With the inauguration making it official, and “real,” I had to write something.

Right now we are in the midst of the strangest, most ridiculous moments in United States history that I’ve experienced in my lifetime—and, some say, maybe ever. I don’t know about “ever” but it certainly feels unprecedented. Perhaps people living through the Harding administration of the 1920s, or Nixon in the early ’70s, or hell even Prohibition experienced this same feeling of unreality, unease, and vaguely impending doom that we (the sane ones, anyway) are experiencing now. I don’t know.

What I do know is, somehow we now have a “president” that I don’t believe can or should be considered legitimate. He’s a serial liar, a failed businessman, a misogynist, not terribly intelligent, (probably) a sexual predator, a racist, an Islamophobe, and generally a fascist, with the thin skin of a temperamental four year old desperately craving attention and lashing out when spurned. On top of all of that, he is very likely compromised by a foreign agency.

He has refused to divest himself of his business interests, particularly as they relate to other countries, which raises numerous conflicts of interest and violates the Emoluments Clause of the Constitution. He has not nor never will release his tax returns.

He lost the popular vote by the largest margin in history, three million votes, and only squeaked into the office by the loophole provided by the electoral voting system. He now takes the oath of that office as the most unpopular incoming president in history. And now day one has been marked with a flagrant lie about the size of the inauguration crowds, quivering in the shadow cast by the Women’s March, exposing the “president’s” shambling insecurity.

His cabinet is full of crony millionaires and billionaires, racists, extremists, and neo-Nazis with little to no real world knowledge of the jobs they have been selected for, or an active interest in tearing them down. He himself has no grasp of the magnitude of the role nor the knowledge and skills necessary to be the president, and his blundering ignorance and corruption will likely get many people killed.

There is nothing legitimate about this presidency, the campaign of which was run on a platform of racism and lies. The interference from Russia in the process alone should have been enough to overturn the entire election, and the strong possibility of Trump being compromised and under the influence of Russia and Putin should have disqualified him completely and brought him under intense investigation. If there were enough Republicans left with any kind of a spine who weren’t desperate sycophants for power, that might have been the outcome.

Which is why this is so surreal. It was surreal when he announced he would run, but I have to admit I enjoyed watching the Republican party tear itself apart in paroxysms of hypocrisy and degradation as he stood among them, and won. But who would have thought he would actually advance all the way to the general election and have a chance at winning? Well, the racists and the Nazis, I guess.

But had anyone tried to pitch this entire election and outcome as a fictional plot—for a movie or a book or a TV series—it would have been instantly rejected as too implausible, too outlandish, too ridiculous to be believable. But wait! There’s a twist! There are many twists! There’s an endorsement by the KKK! The Nazis are back! The main character is stupid enough to admit to sexual assault while wearing his own wire! Wait, wait, you’re gonna love this one—it’s the Russians and they’ve successfully planted their agent in the White House with the help of hackers and—what? Too contrived?

Except apparently it’s not, and it’s happening now. If you voted for Trump, then you’re complicit in all of this. If you didn’t vote at all, you’re complicit in all of this.

There is no “making America great again” under Trump because he is completely out of touch with the America he is supposed to lead. His “great America” is one where the rich get huge tax cuts while the poor shoulder their burden and die for lack of healthcare. One where the rights of women and minorities are rolled back so that affluent white men won’t feel threatened. This fantasy by the way, one apparently shared largely by the Republican party, is the desperate fever dream of a scared minority of aging rich white men seemingly unable to grasp that the world is moving on without them.

(Alternatively, the desperate fever dream of insular, under-educated whites scared to death of diversity and obsolescence.)

I mean, listen to the rhetoric—“We’re taking America back!” Back from what? From whom? From progress? Prosperity? Oh I know—not back from, but back to… to the dark ages. Anyone who seriously thinks that things were better 50 years ago should immediately lose their computer, their phone, access to the internet, their medicine, their big screen TV and video games and everything else they take for granted that didn’t exist 50 years ago.

And really, I’m worried that Trump will say something crazy on Twitter (again) that will have catastrophic results—or worse, his account will be hacked (again) and someone else will do that. I’m worried about the lack of concern and outright lies about a massive security breach and intrusion by Russia. I’m worried that the country as we know it—this entire grand American experiment—may well be at an end. It’s certainly not the same as it was even a year ago.

So no, I can’t look upon this new administration with any sense of legitimacy. No, I will not look past the flagrant lies. No, I will not accept nor respect the authority of the office that respects neither the people nor the office itself. No, I will not accept the hypocrisy of people who for eight years degraded and disrespected President Obama and now demand respect and civility for their spray-tanned elderly reality TV star.

I recognize the divide in this country, it’s very real, and divisive. But it was also heavily exploited during this election with lies and manufactured hysteria, and now the bill is coming due.

No, I don’t want to be that America. We can do better.

The TV post (Spring ’11)

I usually end up making these type of rants posts this time of year because it’s at the point where the frustration has built and I need to trip the release valve. Well, frustration and just general commentary.

For instance, “V“: I wrote about this previously, and, well, I’ve bailed. I don’t know what happened to the production or writing of the second season, but when a major plotline is the Visitors’ obsession with finding and destroying the human soul—well, I should hope the ludicrous nature of this is evident in itself.

Plus, the “science fiction” aspect of the show finally diverged entirely into “fantasy.” Last week’s episode highlighted the human resistance creating a “DNA bomb” that would, I guess, scramble a person’s DNA (which the Visitors are purportedly collecting). Um, what? I didn’t know we had such crazy technology. And never mind the Visitor method of collecting DNA samples from humans: giant spiked Iron Maiden-looking devices tortuously exsanguinating the victim for a single small vial’s worth of DNA. Um, hello? We have this advanced technology known as a “cotton swab” which does the same thing.

So I’m done with “V”.

That’s the big one. I’m still watching and enjoying (to various degrees) “Hawaii Five-0”, “The Event”, “Law & Order (Various Flavors)”, “American Idol”, and the other usual suspects. I think I doze through the various “CSI”s.

Hawaii Five-0” I enjoy because there’s not a lot of thinking involved, and it looks good. My brother has the amusing observation that they are some sort of crazy Gestapo force but I suppose to a certain extent that’s what makes it entertaining.

The Event” is definitely filling in certain roles left vacant by both “Lost” and “24”, a fairly decent show (not dragging out the mysteries too much like “Lost” did) though lately the editing or something has been really choppy; when they jump from plotline to plotline, it’s never quite obvious what timeframe they’re dealing with, as you go from one storyline that’s taking place in the middle of the day to one in the middle of the night.

I finally concluded that each thread must be self-contained and not happening concurrently—otherwise someone producing that show has to get their editing and sense of time straightened out.

Not too much to say about “American Idol” yet other than, I’m glad the assholes were booted last week, and damn, that Hailey girl acts like she’s pole dancing on stage. My nickname for her is Stripper Pole.

And the first rule of this season’s Idol drinking game: take a shot every time Steven Tyler uses the word “beautiful.”

NYTimes on Bend (late review)

I don’t know how I missed this the first time around (December 23rd, probably because I don’t read the New York Times): Where Timber Was King, the Golf Club Replaces the Ax.

I don’t really know what to think about this article. I certainly can’t relate to it, it’s aiming for the affluent and reeks of elitism. A little fisking, anyone?

WHEN you own a home in the sixth-fastest-growing region in the country, you worry about letting the cat out at night because of the coyotes howling in the forest. You scribe fresh powder turns down 9,000-foot-high bowls and muscle bicycles through high-desert hills. At some point, perhaps on a fairway between Holes 4 and 5, you wonder whether those lonely volcanoes lingering on the skyline will ever blow. The thing you rarely do is call your town rural.

Dammit, I do call my town rural; I grew up rural, that’s how we are. We actually did lose a cat to coyotes, growing up. I don’t ski, I’m sorry to say, nor do I golf. So far, it’s failing to hook me.

Albert Angelo Jr., an owner of a family-run development company, bought in Bend for its 300 annual days of sunshine and the 4.3 million acres of public land just beyond his floor-to-ceiling windows. He plans to divide his time between his houses in Vancouver, Wash., and Palm Desert, Calif., and his new $3 million, 5,100-square-foot single-story house in Pronghorn, a resort on the outskirts of town.

“When I look out my Pronghorn house facing north, I see a covered patio with a 10-foot-diameter barbecue pit, a pop-up plasma TV and a view of the golf course – but of a putting green, so my house won’t get hit by golf balls,” Mr. Angelo, 59, said. “You have a good lifestyle down there.”

Okay, I totally cannot relate. I’d say this guy’s idea of “a good lifestyle down there” is completely out-of-sync with the reality of Bend.

About 300 people are on a waiting list to purchase another dozen town houses at the Bluffs at the Old Mill, a neighborhood with views of the Mount Bachelor, Broken Top, and Three Sisters volcanoes.

Again with the volcanoes. In my day we just called them “the mountains.” And for everybody wondering about the high real estate prices, look no more… the 288 people on that waiting list who won’t get a choice home want to go somewhere…

Bend’s proximity to trails for hiking and cross-country skiing, coupled with a bustling vibe, appealed to Stephen Johnson, 29, a salesman from Medford, Ore. In November, he bought a new 1,933-square-foot, two-story weekend house for $215,000 in southeast Bend. “It still feels like a small town but with more amenities that make it a fun place to visit,” he said.

Holy shit, there was a two-story, 1,933-square foot house for sale in town for only $215,000 as recently as November? Who did he have to kill to get the place for that cheap??

When Benders aren’t bouncing through the 370 inches of annual snowfall at Mount Bachelor, about 30 minutes west, much of the après action centers on Wall and Bond Streets, downtown’s two main arteries. Today, you’ll find no hardware store off the brick sidewalks, but should you seek information on a $2.75 million resort home or wish to make a donation to pierced buskers outside Bellatazza coffee shop, you need walk only a few blocks.

First of all, that should be “Bendites,” not “Benders”—we’re neither (mostly) drunks nor a certain sarcastic cartoon robot. Second of all, don’t remind me that there’s no hardware store downtown—it was a sad day when Masterson St. Clair finally closed down. But it’s good to know I can find that info on that $2.75-mil home, that’s important. Otherwise, this whole paragraph? Pretty much reeks of narcissistic self-importance. “Après action” and “pierced buskers” my ass.

Bend is 94 percent white. The joke among locals is that diversity means Subarus of different colors.

I’ve never heard that joke. I’ve lived here most of my life.

Okay, that’s enough. Go read the article, even if it bothers you as much as it seems to have me. I can’t help but wonder if they’re writing about the same town that I live in…

Tarding down literature

Does this sound like a good idea?

Woe un2mnkind! The text message is trying to summarise the great poet John Milton and a respected academic thinks this may be a smart new way to teach literature.

A company offering mobile phones to students has hired Professor John Sutherland, professor emeritus of English Literature at University College London, to offer subscribers text message summaries and quotes from literary classics.

The hope is that messages in the truncated shorthand of mobile phones will help make great literature more accessible.

So butchering the classics into text-messaging shorthand that are barely understandable will make them more accessible? Oh, this is so, so wrong.

First of all, there’s no “teaching” of literature going on here; you might as well be getting summaries of last night’s episode of “Lost”—only reading “MadwyfSetsFyr2Haus” would not entice me to pick up Jane Eyre.

Second of all, what does a professor emeritus of English Literature even know about text-messaging shorthand? Jeez, I don’t know much, but the examples they give seem contrived even to me.

Third, what self-respecting teen would subscribe to this service? Here’s a hint—those of us who, as teens, were into literature and could quote from various works really, really weren’t a part of that crowd. If you wanted to be part of that crowd, well, you wouldn’t be getting literature on your phone, as it were.

Via Slashdot.

Update 11/17: CNN has a better article which has more on the pushback against the service.

MySpace rant

I’ve been seeing lots of referrer hits from MySpace on my site lately, so I thought it was apropos to point to this article on Kuro5hin: MySpace: A Place for Dolts. It’s just too funny not to, and it’s full of great soundbites.

You see, when you sign up for MySpace, you instantly have your first friend. You’re immediately best buddies with the most popular person on MySpace: Tom. Now, to understand the stupidity of this, you have to understand that this is a social networking mechanism; if I’m friends with John and John is friends with Sally, then Sally is syllogistically my friend, and if I visit her profile it will tell me just that: “Sally is in your extended network”. But if EVERYONE is friends with Tom, then there might as well not be an extended network feature at all, and he is defeating the purpose of his time and his website. Basically what I’m saying is, Tom is a dumbshit.

But there’s a reason why none of this matters. There’s a reason why he wins even though he programs in Cold Fusion (I have yet to meet someone who uses Cold Fusion and isn’t a complete moron), even though he has no sense of style or ergonomics, and even though he’s lazy as hell: he gets an enormous amount of money from the website. Movies, bands, dating services, clothing companies, non-profit organizations, and even the US Army advertises on MySpace.

Ah, you gotta love cynical internet rants.

See also Movable Type Rant, a pointer to another great Kuro5hin piece.

Yahoo is cold calling me

My wife fielded a call this afternoon from a telemarketer looking to speak with the owner of (which is what I use as the registrant for my domain names), and was confused to find out it wasn’t a business he was calling. This wouldn’t be noteworthy except for the fact that the guy identified himself as working for Yahoo! and was trying to sell their Pay Per Click ad service.

Since when does Yahoo—or any of the big internet players, for that matter—resort to telemarketing? Cold calling no less? I would have thought that Yahoo especially would know better. I may or may not have looked into their ads in the future, but I’m pretty sure I won’t at all now. Here’s a hint: I don’t like telemarketing. I used to work for a telemarketing company in Spokane, so while I can totally sympathize with the individuals who have to actually make the day-to-day calls and deal with people that basically hate them, I really, really don’t like the companies/corporations behind telemarketing, especially the ones trying to sell something. It’s a sleazy business.

In the interests of transparency, here’s the info from call: the number was 888-254-2716 (toll free, which was kind of odd), and the person my wife spoke to was Walter. He specifically identified himself as working for Yahoo. I Googled the number (heh), but didn’t find much, just enough to indicate that it points to Yahoo/Overture.