Thursday, September 10, 2020

Gif of the Day

 


Bears would make a great next dominant species, don't you think?

What is Truth?

Today I watched a documentary on Netflix called The Social Dilemma and it was pretty good and interesting, talked about political polarization and acted like the far-left is just as bad as the far-right so you know I didn't like that a whole lot, but overall worth a watch. The thing that really got my brain gears turning was when one of the social media expert dudes started talking about how if we, as a species, can't have some collective notion of what is true, we're fucked. He said "doomed" actually but you know.

This, of course, was in reference to the issue of fake news and a general loss of confidence among the populace in news media or any information that might come their way, no matter the source. I myself am suspicious of any information coming out of the U.S. government, while others no longer trust scientists and academics.

Is this going to doom us? The guy in the documentary said that we needed to get back to having some collective consensus about truth, but I wonder if that's true or possible. With the internet, there is so much information and it may be impossible for governments to regulate the spread of misinformation. First of all, how do you decide what is misinformation and what is truth?

Something I've learned over the years, in part thanks to social media, is that there is no universal truth, no universal reality. We all assume the sky is blue but it's not to colorblind people, is it? Right now in Oregon the sky is orange. Fuck you.

In order to live through these shitty, shitty times, I think what we really need to do is deconstruct our very idea of "truth" and "fact." I'm pretty sure I've already blogged about reality tunnels. It seems true to me that every person, being a unique human being with a unique brain structure formed out of countless life experiences that are in turn shaped by our unique DNA, parts of which can be changed or activated by experiences, sees the world in a unique way. We don't really know that the person next to us even sees colors in the same way we do.

What social media has done is enable us to smash all of these different realities together. Without understanding that someone's reality can be so different from ours, we can get very upset when they say things that seem to contradict our reality. And it's by no means a cure for internet-fueled outrage, but realizing this has helped me detach myself from social media fights. It's hard to get hijacked by that shit when you sit back and realize that this person's reality has been shaped by such different forces.

Doesn't mean they're not still an asshole. But it helps to understand a little bit how they got there.

One time I tried to explain the idea of reality tunnels to someone who was trying to fight with me online and boy howdy they did not like that AT ALL. Which is understandable. Humans really like the idea of universal truth and fact because it makes things simple and easy. But they're not.

We all want answers to the 5,000 problems facing humanity right now. We all want to know why the world is so fucked. But the only answer I've come up with is that humans are messy little shits flailing about, creating technology that so rapidly outpaced evolution, we don't even know how to make this whole civilization thing we came up with work anymore.

In my more optimistic moments, I think that what we're going through right now is growing pains. It's happened to humans on plenty of occasions, particularly when some new technology was invented that left us forward. It used to be that we'd invent some new metal or weapon and go about killing each other more. Now we have technology that would look like demon magic to those people but we can't stop the whole U.S. west coast from burning down every summer.

We have an old-timey scholar's dream of information at our fingertips and we can't gain consensus on whether the Earth is round or whether throwing children into concentration camps is bad. We no longer know what truth is.

Maybe we just need to let go of the idea altogether. Or at least realize that what seems obvious to one person seems absurd to another. One of the best parts of the documentary, though I was aware of this already, was its demonstration of how one person's search suggestions and Facebook feed can look totally different from another person's based on a shit ton of data factoring in things like shit you've searched for in the past, what images you've looked at the longest, your location, any personal information you've given the tech overlords freely, and on and on and on.

It's as variable as the human brain.

A lot of people still don't get this. It wasn't long ago I was seeing a lot of "omg if you type this and such into a search engine look what it auto-fills" but that auto-fill can be different on the phone of the person next to you. I think people have finally started to get this but that only scratches the surface.

I worry sometimes that social media radicalized me and what that means. It's hard for me to feel like radically wanting everyone to have a healthy and fulfilling life no matter what could be a bad thing, but I don't know, maybe I only think that anarchism is a sound philosophy because of the Twitter users that ended up on my feed because of The Algorithm. Maybe that's ultimately okay for me but it does creep me out a little.

I think humans are naturally optimistic creatures so I understand that we all had dreams of the amazing world we would create thanks to the internet. But really, we probably should have seen this coming. This technology has drastically altered the world in such a short period of time, of course there is upheaval. We just have to hope that we'll figure it out. If we can't, well, then good luck to the next species on Earth that evolves to become sentient or whatever. 

Tuesday, September 8, 2020

Gif of the Day

 


I really really like this game okay.

Back in Black Bloc

[Content warning: Future tripping, extreme pessimism]

Well that was a summer.

Having anxiety feels a lot like you're spending your entire life bracing yourself. For what? Who knows. But this year I have a better idea, and my tension headaches have been worse. It's like I'm just constantly in a state of waiting for the moment that the world ends. I know it will probably involve fascism, the collapse of capitalism, climate change, and a fuckload of police brutality, but that's all I know.

Again, more than usual, but it's not much.

And at the same time, I have no vision of the future beyond November 3, 2020. I cope with my anxiety in part through methodical planning. Not that I've ever had an exact vision of my future because I've learned time and time again that shit goes awry, but a general road that I figure I will follow for a while. That road now stops at November 3 and gets shorter by the day.

My plan until then? Get ready. I literally just want to try and get into some level of mental and physical "shape" before that day. Part of that, I've decided, needs to be keeping a journal of some kind, so this is what this blog will be now. I don't need to report on any news in my spare time, that's what I do for work.

So for the second half of August I took a vacation from work and I tried to take a vacation from reality as much as I could. I was high for a lot of the day every day for nearly two weeks before I just needed to stop and be sober for a while. I definitely think I have a problem with weed at this point but fuck I mean who in the hell is getting by these days without some kind of crutch? I'm just going to do my best to keep it to confined to weekends (counting Friday nights because I said so) and keep plugging away at this health thing.

It was hard but inevitable to come to the decision to take care of myself rather than continue to constantly feel guilty about not helping more with the local uprisings. I want to be one of those people who is able to go and march every day or nearly every day or even once a week, but I'm just not there. Guilt around that gets all mixed up with general white guilt, knowing that many Black people don't have the luxury of feeling like they can take a vacation from this shit, or feeling like they can stay home and take care of themselves, or afford vacations or even weed. 

But at some point I've got to face facts. The guilt is not motivating me to do more, it's only adding to my piles of shame and stress, making me less able to help. I need to get a handle on this anxiety and my habit of avoiding anything that might make me anxious. Because that's a lot of stuff. Even thinking about trying to figure out how I might be most effective to the cause makes me anxious. Everything makes me anxious.

I've also got to break this awful habit I have of suppressing my emotions. It sounds weird but I do it automatically, without thinking about it, and even actively against my own wishes. It'll happen and I can feel it happening. I can feel whatever emotion I'm experiencing shrink and get shoved down and a lot of time there's a physical sensation in my stomach, a feeling of tightness or even pain, like my stomach is literally knotting up.

Sometimes I feel like I've largely lost the ability to feel anything. Sometimes I'll be smiling and laughing even and I'll think "but I don't feel anything, do I? Is this feeling? Didn't I used to feel so much more?"

Weed is weird because it often makes me feel better, and often seems to allow me to feel more. But the more I take, the more it feels like it's another way to avoid. On the one hand, it seems to create an ability to think on a deeper level than usual, to make all kinds of connections and even determine the nature of the universe and purpose of existence. I've actually got a running theory, all thanks to weed. But at the same time it makes it harder to focus? And I'm pretty sure it messes with my sleep.

So those two weeks were what might have been my last hurrah into just total avoidance of all the problems, pretending things were fine, and doing and eating some things for perhaps the last time. I really don't know anymore. Things could go really, really bad and we might lose electricity and maybe I'll never get to play a video game ever again? 

It seems possible. Don't listen to me on this because I got 2016 wrong but I have this unnerving certainty that Trump is going to win reelection. When that happens, I figure either riots engulf the entire nation or they fizzle out like they always do and things just get worse and worse under the next four years until either shit collapses or we reach 2024 and Trump declines to leave office, leaving us with the choice to either burn shit to the ground or sink quietly into full, open fascism while more and more people disappear.

This is why I can't much stand liberals right now. Liberals promise nothing much better than more of the same, and when you know the same is not sustainable, then all they're doing is promising you gold while handing you a big bowl of shit. No one likes that guy.

This is why I have no faith in the system anymore. I grew up being promised a bright future only to watch that transform into despair and visions of fire. Things have only gotten worse since I was born and the only path I see toward something better is dark and violent and uncertain. I'm scared and I don't know what to do. I feel like we're on a track and we can't get off. Too many people will continue to be afraid to fight. Liberal promises that have never manifested will continue to prove themselves lies.

Is there anyone out there who's not mentally ill anymore? What's that like?

All I have to hang onto anymore is what I will do for the next two months. I will do my best to get as healthy as possible for the day when I am really needed. I know fixing myself is the only logical thing to do, because I can't help others well while I'm so broken. Maybe I shouldn't be putting it in those terms but that's how I feel.

I feel so much. Actually, I feel like the accumulation of all the shit I've tried not to feel over the years will take as many years to dig through, and if I let it all out at once somehow the sheer force of it would cause me to literally disintegrate, maybe even take out part of this apartment building. At the very least the screaming would upset my neighbors.

Not to be dramatic or anything.

Anyway, I might post daily, I might post periodically, and I will at least sometimes post gifs again because that weird thing with the WEBP files seems to have disappeared as mysteriously as it came. I like gifs.

Friday, July 31, 2020

Our Justice System Doesn't Work, Never Has, And Never Will

Or, another way to put it is that it works great for a privileged few while shitting on the rest of us.

The way we approach criminal justice in the U.S., as well as many other nations, is a lot like how we're approaching the so-called "war on terrorism," and they ultimately fail for the same reasons. It doesn't take a lot of research or general thought to realize that bombing the shit out of villages, towns, cities, and entire nations because there might be some "terrorists" there only serves to create more of those who have been labeled as such by the state. If a foreign nation destroyed your home, killed your family members, poisoned your land and water, and generally completely ruined your life, how would you respond?

Why do you think we've gone from Al-Qaeda to ISIS? Organizations like this only get more extreme and violent the more we, you know, bomb the shit out of other people's countries, not seeming to give a single fuck how many civilians die.

The issue of crime is similar. Crime and "terrorism" (when it's committed by people and not by the state) come out of suffering, desperation, poverty, trauma, and anger. All of these things are made worse by violence such as bombings and police brutality.

Attempts to get "tough on crime" in the U.S. has only created more of it. Black men thrown into prison for minor crimes have families who depend on them. Latina women arrested and deported by ICE have families who depend on them. With families and communities torn apart by police and prisons, poverty worsens. Sons and daughters of incarcerated and deported parents turn to gangs, drug dealing, and general crime out of desperation and despair. The trauma of growing up around the violence of both police and desperate, impoverished civilians makes holding a job more difficult and increases their chances of turning to violence themselves.

At best, our justice system segregates people further by race and class, pushing criminal activity into already-impoverished areas and away from the rich, who believe (or pretend to believe) that this is actually a reduction in crime and reward politicians and police for sweeping it under the rug. Meanwhile, poor communities of color suffer more with each passing year, each passing generation.

Those who have pointed out this problem, of course, are met with what I consider to be the core of conservative ideology, which includes neoliberalism. This is the idea that those who suffer deserve it. The poor deserve to be poor. The addicted deserve to be addicted (and die of overdose). Those killed by police deserved it. Those arrested and thrown in jail are automatically guilty simply by the fact that they'd been arrested.

This mass blaming of the victims of poverty, created and fueled by capitalism, allows conservatives and liberals alike to maintain the status quo that funnels more resources away from the poor and into the pockets of the rich every year. The only way to truly reduce and eventually end what we think of as most "crime" is to end poverty. This, however, means ending the wealthy class and abolishing capitalism.

Abolishing or defunding the police has become the line among leftists and even "progressive" liberals, and while the fact that this is even on the table at all suddenly after being unthinkable for so long astounds me, make no mistake - it's not enough. The entire justice system needs to be uprooted and replaced with one that is, well, a real system of justice. This means abolishing prisons, capitalism, and likely changing many aspects of our government structure, if any of it can be saved at all.

Yes, this is going to be difficult and take either a lot of time or a massive and inevitably violent revolution. I have my doubts that those benefitting most from capitalism will ever peacefully relinquish their power, even when threatened with a mass uprising, as they are now. But if you truly don't like crime, poverty, and human suffering and want to reduce it as much as possible, this is the only logical path. Settling for less means settling for pain, death, injustice, and exploitation. And why would you?

If you think it's impossible because something something humans are bad, then I can only assume you're either one of the people benefitting from this system that causes so much unnecessary death and suffering or you hope you will someday. And if that's the case, then I hate you.

Monday, June 29, 2020

The Seattle CHOP Demonstrates Exactly Why Our Justice System Must Be Abolished

Welp, it took the stress of both a global pandemic and a national uprising to bring me to a stress level that caused me to finally stop blogging regularly for, what, nine years? Depending on how things go, I might pick it up again or might not. I have mostly given up trying to predict the future and am pretty much taking things week by week, if not day by day.

But I still have many thoughts and will write them down whenever I can squeeze out the energy.

As a life-long Seattle-area resident, I've been watching the events of the area around the Capitol Hill east precinct, the CHAZ or the CHOP or whatever you want to call it, unfold for a couple weeks now. I think. Did this all really start over a month ago? Anyway.

I've watched as Mayor Jenny Durkan tried to undermine the protest zone as a "summer of love" block party while pretending to support its existence and watched Chief of Police Carmen Best lie about extortion, rape, ID checks and other things that never happened in the area. I've watched both use the shootings that have happened in and near the zone to try and justify ending it so the SPD can re-take their precinct.

Shootings in and near the CHOP, two of which have ended in the deaths of Black individuals, have been sensationalized by national news media, in particular the first one. "Fatal shooting in Seattle Autonomous Zone" was at the top of trending headlines on Twitter for days after the first one happened. Floods of right-wing trolls pushed the idea that the zone is some kind of lawless wasteland contained in an area of about six blocks where no one is allowed in or out without special permission of a "warlord" or whatever such racist nonsense they could come up with.

Here's the truth. Yes, there have been a total of four shooting events in or near the CHOP. The victim from one believes the men who shot him were white supremacists of some variety and says they called him the n-word. Based on reports from people on the ground, including volunteer medics and security, strongly suggest the rest were from fights and were possibly gang-related.

The reality is that Seattle has been the home of gang-related gun violence for many years. Gentrification, segregation, and increasing poverty in and around Seattle have worsened this to the point that shootings are a nightly occurrence and have been since long before the CHOP existed. It's just that no one cared because the victims are largely BIPOC and/or poor/homeless. The only time they're brought up is to push increased policing or to distract from police brutality with racist "black on black crime" talking points.

This problem has not improved as the SPD's portion of the city budget has increased by many millions of dollars. That's what makes all those tweets sneering at the shootings in and near the CHOP so darkly absurd. There must be hundreds of tweets from accounts with followers in the double digits at best and American flags in their name claiming that the entire movement behind the CHOP and what it represents is completely invalid because they haven't stopped shootings that were happening before the CHOP existed and will continue after it's gone. Shootings that the police have not been able to stop with hundreds of millions of dollars pumped into their department yearly and decades of pretending to try.

If you're paying attention, all this calls attention to the fact that our system of policing and our larger justice system do not work. At least, they do not work if the goal is to stop or reduce crime.

In the U.S., most to all of us are brought up on messages that the police "fight crime." That's what they're for. They fight crime. Movie after movie shows them putting their lives on the line to bring down criminal organizations dedicated to human misery and saving the day. In a blaze on gunfire, they bring down the evil ones and restore order and justice. White people swallow this message especially easy without any experiences to counter the narrative.

But the reality is completely different. Police largely respond to crime. Yes, there may be examples in which they arrest those who break the law, break up organizations they label criminal, and maybe even get your stolen stuff back. But most of the time, they don't.

In fact, there is mounting evidence and consensus that they facilitate and increase crime.

But let's pause here and go deeper. What is crime? This word has such a big impact on so many lives, yet we rarely think about what it means. Crime is "an action or omission that constitutes an offense that may be prosecuted by the state and is punishable by law." Basically, crime is any action or lack of action that breaks the law.

Who make the laws?

In the PR version of America, people vote for representatives who properly represent them and don't manipulate people with ad campaigns, lies, and bigotry to gain power, and they make the laws. So, in essence, the people make the laws.

That's why rapists like Brock Turner get three months in prison when there are multiple direct and credible witnesses to the crime and people who spray paint cop cars face life sentences. That's what you wanted, right?

Further, who decided that putting people in prison is justice? The idea that prisons are rehabilitative is a fucking joke in this country. Most people will readily admit that prisons don't do anything other than keep people who have been deemed "criminal" out of the wider population, and in fact are probably places where people can learn how to become better criminals. It's much more than that, actually - prisons are horrific hell holes where violence abounds and people routinely come out utterly traumatized with criminal records that make it impossible to get housing, jobs, or government assistance, leaving many with zero options other than "crime."

Especially in a nation that literally criminalizes being homeless.

So even when our justice system works as intended, or as we've been told it should work, it does nothing to reduce crime or violence. Rather, we send violent police to use violence to detain and throw people into conditions that would be illegal to keep animals in, with all the trauma and desperation that caused them to do "crime" in the first place, and let them commit violence on each other while being abused by the guards as well.

How is this a solution to violence? What could this possibly due other than increase violence and what we think of as "crime"?

It's incredible how obvious this all becomes by asking a few key, basic questions. The problem is that police were not created to "fight crime" or solve it or anything else. They evolved out of palace guards and slave catchers, literally just people dedicated to protecting the wealth of the wealthy, the property of those privileged enough to own it.

The only way to fight crime is to prevent it. Having police anywhere in Seattle, including in the east precinct on Capitol Hill, never did that. The only way to prevent crime is to ask where it comes from.

Why do people break the social contract currently in place? The answer lies in poverty, trauma, and the gaping chasm between those who make the laws and those who are actually arrested if they break them. Why follow the rules invented by someone else when those people aren't made to follow them or punished if they don't? Why follow the rules of a society that has only ever subjected you to poverty and violence? How absurd is it to ask this of people?

This is why I'm a revolutionary. This is what it means to be radical. The system not only doesn't work as we were told it was supposed to, it was never meant to work that way in the first place. That is how rotton, corrupt, and toxic the system is. The only reasonable option is to chick the whole thing and create something that works for the people, not just the privileged.

Right-wingers who have never been to Seattle or rich white people who have only seen it from their privileged towers act like the CHOP is a much bigger deal than it is. They act like it's everything, ignorant of the fact that autonomous zones like it have popped up multiple times in the city's history and in other cities across the U.S. They are important in the lessons they can teach us if we're ready to learn.

Nobody who was involved in the creation and maintenance of the CHOP ever thought that it would be a magical violence-free zone. That's why we always had the John Brown Gun Club and other volunteers there for security, because violence was expected, at the very least from police and white supremacists who viewed it as a threat. People sneering at the fact that the daily gun violence that has been a part of Seattle for many years didn't stop because of a six-block zone that kicked out the police, ignorant of or ignoring the daily gun violence happening in many, many other cities still entirely controlled by the police says something they didn't intend.

Cops don't fight crime, and "crime" is a manipulative term trotted out to justify maintaining a toxic and unjust system only ever meant to maintain the power of the powerful. Even calling what we have a "justice system" is so intensely ironic that it makes me want to reach through my own skull and rip my brain in half.

Whatever happens to the CHOP, it will always be a success for exposing this to world.

Friday, June 12, 2020

Welcome to the Capitol Hill Autonomous Zone, Again

I just like saying it.

Because of the sheer amount of misinformation flying around and the fact that Donald fucking Trump tweeted about it, I made a rather long Twitter thread outlining everything I know about the major events leading up to it and what's really happening there. Then I turned it into a Medium post. All that took a while so go check it out.

As of Thursday at 5:47 pm PST, the autonomous zone is still free of police and being awesome. SPD has announced their intention to retake the precinct, saying they'll address our demands after. Yeah, right. But there will likely be another battle for the area in the near future. I have doubts that we'll be able to hold it, but then again they'll have to hit us with massive tear gas to clear everyone out, and then they might just have the same situation as before on their hands. So who knows what will happen?

Regardless, what's been done is so important. We've shown what we can do when we come together. We've shown police are neither wanted nor needed and everything is fine without them. They can never erase that and we will never forget.

Revolution is coming.

Thursday, June 11, 2020

Gif of the Day



Metaphorical representation of Seattle kicking the SPD out of the east precinct.

Wednesday, June 10, 2020

Gif of the Day


I"m back, baby.

Welcome to the Capitol Hill Autonomous Zone

So news of the Capitol Hill Autonomous Zone, often referred to as the CHAZ, has reached conservatives and the results are as hilarious as you would expect.


Ted "The Zodiac" Cruz is one of the most high-profile figures to hand-wring about the CHAZ without knowing anything about it, while others have been throwing around wild, unsubstantiated claims and acting like the zone covers all of Seattle, like it's entirely walled in with no way to get food or other supplies in and out, and generally like it's a whole communist uprising threatening to swallow all of America like a black hole.

Meanwhile, in reality...
 

The CHAZ has literally just become a place to gather and organize with fellow activists safely, with free food, water, and PPE available at several stations in and around the zone and no police. Yesterday people gathered on the baseball field to listen to speakers. Then they went with Kshama Sawant on a non-violence march to City Hall. Then they came back and watched 13th on a projector screen someone put up.

It's literally just people coming together and sharing what they have, coming up with ideas to make the world better. They've already put out an extensive list of demands.

Yet I've seen people claim that the CHAZ is out of food (it's not, so many donations have been coming in that volunteers had to ask people to STOP DONATING and also if you need food you can just walk out and get some), that there are scary armed guards checking IDs (there are armed members of the John Brown Gun Club, a responsible gun ownership organization that protects people from white supremacists, which is all they're there to do), that they're charging fees to businesses on the blocks within the zone (no clue whose ass this came out of lol), that it has a "warlord" (???? sounds racist), and generally stuff like this:


Have people ever considered getting a fucking grip? I mean, just look at the photos in the post Ted Cruz retweeted. Do you see anything bad happening? It's some barricades, art, and people hanging out.

So anyway, here's a collection of Ted Cruz tweets reacting to completely innocuous shit:






Oops! That last one was a little too accurate.

Tuesday, June 9, 2020

Gif of the Day



I REALLY need to see this movie.

Abolish The Police

In spite of everything, it's real nice to see thing I've advocated for that were previously dismissed as completely unreasonable by the mainstream suddenly be embraced, or at least considered in a partial fashion, by the same. The current accepted cry, aside from centrist Democrats who are flapping their mouths about "rebranding" (barf), is to "defund the police." What you may or may not know, however, is that defunding the police is and always has been simply a step on the way to abolishing the police, or in fact synonymous with abolishing the police, depending on who you ask.

If you want to know how abolishing the police could work and what society would look like without police, the Wikipedia page on the movement is not a bad place to start. For more information, search engines are amazing tools.

What I want to do here in this blog post is add something to the argument that police must be abolished if we want to live in a just and safe society.

Imagine you're an entitled, abusive asshole of a person who just wants the power to hurt people with impunity. Now imagine that you can go to any city in the U.S. and get a job with a healthy salary and paid training, plenty of opportunity for advancement and raises, and be handed a gun and an arsenal of other dangerous weapons and told you're a soldier of justice and promised that the entire force of your coworkers and bosses and a powerful union will be behind you if you're caught doing anything wrong, up to and including shooting, beating, or choking someone to death. Imagine being offered a job where you're told you're better than the common people, deserve special respect and basically adulation and total compliance from the public, that they must bow to your every whim or deserve to be brutalized.

Please explain to me how we allowed this.

You know what else sucks about police? They're basically allowed to throw anyone they want in prison no matter what they do. If a cop decides they want to hurt you and get you thrown into prison for it, all they have to do is twist your arm painfully behind your back, shove your face into the ground, kneel on you with their full body weight, etc., all while shouting "stop resisting."

They can even convince themselves that you were resisting. All they have to do is wrench one of your limbs so hard it feels like it's going to break or cause you any kind of unbearable pain. Your lizard brain will override all higher functioning to reflexively resist. You literally cannot help resisting that kind of thing. But any resistance to dislocating your shoulder or choking you to death and you're slapped with resisting arrest and assault of a police officer, bye.

How fucked up is that? We put up with this because we were raised on this absurdity and told it won't happen to us as long as we don't break the law or do anything to enrage these people who have double to triple the rates of domestic abuse charges on their records as the general population. We white people, especially, put up with it because our white privilege protects us, reducing the chances that we'll become another victim of a cop. But faced with this reality, can you really turn away and do nothing? Do you want to live in a world like this?

Partially defunding the police isn't enough. The foundation of the system of policing is rotten. We must tear it down and build something on a firm foundation of actual justice, compassion, and respect for all persons.

If you need me, I'll be yelling at Democrats on Twitter trying to water down the movement into nothing. Nothing less than total abolition is acceptable, and yes that does mean abolishing prisons and capitalism, too, but you know I'm so down for that.

Monday, June 8, 2020

Gif of the Day



Inspiring

Black Lives Matter Forever

Wow. So uh. This year.

I don't know about you, but I've been fully on auto pilot for work and my memory has been terrible and things seem unreal and the concept of time has been utterly fucked for like two weeks straight. I am, however, physically fine. The only injuries suffered were a sore elbow and large abrasion on the back of my upper thigh from slipping on some wet stairs and falling on my ass and some moderate eye burning from rubbing an eye after being exposed to tear gas a little. Don't do that, by the way.

Emotionally, well, I'm just wondering if there is anyone out there who doesn't have PTSD by now? And I'm including those who can only stay home and watch night after night of horrifying live streams. I think the live streams have been worse than being there on the ground. I don't know how many more times I can clutch my hands to my chest bracing myself for the moment I witness someone get killed in real time.

But listen. Things are actually changing. Minneapolis is about to abolish its police department. Defunding the police is suddenly a popular, mainstream idea. People are suddenly down for radical solutions and uprooting the system that is rotten to the core. Nobody has any patience anymore for performative liberalism.

Shit might actually get better.

Wednesday, May 20, 2020

Baby Time

Before you jump to conclusions, that headline refers to the fact that I somehow got an ear infection for the first time since I was a little kid and it's been getting increasingly painful since Friday. I did get antibiotics and it is finally starting to feel better but either the pain or the association from childhood has made this turn me right into a total baby. Please stand by while I express these feelings.

EAR HURTS. MY EAR HURTS. OWOWOWOWOWOWOWOWOW WHAT THE FUCK MAKE IT STOP I'M GOING TO CRY UNTIL SOMEONE MAKES IT STOP HURTING AHHHHHH.

Yeah that's all the content you're getting today and until this shit stops bothering me. Ear infections suck. Everything's shit.

Wednesday, May 13, 2020

Afternoon Announcements

Gonna need to take another week off from blogging. Dunno how much longer we can all go on like this. So tired. Take care of yourselves.

Monday, May 11, 2020

Gif of the Day



I could have sworn I saved the source for this man and his horse dog but I can't find it now oh well.

Work Sucks And We Deserve Better

One of the silver linings to the coronavirus pandemic, by which I mean one of the things that should have happened a long time ago without the push of hundreds of thousands of bodies, is that people are starting to see how much better their lives would be if we change our approach to the idea of work. In the U.S. and many other nations, work has come to mean driving often hours through grueling traffic to go to a job that you often hate or is so exhausting and all-consuming you don't even have the energy to hate it.

That's why it's so baffling and disturbing to see people protesting local shutdowns with signs claiming they want to go back to work. Look, I know some people like their jobs, or at least say they do. But an unreasonable amount of people only tolerate their jobs at best because they feel like they have to. Even those who like their jobs can make a list of all the things they still don't like about work. Nobody likes the commute. Cubicles, offices in rooms with walls, and open floor plans all suck for different reasons. Sitting in one place all day doing the same motions with your hands and wrists or standing and walking all day doing physical labor is ruining our bodies. Customers suck. Meetings suck. Emails suck. Everyone complains about all these things and somehow the only solution we've come up with is "stop complaining about work."


But keeping that shit inside just gives you ulcers or worse. So why don't we just change work if it's so terrible?

In ways I don't yet fully understand, we've all been convinced that this is how work has to be. We have to do it eight hours per day, five days per week or more. Less and you're not working enough and that's bad. If it hurts your body then buy a product to correct it. If you can't afford that, numb the pain. If you can't afford/do that, suffer. 

I don't know why we've done this to ourselves exactly other than something something capitalism but we can change it any time we want. And maybe we finally will. One article I did today for my own work helped me see how many people are finding how much better their lives are without work or with a different form of work. People are saving so much money on gas, tolls, daycare for their kids, and so much time, and they're using that extra time to better themselves. People on this Reddit thread are talking about quitting smoking and working on their mental health and taking huge steps in recovering from eating disorders. They're talking to loved ones and improving their personal relationships.

People are healing without work weighing them down. And what I want people to understand is that we never had to work like this. We certainly don't need to do so in this day and age. We can change it. We can change how we think of work. Instead of it being an inevitable hell we've put ourselves in, work can be self-care. Work can be our hobbies. Work can be no different from play.

I've said before in my diatribes against the modern concept of work that while I say I hate work, I don't hate working. I hate being forced to churn out content for too little pay for hours every weekday just so I can have my own home and buy food. I hate seeing my loved ones have the life drained out of them because their jobs demand so much and give so little in return.

Working on myself? Wonderful, rewarding, hard but so worth it. Working on my writing in the way I want to, without having my creative energies drained for the sake of someone else's profits? Amazing, fun, eye-opening, energizing. Even just doing everyday chores around the apartment that can be boring and tiring? Satisfying, good for mental health, feels great when it's done.

That could be our work, if we wanted.

All of this capitalist work, much of it that doesn't even need to exist or could be done by robots, takes so much away from our ability to do the kind of work that is actually good for us and makes us happy. Let's do better for ourselves. We deserve it.

Thursday, May 7, 2020

Gif of the Day



Party time! Except not because coronavirus and damnit I made myself sad.

Hello I Am Very Angry With Democrats

[TRIGGER WARNING: MENTION OF SEXUAL ASSAULT ALLEGATIONS, RAPE CULTURE]

Remember yesterday when I said I would have to deal with my emotions around Elizabeth Warren's comments on the allegations against Joe Biden? Well today is that day because they are here. I keep getting images in my head of me just smashing up my entire apartment with a baseball bat.

I almost supported her for president. I thought she was better than this. I cheered her on. I defended her even from Bernie supporters, especially when they started calling her a snake for accusing Bernie of misogyny. 

But fuck, maybe they were right. Maybe that was the beginning of a strategy to ditch Bernie and all progressive politics and line up behind Biden. What did they offer you, Liz? Did they threaten to end your career? Or did they just buy you? Bait you with a VP offer? 

This is what I'm talking about:


I think what gets me most is her calling Biden's denials "credible." That's the word you use about the victim's allegations, not the clear sexual predator's uncreative denials. What was it that Biden said that was special or different from any other accused sexual predator?

I just feel utterly betrayed and abandoned by Democrats. I feel like a chump for buying into that "vote blue no matter who" shit and chastising anyone who doesn't want to vote for Democrats. They were right. And it's not just the anarchists and other far-leftists. Democrats have proved Republicans right about them. Republicans said that Democrats would change their tune as soon as one of their leaders was accused, and they were correct. Even those who I thought were the good ones who were really progressive but thought they could work within the system to make it better. Maybe she was even right?

But no. Elizabeth Warren has turned her back on women and survivors, just like the rest of the Democrats. The only exception is Bernie, the one that Democrats always scream is "not a real Democrat." Using that as a criticism never has only gotten more darkly hilarious.

But even he is still supporting Biden. He's still part of the system. He was the compromise candidate and Democrats rejected that compromise wholeheartedly. So.

It's getting harder and harder to see a real difference between Republicans and Democrats. Andrew Cuomo is out there insisting on cutting Medicaid during a plague. Democrats everywhere have shown themselves to be rape apologists. They're supporting a man who has been openly creepy with young women for decades. And if we're being really honest with ourselves, we don't know how Biden or any other Democrat would have handled the pandemic. We don't have tests because the CDC decided it was special, tossed aside the WHO's test and tried to make its own, and fucked it. Would Biden have been able to prevent that?

American exceptionalism is not a uniquely Republican disease.

Hell, if Hillary had won, I don't see how we ever could have dodged war with Iran. Remember when that almost happened? Hillary desperately wanted to invade Iran and that would have been her shot. Then we'd have war and a pandemic, and the Iranian civilians would have been completely and utterly fucked.

Obviously Trump is an intensely awful human being and a shit president. But the last Democrat in the Oval Office was the Deporter-In-Chief and ramped up drone bombings significantly. The one before that was... also a sexual predator, whoops!

Maybe they are just all terrible. And you can yell and scream at me all you want but it's not like these feelings are coming from nowhere. How many times can I be used and betrayed and still be expected to support the Democrats? I'm too busy fighting the urge to become an accelerationist anyway.

I am not okay today, and it's the Democrats' fault.

Wednesday, May 6, 2020

Gif of the Day



Me @ the U.S.

Wake Up

Every now and then I think about Rage Against the Machine and how a couple of leftists got together and made amazing revolutionary music calling for people to wake up, literally screaming it again and again at the top of their lungs. Or Zack's lungs, at least. One line that rings in my ears a lot is "what do I got to do to wake you up?" They tried for years as a world famous band and still we're where we're at right now. I get frustrated because I, a fairly unknown writer, have so far failed in my vague quest to find just the right words to do that - to wake people up. I wonder how Zack de la Rocha and Tom Morello must feel, especially finding that asshole like Paul fuckin' Ryan claim to be fans of your music.

Another song that rings in my ears all the time lately is System of a Down's "Dreaming." The refrain "dreaming of screaming" hits me right in the gut every time. 

I would like to scream. I'd like to tear my own guts out and show it to certain people because maybe then they would actually listen.

Ever think about Thích Quảng Đức, the Buddhist monk who set himself on fire in the middle of an intersection in South Vietnam in the 60s? Do you think that unthinkable action, that ultimate form of protest, made anything change for the better?

I'm struggling with my sense of agency, can you tell?

Do you think anything can really get better at this point? Do the ultra-rich few just have too much power? Is the populace too housebroken? There are plenty of valid reasons to be angry with the people "protesting" for the end of pandemic-related closures of non-essential businesses, but what really disturbs me is all the people demanding to go back to work. People are really out there demanding that the government reinstate a system that will force them to go back to their empty, soulless, underpaid, underappreciated, or in the case of many office jobs entirely pointless but no less soul-sucking jobs. They want to go back to a world where their lives revolve around that shit. 

Housebroken is really an apt term for these people. And it makes me sad. What makes me want to scream is the woman holding up a sign with the slogan from the gates of fucking Auschwitz, "Arbeit macht frei." It means "work will set you free" and it was the slogan of the world's most famous nazi death camp.

Work will set you free. As big of a lie then as it is now.

I was taught that the U.S. government didn't know about the nazi death camps until the end of the war. Also a lie.

I've struggled with feeling like I'm trapped for years now, so I'm pretty used to it, but if I'm honest with myself I think the pandemic has made it worse. I wanted revolution but rioting would be so irresponsible right now, and that thought makes me want to laugh until I suffocate.

They want to reopen America. And so many of us are sitting at home just staring into the future like it's a runaway freight train barreling right at us, and we're stuck in the train tracks. Or maybe tied to them is a better metaphor. Either way, we all know that thousands more people will die from COVID-19 than ever needed to. But it doesn't matter. Republicans will do what they want, and the rest of us will have to live with the consequences. Sometimes this doesn't feel much different from living under a dictatorship, except at least in a dictatorship you don't have people pretending to be on your side screaming at you that you'd better vote a different white conservative rapist in because they think that will make it all better.

Elizabeth Warren's calling Joe Biden's denial of the sexual assault allegation "credible" was devastating. I'll have to deal with those feelings soon.

I'm just trying to go on, hoping for something real to happen. I don't actually want to have to set myself on fire.

How much longer can this go on?

Monday, May 4, 2020

Friday, May 1, 2020

Gif of the Day


UNCE UNCE UNCE UNCE UNCE UNCE UNCE UNCE

For The Funsies

Whew, it was a bit of a struggle to make it to the end of this week, but I did it. I'm so pleased that I'm just going to share this amazing TikTok account I wrote about today because it has brought me so much joy and it's just pure fun and don't we all need some of that?


@heyberg Follow for REAL PRANK CALLS (COMING SOON) ##fyp ##foryou ##foryoupage ##voiceimpression ##impressionsguy ##impressionchallenge ##showerthoughts ##lmao
♬ original sound - heyberg

This guy has 36 videos and most of them are just like this. You're welcome.

Thursday, April 30, 2020

Gif of the Day


I'm so ready.

The Democrats Will Get What's Coming To Them

[TRIGGER WARNING: MENTIONS OF SEXUAL ASSAULT & CORONAVIRUS]

Obviously there's never a good time for a global pandemic, but I can't help but wonder what 2020 would have been like so far if it hadn't been for the novel coronavirus outbreak. Remember what it was like before this hijacked our brains? It's hard, isn't it?

Donald Trump's impeachment and the Senate trial seem like they happened years ago. Remember when we were all fucked up over the Democratic primaries? Those are still technically happening, although not in New York, which is fucked up. There are so many things we all should have been freaking out over but we don't have the head space, the energy, the anything necessary to respond in a way which is really warranted.

For me, the worst of all of it is the Tara Reade sexual assault allegations against Joe Biden. That could have and should have been huge, and it's still been in the news in between the millions of coronavirus-related headlines, but I and I'm sure many other people haven't been able to address it like we wanted to.

I'm only now just beginning to really feel my anger over the whole thing. I realized this morning that if not for the coronavirus, this would have been a huge thing for me. As a leftist and a feminist and an uncompromising supporter of survivors, as someone who was already sick to death of being jerked around by Democrats, I feel like I would have been part of a massive call for a third party or at the very least a monumental reckoning within the Democratic party.

It's completely exposed them as being a party of opportunistic, predatory hypocrites who use the language of social justice to court votes of progressives and vulnerable populations but who will abandon us at a moment's notice and attack us if we dare challenge them. Every time Tara Reade is in the news again, Democrats make it more and more obvious. Even Stacey Abrams has betrayed us.

It makes me so angry to think that they will ultimately get away with all this because those of us without all the money, power, and privilege handed to those who run the Democratic party just don't have the mental and emotional energy to fight them right now. We do what we can, and plenty of us have spoken up and written on it and yelled on social media, but I just wonder what we could have done without this fucking pandemic weighing us down.

But we can only do the best we can. Let's just try to remember this betrayal and this anger for later, when we have the energy to gain whatever justice we can for Tara Reade and whoever else has been assaulted by Joe Biden. Maybe he'll be president, maybe not. But I promise that I won't forget, and I will never again think of the Democratic leadership as anything more than my enemies.

I can hold a fucking grudge, and I don't forgive those who don't make amends. The reckoning will come, Joe.

Wednesday, April 29, 2020

Gif of the Day


Birds are weird.

May 1 Strikes

Global pandemic and economic crisis in late April? You bet there's going to be strikes. May Day is also known as International Workers' Day, dubbed so by socialists and communists in the late 1800s to mark the hangings of several anarchists after someone set off a bomb during a mass protest for an eight-hour workday. Thanks to all these leftists, we won an eight-hour workday and many other victories. However, we were always supposed to fight for more, and many expected that the number of working hours would continue to shrink, especially as technology advanced.

But, you know, capitalists.

Global crises like the current pandemic tend to set off labor movements, and this pandemic is no exception. It's the perfect opportunity for some of our most screwed-over workers such as Amazon warehouse workers, grocery stockers, and the delivery drivers for all those new food delivery apps. Though some things have obviously changed, the basic principles of supporting strikes and being a good community member stand.

Don't cross the picket line. Do not order anything using any of the companies that are being hit by strikes. The point is to hit them in the pocketbooks, so don't give them any of your money on May 1 at the very least.

The strikes I have been able to find are as follows:

  • Amazon
  • Whole Foods
  • Instacart
  • Walmart
  • Target
  • Shipt
  • FedEx
Make sure you have all the food you need for May 1 before that date if you don't have other shopping options available.

Monday, April 27, 2020

Gif of the Day


Thanks for this one, Tildy.

Give Yourself Some Credit

It's another Monday and I'm still churning out articles for work during a global pandemic trying to ignore the reports of people my age suffering strokes because of the virus when I get migraine with aura, anywayyyyyyyyyyyyyyyy.

In the spirit of "Give Yourself A Break," let's also do a "give yourself some credit" challenge. Many of us still have regular responsibilities, and doing normal everyday shit is a LOT harder under significant stress, which is what you are experiencing right now. I know, you might feel a little more normal because you are starting to get used to it but that doesn't mean your stress level is necessarily lowered.

The point is that everything you're doing right now is an accomplishment. If you're doing something extra to increase your mental health, that's incredible. If you're doing something extra to help people, that's simply amazing. If you're just surviving, that's fantastic.

I have trouble with this too, so I'll start. I've been trying to go on walks again for the sake of my mental and physical health, starting out real slow with just one a week, then two per week last and this week, and so far I've been keeping that commitment. I plan to keep increasing the frequency slowly until I get to walking almost every day, and then I'd like to start doing upper body exercises too.

Another reason for this is so that I can keep up in the coming riots, but let's not worry about that now.

I've even been doing extra cleaning projects on the weekend, not for sanitation but just for mental health. This weekend I cleaned out and organized the cabinet with all the sheet pans and other random kitchen crap, including putting almost everything in there through the dishwasher to get rid of years of caked-on dust. Now I can actually use my wok, or one of the three pie crust dishes I for some reason have. And I can open it to get the strainer without worrying about a stack of sheet pans falling on my foot.

The weekend before me and Addison deep cleaned the bathroom, and I vacuumed (normal but infrequent chore) and even dusted both the bedroom and general living area, including the blinds, which were SO DUSTY.

Next weekend I'm cleaning the couch as much as is possible without a wet vac or whatever.

I feel so good about doing these things! I've also been working and blogging and checking on my Discord support group which has come in handy even though it's supposed to be about the threat of climate change but I can't think about that shit right now lol.

Anyway, I'm pretty extraordinary for doing all that. Now it's your turn. Anything that you're doing to take care of yourself right now is wonderful, and you deserve credit. I think you're doing amazing! A+! You rule!

I want to see every single one of you doing this:

Friday, April 24, 2020

Gif of the Day


Who is she.

Rent Strike Resources

The end of the month is approaching rapidly, somehow, after the month of March lasted eons, and that means rent is going to be due again. As you know, millions of people have been laid off, only some have received their measly $1200 from the government, and many are being denied unemployment for no discernable reason, if they can even get onto the website or through the phone lines long enough to apply.

I am thankfully in a good position. Though my secondary freelance client had to delay giving out assignments, my primary client asked me to do more work following the start of the pandemic, and my partner will likely be able to go back to work or at least get unemployment payments soon. Plus I got my stimulus payment pretty quickly for some reason.

Regardless, we will be participating in a national rent strike starting on May 1 in solidarity with people who can't pay and also because rent is too high and fuck landlords. This is also made easier by the fact that we have family we can stay with if we do get evicted, though there are still risks of this making it much more difficult to rent in the future. There's an eviction moratorium in Washington State right now, plus charging fees for late payment is prohibited until early June, so that helps, but we could still be evicted in the future.

I lay out these risks in case others reading are also thinking about taking part in a rent strike. If you are, there are a lot of resources and support networks out there right now that can help you get through it, access legal information, and organize with your neighbors. If you can, organizing your entire apartment complex is the best way to do a rent strike, but that's just too much stress for me and my partner right now, so don't feel bad if you can't manage it either. Talking to strangers is hard.

Anyway, here are some of those resources I mentioned:

A list of local rent strike Facebook groups.

A form you can fill out if you want to organize a rent strike and need help.

Online rent strike organizing event for Seattle.

International rent strike webinar.

Tenant Protections Map showing where rent strikes are being organized, plus additional resources.

Rebel Steps podcast episode with step-by-step rent strike organizing guide.

There's plenty more to find out there if you look. If you do strike and your landlord threatens you with eviction or other forms of retaliation, let one of these organizations know. There is a very good chance that landlord retaliation right now is illegal, and at the very least, public shaming has proved to be very effective.

Good luck. You have nothing to lose but your chains.

Thursday, April 23, 2020

Gif of the Day


I know we've all seen this but it's just such a great metaphor for the U.S. right now.

Wednesday, April 22, 2020

Gif of the Day


Grump little golden retriever puppy.

Prisons Are Ethical Nightmares And Now They're Petri Dishes For Coronavirus

There are a lot of things I'm grateful for lately, especially all of the sudden shifts toward leftist ideas among the larger public when they unthinkable just a couple months ago. On one level, it's irritating, but mostly I am shocked and highly pleased to see something close to universal basic income happening in the U.S., with people demanding more.

However, there's one thing we really need to shift public opinion on because it really is an ethical clusterfuck, even outside of a deadly pandemic, and it's the prison system. We've spent centuries shoving the most vulnerable, desperate people of our society into horrible conditions, and the state has to convince us that they deserve to be there in order to justify those conditions. Then they get exploited, conditions become even worse, and the only way to maintain the system (which the state wants to do because it's a ton of free labor, and I'm not even talking about private prisons yet) is to dehumanize the incarcerated.

The parallels to the old U.S. chattel slavery system are disturbingly numerous.

And seriously, I'm not just talking about private prisons. Those are a whole new level of fucked up, but we need to get rid of the entire prison system as it is and replace it with something actually dedicated to rehabilitation.

We need to change the public view on incarcerated people. They are not bad people, they are not vermin, they are not evil. They are people who have been failed by our society so badly that they ended up harming fellow human beings, or they're people that the state finds threatening. And the former even applies to so-called "white collar" criminals. You don't embezzle millions of dollars because you're a healthy person in a healthy society, even if I do have less sympathy for them.

I am encouraged by the fact that some people have been released from prisons due to the pandemic, but it's not nearly enough. Models by the ACLU predict that an additional 100,000 human beings could die from COVID-19 because of U.S. mass incarceration.

And if you still can't muster up enough empathy for prisoners, most of those people will be those outside of prisons who catch it from those who are released on schedule during the pandemic.

As many as 99,000 more people could die in the US as a result of the virus being contracted behind jail walls, the study predicts. Of those, 23,000 are projected to succumb behind bars and 76,000 in surrounding communities as a result of inmates spreading the virus upon release. 
The projection would almost double last month’s White House modeling of Covid-19’s grim legacy in terms of lives lost.

The stories coming out of affected prisons right now are horrifying. I can almost guarantee it's much worse than any prisons will ever willingly admit. Leaving tens of thousands of human beings or more to die because they had the misfortune of being born into poverty in a society that hates the poor is mass murder, plain and simple.

Tuesday, April 21, 2020

Final Fantasy VII Remake

CONTENT WARNING: KEY SPOILERS FOR THE ORIGINAL AND REMAKE AHEAD

Sporadic posting lately? It's not coronavirus (not totally anyway), it's because last week Final Fantasy VII Remake arrived at my door. Now I've finished it, and I need to blog out all my feelings about it, so get the fuck ready.

First I need to express just how important the game of Final Fantasy VII is to me. I was first introduced to this game as a pretty young kid. It was my big brother's game, and I started out just watching him play it, fascinated by a new kind of video game like I'd never seen before. Final Fantasy VII was my introduction to the JRPG and the turn-based battle system. Everything about it was different, especially the story. It's hard to remember for sure, but I think FFVII was my introduction to the idea that video games could contain compelling story that could move me and characters that fascinated me.

I think it also contained the first fictional characters I ever had a crush on, which for me remains a rare thing. But that's less important.

I played FFVII over the course of years, periodically getting stuck on certain parts and then going back months later to try again, finally figuring it out and progressing until I was finally treated to an incredible final battle and satisfying ending. I'll never forget when I first witnessed Aeris/Aerith (I still often pronounce it with the "s" at the end because that's how I learned it) die, how I threw the controller in outrage and cried in grief. I could hardly believe that any video game company would have the nerve to kill off a playable character, and to this day, as far as I know, this bold as fuck move has very rarely been repeated.

I realize that the novelty of the game is likely a large part of the reason I loved it, whereas every other Final Fantasy game other than Tactics has been a baffling disappointment to me. No other Final Fantasy villain has been nearly so intriguing and terrifying to me as Sephiroth, as embarrassed as I am to admit that. And again, maybe it was just the novelty of seeing a man with ridiculously pretty eyes and long as fuck hair, but whatever the reason, that fascination has lingered over all these years.

He's sexy, what can I do?

Over the years, I've gone back to replay FFVII periodically. I couldn't tell you how many times. I know this game better than any other video game in existence.

Final Fantasy VII Remake has given me a new appreciation for the original while at the same time renewing my love for the story and the characters. In short, I liked it, and I'm glad it exists. It would not surprise me at all if some people hated it. Personally, I was one of the people who for many years was like "why haven't you remade this iconic game with updated graphics?" They could have done a shot-for-shot remake like that and it would have been guaranteed money.

But for some reason, they waited. And waited. And every now and then it would come up and they'd be like "nah if we're gonna do that then we're gonna DO THAT."

I never understood what they meant until now. Final Fantasy VII Remake is an attempt to give us so much more. It attempts to take a well-known story and beloved characters and go deeper, let us get to know them more, and I think to reconcile some plot holes.

One of the really interesting things about the original game is that it was actually a low-budget thing. It was the first 3D (as it was thought of at the time) Final Fantasy game. Square (as it was called at the time) didn't know if people outside of Japan would like it or if it would be worth the investment. As a result, the localization department was pretty under-funded, which is why there are those bits of text every now and then that are clearly not right or confusing. It's because it's literally not translated very well.

But oddly, I think that parts of the game being a little off like that really only served it, largely because the protagonist is an unreliable narrator. Somehow it manages to create more intrigue in what is a very slow-burning story for a video game.

That is one thing that Final Fantasy VII Remake lacks. Subtlety. This is not surprising considering what Square Enix now is. They don't do subtle. But I'll always be impressed by how the original has you spend 5-10 hours in a big city environment making you think that the game is about defeating Shinra, dropping the occasional little hint that there's something bigger at work, before kicking you out of the city and into a big world with an entirely new objective armed with limited and partially incorrect knowledge about the real antagonist and why he needs to be defeated.

And yet somehow this wild turn in story works. Maybe it's because of those subtle hints, or some accidental or genius pacing, but it doesn't leave you without an actual figure to be your antagonist like when they tried to do the same in VIII, or without hardly any understanding of what's going on like in IX and X. Also, the characters are cool and interesting instead of annoying and/or boring, so that helps.

I've always felt like my disappointment in the other Final Fantasy games is largely a result of comparing them to VII and expecting or at least longing for more of the same. So for the remake, especially after learning that it would be a multi-game experience and the first would be all in Midgar, I tried to go in with an open mind. And I think that helped.

I almost decided to cancel my pre-order when I found out the game would be all in Midgar and therefore have to be quite a bit different from the original to last as long as a full game. I'm glad I didn't. I feel like the remake was something of a love letter to the original, almost like if some really good fan fiction was added to it. It gave me a greater appreciation for the people of the slums and the cruelty of Shinra, and added a delicious layer of class consciousness that I was of course going to love.

As the game started, I wasn't sure about the characters. A lot of them seemed to lack much authentic personality. But maybe in some ways Square Enix still manages to be subtle, because they all grew on me. Biggs started out sounding like stubbled handsome guy #3 but by the falling of the Sector 7 plate, I had come to love him. I wasn't initially a fan of what seemed like an epic level of thirst from Jessie for Cloud but grew to like her as I realized she was messing with him.

I always loved Wedge, though. Wedge is amazing.

I wasn't even sure about Tifa's character at first, but it felt like more of her came out as time went on, like we were getting to know each other.

The remake also made me realize what it is I like about Cloud. People who like Final Fantasy games like VIII or X best will often describe him as "emo," but I never felt that was right. Squall is fucking emo, and in a completely unlikable way. But Cloud is not that at all. He's not sad. He's not depressed. He doesn't act as though his life is terrible.

Cloud is like an adorable puppy who really wants to be seen as a big tough guard dog and everyone sees right through it and the results are fantastic. And yet as his companions make fun of him for it all day long, he only becomes more attached to them because he is a good loyal puppy and I love him. He just wants to protect people, haunted by the moment he felt that he failed to do so as a kid.

But he doesn't want anyone to know how vulnerable he is and so he tried to act tough and aloof and like he only cares about money but he keeps helping people and it just becomes a running joke that he's in on himself and it's great. I just want him to be okay.

Anyway.

I didn't love everything about the game. I'm not sure about the "whispers" that manifest as dementor-looking fuckers. I feel as though what they really are is a plot device and attempt to explain some of the more unbelievable parts of the game. I don't know that it's necessary. I'm also a little confused by the injection of the "fate" narrative that wasn't in the original. Maybe they're going somewhere with it that I don't see yet.

Jim Sterling seemed to suggest in his video on the game that these new elements mean that it's not a real remake, but that there's something like a time loop going on and the whispers are trying to keep everything on track but the new Cloud and new friends are breaking out of that loop and shit's going to be different? But I didn't get that at all. Yeah, there's some time shit going on. Cloud seems to be having visions of the future. But that doesn't mean it's not going to be the same story going forward.

I'll need to play the remake again. I was definitely going to anyway. I apparently even missed some odd jobs in my first run.

The lack of subtlety is a little disappointing but I understand. I mean, who doesn't know that the game is really about fighting Sephiroth? It's a little pointless to try and sneak up on people with that now. And I have to say, I was glad to see so much of Sephiroth in the game, because how was I going to wait for the next one for fucking Sephiroth to show up?

Maybe my biggest complaint about the game is that Square Enix didn't have the courage to kill off the characters who were supposed to die. I mean, okay, keep Wedge alive because I love him, but Biggs survives? Come the fuck on.

Killing off characters raises the stakes. And don't tell me only Jessie is dead. Don't kill off one of the few female characters if you're only going to kill one, huh?

My significant other also put the fear in me that maybe this is going to be some kind of timeline-changing thing in which you're going to find some way to save Aerith from her fate, because she keeps so heavily hinting that she has to die and knows it. I know it's fridging but if Aeris doesn't die it's not Final Fantasy VII.

At the end of the day, Final Fantasy VII made me feel things I hadn't felt in a very long time. It made me feel strange feelings that I'm still feeling now and I like them. And it was a blessed distraction from how ffffffffffffffffUCKED UP everything in the real world is right now. There was some weird stuff in it, and I really, REALLY did not need to see Cloud get a very obvious metaphor for a hand job (good lord my inner child is dead now thanks Squenix), but I feel like people who love the game took some creative license with something they love and that's fine. Like, good for them. I'm not one to say that people who poured a shit ton of time and money into a creative venture should make it exactly how I say they should, as long as it's not harmful in some way to real people. They sold it back to us at $60 and that's not a small amount, but for 40 hours of entertainment and the results of years of incredible amounts of work, I really don't feel like I'm owed anything here.

That being said, I can't believe I'm going to have to wait probably years for the next one. Damn you, Square Enix. Damn you to hell.

Monday, April 20, 2020

Give You A Break

I struggle a lot with feeling like I don't do enough to justify how stressed and anxious and tired I feel a lot of the time. I hide it but the truth is that there is a constant nagging fear that I am just faking it and being overdramatic for attention or because I'm really just lazy. You know, all those things I've written about as being capitalistic value judgments that ignore reality. I have so much trouble with applying the things I preach about giving people a fucking break to myself.

And I'm sure a lot of people can relate really hard to that. There's never enough you can do, right? It's never enough for that voice inside your head to be satisfied. And no matter how exhausted you feel or what physical symptoms manifest from your stress, you never really, truly believe that those feelings are real or unexaggerated. But sometimes you feel so tired that you literally can't make yourself move. And you think, "what's wrong with me?"

Part of it is culture. Hopefully you've already seen stuff on the internet decrying those absurd calls for people to be extra productive right now, gaining new skills during a global crisis involving a deadly virus or starting a new business venture at the advent of a global depression. They're right, we are all going through a period of trauma together. And even when it feels like it's no different from before, maybe if it feels like nothing is really worse or harder, that trauma and stress are still there.

My life really is not all that different than it was pre-pandemic, but today as soon as I was finished with my regular work, I was hit with a feeling of absolute, all-encompassing exhaustion right in the middle of my gut, or what felt like the deepest depths of my soul. And all I could do was lay down. There was nothing particularly hard about today or over the weekend. No news that was particularly shocking.

But I felt like that.

I think we could all use a global campaign of giving ourselves a fucking break. For real. It's not just the pandemic. Do you remember the shit that was going on before this? What about the national trauma of an impeachment trial that was just pure gaslighting from Republicans, which followed numerous scandals and investigations because the president just would not stop doing completely fucked up shit. It's been three and a half years of fucked up, people! Starting with that other national trauma that was the 2016 election. When did we recover from that? Oh that's right, NEVER, because we didn't have time for that, did we?

It's just been one clusterfuck after another and thinking about it like that makes me wonder how the fuck we all held it together? What kind of animal are we? Like what the fuck?

And let's expand out even further. Do you know how fast technology has been advancing in the past few decades? Do you know how many massive cultural changes have happened, all on a global scale, just since the internet became widely available? It took us millions of years to figure out tools and invent the wheel, but in the past 30 years we've become a species that spends the majority of its waking hours looking at screens and getting a ton of information shoved into its brain all day every day.

We lived in fairly small tribes, isolated from one another, for millions of years and then all of the sudden we can all talk to each other from all the way around the world any time we want? We all get to find out the kind of shit our national leaders get into and how fucked the system is for the rest of us? We see terrible things happening to our fellow human beings and learn about horrific injustices every single fucking day, and we still get out of bed in the morning?

If the human species does survive past the next couple centuries, this time will be looked on as a big period of change, maybe the biggest ever to happen to the species. They'll study how our brains rapidly changed to cope with our new realities and how the advent of internet technology fueled renaissance and revolution. And they'll be like "wow, can you imagine?" They won't know how we got through it.

I hope that day comes. But in the meantime, please give yourself a break. If you give yourself a break then I'll give myself a break. Deal?