The Actual Spelling is FU

Here’s a frat house near Kansas University:

I failed, with my wee phone camera on a day where sweat was my main wardrobe accent, to capture just how much this place screams MONEY. This is the place rich assholes send their asshole kids to learn to be better assholes.

In this frat, the residents will have a chef to cook their meals, maids to clean up after them, and will learn nothing of independent life.

But we know that Harvard does not produce the best lawyers, it produces lawyers that know other Harvard lawyers. This is the system. The building you live in during your college years matters more than the education you get.

2

Trump is a Felon

Trump has been convicted of being a liar and a cheat. Some people are howling about it, saying with some legitimacy that this was a simple bookkeeping lie that got expanded into a felony only because it was election-adjacent.

I’m not buying that, but it shows there is one thing everyone agrees on: Convicted felon Donald Trump has done much worse. I look forward to him facing the music for those things as well.

2

Making a Difference

I got a text not long ago, from the Democratic Party, asking if maybe I’d be interested in running for local office.

I did not say no. I didn’t even ignore the message. A thought occurred to me: maybe a white older guy with post-chemo hair could be an electable surrogate for the under-represented.

It’s sad that such a thought should even occur. But I have strong feelings about how things should be. My hometown police are already reluctantly giving back some of the military gear they’ve collected (an armored car!), so I’m not alone there. Imagine how many school breakfasts that armored car could have bought.

We should feed our residents, starting with children. Let’s help people addicted to drugs, rather than wait for them to commit crimes and throw them in jail, at astronomical taxpayer expense.

Let’s build houses for people with no place to live.

“But that’s expensive!”

Yes. And in a city like San Jose with no real profitable businesses, that’s a problem. (That was a joke, son.) But actually it is a problem, unless you tax the rich. There are individuals in this town that could pay for it all with pocket change. But if they don’t volunteer, well, it’s time for them to pay for the people and community that made them rich in the first place.

If those rich assholes decide to move rather than pay, San Jose loses nothing, because they’re not paying much now. Whoever buys their houses will pay more property tax than they were paying.

What could I do as a tiny voice at the bottom of the policy pyramid? I don’t honestly know. The way cities tax the rich is through property taxes, and in California those are carefully controlled at the state level by Proposition 13. But I think I could matter to the people in this city.

The thing is, I already have a job – a job I simply can’t afford to leave. A tech job, and though I’m well-paid I’m also making billionaires richer.

Tax me. Tax those billionaires even more. It is time to fundamentally change the way we value work.

Prop 13 was born because soaring property values were leading to a situation where people who had lived in their homes for a long time were being taxed onto the streets. I do not disagree with the foundational goal of Prop 13.

But as time has passed, the flaws in the ideal have become apparent. The biggest problem is that if you own a rental property, you can keep jacking up the rent, but your tax liability hardly moves at all. In that situation, Prop 13 is working against the people who only want to say in their homes.

Rental properties should either not be protected by Prop 13, or perhaps more simply the property value should be based on rent collected, and not on the assessed value at all. The property is worth what it makes, after all. You could add some complexity and make the valuation based on net profit rather than gross, which would theoretically reward landlords who maintained their properties, but that seems like it would be subject to abuse.

This would be very bad for the economics of owning rental properties, and would ideally also be bad for Air BnB nonsense. The prop 13 tax relief was meant for the people who live in their own homes. I am completely behind that. It’s the other assholes getting rich off Prop 13 that we have to take down.

Any office I might run for would have to work with the existing tax structure, however, so the above is not actually a campaign plank. We will just have to find some other way to tax the rich. Maybe a tax on gas-guzzlers not used for business, offset by free public transport. Still working on that.

There will be future episodes where I spell out my campaign platform more specifically. I’d be afraid to run, if I weren’t too liberal to ever get elected.

2

The Third Horseman has Arrived

I am not a Bible scholar, but like any real Bible scholar I can cherry-pick passages to comment on. Here is some version or other of the Christian Bible describing the third horseman of the Apocalypse:

“(5) And when he had opened the third seal, I heard the third beast say, Come and see. And I beheld, and lo a black horse; and he that sat on him had a pair of balances in his hand. (6) And I heard a voice in the midst of the four beasts say, A measure of wheat for a penny, and three measures of barley for a penny; and see thou hurt not the oil and the wine.” (Revelation 6:5-6)

Other versions replace “penny” with “a days’ labor”. In other words, this passage doesn’t say there will be no food, it says that working people won’t be able to afford it. I’ll let “the oil and the wine” speak for itself.

The third seal is some guy on a horse telling us that a time will come when there exists a calamitous situation known as “working poor”. That a day’s wages cannot feed your family. Sure you can take the passage to mean that there will be shortages that drive up prices, or you can recognize that in one of the fattest nations on Earth the children of working parents don’t get enough to eat.

That guy with the balances in his hand reminds me a lot of the people arguing against living wages. The whole thing is framed as economics. That horseman is on the board of directors at Amazon, and Uber, and almost everywhere else. The horseman is working hard to make sure that bonuses to executives aren’t reduced because they have to pay the people who make them rich enough so those people can survive.

3

Growing Upwards

Where I live, the cost of housing is absurd, traffic is terrible, and suburbs have spread so far they are now exurbs. Land that used to absorb rain has now been paved – not a good thing for a boom-or-bust climate cycle.

These things are obviously connected. When the cost of housing in town goes up, people move to near town, and commute. The definition of “near” expands daily, and we have thousands of talented people spending dozens of hours each week collectively doing nothing more than sitting in cars and pumping carbon into the atmosphere, rather than doing something that adds to the economy (or, in a few outliers, something that might actually be useful).

The obvious (to me) conclusion is to pack more people into the middle, so the edges can be spared. This is a running battle in towns like Cupertino, where almost every attempt to increase density is shot down. The opponents to increased density generally attack the developers who want to do the project, rather than debate the merits and challenges of increased density itself.

The fact the developers and the local politicians in their pockets are universally awful makes this misdirection pretty easy.

But we live in a city here, and it’s time to start accepting that fact. More places to live in the middle takes a lot of stress off many systems.

But not without a cost. Here’s a cool old diner about to be destroyed. You have to appreciate the roof line — that is pure Americana:

I would rather an iconic building like this not be demolished. It’s part of the city’s history. But I would also rather another development of McMansions in Morgan hill never happens.

The building is to be torn down, replaced with deep excavations (to accommodate cars — this would all be simpler without cars), and then twenty-nine stories of apartments will be built on top, a needle poking into the San Jose skyline. 520 apartments of varying size.

Across the street, an ethnic market is closed and fenced off, I suspect for a similar project.

I wonder, idly, if at some distance over the ground the two towers could be joined, to add living space for a few hundred more people. That seems the ideal small-footprint, maximum-dwelling-space solution. I’m sure it’s too late to bring that up for this project.

This is probably the place to note that adding 500+ high-end dwellings will not have a measurable effect on the housing market, and will not in any way address homelessness in this area. It would take a hundred fancy-ass, expensive towers like this to change the market enough to help the downstream people who are really hurting. Ninety-nine to go, I guess.

But at least the occupants won’t be in the burbs, watering lawns and driving ninety minutes to work and back each day.

4

Antibiotics are Anti-Life

It’s right there in the name! And that’s only ONE of the reasons people should avoid antibiotics:

  1. Anti-Life, as mentioned
  2. You need to be careful what you put in your body.
  3. Antibiotics have directly caused a higher percentage of the US population to be infertile.*
  4. Antibiotics contain sunspots, just like vaccines do.
  5. Amoxycillin has G6 microchips in it. Way worse than G5!
  6. Some nut job on the Internet says that antibiotics are just a way for THEM to control you.
  7. People give cows antibiotics, and just look at them. Fuckin’ herd animals!
  8. I AM that nut job. And I’m telling the truth, God as my Witness. Well, at least about #3. That’s true.
  9. Don’t listen to me; do your own research. Only don’t listen to THEM. They’re all liars.
  10. Snarglmuffins.

There is the part of me that says, “Jerry, discouraging people from taking life-saving medicine is BAD! Capital B-A-D!” But maybe I’m saving lives here. The sooner people who act with no regard for the safety of their fellow citizens die off, the safer the rest of us will be.

So fuck it. I’m all about aiming an anti-antibiotic campaign tailored straight for the anti-vaxers. Use their words, make them imagine themselves heroes set upon in an egregious age, and let them die of a routine infection. Not so much murder as assisted suicide, and for the greater good.

* By massively increasing the average human life expectancy, antibiotics have increased the percentage of people past child-bearing age.

7

It Must be True

A source close to Twitter was heard by this reporter to say that Elon Musk is a weak-kneed little crybaby. That source went on to say that the only thing Mr. Musk was capable of doing was using a fortune built on the suffering of others to invest in things that appeared outwardly altruistic, and taking credit for himself. The source contends that in the end those efforts were nothing more than a pale attempt to appear cool while doing nothing to address the grievances of the families of the thousands left dead building his family fortune.

“It would cheapen the value of human life to only consider those who died,” the source went on to say. “There are plenty who still live, only to suffer. Musk is a right piece of shit.”

The source also pointed out that now that everyone was watching, Musk realized that even if he owned Twitter he would not be able to rewrite rules of common decency, let alone rewrite the legal limitations on fraud. “This isn’t fun anymore,” the source speculated Musk might have said.

The source went on to say many far less flattering things about Elon “weasel boy” Musk. I believe all of them.

11

Facebook Project Canceled Due to Sadness (and Facebook)

For a few days I was posting regularly on Facebook. Each night, I would look at the Gun Violence Archive, and then post on Facebook:

Days since a well regulated Militia mass shooting in the United States: 0

El Paso, Texas
Phoenix, Arizona

The typography of “well regulated Militia” is to mirror exactly the way it is written in the Second Amendment. The cities are the places that had a mass shooting that day.

Had I posted a similar message yesterday, it would have listed seven cities. The day before, five.

The definition of “mass shooting” is one I’ve seen here and there: at least four victims, not counting the shooter. This includes those injured, not just killed. Their suffering in many cases is only starting.

There was actually a day when there was not one dang mass shooting in the whole country! Now there’s something to celebrate! It was a Monday. Today, also a Monday, no mass shootings have been recorded so far. Let’s hear it for Mondays!

I thought I might keep it up for a while, to maybe make the whole thing harder to ignore, to maybe open eyes to just how ordinary a mass shooting is in this country. I imagined myself making a difference by showing what the Second Amendment is actually accomplishing.

But I stopped, after only a few days. Tabulating the activities of well regulated Militias is not something to do at bedtime. Not if you want to sleep. Also, it meant I had to be on Facebook, which is unpleasant in it own right.

As a side note, the number of notifications I get when I visit Facebook has dropped dramatically. I wonder if a bunch of people unfriended me because of those posts. I hope so, but I don’t know how to figure that out.

3

Harden the Schools! (And Increase the Body Count)

Let’s spend gigantic dollars making it so every school in our country has only one way in or out, and let’s put people who aren’t actually cowards guarding that one door.

Where I went to fourth grade, it’s hard to imagine how one would even do that. I guess you could put up chain link and razor wire, so that the killer would have to buy both an AR-15, and another AR-15, and hundreds of rounds of ammo — and a bolt cutter! Terrorism deterred! And then I think of recess surrounded by chain link and razor wire.

The place I went to elementary school was not built for security. It was built in an irrational time when threats to society were handled as threats to society.

But for giggles let’s imagine if they could make a single point of entry at my old school. All those kids and parents hovering around that gate would be what the military calls a “target-rich theatre”. A golden opportunity. There is no amount of money you could spend to make schools safe in a world where some asshole can spray a crowd with bullets. Any crowd, anywhere. It might be your grocery store next.

The kickstand of the “well-regulated militia is everyone with gun” crowd is that these killers are a failure of the mental health system, and not an indictment of the industry that sells these people massively powerful tools of destruction. Yet, those same people will block any attempt to keep those same mentally-ill (by their own definition) people from owning guns.

The reason for this is actually pretty simple. Those mentally-ill kids are their children, and they’ve been fed the illness since before they could speak. Those kids slaughtering other children, that man spraying bullets around an Amazon warehouse, have one thing in common. They have unlimited access to extremely powerful weapons.

And while our gun pals would like to say this is a failure of the mental health system, this is exactly the system they prevent from ever being applied.

To get specific: if a kid comes into your gun store and arms up for a massacre, and you sell all that shit to him and also don’t maybe nudge the authorities — you sir, are guilty too, by the very logic of the NRA. Hang that arms dealer up for the buzzards to enjoy. Nothing is going to change until the people that sell these weapons are held accountable.

I’m not saying that all gun dealers are bad, but Jesus Fuck didn’t this dealer have the slightest impulse for social good? Was there not the least little warning sign flashing in the back of their head? Or is that gun salesman just a product of our time — cash the check and fuck the consequences?

And that guy is the true driver behind all this nonsense. That guy is making a lot of money off the second-amendment debate. His candidates and representatives are getting rich, too. Ultimately, there is a simple truth: there is big money in keeping America armed. If those same people could make money turning schools, hospitals, theaters, casinos, stadiums, bus terminals, taxi stands, restaurants, pharmacies, and sidewalks into “hardened” targets, then they will send out a few extra shooters to make sure we spend from fear.

Already we have that it was the school’s fault for not being ready for an armed assault. We have Ted Cruz saying it was a crazy person and simultaneously blocking any attempt to keep crazy people from having access to massively lethal weapons.

FUCK Ted Cruz. FUCK All the motherfuckers taking money from the NRA and bathing in the blood of their own constituents. FUCK the Democrats for not having the liver to face down these motherfuckers. FUCK the Democrats again for saying “vote for us and we will change this” when even when they have the fucking majority in every chamber they don’t change SHIT. FUCK especially Joe Manchin and his fucking fuckbuddy Mitch McConnel. FUCK the fucking filibuster, which used to require effort, but now even when you try to put it back to the way is was When America Was Great, all you get is diaper-shit hand-wringing. And, fuck the GOP especially.

It is becoming increasingly apparent that the only time things get better is when people light things on fire.

7

A Message I Wrote Tonight to Dev Davis, who Wants to be My Mayor, about Tough Love

Edit for context: Dev Davis wants more cops as part of her solution for homelessness – although saying that finding shelter for the homeless is a county problem.

This whole ‘tough love’ thing is based on some pretty shaky premises. Underneath it all, you are saying it’s a county problem, solved by county programs. Not your budget, and if the county falls short of helping these people then lets get some more cops to move them out.

Your assumption is that if the county safety net misses someone, they WANT TO BE HOMELESS. They want to live each day without running water, or shelter, a good meal, or even the protection of the police you want more of to protect US from THEM. They must not want access to health care. So your “love” is to kick them around until… what? What even is your ideal outcome?

The entire idea that withholding services from people who have NOTHING will make things better is laughable.

Go down to the river, Dev. Meet those people. Children, elderly, purple-heart vets. Tell them to their faces about your tough love.

3

Donald Trump Accepts the Presidency of Ukraine

First of all, I’d like to say — and you know who I’m talking to — that elections should always have tanks. They’re so cool! And Black Lives matters doesn’t drive tanks. And if you defund the police they won’t have tanks either.

But Ukraine is a place I know. I love Ukraine. I sent my best pal Rudy over to make sure the country was “secure”, and “paying me.” Ukraine loves me right back. So when they asked me to be their president I had to say yes. I couldn’t let them down, not after what they’ve been through the last few years, with the nazi president who is jewish and all.

All of Ukraine is thanking my best friend Vlad! And they should! Because he is a genius to think of invading a country saying it was a peace-keeping mission! It blew my mind what genius stuff that was! No one has ever done that before in the history of mankind! So then Vlad said, “You know what, Ukraine? You deserve the best president in the world. You deserve Donald J. Trump.” I was flattered, a little bit, but not too much, because I am the best president and I have never lost an election without tanks and I will make Ukraine special.

When Vlad asked me I wasn’t sure at first, because America needs me too, but the women here are completely hot. At my reception there was one woman and I thought looks like I’m getting divorced again but even better I think she won’t tell.

Also, while I’m the president of something, I can’t be tried for the countless instances of fraud I’m being investigated for.

When I was American President I knew all about that Ukraine place. My buddy Vlad explained it all to me. They stole Hillary’s emails, did you know that? Ukraine did that. Vlad said so himself. Despicable. Russia would never do something like that. Vlad told me, and he’s a genius.

But now I am president here and I promise this country, if it’s really is a country, will not be the Mexico of Russia. Because we all know what Mexico is like, and I’d never be president of something like that. There will be no taco stands in my Ukraine.

There are people who say I should not be president of Russia Ukraine who think this is bad but it can’t be bad because I will be president and I am almost a big a genius as Vlad. Some days I am! and Vlad says “Donald you are such a smart man” and I know it’s true because he is a genius.

I am a genius too, and now I will make everything better here in Ukraine. Somebody told me I tried to extort this country once, but I don’t remember anything like that, and if I did it was because of Crooked Hillary or that Vlad told me to. It is time now to:

MAKE UKRAINE GREAT AGAIN

5

A Reminder

These are gravestones for soldiers who fought for the United States of America. These are “the troops” that everyone is so eager to support. These soldiers lived through conditions that no modern US soldier has ever known. They were as likely to die in a friendly camp as during battle.

What were they fighting for? They fought and starved and marched and died to keep idiot hooligans from waving confederate battle flags in the halls of Congress. You are looking at the graves of soldiers of the United States Army who gave everything to preserve this nation, and anyone who glorifies the slavers whom they fought is a traitor as well.

Happy belated January 6th, my friends.

5

Trump’s Virtual Impeachment

Today a handful of executives yanked Trump’s megaphone out of his hands. Given the circumstances, it was the right thing to do. I was gleeful when I heard the news. But still, a handful of executives took the megaphone out of the hands of a major political figure. That’s… unsettling.

Given the Circumstances. Ultimately, Facebook and Twitter and the rest had no choice, and that is not their failing. Although the platforms are (currently) shielded from legal liability for things people say through their services, when someone promotes violence, someone must be held accountable. Currently, the individuals who promote hate and violence on those platforms are doing so in secure anonymity or implicit immunity.

You can’t protect both the platform and the individuals who use it. Someone must be held accountable.

The tech companies are seeing how that is shaking out. The party of individual responsibility is shrieking that they are being censored for irresponsible speech, but will block every effort to hold individuals responsible for what they say online. On the other side, the Democrats are intent on finding someone to blame.

Ultimately, I don’t see any way forward that doesn’t hold individuals responsible for the things they say. That means that when someone named RegularJoe456 posts a comment promoting violence, that Martha Haas, the person who lives behind that name, is held accountable.

And Fer Feck’s sake, let’s all understand that inciting violence and threatening someone’s life are not free speech. Never have been, never will be. Also libel and slander laws still apply on the Interwebs. Free speech does not mean you can say whatever you want without consequences. Free speech does not mean a company is legally required to publish your bullshit.

There can be no freedom without responsibility. And until people are held accountable for their speech on the Internet, the companies that enable that speech will have no choice but to police their platforms.

7

Blam!

“EMBRACE ME!” the hand grenade cries.

About a year ago, I wrote that the impeachment of Donald Trump would provide Republican leadership with a historic opportunity. I asked you all to picture people rowing a canoe in choppy waters, while a fizzing hand grenade rolled around their feet.

The paddlers are, of course, the Republican Party, and the hand grenade is, of course, Donald Trump. The Democrats came along and said, “We INSIST you throw that fizzing hand grenade out of your boat!” (About the fizzing – many hand grenades have fuses; once the pin is pulled and the lever is flipped, there is fizzing, for a few seconds before detonation.)

The Republicans had a choice: Save themselves or defy their opponents. They chose to defy their opponents. They picked up the hand grenade and held it to themselves.

Now the hand grenade is detonating, and while I thought the worst-case scenario for the Republicans was losing the senate, in fact there is a much worse outcome. For them. I’m kind of stoked.

Midterm elections almost always swing against the sitting president. In normal times Republicans could dream of recapturing both houses of congress two years from now. Heck, they made pretty good progress in the House of Representatives this year. They won key legislatures to keep their flagrant gerrymandering alive.

In fact, there’s only one thing that could change that outcome. Things would actually be looking pretty good for Republicans now, were it not for the hand grenade detonating in their canoe.

I am in the short term simultaneously frightened and gleeful at the passing events. Tomorrow the “Sedition Caucus” will go on record, putting their names on an attempt to nullify the certified votes of the people of the United States of America. Outside Trump will wave his tiny fists in the air and the Proud Boys will answer.

Donald Trump is no smarter than any other hand grenade, and cares for the people around him even less. Now he’s so far off the range that Tom fucking Cotton is sounding like a reasonable person.

You had your chance, kids. The Democrats gave it to you on a silver platter. Now you simpering, spineless, cynical anything-to-please-the-base cowards are going down with the ship.

4

“Cancel Culture” My Ass

Let’s cut straight to the bone. Robert E. Lee was a traitor to the United States of America. He led armies that killed thousands and thousands of US servicemen. You can’t say “I support the troops” and “General Lee was OK” without being a hypocrite.

But now, as his effigy is removed from places of honor throughout this nation, crybabies are accusing us of engaging in “cancel culture”. The implication of this phrase is that we are rewriting history, changing the past, and removing inconvenient truths.

That is the opposite of what is happening. When I was growing up, General Lee was a genius general who reluctantly chose to fight for the cause of slavery. Here and now, I call bullshit on textbooks that were edited to pass muster in Texas and the south. Would a court let me off for reluctantly murdering someone? No. Lee had a choice, he made it, and he is a traitor.

What is being canceled is the alternate history that made confederate generals into great men. (Many of them weren’t even very good generals.) What’s being canceled is our willingness to overlook the flaws of our founding fathers. What’s being canceled is our communal agreement to forget uncomfortable facts.

The wing-nuts who coined “Cancel Culture” want to make you think there is a liberal cabal intent on erasing facts. But that’s not what’s really happening. There is a liberal cabal all right, and they are dedicated to adding facts to the debate. If those facts make people uncomfortable, too fucking bad.

What the wing-nuts call Cancel Culture is all about addition, not subtraction, and it is a good thing.

4