, when you pass hundreds of bills doing good things for America and YOUR OWN SUPPORTERS still bitch you out for not having a message or a plan and cable news idiots blame “gridlock in Congress,” you tell me how we should be spending our time.

I’m on record numerous times as saying I will vote for Bernie or Biden and likely in the IL primary Imma throw down for our first Jewish president because fuck health insurance, but if it’s Joe then it’s Joe because I don’t make these decisions by myself. If I did I’d be working at the President John F.President of You Kerry Presidential Center for Studying the Bizarre Hotness of Tall War Veterans or some shit.

We heard this shit with Kerry, too, so we all whined our way to another loss and then blamed him as if he personally suppressed votes in Ohio and then wiped his ass with the rule of law. We heard this shit with Hillary, as if she was responsible for not tickling your prostate just right when the future of America was on the line. When we have a nominee, I don’t want to fucking hear it anymore. I don’t want to hear it now. Pull your shit together, people. Joey Biden is going to have someone properly run the CDC. Bernard Sanders will take Stephen Miller out back and make him dig his own hole. Jesus, even Tulsi would protect reproductive rights.

Can we give our people a little credit, here?

A.

Don’t Talk to Me About Fake News

Until you address this kind of crap, published on the notoriously dodgy internet website known as CFUCKINGNN: 

5W Public Relations said that 38% of Americans wouldn’t buy Corona “under any circumstances” because of the outbreak, and another 14% said they wouldn’t order a Corona in public. The survey encompasses polling from 737 beer drinkers in the United States.
In another survey conducted by YouGov, the firm found consumers’ intent to purchase Corona fell to its lowest level in two years. The survey also showed that Corona’s buzz score, a metric that that measures favorability, has dropped significantly since the beginning of the year.
Constellation’s Newlands said those reports do not reflect the company’s business performance, calling the “misinformation” about the virus’ impact on Corona’s business “extremely unfortunate.”
Online searches for “corona beer virus” spiked in early February, but have since declined.

Jesus Christ. After days of debunking, at least they fixed the headline, which spread across social last week lookin’ like this:

This kind of thing is horseshit and it’s a type of horseshit designed to appeal to people like me. College educated, middle class, no meteoric anything or other but probably not as dumb as the average bear. I’m deeply insecure because I know enough to know I’m not a supergenius, but look at all these idiots, who think Corona beer gives you coronavirus! HAR DEE HAR HAR.

This got shared all over amongst my fellow Xers with “we are a stupid country” and “this is how Trump got elected” and “man, people are dumb” and that the entire thing was designed for self-congratulatory shame-forwarding apparently didn’t ping anybody’s radar at all. That’s how canny it was: clickbait for people who are kinda smart. Like that Honey Boo Boo show or the Bachelor. Here’s a bunch of people to point and laugh at, you’re definitely not them!

And all of that is beside the point which is that we can have all the ethics panels we want about fighting “fake news” and teaching “media literacy” to children. As long as the ACTUAL NON-FAKE MEDIA have so little pride that they’re posting dubiously sourced press releases for traffic, nobody really has a keg to stand on here.

A.

We May Just Possibly Have to Get Over Ourselves

No, I am not writing about the Chapo thing, because it’s the usual “NYT anthropological expedition into a thing we know not of, for we are above the fray” bullshit but this is only going to get louder: 

This time around, the Bernie Bro charge is different. It’s widely known that Sanders supporters are extremely diverse in terms of gender and race and class, and the notion that only those “privileged” can afford to adopt a more radical worldview has been revealed to be absurd, as it always was. The second prong of the archetype has manifested again, though, but in a different form. Now the claim is that Sanders supporters online are disproportionately likely to be cruel and obnoxious, or bully and harass people.

Unfortunately I think this claim has some legitimacy. And I think that the many Sanders supporters online who are going to lengths to rationalize or defend the adversarial style are too plugged in to the incentives of social media popularity contests and out of touch with what it will take to win an election and build a sustainable leftist movement.

AND OH MY GOD, GET PAST IT.

I see a LOT of people out here going “vote blue no matter who” for assholes like Bloomberg but then appending “Bernie isn’t really a Democrat” or some shit, like that matters when literally the other candidate is Trump.

I am not a Bernie stan. But goddamn I will get there with a quickness if he’s the nominee. This is true of Joey B Shark and all the others, my preference for Warren notwithstanding. I will quit my job and follow Bernard around in a panel van. There are things about him that are cool as hell and I don’t care that his supporters are loud assholes. Come on, that’s not a reason to do or not do anything.

Because the other candidate is Trump and his merry band of blithering fucksticks.

I don’t care where on the doll Bernie touched you in 2016. I don’t care how unsuitable you think he is. If he’s ours, he’s ours. Jesus H. Tits, we can’t DO this again. I said this last week and I’ll keep saying it until the convention if I have to. We’re in the middle of a global pandemic; do you really think the Sanders Administration would hold a prayer meeting to deal with this? The difference between parties MATTERS.

Do you really think the Sanders Administration would appoint the cabinet we have now? This is important. Who someone brings with them is important. Had Trump surrounded himself with COMPETENT minions of Satan, we’d be having a lot fewer conversations about how we were all gonna die.

(Nothing matters if we don’t take back the Senate, so fuck you very much, Mikey B and Tom Steyer, for wasting all your money on your vanity candidacies, that’s the one internet bitch-fight I’m definitely picking a side in.)

You know what’s going to “destroy the left?” Losing to Trump. Losing to Trump and Mitch and another four years of these assholes. It’s going to destroy the left, the center, for what it’s worth the right, and seven people are going to get rich while lots more of us die. THAT is the destruction we have to be afraid of, not dudes being pricks on the internet.

I fully expect everyone to be on board with our future first Socialist Jewish President by the end of the summer if that’s the way the chips fall.

Because the other candidate is Trump.

A.

Then It Comes, and Are You Ready

Because of some real-life stuff happening, ie real life is happening all the time right now and I’m doing my best with it, I can’t commit to weekly threads about this show but YOU SHOULD ALL BE WATCHING PICARD: 

What I loved about Picard’s immediate embrace of Dahj was that it speaks to everything Picard was in the television show: a generous soul with a sixth sense for when someone is telling the truth, no matter how outlandish. And after his trip to Starfleet archives, he very tenderly tells Dahj the truth: She isn’t human. Picard’s archival materials are a treasure trove for Trekkies: the Captain Picard Day sign and the model of the Stargazer, for starters.

To Picard, Dahj is every bit as deserving of empathy as Data was.

“If you are who I think you are, you are dear to me in ways that you can’t understand,” Picard tells her. “I will never leave you.”

I grew up on Next Gen but even before that I had an Authority Thing and an Older Man Thing and a Mentor/Student Thing and so Captain Picard pushed all the buttons. Teenage me would have thrown myself at him while he chivalrously drove me home and told me to concentrate on my homework. (Part of the appeal of crushes like that is that you know they would never.)

And you have to remember there was nothing GOOD on TV back then. Watch the Drumhead episode, the Borg storyline, the “Family” ep I still can’t re-watch without being completely destroyed, and yes, right now AMC and HBO give us that kind of depth and character development and goddamn Shakespearean glory every single week but back then? Imagine seeing this when all you’d seen was Growing Pains:

There was nothing like that, holy shit. The language blew my tiny baby-writer mind. My body was ready for Star Trek: Picard, is what I’m saying, and I still wasn’t ready.

HERE BE SPOILERS FOR EVERYTHING UP TO TOMORROW.

Continue reading

Stooooooooooop

I WENT TO THIS PANEL IN 2009 AND IT SUCKED THEN TOO.

There is a coordinated campaign to get people to distrust the press, it is being run by one political party for that party’s supporters’ express financial benefit through one major cable news network, this has been true for 30 years, but surely if we explain ourselves just ONE MORE TIME, people will love us again!

Jesus H. Christ with a side of sweet potato fries, I’m exhausted. For 30-plus years, Fox News has been blaring from every airport gate in every city in this country and a few overseas that every other news source is liberally biased and only THEY report and we decide. Only THEY are unbiased. Only THEY will tell you the truth. And you know what, for the critical 35 or so percent of the country that the GOP needs to stay in gerrymandered and destructive power, it’s fucking WORKED.

In the face of that assault, we have the journalism establishment, dithering at 8-foot tables about how maybe readers just don’t understand, maybe they just independently came to these conclusions:

media trust graph

What happened between 1989 and 1996, remind me, I forget, was it this?

Or this? 

But sure, let’s keep talking about this stuff like it’s the weather, like it just HAPPENED.

Maybe if we sincerely correct people angry at us, with the best of intentions, and show them how pure our hearts are OH FOR THE LOVE OF FUCK. I’m not excusing anyone ELSE’S malpractice (looking at you, CNN). I’m certainly not letting corporate consolidation and frantic flailing at every single industry trend in an effort to keep making enough money to hide the sexual harassment lawsuit payouts off the hook.

What I take issue with is the idea that there’s some kind of genuine ignorance, some kind of benign disconnect that can be remedied by yet another explanation of who we are why what we do matters.

We’re having a lot of dumb conversations with the Institute for Being Stuck Up Our Own Asses about What The Future Holds and Our Existential Threat and until we deal with the literal Fox in our henhouse those overall numbers of how many people loathe us are not going to get better or change.

We have spent eons justifying our existence. We have spent EPOCHS explaining why we do what we do. And not for nothing but we have spent 30 years being friendly with people who hate us. We have spent 30 years pretending they’re just joking, pretending their inflated sales numbers mean we have to pay attention to what they say, and in response we got “Rope, Tree, Journalist” and “peanuts for the animals” and “fake news.”

WHILE we were doing this we set generational brand loyalty on fire by systematically divesting from communities we’d covered for decades, where trust had been built and at least if people thought we were fuckers we were their fuckers, you know?

So now we come at them with the idea that somehow they don’t understand? They understand just fine. One “news” organization is coming at them from every television in every waiting room in every tire shop in the country, coming at them telling them things are life and death and WE ARE ALL THAT IS STANDING BETWEEN YOU AND DESTRUCTION. One network is relentlessly pushing itself in their faces with, where not outright fascism, authoritarian visions of the world around them which are basically heroin.

And in response we’re gonna plead poverty, beg them to subscribe, and EXPLAIN OURSELVES?

No. No way.

To its credit, the journalism summit referenced in the tweet that set me off down this YOU HAVE TO BE FUCKING KIDDING ME path did include people doing the very hard work of building something from scratch to address potential news consumers who nobody has ever given a single fuck about, which is why this is the only way forward.

That’s a start. The whole other part of this includes a series of very well-catered events (since that’s apparently where most of our Big Thinking About Journalism happens) detailing once and for all who is Journalism’s Friend. And how to respond to the people who aren’t, who have never been, and how it doesn’t matter if they’re nice to you at parties, if they go on the air the next day and call you biased liars.

Also, knock this the fucking fuck off:

Jesus.

A.

Finally, We Are Talking About Money for Journalism

I have been screaming about this since I last worked in newspapers, and lest you think that’s me exaggerating, here’s 200FUCKING6.

It wasn’t the internet. It never was the internet. All the internet did is make it impossible to hide the stupidity and greed anymore. Back when papers were drowning in money they could spend it on dumb shit and pay off sexual harassers and hand out consultant contracts to their idiot buddies and nobody would even notice. Now, well, the margins are still good but they’re not THAT good.

Look at those margins, though. THIRTY PERCENT. Do you know what most phenomenally successful businesses make most years? A ten percent margin is considered good, and that’s by the soulless standards of American finance. These guys are swimming in it like Scrooge McDuck and they’ve got their reporters out here telling readers if they don’t subscribe everyone will die of starvation and it’s infuriating to the exact degree that it’s unnecessary.

A.

Human Trafficking Panics

I’ve been seeing this make the rounds of the mommy Facebookers and thinking it sounded bullshit: 

Among both children and adults, there is little evidence that human trafficking is a widespread phenomenon in need of universal public awareness. In 2018, the National Human Trafficking Hotline received 10,949 reports of human trafficking, but these figures are based exclusively on anonymous calls and are not verified in any way. The hotline’s director, Caroline Diemar, said that many calls are simply vague suspicions — there’s a massage parlor on my street; I saw a suspicious family at the mall — that may reflect public anxiety about trafficking rather than trafficking itself.

Law enforcement figures are even smaller. Despite a yearslong, high-profile, government-wide campaign against human trafficking, the Department of Homeland Security identified just 428 victims nationwide last year, and the FBI made fewer than 650 arrests for trafficking in 2018.

The mismatch between the small number of confirmed cases and the large estimates that appear in anti-trafficking publicity campaigns (the U.S. Institute Against Human Trafficking, for example, says America has “potentially over a million” victims of sex trafficking) can’t be reconciled as underreporting. Other crimes for which victims are reluctant to come forward, including sexual assault and domestic violence, produce more confirmed cases each year.

I mean, if we are truly afraid for our children, we should be blanketing the airports and neighborhood baby-toy-swap groups with posters about the dangers of gun violence but that would make the NRA have a sad, so instead we have PREDATORS ARE SEXNAPPING YOUR CHILDREN!

(They are, but not the “your” usually implied in mainstream press coverage. Or the “they” for that matter.)

I don’t know what it is about this kind of thing that makes people WANT to freak out about their Suburban White Daughters. Like they look for a reason to freak even when you tell them this isn’t a thing you have to worry about.

Yikes! It’s a battle field out there. Predators every where.

I would be overjoyed this was a thing I could safely consign to the realm of Liam Neeson films. I spend all day every day worrying about my kid. It is all I think about. Right now she is in a top-rated public school with reasonable amounts of security with teachers she adores five blocks from home along a route she probably, in extremity, could travel by herself from memory. Mr. A works from home and can be there in 30 seconds. She knows my phone number. She knows our address. She has no known food allergies and she’s never shown any interest in chemicals or sharp knives and she’s smart enough to know to ask an adult before doing something that seems dodgy. She is as safe as it is possible to be as a middle class child in America.

And every single day I am barraged with thoughts of car accidents and sudden brain tumors and wandering off into a drainage ditch. I breathe a sigh of relief every time she wakes up in the morning. When I am away from her, as I have been every working day since she was 8 weeks old, all I can think of is the moment I can wrap all four of my limbs around her body and clutch her head to my neck.

So if you present me with evidence that one source of my anxiety (I am dealing with it, don’t comment that this is unhealthy, I KNOW IT IS) doesn’t exist, dear God, I’m not gonna yell at you.

Keeping myself paralyzed over the idea that this MIGHT happen to MY CHILD is just preventing me from doing something about what is actually happening to the children it’s actually happening to. Who also deserve someone to wrap themselves around them in protection.

A.

Your Mike B Feelings, Internet

All right, look.

Bloomberg, a rich racist asshole, would obviously be terrible.

Everyone is still mad at Bernie from 2016 and other stuff, he is 467 years old and a second heart attack waiting to happen.

Pete is … who the fuck is Pete, fuck Pete. Fuck South Bend and Notre Dame and every Republican in Indiana.

And yet.

Any of the three of them, and a sentient bag of dogshit besides, would likely sacrifice fewer of our children on the altars of endless gun violence, war with Iran, asylum and immigration bans, and cuts to food stamps.

Which is really what this is about. Every candidate on our side is going to be a dirtball in some massive way. Two weeks ago I’d resigned myself sincerely to Democratic nominee Joe Biden and was talking myself into him. I can do the same with Bloomberg and Pete and Bernie.

(Liz, obviously, is my first choice.)

I can talk myself into Tom Steyer or, who’s the other people, whoever, given enough time and *gestures vaguely at everything.*

Bernie’s campaign seems to be having lots of fun online and he’s gonna do his best to not have everybody die of medical bankruptcy. These things MATTER. The party platform matters. The aims of the campaigns matter. It is still being framed as who you’d have a beer with, now, in the year of Our Lord Blue Ivy 2020. As if people don’t depend on politics to live.

We’re still on national news on winners and losers and who’s up and who’s down and talking about strategy is so much easier than talking about dead kids. That’s what politics is: how do you want your kids to die? Of old age, warm and safe in their homes? Or on the street, in school, on a battlefield, too young to have ever even known love?

That’s the decision you’re making, every time you go and vote, and it infuriates me to no end that one party can have an endless debate over how to actually keep your living children that way while the other one is over there debating shot versus starved versus preventable disease in terms of cost-efficiency and pleasingness to Prosperity Jesus.

And we talk about a Bloomberg vs. Trump contest as if it would be “two billionaires.” First of all, as Mikey B has himself pointed out, Trump ain’t. Second, WHICH BILLIONAIRE STILL FUCKING MATTERS. We had a two-billionaires fight in Illinois recently and one of them shut down the government for three years out of spite and the other one not only runs things fairly decently, he gave us legal weed. They were not the same, and neither are Bloomberg and Trump.

I don’t love that the only voices at the top of our politics are rich ones, but that being unlikely to change in the next SIX GODDAMN MONTHS, can we please at least acknowledge that some rich people are going to be worse for the general public than others?

There’s so much to bitch about when it comes to the actual candidates. There are differences that actually matter. “Bernie’s supporters are rude online and so he’s JUST LIKE TRUMP” is not an argument and neither is “Bloomberg is rich and so is Trump and that just proves that EVERYTHING IS GARBAGE.”

(I got nothin’, with regard to Pete, I don’t understand the appeal of that weird little squirrel at all, but still: not like Trump in any way.)

This election, like all elections, is about who is going to give you a better life. It’s easy for me, the white mother of a white kid, to say Bloomberg wouldn’t be terrible for me. It’s easy for me, done having children, to discount someone’s squishiness on reproductive rights, and it’s easy for me, middle-class who went to college before that required crushing debt, to say that for shit’s sake at least a couple of the candidates have A Plan if not All The Plans.

But. We have the choices we have, and we’re gonna make the choice we make, and when we have to, whoever it is, even if it’s fuckin’ Pete, none of them will be anything like Trump. I’ve been hearing about refusing to choose the lesser evil my whole life and guess what, we tried the thing where we chose the greater one.

How’s that working out for us?

A.

Normal Shit

I seriously do not know what, even: 

Jacobson knows many people, including some of her relatives, scoff at QAnon.

“You really can’t argue with them,” she said.

Jacobson celebrated with her new friend, Chrisy, when the doors to the downtown arena opened.

“All these people believe me! I’m not crazy here!” Chrisy shouted.

Hours later, during Trump’s speech, Chrisy’s husband, Paul, grinned when the president said “the whole world is watching” what’s happening with protesters in Iran.

“That’s a Q reference,” Paul said, noting the phrase “the world is watching” has appeared several times in Q drops.

The May 30 bulletin sent by the FBI’s Phoenix field office warned of conspiracy theories inspiring violence by groups and “individual extremists,” according to an October court filing for a QAnon-related criminal investigation in Colorado. Police in the Denver suburb of Parker said Cynthia Abcug was accused of conspiring with QAnon supporters to kidnap her son from foster care. Abcug was arrested in Montana on Dec. 30 and awaits extradition to Colorado.

Internet-fueled conspiracies already have been linked to acts of real-world violence. A man charged with killing the reputed boss of the Gambino crime family last March showed off a QAnon symbol scrawled on his left hand during a court appearance. In 2017, a North Carolina man was sentenced to prison for firing a rifle in a Washington, D.C., pizza restaurant at the center of the debunked “Pizzagate” conspiracy theory that high-profile Democrats run a child sex trafficking ring out of the restaurant’s (nonexistent) basement.

Pizzagate and other far-right conspiracy theories have faded, but experts see no end in sight to QAnon’s popularity.

Once upon a time I would refer the 10 percent of them who are violent to law enforcement and give the other 90 percent a new job or rewarding hobby, which is what this is really all about anyway.

Now, though? I read this story this past summer and haven’t been able to stop thinking about it: 

Our home became a very hostile environment. I was a robot to him; I was ‘brainwashed.’ There were days that I was going to work and he would call and scream at me to try to make me come home because I was going to go out and get gang-raped or martial law was going to break out. At home, he would follow me around with a phone trying to get me to watch these YouTube videos so I could ‘see.’ I was scared to death because his whole personality changed.

The conspiracy theorists we’ve always had with us, and yes, I know, both sides, the CIA had Kennedy whacked, I get it. But it’s the elevation of it to the podium, the wink-and-nod because Trump’s a salesman, he’s always been a salesman, and this line sells. That’s what’s become dangerous.

I don’t know what we do with these people if he loses. For that matter I don’t know what we do with them if he wins. He’s winning right now, and they are roided up and ready to go, anytime anywhere. I have yet to hear a plan for dealing with the people he’s whipped up into his private militia that doesn’t involve bullshit bravado about I WILL NOT COWER IN THE FACE OF TRUMP SUPPORTERS, which, asshole, ain’t nobody telling you to cower. I’m asking you to THINK.

Think about how you can make your community, your family, your town, this whole fucking country safe for the people most likely to be attacked (hint: that ain’t you, Internet WhiteBoy) in the event he shrugs his shoulders the right way and these people take that as a command to go to war.

A.

Tuesday Catblogging

Whatever is going to happen in New Hampshire tonight, Slade and Ada would like you to know that as long as their food bowls are full and their litterboxes pristine, they don’t give even a single fuck.

two cats chair

A.