Fauci and the fuzz

The Rotterdam curfew riots were good. There’s no need to pussyfoot around the ethical nuances of when, how, and why one is allowed to protest during a global pandemic or the associated “lockdown” and “quarantine”–moron this language in a bit–when the cops are seizing their latest official excuse to get out of line. It’s quite straightforward. The government issued an outrageous order, and the public angrily, forcefully, proudly resisted its execution, out in the street. Out in the street, indeed. They reacted proportionally and appropriately. When the Dutch government declares bedtime and orders its citizens back to quarters, the proper response is to go Electric Avenue on Europe’s strappingest ethnic street gang.

The left makes a significant mistake when it reacts squeamishly to such assertions by the aggrieved governed against an abusive government. The police are hopeless to deescalate disputes over outrageous diktats that they are personally doing their violent best to enforce at the moment. The Arab Street might not have gone home if the cops had stood down and let them hold the street, but they most likely would have dispersed into manageable, peaceable groups. All they wanted to do was hang out at night in peace. People who are allowed to do so pretty quickly stop marching into intersections and throwing projectiles at cops. They think, huh, it could be me on that tram, trying to go clubbing downtown, while some other asshole throws rotten eggs at the windshield.

The cops know this. This is why they escalate.

The ethnic nature of the Rotterdam riots makes some uncomfortable. Restive darkies call the social project of Postwar Europe into question. This is especially true for dutiful bourgeois liberals who think in terms of ethnic and partisan stereotypes. They hate not to think of the savages as noble. Stipulating the occasional violence of nonwhites might play into the hands of the alt-right or something. It couldn’t just be, even in a particular instance, a group of constituents hitting back because they’re sick of being mistreated by their shitty government.

What’s that? It’s bedtime? New phone who dis.

Certainly the question of what brown can do for you–You’re up? Still? At this late hour?–is by now a hoary one, one dating houelle becq into the pest. Are there problems with the politics of De Joof? Okay, maybe, but why the hell do we care? Their objection in Rotterdam was to a mercifully somewhat inept attempt by their government to apply a version of the same lockdowns that had already mass-traumatized the populations of Spain, France, and Italy, some of the same countries that had also achieved world-leading reported fatality rates from The Dread Ailment. This shoudn’t be objectionable. Maybe some of the rioters had Islamic establishmentarian politics or excessive lust for the local wenches. So? That wasn’t why they were out. They were out because they were sick of the fucking cops.

It’s the same thing with the Yellow Vests. Many in the bourgeois center-left are uncomfortable with the rude mass mobilization of center-right car culture normies over gas taxes. Personally, I dislike the premise of their stance, but let’s be real. Their grievances are legitimate. The French government really has been hosing them for living outside the big cities. They aren’t out objecting to proposals for improved bus or train service; one of their bitter complaints is that the only decent transit service is in Paris and a few other cities where they couldn’t afford to live. Their complaint is that instead of services, they get fees. The complaints of the Not Exactly Much who are Not Exactly Dutch were based in decades-old grievances about the government taking advantage of them and sending cops after them to keep them in line. Either or both of these factions could easily find common cause with any number of garden-variety elements of the European hard left.

Huh. The G-7 or G-20 or G-6 or whatever they’re calling it these days surely isn’t directing any of its security services to diffuse any such social synergies at the first sign. They would never do that. Even Mr. Grayling, the smart one, has but three eyes. This, strategia della tensione, do you call it? It’s delicious. The closest thing we have to it on Mars is probably a clam linguine of some sort, but you do realize, we must import our ingredients.

The Democratic base doesn’t care for any such alliances anyway. Their beloved Intelligence Community never sanctons anything of the sort. It’s too Trumpian, poaching a fraction of the hardhats because the rest of the field has absolutely no industrial policy, not just a half-cocked one with no details beyond Reopen Our Beautiful Mines. Protests getting out of hand might alienate swing voters, causing the retention of an incumbent whose idea of policing is maybe, or maybe not, somewhat worse than that of the hand-picked dirty cops forced through the nomination process to oppose him. I’ve personally heard this kind of thing. Protesting too raucously just because the thugs on the Buffalo riot squad audibly cracked Martin Gugino’s skull open in a live-televised pavement check might cost Biden the support of swing voters who, uh, must think that’s an acceptable thing for the police to do and also consider not voting for Republicans, this in a country whose national consensus for a time was that the Third Precinct Stationhouse was no angel.

This idea that we can and should just vote our way out of whatever the government is doing to us is a funny one. It’s come to be closely associated with the Blue No Matter Who freakshow. There’s no need to convince me that there are Republicans who are better than Lori Lightfoot and Eric Garcetti. These bars are low. The Republicans who carry on about this high civic Boy Scout Handbook piety are mostly #NeverTrump rear-guard losers. John Bolton proudly enjoys waiting in line at his polling place to cast his ballot. He says it like a guy who never has to wait in line for anything else.

There are officials who understand languages other than raw power. The problem is with those who don’t, for example, in San Diego, Los Angeles, Sacramento, Portland, Seattle, Denver, Aurora, Ferguson, Minneapolis, Kenosha, Chicago, Austin, Louisvlle, Atlanta, Washington, and Philadelphia. One of these cities after another is governed by Democrats. To fix this mess with Democrats, we’d have to find different Democrats. But that would upset swing voters or moderates or developers or something.

When the prissy booj object to unauthorized protests or riots, they do so on account of at least two obvious blind spots. One is an intense discomfort, even humiliation, before unmistakable proof of the rottenness of their governments and officials. “Joe Biden is a decent guy at heart.” This should be a deeply embarrassing thing to say. Ironically, the other obvious reason for their prissiness is much less embarrassing and cringe precisely because it’s so nakedly, crassly self-interested. They’re big on Marquess of Queensberry Schoolhouse Rock bullshit, and so furious with the Donald for shitting on the floor at their neverending party of politics, because it works for them. For them, it delivers the goods. It’s no coincidence that Rachel Maddow is so popular with people who own their primary residences free and clear.

Why wouldn’t electoral politics work? We own a house. We have home equity. Yeah, champ, that’s the problem. It’s a Ponzi scheme, a gigantic pump-and-dump racket. It’s the most blatantly zero-sum rentier shakedown. Go ask “liberals” in Redwood City or Novato how they feel about Project Roomkey motel contracts.

It hits different when the system doesn’t give you shit. I’m relatively fortunate, as the dispossessed go, but it isn’t the least bit lost on me that I’m fortunate largely by proxy, through my parents. This is just how Obama and Congress wanted it. The adult dependent provision of the ACA was no goof. They knew what they were doing.

On some level, that is. Some of them are stone-cold naturals and also blithering fucking idiots. There’s an alarming amount of reptilian quasi-thinking inside the Beltway, on the part of people who know exactly what works to keep the whole ship listing along just seaworthily enough to keep them employed but unable to articulate a coherent political theory for why the hell that is. Yeah, you’re all making work for yourselves and your marginally employable cronies designing and administering a system that would start actually working if the lot of you were banished to the cane fields. No, to public assistance; I respect people who cut sugarcane too much to inflict useless eaters on them.

These are people who will do nothing good until they are made to feel pain. Mind you, their pain thresholds are hilariously low, e.g., not being reelected, or being told off at restaurants for their atrocious “public service.” They rarely get the pain they deserve. Bolton the Baltimore Walrus is probably less miserable than he looks. Remember, he’s a psychopath, not a normal person. People like him spend their time whining about, say, how total strangers are spoiling their Voting Experience by demanding and returning absentee ballots because that’s the closest thing they face to hardship. Trump is yelling again? Hey, pal, nobody’s making you watch that or professional wrestling or whatever other trashy programming would upset you.

In the context of the extreme hardship, pain, and early death the ghouls in charge of our governments inflict on their constituents, shutting down a freeway or an airport or a railyard with a protest occupation would be downright genteel. Considering the alternatives, which so many already suffer, there’s nothing wrong with some light rioting now and then.

This may sound like armchair edgelord agitation, and I guess it is. I’m too cowardly to take part in any of these festivities in person. Is a virtual riot a thing? A socially distanced riot?

That isn’t any more pathetic than the language and tactics our officials actually use in their desperate efforts to co-opt protest movements. The displays of this deranged, arguably psychotic thought process were on embarrassing display last summer, during the Black Lives Matter protests, with officials giving express dispensation to protesters but only protesters to gather in large groups. But they weren’t mouthing their platitudes about peaceful, responsible protest because they supported the protests. They pulled that shit because they were afraid of the movement. The last thing they want is the rabble they represent compelling their representation.

They wanted everybody milling about on the square downtown, during daylight and only daylight hours, kneeling with the chief and the brass. They wanted the protesters to feel emotionally invested with the cops who would beat and gas their comrades later that night. They wanted the protesters to think of their obvious adversaries–you know, the ones whose brother in arms provoked that round of protests in the first place by choking George Floyd to death with his knee–as allies.

The psychology behind the kneeling ceremonies is troubling. It’s baffling to honor a martyr to police murder by joining cops in a ceremonial reenactment of his murderer’s physical stance. I’m not sure that’s what the cops or the elected officials theoretcally (at times even de facto) commanding them were thinking, though. I hesitate to assume that they WERE thinking. I’m sure they remembered kneeling for the National Anthem as the Kaepernick Thing. Every police department is always downstream of every other police department’s worst cultural touchstones, so once one agency got the idea, others had to follow. An agency can’t just ignore the cool new cop thing.

The Floyd protests caught officials off-guard. They were a holy shit moment. What, we can’t just let a cop choke a guy to death anymore? Chauvin can’t get away with it just because Pantaleo did? Oh. The public reaction was a consequence of too little work and too much TV, some said. We were supposed to Netflix and Chill through “lockdown,” not CNN and Heat Up. Officials came up with the protest safety protocols and the civic justifications for them on the fly. I don’t think they were trying to subjugate the family by sanctioning protests but not funerals, or the religious by sanctioning protests but not services. They were cobbling their shit together on the fly. In many cases, it took their cops a single night to prove their own contempt for the public health protocols they’d been commissioned to enforce, when they gassed whole neighborhoods or even pulled protesters’ masks down to blast them in the face with pepper spray from a foot away. Was it a good idea, from a public health perspective, to further overload the jails with protesters there was little or no ground to arrest in the first place? Of course not. That’s why the cops did it.


There were protests against “lockdown,” too, but no good Brahmin dared support them. Besides, many of them were the work of antisocial extremists. Wine moms barging into Trader Joe’s to yell at the nearest cart jockeys about their right to shop unmolested and undressed had as much to do with civil liberties as shitting on the floor at Tim Hortons. That’s a style of protest, too. Like any protest, it loses its magic when they mayor issues a permit and guidelines.

Few jurisdictions in the United States had genuine lockdowns. Most Americans were never ordered or even advised to go into real quarantine. Otherwise, “quarantine” and “lockdown” were misleading synonyms for a raft of very poorly drafted and explained shelter-in-place orders, i.e., the usual horny-for-rules nerds, hypochondriacs, avoidants, paranoiacs, and other poorly adjusted characters cowering behind closed doors in obedience of the fnords. We were allowed out of the house, mostly. It was just that we weren’t sure we were. The way we (“we”) were using publc health language was shockingly hyperbolic. Describing a work-from-home lifestyle revolving around ordering in from restaurants and fleeing to the Hamptons on impulse as “lockdown” or “quarantine” was a bit like referring to incoherent assault threats from a schizophrenic across the street as Manzanar.

A huge number of Americans bobbed through these extreme but exaggerated disruptions of public life in a state of chronic psychological trauma. This was the case in a number of European countries, too. The pot-banging and clapping ceremonies at shift change by the hospitals, the balcony singalongs, all the talk about “cottagecore” and what “we” were doing to get through “lockdown” and “quarantine,” and the rest of the cult shit drove a whole lot of people truly mad. In ways, it would have been better if it had made more people go openly crazy, instead of the chronic, low-grade zombie reactions that were most common and obvious. The combination of gross linguistic exaggerations and muted, avoidant behavioral patterns was bizarre and unsettling. Then there was all the deranged make-believe shit: “virtual happy hour,” “Zoom reunion,” Sober Scotch Hour with Rob Ford, etc.

The distortions of language seem deliberate. It’s easy for trendsetters–influencers–to propagate linguistic tics by example and repetition. Some of the antics to emerge during the pandemic were just fucking suspect. No way in hell would nurses working with hypercontagious ICU patients during a respiratory pandemic have the time, energy, or, ideally, the bad judgment to stage linedancing routines in the hallways.

We were being gaslit. This wasn’t a case of I’m myself and you are too. This shit really was used to attack all of us. What really happened to Tiffany Dover? Beats me, but I know I don’t have as much trust in the caliber of management that runs hospital nursing pools as I did before these weird-ass fainting and dancing spells, and I had little trust in the first place.

What the fuck are we supposed to think of Anthony Fauci, if we really think about him? Eyy, I make-a da spikey protein! Well? That wasn’t as cringe as the poem Scott Simon read about him, and it wasn’t dishonest. Fauci was the guy who fucked up the response to AIDS for Ronald Reagan. There’s something really off about his combative turned amicable relationship with Larry Kramer. He’s a sworn liar. Let’s play around with the herd immunity threshold. Let’s focus-group that shit to see what it takes to get everybody to take the new mRNA vaccines, which are going to save everybody’s life because oops there’s a new variant they don’t seem to cover.

No shit ordinary people will react to this bullshit and dissembling and lying and manipulation by veering into woo-woo.

I don’t believe a word of Fauci’s internal e-mail admitting that masks don’t work. It’s common sense not to want random strangers breathing and coughing and sneezing whatever the hell they’ve got in their lungs all over me. It’s common courtesy of me not to pass it forward if they wheeze their skanky shit on me. #Values #PassDaKine.

For others, it’s common sense that masks cause extreme carbon dioxide buildups, don’t work, traumatize children, ad nauseam. I just try to set the example that they’re a viable, perfectly bearable way to maybe keep myself and those around me healthier than we’d otherwise be. For Tony, Joe, Rachel, and the gang, they’re some kind of marshmallow test hazing ritual or something. Covid-19 is not the only virulent pathogen whose transmission masks can inhibit. Setting aside all the weirdness surrounding the vaccines and assuming they all work as advertised, Covid-19 vaccines do not prevent the contraction of transmission of influenzas.

This shit isn’t about public health. It’s about ritual purity versus impurity. It’s about piety versus impiety, obedience versus disobedience. What were my sources for hesitating to get the vaccine? Not that honking Italian son of a bitch. I’ll say that much. Crowning a serial liar with a long history of bad research decisions, notably including gain-of-function projects that alarmed many of his colleagues, as the world king of infectious disease makes many highly reasonable people want to do their own fucking research before doing anything he advises. That asshole reacted to the cruise ship disasters in Yokohama and Sydney by berating Americans not to cancel their cruise reservations.

Maybe he’s wrong about masks after all. If he isn’t, he was.

You read that right. I can’t believe I had to write it. I can’t believe it makes sense.


Anybody from the nominally educated centrist to center-left top quartile or so of American society faces intense pressure not to question this narrative. They have jobs on the line, or places to stay, or assistance from wealthier relatives. This does much to explain why there has been so little pushback on the public health narrative from the left and so much from the right. We face the same pressures for saying anything neutral or positive or nuanced about Trump, here in Bougiekistan.

I reacted differently. The moment I heard official lies and discrepancies, I took them as existential threats. I wouldn’t trust anybody I witnessed behaving so dishonestly and recklessly in a bad part of Rancho Cordova, either. Nobody gets between me and my survival mechanisms. I don’t allow it. I’m not taking medical orders from homicidal serial liars.

My hypervigilance immediately cued me in to the big drivers of infection. I took the initiative to stop going to Mass a week before the last one indoors. For months after outdoor Masses resumed, I not only wore a mask (as strictly mandated and universally followed) but also stayed silent during the communal prayers. I remembered the horror stories from that Lutheran choir in the North Sound.

But churches were obviously only a middling vector. The American authorities put their thumbs up their asses and basically did nothng while infections spread like wildfire through prisons, nursing homes, farmworker shacks, slaughterhouses, and every other 100% predictably ultra-high-risk congregate setting that had been in dire need of regulatory enforcement for decades over extreme threats to human health and life. Like, come on, you can’t seriously be telling me the bus downtown is too dangerous for me to take just for the hell of it but San Quentin is safe for occupancy. That’s insane.

The same state government that presided over a catastrophic outbreak in San Quentin couldn’t guarantee a seat on the next bus to Santa Rosa because Golden Gate Transit was enforcing a strict 20% capacity limit. Yeah, that’s something they’ve always cared about at CDCR, percent of capacity.

The anecdotes to similar effects are endless. Our lives were upended for over a year, for reasons that have yet to be credibly explained, with mediocre public health outcomes.

This is the case in Europe, too, as we’ve discussed above. Mark Rutte had riots on his hands because he insisted on imposing the same heavyhanded, statistically ineffective measures that had fucked up life in several other esteemed members of the European Union. It was odder for him to make the decision than the heads of government he copied. Rutte is reasonably down-to-earth for a politician. He lacks the theatrics of Italy’s rotating cast of premiers (which frankly should have kept rotating over the past year), the grand narcissism of Emmanuel Macron, the seedy corruption of Spain’s elected officials and minor royalty, or the raucous buffoonery of BoJo and his cabinet.

He still decided that he had to deploy cops at bedtime, in the interest of stopping Covid. The way these fuckers think, I swear, is that they won’t be able to spot the virus on patrol at night because it’s too dark. They’re morons and busybodies. Will people slip into one another’s houses without government permission because they want to smoke dope or have sex? Sure. They’ll also need to leave for work during curfew hours.

Cops are too fucking dull to tell the difference. I’m serious. Ordering them to enforce curfews only makes them dumber.

Riots, by contrast, sharpen their intellects a tiny bit. Riots send a message: you aren’t in control just because you say you are; you’re our public servants, not our babysitters; we set our own bedtimes.

One of the neat things about the Rotterdam curfew riots is that they were explicitly about the curfew. American liberals and leftists felt compelled to sublimate their disaffection with the business closures and constant warnings and lectures and channel it into anger over police murders of black constituents. They had to pretend that they were exercising the one specific dispensation they had as good kids and good liberals to leave the house and freely associate with their neighbors.

They had to pretend that Anthony Fauci isn’t a cop.

He’s a fucking cop. He isn’t even the kind of cop who’ll defuse a street fight or talk down the disturbed or give a stranded motorist a roadside jump. He’s an asshole who lectures and threatens and lies to the general public for a living. He gets paid to goad us to act as scolds and stool pigeons while the government employing him stands back in the face of millions of preventable deaths. Yeah, I know, we don’t care about deaths that aren’t from Covid. He’s what would happen if Joseph DeAngelo kept the anthrax next to the roast.

We could have had Sacco and Vanzetti integrate the police instead.

Reopen the economy? In this economy?

Some stupid asshole is always being insufferable in public about something, here on this side of heaven. Is this place our punishment? It’s best not to contemplate these things too closely; the abyss loves to make eye contact. We can and should give thanks that it isn’t always an evening in Gethsemane; sometimes it’s just a huge pain in the ass.

I guide us into this patch of darkness to lead us through it and out. We need to keep things in perspectives, Lionel. Joe Biden’s holding a virtual rally next week; everybody’s welcome and his son is dead. Our Thicc Moist Boi at 1600 Pennsylvania loves being a messy bitch. If that’s all he’s doing, just getting a new layer of mess on his moistness, we should give thanks, and our troubled hearts a rest, but more importantly we should maintain focus on what he’s DOING. He was probably speaking in code to threaten Ghislaine Maxwell when he wished her well, the topic he’d appeared before the press to discuss having been the Rona. If so, it’s more germane than his beef with Fauci, where he’s the last mouthy fuckhead standing. This might be a good reason to vote for Biden, on the premise that he’s just a sleazy grabass, not a jetsetting high society pervert.

All the same, leaving aside the red herrings, we’re still presented with a smorgasbord of stupid fit for the Bothnian drinking ferries. Drink your fill from the self-service wine tap; it’s shit, but it’s free. Derpeamus igitur. Just because it’s stupid doesn’t mean it’s germane; just because it’s germane doesn’t mean it’s within our capacity to process.

Bone uppy tit!


Things seem dumber and dumber these years. A scrum of nattering beatniks wandering North Beach or a slime of hippie dirtbags slouching around in the Haight-Ashbury didn’t much matter; neighbors who didn’t care for their shit could work for a living. It was, in fact, possible to lay in bed until eleven o’clock, with the coffee already burning, and still get by. America had its meddlesome authority figures, but they didn’t have nearly the leverage they exert today. It was easier to get a job because it was safer to quit a job. Telling a boss or a landlord to get fucked was much less likely to be catastrophic than it is today. The insolence kept its targets in line. They knew they’d lose employees or tenants to reputable competitors if they pushed the envelope. Their reputations as superiors mattered at least as much as the reputations of their inferiors. There are always predators looking to use their tinpot authority as a perch to hunt for prey, but there was a time, within living memory, when they broadly knew better than to take their chances.

It’s noteworthy that major cosmopolitan cities in the United States had real, easily describable economies in the first few postwar decades, not clusters of vapid amusements for easily bored yuppies amid surreal housing bubbles. San Francisco was fairly affordable before the dot-com horseshit of the nineties. The timing was no coincidence. A lot of stuff used to be manufactured, serviced, or shipped south of Market and east of Potrero. The computer business made sense as an industry. It was well-established by that point, decades old, run by quiet, sensible people who knew what they were doing and acted more or less normally and reasonably. Then a bunch of loudmouthed flimflammers showed up to wax insufferable about how they were revolutionizing everything online and go broke in third-party grocery delivery.

They kept bragging about failing loudly and proudly, in a tone strongly indicating that they had never faced, let alone experienced, real failure in their lives. They lost their fellow cokeheads’ seed money setting up businesses they could have bankrupted just as competently under a mail-order format. Nobody who flamed out in a public-facing role ever emerged visibly poor, and of course they were all rich. They all had rich friends and family to prime the stock pump with venture capital, talk up their stupid companies in the press, and, in Jeff Bezos’s case at least, jump in with emergency loans no workaday entrepreneur could ever expect to secure.

Want a job at Amazon, in on a good thing at its inception? Jeff needs to know your SAT score. Yeah, how about fuck off back into private life you bugeyed prick is my score, asshole. This shit proliferated in multiple cities at once. It welled up from the same poison spring. Seattle was a city of militantly unionized waterfront workers when Bezos showed up. You might not want to fly on a plane that goes Boeing Boeing Boeing, but you could get a damn well-paid and secure job building one. The same hustle was run on New York City, although mainly via high finance, and on the Beltway through lobbyists and their friends. More and more the only way to get ahead, or even to tread water, was to move to one of a handful of cities where the cost of living was going haywire on account of countywide real estate pump-and-dump rackets. An earlier FCC or FTC might well have shut Stan Merrill down, if not up. Bob Vila should have calmly locked every shithead from HGTV in a closet and done passive-aggressive carpentry projects around them over their whimpering until they passed out.

We’ve been a nation of disgraceful gamblers, grifters, and frauds ever since. If it’s in our national DNA, it must have been suppressed pretty thoroughly for decades. What the fuck is Sand Hill Road? It’s like going to see a mortgage officer, except you know the mortgage officer will be a puffed-up speed freak who got ritually raped into a college fraternity and won’t shut up about vision and paradigms and shit. Ellen Pao’s accusations sound like what most of those guys would do. I’d be furious at most of them myself, probably for being edgy and uncouth in sexual conversations I never welcomed, among many other gross things having nothing to do with business.

Unwell extortionists like Adria Richards show up for their pound of flesh, but please, we all know their accusations are the tip of the iceberg. The companies they accuse of fostering harassment are eminent targets for blackmail. This is a business that harbors Elon Musk and Peter Shih. At the other extreme, it harbors smug fartsniffers who go on Masters of Scale and preen about how Silicon Valley has tech entrepreneurship because it has coffeeshops, a terrible thing to not have on account of a move to Berkeley or Ann Arbor or any one-horse town with a diner.

Reid it and puke.

Post-dot-com tech inevitably warped people’s relationships to geography. Anybody who was anybody had to be on the Peninsula, which, say, now, you told us you were abolishing distance with your technological advancements you lying son of a bitch. Many of the prominent companies are of course pseudonovel rackets and shakedowns: patent-squatting outfits backed up by shyster lawyers like Microsoft, mob crews pimping out day laborers like Uber and Instacart, and dead-eyed totalitarian dystopias like Amazon. If a normal person is alerted that his warehouse workers are pissing in diapers on the floor until they’re carried out on stretchers on account of heat exhaustion, he’ll order an immediate top-to-bottom review of his warehouses. Jeff approves of these work conditions. They’re fit for the losers he hires to move his product. The SAT scores are weak in those ones.

The Ailment is shaking things up. It’s disrupting our shit. It’s moving our cheese back home. Huh, maybe all the bluster about high-tech remote work options means it’s time to allow for some fucking remote work, but that means the locational advantage of the City and the Valley diminish pretty dramatically, and that was a big part of the racket. Oopsy-doopsy, we may have done a wittle fucky-wucky. What do we do if one of our cokehead buddies from SAE used our venture capital to hire some Honduran women to wash yuppies’ dogs but the yuppies are moving to Reno, with time newly freed to care for their own pets?


Guess we better get in and monetize that trend, too. This was what set me off on this screed. Some hipster asshats are pitching bespoke trailer parks as the new place to be for digital nomads in the remote economy. That’s what always disappoints me whenever some overwrought wanker tires of the inner Bay Area rents and moves to Tracy: another grandiose thinkpiece about this hot new trend.

I wonder how anybody would imagine a pleasant, well-appointed doublewide, like maybe by sometimes socializing with ordinary Americans or shopping for their own groceries. Fred Meyer doesn’t have windows, so it must be dark inside, but you go in and you see it has ceiling lights. One couple might keep a tidy singlewide with serviceable state-of-the-art appliances, inviting furniture, and jars full of homemade cookies. Another couple might get drunk and hurl expired cans of Chef Boyardee at each other in their Addams Family-ass Craftsman. This is so odd. They have a house!

Yeah, but do you ever speak to people from below your station who aren’t your servants?

There’s plenty of #VanLife to be lived along the Nimitz Freeway, and there’s places you could still been a contenda on da Warterfront in Novato, recently as last night you coulda done dat, Christ Brando you absolute unit. Kibbo offers snacks, in fact, all for just $1,000 a month in membership fees, and Tentrr is another option, and come to think of it there is no alternative to the immediate banishment of everyone involved with this shit to the Sonoma Tard Farm.

For decades we’ve had right-wing normore fuckheads acting like they’re of modest means for RVing around the country, unlike jetsetting cosmopolitans who eat at restaurants and stay in hotels, omitting that they spend six figures buying kitted-out tour buses for access to $70+ nightly pull-through sites allowing them to reevacuate tanks full of their shit through a hose. That was conservative minimalism. Now we’re doing liberal minimalism or some shit, where instead of being a sentimental performative asshole from Dennydundiddlyland with a bumper sticker about how you’re spending your children’s inheritance you strut around like a twee performative hipster piece of shit who’s vanning around Queenstown for the Gram.

Every iteration of this culture attracts the worst, most self-satisfied jagoffs. KOA Nation bars the campground gate against clunkers whose owners need them for last-resort shelter. #VanLife entrepreneurs passive-aggressively preen about how their nice vans, unlike the shabby vans along the Nimitz, are tidy and full of neatly curated nice things, every sweater perfectly folded and stowed in its dresser drawer. We aren’t homeless; we’re nomads! It’s fascinating, coming from rich hipster cunts who are pretending to be lace curtain homeless for the attention. As someone who’s actually been homeless, I’m not trying to suborn punching every one of these smug fucks in the face, so please, don’t drive to Big Sur and do anything like that.

What rules is that they externalize the thirty-point IQ load of actual poverty, precarity, and transience onto their Amazon and Uber servants and STILL carry on like total retards. A thousand a month for a campground membership? Are you off your rocker? Yeah, I know, it’s a Veblen Good. Here’s something Veblen thought good: higher marginal rates. These twerps don’t want the government wasting their hard-earned trust fund distributions on frivolities or white elephants. They know better how to spend their own money than the government, which does not disburse Section Eight funds for the rental of bespoke Mercedes caravans.

Nah, the psychology is worse than that. Much worse. The hip, ironic Millennial customer base for this horseshit notices, uncomfortably, that there was a proliferation of residential and commercial capacity that suddenly crashed offline in 2008 because their cokehead classmates in i-banking blew up the international credit market on by betting on margin. There’s all this turnkey capacity but nobody has the cash or the credit to occupy it, except vulture capital firms. Destitute Americans, either homeless or nearly so, who could be living in foreclosed houses and maintaining them as their own homes are stripping the wiring to sell on the scrap market.

It’s unconscionable and insane, but our Boomer parents own real estate, and their friends don’t want to hear about how the whole system is illegitimate when they invite us to dinner parties. A handful of brutish hustlers with advanced cocaine, amphetamine, and alcohol problems deputize thugs at the cop shop to threaten and coerce tenants who fail to pay their venture capital firms rent on houses they bought at fire sale prices and now refuse to maintain. They keep properties vacant to drive up rents, i.e., to squeeze the productive for money they don’t have.

The evidence is damning. America’s landlords are dead to rights. It is impolitic, however, to say so at bougie dinner, among landlords. Hence all the horseshit about minimalism since 2008. It has been a free choice to live in cramped quarters, not a capitulation to unnecessary, intolerable coercion. The industry built all that shit on spec, and now that there’s too much of it nobody can rent it? What fucking planet is this? It’s the market? Well fuck the market then. Use eminent domain to take that shit and redistribute it to the public until the market starts functioning in the public interest. If we can seize private citizens’ houses to build ballparks, we can seize misallocated properties from the shysters hoarding them. They’d get a buyer that way lol.

We’d have heard a lot less about “tiny houses” and “van life” over the course of this Depression had we not been thrust into the Depression in the first place, with its bizarre circumstances of chronically high but underreported unemployment and rising rents in places with functioning job markets. The targets have been brutalized by the markets where they’ve had to rent. Hardly anybody buys a house these days without major parental assistance.

We should hope to notice something degraded and intolerable about renters having trouble finding or affording residential rentals and saying, oh well, guess I should move into a van. These new #DigitalNomad #VanLife hustlers are taking advantage of the public health orders shuttering nonessential offices to point out that fewer professionals have to commute to their offices in high-rent areas. This does nothing to explain why working full-time from home means that somebody should move into a fucking van. ‘It’s an opportunity to travel.” Okay. The targets here have the disposable income to spend $12k a year on a campground membership, so maybe they should keep living where they are unless they’ve found a better place to live and go traveling sometimes.

It sure seems like They are trying to normalize some bad shit with this trend, like accepting extremely expensive permanent accommodation in a van as a material condition of in-demand professional employment. They’re like, oh, you can go to Zion and Big Sur this way. Fascinating. These are bustling resort areas. Did their hotels all just burn down?

This is a gem:

Kibbo also thinks of itself as developing a new kind of roving cities comprised of a certain kind of membership.

“Unlike traditional top-down designed and built real estate developments, Kibbo is setting out to build the first of the next generation of cities: flexible, reconfigurable, designed and defined by the people that live in it, off the grid and sustainable,” O’Donnell said. 

That’s abject bullshit. Aside from the bollocks about sustainability, that sounds like the Joad migration. The Joads were climate refugees living in motor vehicles, too. “Climate change and the resulting flooding, fires and rising sea levels are going to change the kinds of infrastructure to support permanent housing, Abrahamson said.” What, like roads? That’s already on in Alaska.

These people are all fucking morons. They’re pitching this as hipster bugout shit. They’re inevitably the last people who are fit to assist with a bugout. That’s why they’re in the business: climate change is a justification to charge $1k a month to rent the Sprinter, too. $24k a year for a membership in a network of resorts that will, by their own declaration, likely be cut off from society during natural disasters.

None of these fuckers would last a week without a delivery truck.


An unmentioned but currently strong motivation for these pukes to get out of the city this year is the shutdown not of offices, but of entertainment amenities. The restaurants are closed, the nightclubs are closed, the theaters, the salons, in some places the malls. The usual servants have gone on plague furlough, so there’s less reason to live near them. Mob shakedown operations like UberEats and Instacart are still running, stronger than usual, but the business where one can go out to get waited on are mostly shuttered, at least in theory, and the shut-in tendencies in much of the hipster market are too strong to find the speakeasies. Besides, there’s all the overlap with the horny for rules crowd, who are being waited on AT HOME because it’s illegal to go out to the grocery store now, but not for the servants. One of the attractions of the van life horseshit is the insinuation that it doesn’t involve grocery shopping. I mean, my goodness, snacks are included!

If these cases wanted to live in the diversity of the actual cultures of New York City, Chicago, Los Angeles, San Francisco, Seattle, or whatever, they wouldn’t conspire to steamroll it all for a bunch of cupcake shops and axe bars and drive the local workers who keep their shit running to the urban periphery. The reason the “conservatives” are on board with the “liberals” in these places in political matters pertaining to illegal immigration is that they’re their Mexicans, too. What they mean by multiculturalism is one or more cultures (other peoples’) doing the work to cater to another (their own).

I’m sufficiently in the loop in the Bay Area and the Acela Corridor to be sure I’m not particularly wrong about this. My current thoughts about living next to Mexicans on both sides are: 1) I will share Alta California on my own, and 2) get your shit off my car and go tailgate somewhere else. Fucken Gran Torino-ass setup to bequeath some neighborhood gangbanger my Focus, I guess; God bless America, pot of our melt.

Communal relations aside, an overproduction of restaurants always benefits from an exploitable labor pool. Without it, restaurant meals, nightclub tabs, and the like would cost more. There might be fewer of them available in the first place, at any price, as workers decide the gig is bullshit if it runs beyond twenty hours a week. It’s the same thing with the ridehailing apps. The parts about getting fired by the computer without recourse for service slightly below excellence and never paid enough to break even long-term runs drivers with other options off the platform and those without into debt. They’re in the auto loan business now because they pay their drivers too little to maintain their cars; no way that’ll go badly.

The point is that there’s less allure to this hip urban “culture” of being waited on because there’s less of it to be had, plus the rent’s due, it’s still stratospheric, and landlords are happy to squeeze their tenants to insolvency for a quick buck and then find new tenants upon their eviction. High-roller foreign dirty money is lately in vogue. (Of course, Donald Trump was laundering it decades ago, before it was even popular.) #VanLife allows hipster fuckheads to ditch their landlords, current and prospective, in a way that maintains at least the fiction of adequate housing and spares all present the awkward but crucial conversation about how landlords are bottomfeeding parasites in dire need of close official regulation.

That’s the trend. Millennial minimalism after Boomer/Gen X maximalism as a cultural phenomenon is a fig leaf. The minimalist fad is a cover for the bad acts of the real estate industry, which has been minimizing the supply of housing to goose everyone else’s costs. It’s the same thing as farmers dumping surplus grain or milk into the river in a time of urban hunger because spot prices are down.

Let’s do some minimalist eating while we’re at it, Mr. Joad. Let’s enjoy less more.


Don’t take that seriously, unless you’re broke or poor. Our restaurateurs want us to do maximal eating out. It’s good for business. Our business is their business, and that much I do mean. They’re on the news regularly to complain that the $600 weekly federal unemployment bonus is deterring their employees from coming back to work. The elected officials they buy are on the tube to back them up. We need to reopen the economy and get back to work.

There’s an extra lot of this condescending talk about the importance of work coming out of Georgia. The NewsHour had a lady on complaining about how last year had been a challenging year to open a brew pub in the Atlanta Metroplex. Separately, but not exactly, there was an item on Marketplace mentioning that business interruption insurance doesn’t usually cover communicable disease outbreaks. Maybe they could discuss the inadequacy of their insurance with their insurers or the authorities regulating them instead of discussing the workshyness of their help with us as a general public.

Is it better to work in a brew pub, or not to work at all? This strikes me as a question individuals with experientially informed opinions on working in brew pubs can easily answer for themselves, without employer assistance. The employers’ position, of course, is that here in Post-Soviet America, job takes and shoves YOU! We’ll all go soft and entitled and prefer to sit around the house and collect a government check instead of getting a job. This has been happening for decades under the disability benefits system, under claims for disabilities spanning the spectrum from the surmounted to the tenuous to the fabricated. This fraud is in fact a major reason why there isn’t fully systemic hunger while our food supply rots. Less starvation seems like a compelling indicator of a strong economy, but I’m sure I’m just a dumbass who doesn’t know how things work around here.

The help don’t wanna work in that lady’s brew pub no more. It’s odd: it’s considered unacceptable for employees to speak ill of their employers, or at least reckless, but good form for employers to call their employees lazy goldbrickers on a national television news broadcast. If I were foily, I’d attribute this to a function of who’s been loud and proud lately and getting away with it. Why is it only ever the weak who are expected to show manners? It says something that the owner of that brew pub thinks she’ll have a staff at all after going on the boob tube to mouth off like that. In a healthy economy, she’d be ruing the day she got booked: like, God, I’m the arrogant fool who went on TV to complain that I resent my own employees for accepting a third-party counteroffer.

We’re always lectured that these disputes are about the dignity and necessity of work, not about submitting to other people and being told what to do. There are circumstances when instructions from superiors are helpful: these rows are where the fruit is, this is how to pick it, etc. Or, on television, this is why the lazy, uncommitted punks who work for me need to grow up and come back to work at my brew pub.

Now I’m just a fucking loser who walks off farm jobs to get away from threats to my safety or welfare that interfere with the actual work, so disregard everything I have to say about what it takes to feed a country, but maybe this is an ill-advised summer to spend in a brew pub in Atlanta. We always hear hagiographies of small business owners making sacrifices, and often these are autohagiographies, the point being that their employees should be grateful to the Creators of their Jobs. Kid, if I weren’t busting my ass here every day there’d be no one here to tell you what to do, and fuck you for walking out and taking government money. They sure get sore and resentful and scandalized when the value of their gifts to their employees is diminished or erased.

Georgia, I believe, has a tipped minimum wage of $2.13. Get your ass in here to wait on tables, in case there are any. One thing we could do here is to suspend commercial evictions and give business owners the same UBI as employees until after the Ailment is passed. Mind you, that would be a civic leveler, perhaps not something the owners would enjoy. But for God’s sake nobody should be crowding into an alcohol-themed indoor restaurant in a world-leading hotspot for the transmission of an aggressive respiratory contagion.

Think about it. “Good God, I sacrifice everything for this restaurant. I put my blood, sweat, and tears on the line for this place. Why the hell will nobody help me? What gives you the right to pay them to stay home?” Did you really have to ask? This fucking thing transmits at its best indoors among crowds of loud drunks. It’s like a property owner asking why he can’t find help to put hundreds of pounds of equipment on a non-weight-bearing table in a confined workspace or to replace the cover boards on a septic tank without gloves. These are exactly the jobs a person reckless enough to attempt them should be left to do alone.

This is a season in which a brew pub in Georgia clears the threshold. “Hey, I need some help pirating electricity off that PG&E line over in that thicket of dry brush. I’m using this length of uninsulated copper wire. Hey! I said, get over here!” A responsible government with a runaway respiratory disease outbreak on its hands would shut that fucking brew pub down. It would withhold its authorization for the pub to operate and force any remaining pub business underground, into speakeasies either smaller, less numerous, or both.

One thing I’ll take away from this, our plaguetime, will be the renewed and hardened conviction that anyone considering it right and good for other people to have to work at her brew pub to survive deserves neither her employees nor her brew pub. Some of these fuckers make me ashamed to eat at restaurants at all.


It’s rich, we might say, that the Royal Household and whatever the fuck else they call it is clutching its pearls over the failure of Harry and Meghan to pursue a sufficiently process-oriented separation from the family. If there’s one country that comes to mind for competently and cordially executing separation processes strictly according to protocol, it’s Great Britain and I’m Clement Atlee.

What a bunch of wankers. They’re all bloody miserable cunts, aside from the ones who are straight white trash. On the surface, disengaging from this wretched family looks more inspiring than engaging with it in the first place. Royal watchers are ruing that Prince Harry appeared bored with his duties. He sat through them, they said, but made no effort to hide his contempt for the proceedings. At last we have a member of the family somehow threading the needle between the festering vapidity of most of his relatives and the royal bumptiousness of Charles III. (Is he not on his way? I’m only semifacetious here.) He was born into this dogshit-stupid pageantry but has the good sense to recognize it for the absolute bollocks it is. Does His future Majesty very much enjoy the tikka masala? Well, does the chap look like he gives a shit? No? Good for him.

There are occasional monarchists who have thoughtful reasons for their philosophy. The problem is this: for every John Regan arguing, say, that we seem to end up with hereditary rule no matter how we get there and the British have some practice and wisdom in getting to a better version of it de jure, there have to be hundreds of drooling fuckwits gasping and cooing about how majestic it all is. Bugger me all the way to Balmoral you dense bitch, that’s no way to run a country. Some asshole from the BBC’s royal desk was on Here and Now today enthusing about how it’s a national department of having fun. Nice fun we’re having here, Harry; shame if you tried not to have it. Crystal Harris was, against the odds, right: we all just like to do fun stuff.

Some amateur beancounter inevitably shows up to these debates about republicanism versus royalism with stories about how much tourist traffic that horseshit brings to the UK. If true, it says nothing good about the tourists in question that they would be hopeless to think of anything else worth doing in England, Scotland, Wales, or Ulster if that wretched clan of inbred krauts weren’t there for them, and it’s a well-established matter of postmodern British political and economic history that a succession of recent governments have decided to make the City (read: fraud) the keystone of the national economy, so there’s no moral ground to defend here. What the economic development concern trolls are trying to maintain comes from an even uglier position. They insist that it is right and just that the House of Windsor serve as the displays in a human zoo.

Harry and Meghan are of sound mind and great wisdom to remove themselves from this horseshit. The Windsor grapevine kept reporting that the family was abusing Meg, cutting her off from loved ones outside their direct control like any other good cult. It takes all the maturity of an observant teenager to recognize that the fairytale lifestyle for which the British royal family is so fulsomely celebrated is stultifying and meaningless as all hell. Have I ever mentioned that Harry Potter is a popular adult fiction series among the American upper middle class? This seems germane. Between the wizard crap, The West Wing, and all the pseudohighbrow royalist/aristocratic propaganda on PBS, we can start to see things that are frightfully wrong with this country. Ali G, the same gentleman who asked if there will ever be a female prime minister, provided a useful litmus test for this kind of shit: is it good, or is it wack? For H&M, the former turned out to be the latter.

Fuck off about how they’re committing dereliction of duty and scheming to capitalize on their titles. Nobody fucking respects Andrew and Fergie. Those two are both royal bigshots, or he is and she was, but everybody knows they’re fucking useless and expects absolutely nothing of either of them. The Canadian kids sure seem an improvement over the Lolita Express shitbird and his messy lush of an ex-wife. The claims that they’re fleeing the Household to put a stop to interference in extended family visitations with their young child are evidence enough of their relatively good character and judgment, and as they say about sex in Vermont, and at Windsor Castle, it’s all relatives.

Hey, the kid may be a Nazi cosplayer, but at least he married out. We’ve got portraits of the shit the old school unclefucked into existence, and it ain’t good. The Hapsburgs were a bunch of drooling retards–or, as we call them stateside, PBS Sustainers. There’s a huge amount of cooing shit on PBS’s evening lineups, on Sundays especially (maybe something to do with who doesn’t have to go to work tomorrow/watches that shit in the first place), about how Victoria restored flagging British reverence towards the monarchy. This is interesting–by which I mainly mean dreadfully uninteresting–in the historical context of her own son and successor, a lecherous ditz. Edward–Bertie, as they called him–Eddie could never afford to live that kind of life. That’s why he was a public charge like the rest of them.

That’s the thing about the monarchy, though: the duties of these offices are whatever the hell the wankers holding them are able and willing to discharge, and in a number of cases the answer has been John Dennis Diddly. Say, that sounds like a public school pastime. Coach, do put me in there! Eddie, in this case not of Brender, was a great disappointment to his father and mother, but nobody looked any finer than that vapid bastard, whether or not he’d been banging that Irish floozy of a camp follower or however many dozens of other tramps. It’s been written that Long Islanders piss off Manhattan’s elites because they’re close enough to the seedy shit that goes down on Oyster Bay to know that we’re all just a little bit Buttafuoco. According to folklore, Newsday has unpublished photographs confirming our sinful nature: SATIN LIVES.

The British royal family ends up in a fourth-turning cycle or some shit in which, rather like Russia’s periodic teetotaler tsars/premiers/presidents, a fastidiously chaste goody-two-shoes pays people to preen about her bottomless virtue and glamor for the duration of her reign, punctuating a succession of utterly useless and blatantly disreputable wastrels. The Millennial monarchs-in-waiting are maintaining a three-generation streak of not being boorish and stupid within their direct lineage, if we leave aside Philip, an ever more senile oaf, and Elizabeth, who’s perhaps not too bright. Meanwhile the family’s got allowance claimants wandering around with the intelligence of Eric Trump and the sobriety of Amy Winehouse. To go parochial and translate that for the streets, that entire family proves that there’s no shame in my game. What, are they the only ones who are allowed to be indolent? Look, whatever the stuff in these pages is, I write it. (Does it look like it has editors?) I’ll be Lord Byron if one in twenty of that useless lot is able to independently pen anything worth reading.

If the British government and public wish to continue subsidizing these fuckheads, it’s their business. If these jagoffs themselves insist on breeding, it’s a dysgenic nightmare but not anybody else’s business, although the size and continuation of the public allowances encouraging this animalistic proliferation are a matter of genuine public concern. Luther Burbank does not have descendants, but they all do.

Sharing this culture with the United States, however, is specifically and directly our business. We fought a war of independence to be done with this shit, and now we celebrate it multiple times a week on our federal public television service. We don’t need this garbage. There are other things little girls can aspire to be when they grow up besides princesses. Why have a society of princesses, professional athletes, ballerinas, astronauts, and marine biologists when we can instead aspire to a society of working smallholders, union railroaders, craftspeople, prostitutes, the chronically unemployed, and definitely some hot CBSA agents and Mounties? (Field uniform, please; the dress uniform is too ridiculous for comment.) Unfortunately, I know exactly why: it’s the same reason we read fucking Harry Potter. My list was fucked up, but it was half useful and half sexy, I thought for a moment that I’d erred for including the unemployed, that that was hella wack, but then I remembered why we find the royals and aristos so captivating. It ain’t because they work.

Who’s “us”? It’s whoever presumes to speak for us on deep state radio and television. I’ll be interested to see what the Scots offer for licensing under devolution. It could be shite, but the limeys are already burying us in it, so it could hardly be worse. Maybe they’ll come up with something better than the current Wheel of Fortune-ass storytime about the mulatto chick with the kraut husband and the abusive in-laws.

Corey Pein describes this as a mob family. The pervert uncle of the lady who got whacked in the staged car crash in the French tunnel along with the shady Arab fellow and so upset Elton John that he sang about it for clout and profit is now in trouble for being on the recently whacked American sex island pervert who died by his own hand in the jail where the surveillance cameras don’t work. Mob sounds about right. Financial and operational independence sounds wise.

And for God’s sake Harry and Meghan won’t be the only ones profiting from the British Royal Family in a seedy fashion. There are honest modes of living in England, but we never hear a word about them. As far as I can tell, I’m the only American who knows that the National Fruit Collection is not where they store Elton John. On the Canadian side, there are honest modes of living, too, but Kevin Vickers has gone from dairyland to Depot to Parliament Hill to Ireland, and Jian Ghomeshi is still in Toronto. Meanwhile we, too, still have public radio and television broadcasters, and Kwesi Millington hasn’t been gracious enough to sue either of them.

A zealous love of honest work and plain dealing is not the reason we’ve heard of any of these people. We should think that there are better reasons to be scandalized than the possibility that Harry and Meghan will be living off the avails of the House of Windsor illegitimately, as opposed to the old legitimate fashion of getting an allowance and an archipelago of palaces for making stupid small talk with other dipshits and sitting around like a fucking dunce. We should hope, for that matter, that the prince is the worst Harry. Instead we have novels about Eton and Oxbridge, but with elves and wizards and shit, and reruns of a dumbass nerd show about a wicked boring version of the Clinton White House.

Ordering a society around the pathetic escapist fantasies of a pampered but panicked overclass is going just swell. At least Harry and Meghan are trying to escape into something more like reality, not less. I guess that’s why the teachers’ pets resent them.

George Washington’s teeth

New Zealand has placed orders for about 1,300 square feet of human skin. I swear I did not make that up. It’s enough to carpet my apartment and stop by to visit with the neighbors, bearing leftovers. Beautiful day, stranger. It’s more or less enough to refloor my parents’ house, WITH HUMAN SKIN.

New Zealand was very recently the site of a gruesome natural disaster, a violent volcanic eruption on White Island, or, as they call it around 80th and Lex, Tuesday afternoon. That is to say that they didn’t place the orders for the lulz. They need graft material. They have medical reasons. In New Zealand, an English-speaking country, the technical term is me dickle raisins. Those sound like a delicious chutney for me Invercargill mince pie; stop by if you have a minute to see if they’ve got any next to the hot case at the Cal-Tex.

I understand there’s a book with these recipes. It’s a cookbook.

Mind you, New Zealand has world-class medical care. It’s the beast cone tray with the beast sex hose peedles, a great place for Dr. Nassar to practice veterinary medicine until they catch him at it.

Nah, I’m just back on my shitposting. It’s for real a better place to seek medical care than the United States. A nurse in Queenstown told me that Invercargill is a better place to get mince pies, too, with a look on her face implying that there’s something just a touch wrong with the locals wicked south.

Granted, this is the kind of skin order that could be rolled up and dropped off at a shady Armenian’s rug warehouse in Glendale, but the problem here isn’t with its destination. The cause for concern is the origin. The provenance is questionable. This is America. Our actual history with medical ethics is worth a read. As Faulkner said, the past isn’t forgotten; it isn’t even past.

Remember a few years ago, when there was a minor international hubbub over the shipment of human organs from China and the implications about their sourcing? Observers were looking at this impressive supply of sometimes surprisingly healthy organs, cross-referencing them with the mainland Chinese judicial system, and, to their gathering horror, connecting the dots to what they call high-impact lead poisoning in certain ethnic neighborhoods back east. We might say that China is a different east. Fly there, but maybe not so much to the southern part, on Northwest Orient. RIP. Delta did us dirty by buying and repainting that venerated big metal. Of course there are worse places to fly than Atlanta: say, a dawn charter, ground transportation included, out of the private terminal at Ngurah Rai to Cilacap.

The Chinese are surely still up to these tricks. This is the same country with a strong enough market for ivory and ground-up tiger balls and that kind of thing to get Joseph Kony into the elephant poaching business. There have been questions about China’s export pharmaceuticals and baby formula.

That’s an odd nation to maintain a relatively low incarceration rate. Sure enough, though, it does. All we have to do is compare it to the American rate. We’re the world champions. For a while we had, like, the fucking Seychelles or some shit beating us due to a passing political crackdown, but I’m pretty sure that ended.

We all know that medical care in our prisons is top-notch. Prison is a great place to go to get hale, happy, whole, and well. They say so on Fox News, right? Some poor schmuck on the outside has to pay through the nose and wait, and meanwhile it’s free at the point of care in the clink. At the very least, Chad Kroeger insinuates that he spent some time on the inside, and he looks great.

We can consequently rest assured that the American authorities, at all levels of government, are not harvesting skin from prisoners they have neglected to death or murdered, did not conduct syphilis experiments on black airmen at Tuskegee, and did not test chemical or biological weapons from the top of the Pruitt-Igoe Towers. None of this happens in America. You get food to eat.

Again, the Kiwis are not the problem here. You go to the operating room with the ethically sourced grafts you have, not the ethically sourced grafts you’d like. You may notice one word in the last sentence that’s doing the Pareto power player lifting. As an erstwhile Turkish drinking buddy said, “Why don’t we put it back in the dumpster? Too much ethics!” He said this in the course of his studies (sic), as a speaker of English (sic), towards his master’s degree (sic) in business (sic). He’s officially more educated than I am; read it and puke. If you’re practicing medicine, emphasis on practice, at San Francisco General, the other thing you take with you into the operating room is your own stumbling drunk ass: that is, unless a woman in the waiting room goes full Bear Flag Republic mama grizzly on it, and on you, and threatens to call the Medical Board the moment you cross the threshold.

The beast me dickle in a pickle system: we’ve got that, too. The reasons to be alarmed that this shambolic, bumptious country functions as the world’s strategic skin reserve go well and far (heh) beyond the strictly ethical. Can we, or anybody else, have trust and confidence in the safety and reliability of our blood and tissue supplies? Our surgical or dental equipment? Much of anything that we still manufacture? Boeing has manufactured over 400 units of the 737 Max since the Ethiopian crash, playing chicken with every civil aviation authority under the skies, and isn’t done shipping these fine ships into storage yet. This is how a corporation renowned for decades as one of the All-American best is making its manufacturing and business decisions. We’re gonna spend another month hammering these bad boys together and flying them to the Sonora Desert and then, uh, uh, yeah. That’s it! We’ll shut the assembly line down THEN, to save money! The federal executive and a federal legislative majority are perfectly happy to smugly shut the government down until air traffic controllers reach their wit’s end and shut down La Guardia for leverage. At that point, the brain geniouses in Washington soil their diapers anew, freshly (or not so freshly) scandalized and shocked that mere workers have such power over them, their masters.

Medical care in the US in general is frankly terrible. The only reason this isn’t universally understood domestically, as it increasingly is abroad, is propaganda. We advertise fucking cardiac surgery at base hospitals in cities of 30,000. Fucking St. Joseph’s runs ads on Cool 105 and shit. Do you REALLY not want to be medevacked to San Fran for that? Because you Van Morrison-ass heard it on the radio, on the radio? On top of the ads, we have decades’ worth of spurious, bad-faith, flagrantly apples-and-oranges comparisons of, like, Johns Hopkins or the Cleveland Clinic to random Soviet-era base hospitals in Murmansk or Krakow or Leipzig that in point of fact usually provided world-class care, without the Hershey advertising budget and without cherrypicking their patient pools for better outcomes and the aggrandizing US News and World Report-ass statistics these skimmables yield. #TeshTips: They’re lying to you. It’s Powell Memo praxis all the way down.

We call this conservatism.

Again, medicine is just one critical sphere where this manifests. Are our feedlots and slaughterhouses clean? Lol. Somebody shits in a Salinas lettuce field instead of taking unpaid time off to hit the crapper, and a week later an unsuspecting grandma in Boise or Holdrege dies of E. coli.

This is definitely where the world should source its skin grafts, the world-leading exporter of mercenary blood. Go down to the near eastside of Reno, over by the rescue missions, if you’ve got some to spare and a local ID. It’s a real healthy donor pool in that part of town, all lining up for the cash money. As they say on the Penny Hoarder, we’ve all done these things to make rent. “We?” “All?” Who the fuck is “us?” This sounds like the kind of shit that would go down in a bad part of Manila, selling blood on the open market until it’s a higher aggregate-value export than soy or corn. Yeah, we’ve got some rice, we’ve got some pork, we’ve got some cassava and taro, we’ve got some usable veins.

Christ. The chilling theodicial banality of it: hey, we all gotta do what we gotta do to get by. Times are tough, so you gotta hustle. Look, I have no moral objections to $20 blow-n-go by the UP mainline. The, uh, scenery is prettier a thousand miles to the east, up on Moon River, but I’m not the one down on the low track paying for any of that. Thing is, this shit is not about public morals; it’s about public health. Blood-farming the indigent for the export market in neighborhoods with prevalent ill health and disease is an international public health threat. There was a minor moral panic of sorts maybe twenty years ago about the United States having to import blood from Switzerland, complete with news footage of a Swiss A330 on short final. Cool. Pretty airplane. That story increased my trust in the blood supply. What we’re doing these days is legit scary.

This is not the behavior of a confident, capable society. These are the death throes of a failing empire. We’re over here bragging about how we’re the best in the world, and meanwhile we’re tripping all over ourselves to excuse 95% safety and reliability in critical operations, or 90%, or, shucks, 75%. Boeing wanted to reassure the flying public that the Max was 99+% safe. That must be comforting for passengers on the other 1%. Recall that the FAA was the last civil aviation authority of any significance to ground the Max. We measurably, manifestly fell behind Ethiopia on safety standards. I’m not trying to be PC here; we fell behind fucking Indonesia. We did this deliberately, to curry favor with a once-trailblazing aerospace manufacturer that was being run headlong into the ground. Who’s us here? Hey, our government did that, in our name.

Radio Free Tom Nichols was just on World Affairs to bitch to Ray Suarez about how everybody back home in Chicopee has turned into an obese opioid addict stuffing his face with Big Macs while demanding that the government save him from himself. I couldn’t help myself. I had to listen to the whole broadcast once it came on. He veered into moral and mental clarity from time to time, but hearing from him about the death of expertise was reminiscent of Larry Craig’s bitter complaints about the death of chastity.

This is a guy who traffics stereotypes so habitually and thoughtlessly that he doesn’t know what he doesn’t know and doesn’t care. He stirred up a shitstorm on the D-List post-or-die left by declaring that Indian food sucks, period. I really didn’t care, and I still don’t. I’ll eat his goat curry if he won’t; I’ll even eat Her Majesty’s leftover chicken tikka masala, and that’s something that the best chefs can fuck up by not using potato cubes instead. It turns out that this woke-v.-broke horseshit was, in fact, significant. Radio Free Tom broadbrushes all sorts of things, most of them higher-stakes than not eating his bowl of Jaipur karhi. He’s every bit as shallow and coarse about industrial policy.

What we’ve got here is a contemptuous social climber cum know-it-all blowhard. It sounds bad when I phrase it that way, but Tom’s pretty modest and decent by the prevailing community standards in the philosophical wreckage that passes for his set’s idea of a community. Think about who socializes with people who in any professional capacity know Ray Suarez. As they say around Independence Mall, it’s kinda gross, Terry. Dealing with people who are peripheral or orthogonal to the truly bad actors of the Acela Corridor is revealing, provided we have some idea of how to extrapolate from those who don’t make us barf into those who do: the lanyard losers, the think tank creeps, the bigshot talking heads, the professional right-wing provocateurs walking around with shit-eating grins, the Congressmen, the lobbyists.

Being around that human mess for decades without current points of references in the real world has to have a distorting effect on one’s understanding of how America runs under the hood. If we’re claiming that a revolt against expertise cost Hillary the election and elevated the Donald all the way to the top, we might want to explain what in the hell kind of expertise it was that made it impossible for Her professional political nerds to miss the evidence that she was widely reviled in a whole bunch of swing states, or that her opponent was campaigning on some planks that were extremely attractive in the same parts of the country. That’s like if I said, oh, grapes? Yeah, that grows on, like, a tree or a bush or some shit, I dunno, you asked, go fuck yourself.

This class is completely unwilling to imagine that there are large numbers of their fellow citizens who take pride in plying what they consider lowly trades, seek to keep plying their own trades, and do not wish to see their industries consigned exclusively to Dhaka or Phnom Penh. They aren’t content just to be idiots; they insist on being loudmouthed, belligerent idiots.

I’m not even annoyed at Radio Free Tom in this case; for the most part I’m just cheaply entertained. There is, however, something surreally arrogant about this prick from the Naval War College being platformed on state radio to spend his portion of a fifty-minute hour sniveling about how the ordinary taxpayers contributing to the national treasury that helps pay for his frequent appearances are unfit for self-government. It’s a bizarre own goal for a sworn expert who presumably takes pride in being a communicator, a debater, a presenter of arguments.

It’s a bewildering mess of the mind, but one thing that stands out about it is the profound, dripping ingratitude. Who does Radio think does the real, tangible, physical work that keeps him alive and comfortable? Who do any of his peers think does that? Fellow talking heads?

We’re going out on a limb to assume that they think at all. This is too petty for their thoughts, too pedestrian, too crass. Giving thanks would prick their bubbles.

Somebody has to sow, tend, harvest, process, sell, and cook their food. Somebody has to keep their water supply clean and reliable 24/7. Somebody has to pave their streets, drive their Ubers, and, if they’re so down-to-earth, maintain their Metro system. (I assume we all know which one.) Somebody has to fly, maintain, navigate, and direct their planes. Somebody has to clean their bathrooms and cut their grass. Acela doesn’t drive, dispatch, track, or highball itself.

This is why they hate air traffic controllers. They don’t do any of this shit for themselves. Most of it is credibly menial and unskilled work: like, who gives a shit, we aren’t out of Guatemalans. Air traffic control is so obviously so highly skilled and critical, no matter how boring or rote, that even our worst useless eaters aren’t sheltered or deranged enough to pretend that it isn’t. So they misdirect: Oh, they’re just extorting Congress. They’re just bitter that they never landed the good gigs on the Hill. That’s why they demand to be compensated. We should come up with a computer program to replace them. No, I don’t know how to reboot my computer when I virus-crash it on dicey porn sites.

Huh. Having other people do the work and then complaining that they are too demanding and uppity sounds, uh, maybe a touch familiar from points south, and in some cases north, of Gettysburg. I can’t imagine there’s a rapid transit station in Ole Virginny rhyming with Darlington Flemetarry where a rising Union-turned-Confederate army officer got violent with the help before violently getting his men’s asses kicked and then going hat in hand over fly to a place that doesn’t possibly rhyme with Fappomattox Short Blouse and son they took the farm, you know, blood on the scarecrow, blood under the plow.

*Freshly resalted General Sherman voice* Sick burn, kid. Say, to stray a bit off-topic and a lazy afternoon’s float down the river–same damn bank; mercy, Mr. Davis!–, there’s a strain of impertinent Yankee thot holding (giggity*) (*your affiant needs sleep) that certain, shall we say, recently unpleasant cultural practices stymied innovation and held Dixie back. That sounds impossible. He went to Protestant confession for whacking the cherry tree, right? It’s in all the books, books from a time before plagiarism. He owned people and stuff, but they all did. How could he mistreat them?

They teach us about his modest suckface limp upper lip. They teach us about his dentures. They do not teach us that George had a tooth bank.

Even the ladies and gentlemen knew in their hearts the proper thing to call this tooth bank:


Hundred million people do the rush hour day, just to keep the drivetime funded

We make assumptions at NPR. We stipulate, for example, that our listener base is drawn from mentally aware and coherent citizens, not abject virtue-signaling hypocrites.

Perhaps you ask: Who’s “us”? Sir Robert Peel posited that the police is the public and the public is the police. By police, I mean cops. You know, snitches, narcs, tattletales, collabo, Quislings, feds, whatever. NPR is federally funded and crawling with CIA and CI-Adjacent (Kelemen lol); the glove fits, and I does not acquits.

Don’t tell me that was an aesthetic or cultural affront on par with the programming. One of last night’s special touches–and mind you, this one popped up on a wholly different and theoretically more prosaic plane from this week’s dramatic British election and the neverending torrent of Bircher horseshit and Clinton impeachment denialism gushing down Capitol Hill–concerned our failed good intentions–“ours”–to do our daily part to mitigate climate change and save the earth and all that cool shit.

“We” are all sure “trying” here. As Kwesi Millington said, if wishes were Tasers my horse would be dead. He probably didn’t say that, but it meets the factchecking standards for broadcast on NPR. Heh. I kept writing that as “meats.” #MeatlessMuscle, buddy. Think about it, though. We’re an affluent overclass, marginally subaltern to the big league elites, and not all of us of a station as modest as that–remember, I just happen to listen to this shit; it’s some kind of residual yuppie thing–so of course we are definitely living modestly and honestly, not in any way taking advantage of our cash and credit to pursue profligate, lavish, environmentally troublesome lifestyles.

The specific daily discipline under consideration was refraining from the solo automobile commute. As it happens, we seldom do that. Something sounds, shall we say, Off about our revealed preferences when projected against our stated preferences. Radio that makes you choke so hard that Big Ears Teddy scampers all the way to Halifax, not even stopping for a plate of poutine!

Fuck out my brains, Juicy Lucy, what was the point of that? Canada is sometimes an improvement. On the other hand, there’s one Kevin Vickers, four on our favorite squad out west, hopefully a few more Mounties in Interior BC with a side hustle retailing freebase to the home bake trailer park boys, and countless groveling strivers trying to climb to the top of that greasy pole on the Toronto arts and letters scene. I said Toronto, not Vancouver. If you’ve been around here too much, you know why. Otherwise, it might come as a shock.

Alas, these diversions can only delay, not deny, our return to the broadcast pride of th’ American side. Canadians can be socially climbing hypocrites, too, and they’re usually a bit more fun about it than we are. They’ve got a heavier per capita carbon footprint than we do, for one thing. I know, I know, it gets cold up there, eh, a tit bit nipply, partner.

The foregoing may be the fruit of a two-minute attention span, but consider the 100% chance that my aesthetics are better than NPR’s. To wit:

So we worked with employees at a large airport – nearly 80,000 employees. We ran these experiments in this organization because employees told us they wanted to take transit. They wanted to carpool with their colleagues.

We tried every trick in our tool kit as behavioral scientists. We told employees that lots of other people were commuting in these actives in sustainable ways. We made carpooling really easy by matching people with other employees who lived really close to them. We even offered free transit passes. Who doesn’t like free stuff?

Pete Buttigieg. My bad; this is the social policy/behavioral sciences beat, not the political beat, and nobody’s hanging around that joint as a reward for integrative critical thinking or object permanence. It’s odd how the rogue’s gallery of shady American leaders is still around whenever I return from another impromptu jaunt up to the Great White North, but these professional radio assholes are only sporadically aware of the most controversial stances of their favorite presidential candidates and at a total loss to integrate them into the analysis of anything not explicitly and exclusively focused on politics. Is it because they’re paid?

Take note: our bitch, who started her comment with “so” because of course she fucking did, omitted the name of her 80,000-employee airport. Is this what we’re doing in sociology these days? Protecting our sources in Philadelphia’s Fifth Street Neighborhood and/or Terminal A West? I don’t feel like doing a drive-by on Duckduckgo for what airports have how many employees right now; I’m a nerd, but I’m first and foremost a shitposter. That said, we’re talking about a pretty big airport. I dunno, Memphis, LAX, DFW. JFK and O’Hare are big enough, but they’ve got transit connections into town, Long Island has all-night service after a fashion all the way out to Montauk, and traffic is awful in Queens.

In case we’re looking at the stewardesses (or the stewards!) and getting a clue, too, “parking was free.” Haidt-fuck me, Ghomeshi, maybe Sky Harbor, then? Our good bitch from the social sciences declines to say. In any event, the possibilities I just spitballed because, oh, I’ve actually read shit about airports and mentally integrated it, are facilities with starkly different mass transit connections, surrounded by starkly different urban fabrics. I could take the time and effort to cross-reference half a dozen different airports right now and never finish this post, or I could expect NPR, which pays staffers to do that sort of thing, to do it. #TeshTips: That ain’t happening.

Ooh, I know. It’s Atlanta. We never flew Delta when I was a kid. We do, however, have family in Alpharetta, including a retired Delta pilot, and MARTA was strategically kept out of certain sectors of the metroplex, although I can’t white say why.

Or it might be somewhere else. I wouldn’t be speculating if anyone involved in that segment had fucking said.

WHILLIANS: We’re trying a lot of different incentives now. And financial incentives seem to help push people in favor of taking these more alternative forms of commuting. And taking parking away, although obviously, that would cause some pushback from employees, does seem to be effective. When people have no other option, they’re open to alternatives and can enjoy them.

God, that sure sounds like a postmodern knowledge economy Georgia thing to say. Sail away, sail away, we will cross the mighty ocean into Enjoyable Alternatives Bay.

Ailsa Chang:

Are you saying that the stick works a lot better than the carrot often?

Song, Song of the South, Millington for Sheriff and I shut my mouth. Adieu day claya, O’Haya, such a managerial philosophy could never have been possible or popular between, say, approximately Monocacy and Vicksburg.

Additional grate thots from our hostess:

Well, are there other tactics that come to mind if you want to–

Might be a good idea to stop right there, chief. Or not:

get people to stop driving alone in their cars?

It could have been worse. Historically, it was. We might hope that Ms. Chang at some point studied history. What we do know, by her own autobiographical description, is that she studied and then, Katie door the bar, practiced law.

Do these freaks have no idea why ordinary people have mixed feelings about lawyers? Probably.

WHILLANS: Yeah. We’re also trying to move away from this social focus of carpooling. Most carpooling apps in organizations are like, hey, carpooling is a way to get to know your fellow colleagues. And really – actually what we’re finding is the last thing you want to do at 7:45 in the morning on your way to work is have a colleague talk to you…

Gee, is it?

Counsel is on the record as being amused:

CHANG: (Laughter).

WHILLANS: …Before you have to go and talk…

CHANG: That’s so true.

WHILLANS: …To colleagues all day. So we think that there’s been a bit of an issue with marketing.

CHANG: This is all so interesting. It makes me feel like maybe behavioral science is still vastly underused when it comes to tackling something like climate change. I mean, what do you think?

Behavioral science: that definitely doesn’t sound, from historical readings or the context of this discussion, like anything that was ever used to facilitate the Holocaust.

WHILLANS: I think that behavioral science principles, you can start to see them slowly emerging in this conversation around climate change and sustainability. If you get an energy bill, maybe your energy use is being compared to your neighbors. And that’s a direct result of behavioral science research.

No Eichmann/Mengele vibes here.

But I think the gains have been fairly small, even in my own experiment. Behavioral science didn’t work because the organization offered free parking. So I think scientists like me are going to need to work together with organizations and with transportation specialists to design cities and structures with behavioral science in mind.

Is it possible to build out transit systems without throwing these bumptious, stupid losers a hunk of the grift from every project? And does the organization employing this “scientist” offer free parking, or doesn’t it? *Big Texan Rex Tillerson Voice* Moron this shortly.

WHILLANS: I think in the context of commuting, which is a habitual, everyday behavior–

Ah, like picking cotton. Hand me a sack and I’ll have a bale in by sundown.

where driving alone is kind of more comfortable and a little bit nicer, that sticks seem to work better than carrots.

Like being a free smallholder who doesn’t get whipped for falling short of his quota until there’s room in his wounds for the brine, which is kind of more comfortable and a little bit nicer than having that happen and General Sherman was entirely out of line to imagine that any of that fine low country had to be put to the flame.


This stuff is fucking creepy. Who, exactly, was behind it?

CHANG: Ashley Whillans is an assistant professor of business administration at Harvard Business School.

Thomas Jefferson, justifying himself not just to posterity but to his contemporaries: Good God, y’all, I’m just a business administrator!

Huh. I don’t suppose the Harvard Business School has faculty parking.

All the terminal degrees in the world will never clue this stable of freakish idiot-nerds into the manifest truth that their Cass Sunstein-ass nudge theory operant conditioning schemes rub the peasantry the wrong goddamn way. That’s why we see so much passive resistance, or maybe passive-aggressive resistance. By the way, passive resistance was a top tactic in the Antebellum South, too. The through lines disappear, but they never actually go away.

There are many aberrations of American life, too many to enumerate in a sitting, but one of them is the suffusion of this style of compulsory and quasi-compulsory conditioning: pep rallies (the tacitly prosperous Darwinian champions demanding the reverence of their eugenic and social inferiors), Covey training trust falls, Walmart morning cheer time, Amazon Fulfillment Power Hour and the cookie waiting as the reward for the one who runs the race to win it, Delaney’s sign spinners, Uber’s algorithms, the High Hopes Dance, whatever the hell Bloomberg is doing in his effort to ape the Booty Judge with his own official dance routine. Dead seriously, who the hell would put up with any of this shit in a free and prosperous society? It’s all somewhere in the transitional zone between Aum Shinrikyo, the Hitler Youth, and Monticello when old Tommy has just gotten himself into another big old pile of debt. There’s a reason why German retail employees ran into the bathroom when Walmart flew its pep squads across the Atlantic to acculturate them into the All-American call and response. Some say he died by his own hand in a Berlin bunker; others say he spirited himself into South America for a discreet Germanic retirement of loyal service to the US-allied governments of the region.

Of course ordinary people hate this shit. There’s a reason why unions tell management to get fucked when they start running these games. There’s a reason why it’s so common in non-union shops. When it gets injected into one of the few extant spheres of autonomy available to the rank and file, such as their cars, of course it fucking pisses them off. Of course they refuse to comply. The nudge masters aren’t taking the county bus to work. Who do they think they’re kidding?

Ailsa Chang, I assume. This is a village where everybody makes a living by taking in her neighbor’s laundry. That’s why the rest of us are taxed to pay for some of it and berated for tithes and offerings to fund the balance.

I forgot the commercials. This is listener-supported, public, commercial-free radio with commercials. We are celibately banging hookers. Rob Ford is in no way drunk enough to try crack. The Mayor is inclusively decrescendoing for the evening in a progressively less intelligible and coherent commentary about the Jamaicans.

They want our money, of course. Why not? Aum Shinrikyo recruited medical doctors, too. If the IRS taxed the core donor pool at a rate sufficient to fully fund NPR and PBS, along with the rest of the federal government, without Congressmen droning on about fiscal discipline and balanced budgets and other Harry Potter-grade fictions, Tote Bag Nation would have less disposable income to waste on such national embarrassments. Making the public pay according to its financial capacity into the central treasury and disbursing responsibly from the treasury to fund the commonweal is 1) fit for its own chapter in the Book of Revelation the way the United States is run and 2) exactly what every society should do to provide for itself and abate its troublesome elites by depriving them of the nutrient media they need to proliferate all over absolutely everything and cover it in their slime.

This sounds like a Lovecraftian horror because it is one. NPR is in fact literally parasitic. It’s the hookworm feeding reassuring chemicals into the digestive vascular mesh and simultaneously sucking every bit of life force it can consume straight out of the gut. It is Melissa Ann Shepard patting her new boyfriend on the shoulder with one hand to let him know that her paramount concern is his wholeness as a widower while clutching a thermos of coffee in the other.

Does this sound farfetched? Gee, in that case, how the fuck do you suppose propaganda works? By being honest, not fraudulent? NPR is a news outlet all right. William Randolph Hearst owned one himself. One doesn’t suppose he was trying to raise the cash for, say, a castle.

This [is] American life: fraud, coercion, and barely a damn thing else. Joel Osteen, Servant of the Triune God, exhorts His people to prime the prosperity pump with tithes; verily Lakewood Church has an accounts receivable department. Your alma mater, tried and true or just true to its fundraising goals, also has an accounts receivable department. Do you want it to end up like Mills or Antioch, and come to reflect badly on you as its diplomate? Nice degree you got there, college boy; shame it ain’t worth nothin’ no more.

Everything in this country has been thrust into the same earthly hell. Medical care? Holy shit. Student debt? That’s getting into the range of comprehensive military budgets. Uber? Amazon? The customer is always right, and remember: the slaveholder has historically been the customer. College textbooks have been perverted into little better than copyright squats. Administrators and publishers are standing by to receive their tribute.

Some categories of groceries are modestly cheaper. Whoopa de fuckin’ doo. The prices for the big-ticket items have shot through the roof for no reason, other than the enclosure of the commons. These aren’t free markets. If Safeway refused to refund a five-dollar basket of blueberries that had been packed with nothing but rotten mush on the bottom it would immediately lose customers. Charge a quarter million for four years of compulsorily residential mush splatter clumsily mixed with some instruction and you’ll be able to claim the right to beg for alms from your customers for the rest of their lives. Enough of them will pay up and few enough will rise up to stop this shady racket in its tracks.

Commercial drivetime radio–meaning avowedly commercial drivetime radio, because we have to spell this shit out–steers clear of calls for its own alms. Sometimes it begs for alms on behalf of more or less fraudulent charities, organizations with enough fat to burn on dedicated advertising budgets. Otherwise, it’s ostensibly free at the point of use and upstanding enough not to air White Whines about the parlous state of its budget.

Listen to it, though. It’s dreadfully bleak, a shambolic mishmash of clown-ass morning assembly pep rally horseshit, overwrought and yet weirdly sanitized gossip and innuendo, commercials fresh out of hell, and other total garbage, all of it power-drilled into listeners’ skulls with overwhelming cacophonous force. The afternoon lineup may be better, or it may not.

The hellish awfulness of this body of work is only partly a function of its target audience and its time of day. There’s something passive-aggressively abusive about it. It feels strategically manipulative, often in ways that are hard to pin down. Even the volume per se isn’t what makes it so atrocious. KOMO blasts louder than that all day and all night, with traffic on the eights or some shit briefly interrupting the full-force firehose of trucker-tweaked reporters yelling about what they claim is the news. KOMO is radio of, by, and for the intersectional meth/base/crack/PCP community. And yet it feels ever so much less slippery and devious than other, sunnier parts of the commercial dial, or much of the shit NPR pulls, for that matter.

We’re too fucking earnest and gullible in this country. If a radio station announces that it’s the valley’s listen-at-work station, or the basin’s or the coast’s or wherever we’re so proudly living, it’s a signal to change stations right now. They aren’t your friend; they’re your boss’s friend. Mark my words. It’s the same disarming scumbag sleight-of-hand that shit-ass tribute rackets like LuLaRoe and Jamberry use on their saleswomen. The lines about Christian womanhood, motherhood, femininity, girly stuff, and all the other twee, sentimental, cloyingly wholesome virtues, these unobjectionable forcefields of goodness, are horseshit, and exceptionally toxic horseshit at that. It’s the same bag of tricks at Amway, albeit for gender-neutral Christian home supply entrepreneurship.

Why do they want you listening at work? Isn’t work bad enough as it is, without them? The way their DJ’s talk, it sure sounds close to unbearable. “Thank goodness it’s Friday.” Uh, okay, but why did that dipshit barista at the Sebastopol Safeway who’d never laid eyes on me in her life ask me, “Did you have to work today?” What the fuck did she think she could infer about my employment status or work schedule from a thirty-second glance? Do I have to dress up like fucking Tom Wolfe to ward off this meddlesome small talk from perfect strangers?

We’re really fixated on what day of the week it is, on the radio. It evokes the reminders one gets from the aides in a home: we put a bib on you so you don’t drool on your shirt; no, it’s Saturday; Jim’s blind and he can’t see. The ambient chatter about work, though–and again, I’m talking about Americans sunnily or just nosily interrogating people they’ve never before met–resembles nothing so much as prisoners streaming out onto the yard to spend recreation talking to colleagues from other blocks about their work assignments.

The perverse thing, if I’m not mistaken, is that more Americans have been out of work than incarcerated. It’s a sore subject for some of us, asshole. Besides, as we’ve been discussing again, huge amounts of the work that is available is designed to be painful, even unbearable. It’s hardly even about payroll anymore; we’re all contractors with side hustles. “We” again.

There’s an unsettling edginess to this questioning, an air of reflexively sizing up casual acquaintances and strangers for key measures of their socioeconomic status. Oftentimes it feels faintly unsafe; I’ve spent time in neighborhoods where talking about personal details pertinent to one’s finances can get a punk mugged. Aside from that extreme, this spot-checking of employment status is almost always ripe for florid inferences. It’s one of the easiest things for the prejudiced to take out of context and wildly misconstrue, and there’s a stupefying body of prejudice among Americans about all things socioeconomic. It’s all prejudicial idiots extrapolating to the ends of the earth based on tiny, unrepresentative data sets. There are damn good reasons why I do not graciously entertain discussions about these matters on other people’s terms unless I decidedly trust them.

We must, of course, in spite of the obvious derangement pervading postmodern American society, keep up the pretense that we all work for a living. I get to hear this from marginally employable propagandists in media and education (sic) who have never done farm work, either the commercial kind or the WWOOF-ass unpaid to quasicompensated kind. I don’t see them out in the blueberry patch graciously accepting Dem Shine George Coin as the day’s tipshare, then spending the rest of the day wondering what the hell just went down. I feed them more than they feed us. That ain’t the Word of God; word on the street is that you gotta look down to see whence they came to us.

It should be possible to devise a version of St. Michael’s Prayer that pleads merely to banish these cases from the academy and the press onto ample public assistance. I’m not saying it’s advisable, just possible. This still leaves us with the serving in heaven problem, which might not be a problem for you or me but would distinctly be a problem for them. Workplace incentives as studied by behavioral science: one perhaps fucking loves it, but buddy that ain’t a servant’s heart.

Yeah, sure, today is my Saturday, just like it is for Madoff, Pollard, and the rest of the Jewish Gentleman’s Kaffeeklatsch Squad their Sunday. What I mean is that they don’t restrict themselves to the BOP’s limited weekend schedule for coffee hour. There’s usually coffee, and it sounds like it goes on for a lot longer than an hour. I’m doing better than them, and I give thanks. Ailsa Chang and Ashley Whillians, the Eichmann girls, are doing much better for their work, and it is one. Some things I rue.

Infelicities of the admissions and orientation process

Ruh roh! Felicity’s going federal, and she’s going for a full fortnight!

It’s the dumbest shit ever. Two weeks in federal prison, and they’ve got to give her the full initiation: the strip search, the medical and psychological intake screening, the threat assessments, the A&O book, supposedly the single roll of toilet paper to last her through her stay.

Does any of this horseshit sound serious or sensible? Of course not. She’s a grasping social climber, a crook, and maybe an asshole, but none of this serves any believable public interest, let alone a public safety interest. There are women who need to go into the big house NOW: crazy bitches wiretapped in flagrante delicto trying to arrange hits on their estranged husbands, to take a glaring example. Felicity Huffman is obviously just a scapegoat. This isn’t a serious process; it’s a self-serious process. Why else would Andrew Lelling be a party to it? Huffman didn’t do it the right way, by paying for a new campus building in her name and happening to have her brats admitted to study (sic) within the hallowed precincts of that fine institution. Bitch tried to use the discount window.

Ruh roh!

The story above about the single roll of toilet paper as part of the intake dop kit is a window into the philosophical abyss of what we like to call criminal justice. I haven’t confirmed that the BOP ever does this, but neither, I suspect, did the authors of the wire report where I read it. One of their other comments was that Huffman would be “stripped searched.” The wire services are fucking content farms now. Our Hearts Go Out To The Muffman Family, Sad Day For Filliam H. This shit might as well be written by a surplus Indian sperg, in between rounds of despair over the time-delayed ramifications of sex-selective abortion and infanticide, articles about how if you don’t know what “on fleek” means that may mean that you have never had a girlfriend, and gang rapes on the Delhi bus system.

Reporting and editing standards have gone to hell, not at all in the dipshit nostalgic sense that the whole darn world has gone to heck, but in the sense that it was a lot harder to get away with that sloppy shit through the broad middle of the twentieth century, whether because an editor would have caught and corrected the sloppy copy or a newsroom boss would have shitcanned the motherfucker who wrote it for being a derelict son of a bitch. More specifically, though, journalistic standards in the United States for reporting on prisons have never been any good in my lifetime.

Nobody who opines loosely on prisons in the guise of reporting in this country has a rudimentary layman’s interest in or grasp of penology. If they did, we wouldn’t keep hearing shit about how federal prisons are posh or cushy. Of course they aren’t; they’re fucking prisons. Where the hell do we think we are? Norway? Ain’t no cracker bunking with Breivik in any of these joints. There’s a tennis court? Correction: there WAS a tennis court, back before the tabloid-grade business press stirred up a moral panic about coddling white-collar inmates? That’s real nice. Andrew Chan had tennis court privileges at Kerobokan. As you may recall, he was passed away in the middle of the night, tied to a cross with a chest full of lead. Or, if you write about prisons professionally as a journalist in this country, you may assume I made this story up. How fucking idiotic are these journalists to think that prison athletic facilities are a bad idea? The regulars at the Butner Jewish Gentlemen’s Kaffeeklatsch get by peaceably enough in their idleness, but they sound bored out of their minds, and Madoff gets annoyed with the rest of them for spending so much time gossipping about who’s queer.

Sure, some prisons are better than others, and the lower-security federal facilities are apparently better than most state and county facilities. We might think of FCI Dublin as Felicity Huffman’s reach prison. Perhaps Alderson can be her safety. It’s a good thing. So, in fact much more so, is the alternate timeline in which Robert Sanchez decides to reach for the emergency brake in the interest of passenger and crew safety.

I insist on using words, or as a single mother friend would call them, my words, appropriately. Sometimes.

God protect us from the yuppie sunk cost FOMO assholes if we insist on assessing Huffman and her fellow discount window shoppers as products of a disordered culture. That would surely ruffle the wrong feathers and break the wrong rice bowls. The entire culture of the elite college application process is astoundingly fucked up. Parents routinely try to haze their children into academic programs that exist to further haze them, and they pay top dollar for this. Most of the children involved are unemancipated minors without the resources to safely flee, so this process as it has come to be practiced is, every bit as much as incest or domestic battery, child abuse. One difference is that if a stepfather is charging around the trailer in a wifebeater with a razor strap in hand, the authorities and informal community leaders may take allegations against him seriously.

The mental health effects of this dogshit-stupid rat race are measurably terrible. A youth minister friend asked something like one or two dozen teenagers for suggestions about what they perceived as the threats to their peers’ welfare and safety that they felt needed to be addressed. Every last one of them brought up mental health. The community where he works is not, by any indication I’ve heard, in the top tier of tiger mom hazing SuperZIPs. It’s bad, but it is not the worst. My childhood hometown of Palo Alto has had rashes of adolescent suicides by Caltrain, often by high school students on their way to school in the morning. That said, if kids there are being pimped out to any of their local Brett Kavanaugh coach figures, I haven’t heard of it.

I have, of course, heard of Blood Will Tell, the true story of Kenneth Fitzhugh, the Charles Cullen-looking lowkey creep who coached my youth soccer team and later highkey murdered his wife for love AND money. Love too encourage youth sport’s,,

The Operation Varsity Blues prosecutions are an official terror campaign against the upper strata of the petite bourgeoisie, along with whatever haut bourgeois or truly rich are socially needy enough to ape them in their desperation to get their precious brats into good schools. Filliam H. Muffman fell for the siren song of this vicarious academic achievement, even though it’s hard to imagine how their daughters, no matter how lazy or hapless or dull, would fall from their station into destitution if they applied the least prudence to their financial affairs. If Macy no longer thinks he married right, he’ll never tell Terry Gross. Lmao, I recall he got henpecked as Sgt. Mooney, too. Cherzhez la fucking femme.

The target demographic for this terror campaign is narrow, perhaps surprisingly narrow. It sounds broader than it is because it’s the native class of most major-league working journalists today and the target of most coverage in general. It’s had many names: the Talented Tenth, the Outer Party, the Nomenklatura, the Downton Abbey audience. The very top fractions mostly transcend this particular crassness; as USA Lelling helpfully pointed out, they can afford to sponsor named university buildings. Some endow entire graduate or professional schools in their own names. The Bezoses and the Gateses need not stoop so low. The Greater Kardashians, too, may rise above this fray, although certainly not for taste. They seem to be perversely inoculated against academic social climbing because their personal brands are so vapid and tacky. The most famous Armenians, they are also the least Armenian Armenians. Good luck finding a tile dealer in Fresno who’s proud to raise a navelgazing dipshit of a daughter who marries a black guy with overt psychological, personality, and behavioral disorders.

This is why I trust the Kardashians. They are ethnically unifying, not clannish and divisive. Yeah, yeah, they’re a garbage family. I’ll say it again: the Armenians, not Warren Zevon, are the Jews of Fresno. This is why I trust [all genuflect] Joey Buttafuoco. The guy could sire the next Billy Joel with that act. Far be it from me to trust Brender and Eddie and their idea of spanakopita, and ideally a guido isn’t such a thug when he steps out on his old lady, but I’ve seen some of the horror shows that pass for wholesome ethnic identity politics in this arrogant shithole of a country, and my good honky, the tawdry ones are never the worst.

Think about it: it’s earnestness that got Rick Singer, Felicity Huffman, and the rest of his clients into their big jam. They were deeply cynical and conniving about their ability to game the process, and they were shamelessly corrupt, but they fundamentally believed in the capacity of the process to serve them and their college-age children, if only they played it like the cheap fiddle that so many parents in their circumstances hope it to be.

None of these parents or their facilitators wanted a thing to do with boycotting, bypassing, objecting to, or in any other way standing up to the college admissions process. They very much wanted to make it work. They were fundamentally conservative, not revolutionary. They were there to quietly pay off the gatekeepers, not to rock the boat. The furious moral panic over their corruption of the process wells up in parents and students who are resentful that their sunk costs, financial and personal, have been neutralized by plain crooks who did exactly what they would have done themselves had they had the audacity or the ability. This is an extremely reactionary conservative way of thinking. Do not listen to what they say about their cultural or political affiliations; they are NOT liberal. This is a deeply illiberal way to live, and certainly to make one’s children live. It makes perfect sense that so many of them voted for the easily scandalized tryhard schoolmarm in 2016 and vociferously against the class clown. This was widely reported as a liberal movement against conservatism because political labels in the United States today are whatever the hell some lunatic or grifter or plain scumbag with a stake in the matter declares they are.

Brett Kavanaugh is conservative. Hillary Clinton is liberal. Carley Gomez can’t keep her hands off me. These, my fellow Americans, are our truths.

We’re officially scandalized at the possibility that Olivia Jade Giannulli, a young woman publicly aspiring to become the Platonic ideal of the thot, was not academically fit for undergraduate admission to the University of Southern California. This is what we are as a nation. The usual bougie suspects are speaking for and over the rest of us again, on our behalf. Groovy shit. This gushing, driveling Instagram idiot learned of her parents’ indictment and USC’s mounting concerns about her application file while she was partying on a billionaire’s yacht in the Bahamas. Mr. Caruso, bae as fuck for his bitchin’ boat, caused additional awkwardness on Montepuliafito given the ever more embarrassing circumstances, as he was the chairman of the board of trustees.

The Juice, the Original OJ, didn’t go to USC for the academics, either. Score one for Joel Kotkin’s lament that African-Americans just can’t hold the line in the Bayview. Chuck Quackenbush moved to Florida to enforce the law; the Juice, to flee it. Contra the Latter-Day OJ’s assumption that enrollment facilitated game attendance, If I Did It is the only motherfucker to be told he’s not welcome at games, and even in his case I’m not sure they promised to have him arrested if he darkened the stadium door. Knowing him, it’d just be another cop squad to have over to his pool. Mofo went home to Brentwood estranged from all his old friendly neighbors, kept company poolside by an entourage of his recent jailers from Men’s Central.

Then he went to Las Vegas, and for a spell further north than that. Go Pack!

Your jailhouse dop kit, that is. It’s time to go coach some damn softball, buddy.

We’re all worried about the academic sanctity of the university that admitted both of these fucking dipshits. Its medical school is a riot, too. Chelsea Clinton graduated from Stanford. That woman is so stupid in public that she should be embarrassed to have been admitted to a four-year program. That fucking falsetto bass blood bitch Elizabeth Holmes donned the Cardinal, too. Remember, however, that not all Supreme Court justices have a Stanford pedigree; saucy boi Brett Michael’s is from Yale.

How is it possible to be aware of these asshats and their scholastic pedigrees, even dimly or in general, and believe that undergraduate and graduate admissions in the United States are governed strictly by merit? This shit is too crazy for the night shift at Market East. Clearly the universities are selecting for some extremely stupid and bumptious students. JFK, serviceably intelligent and quite insightful as the president, was admitted to Harvard on the basis of an application essay that was fucking retarded. What is a Harvard Man? Why, he is the epitome of the Harvard Man, which a Harvard man aspires to be, involving some culturally appropriated WASP honor and stuff. Broad-Bangin’ Jack was never at the bottom of that slippery slope. What he had the family ghostwriters craft was an improvement over what Megan McArdle, a Penn and Chicago alumna, publishes under her own name.

These characters are collegiate because they are smart, and they are smart because they are collegiate. Would real smarts include arguments beyond crude tautologies? Worry not your uppity little head about such things.

This isn’t just something I’ve studied. I’ve personally known many such cases. Dickinson taught them the reading, writing, and critical thinking skills they needed to succeed in the world, skills that they in absolutely no way demonstrate in the course of normal conversation, the way I’d expect of an educated person. It’s Dunning-Kruger for braggarts. Knowing many genuinely educated and intelligent people since childhood and then interacting with these fucking assholes is surreal. It’s an out-of-this-world contrast.

There’s also, of course, the cult angle. Man is born free, and yet everywhere thirsts for Shoko Asahara’s bathwater. By “everwhere,” I especially mean fancy schools in the Northeast, although I hear it was once quite a popular drink in parts of Japan as well. *Most five minutes to midnight house of detention voice* Teacher, do you float? We often review just how insufferable this shit is, this cowards’ Scientology. The Church of Scientology has goon squads, and the FLDS outfits in deep Utah have pet cops and members on the force. Dickinson College has sniveling putzes and cowards, Kavanaugh replicants minus whatever difference in cocaine titration stands between them and a gig coaching girls’ basketball in More Than Friendship Heights.

It says something bad that the constant appeals for charitable (sic) contributions coming from and on behalf of this execrable college administration and others like it seem for the most part to work. It’s that cult programming again, plus the vig that we pay to the local mobsters who stand between us and an accredited education. (Who the hell is us?) Mafiosi are nothing if not organization men. American higher education is the extortion of the Sopranos with the aesthetics of the Osteens. There are exceptions, but it takes some searching to find them. The bagmen at the rest are basically Rahm Emanuel telling us to go fuck ourselves for not giving him a love offering as a sign of respect for those public school teachers whom we admire.

Schools that don’t feel like spending the whole store on general-purpose yuppie prestige often lavish it on sports rather than, you know, the school parts of school, the parts failing to capture Olivia Jade’s interest as a Trojan matriculant. Here we can hazard an answer to Jeffrey Epstein’s question as academic benefactor about what does that got to do with pussy. Organized athletics are ordered to determining which warrior gets to take which fair princess into his bed. Schools try to operate academic programs in the midst of these lechers, not surprisingly tending to include in their orbit the likes of Our Lord Joseph’s Servant Gerald, Lawrence of the Labia, and J. Denny Dundiddly, because wrestling is as heterosexual as One Direction. On the teams themselves, we occasionally discover young men of character such as Daniel Holtzclaw, who, tiring of ritualized violence against other gentlemen as a show for the ladies, moved on to direct, unambiguous sexual violence against women he fancied.

We’d be better off with an academic model more like a monastery next to a whorehouse. Yes, Dreher, this is a Benedict Option. Mind you, I’ve got nothing against women’s athletics or academics, and since I’m not running Georgetown Prep I’ve got nothing against Catholic education. What we’ve so often got now instead under the auspices of academia is the sexually deranged remaining chronically horny in the worst ways for the worst vices. This explains both of our cases of OJ. He’s in it for the pussy; she’s in it for guys who are in it for the pussy and other girls who are in it for guys who are in it, in a cultural recursion skipping straight into Gomorrah.

There are paths out of the ape pit. There are also, crucially, gatekeepers lurking around these paths, doing everything they can to lure us all back into the pit. Under these circumstances Olivia Jade is something like a honeypot. There aren’t good reasons to select this dimwitted teenybopper for admission to a selective (uh?) undergraduate program revolving around a meathead sport played so wantonly under academic auspices in this country that Stanford is renowned for fielding the only Division I football team in the land whose players don’t speak like communications majors. I’m not saying this is true; I’m saying people believe it.

Seriously, everybody we’ve heard about at USC should have enrolled at Pasadena City College instead, as Hugo Schwyzer’s gofers and understudies. It’s possible to run more or less the same shitshow for less or much less the budget. Of course they’d complain bitterly about how they aren’t getting any marginal utility in their fight to the death with other social climbers by enrolling in some discount no-cut community college program when they could be maintaining their conceit that they’re at USC for the education.

If we’re going to have a bunch of no-account wankers in this society, and our revealed preferences say that we are, we ought to stash them at the indefinite junior college level instead of putting admissions office shitbirds at fancy schools in positions to be bribed and probably blackmailed. This shit is a small example of what we get for being a developed nation, by the way: half the social and human development outcomes of the early Schengen countries for easily double the cost. Europeans don’t so much get launched into positions of authority, prestige, and above-market pay for pretending not to be like this. (The Brits, obstinately not parties to Schengen, slouch in our cultural direction.) Our huge categorical error is to assume that we, as Americans, don’t have lazy bastards, or that if we do they’re all poor welfare queens, not middle-class salarymen (and women!).

What we’re doing here is developing. We’re moving from degrading, low-value folkways, like getting paid to pick fruit, to self-actualizing, high-value forms of cultural refinement, like paying to be a bitterly thirsty incel at Warped Tour. The closest Gwyneth Paltrow gets to taking up a craft is hawking exfoliating stone dildos. Absolute dipshits like Markian show up on the stage, barking for their own carnivals, and there is not immediately an overwhelming consensus across all spheres of cultural influence that these are examples of how some people unfortunately lead pitiful lives, and there’s no need for others to live likewise just because there are bad role models in this world.

Fat Cracka’s got a question from the cheap seats: If taking freelance photographs of fancy restaurant meals for a living is valid, why isn’t unemployment valid? I feel decadent for getting a ten-buck bowl of hot and sour soup, like, once a week and not letting it go cold just so I can filter it on the goddamned Gram. Given what monetary, industrial, and labor policy have been in this country for the past few decades, we’re going to continue to have the unemployed among us, and I get that there will never be a Final Solution for showboating dipshits who beclown themselves on YouTube. What I don’t get is why we celebrate every parasitic circus freak who barges into our field of vision as a reputable, productive member of society and simultaneously blame campesino lettuce pickers for being poor.

We’re told that we need to stay in school to rise above this sort of backwardness and poverty. And then what? Get jobs in communications? Vlog about what it’s like to wear makeup or date a Latina? Many Latinos speak English; believe it or not, they include Antonio Villaraigosa. I thought I’d mention this since 1) Nob Hill Dreamboat needn’t be the only Golden State Greasy a cracker funs from time to time and 2) “influencers” rarely seem able to name a recent governor or big-city mayor of anything.

Mechanical problems that kept me out of North Carolina this week got me onto a flight from Philadelphia to Albany near a guy who was on his way back to his optional no-show job in Cuomo communications from a solid week of getting tore up with bachelor party buddies around Seattle. He kept telling his seatmate, who himself was preparing to finally quit his nursing and clinical education jobs to focus full-time on his hipster T-shirt startup, that he had decided not to go into work after we landed. I didn’t figure the guy did anything useful. Color me shocked that the State of New York pays him to do PR and/or to fuck off to Wizardland at will like a Harry Potter extra.

Then again, dude sounded way more tired of drinking than the target market is for gambling, the new cherished growth industry in Upstate New York. It’s just beautiful. They used to figure that the way to be economically productive in the Mohawk Valley was to produce or ship something. These days, any scam that allows some loser to be paid minimum wage to mop up alcoholic tourists’ vomit is economic development and job creation.

Meanwhile, out west, the most reliable way to get trained for a fire crew is to be a felon, just not the kind of scary felon who seriously needs to be in prison, but rather a tractable one who got press-ganged into the system for something bogus and then offered work-release. The Norks do this to, like, two dozen Japanese abductees and it’s a major international scandal; Kamala Harris does it to her own constituents by the thousands, and her fellow Democrats can’t imagine that she’s an extra-creepy version of Melissa Ann Shepard who’s too haughty to make a buddy some coffee.

And yes, Felicity is a federal case now. She’s in line for a register number and a personal copy of 73 pages of A&O boilerplate, along with all the other good-ass hazing rituals that make life so rich at Dublin, all for a two-week bid.

This is supposed to send a message. This is what the creeps behind draconian object lessons always say. The message it sends to roughly the bottom two thirds of Americans is that they’d get less time for corrupting the college admissions process than it would take them to bail out on a shoplifting charge. Ordinary Americans who get booked into jail during benders or mental health crises on disorderly conduct charges because it’s that or an inpatient psych bed, and there isn’t one, can go months without their cases being heard, inside the whole time, just because the system is too derelict to grant them the speedy trial that is their constitutional right.

A healthy polis would orient Felicity Huffman’s sentence in an accurate penal context. What, us healthy? Aw, no. It’s all about the humiliating narcissistic injury to Filliam H. Muffman. It’s all about high school gossip reworked into a grand Orwellian telescreen morality play, entirely for our cheap thrill and not at all for our actual moral or civic formation. God forbid the news business to focus on real news and risk giving us the humane education that we so miserably fail to get in college. Huffman and her fellow charged are failures of humane education; they wouldn’t be going to such lengths to get their brats into fancy schools if they weren’t. But must those running the news business be such intellectual failures, too?

They’re surplus elites with fancy college pedigrees, too. You tell me.

Take comfort! Take courage! In an age when so many things regress, some twinks advance!

Look at this photograph. Just fuckin’ look at it, Kroeger. Look at them, the whole lot.

Call it Granola Shitgun. Johnny Sanphillippo is way too Zen for my chronically hyperstimulated psyche, and this shit ain’t urbanism.

It is, tacitly, suburbanism, although all involved but me insist that it’s country living. This is a commuter spread, not a homestead, exurban excess in the outer wildland-urban interface, maintained (lol sic) by residents who do their business in town, and sometimes in the pictured bucket.

These photographs are an extremely limited graphic depiction of some of the most modest examples of disprepair and squalor that Joe Dirtbag and the Family Shrew tolerate on their properties. In addition to the ad hoc junk collections, unnecessary trip hazards, and generally shabby additions, this turnkey guest cottage includes an en-suite privy, assembled from a toilet seat tacked onto the walls of a small raised garden bed and a removable used plastic bucket, with the options to sit side-saddle or swing open the cheap Japanese privacy screen.

This is some real South Park-level shit. Only for Pot-o-Shit Friend would it spark joy, and that’s assuming that that little faggot, who, as we know, had his own Brute trash can, would find the bucket adequate. It’s a pastiche of some of the shabbiest possible Japanese, Desert Southwest, and Maritime Pacitic Northwest design concepts.

Island Boy paid rent for this mess. The bespoke chamber pot setup and the screens were his ideas. Joe Dirtbag and the Family Shrew tolerated these “improvements.” This guest cottage, all 8’x16′ or whatever of it, is something like 50 feet up a path and around a corner from a working flush toilet. My first assumption was that Island Boy used to bathe in the blue party tub under the veranda, but there’s a collection of random cleaning liquid containers and shit in it, so I guess maybe not, emphasis on guess. I’ll be damned if I know why the larger black tub, which could be either a big-ass party cooler or a cheap stock watering trough, is on its side out there. It’s probably just the tip of the junkberg from the Mad Electrician’s old spread up the hill, but this is nothing but speculation.

There’s always something worse with these people. I thought there were a few small pebbles in the guest cottage bed last night; come morning, when I looked at them, I discovered they were either rat or mouse droppings. They were dessicated enough that I didn’t mind, and otherwise the bed is quite nice, but decide as you will after hearing my reporting. Joe Dirtbag’s comments on the late Mad Electrician’s renovated spread, lately resettled by the actual electrician they had living in a garden shed in the front yard in exchange for uninsured and unpermitted work trade on the wiring in their house, included, “There’s no bathroom, but that’s okay.”

That warren, however the hell it’s maintained from year to year, is sited immediately above a creek, so I’d say maybe not so fucking much, but what do I know? I’m just a minor investor in the family business. I was told, I think by Island Boy, that the Mad Electrician’s idea of a septic tank was a series of disused barrels, oil barrels or the like from what I could tell, set up in a stepdown array with some pipes for overflow. Again, this is next to the creek, the same creek that runs by JD and FS’s house and guest cottage. The Mad Electrician’s old shack warren is across a driveway from the spring where the creek rises.

This shit, and doggy I do mean shit, is going down at the headwaters. There are higher and more impressive creeks in the watershed, but this one they’ve made special. They’re reverse-tapping the source. They don’t mean to do that, but what the fuck do these jokers know about wastewater plumbing, and what in all hell do they care? A clusterfuck like this has no need to be malicious to be damaging; flippant carelessness in the name of libertarian property rights is enough.

And think of it: if I’m right about the chronology, Island Boy was living in the same room as that half-assedly screened-in bucket shitter setup when he got stoned to hell and berated me about how I was turning into a huge fuckup and would come to regret my life. If he didn’t already have that bullshit in his room, he was soon to set it up. I recall his telling me at or around that time that he’d gotten a chamber pot so that he wouldn’t have to bother JD and FS if he needed to relieve himself at night.

Think of the compartmentalization, obliviousness, and sheer idiocy needed to scold somebody else while living in these circumstances. “You’re fucking your life up, kid. You’re gonna wake up one day when you’re old and wonder what the fuck you did with your life. I’m retired and living in this rented room where I shit in a bucket.”

Who’s the fuckup here, again? I knew I didn’t have my shit together without that asshole berating me about it. I also was not paying rent for a detached one-room cottage where I was shitting in a goddamn bucket. *Rob Ford evening voice* You’ve got a substance abuse problem, partner. Da fuggen Jamaicans wid da jerk chiggin, mon, smokin’ da fu’n ganja, mon.

The Pot-o-Shit Friend parallel is impressive. That bucket is the same model that we use for barrel and press transfers at the winery. Pot-o-Shit Friend befouled one of our smaller fermenters. I’m not saying that these are sacred vessels of the craft heartlessly desacralized for the collection of bodily filth. This is, however, a terrible practice deriving from and perpetuating a forcefield of terrible energy that can do only bad things to the operations of a winery.

Or a restaurant, as JD and FS ran for so long. It was definitely lawful-evil hardasses from the health department jamming them up for no reason, and totally not any derelict practice creeping into their restaurant operations from their home and farm lives, where they did nothing to stop or prevent literally shitty squalor on their properties, that got them into trouble for running an unsanitary food service operation.

The Family Shrew in particular believes in energies. How hard is it to imagine that some of theirs are perhaps bad? How hard is it to imagine that squalid, derelict practices in two physical and operational spheres of their lives corrupted a third?

What makes this clusterfuck so much worse, of course, is that they insist on retaining all privileges and powers of the station they have so jealously claimed as property owners. Thank God they’ve simmered down from this shit over the past few months or couple of years and aren’t up on their high horses about their good repute as community and business leaders. Seriously, I give thanks for these small mercies more than I ever convey. All the same, this entire experience, going back by now through most of my adult life, has just about obliterated what reverence I had for sacrosanct private property rights beyond a domicile, a home garden, and their curtilage, and given me reservations about property rights even within these narrow limitations.

Like, no, fuckhead, you are not allowed to float an overflow fraction of fecal coliform bacteria into the creek. Your squatter is low-key schizoid and dabbles in home improvement projects when he isn’t distracted to narcosis on YouTube? What the hell has that got to do with water quality? No, you are not allowed to abandon firetrap structures on your property to rats. No, you are not allowed to charge rent on that shack, regardless of whether or why that autistic twink consents to move in and pay rent. No, you are not allowed to store twenty gallons of raw human waste in a trash can, full to the very brim, and leave it for some other unlucky son of a bitch to discover and confront.

This style of hippie entitlement quietly dovetails with and reinforces the redneck good old boy entitltment of the Bundy clan. Instead of buying property to graze and water their cattle, they decided to lease huge swathes of public land from the federal government, decline to pay the lease royalties that they owed, and mount an armed insurrection when federal agents attempted to seize their cattle as collateral for nonpayment. It’s worth pointing out that the average resident of the Mountain West does not own enough cattle to justify a lease agreement for public rangelands, and furthermore does not have the financial resources or the prospect of attaining resources sufficient to buy such a herd or enter into a lease agreement with the BLM. Mind you, the wholesale erasure of the landless is nothing new in the Mountain West. Lil Nas X is closer than John Wayne to the typical frontier cowboy. A Texas construction contractor dumped surplus shingles that it had been storing in violation of environmental regulations on a colonia in New Mexico for use in a community road paving project; it was discovered, as motorists kept getting flat tires on the freshly paved road, that the shingles had been sent to New Mexico studded with nails. Nobody had checked the batch. But why would they, for wetbacks and other Great Value beaners?

This is the scum that runs the Mountain West in the name of the public at large. This is the horseshit that passes for “populism” in their book. Many of them are quite gracious in their private lives, but their civic and business lives are heinous, and it’s in their civic and business lives that they turn American life into such a horror show. LaVoy Finicum was a good family man. Problem was, he and his crew overran a wildlife refuge in the course of their armed insurrection, and, among other misdeeds, dug up a patch of desert for a fucking pit latrine.

The chaos always looms. The wolf is forever at the door. If it were a real wolf, it would be more fastidious and considerate about where it shits.

Speaking of shit where it shouldn’t be, I’m four days away from making two flights back to back over, or very nearly over, Pot-o-Shit Friend’s new digs in North Carolina. SFO-RDU-CLT-ALB, an itinerary that cannot be bought, only redeemed. It’s some groovy shit, in a nation whose regional business leaders seize control of public lands to fill a big groove with their shit. Our boy is down there, underneath the hazy skies and the carefully sanitized aircraft full of sanitized passengers and crew pursuing sanitized lives. For as little as $5.60 and 12,500 miles, you, too, can transcend that filthy son of a bitch and perhaps transect his property.

He throws pots these days. He doesn’t say if he shits in them, smears shit on them, does neither, or does both. Any of these things are possible. This is America. His trades are not among those we value enough to compensate. They spent a cool two billion, I think it was, on the new terminal in Sacramento, and they stage Lyft and Uber drivers in a remote parking lot halfway to I-5, with a portapotty or two for their use.

Christ are we fucking backwards. Lord have Mersey upon that fairy. Lord have Mersey upon us all.

Camino de Torquemada

The El Paso Walmart shooter drove into town from the Dallas-Fort Worth Metroplex. The Charlottesville vehicular murder creep drove in from suburban Toledo. The Gilroy shooter drove to Fallon to buy his gun.

It’s like these guys were on pilgrimages. It’s tragic that they so destructively wasted their travels to such beautiful places. I’ve been to Charlottesville and Fallon. They’re beautiful in very different ways, but they’re beautiful. The only time I’ve been to Charlottesville was for the funeral of a friend in her mid-thirties, and I was still impressed by the city’s architectural beauty and the region’s natural beauty. I’ve never been to El Paso, but I’d love to visit someday, especially if the Border Patrol is belatedly brought to heel, mainly because it looks like it’s nestled in a neat patch of mid-elevation mountainous desert. (Fat Cracka knows the difference between the Rio Grande and the Truckee and ain’t going for the water quality.)

Why couldn’t these creeps just go on a vacation? They had the time, and at least some of them had the money (they spent it on piles of guns and tactical gear). Would a trip to see some shit and maybe clear the head have been too Bohemian? Probably. I get that part of their psychology: feeling like a wastrel already and feeling guilty about the thought of turning into an even worse and more useless wastrel. The hard-right ideology they followed just entrenched them in this guilt. Their pied pipers do not encourage easy going; they loudly denounce softness, turning the volume only up, never down, when their opponents point out those among them who are easily punked softbois.

The one creep from this milieu who stands out as a local operator is the Dayton shooter, a young man who had been alarmingly disturbed since puberty and was homicidally furious with many local women in his life, including his own sister. The other guys were unwelcome out-of-town interlopers. Supermajorities of the local resident populations in the cities where they dropped in on their idea of business wanted negative jack shit to do with them, for obvious and compelling reasons. Charlottesville has many decent citizens still trying to exorcise the demons Jefferson himself guiltily named, so some Copperhead wannabe Yankee shithead from Ohio with a stick up his ass about his online community’s definition of Virginia had to drive in and go George Russell Weller on their protest march. El Paso shares a metropolitan area with Mexico and is hence populated by many Mexicans, not counting those who come in for the day to work or shop. That obviously makes it the business of a radicalized dipshit from the far side of Dallas.

Dallas is practically another country from El Paso; it’s the same concept as Alturas not being the same thing as La Jolla. Are there Mexicans in El Paso? My God, Santa Ana, you do not fucking say. The El Paso shooter was pissed off at foreigners who voluntarily come to his state to pay its sales taxes. They say he stopped at the Walmart because he was hungry. What a fucking dumbass. Were none of El Paso’s taquerias open? Denny’s? Was this fool, an American diner, unfamiliar with America’s Diner? One thing I can say against the Mexicans is that they didn’t do enough to culturally appropriate the Spicy Cowboy Chopped Steak; I may not look it, but it’s been off the menu for years, so I guess I didn’t, either, same as the Los Lonely Boys Texican Burger.

I hadn’t heard of Allen, the city where the El Paso shooter was raised, so I looked it up on a map. I zoomed out and found McKinney. That one I had heard of, on account of the incident in which that cop violently manhandled a black girl at a pool party because some Karen bitch didn’t think she belonged in that apartment complex. It’s reasonable to want to get away from that energy for a spell.

There’s no need to drive a fifth of the way across North America to shoot up a fucking Walmart, though. If we ask that loser crew they’d say that there is a need, but good God. There have to be other things to do in El Paso. I assume there are working girls on both sides of the border, same as in San Diego and Tijuana, maybe minus the serious red light districts. Actually, that’s a kind of stupid idea; Dallas is notoriously full of hookers, a buyer’s market in a seller’s city. But still, what the hell was wrong with that kid? He was pissed off over the ubiquity of Mexicans in a major urban port of entry bordering Mexico and historically part of Mexico.

Getting laid might help these losers and protect the rest of us, not just them. I’m not declaring it a panacea, but it seems a damn good start.

The creep in Dayton had deeper problems that would have put sex workers at risk, and its worth an aside about how we in fact are NOT a litigious society, as demonstrated by his school district mainstreaming him back into the general student population after expelling him for threatening to vivisect classmates and not getting tied up in court by horrified classmates and parents ever since. That kid should have been a high-risk inpatient.

The rest of these losers? I’m not sure they’re anything that some T&A couldn’t have chilled out. Even the Dayton dude might have been reachable with sex therapy in a secure, supervised inpatient setting. I’m not bullshitting for kicks here. The staff are never particularly safe around such patients, and helping them lead more normal, less bitter and angry lives by sexually initiating them seems worth pursuing. Doing what we can to make the lives of adrift losers more bearable seems worthwhile. At some point, already reached in much of Northern India, among other places, it’s either hookers or rape. As a nation, we’re choosing rape, too.

I take no pleasure in reporting this. It just seems to be the case. We’re talking about countries where the demographics and economics are not on the side of stability. The chaos is already present. The question, then, is what the hell we, or they, are going to do about it. In our case, the answer is currently not so fucking much. The standard white privilege discourse falls flat for sociosexually frustrated young men with poor prospects. The liberal project gloats about throwing them under the bus. The alt-right project offers them a sense of transcendent purpose and protection for their masculine dignity. If they mouth off at or shoot the diversoids, they assert themselves as men, not boys.

It doesn’t help that today’s liberals are noticeably uncomfortable with the remnants of the Bohemian project. They judge the hell out of unemployed young men. It’s one of their throwaway lines of attack on the basement dwellers Hillary so despised. These men’s lives are vacuums, and vacuums cry out to be filled. Thank God I’ve so often filled mine with working with plants, less than I should, certainly, but much better than not at all.

These guys know they’re losers. The deeper problem is that nobody but the alt-right’s pied pipers offer them a viable way to stop being reviled losers. Everybody loves a warrior, and whoever’s catfishing them online is close enough to everybody for FBI work. Driving across Texas and shooting up a Walmart dovetails nicely with America’s entrenched, deeply sick celebrity culture. At the risk of getting all self-esteemy, I don’t get the sense that these guys are getting praise anywhere else for a job well done. Work sucks and is impossible to get, so these guys are mostly unemployed, and America hates the unemployed. Traveling to El Paso or Charlottesville for the hell of it is a reward for working hard the rest of the time, whatever the fuck that means (“nothing” works).

These losers had a reason to see the country. Toledo? Pretty good chance of throwing a dart at a map and ending up in better scenery. It’s a loser move to save up some allowance or Venmo cash just to go touring, though. The alt-right shit offers these guys the excuse they need to hit the road. The Bohemian dirtbag stance is off-limits, because we’re good conservatives, but that doesn’t exclude that sweet Lisa Novak diaper time energy. All is fair in love and war; street fights can be war, and a country can be the target of love.

By love, I mean infatuation. These guys are a fucking mess. The most appalling part is that their shtick is not Stephanie Lazarus sui generis. C-Ville Carboy had elected officials explicitly abetting him from statehouses. Prominent Republicans are more morally culpable in Heather Heyer’s death than James Fields is, and they’ll never be held accountable. They’re deliberately radicalizing young men online and then publicly arguing that motorists should be allowed to mow protesters down if they’re feeling a bit tense.

Ironically, many of these losers are in thrall to an ultimate motoflâneur, the Oaf of Office himself. Talk about a useless, frivolous, vagrant wandering wastrel. Thing is, Trump’s allowed to yell at the White House press pool over the roar of Marine One’s rotors on his way to the personal 747 to that weekend’s golf course because he’s rich and famous. His petty-bourgeois failson followers will hardly allow themselves a car or train trip a state or two away just to see what’s happening, because that would make them look and feel entitled. They need a purpose to do that, like a Lord of the Flies tiki torch procession with their fellow white boys or some ammosexual quality time.

Remember, nobody who runs this country wants to fucking work. This is a country where tying a rope around a trespassing suspect’s handcuffs and leading him on a forced march across town by horseback counts as “work.” Galveston, oh Galveston, I am so affraid of peace officer standards. As we so often do, we’re singing that Song, Song of the South, Millington for Sheriff and I shut my mouth.

We need to abolish the chain gang if we’re going to really convince these guys that they’re safe from the chain gang. This entire goddamned country seems to revolve around who gets to wield the whip, and on whom. It’s ugly. Sometimes I think we’d be better off with Mexican federalism. I know, I know, the Texas republicans didn’t care for it. They still don’t. Human rights standards are a bitch. So was William Tecumseh Sherman, a hard old soldier who was never one just to fuck around in a vaguely menacing fashion on the quad all night if he had a torch, even if there are times when we are tempted to rue that he used it too sparingly.

Rod Blagojevich never did anything so gross

The crookedness of the American undergraduate academy just gets worse and worse. The most recent scandal to go public features affluent parents in Chicagoland granting legal guardianship over their own teen children to poorer friends or relatives so that their brats can assert eligibility for need-based scholarships.

I understand now why people jump in front of Metra trains. *Extremely be out of Addison by sunup voice* Any of you white motherfuckers wanna get under the train for free? The unsettling energy emanating from rich parts of Chicagoland is no coincidence. Much of what I notice involves subtle architectural and lighting nuances that aren’t worth trying to articulate at the moment, but I am, as wartime Londoners would put it, more open than usual to the idea of the ghosts of Chicago’s wasted promise haunting its cutthroat neighborhoods, which are many indeed. No matter what one does or tries to do to maintain an ethical center, these assholes are still running things. There’s no escaping them. It’s alarming to imagine that NBC’s Chicago series, especially PD, are NOT utter bullshit, and I fear that they project all too much truth.

There’s no compelling geographical reason for any of this to be the case. There’s a legitimate physical economy to run. This isn’t Las Vegas. Chicago is a major rail, canal, and inland maritime hub surrounded by hundreds of miles of highly productive commodity farmland. (Usually; see #NoPlant19 for caveats.) Instead of being involved with any of this productive activity in any capacity whatsoever, these suburban scumbags are trying to get ahead by pretending to disown their own children. Oh, Madison? She lives with my tweaker kid sister in Rockford now. Huh. Fascinating. Kind of like all the hipsters in inner city Detroit or whatever else we’re calling it to be PC whose cars are garaged with the rents back hella north of Eight Mile, for insurance purposes–you know, living in White Flight Heights but staying downtown quite a bit. Reverse Milton Street is always fun. Shit, so is Milton himself, and really, I shouldn’t make him sound like a neurotic dork by comparing him to a bunch of Millennial twentager insurance fraud gentrifiers.

Why was my precious snowflake in Cracker Hollow? My brother has a ladyfriend there, and I’m a terrible parent.

These conveniently noncustodial parents are totally setting up trust funds for the kids they suddenly aren’t raising–assuming, that is, that they haven’t blown all the cash in a few huge wads. Does anyone care to bet that none of the parents involved in this scam do NOT have tens of thousands of dollars’ worth of debt for luxury overseas travel and equally deluxe cars? There’s no way they don’t have sob stories about how they have sacrificed to set aside college savings for their children. I do not goddamn want to hear it, but I get why they’re like that. It’s all too easy to imagine these scumbags being the lower-upper-middle–look at me, a liberal arts graduate, publishing that–i.e., the ones who can’t quite keep up with the Joneses and are really neurotic and anxious about it. And hey, why wait for the train when you can keel over from a heart attack right on the fucking platform? Downers Grove? Sounds more like uppers to me, and I “base” that on you-know-what that gave our boy Brett Michael the sniffles.

The public health context here is nuts. The City of Chicago has a life expectancy spread of fully thirty years between Streeterville (90) and Englewood (60). That’s basically Okinawa and Eritrea on the same rapid transit system. The fear of falling has to be petrifying for tenuously affluent Chicagoans. The regional poor don’t just live a bit austerely or shabbily; they die young in squalor. And the government? RAHM SHANTI RAHM HARE HARE. Even with the stark racial disparities, the specter of the local government in a prominent, large, aggregately rich city deliberately getting poor children killed by forcing them to cross rival gang territory on their way to their neighborhoods’ rapidly disappearing schools has to have bad psychological effects even on affluent white suburbanites. It’s much harder to imagine such extreme parental intervention in, say, the Dakotas, and not just because the Ivies, official and hidden, openly practice affirmative action for North Dakotans.

The extreme class anxiety arising in this context further deranges parents who would already do anything to keep their children from struggling and falling into socioeconomic decline. The question is what, exactly, is anything. How far will they actually go? The answer here is pretty damn far.

The rest of the community has no choice but to live around these scumbags or leave town. High school students competing against their overly nurtured spawn don’t have even this choice, ironically enough. The costs to moving out of their parents’ houses are dire. Remember, we’re talking about bullshit guardianships, not legitimate emancipations. The college application process is appallingly stressful in the best of circumstances, what with all the warnings about how decisions made now will affect applicants for life. In Affluenza Bluffs, teenagers must cope, or fail to cope, with this unconscionable stress and also with the knowledge that their peers’ parents are orchestrating fraudulent guardianships in pursuit of scarce scholarship funds.

The crisis of legitimacy that this presents is hard to exaggerate. The admissions process has been illegitimate for decades. The bourgeois young are trained not to notice this, but it’s hard to ignore, and the cognitive dissonance of ignoring the obvious for political reasons can be excruciating. Unemancipated minors (mostly; then again, Chicagoland) are made to run a gauntlet for theoretically nonprofit institutions that constantly dissemble about the state of their finances, all acting like they’ll go the way of Antioch College if their revenues drop a bit. It’s despicable for the con men, hustlers, and bullshit artists who operate these schools, most of them in fact quite solvent, to prompt ignorant minors to do a grueling song and dance for a shot at admission.

The extreme stakes of this process, deliberately maximized by the colleges, make the process in effect a hostage-taking exercise, complete with the obligatory ransom demands. Everything about the process–the arbitrary demands on applicants, the efforts to keep them off balance, the pushy cult tactics, the asymmetries of information (McMegan whaddup)–is designed to disadvantage applicants, including affluent ones. Every fucking thing that most of these institutions do as institutions–the academic departments that are their supposed raison d’être are also their hostages, although with more counterleverage and experience–is designed to screw over the individual and aggrandize the mother ship.

The smug, and inevitably offensive, fundraising materials that American colleges junk-mail to every address and box on their lists is of course a notorious example of this cult aggression, as we discuss maybe too much around here. Bill Durden foaming at the mouth about the discount rate is another. A savvy member of a college community (yuck) would tell the administrative assholes behind (heh) that shit to approve an asymptotic 1-2% annual draw on the endowment principal if cash flow comes up short, lean on their high net worth donors, and leave the rest of the mailing list the fuck alone about the goddamned temporalities. They don’t do this because they count on us not to be so savvy. They’re also quietly too invested in flattering their richest donors to dare publicly shame them into contributing enough to spare those of more modest means.

Application fees deserve a paragraph or three of their own here. There is no justification for application fees. Does Admissions operate at a divisional loss? Well fuck me, that’s not our problem. The revenue from application fees, matriculation deposits, and similar nickel-and-dime shit is an illustration of the difference between a reason and a justification. We’re talking about schools whose all-inclusive bar rates are in the range of $300-500 per enrollment day, and they’re out squeezing applicants and their parents for extra checks just for the privilege of being allowed to pay all that additional money. It’s nothing but operant conditioning. The administrations are crawling with neoliberal nudge theory shitheads who don’t feel like taking up honest trades and incurring the pay cuts that might result (e.g., dem shine George coin as the daily tip share). It’s pure gatekeeper parasitism. They’re probably trying to justify their positions to their bosses, but again, that’s not our fucking problem, and they’re all ghouls to make it our problem and have us literally pay for it.

It turns out that fee waivers are available for indigent applicants. Love me some fucking #TeshTips to facilitate #BigBandStyle admission to the music program and an audition for the marching band. The first problem with these waivers is that to apply for them one has to know about them, and students from poor families and communities generally know even less about college than the bougie core base, which is frankly pretty ignorant itself. This is why for-profit colleges prey so upon the ghettos, the barrios, and the trailer parks. Correction: explicitly for-profit colleges. The second problem with waivers is that they’re more gatekeeping bullshit and red tape, again, over some piss-ass revenue stream amounting to four or six hours of enrollment: not instruction, literally just enrollment, like, hanging around the student union or dicking around with some extracurricular bullshit or somnambulantly working a student job while also trying to do homework or snorting another line of coke in the frat house. It’s a jobs program for surplus elites. They get paid to administer the waiver paperwork, and the applicants invest their time and emotional energy to humiliate themselves filling it out, groveling to another set of authority figures.

It must not occur to administrators that indigent applicants have enough else on their plates to lead distressingly full lives without having to fill out another fucking form justifying their presence. Or maybe they’re just bourgeois supremacists who don’t care. The indigent cannot afford crosstown bus fare–I’m referring to the domestic American indigent, not the third-world preciosos you coo about having visited on holiday in the Global South–so of course they can’t fucking afford $70 or $100 or whatever the hell it now costs per school to apply.

The existence of application fees and fee waiver applications proves that American colleges and universities are run by people who do not live in the real world. At least the faculty eggheads they lord it over when they can have specific expertise to compensate for their own excursions into fantasyland. Administrations are full of losers who weren’t cut out for grad school. A lot of them are like, oh, but I have an MBA. That’s nice. Kwesi Millington has a bachelor’s in communications.

College application fees and fee waivers come from the same impulse as paying $40 million for extra transit police patrols and new fare gates to crack down on $20 million in fare evasion. One would think that these fucking nerds might think of the extra economic activity and socioeconomic stability that would result from allowing the broke to commute to work unmolested, but they aren’t that smart. We aren’t just ruled by bullshitters; we’re ruled by deeply stupid and vicious bullshitters.

The problem with losers going on public assistance is that it’s so often the wrong losers. College administrations are plagued by social climbers and professional busybodies who are too ambitious to claim their food stamps and Section Eight, as a good thicky trick, thicky trick does, but not ambitious enough ever to pursue honest employment doing anything productive at all. I did more for society in an hour of guerrilla-clearing blackberry brush from the Miner’s Ravine reserve this week that some of these fuckheads do in their entire careers. I do not believe I’m exaggerating. And because they’re stupid, vicious bullshitters with sinecures to defend, they aren’t going to be the ones to declare their own malignant parasitism.

It should come as no surprise in this context that financial aid is a big mess. Why wouldn’t it be? The University of California system used to be tuition-free, but then Reagan had a mad about commie professors radicalizing the young. That’s another useless son of a bitch with an inflated sense of self-worth, one that has a major political party devoted to insisting that he was a fully compos mentis visionary throughout a presidency in which he was publicly senile on a number of occasions. Private universities don’t shame their most moneyed donors into contributing enough to endow them beyond the need for tuition. Besides, fancy schools are extremely weird and squirrelly about their attitude and relationship to the prevailing socioeconomic order. They’re run by people who are more comfortable around the rich than the poor, they’re incented to constantly flatter the community cokeheads for contributions, and most of the cronies they lavish with administrative jobs come from affluent or wealthy backgrounds.

The balances not covered by endowments and annual funds have to be made up with tuition and fees. The usual result is highly solvent institutions that underreport their assets and exaggerate their liabilities squeezing relatively insolvent private families for every dollar they’ll yield. This is not to say that bougies don’t bullshit the hell out of all within earshot about their own household finances. The public models of Instagram influencers and fellow-traveling trash encourage nothing else. It’s obvious that being cagey and disingenuous about one’s finances pays in this country. We do not know how to talk about money the least bit decently, so we go around making shit up. It’s easier to keep up appearances with no fundamental regard for the truth. The American bourgeoisie revile the actual poor and do everything they can to erase them from local and national life, but they have little compunction about strategically pretending to be either “poor” or “rich”, depending on whom they’re trying to impress.

This individual catfishing can swing either way. The institutional bullshitting that colleges and universities pursue about their finances is almost always ordered to exaggerating their insolvency. Parent and student members of these “communities” are generally correct to assume that there are untapped and undisclosed financial reserves at schools’ disposal. Financial aid, for one, is artificially scarce. This much is obvious. The prices are all made up. The amount of administrative bloat schools need to function is made up. More and more schools have no compunction at all about hosing students to pay for their entourages of worse-than-useless administrative shitheads and imperial gladiatorial athletic programs and simultaneously staffing their academic programs with adjunct faculty compensated so poorly that they live in their cars.

If these big schools, with their institutional credit lines and fundraising networks, are allowed to materially understate their assets and revenues in order to hose questionably solvent contributors and payers–if they’re shameless enough to keep pestering ordinary alumni and parents for money no matter how loaded they are–why shouldn’t individual parents be allowed to shelter their assets and income for financial aid purposes? The presumption of fairness is gone. The schools don’t fucking care. They’re grifting and scamming their customers, and besides, everybody takes tax deductions. There’s a legal difference between tax evasion (illegal) and tax avoidance (legal). File that one with the California Franchise Tax Board’s Intention of Heat. The theater was trying to keep the popcorn fresh with the heat lamp, not hot. This is because the homeless must be made to fund the state through the sales taxes on their EBT-ineligible to-go food in our time of Proposition 13.

Again, as I said, we do not know how to talk about money decently in this country, or the least bit honestly. We’re obsessed with money, so this is a disaster. It doesn’t help that we’re ruled by disingenuous, manipulative shysters who have kindergarten-level working arithmetical skills. Why not just flat-out make some shit up about your cost of living, or about somebody else’s? Why the hell not?

This might not be so bad if we had anything like a virtuous elite. There have been periods of our history populated by local business and professional elites who had some fucking idea of what they were doing, morally and professionally, and even national elites who were tethered at least loosely to earth. Ain’t a whole lot of any of that these days. It’s mostly con men and hustlers now. Drive till you qualify. Lie till you qualify. Take out that HELOC to pay for tuition and/or vacations at Sandals Cozumel. Bill Durden was given seven mill gross and a lengthy middle age in a free mansion. This is not a fucking meritocracy. I can’t think of a Dickinson faculty member I knew who was such a useless bullshitting derelict as him.

Kim Kardashian got Donald Trump to send a special envoy to Sweden to get A$AP Rocky sprung from jail. This clown car full of celebrity freaks, themselves far from the worst in the Trump Administration, surely has a bunch of reticent, embarrassed trial judges in Stockholm quietly relieved to be done with this horseshit. Flight risk? What flight risk? Yes, the defendant is released on his own recognizance to board his private flight to Los Angeles, insuring Sweden against his non-flight risk. If they convict him they’ll have to flag him with Europol; if they acquit him, he’ll be free to return to the Schengen Zone, notwithstanding any national, or nationalist, efforts to bar the door against him. What a mess.

I guess Rocky wasn’t in a mood to wait on Greta’s racing yacht. Pretrial detention on suspicion of assault in SWEDEN is a hostage situation now. Odd how this doesn’t apply so much to American immigration detention centers on American soil.

Ordinary people notice unfairness. They react to it. It raises their hackles. This isn’t a deep thought, unless we’ve got Jack Handey in the studio. Ordinary people notice bad examples from their elites more surely than they notice good examples; see Greta Thunberg’s coterie of carbon hypocrites for an example of how not to encourage mass fossil fuel conservation. It’s a basic defense against a raw deal.

Rod Blagojevich’s human and civil rights as an inmate in a prison apparently worse than any in Sweden are worth less than A$AP Rocky’s, and he’s an old Donald crony himself. The judge denied his request to go to Costa Rica for the upcoming Celebrity Apprentice season. Costa Rica doesn’t have an extradition treaty with the United States. It may, however, like Sweden but unlike the United States, have a criminal justice system. The Rod Belatedly Spared would be better positioned than most to come home and offer Chicagoland the moral leadership it needs to stop scamming financial aid programs with bogus relinquishments of parental rights.

Or to go skiing. That’s what a reporter asked him on his flight to Denver. “Do you ski?” With all the injustice in the world–nay, just in this rotten country–far be it from me to begrudge him for saying, bitch I do now. He can be the Cook County executive from Aspen for all I care. It’s not like Milton Street would have been the worst ever Mayor of Philadelphia and/or Moorestown. Home is, indeed, where one lays down one’s head, perhaps where one has a lady friend. Ask her about her finances; she might be broke enough to play guardian for your precious, precious teenaged brat.

Alumni updates: Florida Woman

The hot thicc Lake-Cook Road Jewess who liked to press her fingernails into my kneecap, hard, and spread them–the same one who once asked me, in front of a much less attractive mutual friend, “If I told you to fuck me, would you?”–recently added me on Facebook. Love too have official Friend’s, She’s all over the social media. She even has her own eponymous website, on which she claims to be a “bestselling author,” if you can believe it. Bestselling among whom? Bestselling of what?

She’s a public speaker, too. Her and Kwesi Millington. How shocked are you now, Robert? *Terminal Robert Dziekanski Voice* I’d say I’m pretty shocked. I guess that’s what everybody does when working for a living doesn’t pan out as expected. The RCMP was an actual job for Northside Juice. Farming fish was an actual job for Rundel, and that dipshit still went to Depot. Kneecap Chica was a volunteer firefighter before she was an author, speaker, motivator, and all-around Millingtonian bullshitter. In the interim she was in the Civil Air Patrol. At least that pays, if I understand it correctly. She never killed anyone, I assume, but the Northside Juice comparison still seems apt. Doing whatever it was that functioned as a job didn’t go as well as they had hoped, and now look at them. Canada has shameless hustlers, too: true patriot love, etc. in Nomine Reginae. I’ve got little against ex-Mounties per se; just look at the ones who try to tough it out on the force. Then again, Northside Juice proves that getting stripped of the red coat doesn’t compel one to cease being absolutely ridiculous. All it does is safeguard one from livestreaming a press conference about the manhunt for two white supremacist murder suspects under the cat filter. It’s no bar against Meatless Muscle, as encouraged by the line-of-duty fatal tasing guy, or Communicate to Create, as communicated by the convicted perjurer.

Kneecap Chica’s titles include “Sex, Lies and Your Reputation,” 108 pages of #TeshTips on how to convince strangers that you aren’t a weirdo with a shady criminal background and that kind of thing:

Your online reputation may be holding you back from achieving your goals. It may keep people from contacting you and it may inform their opinions about you before you ever meet. Alternately, your reputation may be so strong that it attracts new people and opportunities.

Society places a premium on digital content. It is crucial that your content is aligned with your brand. Your online reputation is more critical than ever. Whether your personal or company’s reputation is at risk, you need a plan.

This book will teach you about your own online reputation. You will learn how to create and manage an online reputation. You will gain the knowledge to be able to remove mugshots from search results, and repair damaged online reputations.

Love too bee of Goode Repute,,, here; On Line. To be clear, Kneecap Chica always seemed much more decent and morally grounded than just about any of our peers who have gone into marketing or communications. Still, 1) why does this genre of self-help literature even exist, and 2) why is a woman who did first-strike knee torture as foreplay in an ultimately sublimated relationship here with this normcore personal branding shit? Like, check it, Fat Cracka is on the scene with dieting and interviewing advice. Why isn’t she, I dunno, a paid reserve firefighter? Are there no such jobs? This chick was actually working in a firehouse a couple of years before I started stumbling fruitlessly through the SDPD and NYPD application processes, trying in vain to join, inter alia, Robert Conrad Acosta on the force. I think I know more about that cat than the Union-Tribune’s police reporters (Dan the Walking Man? Different Robert Acosta?) because, eh, let’s put it this way: I used to really admire journalism as a calling. Now, as the Jersey Italians say, I write some of this, and she writes some of that; badabing, badaboom, it is NOT all groovy.

Kneecap Chica has some other material up about how she got judged in professional settings for not drinking while pregnant. Everything I used to hear when we were in college was about how we’d get judged for drinking too much. This woman is an unfortunate sellout, but she’s an effect, not a cause. The intersection of American drinking culture and American workplace culture is batshit fucking insane. She’s just chronicling it. We’re a bunch of moralistic fuckjobs who never get enough action. Maybe not enough to quietly and peaceably drink, either. We’re all at risk of being judged for being drunkards, sluts, and I guess teetotalers. How about minding our own fucking business? The graduates of elite colleges are in many cases sexually active drinkers? Are we to believe that this is somehow scandalous? I’ve known priests who act like this, at least about the sex. I wish they’d known whores instead.

Any society that apportions jobs based on social drinking habits and what some creeps can dredge up from implicitly private online platforms is illegitimate. There should be no market whatsoever for any of this ass-covering self-help bullshit. I can’t fault a hustler for successfully exploiting this market, but I can fault those more powerful than her for creating the market in the first place.

Meanwhile, some poor bastard who doesn’t speak a word of English is picking our strawberries for poverty wages, and I’m about to spend a second night in a row sleeping in my own deepening filth so that I can more fully afford to go hiking on the Pacific Crest Trail out of Donner Summit tomorrow morning. I’d switch places with the strawberry picker, with the usual caveats about not treating me like Kunta Kinte and whatnot, if I could find job listings that made any damn sense. I first hit my wit’s end with that shit in the summer of 2013. At least when I fuck around in these pages I usually end up with something to make myself proud, and I’m not fruitlessly trying to impress meddlesome shitheads.

Kid Rock is too good for this godforsaken country. He isn’t weird about the sex and the drugs, not that he’s ever been any good at the rock and roll.

Were your strawberries picked by a homewrecking slut? Cali Desimone investigates at eleven. God do I hope I can afford at least to do some you-picking this summer.