September 2016 Archives

foreshadowing

In the movie The Freshman, our protagonist is an innocent college freshman whose life spirals out of control the moment he arrives in New York. Within days, he's embroiled with the mob, the federal government, and PETA, and a mob boss's sociopathic daughter is telling everyone they're getting married. While all this is coming to a head, our hero stops to look at a beautiful sunset. In voiceover he observes, "There's a kind of freedom in being completely screwed."

It was a well-earned line. 25 years later, I remember how hard I laughed.

I've thought about that line a lot in the last week, as I total how much repairs would cost on this house. Counting the remodeling I originally wanted to do, we're talking 75% of the value of the house. I am not keen to do this. And those kinds of numbers put some rather dramatic and unconventional options on the table.

No matter what, I've pissed at least 50 grand away. That's the bare minimum, sell-the-house-for-what-I-paid best case. This does depress me, but I've reached acceptance of that reality. I can't control that. That's money's gone. What I can control is 1) not spending more money and 2) what outcome I get for that 50 grand.

The outcome I want most: getting my money back.

I was chatting with a small group of men when one identified himself as a Redskins fan. I asked him what he thought of the controversy with the Redskins name. He scoffed.

"I'm part Indian," said this lily-white dude, in that unconvincing manner in which people say "I'm not racist, but" or "True story!" "And it doesn't bother me at all." He looked smug, as though he'd just won the argument in a rout. If he'd only had a mic, he would have dropped it at my feet.

skinsidiot.jpg"People need to stop being so uptight," said someone else. Everyone agreed, and I once again found myself in the wholly unfamiliar position of being the bleeding heart at the table.

I allowed that far too many people parse every utterance for offense, for the pretext for demanding an apology. I hate that crap. Those people are not only an annoying scourge; their constant wolf-crying makes people deaf to more legitimate complaints. Legitimate complaints like, say...

"We're really cool with making a race's skin color a mascot? I'm the only person who thinks that's gross?"

"IT'S AN HOMAGE! REDSKIN MEANS HONORABLE WARRIOR!" someone yelled in my ear.

"See, when you have to say one word means completely different words—words that have nothing to do with the first word's etymology—that's got a whiff of self-serving bullshit to it," I said, making friends. "Give me one other example where redskin was used to mean honorable warrior."

This being the age of Trump, they answered my question with hostile irrelevance and at least three classic logical fallacies. "Are we supposed to get rid of Indians, Chiefs, and Seminoles, too? What about the Fighting Irish? Wah, Buckeye trees might be offended too!" They laughed. This was great stuff.

"And when you mock an argument I did not make, the bullshit smell only gets stronger. None of those mascots are based on a race's skin color. My point remains that Redskin is obviously different. Obvious to me, anyway."

"It's no different!" said the Redskin fan, using volume instead of a logical premise. And then the already-surreal conversation took a dive into the Abyss of Dumbfoundedness.

"People really need to stop being so damned sensitive all the time," said Earl, a middle-aged black dude.

Yep. I thought of all of the things you just thought of. The hypocrisy, the lack of empathy, the parallels, various racial analogies. ("It's an homage, Earl! Really! It means regal philanthropists! You need to stop being so sensitive.") I drew a breath to say these things. And then my gaze met Earl's. He's both a friend and a dick, and he couldn't wait to pounce on my next utterance. I double-dog dare you, motherfucker, said his look. Yeah. Go there.

"Well, I guess I'm wrong. Making a vanquished minority's skin color our sports mascot is obviously an homage to their entire race's warrior prowess."

I texted Stephanie and quietly showed it to Earl.

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resistible link of the day

The top story, Atlantic?

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there's yer problem

I'm the administrator of a Facebook group for a dog park that I helped create. In five years, this has meant that I've given the group no thought whatsoever. Until last week, that is. I received mail that one user was reporting another's comment.

A man had worn a sidearm to the dog park, and there was a discussion about the legality of this. As is the norm in any discussion about gun laws, people were batshit crazed. Facebook was an explosion of unpleasant pathologies.

Donna, ever reasonable, said that there was no reason to bring a gun to the dog park, for which Amy called her stupid. Donna said that dogs at a dog park jump on people, and that the possibility of the gun going off concerned her. Amy declared that it's anatomically impossible for a dog to cause a gun to go off, and as evidence, she cited the dogs and many guns in her possession. Donna responded with a link to an article about dogs settings guns off. And then in her rebuttal, Amy summed up the entire gun-fetishists movement.

"Oh Donna, just stop reading."

• • •

Yes, I dearly wish I'd taken a screenshot of this glistening golden nugget before deleting the thread.

nvidia gpgpu sdk

That's the Google search I just performed. It's work-related and makes sense to me, but to the realtor and construction worker sitting next to me at my cigar place, it is irrefutable evidence of demonic possession.

I have to say I envy them.

one of these things doesn't go with the others

For much of my career, I was often the smartest person in a given meeting, or so I told myself. And if I was not, I damned well knew who was and I shut my yap.

I'm on a new team now, and as I survey the world-class, kill-you-with-the-power-of-their-brainwaves-from-500-yards intellects surrounding the conference table, I have but two thoughts:

  1. Oh shit.
  2. My god, I miss documentation people.

real hard

I was doing a soft-opening of my new house's over-the-top bar. Just a couple of friends were there, making fun of my excesses. Sucking on a Manhattan while seated on one of six electric recliners facing two 75" TVs, Clyde turned serious on me.

"Know what I like about you?" he asked, nodding his head approvingly. "Even with all this...you never forgot where you came from."

"But God knows I tried," I replied, topping off his glass.

yes, he was baiting me

Yesterday's exchange with gay buddy Mike:

Mike: I used the Seahawks opener to secure a good brunch time. And it worked. Hardly anyone there.
Me: That is the single gayest thing ever written.
Mike: Ooh, grrrl, those mimosas? Che magnifique!

emily post

When showering at someone else's house, I always tread carefully. Many people let damp laundry incubate in the darkness of their dryer, I've found. Specifically, I found this by smearing stink all over my face with their guest towel. I’ve ended relationships for less.

I did a preemptive sniff-test at Kiki’s and Dirt’s house. Cringing as I brought the guest towel to my face, I wished for tongs. And the stench was indeed unprecedented, eye-stinging. After weighing the relative merits of body odor, I showered anyway. I found that the hand towel by the sink was funk-free. I swabbed my body with that hanky instead.

The guest bed had made showering in the morning imperative. The whole bed reeked of dogs and spoiled food, so I suspect that I did, as well. At the head of the bed was a pillow. The pillow was once white, I suppose. Perhaps at one point in history it even had a case over it, which I assume the dogs discarded in order to unfetter having sex with the pillow. I put a wad of dirty tailgating clothes under my head and willed myself to sleep.

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And I'll save you the trouble. Floral Stank Troll John already made the "you're so particular" joke.

particularly low expectations

I'm still dialing in exactly what's wrong in Pittsburgh. Two weeks ago, on the heels of a furious spate of no-show or half-assed contractors, I declared "the bar for competence here is really low." And sadly, this is true. Whether it’s traffic control, party planning, or my swimming pool, Pittsburghers don’t think things out or ask if things are as good as they should be. They just stare straight through avoidable problems. Incompetence is their background noise.

This, I’ve decided, is a function of overall low expectations. They don’t think their newish stadium is inadequate or ugly simply because they don’t bother imagining anything better. “Stadiums don’t have to look like the side of a Newark public bus,” I tell them. “Look at other cities. Stadiums are architecturally beautiful works of art. They’re civic assets, not prominent eyesores.”

“Who cares what a stadium looks like?” they replied, confused.

Okay, fine. Let’s talk about function. The sight-lines are the worst in the league. When someone exactly my height sat in front of me, 25% of the field was obstructed by his head. “That’s not the case in the other 31 stadiums,” I said. “If you’re going to the trouble of building as stadium, why build a shitty one?”

“So why don’t you just move you head?” a fellow asked pleasantly. And in this anecdote, you see our disconnect. I wonder why they accept, even expect half-assed efforts. They wonder why I wonder. We stare at one another in confusion a lot.

I explained to Risa how I made a TV and its sound system portable so I can move them to the pool room for movie night. “Wow, you’re really particular about that stuff,” she observed, due to my merely thinking ahead.

When I was angered by unreturned calls and a no-show and fired a contractor, he too called me “particular.”

When the $200-premium, white-glove furniture delivery guys learned that I expected them to set up the furniture where I wanted it, as promised, they called me “particular.” All three instances occurred within two weeks.

After a lifetime of never being called “particular” in four other states, in Pittsburgh, this is my identity. I suppose I can live with it. It's better than living without it.


morons and me

Last weekend I ventured to Minnesota and from there, Green Bay. It's been a rough couple of months, and dammit, I was gonna buy myself some happiness. Wisconsin and LSU, the two tailgatingest schools I've ever visited, were playing one another at Lambeau Field, and that was just the prescription for what ailed me. I bought tickets and a parking pass and told Dirt Glazowski that if he brought the brats, I’d cover everything else. I was going to have fun, if I remembered how.

On the drive to Green Bay, Dirt was in rare form. Never exactly bright, he was now energetically stupid, railing about blacks, immigrants, Hillary Clinton, and blacks again. He sprayed venom. When Colin Kaepernick was mentioned on the radio, that really set Dirt off. Turns out Kaepernick has a Muslim wife and he’s converted to Islam and pledged his loyalty to ISIS.

“Uh, I don’t know anything about anything, but I know bullshit when I smell it,” I said, reaching for my phone. It took two seconds to verify that, well, everything Dirt had declared with such confidence was utter rubbish, fabricated at the ugly fringes of the Internet. That’s when Dirt informed me that Google was biased. “They’re not going to show you the truth!”

It was at this point that I started tabulating how much money I had spent to be there. I got a little misty. Goodbye, money. I loved you very much.

Dirt’s always been a lunk, but all this vitriol was new and decidedly unpleasant. When we returned home, he and his wife, Kiki, held forth for hours about how racist and murderous Black Lives Matter is. There was one moronic assertion after the next, and it made my brain hurt. No one cares about cops’ lives. Or whites’ lives. If a Polish cop is shot, do I get to wear a Polish Lives Matter shirt? Hell no! At this point, I had long since stopped engaging. There is absolutely no point. They are uneducated. They do not read. They zealously embrace, nay, hate-fuck any convenient falsehood that validates whatever their claim was supposed to be. They are demonstrable losers who, having wrecked their lives in utterly preventable ways, are assigning blame to literally anyone else. It is repugnant.

Kiki sneered about Colin Kaepernick’s ISIS wife.

“Oh, that’s made up,” I offered. “He’s not even married. He’s dating a DJ. You can look it up.”

Kiki exploded. In keeping with furious white trash tradition, she went straight to personal attacks. And you know what? Everything she said about me was absolutely accurate. I do think my sources are any better than hers. I do think I’m smarter than her. I do think I’m better than her. The evidence abounds, really, and it has nothing to do with me.

“YOU PROBABLY WANT TO TAKE GOD OUT OF THE PLEDGE OF ALLEGIANCE TOO,” she snarled, apropos of absolutely nothing. She went straight from Kaepernick to "under God" without even using the clutch.

Touché.

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