Nov 3 – 17, 2015

This diary is failing as a diary if I only update it once every two weeks, because for me the whole point would be to augment my generally terrible memory. But my memory is so terrible that after 2 weeks I haven’t the foggiest idea of what went on.

We were on vacation from November 12-17, so presumably the 3-11 were spent working extra-hard to get ahead of things before leaving. Right? Nowadays basically all I do is work & then read alternating entries in the Elvis Cole & Parker detective/crime/noir series, so it’s a safe bet there was some of that going on.

And watching episodes of Master of None along with literally everyone else I read on the internet. Not much to be said there that hasn’t already been said. It’s good. Watch it if you have Netflix. If you don’t, you’ll probably survive.

Saturday the 7th, at least, I went out in public & saw Too Many Friends at the Pinhook for the debut of my friend Reese’s new band (and their excellent album). It was good. It wore me out.

We went on vacation on Thursday the 12th, and I did a reasonably good job of ignoring social & other media, so I felt like I was watching people react to the terrorist attacks in Paris from a distance. I don’t know that this added any clarity to my perception of any of it. You can zoom way out & it becomes a story about 500 years of imperialism (or 1000 years of European Christian hegemony). Or you can zoom way in & it becomes a story of disaffected unemployed young people in the suburbs of Paris.

People talk about the Internet as the greatest democratizing force the world has ever known, and it’s true. It’s just as full of lies and propaganda as all the other media, but it positions that stuff alongside truth in a way that heightens the power of both.

It’s easy to tell people that nihilistic violence isn’t the solution to the problems that confront them, but too often it seems like the only alternative presented is to continue living exactly the same life, forever.

Our vacation was to Savannah and Charleston, prompted by a national Masters division weightlifting competition in Savannah. M lifts; I watch.

It was interesting to get to compare the two cities back to back. Savannah is kind of like Charleston’s drunker cousin, I guess. It has all those beautiful squares, but it also has booze in go-cups, insanely complicated one-way streets, and largely forgettable food. (With the exception of The Florence, which I can wholeheartedly recommend).

Charleston is the neat-freak who studies hard & gets good grades & still likes to booze it up after dark. Amazing food, a surfeit of cocktail bars, and a shitton of white people who love some historical markers and who would just as soon not talk about slavery if they can avoid it.

Seriously. We took an impromptu guided tour of one of Charleston’s architecturally significant homes. 45 minutes, a dozen rooms, endless monologue about the furnishings & the marriages of the family who owned it — and a single small room off the gift shop that provided the only mention of the fact that the guy who built the house was an importer of dry goods, lumber, and, oh yeah, people. And that he had 8-12 people enslaved in his household to make his beds & cook his meals.

I have the impression that some other museum-homes do a better job of presenting the whole picture, but the only way Charleston could truly convey the Whole Picture would be to replace every one of the literally hundreds of historical plaques on half the buildings downtown with new ones that say “built by enslaved people; paid for by profits from buying and selling enslaved people, and stealing their labor.” I mean, that wouldn’t be nearly enough, but it would be a start. Because you’re swimming in it down there, and thus everyone ignores it as much as they possibly can.

Like literally: Are you down in the historic district? Is the house bigger than a breadbox? Was it built before 1865? Enslaved people built it, and probably worked to maintain the white people who lived in it. Would it be redundant to put a sign on every single pastel building down there? Yes. That’s the whole point.

But man they have some good restaurants. The Ordinary was the best meal of the trip (better than Husk! albeit not by much). The cocktails at the Gin Joint were outstanding. We may not go back anytime soon, but I’ll remember those things as well.

Nov 3 – 17, 2015

February 8-11, 2015

Been thinking about terrorism, for sadly obvious reasons.

I suppose to begin with it’s necessary to arrive at a working definition of terrorism. I’m going to do this without resorting to a dictionary, because of course. So, terrorism:

  • violence
  • dislocated, spatially or temporally, from an active battlefield
  • performed to further some ideological purpose
  • via the inspiration of fear/anxiety in some larger group

Is that sufficient? Is that too constrained? Are there well-known acts commonly classified as “terrorist” that wouldn’t meet that definition? I think for the moment we can say that’s a reasonable definition.

So there’s this dialogue happening around the murders in Chapel Hill. It goes like this: One side says: If it were a Muslim killing three [white | American | Christian | etc] people, everyone would be screaming terrorism. And then the other side says: Dude was clearly crazy, yakked off about parking spaces, hated all his neighbors, threatened everybody.

The thing that I have missed so far, in this discussion, is much, if any admission by anyone that even if he was a lone angry maladjusted dude upset about parking, even if he had murdered Normal White Christian People, it is still terrorism.

But but but but, sputter the rationalists, what is the ideological purpose?

The preservation of white cis-het male supremacy. To wit: You don’t fuck with the white man. The white man built this country (he says, and maybe even believes), and the white man deserves your fucking respect. The white man has lived through a LOT of SHIT in his life so far, but goddamnit you can only push him so far. And if you push him too far, well, HE JUST MIGHT SNAP.

This ideology, of course, is so pervasive, so thoroughly integrated into the fabric of American society, that it’s invisible to [other white] people. So pervasive that it doesn’t require coordination, doesn’t require any kind of formal statement on the part of the Patriarchal Terrorist that what he’s doing is for the good of the patriarchy.

It is sufficient merely to periodically remind everyone that some unknown percentage of [mostly white] American Males are potentially armed and batshit crazy. 

This is the thread that runs through such a horribly large percentage of the multiple murders that have happened over the past couple of decades. It is not even necessary that the person be deemed sane or responsible, provided that at least one witness can be found who will say “I can’t imagine why he would do something like that.” HE MUST HAVE JUST SNAPPED.

All that is necessary is that the gun industry be allowed to continue to supply an infinite number of firearms to anyone who wants them. This is essential. There was probably a time when the Church, the Government, the General Social Order were united in their resolve to preserve patriarchy & white supremacy, and that unified locus of control made it less necessary for Every Single Man to be individually armed.

Nowadays, the patriarchy’s hold on those institutions is marginally less secure than it once was, thereby necessitating the diffusion of the threat of deadly force outward into the general population of men. 

Am I suggesting that every gun murder committed by a man is an act of terrorism on behalf of the patriarchy? Well, yeah, actually, now that I think about it, I am. It’s almost impossible to avoid that conclusion, in fact.

Footnote to this: The Chapel Hill killer’s favorite movie, per his ex-wife, is the Michael Douglas movie Falling Down, you know, the one about the ordinary middle-aged law-abiding white man who one day JUST SNAPS.

In other news, I have a cold. I didn’t watch the Grammys. I no longer have an opinion about anything that happened there, even if I maybe had one the other day. I’ve mostly spent the past 3-4 days working, reading comic books, and being horrified by the internet & the outside world.

February 8-11, 2015

November 25, 2014

Spent most of what was ostensibly a vacation day on the phone or IM with support, trying to get someone to fix my work website, since I only have indirect access to the filesystem, and no shell access at all. Why did it break? Someone had to reboot the VMs over the weekend, and despite the fact that they had ‘http’ IN THEIR HOSTNAMES, nobody bothered to check whether httpd had successfully restarted.

And nobody even managed to figure out that I had an application running on those boxes, so they didn’t even tell me they were performing a change that might affect me. I had to figure it all out by asking everyone on the support calls if they knew anything.

Didn’t go to any protests or marches. I’ve never been much of a joiner, and that spills over to anything that involves a lot of people standing or moving together in a group. I know I should probably try harder to get outside of that comfort zone, but to be honest, I was pretty sure there would be a CrimethInc contingent there, and I just don’t want to be anywhere near those assholes.

So instead we sat at home & listened to the helicopters circling overhead.

Watched A Most Wanted Man, which was very very LeCarre. I enjoyed it, even though I have a hard time getting even slightly worked up about the threat of international terrorism, given how many people are killed in the US every day for such an extraordinarily wide variety of terrible and stupid reasons.

November 25, 2014