Monday, October 31, 2016

Magic at the drive-in

Rick was a misfit at school.

He was pretty nerdy, it is true, but there were other nerds and they had friendships. There were definite social circles in the school, but things were fairly friendly between them. Rick could have made friends, but was hampered by his overwhelming sense of utter superiority. It made it hard for him to enjoy other people, and for them to enjoy him.

Rick could have gotten involved with computers or chess or something with a club; that could have led to more socializing and even a potential career path, but that never happened. Instead he got into the occult. With the right coven, even the occult can be somewhat social, but in his case it wasn't.

It was the combination of Rick's superiority and his occult leanings that led Rick to the drive-in that night.

He had been having some minor success with divination and enchantment, but he wanted to do something bigger. The more he thought about it, the more he wanted to create some mayhem. Not liking people may have increased his tendency toward the destructive, but also many of the source books he had been reading were relatively malevolent.

Orson Welles was an influence too. Rick knew the legends of the 1938 War of the Worlds broadcast, and mass hysteria seemed appropriately big. That would make people take notice.

That also gave him the idea to capitalize on some kind of entertainment. An audience is already voluntarily submitting to the power of suggestion. If you could manipulate the suggestion - and exploit it - that should increase the impact.

It was October, and nearing Halloween. The drive-in theater was a popular hangout on weekends anyway, but this weekend there would be a horror movie featuring famous monsters. There wasn't an exact spell for what he had in mind, but there were enough similar ones that Rick believed he could adapt and create a ritual to make the horror real. That would do it. That would make for a night that everyone would remember.

Rick was off to a great start. It was a crisp fall night with a glorious moon. The football team had won their game the night before, so no one was moping or grounded. A night when everyone was free and wanted to be outdoors would really pack them in.

Rick arrived before the gates opened. There was some shrubbery along the back that provided him with ingress and shelter, and being in the back would give him an excellent view.

Obviously he needed to wait until the sun was down for maximum effect, and the movie should be well underway. It had to be after the dramatic tension was established and before it started to dissipate. Without having seen the movie before Rick had to guess, but really, it all seemed to work out. There they were on the screen: Dracula, Frankenstein's Monster, and the Wolfman. Then there they were off the screen.

It had worked; now it was time for mayhem.

Dracula's main waking sensation was thirst, and he just happened to be situated near a car containing Jane Thompson.

Jane was an unusually tall girl. It was not currently fashionable to be quite that elongated, and she often felt awkward about it. Jane had never fully realized the elegance of her swan-like neck, but Dracula appreciated it right away.

Brett Cummings, the tallest member of the basketball team, had asked Jane out, and he was enjoying the height similarity. However, his metabolism was much faster, and this was already his second trip to the snack bar. That left Jane alone in Brett's convertible, convenient for the Count, but less so for Jane.

Dracula approached the car silently, stealthily. The maiden was completely unaware of his presence as he closed in on her, leering over her.

Rick never had time to understand the key shortcomings of his plan. The Frankenstein's Monster he'd conjured up was very literary, and thus obsessed with punishing his creator. Somehow he understood that in this case the responsible one was Rick, and not Dr. Frankenstein, but he still had all the resentment that he would have had against Dr. Frankenstein. The creature made a beeline for Rick, who got out a short scream just before the throttling began.

The Wolfman wasn't literary at all, but drawing from his movie roots he was tortured by his affliction. Seeing the full moon and finding himself once again clawed and fanged and hairy, he let out a howl of despair.

When Rick screamed, some heard it, but they were watching a scary movie and there had been little screams and gasps all along, so no one thought too much about it.

The howl was noticed. People turned and saw a wolf man in their midst, howling impressively. That was a shock. Now there were more screams and they were louder. What was going on?

Then there was the scream to end all screams. Jane may not have noticed Dracula sneaking up on her, but when he pounced it was impossible to ignore. Jane was a soprano in the choir; compared to Jane's scream Rick's was but a whimper. Every eye turned to Brett's convertible, and Dracula, bending over Jane's neck.

If the crowd hadn't been sure what the presence of the Wolfman meant, seeing Dracula there too made it obvious: this was the best movie promotion ever!

Everyone broke into a round of thunderous applause.

Rick's spell was based on the suspension of disbelief, but also on fear. The audience did believe in what they were seeing, but they believed it was actors and effects. As much as they loved it, they weren't afraid of it.

That ruined everything.

One moment the monsters were there, and the next they weren't. No one was quite sure where the monsters had gone, but that in itself just made it more amazing. It had all been carried off so smoothly!

It was the main topic of conversation for days. They shared details of where they had been parked, and what they saw. Almost everyone had seen both the Wolfman and Dracula. Some claimed to have seen Frankenstein attacking a guy, but the guy disappeared with them so he must have been in on it.

(And without Rick there, no one pedantically asked if they didn't really mean the monster that Dr. Frankenstein created, and not Frankenstein himself.)

They tried to find out more. Teens peppered the drive-in owner, Mr. Woolner, with questions about how he did it and whom he'd hired. The more he claimed ignorance of the entire thing, the more they thought he was a genius. Eventually his protests became less earnest, and more winking. "It was exciting, wasn't it? I can't tell you anything beyond that."

They asked Jane as well, and mostly believed her when she said she hadn't been in on the plan. It made her think, though. If the guy playing Dracula had picked her to be the victim - and she had seen so many beautiful victims in the movies - maybe she didn't need to worry so much. It raised regard for her, where both people who thought she was acting and those who didn't started thinking of her as more attractive. Jane was crowned homecoming queen just three weeks later.

It was fun to talk about through Halloween, but the excitement did die down. Homecoming, Thanksgiving, and then getting into Christmas kept everyone pretty busy. Life returned to normal in the way that it always does.

But there are also always some events that mean more, and stay with you more. That night was one of them.

In the rapidly approaching future, drive-ins were going to become much less popular, and yet that one thrived. The town had a fondness for it, and kept going back long after the other local drive-ins had closed down.

The night remained a golden memory - a legend of the town. Years later people would bring it up, "Do you remember?" After enough time had passed even people who hadn't been there would remember that they had.

Rick should have been proud, if he could have known.

Friday, October 28, 2016

Band Review: Dear Boy

Dear Boy was recommended by Hunter Burgan of AFI, and he was right.

An alternative rock band from Los Angeles, their music is acoustically interesting and emotionally moving.

This is not a great analogy, but if you love the Johnny Marr aspects of The Smiths, but not so much Morrissey's melancholic pretension, you could love this band. Fans of New Order should also enjoy, though Dear Boy is more guitar-driven.

There are two problems with that preceding paragraph. One is that I don't want to spend too much time comparing them to other bands; they are themselves. (Though it does make me wonder what a Johnny Marr/Peter Hook collaboration would be like.) It also could make the band sound dated, which would not be fair.

They may pull from older traditions (there is a cover of The Psychedelic Furs' "The Ghost In You"), but they put their on stamp on it, and it's a good stamp.

Personal favorites have been "Local Roses", "Come Along", and "Oh So Quiet", but there are some cool jazzy elements on "Green Eyes" and "Funeral Waves".

Actually, just listen to all the tracks.

You should check them out.

Thursday, October 27, 2016

Band Review: Pears

Pears is a punk band from New Orleans. I put them on the review list after they were recommended by Dave Hause.

When I started listening, the first thing I noticed was how fast they were. Songs are short, quick punches, in glorious punk tradition.

As I read their biography, "fast" became a theme. They released a demo within days of forming, wrote an album in 14 hours, and recorded the album within five weeks of their formation. Even for punk, that's pretty fast. After that, learning that their version of "Judy Is A Punk" is one second shorter than the Ramones' is not surprising, though still pretty impressive.

Must-hear songs include "Snowflake" and "Green Star", but it is interesting to hear a track like "Dizzy Is Drunk" with its delicate piano and know that they can do other things. That impression is less drastic but still there on tracks like "Doorbell", where the intro could easily go with a less hardcore song, but doesn't need to. "Cloverleaf" has traces of a suburban sitcom -- it at least knows the territory -- but then it isn't.

Although Pears has their own Youtube channel, videos are also available through the channel for their label, Fat Wreck Chords.

The band is currently touring with NOFX. There are stops in the Pacific Northwest, but they are selling out fast, with Portland tickets already gone.

Wednesday, October 26, 2016

Building up

This train of thought comes from a couple of things I have seen recently.

One was this video, Martha and Sara:

It is the story of a family whose daughter was born deaf, where she would not be able to learn to speak without immediate intervention. Things I never thought about were how they had to keep refitting for hearing aids with a growing child, and even how soon you need to intervene to allow for speech. Knowing that, I was not surprised that it was expensive.

They raised an accomplished and independent daughter. Two things that helped them were the State Children's Health Insurance program and legislation that required public schools to provide resources for children with disabilities. Those were things that Hillary Clinton worked for.

I had kind of forgotten about SCHIP, but yeah, it's been in place long enough that children who have been provided for through the program are grown.

If we think about Hillary Clinton's efforts toward health care, it is easy to think of it as a failure. Congress turned it down. That must have been pretty crushing, but she kept looking for other possibilities. SCHIP is associated with Edward Kennedy and Orrin Hatch, because they sponsored it, but Clinton was a part. There was a falling out over a cigarette tax amendment and political maneuvering, but ultimately the program was created and it has done good things.

This was the other thing:

There are not a lot of financial or political rewards for focusing on children. They don't vote, and they don't have a lot of money for making donations. They have parents and you might expect the parents to care, but I know a lot of parents whose children have been insured through SCHIP that hate Hillary. The programs are valuable, but the person working for the programs may not be valued.

That is the opposite of the pure revolutionary fervor that so many people have found exciting this election cycle. It requires patience. It requires making allies, even in the face of disagreement. It requires facing failure, brushing yourself off, and trying again. Progress may not come easily, but it can last longer when done carefully.

That is the woman I'm voting for. That is why.

I'm with her.

Tuesday, October 25, 2016

Berning it down

Building on yesterday's post, it would be easy to start talking about toxic masculinity, but I think that will come later. Right now it may be more pertinent to talk about white male rage in this election. It has taken an unusually ugly form with Trump, but it is worth pointing out that it was also a key part of the Sanders campaign.

Yes, Sanders had a lot of supporters who were not white men, but there are ways in which it is relevant that I want to address.

First of all, his focus on that demographic hurt his campaign. I felt like the Black Lives Matter protest in Seattle could have been what turned things around, making his campaign more inclusive and broadening his appeal to the Obama coalition. He never did that, and that's why he lost the primary.

(That coalition is also why Trump will lose the general election, so if you are mad at them about Sanders, there should be some room for gratitude as well.)

When I last wrote about this, it seemed like part of the problem was that Sanders' brand of socialism simply wasn't capable of allowing for other factors, and that limited him. I suspect the anger itself could also have been a problem.

The anger can easily be traced back to privilege, because neither President Obama as a Black man nor Hillary Clinton as a woman can display anger freely and have it interpreted the same. That the Angry Black Woman label has been applied so frequently to warm and gracious Michelle Obama further demonstrates that point.

So building your personality around anger is a privilege, but it is also a bad strategy for being effective. Sanders has been a senator for a long time, and been known for big ideas, but even colleagues who liked him struggled to identify his achievements. Barney Frank has attributed that to Sanders waiting for the revolution: "He plants his flag and expects that someday everyone will see that he was right."

That seems very similar to the depth of Donald Trump's plans, and maybe it's why revolutions in general end up falling far from their ideals.

I remember realizing once that John McCain was a contrarian more than anything else. That meant that sometimes he said true things, but not enough to make up for a lot of the other stuff that came with it.

If you are setting yourself up as an angry revolutionary you are defining yourself by your opposition. That can lead to viewing everyone not with you as enemies. It puts you in tearing down mode. So you have Susan Sarandon lecturing Dolores Huerta (from whom Sarandon could learn a lot), and Sanders wanting Cornel West on the DNC platform committee, which was a slap in the face to Obama. It means denying the accomplishments of the current administration which has had an uphill climb but has still done a lot.

And that's one thing that I see with Trump. Everything is bad now. America is the worst. It doesn't matter that unemployment goes down and stocks go up or when troops come home - everything is bad and the worst ever. A lack of willingness to see the good around you is a thief of joy. I guess if your focus is maintaining anger, joy would be a liability.

The maintained anger makes it easy to run over other people. It becomes not just easy, but necessary to shout down anyone supporting the other side. There are people believing Trump will win because they only see his supporters, forgetting that for many people who support Clinton the price of stating it openly has become very high. So then everything is rigged, but it's only rigged because you refuse to see all of the other people who feel differently.

It bothers me greatly that there are people who talk about election rigging and they mean closed primaries instead of purges of the voting rolls. There are people who matter that you are not seeing.

It bothers me greatly that there are people saying "Can you believe these two candidates?" and they really believe that Clinton is horrible like Trump, so that even people who like Clinton a lot feel compelled to keep qualifying that she's not perfect. When has there been a perfect candidate?

I will write more about what makes Clinton a great candidate tomorrow, but let me point out now that she has the most representation in her team of any candidate. Not only are there different races, genders, and ages, but she has also made an effort to include people with disabilities. She sees people.

It makes a difference.

Related posts:

Monday, October 24, 2016

Privilege and Harrison Bergeron

We have reached the point in my blogging where I criticize beloved figures, starting with a beloved author.

I first read "Harrison Bergeron" in junior high. My first reaction was to be disturbed. Most of our class discussion focused on how even though they called Harrison a genius he seemed pretty stupid. It took me much longer to think about the fact that efforts toward equality don't really work that way.

Think about it. Even with affirmative action having been on the books for a while, a black college student has the same change of getting a job as a white high school dropout. When they do get the job, they get paid less. Their efforts to use that salary to invest in a home usually involve worse loan deals and less valuable property - even after those practices were declared illegal - so they lag behind in gaining wealth. People still feel threatened by affirmative action and get angry about it.

The common conception is that the story was a satire relating to wealth equality, and the points in the previous paragraph can apply to that. On the surface it is more about actual physical disabilities. Looking at that, steps toward equality generally involve accommodations like ramps and reserved parking spaces closer to the entrance. Maybe there are larger screens for the visually impaired. They don't remove all obstacles caused by the disabilities, but they allow participation by individuals who do have something to give. It doesn't take anything away from those without disabilities. It certainly doesn't lead to weighing down the strong and putting masks on the beautiful.

The absurdity of it could be seen as the point of satire, and you could hope that Vonnegut's point was to show how ridiculous the fears were for those who worried about talk of equality. That doesn't seem likely. In trying to see if anyone else had addressed those issues, I found this:

It relates to the story "Welcome to the Monkey House", originally published in Playboy but later in a collection (by that name) of stories that included "Harrison Bergeron". And yes, apparently the way you satirize simultaneous concerns about overpopulation and the Pope reconfirming his opposition to birth control (plus equality) is therapeutic rape, done humbly. Right.

I don't think Kurt Vonnegut was a bad man. He sounds like a pretty nice man, but he was white and he was male, and especially in the 1960s that put him in a position where there were things he just didn't need to worry about.

This is a time of finding lots of anger and fear about a change in the social order, and there are people who aren't even that high up in the social order but who still cling to it because they're afraid of being lower still.

When you're accustomed to privilege, equality feels like oppression.

I'm not saying that you can't find Black people who will argue against affirmative action or women who will shame victims of rape - they are out there. You will also find white men who look beyond that. But it's easy not to know if you don't have to know. There are still a lot of people who have to know.

I try to never forget that.

Friday, October 21, 2016

Band Review: Into the Night and Tyler Simmons

I'm combining two follows who do not provide a lot of material on their own.

First is Into the Night. I was followed by one user who had a link to a video in his profile, but now does not, perhaps having moved on. There may or may not be another member of the band who is doing more with his personal Youtube channel.

They do have a an original song, kind of hardcore but with some melodic lyricism, and the guitar is well-played, but I'm not sure there's still a band here. This may be a downside to my long lead time for reviews, though the follow happened in June, so it wasn't even the full six months.

Tyler Simmons followed me about a week after Jonathan. He has more material, but not additional original material, with all but one of the songs being covers. Being relatively young, it may make sense for Simmons to accumulate more life experience and have more things to write about.

I know the names of the other artists he covers, but only one of the songs. I think he has a good voice and sounds good, but I don't know how they compare, except for that one.

That one is a cover of "Imagine", and I hate it. It's a duet, and together they flatten the song and I'm not even really a Lennon fan.

Right now Simmons is a 16-year old Canadian actor who is not bad at guitar or singing and is pretty cute, but he is still growing into whomever he is going to be. One of the covers is a Justin Bieber song, which reminds us there is a wide range of options for how he can turn out.

Thursday, October 20, 2016

Band Review: Orisonata

Orisonata is a progressive metal project, a collaboration between Jason Lee Greenberg and his wife Jennifer Grassman, a classically trained vocalist.

Among their influences they cite many bands, but also Jules Verne and J.R.R. Tolkien. It is not surprising that the tracks on their self-titled album refer to works of fantasy ("The Once and Future King"), science-fiction ("Journey to the Center of the Earth"), religion ("The Great Baptism"), folklore ("Robin Hood") and myth ("The Muses").

Tracks are long - the shortest is 5:07 - and dramatic: big guitar, big voice, and big keyboards (another listed influence is Johann Sebastian Bach). This band is in the business of epic quests.

I do not think they are being pretentious, but I did feel it was a bit silly and overblown. I feel the same way about Trans-Siberian Orchestra, though, and they have a definite fan base. Fans of Dragonforce might also be interested.

Wednesday, October 19, 2016

The slippery slope

There are probably two points I should make about yesterday's not comfortable with racism but still passionately anti-globalist tweeter. The first is that he is in the UK. That means that he may be seeing different news coverage than we do here, and a lot of the coverage may be influenced by the lead-in and aftermath to the Brexit vote.

The other thing is that he recently made a movie that was filmed in seventeen countries by getting the help of other people. That initially sounds like someone who would be very into globalism, except I guess that they are all staying in their respective countries.

I do not automatically rule out that there can be legitimate concerns about globalization and immigration, which seems to be the bigger concern among those who mention globalization. I also cannot be blind to the history of ostracizing and blaming immigrants for things that were not their faults. It's been something that has worked very well for the rich - immigrants provide a cheap labor pool for the capitalists to exploit and a scapegoat for social problems caused by their greed. Convenient.

The scapegoating shouldn't work so easily. For example, some people raise security concerns about accepting refugees, but if you look at both the current vetting process and how many incidents that happen come from people who are already citizens, it should fall apart. That it doesn't is - I believe - a result of deeply ensconced prejudices. Often it is racism, but it could be simply Anglocentrism. That those prejudices are part of a structure that enfolds sexism and ableism is not a coincidence.

Let me jump over to two other things that I was reading last week. One was about the toll the news is taking on some survivors of harassment and assault. They see the automatic attempts to discredit the survivors' accounts, and the power structure, and it brings back the memories and the feelings of that time.

Two of the women affected by that are women that I admire a lot. They are so smart, and well-read and deep-thinking. They are hard-working and creative. They were very valuable, until they were women of color accusing a white man who was a prominent feminist of abuse. Then they were targeted and harassed and abused by a lot of people instead of just the one.

One of the recipients of the abuse posted this article:

Having read about the Black Panthers and AIM not that long ago, it resonated. In the case of one of the Black Panther examples and the RNC protester examples, what stands out is the increase in violence. The spy who is supposed to be discovering criminal activity is actually causing it. This can destroy an organization pretty effectively, hurting the image, tarnishing the message, and getting members jailed.

You don't have to be a provocateur to bring a group down. Being a misogynist in an anti-racism group can be enough. Looking down on women of color and valuing them less in a feminist group can be enough. Working for gay rights, but snubbing the members of color or lesbians or bisexuals or holding onto transphobia can be enough.

It happens all the time. I have seen volunteer organizations go through terrible rivalries and turnover, with deeply dedicated people hurt and alienated, and that was just for dog adoption. The issue was still that some people need to exert power over others. Because our society is built on a foundation where the ability to oppress and dominate is often related to race and gender and sexuality, it makes it easy to bring out the worst in us.

It should have been easy for members in the infiltrated groups to turn down the suggested violence. "No. That's not what we're about. That's not how we are doing things." But it is easy to give in to people who are taking charge, and who are higher up in the kyriarchy. In the same way, it can be very hard to challenge them when it appears they are being abusive, and support the victims. It is very easy to tell people whose needs are not being met that they have to wait because this other thing is more important. It's easy to say by going against him, you are damaging us, instead of examining the damage caused by the rotten core.

That's how we sell our souls, except, it's not a clear transaction for a lot of people. Sometimes it's just a continual numbing when you choose the path of least resistance and shun the thing that makes you feel uncomfortable. The more privilege you have, the easier it is to do.

I do not claim to have all of the answers. I do believe that if we are holding on to having superiority against one group, or blaming everything on one group, it corrupts us. It gets us into bed with vile people. You can lose your sensitivity to what is vile. It has been happening all along.

If your revolution isn't intersectional, it's crap.

Tuesday, October 18, 2016

Changing minds

Yesterday's troll has not been the only person to challenge my sisters politically, though she was certainly becoming the most prominent.

One thing we have discussed periodically is whether there is even a point in having these conversations, because no one is listening. Remember the coworker who is Christian but does not believe you have to love others? He loves discussing politics with her, except "discuss" might be an overstatement because it implies that some listening goes along with the talking.

My response would often revert to having seen two people change their minds. It's rare, and it's hard to say what makes it happen, but it is at least a possibility. I want to go over those, and then something else that recently happened.

For the first one, I don't know what happened. He had been a Sanders supporter and virulently anti-Clinton. One day he posted that he had been wrong; Clinton has been serving people all her life. He seems to be back to supporting third-party candidates now, but for a while it was really encouraging.

I know the turning point for the other, and it was something that freaked me out. It was the video contrasting two men of different races demonstrating their right to open carry an AR-15.

I was shaking mad when I saw it. It seemed like a great way to get the Black man killed, and I was so angry with whoever had decided to risk his life to prove a point. That is discounting his willing participation, and they probably thought the cameras provided a measure of security, but I felt sick. I felt sick not from what I was seeing there, but from fear because of what I already knew.

It was different for her. She had blamed many incidents before on non-compliance and attitude and reverse racism, but with that video she saw it. Not everyone did; there are people who argue about it being a holstering issue and having nothing to do with racism. For at least one person it made a difference, so you never know.

The day after the previously discussed Facebook scuffle, a mutual on Twitter posted that he didn't understand why a certain phrasing that Donald Trump had used was perceived as anti-Semitic. I knew that one, so I responded. Soon it felt like I was down the rabbit hole, because he just didn't see any evidence that Trump was racist. After all, he had an Orthodox Jewish son-in-law and had dated Black women.

Relationships don't automatically heal racism, and there is a lot of evidence for that, but I focused on some of the more obvious signs of racism, and concerns about Trump setting the stage for violence in the wake of his defeat. He knew that wouldn't be a problem, because while he had seen people against both Trump and Clinton in his Twitter feed, there were lots of pro-Trump tweets and none in favor of Clinton.

That can be an interesting commentary on how it is easy to insulate yourself from differing viewpoints, but at the same time, he follows me. I have tweeted things in favor of Clinton, and he's not seeing it. There are a lot of people with her.

That didn't feel like it was going anywhere. He did delete some of his tweets praising Trump during the conversation, so maybe there was some impact, but it was hard to tell. The next day I found an article that was really pertinent, and passed it on to him:

He promised to check it out, and that was the end of our interaction. However, the next day he tweeted that only one person had been against globalism and why did it have to be Trump? Maybe he did see something. Maybe he at least has a better understanding of why some people have concerns.

What may not be obvious from that story is that I found that interaction exhausting. Between him then and Rachel the day before, I wanted to give up all political discourse because it is not worth it. But then sometimes it might be, so I stay in there.

I do have some ideas on why the anti-globalism candidate might necessarily be the groping racist misogynist that is Trump. More on that tomorrow.

Monday, October 17, 2016


I've been fighting on the internet again..

There is a good chance this will keep up. The election is getting closer, there is a lot of bad information out there, and it's important to me; I feel a responsibility to post things. However, that's not how the first one happened.

For a while now, every political post that either of my younger sisters has posted has been attacked by their former hairdresser. They would sometimes ask me for help with rebuttals, but it would always result in more frustration. Sometimes the things she said were too poorly conceived to answer easily, but when they would do a reasonable response anyway she would shrug it off, saying she needed to get back to doing something else, and she didn't want to get unfriendly. She was already so unfriendly that it was hard to take that justification seriously.

She had been getting worse, and I was pretty fed up with her, so much so that on the day of the dust up I had posted a Facebook status about how frustrating she was. It got a lot of likes, but I didn't think that much about it. After all, I know she is not the only person like that out there, and my status also complimented my friends for not pulling that crap. Then she went after both of them again.

A picture of the president with a child (lots of good Obama/child pics out there) and a compliment to his nature drew on a scathing argument that he couldn't be a good kind person because he is pro-abortion. Then on another post she put her incorrect, poorly articulated comment followed by a "Done" so you would know that you are not supposed to answer.

I try to avoid conflict, but once I'm in, I'm in. I came out swinging, and I was pretty clear about her being stupid. The thing is, she's not intelligent, but I wouldn't have made a big deal out of that if she had not been being a jerk, which she continued.

One thing I had not been anticipating was that other friends of mine came to my defense. I don't even know how it happened, because only one of them was a mutual with my sisters and I, and I know none of them were friends with Rachel (and unlikely to become friends now). I'm sure she felt piled on - which is not a good feeling - but she did not learn anything. She claimed I had nothing better to do than be a troll when the precise reason I was there was because she has been trolling my sisters consistently. No sense of irony whatsoever.

It was nice to have others affirming my intelligence and goodness, and this is where it gets interesting. One of the things she threw at me was that I am just a sad, lonely single. She is Mormon, like my sisters and I, and our church is very family-oriented. My friends who contributed are not LDS, so I know that particular insult seemed very wrong to them, though most members I know would be horrified at that being thrown out as an insult as well.

I mention it, because I think in Rachel's mind, well of course we are liberal and pro-choice and can support Clinton and Obama - we are not doing what is right. She had previously ended a lot of arguments to Julie with Julie just not understanding because she doesn't have children. Whether the issue is merely that we have not been quite righteous enough to be blessed with husbands and children (and once you have those, you are never sad or lonely) or we are rebelliously staying single and childless on purpose, I am not sure, but it gives her the moral high ground.

I think that for her - and for a lot of other people - there is a mental block that anyone can be smart and good and still believe differently politically. I don't say it based on this interaction alone. Saturday night one of my posts got an unusually scriptural response from one Mormon, but also a kind of aggressive response from someone who wasn't. And when another friend (who is Mormon) stepped in to defend me, he flew into attack mode on her, calling her stupid and accusing her of being on food stamps. (She has a PhD and has never been on government aid, though that would not be a crime.) Because obviously if she is liberal, she must be poor and stupid, as must I. (But I am only poor, and clearly I have friends who will vouch for the smart part.)

This division is not right. No political party has a monopoly on good or evil. As everything becomes more polarizing, it can seem that way. Certainly, I can feel like people don't question themselves enough, or their political alignment, but even as execrable as I think Trump is, I can't automatically assume someone who supports him is that execrable.

Rachel unfriended my sisters, and that was my goal. I was tired of them getting abused for daring to think differently and they were reluctant to unfriend her because that's like giving up. I deliberately disrupted that. (And although she only unfriended them she said she was blocking them, because she isn't even smart enough to know what those things mean.)

However, I have not unfriended the people from the other interactions. I did delete some posts, but I am going to try to preserve those relationships. Abuse is a reason not too, but if we can manage to disagree without abuse, then we should do that. I'm going to try.

Spell check does not like my use of "unfriend" as a verb, and frankly, it feels weird having a post where I get so specific on everyone's religious affiliation, but it seemed relevant. We'll' see how tomorrow's post goes.

Friday, October 14, 2016

Band Review: Micah Buzan

Micah Buzan is a musician and an animator.

The focus on the animation may result in there being less information about the music. In this case, I wish he had written a little more about his genre or influences, because I am not sure how to describe the music.

There are ways in which it reminds me of Chiptunes. It is never quite that beepy, but there are often mechanical grooves running under the music. That also makes it kind of resemble techno, but maybe with some additional influence from surf music. That probably doesn't make sense, but listen to "Horus V.S. Set" and see if you get what I mean.

As there are many animation videos, and because Buzan makes videos for other musicians, trying to find songs on Youtube can be frustrating. Soundcloud and Bandcamp will work better for that.

Thursday, October 13, 2016

Band Review: Just Offshore

Just Offshore is a progressive rock band from New York, the work of Cold Sweat drummer Russ Mate.

Most tracks are instrumental, but "An Old Man Selling Easter Eggs and a Small Piggy Bank" is more spoken word. All of them fit into a feeling of being more experimental, playing with moods and sequences.

2016 release Landfall seems to be the most musical and the most interesting, especially on "Gray".

Just Offshore requires some patience, but fans of progressive rock should at least check it out.

Wednesday, October 12, 2016

Your vote

Today's post will seem to have some inherent contradictions.

It is the right time to cover it. Monday was about how vote by mail eases voter participation, and while Tuesday was specifically about Measure 97, it was also about respectful disagreement. Maybe today's material is a natural fit.

There has been a fair amount of talk this year about not wasting your vote, because a vote for Johnson is a vote for Clinton, or a vote for Stein or Sanders is a vote for Trump. I have never liked that.

I have wondered if I would feel differently this year. If Trump did win, would I be angry at the people who voted for him and the people who didn't like him but didn't vote for Clinton? Trump is a terrible candidate, but no, I still want people to vote for whom they want.

People point to the 2000 election, and how if the 81,000 Nader voters had voted for Gore, he would have won. That's no small thing. The World Trade Center attacks might have been thwarted if you had a president who didn't dismiss intelligence that wasn't about Iraq. It could still have happened and we might even still have invaded Afghanistan for their sheltering of Al Qaeda, but I'm pretty sure we wouldn't have invaded Iraq. Lehman Brothers might not have happened, and the environment would probably be in better shape. The surplus being drained and big tax cuts that failed to stimulate the economy probably would not have happened.

That is all speculation, though the probabilities involved should be a good reminder of the hubris it took Nader to say there is no difference between the two parties. However, his supporters still should have been able to vote for Nader. The real problem was the improper purges from the Florida voter rolls and other impropriety that still barely gave W the state. Take away the manipulations of Jeb Bush and Katherine Harris, and the conscience of the Nader voters doesn't hurt.

I want everyone to have their vote. We are in an election where there is a great candidate who has been slandered for so long that many voters have a totally distorted view of her and are against her for poor reasons. We have an election where the basest impulses in human nature and years of the GOP and Fox News spreading misinformation and class warfare have led to the worst candidate in human history. I can't say I don't care, because I care deeply, but I still want everyone to cast the vote they want.

So this is where we get to the contradiction, because my desire for your autonomy may be combined with my thinking your vote is stupid and abhorrent. It's not that different from "I disapprove of what you say, but I will defend to the death your right to say it." This is democracy, and all of the voices should be heard.

It doesn't mean I don't wish for better news sources, and better schools and education that brings back civics classes, because this process could be improved, but the improvement is not voter disenfranchisement or intimidation or apathy.

So if you wish to vote for a racist misogynistic monger of hate and fear who is unable to exercise any self-control because he sees no need to, but it may make him the worst person ever to have access to the nuclear codes, who has spent years cheating workers out of pay and still has to keep declaring bankruptcy because we need a businessman, that is your right. Have at it.

And if you hate Clinton but are scared of Trump, so you think Johnson is the answer, despite the fact that he does not feel the need to stay abreast of foreign policy on even our hot spots while running for president, and that he is against affordable health care and higher education, but pro-choice and pro-pot doesn't bother you, go for it! I am thrilled to see many of you supporting a pro-choice candidate.

Or if you think Stein, who doesn't call herself anti-vax but merely says a lot of the same things they say in the same ways and contexts, because Heaven knows the Green Party and saving the Earth shouldn't have to get bogged down in science, do it. Blessed be!

Or if you think Evan McMullin is the answer, despite the winning plan being an electoral tie between Trump and Clinton - despite Clinton's lead over Trump continuing to grow - resulting in Congress giving it to the "neutral" candidate as long as he wins one state, thus completely nullifying the votes of the residents of the other 49 states, may you live happily ever after.

Same thing with write-ins; you vote your conscience. You should.

I am voting for an extraordinary candidate, and if you support any of the others, there may be a few sentences here that feel against you. Worse has been said about mine, and I'll survive.

My conscience and brain are working together, and I am voting the way that I want. I wish the same for all of you.

Tuesday, October 11, 2016

Measure 97

This is the main Oregon issue I want to talk about. I certainly find Measure 98 interesting, and the candidate races, but I don't have my ballot and pamphlet yet, and I don't generally feel a need to make recommendations on every race.

Measure 97 is different for me because it touches on a very important issue, and the ads against it are giving me a lot of thoughts and feelings.

Here is the summary of Measure 97:

"Current law requires each corporation or affiliated group of corporations filing a federal tax return to pay annual minimum tax; amount of tax is determined by tax bracket corresponding to amount of corporation’s Oregon sales; corporations with sales of $100 million or more pay $100,000. Measure increases annual minimum tax on corporations with Oregon sales of more than $25 million; imposes minimum tax of $30,001 plus 2.5% of amount of sales above $25 million; eliminates tax cap; benefit companies (business entities that create public benefit) taxed under current law. Applies to tax years beginning on/after January 1, 2017. Revenue from tax increase goes to public education (early childhood through grade 12); health care; services for senior citizens."

Well of course Gina supports that; she is a tax and spend liberal! Okay, but there's more to it than that.

I find it interesting how the opposition ads capitalize on Oregon's tax history. Oregon's budget has been having trouble since Don McIntire's Measure 5 from 1990, and school funding has been a pretty constant source of concern since then. While the imbalance seems to relate more to businesses not paying a reasonable share (which is not only a measure 5 issue), a more common proposal to address the insufficiency has been sales tax. Oregonians hate the idea of a sales tax.

I hate the idea of a sales tax too. The mere hassle of having to do the mental calculations in your head while at the store to figure out what you will really be paying was my first reason. That comes from being a child on vacation in other states. I might have had a dollar or two to spend, so a few cents could make a big difference.

That is probably less of a concern as an adult, but now I have a greater awareness of how regressive a sales tax is, affecting most the people who can spare the least. Yes, you can write it so that the barest necessities are tax-exempt, but the more items you exempt the less effective the source of revenue. In addition, there is a tendency to over-scrutinize the purchases of poor people already; I don't want to be having that discussion where we decide that they can have unprepared foods but should never be able to get something from the deli.

Regardless, I totally get the genius of opponents calling this a sales tax. "It's on sales! Not on profits!" Yes, that should make it hated. It also misses the point.

The reason such wording is necessary is because some businesses are brilliant at spending their money as soon as they make it, thus never having a profit. (You may notice that as a non-corporate entity, spending your money does not make it tax-exempt.)

Hollywood is notorious for this. There have been lawsuits about people who were promised a share of the profits, but never got any because a very successful film never produced any profits. (This is why smart agents negotiate takes of the total box office.) Similarly, there are businesses that spend money on luxury penthouses for their executives and private jets and sky boxes, and they become business expenses.

It is smart to focus on the impact on family farms, because Oregonians love family farms. I do question how many family farms have over $25 million in annual sales, though, because everything I have seen on farming makes that number seem high. Hospitals might, but part of the increase is going to health care so it could even out.

Here's the thing, if your company is making $25 million in sales, but it is all taken up by operating expenses so you cannot afford the $30,000 plus 2.5%, maybe you should raise prices. That can probably be done reasonably. If you are manipulating budgets because your greed is more important than children, seniors, and health, my sympathy is all drained away.

I can respect differences of opinion. I can respect them in general, and on specific ways of resolving various issues. I don't approve of trying to weasel out of paying taxes, but I can understand the motivation.

However, when you use deception to convince people to go against their best interests to serve your own, apparently with the assumption that they are stupid, I really hate that. I've got my eyes on you.

Vote yes on 97.