Calm the fuck down

Let me start by making it clear that I am absolutely terrified by the political climate in the US right now and by the fact that we are edging precariously close to electing a racist, xenophobic, misogynistic sociopath to the highest office in the land. I fully “get it” and recognize that this is probably the most important election of my lifetime…at all levels.

I also recognize that the whole country is on the verge of having a stroke. That worries me a little bit too.

There was a time when I spent the bigger part of my life being perpetually outraged and angry. Some people who knew me at the time might suggest that it was one of my defining characteristics. I had an opinion on everything and was not hesitant about sharing it, no matter how irrelevant or inappropriate the venue nor how serious the overreaction. If you’d tell me you were going for a beer, I’d make sure you knew just how much I hoped it wouldn’t be a Coors. If you were casually listening to Axl Rose or Donna Summer, I’d make damned sure you knew exactly what awful things either had said (or was believed to have said) in the past ten years. I’m sure I was pretty annoying. I’m also sure I changed vere few viewpoints.

I really began to recognize this behavior in others when I lived in San Francisco in the 1990s, where even the most innocuous comments (e.g. “I’m off to lunch” or “It’s nice out today”) would often elicit a shrill and politically programmed response on the evils of anything from factory farming to global warming to corporatism and average wages in the restaurant industry. If I mentioned I was hungry, I might get a lecture about world hunger and how Americans were fact, lazy, and overfed. A comment about my small apartment might get me very quickly schooled on homelessness or conspicuous consumption. Yes, I’m exaggerating–though not as much as you might imagine–and yes, I was guilty of doing some of the same things, albeit with what I thought was a little more humor.

The point, though, is that at some point I realized that it’s really fucking exhausting–both for me and for everyone around me–to be perpetually outraged and angry and complaining about everything all the time. I also realized it was making people tune out a lot of what I was saying.

Is there a lot to be angry and outraged about? Of course there is.

Will this fact change if you constantly make yourself and everyone else miserable because of it? Probably not.

Things have gotten a lot worse in the past few years with social media and the rise of clickbait journalism whose purpose is not to inform but to grab audience share by whipping everyone–left or right–into a frothy, outraged frenzy by appealing to emotion and righteous anger (and adding a “share this if you agree” chaser). That’s why I’ve been doing a judicious amount of social media muting and pruning lately.

I think I it’s pretty clear that I value irony, sarcasm, and snark, and that I have a pretty low tolerance for stupidity and injustice. But I don’t feel the need to talk about what’s wrong with the world every fucking minute of my life. That doesn’t mean that i don’t care. I do. I stay awake some nights caring so much. But being outraged and morally indignant is now how I want to spend my life.

I believe the key term here is “perspective.”

This weekend I did a semi-humorous Facebook post about how sometimes I think my life might better be lived in a 1950s film noir. Most of my friends took it for what it was. One relative seemed not quite to get it. And one friend followed up completely out of left field with a response about how horrible life would actually have been for me as a gay man in the 1950s. It was not just an overreaction that missed the point of a very lighthearted comment. It was also really condescending, suggesting that I don’t understand history, which really pissed me off, considering history is pretty much what I do.

This was an old friend so I held my tongue even though it really bugged me. The whole tone of the post just reminded me of that whole shrill, strident tendency to respond to everything with a political rant that made me hate initiating a conversation with some people in San Francisco. It’s like the “angry vegan” meme where there’s a vein popping in the guy’s neck because it’s been more than five minutes since he’s had the chance to tell anyone he’s a vegan.

If I ever become that person–vegan, carnivore, or otherwise–please smack me upside the head. Thanks.

Still alive…

I’ve just been saying more on Twitter than anywhere else because I’ve been really busy. A lot going on at work, plus I made a weekend run to Baltimore a few weeks ago.

And I’ve been spending a lot of my free time working on Groceteria, both on research and on the site itself. It feels really good actually having the time and inclination to do that again. I didn’t realize quite how much Id been missing it. I’ve been doing things here and there over the past couple of years, particularly for the past six months or so, but my activity level is way up now. And it really helped keep my mind occupied this weekend while all the shit was happening in Orlando…all of which just gets weirder and weirder.

And speaking of surreal: Der Fuhrer is in town tomorrow night. I’ve already planned ahead so I can avoid leaving the house till all the buildings stop burning and the street fights end.

Sigh. Should’ve emigrated when I had the chance…

NC GOP vs. urban

My “angry activist” side has mellowed considerably over the past twenty years or so, but this makes me boiling mad. And it makes me even angrier that so few people seem to realize all the implications of what’s happening here.

For those of you who don’t see what the “bathroom ordnance” means to you:

Let’s be clear about what’s really going on. It’s not about “bathroom etiquette” nor is it even specifically about LGBT rights (though it would be evil enough if it WERE about either of these two things). It’s about a gerrymandered state legislature telling the cities of North Carolina that even though they are responsible for basically all the population and economic growth in the state, they are unfit to govern themselves in a very wide range of areas. And if they step out of line, the legislature will make life miserable for them. 

Cities in North Carolina (and their residents) are basically being punished for being insufficiently deferential to the party in power. HB2 is the next logical step after the Charlotte airport controversy, the Greensboro redistricting controversy, the sales tax grab, and any number of smaller initiatives designed to minimize the impact of cities in an increasingly urban state. Urban growth, of course, also means “urban values” which may not be compatible with “traditional North Carolina Republican values.” Therefore, urban growth and economic development it brings are viewed as threats.

If you live in an urban area, this nasty brand of politics will affect you sooner or later, regardless of your sexual orientation or gender identity. Most of these legislators couldn’t care less about who uses which bathroom. Like so many other non-issues in the past century or so, it’s merely a convenient distraction. Stay focused. Don’t fall for it.

Pardon me for sharing what is essentially another Facebook rant. I will try to avoid additional sermons over the weekend. I cannot promise this, however. Like I said, I’m really mad. And I’m also really sad that a state I love is letting something like this happen.

The obsession with bathrooms

Conservatives have been using public restrooms as a ridiculous tool for building opposition to progressive legislation at least since the dawn of the civil rights movement. Potty panic was first used to scare while people who were afraid to pee next to black people. Later, the threat of “unisex bathrooms” was used to help defeat the Equal Rights Amendment.

And now, North Carolina has passed legislation that is ostensibly based on making sure that people use the appropriate restroom based on their “biological sex.”

But it ain’t about bathrooms. Not by a long shot.

In addition to the bathroom regulations, which are a small part of the package, the ironically named Equal Access to Public Accommodations Act will:

  • Prohibit cities from passing nondiscrimination ordinances that do not match the state law, which excludes protections based on sexual orientation and gender identity, as well as protections based on veteran status, etc.
  • Impede or eliminate the right to sue based on discrimination categories that still are protected.
  • Supersede any local regulations on hiring contractors that do not mirror state law.
  • Prohibit any local ordinance that would raise the local minimum wage (of which, to date, there have been exactly…none).

See what they did with that last one? Not sure how it fits into all this? No, neither is anyone else.

Once again, this is not about the fucking bathrooms. The sponsors of this legislation couldn’t care less about the bathrooms, but they know that their base will, by and large, not take the time to pay attention to what the law is really about.

This is a power grab passed in the dark of night by a rural, conservative legislature that, thanks to gerrymandering, no longer reflects the increasingly urban, moderate population of the state. it’s the next logical step by a legislature that has usurped local authority in setting city council districts, attempted a hostile takeover of a major urban airport, and engaged in unconstitutional redistricting.

We’re engaged in a war here.

#WeAreNotThis

Signal-to-noise

What I know about Bernie because of social media:

  • He is the salvation of the planet.
  • The media, the Democratic Party, and the cosmos just aren’t being fair to him.
  • He still has a chance to be nominated. Really.
  • He is a democratic socialist, which is (of course) the exact same thing as a communist.

What I know about Hilary because of social media:

  • She is (of course) the only electable candidate.
  • Unless, that is, “Bernie’s kids” think Donald Trump is a better option than she is, which many of them apparently do.
  • She is also the antichrist and eats adorable puppies for dinner on dishes paid for exclusively by large corporations.
  • She then uses her personal email servers to send pictures of the dead puppies to Nancy Reagan’s ghost.

What I need to be reminded of constantly via misspelled and oversimplified social media memes or by stupid fucking clickbait “journalism” links originating from the followers of either:

  • None of the above.

I miss media with editors. 

While sitting in the hospital with my mom this morning, I’ve been doing lots of Facebook and Twitter pruning.  

Spring cleaning is fun. 

Respectfully sumbitted

perry

Raymond Burr for SCOTUS. Why?

  1. He’s a gay Californian, which would make the left happy.
  2. He’s not a lawyer but he played one on TV, which would appeal to the Trump contingent.
  3. He’s dead, which would satisfy all the people who despise “activist judges.”

Just a thought…

Otherstream at 20: 2015

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It’s kind of hard to curate posts that are less than a year old, but I tried. This is the final year to be covered in my “twenty years” retrospective. I may talk about the actual anniversary tomorrow and try to draw some broad conclusions. Or I may not. You’ll have to check back by to see which it is.

January

February

March

April

May

June

July

August

September

October

November

December

Otherstream at 20: 2014

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Only two more years to cover before Wednesday’s big anniversary.

January

February

March

April

May

June

July

August

September

October

November

December

 

Otherstream at 20: 2012

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Let’s just say I visited some very dark places in 2012. I’d love to say I handled it with my usual good humor, but that might be a stretch. Maybe the best thing to say is that I lived through it. And lost weight. What i really hate is that the big entries on the site stopped being about anything other than me. The big anniversary comes on Wednesday.

January

February

March

April

May

June

July

August

September

October

November

December

Otherstream at 20: 2008

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There was better reading in 2008 than in 2007, maybe because I was tying (at least for a little while) to generate content for four different websites, all of which eventually landed here. I’d call this year “reflective” and “hectic” with grad school and all. I also worked a very odd part-time job, continued with my freelancing, and migrated the site from static HTML to WordPress. I’d sort of forgotten what a busy year it was.

January

February

March

April

May

June

July

August

September

October

November

December