Time’s Up

Dear Representative Pelosi…Hi…How are you?

…Me? I’m “good”.

Yeah, I don’t write much for this blog anymore. I was feeling, with the political stuff, that I was getting redundant. I was tired of reacting to #PresidentShithead’s redundancies. I was also disheartened that the Democratic Party leadership (I am not a Democrat, BTW) in this newly won Congress was not being more strident in their pursuit of exposing #PresidentShithead as the compromised, corrupt and dangerous president that he is.

From my vantage, this years performance has appeared to be a very weak show. A lot of ignored subpoenas met with a lot of waiting. As if waiting is somehow going to change the fact that this administration is never going to willfully contribute to its own demise (spoiler alert…he knows he’s guilty). So yes, Democrats, you look weak. You look afraid to speak the truth. You appear to be afraid of following the law because it may be unpopular.

And so this inaction becomes the story.

Yet #PresidentShithead is the same asshole he has always been. He plays the exact same moves, over and over. He has perfected his racist-trope-Twitter-rants to the point that their release is now a predictable ritual.

The message is hard to miss…brown people stay out of this country…and, if you happen to be brown and here already, if you aren’t going to pledge fealty to Trump then go back to the “shithole” from whence you came…It’s fucking crazy.

The media responds, due to moral obligation, and sometimes it feels like a lot of time spent letting us know that the sky is still blue. All the while the “big rip-off” continues to happen in the background, cloaked in a calculated dust cloud.

We get stories on the corruption, but they don’t get the same level of “engagement” as the culture war stuff. Too boring. And it’s hard to make the argument that we shouldn’t make a priority of fighting presidential racism, especially in the midst of the border refugee detention crisis, but it seems to distract from getting the financials and getting the impeachment process started. And that is where we want him and his administration…on trial.

I have this fantasy of a Trump media blackout…starting with a lifetime Twitter ban. I mean, is Twitter a constitutional right? Ban the fuck. Send him a message…Well, a man can dream anyway.

But what I keep thinking about, in the swirl of distraction, is that all the while Mitch McConnell is choking our courts with states’ rights zealot appointees who will serve one purpose…keeping the Republican political machines in low population “Republican states” strong, via states’ rights.

By funding political machines in low population states they keep thier “farm teams” strong and entrenched there, leading to the output of Republican senators from these states, keeping Republicans in control of the Senate…and, better yet, they can even manage to grab the Presidency while losing the popular vote by millions…due to this fucked up electoral college bullshit.

They game the system so that even though, by population and actual support, the Republican machine should only hold a 45% stake of political power, this minority somehow rules over us…and impedes our ability to keep the wealth class in check. So long as Republicans maintain this control, we will never get big money out of our government.

You see the Republican party is the defacto party for land owners and tycoons who depend on “states’ rights” to keep their taxes and regulations low so they can continue to “grow”.

And so we see for example, through disinformation, that climate change is branded a debate, instead of the crisis it is. Because if it was a crisis, well then you couldn’t make big money fracking your land for combustion fuel and pumping poisonous chemicals directly into the water table. But if the Republican Political Machine is strong…you can. Because the truth isn’t the truth. So donate today!

States’ rights is not a bad thing. But Republicans don’t really care about states’ rights for the betterment of all, they care about it as a useful tool to consolidate and keep capital and power. They use it not to protect the states from the Federal government, but to ensure they have control over the Federal government. It’s a means to an end. You can buy and control the Political Machine of a small state for a steal…Buying the whole country?…Well that’s just not good “business sense”.

They use states’ rights deftly to protect their position. Look at voter suppression in the south. Do you think that would be possible without their abuse of states’ rights protections?

You see, it’s not a Trump cult. It never was. It’s a wealth cult. It’s a money cult. It’s a power cult. It just happens to align with Trump because it also happens to be a white power cult. It’s a “chocolate meets peanut butter” situation. Except, in this case, the chocolate is white and the peanut butter was manufactured in a low regulation state and is teaming with salmonella.

Trump and Trumpism does not happen without a Mitch McConnell…period. McConnell is a morally empty, power-obsessed chess master who cynically used the white fear generated by Obama’s election, and played the racist Tea Party movement that white fear supercharged, to create the dominant minority rule situation we are now living under.

Maybe that dominant minority rule party didn’t mean to shit out a Trump, but it did.

And it’s a marriage made in hell. You know the true Republican leadership (and their financiers) all despise Trump. They told the truth about him when he was a candidate. But just as Trump is Putin’s useful idiot, so too is he the Republican Party’s idiot, as well. And in a short time their relationship became quite symbiotic. Think of Trumpism and the Republican Party as conjoined twins that even the BRILLIANT Dr. Ben Carson could not separate without killing them both. McConnell recognizes this, cynically accepts it, and just goes on playing his own redundant, malevolent game.

And us, the plebs, the peasants, we’re all suckers. But Mitch…he got out.

And if you don’t care about social justice (or feel threatened by it) and you are working, got a job (or hoping for a job)…well then maybe you don’t care about the toxic race hate culture infesting your party. And so you throw your support to Trump and the Republicans. Because things seem good for you (“It’s the economy, stupid”)…So forget about the law, forget about the spending, forget about the ripoff, forget about the recession that is coming. The recession where we’ll have no international ties and we’ll be spent to the hilt for. How could that go badly? Just put your trust in Trump and McConnell. They’ve got your back. They’ll be there for ya. You couldn’t find two more wonderful guys looking to help others.

So this monolithic, moronic stupidity gets us up from 30% (being the base “basket of deplorables” quotient) to a nice firm 45% in support for Trump. That truth scares the shit out of me. And, no doubt, it scares the shit out of the Democratic leadership…and keeps them from moving on impeachment.

That’s right, I was talking about Impeachment

I was. I’m sorry. It’s all related…that’s my point. The Republican Machine is hell bent on saving Trump to save themselves (see, conjoined twins).

We are at war! A war for this country’s future. It is time to start acting like it.

Here’s the news: Mueller has spoken. To paraphrase the message “There is substantial evidence that Trump engaged in criminal activity”. And this was just within the narrow confines of what the probe was allowed to investigate related to election interference. Trust me, there is more.

Mueller is not media friendly. I don’t give a fuck. He is a conservative who believes in the law…that it matters. That, I do give a fuck about. Mueller said that when Trump is no longer President (and not under his current “special” protections) he believes Trump can be criminally charged for his actions as President. He said these things outright and under oath to congress.

So…

Trump is a lying criminal who has no business being the President of the United States. Not for one more day. Period.

Nancy, I beg you, make it known that the law is not based on a popularity contest. It is the law. The law matters. It is your duty to start the process to impeach the President.

I know Mitch McConnell will kill it in the Senate. Let him. Let it be another part of his terrible legacy.

Don’t let pacification be yours.

I’ll make an analogy…

The Mueller Report is a call to the fire department (in this case the House of Representatives). A building is on fire (the building might be America…Clever, huh?). The fire fighters shows up in their ladder trucks. They see the building has smoke pouring out of the top.

What should they do? Should they…

  1. Stare at the smoke, and consider closer analysis of the smoke, and discuss the pros and cons of fighting the fire and risk offending pyromaniacs in swing districts. Allowing enough time to elapse in the debate that the whole building burns to the ground.
  2. Grab their axes and hoses and go fight the fucking fire, FULL TILT.

If you picked “A” you might be Nancy Pelosi. And that’s okay. I’m not saying I’m right. I have an opinion. And my opinion is this (and then I’ll get off)…

We have “law” in this country. Anti-Trumpers, like myself, flog Trump for undermining the law.

Okay, now look at the “wait until we build popular support”/“make the case” position. You wait. And you wait. The longer you wait the more the law seems like an “optional” thing. In time it becomes “Maybe what he did wasn’t so bad”. Or “If there was something to this they would have done something.” Which eventually gets to “If they aren’t doing anything they must be full of shit. They are just trying to punish him for beating them”…

People WILL come to see it this way, especially people who are not steeped in the facts or educated in civics (and there are a lot of them…thanks states’ rights).

I know that when the law has ever come for me…for, let’s say, a speeding ticket, nothing optional happens there. I’m on the hook. I pay or I’m fucked.

So if application of the law is seen as optional here, what kind of precedent does that set? What kind of message does that send? To admit the president is above the law so long as he maintains popular support? So long as he is rich and connected?

If so, why the FUCK should we respect the law at all?

Does law become meaningless? Just a cudgel to control the working class?

Tell me Nancy, does diluting the law through pacification undermine the law? I think it does.

Lawlessness can happen at both ends. If you want these lawful institutions to survive, thrive, and grow to serve us better…please apply the law.

The constitution assigns the duty of prosecuting a law-breaking President to the Congress. For the law, if not the country, get off your ass and do it, Nancy.

Time’s up.

Unicorn Steaks

Yesterday, I witnessed two things that I will never forget. One was harrowing and terrifying – the other inspirational beyond anything I have ever had the honor to have witnessed.

Bad news first

If you know me, then you’ll undoubtedly know the first event (the harrowing one) was watching #PresidentShithead’s joint press conference with Putin in Helsinki. After a week of setting fire to the NATO alliance and the Special Relationship, yesterday, #PS [aka Trump], with the whole world watching, willfully spread misinformation denying Russia’s very real cyber attack on the United States.

In doing so he went against, and publicly betrayed, our institutions of national defense and US law enforcement. He instead sided with the murderous, lying despot standing next to him. A dictator who is actively leading an attack on America, via cyber warfare, to undermine and corrode our DEMOCRACY and world influence.

We now add this offense to the list of impeachable offenses #PS has committed. Offenses the Republican congress won’t act on…but instead will allow to be forgiven and “normalized”.

I just want to take this moment to send a heartfelt message to my Republican brothers out there…Sorry. I don’t think we can give him a “mulligan” on this one, boys. This really is the end of the road and the end of this Presidency. Accept it, it’s over. As you like to say, “There are winners and losers”. Well, you picked a big fucking loser. Time to flush the bowl before you get any more shit on your hands. Kapeesh?

Nuff said about that for today.

Now the good news

SO YEAH it was the “worst of times”. But then something else happened yesterday that was maybe the most inspirational thing I have ever seen, in person, in my entire life. The most inspirational thing I have probably ever been a part of (even if only in a peripheral way). And I’m not fucking exaggerating! It was real life drama played out with real stakes and, when it was all done, it made be believe in America. It made me believe not that we are the best, but that we can be the best if we do our best. If we do our best for each other, especially when we need each other. If we can change our hearts through empathy, when it counts, we can achieve anything. I saw it happen right before my eyes and it was radiant, and I will, for one, never be the same.

[So I’m going to write my story about what happened…and it’s going to be long. With an exceedingly long tangential lead in . It will hopefully be goodish…but, fur sure, it’s going to be looong. If you just want to just skip ahead to the actual event, scroll down to “The Event”…but you’re missing out if you do…just sayin’. – Ed.]

I officially moved to Visalia, California to be with my wife, then my girlfriend, back in 2010. She, having secured a good job as an elementary school teacher, was able to buy a house in her lifetime hometown at a good price (it was bottom market, mid-Great Recession) and invited me to move in (Even though we were not married. A SCANDAL!). This was the beginning of the rest of my life. My life is with Jenny. And so I have adopted this new hometown, Visalia.

I grew up in Thousand Oaks, California, where my parents and siblings still live. When my parents bought their house in Thousand Oaks in the mid 70s it was a different place than it is today. My father had brought the family across the country from Farmingdale, Long Island, New York for a new job and a change. As an electrical engineer, his work and work opportunities were closer to Los Angeles, but he wanted to live in a suburb, like Farmingdale was a suburb to NYC.

He looked at buying in the San Fernando Valley, but thought the lots and houses seemed small, the communities dingy and packed together. He looked a little further out and found Thousand Oaks, sure it was a longer commute, but the houses and lots were bigger and, EVEN BETTER, CHEAPER. We ended up in a beautiful, idyllic home in the Wildwood development next to the Jewel of Thousand Oaks, Wildwood Regional Park.

I wish I could say my family story was altogether idyllic, but it wasn’t. That’s a story for another day.

I loved my hometown. But, over the years, it became strange to me. It grew in ways I didn’t want to see it grow. Between the influence of Hollywood Royalty overflow and the assent of pharmaceutical giant Amgen’s campus (along with many other factors) the cost of living in Thousand Oaks exploded. It became more congested. Also, the superficiality of the Hollywood-esque culture there, always a problem, became more and more pronounced, to the point that I felt no desire to kill myself trying to find the money for the high buy-in and the cost of living.

The Thousand Oaks I knew was gone anyway. Wildwood Fort gone. Geppetto’s gone. When I hiked in Wildwood Park, all I could see on the horizon was the encroaching housing developments metastasizing off of the Amgen campus. I remember developers wanted to parcel off the beautiful entrance to Wildwood Park, an open field under a majestic skyline of bluffs (made famous in many Westerns) to turn it into a golf course. And it almost happened. Thank God the residents rose up and put a stop to it…And that little slice of history kind of dovetails into yesterday’s events. Which, I swear, I’ll get back to.

Anyway when Jenny introduced me to Visalia it was kind of like someone turned back the clock on Thousand Oaks. It had that isolated and small, but well managed and bustling air about it that felt like home to me, much more than modern day Thousand Oaks. And there is no Amgen here, and our Hollywood overflow was miles away in Three Rivers (that’s a joke BTW). It just felt right.

Are there issues? Yes! We are in Central Valley ag-land so politics run red here. This area is a strong enclave for the racist tea party movement. We have a high percentage of Fox-News-watching, Limbaughtomized, water-rights-obsessed, gun-loving growers (their partners, advocates and allies) out here. Sure they don’t mind the free water, marketing agreements and subsidies that made it all happen for them, but they hate the “big government” that provides it.

And then you have our US congressional rep, Devin Nunes, who works full time debasing himself in a campaign to protect the aforementioned treasonous President. If you think #PS’s behavior gives anyone in Central Cali pause know this, in our recent jungle primary Nunes defeated his democratic opponent Andrew Janz by over 26%. So yeah…there’s that. And that’s a problem…for me.

And, honestly, that aspect of the local culture has been getting me down about my new hometown a lot. Especially in light of the political and cultural divisiveness we are all coping with and hoping will end and not worsen.

The Event

So with a little bit of dread and in this mix, earlier this year, I became aware of the threat to our local children’s non-profit theatre company, the Enchanted Playhouse. They do a hell of a lot of good for the children of this community with very little. They are on the verge of getting kicked out of their home, the Main Street Theatre, which they leased from the city of Visalia, who seem determined to sell it out from underneath them. Without a dedicated theater, the Enchanted Playhouse company will not survive and without the central downtown location they will lose their prominent placement in the identity of the community.

Last night, the Visalia City Council meeting had on its agenda the vote that would determine the immediate fate of the Main Street Theater Redevelopment and, in so, the fate of its tenants, the Enchanted Playhouse Company.

On paper, it was not looking good for the Enchanted Playhouse. Basically, months ago a bid was accepted by the city from a developer to convert the centrally located downtown theatre landmark (somewhat rundown) into some restaurants. It was all “by the books” but it was also a bit underhanded in the way it was carried out (because the city was not reaching out to Enchanted Playhouse). Any way you looked at it, this was a situation where the city council, by law, had the right to move ahead with the redevelopment, and the theatre company would be hard pressed to do anything about it, without having to get into a big legal battle it could not afford. These are volunteers; no one is making any big time money off this deal. And it’s the money that seems to be the thing causing the confusion.

To keep the background short, there was a time about 14 years ago when the city and the city council went to bat for the company, big time, getting them set up in the location and fighting for it legally. The city spent a lot of money. In return, Enchanted Playhouse, did their part and produced, in a hardscrabble time (they got through the Great Recession) as unpaid volunteers, quality children’s theatre that incorporated local children into the productions. They did this and paid rent to the city. Did I mention that children’s theater non-profits don’t make crazy money? I did, okay.

They presented their productions to the public and schools from all around would bus their students in to see them. It spread culture and joy. It created a farm-team for local live performance talent. But most importantly, it was a haven for artistic children, an extended loving family for these creative, emotional, sensitive kids.

Take my wife [, please! – Ed.], she saw the plays as a child and started performing in them at 18. Knowing my wife as you never will, you can not measure the importance and influence this company had on her life, even as a young adult. How it built her confidence up and inspired her to do other things. How it connected her to new friends who shared her interest in the dramatic arts and who encouraged her to act more and “follow her bliss” (I stopped all that). And you can add her to the thousands of children, young adults and parents changed for the better by this local institution. It’s impossible for me to put into words what it means to so many. What the value of this institution is.

The Enchanted Playhouse at the Main Street Theatre is a unicorn. It should not exist. It can not exist on a purely capitalist playfield, and yet it does exist. It exists because it spouted from the dreams of a merry band of dreamers, of gypsies that found their home. This unicorn creates magic, it inspires the weary, it heals the broken, it saves children’s lives. Literally. Period.

Somehow, in the years that followed the initial support, this connection between the city and the theatre company became disconnected. Council members change, mayors change. Emotionally stunted “businessmen” on the council start to think,

“Do we really need a unicorn? Unicorn food is too expensive. Let’s slaughter the unicorn and sell unicorn steaks! We’ll hang up some flat screens and watch freakishly large men give each other concussions…What?! Some fragile kids can’t play make-believe anymore. Too bad! Have some unicorn steak. It’s delicious. It’s seasoned with salt made from the dehydrated tears of the children.”

It’s fucked up. The city fucked up. They forgot heart and soul makes this city’s downtown what it is. Visalia has a god damn unicorn there. PROTECT IT. Its value can not be quantified in dollars and cents on a spreadsheet. Sorry, mister businessman (aka Mr. Potter), you’re just gonna have to believe me on this one.

It is a family-friendly community hub. And in so, it is priceless and worthy of preservation.

So the people who know what’s at stake (unicorn steak) heard the call of the gypsies and determined to push back on the city. This city council meeting was last night and, under a lot of pressure from the community, the city council wisely made special rules allowing for extra time and moved the meeting to the convention center to allow for extra seating so the theatre company and the community could make a final appeal to ask the city to pause the redevelopment plan to give the Enchanted Playhouse non-profit a second chance to make a bid to keep their home.

Supporters meet at the Main Street Theatre. When we got there, I was disheartened to see it not exactly overflowing with people. Could this rag tag band pull it off? We were looking like the Rebel Alliance. It put fear into me. But somehow, when we marched to the convention center, it started to feel like an unstoppable army.

Then the discussion period opened on the subject. The passion of the people who appealed to the city, over the course of an hour and half, was truly inspirational. The testimony of the children, changed and healed by their experiences with Enchanted Playhouse, moved me to tears multiple times. A father and actor told the story of the memories he had performing with his daughter on that stage, a daughter he lost soon after to a tragic and sudden illness. His testimony and the testimony of so many others declared that stage sacred ground.

And then it went to the five man (old white man) council to make their decision.

The Vote

Well that vote was high drama, too. The council was pretty hard in their opening remarks on Enchanted Playhouse board of directors for not behaving like businessmen (but as we’ve established they’re not businessmen. If they were businessmen they would have opened a sports bar. They are dreamers and unicorn wranglers).

It seemed like all was lost.

The first councilman said he was inclined to vote for redevelopment because the theatre company failed to make their bid in time which he felt showed a lack of responsibility. He asked, “Where were you?” to which many in the crowd answered “We’re here now!” (I think I might have been one of those people) But he deferred his final decision at that point.

We then heard from the second council member, who said he heard the children’s pleas and he would allow for a pause on the redevelopment. I loved this guy.

My heart soared!

Then it got to the third member, he was a hard-assed, old jarhead or jarhead wannabe. A Limbaughtomized douche…I will call him Mr. Potter. Mr. Potter said there are “winners and losers” and the market has decided to kill the unicorn (to paraphrase). He also added that 14 years ago he voted against the initial deal to set up the company at the theatre, as it went against his free market ideals, and he still felt good about that decision today (He probably thinks the NEA is a homosexual, socialist propaganda machine, too). It took a lot of self control for me to not wing my water bottle at his fat head…but I knew it wasn’t about me.

Let’s just say my soaring heart lost an engine and was tilting into a nosedive.

Then we got to the vice mayor who was also not moved by the children. He voted KILL THE UNICORN! I immediately regretted ever spending one cent in this “sweetheart’s” store before it closed (locals will understand). So I was doing the math.

1 undecided (but highly critical of the Enchanted Playhouse)
1 for giving the theatre company a second chance
2 unicorn steaks, rare

My heart was plummeting toward the earth, both engines on fire. The hydraulics were out. I was pulling on the flight stick to no avail.

So now it goes to the mayor. He tears up as he says he acted with his kids and he understands the unicorn. He hears the children. He wants to give the unicorn a shot.

I see a flashing light on the heart control panel. I hit it. One of the propellers starts to spin up again. But the altimeter is still spinning counter-clockwise out of control.

So it goes back to the undecided councilman to break the tie.

The suspense was a 10. He’d already said he was inclined to vote against the theatre. The tension was thick enough to cut with a unicorn steak knife. If he said “Kill the unicorn!”, it was gonna be real sad at the least, real ugly at the worst. He said he was still concerned about the viability of the non-profit to make an offer and that giving them a chance might be a waste of time, but ultimately that the pleas of the children moved him to give the Enchanted Playhouse a second chance.

The unicorn’s execution was stayed!

My heart stopped just before it crashed to the ground. Turns out it ran out of gas, Looney Toons style.

There was great applause and a feeling of sober jubilation. The Enchanted Playhouse was given 90 days by the city council to submit their plan to buy the Main Street Theatre.

Now the hard work and reality of fundraising the money and finding deep pocket backers to make it happen is real. But knowing it is real, knowing they have a chance to save themselves, gives me hope that things everywhere can get better. Knowing I live in a city that listens to dreamers and cares about giving creative children a home made me a believer in the system…for now.

I really hope it works out and I’ll be there if they ever need me to show up for them again.

Long live the Enchanted Playhouse at the Main Street Theatre!

Support your local theatre companies

Support your local theatre companies and children’s theatre non-profits. They need it!

See a local play, See a local musical. If you find a theatre company you like, go again, and again. They need you. Most likely, they killed themselves for months as volunteers with no pay to deliver a once-in-a-lifetime experience to you. They need you there. Movies and TV are great, but believe me, your community can entertain you just as well, if not better…and they want to. In supporting them, you become part of something. You are supporting creativity, expression, culture.  It’s not a fad, it goes back to the beginning of civilization. Civilization is not social media, it is “being there”. Plus, the more you support your local theatre, the better it will get. Experience, support, confidence, as in any endeavor, these things are the fuel of greatness. You don’t have to go to Broadway or the big city. You can witness greatness, right in your hometown, just by showing up. And you will feel the performances unfiltered and direct, a true connection between performers and audience sharing a space. Something that can never be recreated by watching recorded media. If you don’t show up, they can’t do what they do and everybody loses. Support your local unicorn…erm,  I mean theatre community.

What can we do for the Enchanted Playhouse?

I am hoping that a social media fundraising campaign will be launched to drive donations for the purchase of the Main Street Theatre from the city by the Enchanted Playhouse non-profit.

To light a fire under that campaign, I suggest they seek celebrity support, starting with approaching Ellen Degeneres, who has a great track record with these kinds of things. If not her, I have to believe someone with a platform will understand this story, the dire odds Enchanted Playhouse faces, the consequences of inaction, and will get behind making a happy ending for this situation.

Time is of the essence. LET’S MAKE IT HAPPEN!

[Jenny informed me that Ellen’s show came to Visalia  earlier this year to help Washington Elementary’s free dance class program. SHIT!… I mean, good for them… but SHIT! – Ed.]

Algorithmically Incorrect

So Google, we love Google. They give us everything that isn’t covered by Apple, Facebook and Amazon (am I missing anyone…Netflix?!…close enough…SOOO many options!). They gave us Gmail. That was sooo sweet of them, sooo generous. They told us, back in the day, that their motto was, “Don’t be evil”…very cute. I mean, that motto sets an extremely low bar. But we bought it, and, back then, it was all fun and games (Adobe Flash games!). A halcyon summer.

So, yeah, they loved all the data they mined out of your “free” Gmail account over all these years (and, in so, our love was reciprocated). Even to the point where if you were, let’s say, a web designer and you sent a confidential, hidden, non-indexable URL to a client to review work prior to publication…and that email just happened to travel over a Gmail server, you would inexplicably find that link (the one you did not want published) indexed in Google Search (Surprise!). Yup, they mine your Gmail message data and will load it right into Google Search whenever they want to. FUN! I mean, they don’t do it personally…their algorithm bots do it, impersonally…the non-evil way.

And that is the least of what they’ll do with your data. Your Google/Gmail profile, experiences, communications (inexorably linked to your Google Search and YouTube watch history) are crawled, tracked and pimped out.

They ran that game on you and the rest of the world, they “parlayed”, and (bingo-bango-bongo) now they own a MONOPOLY on online search and search advertising.

So now this relationship becomes a little lopsided. We start to feel a little like a “sex worker”. But our pimp loves us, he has “Don’t be evil” tattooed on his knuckles. He only hits me when I’m bad! You don’t understand him!

Googlebourg or Googlenstien

And now Google (along with their big-tech cousins) are turning the greater San Jose area into Googlebourg or Googlenstien, a gated county…a country. This kingdom takes our American advertising dollars, but avoids paying its American corporate taxes (preferring to use tax shelter loopholes to rest their tax obligations with other countries, ya know, the ones that don’t collect taxes), even though Google seems to enjoy having its “campuses” located on American soil, I mean Googlebourg soil. And that isn’t at all fucked up. Not at all! “Catch me outside” if you wanna talk smack about my pimp. Bitch, I’ll pull your weave!

And here I am, I know all this shit, but I still use Google Search. I’m their bitch. No doubt.

But here’s where the plot turns for me, because I was personally affected. And unless I am personally affected, I don’t give a fuck (like any good American citizen).

Google Suppresses My Blog!

NO, this is not the story of a man who has a paranoid delusion that Google has any idea who he is. My blog is a micro-flea, on a flea, on the dog’s ass that is Google Search. Google doesn’t know me, and I’m fine with that. If the Google powers-that-be knew me, they would probably think I was innocuous and silly. And they would be right. But like I said, I am not on their radar. I am random “Kid Kilobyte” 10538 data set. My mortal remains cast into the “Almighty Algorithm”.

So how can I say “Google Suppresses my Blog!”? Well their current super-tuned-up-to-fight-#FAKENEWS search algorithm is not loving my blog. It’s hiding my blog. Why? Because my blog is “Algorithmically Incorrect”.

Algorithmically Incorrect

What is “Algorithmically Incorrect”? Why it’s the digital world’s new “Politically Incorrect”. Now, instead of the next generation telling you your ideas are outdated and backwards right to your face (the way God intended), bots and spiders will predetermine, by algorithm, if what you have to say is too “troublesome” to share and/or not advertiser friendly/related enough to be worth sharing. To quote an ancient Zen kōan,

“If your Google Search  doesn’t result in a click through to an advertiser’s site, does it really exist?”

Ya see, my site has too many controversial keywords mixed with too many curse words. Plus, I am not a media giant that pays for “clicks” or “impressions”. As such, my site has no business being found on the pure-as-snow Google Search site where you find porn.

Somewhere down the road, a switch flipped at Google to push advertiser friendliness over organic search, even in the non-paid, “organic” areas of the search results.

As the internet became the predominant commercial media of our time, it has also became entrapped in the traditional major media practice of “whitewashing” its content (i.e., hiding “unpleasant” things…unless it’s porn).

YouTube Adpocalypse

We saw Google’s move toward whitewashing go into overdrive in response to the (Google owned) YouTube Adpocalypse controversy of 2017. A huge block of major corporate sponsors walked away from YouTube (taking hundreds of millions of dollars with them, adding up to countless billions in lost future revenues) because corporate ads were running before videos that included controversial or hateful content. This hateful content was causing boycott/PR complications for the corporate advertisers. Likewise, the controversial and/or hateful content creators were receiving money from YouTube for their views/watch time. This occurred because, bottom line, there is just too much YouTube content to realistically police. This got into a very sticky situation for YouTube’s bottom line. YouTube, of course, overreacted and, today, any videos that have a whiff of controversy about them, as determined by bots and algorithms, are by default “demonetized” and adversely affected in organic search (i.e., dinged) .  The ultimate effect, YouTube’s creator community is now beleaguered, “censored” and compromised.

Adpocalypse’s Fallout Irradiating Google Search

So is it so hard to see the writing on the wall? Google obviously has witnessed and paid a price for the kind of backlash and bad press that controversial content juxtaposed with corporate logos and ads creates. To protect their bottom line going forward, they grabbed that roller and a bucket of whitewash. They just had to add a couple of lines of code to the algorithm and “wham-o” the problem disappears.

Ken Powers disappears.

Yahoo!, Bing, Duck Duck Go (Who the fuck is “Duck Duck Go”?)…any of these search engines, search “ken powers”, I am page one, number one. Now search “ken powers” on Google, I’m not in the first hundred…

Ken Powers disappears.

So why care?

I don’t know. I’m just putting this info and commentary out there like I do. Internet search has evolved. It has had to evolve, because of the “Keyword Spammers of the Wild West”. Search can’t be totally pure because it gets abused. I accept that.

But we have a monopoly situation going on here, where 95% of mobile internet search goes through Google’s filter. Search visibility affects reality, creates reality. Google is playing with the paddles of 21st Century free speech with no overseers, no oversight. If we look at this situation closely we may discover we’ve traded too much away for a free email account and some cloud space. We may see that Google is just a little too cozy with our, often corruptible, Federal Government on many, let’s call them, Orwellian levels. Because let’s face it, the government should have grabbed it’s trust-breaking-hatchet on this whole deal a looong time ago and no one is talking about it today, no one.

Google, through automation, is turning down the volume on free speech (filtering speech) that its algorithms determine does not match up with their beloved advertisers’ agendas.

Remember this equation (it’s in the algorithm):

Advertisers > Free Speech

It’s fucked up and if they push it too far (which they might have already done) they may just find themselves in a position they can not predict, even with all their monopolistic power and algorithms.

People might just turn their backs on Google when they get “woke” to what’s going on. The walls of Googlebourg just might come tumblin’ down.

Then again, if Google just adds a few lines of code…the problem disappears.

It’s Time for a Walkout, #NEVERAGAIN

When #PresidentShithead and the NRA, in lockstep, propose the militarization of our public school system employees and facilities as the best solution to our longstanding handgun and assault-weapon crisis (totally disregarding the suggestions of students, teachers and law enforcement to start with an assault-rifle ban) you know you are staring straight down the barrel of history.

It’s Time for a Walkout

I call for every US highschooler between the ages to 14-18 to immediately stop going to school and instead spend your days PEACEFULLY PROTESTING at your local government administration buildings, be they city, state, or national.

YOU ARE NOT PROTECTED FROM GUN VIOLENCE.
OUR CURRENT GOVERNMENT WILL NOT PROTECT YOU.
YOU MUST DEMAND PROTECTION.

DEMAND A NATIONAL ASSAULT-WEAPON BAN. NOW!

DEMAND A NATIONAL ASSAULT-WEAPON BUY BACK PROGRAM. NOW!

DO NOT RETURN TO SCHOOL UNTIL YOUR DEMANDS ARE MET.

ONLY THROUGH UNCOMPROMISING, LARGE-SCALE, PEACEFUL PROTEST CAN WE END THIS TRAGIC CYCLE OF EFFICIENT SLAUGHTER IN OUR PEACEFUL COMMUNITIES.

We’ve tried every other way to get these military weapons banned and it didn’t stick. We need to GO BIG this time. If everyone stands together, and stands strong, the government (our employees) will be forced to comply. We can do it this time. There are more of us than there are of them. Let democracy rule for once and let us save our children from slaughter.

#NEVERAGAIN

Guns Are a Violence Magnet and Other Meditations

So, guns. I’m compelled to write about guns, especially at times like this. There are two concepts and one statistic I have been meditating on. I write them here in hope these thoughts could be helpful to your thoughts.

The Statistic:

Many legitimate statistical studies show that owning a firearm increases your likelihood of being shot and killed with a firearm (depending on the study) not by a percentage, but by multiples (some say 10x).

We would have better, more accurate data on this if the CDC was allowed to study it. Unfortunately, our Republican representatives in Washington (under the threat of the firearm manufacturers’ lobby) have not allowed such studies since 1996.

This leads to concept one…

Concept One:

GUNS ARE A VIOLENCE MAGNET

Guns are magnetic to impotent people who want to project power. Mainly men. Impotent men often fantasize about imposing their will through violence. These are common, natural human traits. Little boys love to play with toy guns (I did). Little boys also feel impotent, because they do not feel in control…and they’re not, because they’re kids. But as boys become men, the vast majority endeavor new, productive pathways to cope with balancing feelings of impotence with their violence and power fantasies (because, ya know, society). Some don’t.

The ones that don’t, well, I’m not saying they’re hopeless, but I would say they are the ones who are magnetized towards REAL guns and gun culture. And what type of guns? Why only the most powerful and offensively deadly ones, of course. So, through this magnetism, an estimated (like I said, the government doesn’t want solid stats) 5-10 million assault-style semi-automatic rifles are in private ownership across the USA. Sold and bought by impotent men who fantasize about imposing their will through violence. And when just ONE of these owners determines to cross the line from fantasy to reality…what happens? REAL “American carnage”. Sandy Hook, VTech, Columbine, Aurora, San Bernardino, Isla Vista, Orlando, Sutherland SpringsCharlestonLas Vegas, countless others (to the point of numbness) and now Parkland.

Why? Why do we coddle these man-children and give them ANY access to weapons of war, which will, invariably, only lead to another one of them crossing the fantasy/reality line to threaten and rain death on our peaceful communities. OUR CHILDREN! Why? Again and again, why?

So, I repeat, GUNS ARE A VIOLENCE MAGNET (I want to see that on bumper stickers). The more powerful the gun, the stronger the magnetic field. Where you find the most deadly and powerful guns you find violent men drawn to them. You don’t want to believe it? You want to deny it with anecdotal evidence? Go ahead, and while you’re at it, go buy a gun, you probably think you need one, Limp Dick.

Concept Two:

GUNS ARE POLLUTION

I watched a documentary about the West Lake Landfill on HBO this week. To those who aren’t familiar (and I wasn’t), it is an illegal radioactive waste dump in Bridgeton, Missouri, near St Louis, created from the waste of the Manhattan project, that, through greed, stupidity and evil, had residential communities built up around it over the years. People moved there, not knowing about it…the cancer causing radiation, that is, which by “law” didn’t have to be disclosed to the buyers.

So yeah, that’s still going on. The EPA (in the movie, this is the Obama EPA, BTW) monitors the amount of radioactive particles blown out of the dump and washed down creeks when flooding rains come. They tell the citizenry that everything is within “acceptable levels” according to the law. People can’t move because the story is out. They get cancer. Yada, yada, yada. So, yeah, guns are pollution.

Wait. I know you’re saying. “I didn’t make my point”. I kind of did, but I’ll dumb it down. Guns…Are…Pollution. Get it? No? Okay, I’ll try again.

Think of guns as deadly particles free-radicalizing their way through our environment. You don’t see them. You know they’re there. You hope your government is managing the situation, but they’re not. The polluters (these would be arm manufacturers and dealers, in case you missed it) continue to pollute unabated. The government says everything is within the law and acceptable levels. Cut to innocent people dying horrible, painful, tragic deaths that their loved ones never recover from. See? GUNS ARE POLLUTION.

In Conclusion

I strongly urge all men and women of conscience to vote to get all guns out of our society, every day and in every way. We’ll never catch them all (For the record, I never said “Guns are Pokemon”…until now). But we need to get as many as we can, starting with the military-style ones, and throw them right into the melting vats. Melt them down. We also need to shut down the factories. Retool them. Need a business plan? Sure. Make some other kind of phallus replacement. I don’t know…Dildos? No man was ever murdered with a dildo…that I know of.

So yeah, remember to laugh. But more importantly remember to vote against guns 100% of the time. Help America join the rest of the civilized world and evolve past its impotent gun violence culture. You’ll be glad you did. Or you will be, down the road, when you’re not reading about constant mass shootings all the time. Just something to think about. So yeah, vote.