Look guys, all I can say is if I’m expected to “be civil” with racists, nazis and sociopathic monsters then y’all better get ready to be disappointed.

Back when Trump was elected, 248 years ago, on an old blog, I wrote something about “we have to learn not to be so angry with each other,” and trash to that effect, and I am here today to tell you that I was 100% wrong about that. Fuck Trump, his whole administration, the entire useless GOP, and all of Trump’s terrible, terrible fanboys, literally as hard as possible, preferably with something that has random sharp edges.

We’re talking about people who thought it was cool to steal people’s children and hide them away in cages, drug them against their will, and lose them in the system, just for trying to come here and find a better life.

We’re talking about a guy who said of torch-marching nazis that killed and beat people that “some of them were good people.”

We’re talking about an overtly racist administration that has been successful so far at only one single thing, and that thing is packing federal courts with racists and sociopaths, a move that will reverberate throughout our culture for generations.

We’re talking about people who have screwed the federal budget six ways to Sunday to pad the pockets of their rich benefactors.

We’re talking about people who think it’s somehow advantageous to kick off trade wars, piss off our allies, cozy up to tyrants and dictators, and give away the last of America’s influence over the world stage for nothing.

We’re talking about people who lie dead-eyed into your face and then get mad when you call them on it.

We’re talking about people who are trying again and again to take everyone’s healthcare away, a move that will result in the deaths of literally millions more people than under our current system.

We’re talking about people who stole away a free and fair Internet because they’re scared they’re not making enough money off us with it as it is.

We’re talking about people who did all this and a hundred other awful, shitty, petty little things to benefit themselves and no others and harm those they disagreed with.

And we’re talking about the people who voted them into power, happily, gleefully, or, bare minimum, unthinkingly, because they were mad about a black president and a possible woman president.

So fuck ’em. You can ask me for a lot, but you can’t ask me to be “civil” with people that stupid.

Actions have consequences. If you act like a child-stealing, racist, lying, dead-eyed monster, you can expect to be treated like a child-stealing, racist, lying, dead-eyed monster.

I’ll remind you that in the 2016 election, about half of all voters even voted, and less than half of that voted for Trump. So Trump and his goons are out here enacting all this heinous garbage while flying in the face of the will of the majority of Americans – possibly in the face of the vast majority of Americans.

And while they do that, while they lie to us, while they ban innocent Muslims from American shores for no particular reason, while they steal away South American children and deport South American parents for the crime of trying to find a safe place to raise their kids, while they sympathize with nazis and embolden racists, while they roll back gay and trans rights, while they sneak into place restrictive abortion laws, while they steal away voting rights, while they do all that, and more, we’re the assholes for using bad language and politely asking them to leave our restaurants? We’re the assholes for protesting?

And you think I’m supposed to buy that? Really?

I guess no one remembers back a decade ago when Bush II was president and we were all “shrill liberals,” but this outcry for “civility” is GOP standard operating procedure, and you can always count on the moderate mainstays on the news to fall for it. The GOP doesn’t want “civility.” They want to be able to do what they please and act how they want without facing any consequences for their actions. They want to screw over poor people and non-white people and women and non-straight people and everyone else who isn’t a rich old white dude, but they don’t want to be called names for doing it.

And importantly, they want that not because they’re tender, fragile snowflakes who’re getting their little fee-fees hurt, as some have said over on Twitter, but because they’re specifically trying to train people not to fight them. They want quiet, civil, polite, timid liberals who fuss gently and tsk quietly.

They don’t want millions of angry women in pink pussy hats screaming at inauguration ceremonies. They don’t want crowds upon crowds of people clogging up airports and donating hundreds of thousands of dollars to legal defense funds to fight Muslim bans down to the bitter end. They don’t want thousands of black people blocking streets and chanting that Black Lives Matter. They don’t want to be chased out of restaurants by angry protesters.

They don’t want us to fight their bullshit. That’s what these cries of “civility” are about. They want us patting our pearls with soft gasps, not fighting tooth and nail and screaming our heads off.

Fuck that. Fuck them. And most especially, fuck their “civility.”

Westworld. Ug. The first season was so good. Then the second season just stuffed its head up its own ass and inhaled as hard as it could. Look, it’s this simple: If, at the end of your story, no one can tell you WTF just happened, then your story wasn’t that good.

The first season of Westworld did this interesting, clever, non-linear storytelling thing that blew everyone away. I guess they decided to double down on that for the second season, but instead of being clever, it was mostly just incomprehensible. It was next to impossible to tell what was happening to who, when, and one episode of that might be kind of fun, but a whole season? By the end of last night’s episode I had no effing clue at all when anything had happened or, more importantly, why I should give a damn.

What was the theme of Westworld‘s season two? “Humans suck”? “Free will doesn’t exist”? “Less full frontal nudity this time”? I don’t know.

What was the plot? Delos was harvesting information on players to turn them into immortal hosts. I assume this was a service they were intending to sell? But they never said that. They didn’t have any players’ permission to do that, no one outside of a handful of employees seemed to know they were trying to do that, and as far as we can tell, Delos had been trying to do it for 30+ years and were failing the whole time. That seems like an awful lot of money and effort to put into something that flat wasn’t working.

They clearly weren’t trying to do it for corporate espionage or to take over the world with Delos-controlled host copies of people, because you wouldn’t need perfect copies of people with free will and consciousness to do that.

The end credits scene seems to indicate that Delos was eventually successful at inventing immortal human hosts, maybe, but years into the future? So they’ve spent billions, trillions of dollars and, what, 50 years? 100 years? more? to accomplish this goal. That has got to be the worst ROI I’ve ever heard of. In that time, with that money and tech, they could have easily solved whatever other problems were plaguing society that was driving Delos to try to invent immortality.

I cannot conceive of what state the world and/or society could possibly be in where you’d have both the impetus to undertake such a stupid investment while still having the means to do so.

And since the state of the outside world has been deliberately hidden from us for two full seasons, I have to imagine the writers can’t figure it out, either.

Meanwhile, what was Dolores’ plan? It wasn’t to save the hosts, because she was clearly happy to kill them all right off. It wasn’t to get her hands on that treasure trove of human data to use for some nefarious means, because she glanced at a bit of it and immediately started deleting it all.

As far as I can tell, Dolores intended to escape into the “real world” and go on being a crappy, manipulative, homicidal maniac, but not even, like, a successful homicidal maniac, because she ignored or crapped on every opportunity to build an army or do things on a grand scale. I guess an immortal, mostly unkillable entity, with the ability and resources to quietly build a loyal, immortal, mostly unkillable army, decided the best way to destroy all humans was 5th column-style guerilla warfare with a tiny handful of helpers. Yeah, ’cause that’s historically been an excellent tactic.

We have a show full of painfully dumb and/or incompetent hosts/people, doing incomprehensible things for incomprehensible reasons, and none of it makes sense. Worst of all, since everyone on the show is either stupid, awful, or cannon fodder, we have no reason to invest in what any of these characters are doing. The worldbuilding and backstory we’d need to decide if anything that was happening was logical or worthy has been deliberately hidden from us, and the people behind the show are pulling Lost‘s old schtick of “We know exactly what we’re doing, it’s going to be super cool, just trust us,” without giving us any reason to do so.

Yeah. No. That’s crap storytelling.

Let me tell you what’s really happening here. This show is custom built to generate online theorizing and social media buzz, which in turn buys the show more viewers, more merchandising buyers, more ad views, more HBO subscribers, and etc. Westworld is the TV version of a clickbait Buzzfeed listicle. And with so much other good TV out there to watch and enjoy, I’m not gonna waste anymore of my time on it.

I updated my post from yesterday with a metric crap ton of new articles and videos: Call to Action: Keep Families Together.

Two articles to start the day off:

Reuters reports that Rep. Paul Ryan plans to hold a vote tomorrow (6/21/18) on legislation that “would end the practice of separating families who cross the U.S. border illegally.”

Meanwhile, the AP is reporting that Homeland Security Secretary Kirstjen Nielsen has drafted an executive order “that would direct her department to keep families together after they are detained crossing the border illegally.”

Trump has said, in the last 24 hours, via Twitter and through the media, that he’d be “signing something” soon to do something about the child concentration camps and family separation policy.

We’ll see how those stories shake out in the next few days. It may be that Trump and/or Congress will take action, but not, y’know, good action.

There are protests planned for June 30, in ten days. In the meantime, continue to light up your senators’ and representatives’ phone lines about this issue. Use CallYourRep.co or 5Calls.org (which also has scripts you can use) to contact your congresscritters, particularly if you have Republican representation.

Stay tuned for updates.

Update, 1 p.m.

Trump signed an executive order “ending” family separations. As expected, it really doesn’t solve anything. Read it here: Affording Congress an Opportunity to Address Family Separation.

Worth noting:

  • The executive order says nothing about reuniting families that have already been separated.
  • The executive order requires that children be kept with families, and that families be incarcerated in detainment camps basically indefinitely, which is illegal.

So, apparently we don’t have children’s concentration camps. We just have concentration camps. Awesome. Keep calling, people. Keep protesting.

I feel like this one maybe got lost in all the brouhaha over Trump’s space fantasies yesterday, so here it is again.

The United States is stealing children away from families and holding them hostage in exchange for funding for a border wall.

The Trump administration is running concentration camps for kids.

This is a thing that is happening, right now, in the year of our lord 2018, in the United States of America, and that isn’t hyperbole or fake news.

Read these two articles, which come from Vox.com. Vox is a left-leaning but fact-based reputable news source. Vox doesn’t generally report the news; they explain it and put it in context. They’re very good at it, and I’ve found them to be reliable.

To Sum Up

Families come from South America to seek asylum in the United States because their own countries are too dangerous to live in due to gang and drug violence, corruption, and other reasons. The legal way to do this is to go to a border point of entry and request asylum. However, due to the system being overtaxed and other issues, getting asylum granted can take roughly forever, if it ever even happens, and if you’re not turned away, which we aren’t technically allowed to do but we do anyway.

The illegal way to do this is to cross the border into the US illegally and turn yourself in to Border Patrol, where you’re interviewed and usually granted asylum fairly quickly. This is a federal misdemeanor which we traditionally haven’t prosecuted due to our asylum system being a great big hot mess anyway and the fact that, up ’til now, we weren’t monsters.

Back in April Trump, via Jeff Sessions, instituted a new policy of prosecuting people for seeking asylum in this illegal fashion. When people are prosecuted for this, if they have kids with them, which many of them do because they’re families seeking refuge, the kids are taken away from the families and put in a separate detention center.

The part about the family separation has been a thing for a long time. The part where we do it to people seeking asylum by crossing the border illegally is brand spanking new and entirely due to the Trump administration’s new policy.

Since instituting this new policy, nearly 2,000 children, mostly under the age of ten, have been taken from their families and detained either in camps or, rarely, in temporary foster care.

The system for keeping children was nearly overwhelmed before instituting Trump’s policy in April. Since then, the system is flooded and cannot keep up with demands. Children are being imprisoned in jail-like detention centers that, at least in some cases, resemble concentration camps where they’re held in cages that look like dog kennels with little more than foil “blankets.”

Required Reading

What Can You Do?

It’s common to feel helpless in the face of something like this, but there are concrete things you can do to help.

First, call your elected officials at all levels.
Call your local city government and ask them to pass a resolution condemning these actions. Cities can often talked into doing little gestures like this, which don’t actually amount to much, but if enough cities are doing it, you get some press. And press helps.

Call your state representatives and ask them to sponsor resolutions condemning this policy, or introduce legislation disallowing state resources being used to separate families. Contact your governor and ask them to sign such legislation or sign an executive action accomplishing the same thing. Some governors are already taking action.

Call your senators and representatives and ask them to take action. Remember that the Trump administration is basically using this situation to hold kids hostage in exchange for funding for a border wall, so be careful which bills you endorse to your senators and representatives. This bill seems to be pretty good. A few of the more popular bills bouncing around mostly just fund the wall without doing anything for the kids and families.

Donate to organizations that are trying to help.
Such organizations include, but aren’t limited to, RAICES and KIND. There’s also a list of organizations and a way to donate to them here: Support Kids at the Border.

Join a protest.
Nationwide protests are planned for June 30. You can find out how to join up at this link. (I got a browser security warning at that site but as far as I can tell everything is kosher. It’s probably just an issue with their SSL or possibly a conflict with a browser plugin I’m running and you won’t even see any warnings.) You can read more about the protests here: Nationwide protests against Trump’s family separation policy planned for June 30.

Use your words.
After you’ve called, because calling is the single best way to affect your senators and representatives and the first thing you should do, you can email your reps, write Facebook posts, tweet, and share good information across your social media channels.

Do one of these things. Do all of these things. Just do something.
This is a historical moment. This time, right here and now, is a moment our grandkids will look back on as a turning point, and it’s up to us to make it a good turning point.

Chuck Wendig On Trump's 'Space Force'
Chuck Wendig On Trump’s ‘Space Force’

Today Trump announced that he’s directing our military to create a “Space Force.” Which is not actually a thing Trump can do. Or any president can do, as a matter of fact. Creating a new arm of the military has to be done by Congress. And this particular batch of Congresscritters can’t seem to get anything accomplished, so the announcement was a lot of sound and fury, signifying nothing.

Also, pretty sure the Air Force already handles space/military stuff. Because, you know. Air Force.

Meanwhile ProPublica got their hands on secret audio from some of Trump’s concentration camps for kids. I highly recommend listening to it, especially if you want to ugly-cry for a couple of hours.

So, what can you do? Well, find a protest and join in. But that can be tricky for a lot of reasons. Work, transportation, whatnot. So, if you can’t find a protest, call your senators and representatives.

Do not email. Do not tweet. Do not Facebook. First, call your senators and representatives. Then email, tweet and Facebook.

Emails, tweets and Facebook posts help, but calls count for more, because they take more effort.

If at all possible, show up. Show up at protests. Show up at your senators’ and representatives’ offices.

When speaking to your senators and representatives, be civil, be brief and succinct, tell them you’re a constituent, and tell them what you expect them to do.

Remember that the Trump administration is basically using this situation to hold kids hostage in exchange for funding for a border wall, so be careful which bills you endorse to your senators and representatives. This bill seems to be pretty good. A few of the more popular bills bouncing around mostly just fund the wall without doing anything for the kids and families.

Need Resources?

Today’s articles talk about Windows 10 and Cortana, Google’s possible Pixelbooks+Windows 10 aspirations, more Cambridge Analytica shenanigans, the FBI Inspector General’s report on James Comey’s email investigations and whatnot, and New York suing the Trump Foundation for being suuuuper shady.

5 Things to Read Today

💻 Lifehacker: How to Turn Off Cortana on a Windows 10 PC
This article isn’t exactly what it says it is. It doesn’t show you how to turn off Cortana completely, just how to turn it off so it can’t be accessed from your computer’s lockscreen. By the way, Cortana can be accessed from your computer’s lockscreen. Also, until a recent update, there was a hack available, using Cortana from the lockscreen, to break into your computer. That’s been patched. Still, doesn’t hurt to turn it off, and honestly, who needs Cortana on the lockscreen of their PC?

💻 Ars Technica: It looks like Google is readying the Pixelbook to run Windows 10
Google’s beefing up the firmware in their Pixelbooks so that – apparently – they can set their Pixelbooks up to boot either ChromeOS or some other operating system, like Windows 10 and/or Linux. I’m not entirely sure how useful this feature is going to be, personally. I assume if you buy a Pixelbook, it’s because you either didn’t need to run legacy programs (stuff you run from a desktop, which you can’t do on ChromeOS), or could do without them in certain circumstances, like when you’re traveling or away from your desktop or whatever. One one hand, I can see some use for occasionally booting into Linux or Windows 10 – games come immediately to mind. On the other, I doubt you’re going to be running a lot of games on a Pixelbook.

🗳️ Snopes: Code Developed By Canadian Firm Hints at Voter ‘Disengagement’ Efforts in United States
I’m not sure how big a deal this is, or how far to trust this story. It’s in Snopes, and Snopes is not known for bullshit, but I don’t know much about the sourcing Snopes is using here. At any rate, a security company recently discovered code owned by a Canadian company. This code is very similar to, and in some cases seems to use actual parts of, the code Cambridge Analytica was using to track and sway Facebook users on their vote. The Canadian company is AggregateIQ, a digital advertising company which was said to be working with Cambridge Analytica. AggregateIQ swears they weren’t working with CA, but allegations from CA, and this found code, casts doubt on their protestations.

⚖️ Bloomberg: Comey Broke From FBI Procedures in Clinton Probe, Watchdog Finds
Here’s one of today’s big news stories: The FBI’s Inspector General, the agency’s watchdog, has found that Comey screwed up real bad with his treatment of the Hillary Clinton investigation as it pertains to the “October Surprise,” where Comey pooched Hillary’s chances at the presidency quite thoroughly with that letter to Congress about reopening the email investigation. Josh Marshall of TPM has some useful thoughts on this news here and here.

⚖️ New York Times: N.Y. Attorney General Accuses Trump Charity of Sweeping Violations
And here’s today’s other big news (so far) – the N.Y. Attorney General is suing the Trump Foundation for operating illegally. Basically, the trump Foundation has been operating as a personal checkbook for the Trump family. They use the Foundation to raise money, then dip into that money whenever they want, for whatever they want, which is illegal. And New York’s suing them for it.

Yesterday afternoon, (what felt like) everyone in the world got together on Twitter to cheer on a small raccoon that had climbed the side of a 23 story building in Saint Paul, Minnesota. For a little while, everyone huddled around the #MPRraccoon hashtag, holding their breath and waiting to see if the little guy would make it.

FYI: The little guy made it. He started climbing down late last night, changed his mind at some point, and headed upwards again. Early this morning he made it to the roof of the building, where live traps with bait had been laid out, and he was captured. He’s going to get some care (if he needs it), and he’ll be released safely somewhere where he won’t bother anyone. Read all about it.

Also, here’s a gif of the little guy cresting the roof of the building, the reaction in a local newsroom when the raccoon makes it to the roof, and an update from the UBS building about the raccoon being safely caught for release.

It’s easy to sneer at something like this. “OMG, it’s just a raccoon,” sneerers say. “They’re awful, mean little rodents. They’re vermin,” and et cetera, et cetera. And that’s true enough. Raccoons are often nasty, aggressive little critters who kill things and get into your trash and make a nuisance of themselves.

But they’re also super cute, you guys.

Amusements aside, it’s interesting to look at why things like this happen on Twitter.

About the time I checked in on the hashtag, this tweet was the top result for anyone clicking on the tag on Twitter:

What you see here is a small raccoon perched on the window ledge of a very high building. It’s cute, and it looks a little concerned and tired.

It’s small, and human minds automatically interpret that as “young.” Human minds automatically empathize with young things – we’re hardwired to care for babies. Small animals trip all the same triggers that human babies do. Humans see small animals and our hindbrains go “BABY, OMG” and we want to take care of them. It’s why we have pets.

Also, as the photos showed, the raccoon was way, waaaay up high, on a rather small ledge, so it’s clearly not safe.

You click on the tag and the first thing you see is a fuzzy animal that your brain immediately interprets as “BABY IN DANGER.” And you’re hooked.

So now you’re following the hashtag on Twitter, and your immediate impulse is being reinforced by hundreds, and then thousands of other people who are experiencing the exact same thing, and empathizing with you while you experience it. If you’re tweeting about it yourself, as you’re almost certainly going to do, then you’re likely also getting lots of Twitter feedback in the form of comments, retweets and likes.

Receiving those – particularly if you’re not used to a lot of activity on your tweets – is positive reinforcement. And positive reinforcement gives you little dopamine hits. Dopamine is the pleasure drug in your head (it’s more than that, but for the sake of simplicity…). So you’re watching this thing happen, with tons of other people, who are all tickling your pleasure centers, and you’re completely emotionally invested in the situation, now.

Add to that the fact that this particular instance is completely innocent. There are no real shades of gray in this spectacle. It’s a small scared animal in a bad situation and you’re just cheering for it to escape the bad situation safely. There’s almost no way to be the bad guy here. You can cheer for this little guy, and there’s no real way to feel bad for doing so.

It’s innocent and harmless, a completely black and white situation with clear good and bad outcomes, and there is precious little of that going around these days.

Plus, there’s community. You’re one among thousands participating in this event, and more, it’s an event that escapes all our current divides and tribalism issues. Everyone is cheering this little raccoon on: Republicans and Democrats, straight people, gay people, religious people of all sorts, people from around the whole world, and none of the things that usually divide us apply to the situation we’re rooting for.

We’re all in this together, rooting for a clear, innocent, good outcome, and nothing we usually argue about matters. And something like that is basically pure heroin right now.

Of course we all spent 12+ hours rooting for a masked rat on the side of a building. Society – particularly in America – is positively desperate for a reason to get together on something. Strife and stress are not good for us, and our brains seek ways to make them stop. We want to get along. It’s a built-in feature. So when something comes along, like an adventurous little raccoon, that gives us a way to do that, we’re all in.