everything is not a sound byte

Depending on what bad news article you read this week, you probably got the wrong idea of what was going on in Jamestown. This is understandable when the goal of a writer, or television presenter, or whoever is not to inform you but to shape your brain, one way or the other. There is no history anymore, I guess, it’s just what can be used to shape contemporary politics. Well, sorry, everything is not a sound bite. History matters.

But when you look at the insanity of it, it’s quite wonderful in how depressing it is. It is (despite bad news) not the 400th anniversary of Jamestown. It’s the 400th anniversary of the establishment of the first General Assembly of Virginia. Some news articles have called this the birth of democracy in America. I’m not sure I’d go that far, but it’s a rough approximation.

Accordingly, Virginia went ahead and held an event. After all, the Virginia General Assembly can trace its roots to this original creation. So, if you were into history, and wanted to commemorate an event in today’s hyper insane world, why would you invite anybody of consequence? Instead, they went ahead and invited the most toxic president since Franklin Buchanan and Virginia’s governor (a guy who either has amnesia or is a liar or both).

Hmm, maybe instead, maybe just leave both those guys on the bench for this event, eh? Maybe not? Oh, they did it anyways? And it turned into a big political event and shitstorm? Gee, who ever could have foreseen that? Isn’t there like a firefighter who’s a mayor somewhere in all of Virginia. Like some guy who once pulled three urchins from a burning orphanage and as a farewell life tour he ran for mayor at 73? Get that guy to give the speech! For fuck’s sake.

What you have to remember about Jamestown goes beyond sound bites. Per the info garden of Wikipedia: “Of the 6,000 people who came to the settlement between 1608 and 1624, only 3,400 survived.” Hey anybody want to go to Antarctica with me, with some dogs and a sled, and we’ll set up a colony there and play with penguins. You’ve got a 43% chance of fatality within 15 years. Interested?

Jamestown was a failed business venture established on one of the worst sites for human habitation you could imagine. So much so that the original site was eventually abandoned completely. The only reason Jamestown survived was a sheer stubborn force of will and contempt for death which would serve the British Empire rather well (and also rather poorly) throughout its history.

By 1776, Virginia was the most populous and richest of the 13 colonies. Don’t think that didn’t come without a commensurate level of nightmare. Between disease, a challenged food supply, constant warfare, disease, and a health care system that still thought bleeding helped it’s a wonder anybody survived. Colonial America was many things, it was also a big meat grinder.

It’s worth remembering just how precious life was back then. Particularly when so many can’t see beyond the latest tweet. The act of establishing a General Assembly in the middle of a failed colony where everybody was walking death is quite the act of community. It’s a challenge to life itself, that despite all the hardships, they would survive and prosper. That they had a future.

Quite the gamble. But none of them could have done it alone. It’s worth remembering when everybody apparently hates everybody else that a sense of community is likely one of the only things that allowed them all to survive. In most ways, what America is traces its roots to these very early, first, dangerous steps. It’s worth our time to ponder it. Because we became that future.

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we demolish Stella Artois’ (aka InBev) pathetic advertising lies

Once upon a time it was said that celebrities who wanted to make money shilling product were required to go to Japan to do it. It was considered poor taste and reflective that the actor’s career was in the tank if they tried it in America. This is the entire plot point of Lost in Translation (which remains among my favorite movies) where a washed up Bill Murray heads out there to hock Nippon whiskey.

Well, those days are long, long over. Soon it’ll be no big deal to see a celebrity promoting a vacuum cleaner. I don’t really care either way, I hate most celebrities anyways and so couldn’t care less how they earn their coin. But it’s directly applicable to the point of this post which is to assault the lies of Stella Artois.

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During this last Super Bowl the viewer got to see Carrie Bradshaw and The Dude drinking Stella. The idea that The Dude drinks anything other than white russian is bullshit, but I digress. Now they’ve dragged out Idris Elba to push the beer. A guy who would have made a great 007, but turned it down, is now reduced to pushing this cheap beer. What a loser. Doesn’t he already have enough boats?

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The general idea of the ad campaign is that Stella is fancy, a sophisticated way to poison your body by ingesting a toxin known as alcohol. The most emphatic scenes in these commercials are the ones where they show dressed up rich people swilling Stella at the original 1926 Christmas party. And there’s multiple shots where Stella poured from the tap foams over and requires the use of a foam knife.

I laughed out loud at the foam knife part. For those who don’t know, in the old days draft beer typically came in barrels. Before the age of refrigeration these barrels basically sat at room temperature. With warm beer, when the carbon dioxide was exposed you got a ton of foam into the mug. So barkeeps needed the foam knife to get rid of all this extra foam. To the modern drinker, this warm beer would have tasted skunked or funky due to the poor overall carbonation of the end product.

Only later when keeping beer cool became widespread did this practice disappear because it was no longer required. It’s why you don’t see bartenders using foam knives today, unless they’re tapping a firkin. So while it looks fancy (in theory) what Stella is basically saying in these commercials is that they prefer Stella warm at room temperature, at poor quality, and skunked out. You can even reinforce this trend by buying the Stella foam knife on Amazon (I’m not joking) so that you too can dispense warm, poor quality beer to your guests.

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Stella is a mainstay European beer and has been for decades. Only recently has the goal changed to sell it widely in America. In 2008, Stella got wrapped up in the creation of the AB InBev behemoth creation which probably now sells half the beer on the planet. Sometime later somebody at InBev was probably like, hey we can sell Stella to dumb Americans and pass it off as real swanky Euro beer.

Now I’m one who truly believes there is no actual bad beer. I’ll drink just about anything. But there are certainly beers that aren’t good, and Stella’s one of them. It’s basically just Europe’s Bud or Miller. There’s nothing special about it. Except the advertising campaign that says so. That and the stupid (and entirely unnecessary) tulip glass that they always show it in.

So is this scam working on the American people? No shocker here: Yes! From 2010-2015, Stella sales more than doubled in America. Today Stella remains one of the country’s fastest growing beers. It’s why you see it and those stupid tulip glasses in almost every bar now. And you better believe they’re not charging you Bud or Miller prices for Stella. Nope! You’re paying extra for that ultra-fancy Euro beer, fools.

The Giant Octopus is very wise and aggressive. I wonder how many Americans know that Stella is owned by InBev, or what InBev even is? Or that in Europe Stella is basically Bud? Hell, I doubt most Americans even know that Bud is foreign owned. But basically it worked, Stella’s blatant advertising lies have made a ton of gold for them. So, sadly, I guess the conclusion of this post is once again that we’re all doomed.

In general, society’s just not smart enough (or doesn’t care enough) and is happy to be manipulated and lead around on a leash by the Giant Octopus, straight to the bar, to hand over its cash without coherent thought. Doomed! [sigh]

the tyranny of public music

Lots of things are everywhere: oxygen, people, squirrels, cable hate news, oppressive heat, ghosts, and so on. But public music has (for whatever reason inside my twisted brain) been my problem lately.

The easiest example of this is the lightweight, feel good, soft rock or pop rock they play in the grocery store. My contempt for this knows no bounds. I have to bring my own music; I can’t stand to listen to it otherwise.

They just opened this dynamite Yucatan place within walking distance of my apartment. They’re a small chain but are awesome. I walk by them this morning towards the train station and they now have a speaker that blasts music outside their front door, it’s playing soft rock.

If there’s anything I can’t stand more than music I can’t stand, it’s music broadcasted to the public in a manner that assumes the least amount of risk possible. I’m sure a team of corporate suits got together and developed, “Safe Corporate Playlist for Modern Demographic Populace – Version #498b”. This is available to your local chain store for $14.99 a month per store. The suits made billions last year and then blew it all on their third boat and coke.

We here at TAP are here to help. Our wisdom knows no bounds. Our ideas will be adopted everywhere. Please spread the word. Your cooperation, as always, is truly appreciated. We truly, do truly, desire to keep liquidation to an absolute minimum. Here is what we want played in public from now on:

1) generic, faceless, pointless soft rock

2) unhinged death metal to include constant screaming and nonsensical electric guitar riffs lasting seven minutes

3) genuine classical music

4) medieval monk chants with accompanying children’s choir

5) full blown profanity laced gangster rap that makes elderly women exclaim “Oh Dear!” inside the store

6) Michael Jackson, sandwiched before and after with voiceovers regarding the exploitation of children

7) spoken word album read by Christopher Walken on the Book of Ruth

8) genuine classic metal back before all those bands sold out

9) violin or flute playing by a talented high school student

10) we’ll throw in some female pop rock or whatever they call that stuff, the one with the famous women

11) country music, or at least the unimaginative kind not written by a team of Nashville boardroom suits

12) audio playback of YOUR coworkers talking in the next cubicle about the most mundane and eye wateringly foolish things

13) chants from a reborn ancient Aztec death cult which will make even the most hated of modern political views seem tame by comparison

14) classic Sinatra; as in the ones he recorded while completely wasted, with a dame waiting in the next room

15) no Christmas music, ever

16) Vladislav’s greatest hits of 1976, including his famed electrical metal album, “Tashkent or Bust”

17) please, help me

18) no really, please help me

19) I don’t know why I did this

20) 20! 20 line items; blogs are magical

Monty Python character to be devoured by Brexit monster

I suppose one is meant to congratulate Boris Johnson on becoming prime minister, which seems like a big deal and quite the life goal achievement. After all, every aspiring mommy and daddy would love for their kid to become president or prime minister. Unfortunately for Boris his tenure involves getting mauled by Brexit as if he were a sick, deranged zebra getting hauled down by a pack of rabid lions. Brexit has already devoured two prime ministers, Johnson will surely be the third.

I can’t figure why anybody would actually want this job? I mean other than just to say you had it. Theresa May was a control freak whose strategic planning instincts consisted of a dart board and a bottle of magic elixir, but, she can still tell folks at the pub that for at least a few years she was top dog.

Whatever one thinks of Brexit one way or the other, it’s just about the most impossible task an executive arm of government could be asked to execute. And the British parliamentary system makes it even worse.

To the American eye, there’s something really antidemocratic in changing prime ministers this way. The Australians have had a similar problem for the last decade or so. To my brain, if a prime minister resigns, that should automatically trigger a general election. That way the public can choose their leader instead of back alley party hacks. This is especially a vivid problem right now.

The issue with Brexit as it currently stands is this:

1) Europe holds all the cards and promises they won’t renegotiate

2) Boris does not possess the ability to fold space, time, or the Irish border

3) Parliament has an overwhelming majority who will oppose any effort to conduct a no deal Brexit

This was what derailed May, and it will derail Johnson too. All the Tories have done is shift human beings, they haven’t shifted the problem. An election would have offered the chance for a course correction of some form. Without an election, nothing has changed, the situation remains the same and thus Britain will remain bogged down in political chaos and deadlock.

Nothing about Boris Johnson indicates he’s the kind of visionary leader who can overcome such a huge challenge. If the original Monty Python had made a character of Johnson way back when, it would have been rejected as too farfetched. The guy is a meld of insanity, humor, charisma, liar, opportunistic, lucky, and with the looks of a c-grade stuffed animal made in Bulgaria. His supporters really think this guy has what it takes to get the job done? Trust me, he doesn’t. Maybe nobody does.

The problem with modern democracy is essentially two things: it’s a rigged game, and it’s currently deadlocked. America’s Congress would be challenged to pass a bipartisan bill saying that Abe Lincoln was awesome. Britain is no different. Asking this parliamentary system to solve any problem at the moment is a chore, asking it to solve Brexit is near impossible.

To me, the only way out of this is for the EU to simply lay down the line. Regardless of what parliament says or does, if 01 November comes around and Britain hasn’t taken their deal, they should just kick Britain out. Otherwise they’ll just keep extending the deadline until the end of time, because that’s all that British politics has left. However, will they actually do this when it gives Boris exactly what he says he wants? Who knows?

In the meantime, I would say enjoy the ride, but you won’t. And neither will Boris.

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Mr Prime Minister, eight seconds before a nine year old girl throws a chunk of cinder block into his front wheel spoke

beware the Internets

More and more the Internets can turn into a nightmare.  Granted, it’s like being hit by a car.  For the most part, everybody goes online and it’s just fine, you get to see happy cat videos.  But if you get your identity stolen or your bank accounts drained (while your circumstances are rare) it’s an absolute nightmare that can temporarily ruin your life.

I’ve personally known folks who had their data ripped which resulted in ruined bank accounts, they couldn’t use a credit card, buy a car, do their taxes, etc, etc, etc.  It’s a nightmare folks.  You could see the daily stress on their faces.

When the Washington Post isn’t busy shaming itself and mortgaging its remaining credibility by banging on the incessant defeat Trump at any cost bandwagon (regardless of impartiality or honor) they still do some no kidding real hardcore journalism.

I don’t normally do this here, but you dear blog reader need to read everything that Geoffrey A. Fowler writes for the Post.  He knows the Internets, he knows how to get into the face of questionable Internets companies, and he knows privacy values.  You can find his latest piece on browser extensions here.  I don’t use browser extensions for these very reasons, but apparently millions of people do.  If you personally do, stop, please get away while you can.

Be sure to click on his author name too and read some of his other Post pieces.  You can then indulge in the true mess of the Internets where you (the customer) are basically just a doomed farm animal as bad people make money off of spying on you without your knowledge or consent.

There might be a reckoning, eventually, for all of this.  I say might because asking Congress to accomplish anything useful is like asking a rabid panther to walk your dog safely.  But there might be movement, witness Facebook’s disastrous introduction of its evil Bond villain digital currency recently.

But, until then, it’s truly the Wild West out there folks.  You can’t arm yourself with a revolver, so you’ve got to do it with knowledge.  Learn.  Protect yourself.  Beware the Internets.

break the cycle – revisited

Okay, first off here’s a picture of a happy emu to set the proper discussion mood.

[[original picture removed at the belligerent, touchy request of the original photographer; I have hundreds of my own photos posted to this blog; anybody can use them for any reason, take em, I don’t care; but I guess others do; for whatever reason]]

Of note, never approach an emu, they’re insane.  If you look between the lines, this happy emu smile is also the same form of smile an evil billionaire gets when they mash the “fire 2,384 employees” red button.  But for the purposes of this post, I’m going with the emu is happy and having a good day dammit [shakes fist at sky].

Per our prior post, I essentially checked out of the news for one solid week.  I only read the print edition of the Economist and got their morning Espresso updates.  So if somebody had nuked somebody else I’d have found out eventually.  I also managed to avoid seeing even one frame of television news which was especially awesome, though because the news is on everywhere this took some careful footwork.

Observations:

1) I did not miss reading the news or politics, pretty much at all.

2) I discovered that when online to check e-mail at home or at work, that muscle memory was compelling me to check the news several times a day without even thinking about it.  I had to stop myself in the moment of typing, it was weird and unsettling.  Eventually I got it to stop.

3) Originally, the idea was I needed to read then news every day to stay informed.  This is the idea of my Dad reading the print newspaper cover to cover every single morning.  It was a man’s responsibility to stay informed about the world.

4) This has now crossed over into the Internets world where the quest for knowledge has now been overcome by the emotional side that folks ascribe to politics and the second-to-second melee that is the social media world.  Additionally, even the most professional of news sites also contain a not unsubstantial amount of straight clickbait in order to increase revenues.  I don’t want this, and I don’t need this.

Conclusion:

a) I’m going to transition to the newspaper format in getting my news.  I will read my online news once in the morning and be done with it.  I won’t logon for the rest of the day.  If I giant mutant blue whale starts assaulting a major city, somebody will just have to text me and let me know and then I’ll login.

b) I think this will be a good balance, a return to the traditional balance of news my family had growing up with paper newspapers.  Get your news in the morning, process it, and then get on with your normal day, your life, without the distractions or the noise of the planet.

c) After all, the news and politics is just information.  For the most part I can’t do a damn thing about any of it.  I’ve got my own life with my own problems and my own responsibilities.  That’s where more of my focus belongs.

selective morality, reality, and values are the best morality, reality, and values

all corporations that lose our data to hackers are evil and greedy vs. giving the audio data in your own home free of charge of a corporation via a live bug is hip

your dog demands the most pristine of kibble vs. will eat garbage wood off the grass and pout when you don’t allow this

cigarettes are so awful they need to be banned from Netflix vs. marijuana is perfectly cool to smoke and is beneficial to your health

magic mushrooms are also beneficial and will soon be legal in multiple jurisdictions vs. soda with sugar is horrible for you and requires severe regulation

plastic straws are wasteful and worthy of a ban vs. drinking an extra tall latte out of a one use disposal and non-recyclable coffee cup is trendy

squirrels hoard all the nuts and acorns because they need them to live vs. squirrels hoard guns and explosives because they need them for the forthcoming purge

Weinstein is a depraved sexual deviant who should be erased from the planet vs. Jackson’s music is still awesome and regularly played at festivals

your boss is angry that you’re late with your assigned task vs. your boss is never own time with any assistance you’ve ever required from them

the detention centers used by Trump’s goons are abhorrent vs. the exact same detention centers used by Obama’s goons were not abhorrent

labeling the opposite side as racist instead of thinking things through vs. labeling the opposite side as racist instead of thinking things through

alcohol is the cause and solution to all of life’s problem vs. alcohol is so tasty

gasoline powered cars crush the planet’s health and are on their way out vs. charging electric cars from coal fired power plants

gasoline pumps want your money vs. gasoline pumps require the selection of 11 different options before allowing you to pay them money for gas

animal kept in captivity is immoral and the zoo will soon be banned vs. dressing up your dog/cat in a furry X-Mas costume is a sign of sophistication

everybody in the workforce requires $15 an hour vs. advocating for such issues at rallies arrived courtesy of Uber driver making half that amount

manufacturing jobs needs to come back to America vs. establishing tariffs and trade policies so abstract as to require the bailout of soybean farmers

our future alien masters promise us bliss and saving ourselves from each other vs. will blanket 1/3 of the planet in fusion fire to introduce their benevolent, wise rule

chronic obesity problem that will bankrupt the health system by 2049 vs. electric bikes and scooters are so much fun and avoid the need to walk or pedal anywhere

wave of the punk future where virtual coin will set the human free vs. coin mill farm corporations with enough size and electricity to power a medium sized nation

religion is the source of all evil mind control and should be banned from any public sphere vs. 1.3 billion likes on Instagram for the latest celebrity selfie

machines will be our masters, artificial intelligence is so error free cars will drive themselves vs. have you ever tried using [insert any software program here] without errors

innocent until proven guilty vs. they publish a mug shot online before anybody’s been found guilty and the federal justice system convicts at a stasi-like 99% rate

the magical meth elf promised you happy times if you burned down a shopping mall vs. all you got instead was a felony arrest warrant and the elf never showed up again

natural gluten is evil is requires expungement from the diet vs. generating artificial fake meat in a lab is wholesome

blogging is a healthy experience that allows the author to get things of their chest in a safe environment that informs others vs. blogging is a narcissistic act that only informs the reader that the author is somebody who needs help, and maybe a puppy/kitty or two