About greg

Just another bozo on the bus.

are bure bampot

Okay, Instagram. As some of you know, I have two IG accounts–one under my own name (or something like it) for the sort of snapshots everybody shoots and another under the pseudonym Knuckles Dobrovic for photo projects (I wrote about my introduction to the devil of IG here).

The first project was more an exercise than an actual photography project. It was basically my way of learning how to use Instagram. I put a thing on a patio table and photographed it. Almost every day for about a year, at different times, with different things, in all sorts of weather. It’s just as ridiculous as it sounds, but it was fun. That project (cleverly titled Things On A Table) started in 2013 and ended in the summer of 2014. At the end of that project, I wrote this:

I’ll probably come up with some other sort of project, simply because I’ve grown fond of the name Knuckles Dobrovic. I realize that’s a stupid reason. I don’t care. I’ve no objection to doing things for stupid reasons.

Portsoy

The Knuckles account sat idle for about four years. In January of 2018, I started a second project, which was more pretentious than my first, but equally ridiculous. During my daily walks, I’d stopped periodically and photograph something at my feet–some leaves, a crack in the sidewalk, a lost glove. I decided to layer two or three photos taken on the same day to create a single image. It was weird fun, and it made me happy. That project lasted for about ten months. Then I put Knuckles back on the shelf, where he sat for about four months.

The third project took root while I was playing the game Geoguessr, which involves Google Street View. The game basically drops the player somewhere in the GSV world and you’re supposed to figure out where you are–rural Finland, suburban Arizona, a forest in Brazil, a street in Thailand. I loved the randomness of it; I spent most of the game just wandering around and looking at stuff. So I decided to appropriate images from GSV, modify them a bit, and turn them into black-and-white images. Because it was an art project and art projects are famously pretentious, I decided to limit the project to 100 images–sort of an homage to Hiroshige’s ukiyo-e series, One Hundred Views of Edo (which is actually 119 paintings, but let’s not get fussy). It was the only Knuckles project I was sorry to end.

Maryport

The fourth project was sparked by the onset of the pandemic. The world seemed isolated and a tad disjointed, and I wanted to express that feeling of social dislocation. So I took some of my daily snapshots, diddled with the color a wee bit, digitally sliced it in thirds, then re-arranged the pieces. The result was a photo that didn’t quite make sense, so I called the project Slightly Dislocated. It was fun at first, because the process could be applied to almost any photo style–street photos, landscapes, still lifes, anything but portraiture. But after a few months, it felt forced. The project lacked energy and passion and I just stopped doing it. The last photo of this project was posted in March.

North Queensferry

Now I actively dislike the project. I’ve considered deleting it, but that seems somehow cowardly. If you make a mistake, you should just accept it and move on, not try to hide it. However, even though I haven’t posted anything to the Knuckles account in months, I continue to get notifications about it. It’s like a constant reminder of how much I dislike the last project. The only non-cowardly way to resolve that is to start a new project, one I’d actually enjoy, something to get rid of the bad taste left by the Dislocated project.

A few days ago, when it was cold and windy and my knees hurt, I sat at the computer sliding back and forth between social media, the Geoguessr game, and the work I was supposed to be doing. Three things happened. First, I read a comment about Daidō Moriyama in a forum devoted to Japanese photography. He’s basically the godfather of the are-bure-bokeh style of photography. Are-bure-bokeh roughly translates as “rough, coarse/crude, out of focus.” The style developed in post-war Japan, and it conveyed the way Japanese society was fragmented and alienated and shocked following two atomic explosions and a military occupation by a radically different culture. We’re talking about high contrast black-and-white photos, sometimes savagely abstract, sometimes ordinary but with a sort of leaden feel, sometimes almost frighteningly hallucinatory. It’s a style I’ve been drawn to, but I’ve never seriously attempted to recreate.

Dumbarton

The second thing–almost immediately after seeing the Moriyama comment, I came across a comment in another venue in which somebody was called “a total bampot.” That’s a Scots term, which means “an idiot, a foolish person, a nutcase.” For reasons I can’t begin to fathom, the phrase are-bure-bampot sprouted in my mind, and stuck there.

Flimby

The third thing–after doing a bit of work, I turned back to Geoguesser and found myself someplace on the coast of Scotland (it turned out to be Portsoy). And hey bingo, there was the burr of an idea for a project. An idiotic idea, but still. What if I applied the are-bure-bokeh approach to Google Street View images from Scotland? Are-bure-bampot.

It’s…well, it’s idiotic. A post-war style of Japanese photography applied to Google Street View images of Scotland? Madness. But it would allow me after a fashion to return to the project I’d enjoyed the most, and it would still fall well within what I consider the Knuckles Project Parameters. It would 1) be simple and grow out of something I’d do in an ordinary day, 2) include an element of randomness and serendipity, 3) maybe not be entirely original (how many project are?), but the result would still be uniquely mine, and 4) wouldn’t require any extraordinary effort.

Pitlochry

So what the hell, I tried it. I’ve only made a few images–and only posted three of them on the Knuckles IG account–but so far it amuses me. They’re clearly not in the classic Moriyama style, but I’m okay with that. I’ll keep at it for a while and see what happens. Are-bure-bampot. Rough, coarse/crude, idiotic. Yeah, that has a certain appeal.

#NotTakingaGun

I’ve got to run to the market later today. Maybe I’ll also make a lightning stop at a hardware store, I don’t know. But in any event, I won’t be taking a gun with me. Because there’s absolutely no need to.

Also, okay, I don’t own a gun. So realistically I couldn’t take a gun with me even if I wanted to. Which I don’t. I don’t own a gun for the same reason I’m not taking one to the market. I don’t need a gun. I have zero use for a gun.

I’ve no need for a gun, but I rather like them. They’re incredibly efficient tech, they make a loud noise (sometimes I enjoy making a loud noise), they can make a hole suddenly appear in a target a distance away (which is actually sort of cool), and if you fire them at night, you see flame come out (which is very cool). Guns can be fun to shoot. But I don’t have any need for one.

I’ve been in situations where I could justify owning and carrying a gun. I spent several years as a private investigator specializing in criminal defense work. Most folks think that if you’re working to defend an accused criminal, other criminals will like you. Not so. The thing is, defending an accused criminal often means finding and revealing other criminals who may be guilty of the crime. Or they might have information that could implicate them in some way. Information they DO NOT want you to have.

And let’s face it, nobody–not even an innocent person–wants a stranger asking them nosy, impertinent, personal questions. It tends to piss people off. And here’s another thing: criminals don’t keep normal business hours. Which means a lot of the time you end up asking criminals nosy, impertinent, personal questions at their home, or in a bar, or when they’re with friends (who are often criminals as well).

As a PI, I had a concealed carry permit. I considered carrying a gun several times. But I was always concerned that if I had a gun, I’d get too confident. I’d get cocky, take more chances, take more stupid chances–because I’d be carrying protection. I never carried a gun because I know how easy it is to make a really bad impulsive decision. On those occasions where I had to enter a situation where there was a realistic chance I’d get hurt, I took a partner. Reliable guy–he’d been a LRRP in Vietnam and a police detective. He’d be armed, he’d enter the bar before me and take up a position. I’d come in a bit later and do my thing. And if it all started to go sideways, I knew he’d step up. So I felt…not safe, certainly not safe enough to be cocky, but I felt the odds of getting seriously hurt were low enough to risk.

My point, such as it is, is this: I know what it’s like to be afraid that somebody might realistically decide to assault you. Or stab you. Or pull a gun and shoot you. Genuinely afraid. Not-sure-you-can-control-your-bladder afraid. And yet, despite being in those situations multiple times, I’ve never actually had to physically defend myself. Or have somebody else defend me.

So yeah, I can go buy groceries without carrying a gun. And so can you and everybody else.

Some folks will insist that the only way to preserve a legal right is to use it. There’s some truth in that. But the gun-toting folks who make that argument are almost always the same folks who are willing–even eager–to make it more difficult to exercise other legal rights. To vote, to get an abortion, to marry somebody you love, to peacefully protest.

There’s really only one reason to carry a gun: to shoot something or somebody. You don’t have to intend to shoot something or somebody, but carrying a gun indicates you’re prepared to do that. There’s only one genuine motivation for carrying a gun. Fear. You’re either afraid somebody or something may harm you, or you’re afraid somebody or something will harm somebody else.

People who are genuinely afraid to leave the house unless they’re strapped are exactly the sort of people who shouldn’t be armed. You can’t trust a scared person to make good decisions. Scared people are much more likely to make really bad decisions. But I suspect folks who are genuinely that frightened are a very small minority. I suspect the vast majority of people who insist on being armed when they leave home are either fantasists who like to imagine themselves as tough and heroic, or assholes who just want to intimidate other folks. Or they’re both–fantasists who are also assholes.

Regardless of their reason for wanting to carry a gun, the fact is they don’t need to. They’re far more likely to need to carry a flashlight, or an umbrella, or a breath mint, maybe a magnet. I mean, those things actually come in handy sometimes. A gun? Almost never.

I think I’m going to start announcing this on Twitter whenever I have an errand to run. “I’m going to the market for cheese. I’m #NotTakingAGun.” It’s silly, but that’s the point. Taking a gun to go buy cheese is silly.

EDITORIAL NOTE: Okay, I did it. Went shopping, made it home safely. Notified Twitter.

so what the fuck just happened here?

A week and a half ago I wrote, “…don’t be surprised if Rittenhouse walks.” And yet, I was sorta kinda surprised. Because, c’mon…how could this ridiculous doofus illegally buy an assault-style rifle, carry it across a state line, insert himself into a volatile environment, carry it while claiming to offer medical care he wasn’t trained or qualified to give, carry it while claiming to protect property nobody asked him to protect, then using it to shoot three people, killing two of them, and NOT suffer any consequences? It just ain’t right.

But yeah, that’s basically what happened. But WHY did it happen? I’m not a lawyer, but I’ve been around the criminal justice block a few times, and I have opinions. It begins with the Wisconsin law on self defense, which essentially says a person can use deadly force to defend themselves if that person “reasonably believes that such force is necessary to prevent imminent death or great bodily harm to himself or herself.”

A lot of self-defense laws, including Wisconsin’s, include an exception for provocation and/or criminal conduct. You can’t provoke an attack, then kill your attacker and claim self-defense; you can’t engage in criminal conduct that would cause an attack, then kill your attacker and claim self defense. Makes sense, right? Okay, here we go.

Wisconsin’s self-defense law states: “A person who engages in unlawful conduct of a type likely to provoke others to attack him or her and thereby does provoke an attack is not entitled to claim the privilege of self-defense against such attack…”

That seems pretty clear, doesn’t it. But it continues: “…except when the attack which ensues is of a type causing the person engaging in the unlawful conduct to reasonably believe that he or she is in imminent danger of death or great bodily harm. In such a case, the person engaging in the unlawful conduct is privileged to act in self-defense, but the person is not privileged to resort to the use of force intended or likely to cause death to the person’s assailant….” So the law says yeah, you CAN defend yourself if you provoke an attack, but LIMITS the amount of force you can use. You can fight back, but you can’t kill your attacker.

But wait. Again, it continues with another caveat: “…unless the person reasonably believes he or she has exhausted every other reasonable means to escape from or otherwise avoid death or great bodily harm at the hands of his or her assailant.” So even if you’ve provoked an attack through illegal behavior, you can only use deadly force to defend yourself after you’ve exhausted your other options for escape.

What does that mean in the Rittenhouse case? If he’d engaged in unlawful conduct that provoked an attack, he was only justified in using deadly force to defend himself IF he’d exhausted every reasonable means to escape. He DID try to run away before the second killing, but he tripped and fell, then shot Huber and Grosskreutz. That very possibly could fall under the Wisconsin self-defense law–tried to escape, but couldn’t. But in the initial killing, Rittenhouse was running away from Rosenbaum, then stopped, turned, shot and killed him. That seems likely to fall under the unlawful conduct exception, which would prevent him from using the self-defense claim. BUT ONLY if Rittenhouse was engaged in unlawful conduct. Like, say, illegally carrying a rifle.

The judge, remember, dismissed the illegal rifle charge. Which removed the unlawful conduct exception. Which meant Rittenhouse only had to feel his life was in danger to kill Rosenbaum. Hey bingo, he walks.

That’s how I see it. Again, I’m not a lawyer. My reasoning may be flawed. But that’s how I see it. It sucks. It’s wrong. It’s obscene on a number of levels. But that seems to be how the law is written.

There’s a lesson here. If you want to stop vigilante tourism, enact better laws. If you want better laws, vote for better legislators. You want better laws, prevent outside money and outside interests from influencing weak-ass greedy legislators.

Kyle Rittenhouse didn’t walk because he was innocent. He walked because of the motherfuckers who wrote Wisconsin’s self-defense law .

twins

Well, isn’t this a surprise. Kyle Rittenhouse and Travis McMichael are offering twin self-defense arguments. Sure, the circumstances of each killing are different. Rittenhouse had to travel for an hour or so to bring a firearm to a volatile situation on the off-chance that he might ‘need’ it, whereas McMichael only had to travel a few blocks to bring a firearm to a volatile situation on the off-chance that he might ‘need’ it. But each of these guys deliberately armed themselves then inserted themselves into a situation where they might ‘need’ to shoot somebody.

And hey bingo, Guess what? Turns out they both somehow (seriously, who could have guessed something like this might happen?) found themselves in situations where they believed they ‘needed’ to shoot somebody. What a coincidence.

He’s very sorry and cries very sorry tears.

I mean, all they did was 1) arm themselves with a deadly weapon 2) to protect property they 3) didn’t own and 4) which nobody asked them to protect against 5) an unarmed person who 6) may have been on or near that property. Then when they 7) confronted that unarmed person and, 8) brandished their deadly weapon, and that unarmed person 9) was uncomfortable having a deadly weapon brandished, and 10) decided to try to disarm them, they 11) were forced to shoot that unarmed person in order 12) not to become an unarmed person facing an armed person.

It’s logic! An armed person is a threat to an unarmed person, so it was clearly necessary for Rittenhouse and McMichael to shoot an unarmed person before they become armed. You know…in self defense. They’re both very sorry they had to kill unarmed people. They both cried about it. They’ve suffered so much.

He’s also very sorry and cries very sorry tears.

What? You think none of this would have happened if both Kyle Rittenhouse and Travis McMichael had just stayed home and watched Lethal Weapon on television? But then who would have protected that property? What? You say none of the victims dead people were killed near the properties that were supposedly being protected? Doesn’t matter; the issue is self defense. Against unarmed people. Trying to take guns away from patriots selflessly willing to put themselves at risk to protect other people’s property.

Did I get that right?

Jesus suffering fuck.

fuck those guys

Here’s a headline from this morning’s Washington Post:

In wake of Bannon indictment, Republicans warn of payback

If you can read that and not wonder ‘What in the pumpkin spice fuck is wrong with these people’ then…well, I don’t know what. Just think about that for a moment. Republicans say they want payback because Steve Bannon…I mean Steve Goddamn Bannon…was indicted for refusing to obey a writ legally issued by a Congressional committee to provide testimony and produce evidence.

Steve Bannon showing up for arraignment this morning.

Payback? Fuck those guys. Payback is a casual way of saying revenge–a retaliatory act taken in response to some alleged/perceived harm or injustice. Republicans apparently feel harmed and aggrieved that the law applies to them as if they were ordinary people. They apparently feel subpoenas only matter if they’re issued by Republicans. They’re distressed to find that a subpoena isn’t a suggestion; it’s an order. If you choose NOT to abide by a subpoena, there’s a penalty.

I mean, it’s right there in the goddamn name. Subpoena–Latin sub, meaning ‘under’ and poena meaning ‘penalty’. A subpoena means you have to show up and/or produce evidence under penalty of law. This has been part of the common law since the 1380s when John Waltham, the Master of the Rolls of the Court of Chancery for Richard II, issued the very first subpoena–a writ compelling witnesses and defendants to show up for trial. We’re talking six and a half centuries of precedent here. If a subpoena was good enough for Richard II, it’s good enough for Steve Goddamn Bannon.

Payback? Fuck those guys. Payback for being expected to follow the law? Payback from Republicans for a guy who was 1) indicted for defrauding 2) Republican donors of millions of dollars 3) in a scam that was purported to help build 4) a border wall supported only by Republicans? They want payback for this guy? A guy who was eventually pardoned for that crime by a Republican president? Payback for a guy who had his Twitter account ganked for publicly calling for beheading FBI Director Christopher Wray and Anthony Fauci? Republicans want payback for a guy who helped foment an insurrection that put many of them personally in danger? An insurrection that included calls to hang the Republican Vice President of the United States? Republicans want payback for that guy? Fuck them. Fuck them in the neck.

Comrade Trump and two of the criminals he’s pardoned.

And fuck the Washington Post too. It’s bad enough Republicans feel outraged and vindictive for having to obey the law, but to have WaPo act like it’s normal is an appalling act of journalistic malpractice. Just because politicians say stupid shit, journalists aren’t obligated to repeat it–to pretend it’s not stupid shit. Stupid shit is stupid and it’s shit. This is not rocket surgery.

Bannon was indicted last week for contempt of Congress, but he wasn’t arrested like an ordinary person. He was given until this morning to surrender himself for arraignment. My guess is he’ll be released on bail. And while that annoys me, it’s the right thing to do. Bannon isn’t likely to flee the country. My guess is he probably wants a trial. He’ll use it as a platform to spread more disinformation.

The thing is, this isn’t just about contempt of Congress; it’s about contempt for the very idea of representative democracy. It’s about contempt for the concept of equal justice under the law. A political party that feels justified in seeking payback for a person like Steve Bannon has abandoned the right to call itself a political party. There’s nothing ‘political’ about it. Politics, after all, is devoted to working things out. Politics is about people with different ideologies and viewpoints finding ways to compromise in an effort to benefit the greater good. Modern Republicans aren’t interested in the greater good.

They’re only interested in ruling.

Fuck those guys.

mel gibson delusions

Kyle fucking Rittenhouse. In a rational universe, I’d feel sorry for this kid. I mean, he seems the sort of kid who grew up loving action hero movies, imagining himself fighting Commies and other monsters, but was always one of the last kids picked when teams were chosen. I obviously don’t know him, but he seems like an inadequate dweeb with Mel Gibson delusions.

K. Rittenhouse — inadequate dweeb with a rifle and Mel Gibson delusions

But we don’t live in a rational universe. That dweeb is currently on trial for murder and has become the chubber-cheeked darling of a warped, right-wing fan club.

Here are a couple things you probably ought to know when discussing the Kyle Rittenhouse trial: 1) it’s not about right and wrong, it’s about the law as it’s written, and 2) the law regarding self-defense in Wisconsin has a lot in common with the Florida law that allowed a jury to acquit George Zimmerman in the murder of Trayvon Martin. We’re talking about Wisconsin Code 939.48, which deals with self-defense and defense of others.

Let me make it even more simple. A lot of the stuff you probably think ought to be important in the case, isn’t going to be important. For example, you may think it’s important to question whether a 17-year-old high school dropout living in Illinois had any legitimate fucking reason to be in Wisconsin, at night, during a violent demonstration, illegally carrying a Smith & Wesson M&P15 rifle. Right? You may think it’s important that the people who owned the business that Rittenhouse said it was his ‘job’ to protect, never asked him to protect their business. You may think it matters that he described himself as an EMT, when his only ‘training’ came during a youth police cadet program that was canceled due to the pandemic not long after he joined. You may think all that stuff matters when deciding if Rittenhouse is guilty of murder.

But nope. Because Rittenhouse claims he was acting in self defense. None of Rittenhouse’s bad behavior has any bearing at all on whether he believed he was defending himself when he shot Joseph Rosenbaum four times and killed him, or when he shot Anthony Huber and killed him, or when he shot Gaige Grosskreutz in the arm, nearly severing his bicep.

I know, that sounds crazy. But the primary question of law is whether Rittenhouse, at the moment he shot and killed/wounded those people, believed it “was necessary to prevent imminent death or great bodily harm to himself.” That’s it, that’s the point on which this trial will almost certainly turn. Did this kid think he was about to get the shit kicked out of him? Did he think he was about to die?

Rittenhouse, having fatally shot Huber and about to shoot Grosskreutz

But, wait. What’s this? The Wisconsin law has a ‘criminal conduct’ exception? Why yes, it does. Except that exception is confusing as fuck. Here it is (with my emphases included):

“A person who engages in unlawful conduct of a type likely to provoke others to attack him or her and thereby does provoke an attack is not entitled to claim the privilege of self-defense against such attack, except when the attack which ensues is of a type causing the person engaging in the unlawful conduct to reasonably believe that he or she is in imminent danger of death or great bodily harm. In such a case, the person engaging in the unlawful conduct is privileged to act in self-defense, but the person is not privileged to resort to the use of force intended or likely to cause death to the person’s assailant unless the person reasonably believes he or she has exhausted every other reasonable means to escape from or otherwise avoid death or great bodily harm at the hands of his or her assailant.”

So, was Rittenhouse engaged in unlawful conduct? Well, yeah. He was carrying a gun that had been illegally purchased for him by a straw buyer (a crime in Illinois), and he was carrying the gun illegally in Wisconsin, where the crime took place. Wisconsin law says, “any person under 18 years of age who possesses or goes armed with a dangerous weapon is guilty of a Class A misdemeanor.” Was that conduct likely to provoke others to attack him? Maybe? Being an asshole is certainly likely to provoke folks. But here’s the key: did Rittenhouse reasonably believe he’d exhausted every reasonable means to escape?

Nothing about this is legal.

Here’s the problem: Rittenhouse was running away at the beginning of each fatal confrontation. He was running away from Joseph Rosenbaum when he heard a gunshot (a ‘warning shot’ fired by a third party). At that point, Rittenhouse turned and aimed his rifle at Rosenbaum, who apparently attempted to wrestle the firearm away…and was killed. He was also running away from Anthony Huber and Gaige Grosskreutz, who were chasing him after he’d shot Rosenbaum. When Rittenhouse tripped and fell, Huber hit him in the shoulder with a skateboard; Rittenhouse shot and killed him. Grosskreutz (who actually IS an EMT and was legally carrying a handgun for self defense) apparently pulled out his firearm at that point, and Rittenhouse shot him.

It seems to me that everybody who ran into Kyle Rittenhouse after a certain point, had a reasonable fear for their lives. And that’s the problem with all these ‘stand your ground’ or ‘no need to withdraw’ self defense laws. The only person who gets to take advantage of the laws is the one who shoots first and survives.

This was a clusterfuck. No, that’s not right. It was a series of cascading clusterfucks. Absolutely NONE of it would have happened if Kyle Rittenhouse wasn’t an arrogant, fuckwitted, asshole with Mel Gibson delusions. None of this would have happened if he’d just stayed the fuck home. As far as that goes, none of this would have happened if the Kenosha police hadn’t shot an unarmed Black man seven times.

But legally, none of that really matters. What matters, according to the law, is this: was Rittenhouse legit in fear for his life at the time he pulled the trigger?

The answer is probably yeah, he was. That may be all that matters at the burnt end of this trial. It’s not right, it’s not fair, it’s not anything remotely like justice, but don’t be surprised if Rittenhouse walks. All it takes is one juror who believes the Mel Gibson wanna-be was really and truly in fear for his life. And to be fair (man, sometimes I fucking hate to be fair), I can’t blame Kyle Rittenhouse if he walks. I mean, I completely blame him for killing those people. I completely blame him for stupidly inserting himself into a situation where he didn’t belong. But I firmly believe every accused criminal deserves a fair trial and a competent defense. A competent defense includes using the law to help the defendant.

There’ll be a lot of blame to go around if Rittenhouse walks. Be sure to focus a lot of that blame on the motherfuckers who wrote the law.

pissing in the soup

I’m tired. Tired and disappointed and angry, but mostly tired.

I worked as an election official on Tuesday. I suspect the local election (mayor, city council, school board) was pretty similar to most other elections in the US. Our small election team (five of us plus a precinct captain) had worked together before, so everything ran smoothly. We arrived at our polling station at 6AM and worked until 9PM. We’d expected a decent turnout; I figured we’d get 400, maybe 500 voters. Enough to keep us modestly busy.

We had over 1200 voters. I only had time for a short 30 minute break all day–just enough time to eat a sandwich. As far as I could tell, we had a representative sample of the local population–mostly white, with a broad spectrum of age, gender, and political perspectives. There were voters wearing ‘Nevertheless, She Persisted’ t-shirts and voters wearing NRA trucker hats, we had a young woman with a ‘Merry Meet’ Wiccan pin and one beefy guy in camo pants wearing a III% t-shirt. Nobody wore a MAGA hat.

The election was fair; it was busy, but went exactly as planned. Every registered voter got to vote. If somebody showed up and wasn’t registered, we registered them on the spot and let them vote. If a voter came to the wrong precinct, we printed them a map with directions to the correct polling station. I’m proud of the way we handled the voting process.

The election was fair; the campaigning was not.

Although the city council and school board positions are technically non-partisan (there were no political affiliations listed by the candidate’s names on the ballot), Republicans won across the board. Democrats ran campaigns based on compassion tempered by science. Republicans ran campaign based on misinformation, lies, and fear. Democrats supported mask and vaccine mandates; Republicans said parents know more about their kids’ health than scientists. Democrats said education should be diverse and prepare students for the world they live in; Republicans said Critical Race Theory taught white students to hate themselves and trans kids would destroy sports.

The election was fair; the campaigning was not; the reporting was stenographic. Reporters presented the candidate’s positions accurately, but without presenting any factual support. If a candidate said, “Leading scientists say vaccines are dangerous and I only want to protect the children” then that’s what was reported, without any indication that it was fatuous bullshit. If a candidate claimed that CRT was dangerous and shouldn’t be taught in school, that’s what was reported, regardless of the fact that CRT isn’t taught in any public high school, junior high school, or grade school–and not even in most undergraduate college courses. If a candidate lied, reporters just relayed the unfiltered lie to the public.

Looks good, looks healthy — but is it?

If campaigns are allowed–even encouraged–to be dishonest, then an honest election has little practical relevance. I’m proud to have helped facilitate a fair election process, but I can’t help being disappointed. Not because it’s not the outcome I wanted, but because the outcome is tainted. It’s like running a spotless, orderly, professional kitchen that allows some cooks to piss in the soup. The kitchen is clean, the soup looks good, but it’s still got piss in it.

So I’m tired. Tired and disappointed and angry, but mostly tired. Tired physically and emotionally, disappointed in a system that fails to require candidates to speak honestly, and angry that our system favors liars, con artists, and fear mongers. I’m tired and disappointed and angry, but today I’m still mostly tired.

Tomorrow, I’ll go back to being angry.

a needle and a mile of 2-0 nylon

Nurses who refuse to get vaccinated, firefighters and police officers who refuse to get vaxxed, airline pilots rejecting the vax–I’m so fucking sick of these privileged assholes. If it were anything other than a political posturing, I might be more tolerant. But I’m convinced that 99% of it grows out of pig-headed Trumpist pouting and free-floating, unfocused rage.

A million years ago, I was a medic. (Yes, this is related…sorta kinda after a fashion; I’ll get there eventually.) After a year or so of doing basic medic stuff, I was assigned to a newly-developed team in a major medical center. It was called the Special Functions unit. One of our secondary duties was to respond to any medical crisis that might involve respiratory impairment–you know, difficulty with breathing. Here’s a true thing: almost every medical crisis involves some difficulty with breathing.

Although it wasn’t our original purpose, we became a support squad for emergencies. If there was a cardiac arrest, we responded with the cardiac arrest team; if there was a fire, we responded with the base fire department; if there was a suicide attempt or an accident involving a military vehicle or a premature birth or a crisis that required an ambulance, we often rode along; if there was a mass casualty/injury event, we were called to the emergency room. Technically, our role was to insure the patient/victim kept breathing while others worked on the injuries/wounds–but, of course, we were also expected to lend a hand with whatever needed to be done.

I mention all this because of one particular incident. A drunken brawl at one of the barracks. Because it was a mass injury event, I was called to the ER. Nobody was having trouble breathing, but since I was there, I was expected to help out with the brawlers–most of whom were still drunk and still belligerent. One guy had a cut on his forehead. It was a simple straight-line cut, maybe an inch and a half long, shallow, but bloody. All I had to do was debride it and suture it shut. Simple, if the guy was sober.

I should point out, this was a military medical center. In a civilian hospital, I wouldn’t have been allowed to suture wounds–not because I didn’t know how to do it, but because of liability issues. In the military, you’re allowed–even required–to do stuff that would make a civilian hospital administrator curl up in horror.

So I had to suture the cut on this guy’s forehead. But he refused to lie still. He was still drunk, still angry, still wanting to find the guy who’d hit him in the head. You can’t suture anybody who’s unwilling to lie still for more than about thirty seconds; hell, you can’t even maintain a sterile field. I mentioned this to a passing ER doctor, who looked down at the guy on the gurney and said, “If you don’t lie still, he (he nodded at me) is going to suture your ear to the pillow.” Then the doctor walked off.

Reader, I sutured that poor motherfucker’s ear to the pillow. Just one loose stitch, through his earlobe and into the pillow case. It wouldn’t have actually held him down, of course, but it was enough to shock him and keep him immobile–and I mean fucking frozen in place–until I sutured his head wound.

This was almost certainly criminal, even in the military. But it allowed me to treat his wound, it gave him a moment to abandon any desire to continue the fight, it may have kept him from a court martial, and it helped restore some order to a chaotic Emergency Room, which benefited everybody.

My point? All of these fuckwits who are refusing to get vaxxed against Covid for bullshit reasons? I want to suture their ears to pillows until they come to their senses and get the jab. I know it’s wrong. I know it’s a violation of their rights, including the right to bodily integrity. But give me a needle and a few miles of 2-0 nylon and I’d get this nation vaxxed.

It’s seriously time to stop appeasing and appealing to the people who are politically opposed to keeping the US alive and healthy.