Thus revealed, the creature buried its nose in the tire-tilled soil...
October 19, 2018
Terror in Blue?
Category: Serious

Question: To what extent do you think police have a responsibility to appear nonthreatening to citizens and particularly minorities?

I ask because the other day I encountered an officer at Total Wine whom I found kinda terrifying. He was a big, bald white dude with exposed arms covered in tattoos -- which I acknowledge doesn't necessarily mean he's dangerous and/or racist, but I admittedly tend to be on edge when I see those dudes. (Also, the tattoos were in that black tribal sort of style. While I didn't look closely, it's not difficult for me to imagine some Celtic or otherwise troubling symbols woven into the pattern.) But what really made me uncomfortable was the Thin Blue Line flag sewn into his uniform. Apparently the sale of those flags benefits the families of officers killed on duty, and in any case it shouldn't be controversial for an officer, or anyone else, to oppose violence against police officers.

And yet the flag -- and the Blue Lives Matter response -- has been used to counter and reject the message of the Black Lives Matter movement, and white supremacists and other stripes of racist have adopted the Thin Blue Line flag as one of their own symbols. So while I acknowledge the right of a private citizen to display this symbol (even though I still find it problematic and unsettling), I absolutely don't think it should be worn by an on-duty law enforcement officer.

Unless, of course, that particular officer doesn't give a shit about upsetting or appearing threatening to minority citizens (and other sensitive individuals) in his midst. I froze and pretty much stood stock still -- like the dude was a Jurassic Park T-Rex -- until that cop had moved out of sight, though admittedly stillness stemmed as much from fright as from my need to process what I had just seen.

Anyway. Your thoughts?

-posted by Wes | 4:15 pm | Comments (0)
October 14, 2018
The Ballad of Black Tom, etc.
Category: Books … Miscellany … Serious

Do you have any places that fill you with an inexplicable sadness?

So there's this section of road I occasionally have to drive -- I've probably mentioned it before -- and whenever I drive it during the evening I'm overcome with a deep and overwhelming depression. Like, suicidal depression. If that road had an exit to the Key Bridge, I'd probably steer my car right over the edge; if I kept a gun in the car (I don't own guns), I'd likely pull over and shoot myself in the head. That feeling is perhaps especially jarring because it usually follows otherwise positive and encouraging experiences -- when I land on it in the evening (for some reason I'm unaffected when I drive it in daylight), I'm usually on my way home from a writing group session or the horror book club meeting or the Renaissance Festival. I don't know how I'd feel if I ended up on that road after a particularly long and shitty day, and I'd be both curious and terrified to find out. (more...)

-posted by Wes | 11:50 pm | Comments (0)
October 12, 2018
Thirty…seven.
Category: Miscellany

So earlier today I got a cell phone call from a telemarketer with a senior living company who wanted to tell me all about their wonderful life insurance options that would fully cover the cost of my coffin and funeral and provide extra security for my loved ones in the event of my untimely demise.

Now, I'm not generally the most assertive person when it comes to telemarketing calls -- I'll firmly say I'm not interested when they ask if I want what they're selling, but barring that I'm content to let them practice their pitches until my input is required -- and today, what with my melancholy mood and particular confusion with the nature of the call (generally it at least makes sense that I'd be on their lists; here I was almost concerned that this caller knew something I didn't), I was especially disinclined to interrupt the nice lady's spiel. So she'd unload with a paragraph of prepared text and ask if I was following, and I'd hesitate and nod as if she could see me and say, "Yes...?" and then she'd launch into the next passage of her speech, and this went on for some minutes.

Finally -- and I don't know why she didn't start with this question -- she asked, "Can I have your age, sir?"

I replied, "Thirty...seven."

A lengthy pause.

"Sir," she said, and then paused again... and then she flatly finished, "you don't qualify for any of our benefits. Thank you."

"Oh," I said. "No problem. Bye." And then I pulled the cell phone away from my ear and pressed the button to end the call.

But just before the call ended, she said, "Yes --"

And it really bothers me that, after all that effort I put into being polite in the midst of my bafflement, I inadvertently rudely cut her off! I'd also really like to know how that parting sentence would have ended. Alas.

-posted by Wes | 8:48 pm | Comments (0)
October 10, 2018
Y Kant Trump Read
Category: Current Events … Serious

So, today Trump has an editorial up on the USA Today website. It's worth reading -- if only because it's a thing the President "wrote" and highlights the divided nature of politics today -- and especially clicking through to the articles linked to support his assertions. I imagine that the links were provided by USA Today staff; I can't imagine that Trump or (loyal) WH staffers would have included them.

Frex, Trump asserts that health insurance premiums are decreasing, and there's a UPI.com article linked to that statement. But while the article does begin with Health and Human Services Secretary Alex Azar's assertion that premium costs will fall 2% in 2019, it also includes compelling statements from two other authorities that premiums would have decreased even further -- and would not have risen this year -- if not for Trump's policies. So the article really doesn't really help Trump's case at all.

I only found out about the USA Today editorial because Trump tweeted a link to it, but I'm skeptical that he actually read it (despite supposedly having written it) and it's clear he didn't read the linked articles. That's kinda... sad.

-posted by Wes | 6:24 pm | Comments (0)
September 27, 2018
Less brief thoughts on the Kavanaugh sitch
Category: Current Events … Serious

So. Here are my general (and less abbreviated than in the previous entry) thoughts about the Kavanaugh sitch:

I think if I had been Trump or even Kavanaugh, I would have withdrawn or declined the nomination early into this drama -- and had I been a Republican senator, I would have voiced my intent to vote against Kavanaugh's nomination in order to force one of those outcomes. This is not to say that I would have admitted to any certainty of Kavanaugh's guilt, and I would have said as much in voicing my intentions. My action would not have been about "punishing" Kavanaugh. But I do believe members of the highest court in the country should have (as best we can manage in this hyper-partisan environment) the confidence of the American people, and I'd argue that Kavanaugh -- perhaps especially now, given today's events -- has been irrevocably tarnished in that respect. A friend linked a great piece in The Atlantic that includes (and goes far beyond and explores in greater depth) the rationale I'd use to justify my decision. (more...)

-posted by Wes | 7:13 pm | Comments (0)
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