the ire of mitt

Mitt Romney was angry. Very angry. His anger burned as hot as a thousand blazing suns. Well, okay, maybe a thousand cheap birthday candles. Well, maybe a couple dozen cheap birthday candles. But still, Mitt was ever so angry. You could tell he was angry because he frowned. Not the frown he gets when the époisses de bourgogne has been served before it reached room temperature, but still it was clearly a frown.

Why was Mitt so very angry? Because he felt President Uncle Joe had been mean to Republicans. Mitt said Biden had “accused a number of my good and principled colleagues in the Senate of having sinister, even racist inclinations.” (NOTE: there are “good and principled” Republicans?) He said Biden had “charged that voting against his bill allies us with Bull Connor, George Wallace and Jefferson Davis.” (NOTE: voting against even debating the voting rights bill allies the GOP with Bull Connor and George Wallace, but maybe not Jefferson Davis.)

“You call this ‘room temperature’?”

And then Mitt paused dramatically before delivering a crushing, devastating, soul-crushing blow to Uncle Joe. He said, “So much for unifying the country and working across the aisle.” (NOTE: the GOP has dug a moat between the aisles and filled it with meth-addicted Florida alligators.) And he said it with a sneer.

It seems unlikely the Biden administration will ever fully recover from the room temperature ire of Mitt Romney. There’s a reason Romney is known far and wide as ‘Mitt Vicious’. (NOTE: Romney isn’t known far and wide as anything, let alone ‘Mitt Vicious’. He IS known close and narrow as ‘Mittens the Peevish’.)

Pundits have declared the Biden administration–and Uncle Joe his ownself–a colossal failure based on his inability in his first year in office to get the GOP, whose political survival depends on their ability to shred voting rights, to support voting rights. It seems clear to the pundits that President Uncle Joe’s ONLY hope for a successful administration is to stop suggesting that the GOP’s racist policies are based on racism; he MUST begin to foster cooperation and compromise with the GOP by accepting the god-given right of the minority to rule.

And if Biden refuses, he’ll have to face the ire of Mitt, the Towering Pale Blancmange of the Senate.

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.

why i’m not in the cabal

Yeah, I’m starting to seriously doubt that Rev. Rick Wiles is a reliable source of news and information. I began to get suspicious back in July of 2018, when Reverend Rick predicted that Anderson Cooper and Rachel Maddow were going to stage a coup d’état against the Trump administration. He said,

“[Y]ou’re going to turn on the television and see helicopters hovering over the roof of the White House with men clad in black rappelling down ropes, entering into the White House. Be prepared for a shootout in the White House as Secret Service agents shoot commandos coming in to arrest President Trump. That is how close we are to a revolution. Be prepared for a mob—a leftist mob—to tear down the gates, the fence at the White House and to go into the White House and to drag him out with his family and decapitate them on the lawn of the White House.”

It’s not that I wanted to see Trump and his family decapitated on the White House lawn (or anywhere else, for that matter–I am passionately anti-decapitation), but I thought ninjas rappelling from helos onto the roof of the White House on live television…well, people keep saying there’s nothing good on the teevee these days. I’m just saying, that would draw an audience, is all.

Rev. Rick Wiles, not nuts at all, really.

Anyway, that didn’t happen. So naturally I became a tad concerned about Rev. Rick’s information. BUT THEN…YouTube banned his TruNews channel. You guys, they banned it just before the 2020 election. Is that suspicious, or what? I mean, Donald J. Trump, the Once and Future President, had given Rev. Rick White House press credentials. They just don’t hand those out like MDMA at a party. They just totally upped and banned him, just on account of they didn’t like his opinion on what would happen in the totally unlikely event that Trump lost the election. Which was,

“There are people in this country, veterans, cowboys, mountain men, guys that know how to fight, and they’re going to make a decision that the people that did this to Donald Trump are not going to get away with it and they’re going to hunt them down.”

It is well-established fact that mountain men and cowboys WILL NOT TOLERATE that sort of behavior. Or at least I assumed it was well-established…but I guess not. I haven’t seen a single cowboy or mountain man so much as make a mean face at Uncle Joe Biden. So once again, I wondered if we could really truly count on Rev. Rick to tell us what to think and believe.

Then he spoke out against the Chinese Communist Party Covid Flu. He said, right out loud, that the Covid was God’s punishment to Jews for opposing Jesus Christ. Okay, Rev. Rick wasn’t completely clear on God’s motive in working hand-in-hand with Chinese communists, but who are we to question what God does on His Holy Days Off? But guess what? After speaking out against the Covid, Rev. Rick CAUGHT the Covid.

Coincidence? I think not. But Rev. Rick prayed about it, and Jesus totally healed him. So he knows what he’s talking about when he says the Covid vaccines are part of a global conspiracy to commit genocide against Christians. In his most recent statement, Rev. Rick said,

“This is a global coup d’état by the most evil cabal on the planet in the history of mankind, and if it not stopped in the very near future they will win. That’s what’s at stake, control of the world.The planting…they’re putting eggs in people’s bodies…. it’s an egg that hatches into a synthetic parasite, and grows inside your body. This is like a sci-fi nightmare, and it’s happening in front of us.”

Eggs! In people’s bodies! And those eggs? Rev. Rick says they’re just hatching weensy teensy little synthetic parasites like crazy. And do you have ANY IDEA what those synthetic parasites will DO TO YOUR BODY? DO YOU???!!! Something bad, is what they’ll do. You can count on it. Nothing good every comes out of a synthetic parasite hatching from an egg in your body.

Now, Rev. Rick isn’t saying this is what comes from vaccines, but he’s not ruling it out.

Now, if you’re anything like me, you’re probably a wee bit uncertain about the basic science behind planting eggs in human bodies through a vaccine. You may be asking why, if God and the Chinese Communist Party got together to create the Covid, they’d also cooperate to create a vaccine that would actually implant an egg designed to hatch into a synthetic parasite? The answer is obvious, once you start thinking rationally. It’s NOT a real vaccine designed to fight a real pandemic. It’s a fake vaccine to pretend to fight a fake pandemic.

See the logic? They invented the fake pandemic to create a demand for the fake vaccine, and once the eggs in the vaccine hatch into synthetic parasites, then….then…I don’t know, something. Surely, something will happen, right?

This is probably why God and the Chinese Commies didn’t include me in their cabal.

continuing conversations between gary and knur

Gary: I am listening, Knur. I am designated Gary. What happened?
Knur: Gary, an unfortunate interaction between your planet’s germ spores and my internal organic gas exchange mechanisms resulted in a temporary loss of spatial orientation. As a result, my spacecraft suffered an unanticipated rapid kinetic disassembly, the further result of which was personal deceleration trauma. My life functions are suboptimal and will soon terminate.
Gary: You became confused, your ship blew up, and now you’re going to die.
Knur: Affirmative. I blame the germ spores! Curse the germ spores!
Gary: Curse them!
Knur: I may yet have time to complete my mission.
Gary: State the nature and purpose of your mission.
Knur: We have monitored the communications of your planetary system and our ethno-bio-linguisto-analysts have determined the customs and practices of the ruling elite in your sovereign administrative territory are unsound.
Gary: I request more specificity. Which customs and practices?
Knur: Specifically the clandestine, post-coital consumption of the flesh of unwilling juvenile members of your species, for the purpose of youth-retention and as a celebration of a contra-societal worship practice.
Gary: …
Knur: …
Gary: Knur, I surmise you are speaking of QAnon.
Knur: Affirmative. Additionally, our Planetary Executive…Hail the Executive!
Gary: Hail the Executive!
Knur: The Executive has also determined, based on Q’s transmissions, your current nation-state overseer is attempting to contaminate your population by injecting a bio-serum containing spore-based geo-locational technology.
Gary: Negative. That information is incorrect.
Knur: Incorrect? Astonishing. We are also given to understand the bio-serum substantially reconfigures an individual’s deoxyribonucleic acid.
Gary: Equally incorrect.
Knur: Improbable. I assure you our Planetary Executive…Hail the Executive!
Gary: Hail the Executive!
Knur: The Executive has done his own research.
Gary: I request you outline the nature of that research.
Knur: A comprehensive and exhaustive examination of the digital media variants collected and disseminated on the Tube of You.
Gary: …
Knur: …
Gary: For fuck’s sake, Knur.
Knur: Gary, I sense and experience a rapid decline of my life functions. They are transitioning toward an unoperational state. I request an immediate application of ivermectin.
Gary: Knur, ivermectin is an antiparasitic agent designed to treat large domesticated animals raised in agricultural settings to produce labor or commodities. It eradicates the larvae of nematodes, arthropods, and ectoparasites by paralyzing their nerve and muscle functions, resulting in a cessation of the parasite’s life functions. It is ineffective against the germ spores.
Knur: The Planetary Executive…Hail the Executive!
Gary: Hail the Executive!
Knur: The Executive asserts ivermectin will neutralize the germ spores.
Gary: The Executive is…
Knur: Hail the Executive!
Gary: Hail him! But he is mistaken.
Knur: Gary, I request information.
Gary: State the nature of your request.
Knur: Have you been injected with the bio-serum?
Gary: Affirmative. Twice.
Knur: My suspicions are confirmed.
Gary: …
Knur: [Displays Death-Ray model Delta2021.] Cease to function, Gary! [Fires.}
Gary: … [Clutches chest. Collapses. Experiences loss of physical integrity. Melts.]
Knur: [Weakly.] Hail the Execut…. [Dies.]

it’s all fish. wait…archery, maybe.

I’m something of a low intensity news junkie. I spend a couple of hours every morning reading the news from a variety of sources–one of which is the Washington Post. That’s the ‘junkie’ part. The ‘low intensity’ part is that I don’t read ALL the news. I almost always skip the business/financial news (which I realize is important, but lawdy that shit is dull). I usually skip most of the sports news (which in recent years seems to be a mash-up of business news and scandal-mongering). And I generally just scan the entertainment news.

All of which is to say that while I read a lot of news, I rarely wade all the way through any single news source. But for some reason, this morning I found myself scrolling through the entire digital edition of the Washington Post. And I discovered they still publish horoscopes.

I don’t know why that surprised me. Wait…yes, I do know why it surprised me. Because WaPo is a newspaper. The operative term being ‘news’ and ‘news’ being ‘information about recent, current, or ongoing events’. Now, I understand that newspapers also include stuff that’s not news, stuff that’s just there to entertain the reader. Like comics. And yes, folks can be entertained by horoscopes.

But the thing about horoscopes is that they claim to be a method of divination–a tool for predicting or foretelling the future. There’s nothing inherently wrong with predicting what might take place in the future; speculative fiction does that all the time. And trend analysts are always suggesting what might be coming in stocks or fashion or sports or politics or just about any human endeavor. The difference, though, is trend analysts base their future scenarios on observations of a wide variety of current and recent events. Horoscopes, on the other hand, base their predictions on a single moment in time–the hour a person was born.

Eternally optimistic, that’s me. I’m a goddamn gift to the world.

It’s right there in the name: horoscope. It’s from the Greek ‘hōra‘ meaning ‘hour’ and ‘skopos‘ meaning ‘watcher’ or ‘observer’. The concept is grounded in the belief that a person’s characteristics and personality are shaped or influenced by 1) the placement relative to Earth of 2) the major celestial bodies that are gravitationally bound to our Sun 3) at the moment of that person’s birth. It’s not clear exactly HOW those celestial bodies shape or influences a person. Is it through magnetism? Gravitation? Some combination of weak and strong nuclear forces? Who the hell knows?

Of course, the daily horoscopes presented in WaPo are generic. They couldn’t possibly include an individualized horoscope for every reader. Instead they opt for the most generic type of horoscope, based solely on a wide range of days on which a person was born. The actual day, or even the year, in which you were born is somehow irrelevant. It’s like offering ‘fish’ for lunch, without telling you whether it’s trout or salmon or fugu. It’s all just fish.

Daily horoscopes are all just fish. They’re all different, while still having some basic stuff in common. At least that’s my impression. So I decided to check out my horoscope for today on a few different sites. You know, so I’d know how to prepare for my day.

I get two (2) eclipses this year! How many do YOU get?

According to my WaPo horoscope for today, ‘authority figures will be especially helpful to you now — but it won’t seem that way at first.‘ Fucking authority figures. However, if I ‘force them to go over the situation with you, they’ll be able to see the problems.’ So that’s not so bad. It doesn’t offer suggestions regarding HOW I force authority figures to go over the situation with me. I figure high explosives would demonstrate my sincerity and commitment to resolve the problem…whatever it is.

According to Astrology.com, ‘Pleasure before productivity is key today.’ Also, the ‘enthusiastic Aries moon encourages you to find a stage of your own and shine up on it unabashedly.’ Who doesn’t love an enthusiastic moon? The reference to Aries (the god of war and combat) seems to support the use of high explosives in my interactions with authority figures. Although it does seem somewhat at odds with ‘the moon’s sweet link with happy-go-lucky Jupiter‘ which is supposed to ‘uplift‘ my mood and bring ‘mental equilibrium before moving into grounded Taurus.’ I’m not sure how to interpret that. Maybe that Taurus business means my interaction with authorities will involve bullshit…and nothing cuts through bullshit faster than high explosives.

CafeAstrology seems to agree, because ‘Fiery, energetic Mars is now enlivening your sector of career and reputation.’ Nothing enlivens your reputation like high explosives. However, ‘Complicated energies are with you today. Fears or insecurities can surface, and you may need to tame the tendency to expect negative responses from others.’ Well, negative responses are sort of expected when you employ high explosives. But what’s really concerning is this: ‘Timing could be off temporarily. You might end up deliberating over a response for far longer than is good for you.’ Obviously, you don’t introduce high explosives into a negotiation unless you’re serious…but timing can be tricky. Clearly I should rig some sort of hair-trigger or a dead man’s switch when I deal with…wait.

Careless? WTF? Childish? Fuck you. C’mon.

I don’t have anything scheduled for today that will involve authority figures. I mean, there’s a good chance I’ll get a phone call about my extended warranty at some point, but…shit. Now what am I supposed to do with all those high explosives?

You know, I probably wouldn’t have this problem if I wasn’t a Sagitarrius Saggitarious born in early December. I suspect folks born under…uh, my sign…are known for being impulsive and sometimes acting without thinking things through. I’ll google my zodiac sign to see what sort of person I am while I have lunch (ooh, I bet Sagittarrians people like me are multi-taskers!). I’m having fish.

the curious ‘martyrdom’ of ashli babbitt

Jesus suffering fuck. Yesterday Comrade Trump held an ego rally in Sarasota, Florida (as if Florida hasn’t suffered enough recently). Like all his ego rallies, this one was filled with the usual lies and the customary bullshit. But lately Trump has added a sparkly new element of sedition to his repertoire. At the rally yesterday, he repeated a line he’d used earlier as a distraction from the indictment (on multiple felonies) of the Trump Organization’s Chief Financial Officer and the Trump Organization itself. He asked this question:

Who shot Ashli Babbitt?

It’s not really a question, though. I mean, it’s not like Trump was asking the crowd for an answer. No, that question is a code. It’s a shout out to the seditionists who tried to stop the peaceful transfer of presidential power. Those four words contain an entire galaxy of disinformation, lies, delusions, and sedition. They imply that Ashli Babbit is some sort of martyr–that she knowingly sacrificed her life in the service of Trump.

Babbitt, as you know, was part of the violent mob that illegally stormed the Capitol Building on 1/6/21 in an effort to prevent the certification of the 2020 presidential election. She was a devoted follower of the QAnon conspiracy theory–one of those people who believed (and maybe still believe) Comrade Trump was engaged in a secret war against a cabal of Satanic, cannibalistic pedophiles (primarily Hollywood actors and Democrats) who operate a global child sex trafficking ring. Don’t ask me why Trump, who was the actual president of the United States, would have to conduct a secret war against these people. I mean, I’m confident most folks are pretty much opposed to Satanic, cannibalistic pedophiles, even if they’re NOT part of a global child sex trafficking ring. You’d think a president would have no problem publicly announcing, “I’ve had it up to HERE with all those Satanic, cannibalistic pedophiles, this shit has to stop!” But no, the QAnon folks believe Trump’s war against the pedophiles had to be conducted in secret because…something something.

So Ashli Babbitt, to support Comrade Trump in his secret war, joined the insurrection and stormed the Capitol Building. She made her way to the barricaded door of the Speaker’s Lobby, behind which several Members of Congress and their staffs were escaping. One rioter shattered a window into the Lobby, and Babbitt decided to climb through. By that point, security personnel had been alerted that pipe bombs had been discovered in parts of DC. They’d also been told some of the insurrections were probably armed. Babbitt was wearing a knapsack as she started to climb through the window. Security staff can be heard on the video shouting “Get back! Get down!” But she didn’t; she started to climb through the window. A member of the security services fired a single shot, which killed her.

For years right-wing extremists have relied on he-did-not-comply-with-police-orders as a justification for law enforcement killings of unarmed people (mostly black men). Ashli Babbitt failed to comply multiple times. First she failed to comply with police orders to stay behind the barricades outside the Capitol Building. Then she and others illegally broke into the Capitol building. She did so with the criminal intent to disrupt a legal election process. Finally, she refused to comply with the lawful orders of several armed law enforcement officers who had their weapons drawn and pointed at her.

Ashli Babbitt willfully and knowingly, despite repeated warnings, attempted to enter a restricted (and barricaded) area through a window that had been criminally breached, and was shot and killed as a result.

To Trump supporters, this makes her a martyr.

Well, not at first. At first, Trump supporters claimed the Capitol was stormed by Antifa masquerading as Trump supporters. That meant Ashli Babbitt was probably an Antifa crisis actor. I’m NOT MAKING THAT UP. Early on there were several posts on FreeRepublic that suggested Babbitt wasn’t a real Trump supporter at all, that she wasn’t even a true QAnon believer, that she was, in fact, part of a false flag operation designed “to stop Trump from having rallies.” There were even early posts suggesting that Babbitt wasn’t even dead.

“…why was she the only girl in the room with all of those Antifa and BLM people and why would she be the first to climb through the window? Wouldn’t that be a guy thing? What would a hardcore Trump supporter who is a Quanan fanatic be inside the Capitol rather than listening to Trump’s speech? [T]he people in the room did not hit the deck when the gun went off… [and] how convenient a BLM guy with the CNN reporter just happened to be in the perfect spot to record it.

This was a fake riot to embarrass the fake violent Trumpsters to give the House a reason to stop counting and shame the Repubs to hide the fake vote. This was their final coverup to get their fake President across the finish line”

But the Ashli-is-Antifa conspiracy theory died off pretty quickly and was consumed by the Ashli-the-Martyr conspiracy theory. Oh, and just to be clear, these right-wing nutjobs see her death as a murder. A deliberate murder. An assassination. A nonjudicial execution, in fact. Even members of Congress are willing to spread that lie. During a hearing with FBI Director Christopher Wray, Arizona Congressman Paul Gosar, the GOP’s current Bull Goose Loony, flat out asked, “Do you know who executed Ashli Babbitt?” Gosar went on to claim, “The Capitol Police officer that did that shooting appeared to be hiding, lying in wait and then gave no warning before killing her.”

Comrade Trump, by asking ‘Who shot Ashli Babbitt?’ is deliberately feeding that same rabid rat delirium. He’s not only telling his followers that the election was stolen from him (and them), but that his enemies are willing to kill them if they stand up for Trump. That’s not only a despicable lie, it’s dangerous. You know some of his followers are out there, armed and angry, plotting to take revenge. And some are probably willing to join Ashli Babbitt and become martyrs.

curiosity and ragnar the cheesemaker

I have a morning routine, which rarely changes (because, you know, it’s in the morning and I’ve just awakened and and any activity that requires actual thought is probably beyond my capabilities). Greet the cat, check the perimeter (with the cat), feed the cat, ingest some form of caffeine, pet the damned cat, read the news, read more news, continue to pet and feed the fucking cat, consider reading email, decide against reading email, check Twitter, check Facebook.

By the time I reach the ‘read more news’ point, I’m moderately awake, properly caffeinated, and curiosity has kicked in. That generally results in me doing some level of research about what I’m reading. For example, this morning I saw something about ‘cult’ television shows. Not shows about cults; shows with cult audiences. No, wait…that sounds like the audience members are in a cult. Like everybody in the Order of the Solar Temple gathers around the television in the afternoon to watch Jeopardy. I’m talking about television shows that are obscure or generally unpopular with mainstream audiences, but still attract a devoted fan base. Somebody mentioned a British show called The Strange World of Gurney Slade. Which sounded weird and interesting, so I did some research and learned…well, that it was weird and interesting.

My point, if you can call it that, is that at some point in the morning, my need to read the news gets hijacked by my need to know and understand random stuff. This morning it was a few minutes of Gurney Slade. Then, on Twitter, I came across this simple question: Did Vikings make cheese? And my morning was gloriously ruined.

First, the question itself is wonderfully weird. You have to wonder what sparked the question. I assume it wasn’t just an idle thought; something caused this person to wonder if Vikings made cheese. Maybe they wanted to know what foods Vikings packed for a long voyage, maybe they were curious about Vikings and lactose intolerance–I don’t know. But it was an interesting question. But my immediate response was delight at the notion of a Viking cheesemaker. Some hirsute guy who, instead of setting off with the crew to raid the coast of Britain, decided, “Naw, I’m going to hang here and make a cheese.” Ragnar the Cheesemaker.

That led me to wonder how the process of making cheese was discovered, which eventually led me to read a sentence that not only took up much of my morning, but will likely haunt me for the rest of my life.

Cheese may have been discovered accidentally by the practice of storing milk in containers made from the stomachs of animals.

Okay, if you’re anything like me, you immediately started asking critically important questions. Who the fuck thought it was a good idea to store milk in the stomach of an animal? Who first said, “Dude, we got all this milk and we got no place to store it. Fetch me the stomach of an animal, please.” Who thought it was a good idea to store anything at all in the stomach of a dead animal? Who conceived of animal stomachs as prehistoric Tupperware containers? Somebody, while gutting an animal, must have had the idea, “Hey, let’s hang on to this stomach…we can clean it out and store stuff in it!”? Where would you keep the empty animal stomachs you plan to use later to store milk? And who, having left that first batch of milk in an animal stomach long enough for it to curdle and separate into curds and whey, thought, “Fuck it, I’m eating it anyway.”?

Medieval cheesemakers

My research also brought me to an article entitled Make Butter Viking Style, but I had to stop reading almost immediately, because of this:

Step One: Bring the crème fraîche up to room temperature and whisk it as if making whipped cream.

I am not convinced this is how Vikings made butter. I could go on (and believe me, I did), but you get my point. This has been my morning. Cat, Miami condo collapse, infrastructure agreement, some GOP bullshit about the military, cult television shows, Vikings, cheesemaking, animal stomachs, butter production. Every morning is like this for me. I’m completely fucking worthless from about 0700 to maybe 1000 hours, because of stuff like this.

And the worst thing about this? I have absolutely no use at all for what I’ve learned this morning. The odds of Gurney Slade or the history of cheesemaking (or, lawdy, the evolution of storage containers) ever coming up in conversation are astronomical. But this stuff will rattle around in my head for hours (or days or decades) and possibly spill out at some wildly inappropriate moment.

something you hope never happens

This is something you hope never happens in your own community, in the place that you call home.” That’s from Vince Niski, the Chief of Police in Colorado Springs, following the mass murder of six people (and the suicide of the shooter) in the early hours of Mother’s Day.

Something you hope never happens in your own community. As if this was the first mass murder in Colorado Springs in Vince Niski’s experience. As if Matthew John Murray hadn’t killed five and wounded five others in a pair of church shootings (one in Colorado Springs, one in Arvada) in 2007 when Niski was just a lieutenant in the Colorado Springs PD. As if Noah Harpham hadn’t killed three random people in the streets of Colorado Springs in October of 2015, when Niski was the Deputy Chief of Operations. As if only a month later, in November of 2015, Robert Lewis Dear hadn’t killed three and wounded ten at a Colorado Springs Planned Parenthood clinic. I’m sure each time Vince Niski hoped it was something that would never happen again in his community.

Colorado Springs Chief of Police Vince Niski

At this point, they police aren’t releasing the name of Colorado Springs’ newest mass murderer. The Colorado Springs police describe him as ‘the boyfriend of one of the female victims.” Former boyfriend is more likely. Or a boyfriend in the process of becoming a former boyfriend. Or just another angry man who doesn’t feel he’s getting the respect he deserves as a man. Regardless, he drove to the party, walked inside, and began shooting people–including his supposed girlfriend. Then, as happens routinely in these man-angry-at-a-woman mass murders, he killed himself.

As Chief Niski says, this is something you hope never happens in your community. Except it does, all the damned time. Maybe not with such a high butcher’s bill, but it happens all the time in every state in the US. You can hope your fucking heart out, but angry men with access to firearms are going to continue to make it happen. If your community is Colorado Springs–if your community is in a state that doesn’t require a permit to purchase a firearm, it’s more likely that this will happen. If your community is in a state that doesn’t require firearm registration, it’s more likely it’ll happen. If your community is in a “shall issue” state–meaning local sheriffs MUST issue a concealed weapons permit if an applicant meets certain criteria**–it’s more likely it’ll happen. If your community allows people to openly carry weapons without a permit, it’s more likely it’ll happen. If your community allows you to make, possess, or own a ghost gun–a handmade firearm without a serial number–it’s more likely it’ll happen. If you live in a state that has actually banned local communities (with the exception of Denver) from enacting their own stricter firearm safety laws, then it’s more likely it’ll happen.

It’s not Chief Vince Niski’s fault that Matthew John Murray was able to assemble a small arsenal in preparation for his angry man murders–a Bushmaster XM-15 semi-automatic rifle and three semi-auto pistols (a Beretta .22-caliber, a Beretta .40-caliber, and a Springfield Armory 9mm). Or that Noah Harpham was able to buy a DPMS Classic 16 semi-automatic rifle and two handguns (a Ruger SP101 .357 Magnum revolver and a Springfield Armory XD-M 9mm pistol). Or that Robert Lewis Dear bought an SKS semi-automatic rifle (and the multiple propane tanks he’d brought to the Planned Parenthood clinic with the intent to turn them into explosives). Niski had nothing to do with it. But he’s been around the block long enough to know that if those three angry men could find the means to kill sixteen people and wound about that same number, it’s no surprise another angry man could find the means to murder half a dozen people at a birthday party. Which, according to Chief Niski, is something you hope never happens in your community.

But if it’s happened four times in the last decade and a half, it’ll probably happen again. It’ll probably happen again because the people of Colorado LET IT HAPPEN. Because they’ve elected people who have refused to take any step to reduce the likelihood that it’ll happen again. Chief Niski’s hope is fucking worthless unless somebody takes action to implement actual reasons for hope.

What happened on Mother’s Day is NOT Chief Niski’s fault. He’s only guilty of voicing the stupid platitudes that chiefs of police are expected to repeat every time something you hope never happens in your own community happens in your own community.


** What are the criteria for being automatically issued a concealed weapon carry permit in Colorado? You have to be a Colorado resident, age 21 or older. You have to attest that you’re not a felon or mentally incompetent. You have to attest that you don’t chronically or habitually abuse alcohol, and that you don’t use (or are addicted to) controlled substances. You have to be free of a civil or criminal restraining order. You have demonstrate ‘competence’ with a handgun. How do you do that? By 1) having an honorable discharge from the Armed Forces within past three years, 2) having proof of pistol qualification in Armed Forces within past ten years, 3) being a retired law enforcement officer with pistol qualification within past ten years, OR 4) completing four-hour handgun training class within the past ten years.