I Used To Think We Were Better Than This

Okay, so here’s a public service announcement for you: don’t get into a friendly discussion about conspiracy theories during a pandemic.6ED2E0CA-F5CC-4F77-BD21-8B77DA7CC1DB

*sigh*

Yeah, that didn’t go well.

“It’s a Dem plot to bring down Trump.”

“It’s a Repub plot to kill minorities.”

“The Chinese made it.”

“Dr Fauci made it.”

“Bill Gates is using COVID to microchip and enslave us all.”

“Medicines and vaccines are made from alien DNA.”

“Trump will revoke the Bill of Rights.”

“Biden will revoke the Bill of Rights.”

Where are the ones about Queen Elizabeth and the Lizard People?  Why isn’t the virus from the moon?  And, really, not one freaking mention of the Illuminati?!?!

I mean, c’mon people, it’s like you’re not even trying.

If we’re gonna go full stupid about this thing, then let’s pull out all the damned stops!

The Salvation Army’s special forces flying black helicopters over American cities to deliver mind-control chemicals developed by Ben Franklin…

Commercial airliners releasing chem trails in order to sterilize and pacify the population…

The alien Greys anally probing various cows and rednecks to control humanity…

7EEEBA74-562D-4E44-BF72-F8ECF66258A4And, Heaven forbid we forget the Holy Grail and it’s mystical guardian, Tim the Enchanter!

Good lord, where is Tom Wolfe when we need him?  Or Umberto Eco, or Mark Twain, or Jonathon Swift?  Crap, I’d kill for a good dose of Douglas Adams on COVID and all of this idiocy right about now.

But do we have them?  Nope, not now that we really need them.  No, instead we have The Nation and MSNBC spouting the extreme leftwing conspiracy bullshit, while InfoWars and Fox News handle the idiocy from the extremes of the right.

And the worst part of all of this?  This shit has gone so full-bore stupid that I miss the days when we were arguing over stains on a blue dress and what kind of cigar it was.

This, by the way, is why I write sci-fi and fantasy — not so I can make up outrageous insanity, but so I can get away from it!  And now back to my stories and characters who just want to rob, rape and kill like normal villains…

Wait, Didn’t I Once Promise to Ignore Politics?

So I’m sitting here, having coffee while I wait for a friend…

“Hey, I’m early, let’s kill some time with the news!”

Of all the good ideas I’ve had, that one is right up there with “…of course I’ll take you to an occupied bear den!  The cubs are super-cute when they’re at home…”

Ahem.

link_CRUqKZKKFRGAlAFTlfPdN5TEw3cvwdL4,w1200h627Anyway…the news…

I think I prefer the angry momma grizzly, thank you very much.

A few random thoughts and notes based on what I read, then, in no particular order:

  1. “Editing” the Constitution — *sigh* look, I know the language in there can be a problem.  I know the concepts and compromises from 200+ years ago can bring pain and outrage now, but “editing” our past isn’t going to solve anything.  It would be much better to use the language and concepts and compromises as the basis for teaching.  For teaching how things have changed…and how they haven’t.  Both the Constitution and Declaration of Independence are more aspirational than concrete, anyway, so they make wonderful tools for teaching middle and high school kids about reality — both the reality of now, and the reality of two hundred+ years ago.
  2. Whites Need to Speak Up…or Shut Up (which one kinda depends on who you are reading) — One of the things I’m not going to do is try to divine peoples’ emotions and motivations, and to advocate who should or should not be able to speak.  Skin color does not change the validity or honesty of what a person has to say, and that is flat out the only way to look at it.  To argue otherwise is to simply flip the script of racism, which leads to nothing but the tit-for-tat bullshit we are starting to see every day.  That being said, I’ve chosen to keep my own mouth shut and listen.  I listen because I don’t know.  Oh, I know the history and sociology and intellectual side of race and the US…but I don’t know.  I’ve never been pulled over because of what I look like.  I’ve never been followed by store employees because of my skin or hair.  I’ve never felt the sting of violence and hate and fear because I was other.  I’ve kept my mouth shut because I don’t think I can add to the discussion at this point.  Instead, I would rather let the eloquence of others speak with the power and authority of experience and authenticity.  But that is my choice, valid for me alone.  It in no way means that “no white person should ever discuss race” as I’ve read some suggest.
  3. Apathy vs Delusion — this election promises to keep poli-sci programs, not to mention generations of “political strategists,” busy with examples and lessons for generations to come.  Leave aside the names involved, and all of the emotion and judgments contained therein, and just look at the dynamics of the race itself: you have one candidate, running on a broad range of supporters that numerically should be able to dominate the opponent.  That range, however, has very little enthusiasm or energy.  They support, but they don’t do so with any real intent or drive.  On the other side, you have a candidate with a small base of supporters who in no way represent the nation at large, but have all the energy and dedication in the world.  They will believe anything — do anything — their candidate says, and they will do so in the most aggressive and offensive ways.  So, politically, which wins?  4 years ago it was passion and rage, running against a shrugging nonchalance, but will that hold true today?  If I weren’t living in the midst of this, it would make for an interesting modern lesson on the historical examples and dynamics I have studied for so long.  If I weren’t living it.
  4. The Company You Keep — As a child I was taught that your character is defined by what you do, and by the company you keep.  Now, that outlook has been put to the test more than a few times in some of the, uhh, “shenanigans” that have made up my life, but it is something I long ago took to heart and have tried to live by.  Enter Donald Trump.  If he is defined by what he does, and by the company he keeps… *sigh*.  Sorry, folks, but I’m lost with this one.  Since I don’t want to get into a 5,000 word diatribe — one that George Will did much, much better here — I’m going to focus on just one thing: Trump’s choice to keep company with traitors.  He has chosen to laud and irretrievably pin himself to the “heroes” of the Confederacy in the Civil War.  That is the company he has chosen to keep: those who chose to pick up a weapon and fight for slavery.  Sorry Donny, but that there is ‘nuff said…you are thoroughly defined.
  5. Recrudescence — yep, COVID is coming back, and it’s coming back hard.  Nope, conspiracy theorists and denialists, this is NOT just “another flu.”  Nor is it “fake news” made up just so the left can go after Trump and the hard right fringe that is today’s GOP.  Coronavirus and COVID-19 are very much real, and still very much a threat.  If you are getting your news on COVID solely from Fox News, Powerline, OANN and Townhall…well, I can’t help you.  You may have chosen to put yourself in an echo chamber — as is most definitely your right and privilege — but please do the rest of us a favor and stop assuming those echoes mean a damned thing to anyone else.

Okay, so this bit isn’t really a part of the “list,” it is just…

It is just a thought, and a (sorta) plea: people change.

Yes, this post went a little “rant-y,” but I couldn’t stop myself.  I have friends and family who still expect me to be the good conservative Republican I once was.  Sorry, folks, but I ain’t that person anymore.  I’ve changed.  I’d like to think for the better, but there is no question that I very much have changed.  One of the biggest of those changes is that I have no more patience for the willful ignorance and demented worldview that characterize both extremes.

Quite simply, I want nothing to do with either.

Live and let live, that’s it.  That’s what matters to me.  That’s also how I judge any and all politicians and others who claim to “lead.”

Every day I become more libertarian.  Every day I become more convinced that this overwhelming drive both sides have to dominate and rule the lives of everyday folks is what is driving us to a second civil war.  I wish I could say we could stop this slide, but I’m pretty sure we passed the tipping point years ago…if not decades ago.

But, hey, when that war comes, well…

No one does memory, and monuments, better than the Central Europeans — a reminder of the costs:

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERA
OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERA

Dear Prophets of Doom…

ABC775D0-040F-49EB-B67F-9F2ABEAE7FBBRepent, for the End is nigh!

It’s the end of the world as we know it!

We’re all doomed! DOOMED, I say!

Why the hell can’t the disaster-predictors ever get it right? I’m sitting here on April 23rd, typing this post on the patio of a local coffee shop while soaking in the warmth of the sun and savoring the last of my parmesan & spinach bagel.  Soooo…wasn’t the damned world supposed to end today? Again?

Look, if at least one of these stupid prophecies isn’t right fairly soon, I’m gonna have to start paying bills again, and no one wants that!

Let’s check the recent record, just for shits & giggles:

Today’s “expected” apocalypse – fail1447AA18-52F8-4A96-A6A9-3270935A3937

Last year’s Nibiru extinction – fail

2014’s blood moon – fail

2013’s “Rasputin storm” – fail

2012’s big Mayan doomsday – epic fail

And let’s not even start on Y2K…

C’mon, prophet-guys, it’s like you’re not even trying! Can’t I have at least a good asteroid strike? Or an LA mega-quake? Or the Yellowstone supervolcano? You gotta give me something!

No?

Dammit.

How is a guy supposed to throw off all responsibility and care if you keep getting it wrong?!

Crap, I write sci-fi and fantasy — what if all the prophets and doomsayers in my stories were this freaking wrong all the time? Can’t you just picture GoT if it were that way? “Yes, Lord Stark, the prophecy says you should become the Hand of the King, and that you will die peacefully at home in your bed…”

356CFC36-4B98-445C-9C0C-CE45CC163946Okay, fine…I’ll give you folks one more try. But — and I mean it, this time! — if you’re wrong again, I’m going back to Miss Cleo for advice and life-coaching…

Relax, Folks

I admit it: I’m a simple man, amused by simple things.  Beyond the Simpsons and Mel Brooks and Monty Python, I get a huge kick out of conspiracy theories…and especially out of the folks who obsess about them.

Right now, easily the most entertainment is coming from “flat earthers”.  For whatever reason — and I have zero idea why — this particular conspiracy theory has bubbled to the top in terms of media mentions and attention.  It’s that bubbling to the top that has made it fun, however!

The stories and Youtube videos about these folks — both for and against — are entertaining enough…but then you get to the comments.  Oh, the comments…  My God, are those comments pure gold!  Heck, they’re more entertaining than the dang stories/videos themselves.

orgin_of_secret_societies-invertNow, as much fun as I have with the believers of that theory, it is those who are obsessed with attacking them that provide some of the funniest moments.  Don’t get me wrong, the whole “flat earth” thing is loony as hell…but it’s no loonier than the Freemasons being a nefarious, centuries old plot to dominate the world (as opposed to a bunch of old guys who like funky handshakes and hanging out for drinks a couple of nights a week…). It’s certainly no loonier than the “aliens among us”, or the Illuminati, or the Rosicrucians, or the…ah, hell, go ahead and pick your own!

But, for some reason, the flat earthers just seem to get some opponents going.  A number of folks take the whole thing personally, get well and truly angry and upset about it.  Hell, to a number, it represents not a loony, very small-time conspiracy theory, but is instead a symbol of the complete breakdown of modern society.

Oh, please.

The flat-earthers no more represent the end of civilization and the triumph of ignorance than a pair of 80-year-olds exchanging secret handshakes represent a secret cabal controlling the fate of humanity.

Honestly, I think the people who get so wound up and obsessed with “debunking” the looniness are the reason it even exists in the first place!  Oh, I’m sure there are folks out there who really believe the Earth is flat*…all of about five of them.  No, most of the “flat earthers” aren’t believers, I’d say; it’s far more likely that they’re out there just absolutely trolling the shit out of the angry folks.

discworld_main*I think Terry Pratchett had it about right with Discworld: It’s flat!  And on the backs of four elephants!  Who are standing on top of a turtle!

Think about it: you post a video, or a link…you make a few comments…and touch off a firestorm of people working themselves into a frenzy and a fury.  You then grab a beer, sit back, and laugh your ass off watching people twist themselves into knots linking your “flat earth” crap to every problem they see in the world: the left will say it shows how the right have destroyed education!  The right will say that, no, it shows how the left has destroyed the family and the last vestiges of morality!  It’s inbred rednecks! No, it’s college snowflakes!  It’s Americans!  No, it’s Canadians!

I’ve never posted a link or story or video on the whole “flat earth” thing…but, my God have I enjoyed the show that follows!

Really, folks, is the whole thing worth getting upset about?  Just how empty does a person’s life have to be to get upset about someone else beliefs?  Just how vituperative and politically narcissistic do you have to be to turn a cheesy conspiracy theory into anything more than a laugh?

Great, now I’m getting myself back into a “conspiracy-theory-mood”. Hell, maybe someday I’ll actually finish that satire I’ve had kicking around the back of my mind for the last couple of decades!