All posts by kernjc

“Your President”

During the first presidential debate, Donald Trump, a candidate for the office of the President of United States of America, referred multiple times to Barack Obama as “your president” when speaking to Hillary Clinton. The sentiment is not a new one nor one that has not been heard a number of times before. 1

Speaking anecdotally, a number of my near and less-near relatives will often and rather emphatically refer to Obama in ways that are equal parts in poor taste and emblematic of an attitude that has pervaded the republican party and perhaps the nation at large. This attitude has extended to a recent rash of would-be democratic voters withholding their vote from Hillary on the grounds that she is not “their” candidate, as if they can really stake any sort of ownership to any candidate, who are themselves people with ideas sure to diverge, at least in one or two ways, from the voting population at large.

In the latter instance, the condition afflicting former Bernie Sanders’ supporters 2 is something that has crippled the Democratic party’s attempt to swing back to normalcy, with a disenfranchised left emerging from the primaries rubbed raw by rhetoric characterized by dismissiveness if not vitriol—both sides determined to spike the ball in the end-zone as sure as victory was assured and contradictorily assuming everything would fall into place with the result decided.

Having buried the lede, the purpose of this post is not to harp or impose voting standards or criterion on anyone. 3

If there is one thing that has been made more clear by the nature of this past election cycle, it is the dangers of political rhetoric. These dangers are manifold. Trump’s rhetoric is dangerous on one level in the manner of a promise, or a threat – the first sort of danger comes through not in what he is saying but the promise that those words will birth actions that live up to the violence of the threat and its delivery. This danger is potential energy, and it is the kind that can be avoided. 4

The second kind of danger is the danger rhetoric subtly evokes in people, the ways in which lies can give way to genuine belief. This danger’s edge is almost too keen to feel at first, yet is in many ways as real as the former. While the one is the hypothetical danger of the concretely horrific, the latter is the inevitable danger of something that already fucking happened. The damage of Trump’s policies is a specter haunting us from November, but the real damage of his campaign’s rhetoric has already been felt.

Anecdotal claims catch a lot of flak, and deservedly so. Anecdotes can be used as shields against broader systemic issues that people would rather ignore. 5 These sorts of claims abound in any instances where groups are involved, and often use the experiences of individuals to prop up systems. That shit is a fallacy, and is terrible. I am going to use an anecdote here, but I think it is a bit different:

Dujie and I have been blogging off and on for a while, and we do not have a huge readership. His interest in politics is real, and he brings real knowledge to the table in his discussion of it. My opinions towards politics tend to latch themselves more to the atmosphere surrounding elections than the practicalities of their results. I live that atmosphere, but, like many, can only guess at policies’ results using the tools for research available to me (which I should use more, and more intelligently, as should everybody) and intuition (which I should use less).

The nature of this election has been good for readership. There is a lot of content out there, but there is also a healthy appetite for that content – urgency is high. When we publish something, more people have read it, and more people come commenting, and messaging. As, our leanings are pretty clear, there have been a number of Trump supporters who have come commenting, which we welcome despite our differences. Trump supporters are the people who are done the greatest disservice by his rhetoric. Trump’s primary appeal—and the structure from which his arguments begin—is similar to how marketers sell products. He begins by identifying an issue with you, a problem with yourself. He is not specific, but speaks broadly as one would when writing a horoscope or selling wrinkle cream or zinc supplements at whole foods. 6 Person becomes people. People becomes country. We are a nation of the afflicted, and he is our cure. 7

Donald Trump’s rhetoric presupposes inadequacies in human beings and paints the causes for those inadequacies on the faces of people who are different. When you see people with special needs, people who are old, poor, and too young to know any better, casting hate speech into the shitstorm that is social media, you can see the damage the past year has already done – damage that lives independently from policy. Politicians now will say anything to get elected, but freedom of speech is not only a right, it is a privilege, and if there is an appeal to this post that appeal is to exercise that privilege with the dignity it should be afforded. Donald Trump’s words have already made America a worse place and the hate speech he preaches (that for him, might be a fiction) has already become the reality for those he has targeted.

He has found supporters with gaps in their lives, those with wounded pride, those who have lost loved ones, those who are despondent with their lots in life. He has taken their collective agony and loss and made it something universal to soften the blow – ‘the problem isn’t with you,’ he says, ‘it is with the country. The problem is you are being wronged, the tragedy and loss and hopelessness you feel isn’t your tragedy, its everybody’s, and that tragedy has a cause with the face of Barack Obama.’ He has used the vacuum left by sadness, hopelessness and fear and filled people’s souls with hate.

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Trump is currently running for the office of President of the United States. He also repeatedly denies that Barack Obama is his President. Let’s talk about the dangers of refusing ownership and the rhetorical fuckery at play when a presidential candidate consistently uses the term “your president” when describing the sitting president.

I have always been leery of people who take to the “respect the office” argument in these sorts of discussions as if those words brokered no discussion and were somehow an end-all, be-all to how one should speak of or consider the sitting president. I think looking to the protests being made in relation to the anthem-as-metaphor for national respect are a good analogy here. The office of the president is significant to citizens of the country, it being the unquestionably highest elected office in the nation, and the only one to carry with it symbolic significance equal to or exceeding its practical equivalence. If respect is indeed earned as the cultural idioms of our parents’ would suggest, it seems that the office of the president is, if anything, something imbued with meaning worthy of respect only in the hands of the right individual. This is likely what many people mean when they say “your president,” they are expressing that the values of the current president are not in keeping with their own and are disowning him as such.

Unfortunately, this attitude strays from a simple lack of respect for the man in presidential office by rhetorically constructing an alternate universe implying that Republican voters have been living in a state erected against their choosing, presided over by a dictator – an outsider – foisted to power on the backs of an unknowable other. This premise rests on the fiction that democracy can be uncompromising, and it supplies a notion of foreign-ness to the “other side” who becomes somehow less American for doing what they thought was best for the country’s welfare.

The birther myth is the bedrock to this dreamscape, offering an out-clause for a vocal minority who once cried “respect the office!” in indignation when criticism was lofted at George W. Bush’s decisions and policies. The “not MY president” rhetoric harmonizes beautifully with the birther myth, forming a symphony of bigotry filling the ears of a vocal white minority, discarded relics of our country’s worst years, with Donald Trump taking his place at the head of the orchestra. The ideas are not new ideas, but Trump’s shamelessness lends renewed boldness to organizations and people who have seen the world changing and felt the hatred that was their voice become shriller and lonelier as history 8 continues to leave them behind. In its best case, Trump’s candidacy is the death wail of a once-dangerous animal rendered toothless in its senescence; at worst, it is a rabid thing, infecting a younger generation and perpetuating itself into the future.

When you consider the birther myth and “not MY president” rhetoric side by side, “respect the office” gets complicated. The same people who once admonished others to respect the office of the president can now turn around and insinuate that the sitting president is a foreigner legally disqualified for the presidency. Taking this as truth 9 the “not my president” line moves from an expression of dissent 10 to something starkly literal, an assertion that the sitting president is a foreign dictator 11 in a country of which the utterer no longer considers themselves a part. I mean, if the President of the United States isn’t your President, how American can you really be?

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Word games aside, it is time to get in on that fearmongering game. Monday’s debate concluded with an interesting question, one that is emblematic of this election cycle at large:

One of you will not win this election,” said the moderator, Lester Holt. “Are you willing to accept the outcome as the will of the voters?”

Think about this. In a presidential election in the United States of America, a country which has held 44 presidential elections, a debate moderator trembles and asks the two individuals running for office, whether or not they will accept the outcomes as the will of the voters. This is the stage divisiveness has set for us. The Trump campaign and the arguments that birthed it are an agent sowing seeds of distrust and granting validation to the most paranoid and conspiratorial aspects of a population looking for someone to blame. In so doing, the reputation of the presidential office has already been dismissed as selective. In a world of “Your President” and “My President” the states cease being united, and that’s where we are today. It’s fucked.

The result of this attitude is a competitive, political divisiveness, that values winning and strength as virtues and not means to the betterment of the country as a whole. This attitude is too often carried to the extent that failure in the country is lauded by the opposition, if for no other reason than being an opportunity to hang points on an imaginary scoreboard with Republicans on one side and Democrats on the other. If the country is failing, it’s your fault too. If you are a citizen of the United States, Barack Obama is your sitting president. If you are running for the office of President of the United States, Barack Obama is your sitting president. If you are failing to confirm a Supreme Court Justice, you are working to directly undermine one of the 3 pillars of the US government, the government that people pay you to serve. Rooting for the president to fail doesn’t make you a patriot, it makes you an idiot. You fucking live here too.

Billionaires dodging taxes in order to buy erections

Credit: Iceland Magazine
Credit: Iceland Magazine

Is anyone actually going to care about the Panama papers?

Unless you have been squirreled beneath the web equivalent of a rock for the past week, you likely know at least tangentially of “the Panama papers” – papers leaked from a law firm in Panama connecting major corporations and wealthy individuals to prominent offshore banks used as tax evasion hotspots. The individuals implicated in the papers themselves include celebrities, major world leaders and international businessmen.

Using billions of dollars in evaded taxes, these individuals enjoy jet setting throughout the world, snorting Cialis off of each other’s dicks and lamenting the loss of old-timey values on facebook.

To make a comparison that might resonate with our primarily US-residing readership:

These are the sorts of people who, in America, give millions of dollars to campaigns in order to avoid giving millions in taxes to the Government which hypothetically pay for the streets they drive on, the schools their neighbors’ kids attend, social security for a generation who can’t afford homes until they’re 50, etc. Whether or not they can be officially convicted of the crime they are all committing against their respective communities, they should still be thought of as fake-tanned Ebeneezer Scrooges who actively avoid assisting the communities they now see themselves as above.

All of the individuals implicated have vehemently denied that they have broken any laws. This is likely sort-of-true, as the exploitation of loopholes is pretty much a classic rich/powerful person thing to do. That being said, they are guilty of evading the shit out of their taxes and have likely caused pretty severe damage to the communities of which they are a part as a result.

But did anyone actually break any laws?

Yes. While holding money in an offshore company is generally not illegal, 1 if it is done to facilitate tax evasion, a crime is being committed. If a lawyer appraises a situation and feels compelled to say something to the effect of “technically they did everything legally *cough* to commit tax evasion *cough*” than a loophole needs to be closed, some money needs to be collected, and some motherfuckers have to go to jail.

When a billionaire evades his taxes, he is stealing money from you. According to the laws of whatever country in which he does business, that isn’t his money. It is his Government’s money. It is the financial means by which the infrastructure and day to day lives of the citizens of the world function. Are billionaires privately funding the construction of highways out of the goodness of their hearts?

When politicians in the US talk about remedying the national deficit, they propose that we cut Medicare, privatize social security and eliminate social programs. The same thing happens abroad. When the President of Ukraine can justify evading his own taxes during wartime while demanding the citizens of his country pay their share (and then some), something is probably wrong.

The speculated amount of tax dollars avoided just by those implicated in the Panama papers is around 200 billion dollars annually. As an example of how this can really hurt – this article about Uganda exposes the Heritage Oil and Gas Ltd Company as having defrauded the Ugandan government for a cool $404 million dollars by changing its official corporate home to the tiny island of Mauritius, an island nation with a population just exceeding 1 million people famous for its exhaustingly long Wikipedia page.

So what can we do about this? The answer: nothing. These are the people who run the world and the rules do not apply to them.

Who wants to be a billionaire?

I hastily googled the top 3 people who have stolen from the international community recently. Please feel compelled to find these fine folks on social media and bombard them with garbage. Apparently China and Russia have already censored social media to avoid this, can’t hurt to try though. I have assembled some fun facts about all of them for your reading pleasure.

Icelandic Prime Minister, Sigmundur Gunnlaugsson

Credit: Jason Franson / THE CANADIAN PRESS
Credit: Jason Franson / THE CANADIAN PRESS

Likes:

  • Ice
  • Land
  • Defrauding the citizens of a country famously named for being too climactically inhospitable for Vikings
  • Of Monsters and Men

Dislikes:

  • Diet sour cream
  • Lukewarm bagel bites
  • The top button on dress shirts
  • Paying taxes
  • Female orgasms

Sigmundur, the since-resigned Prime Minister of Iceland is famous for being a huge piece of shit with a neck reminiscent of Vernon Dursley and probably severe impotence. He and his wife were indirect creditors of three failed banks responsible for the Icelandic stock market dropping 90% in 3 days. They managed to remain in prominent positions within Iceland for 6 years following the financial crisis since they were not directly affiliated with the wrongdoing that collapsed the economy. People picketed the shit out of him and he is now resigning.

Ukrainian Prime Minister, Petro Poroshenko

Credit: SERGEI SUPINSKY/AFP/GETTY IMAGES BY MASHABLE TEAM
Credit: SERGEI SUPINSKY/AFP/GETTY IMAGES

Likes:

  • Stealing millions of tax dollars from his country during a time of war
  • Chocolate
  • The antagonists in Rocky and Bullwinkle

Dislikes:

  • Eyebrows
  • X-men origins
  • The top button on dress shirts
  • Paying taxes
  • Female orgasms

According to the LA times, Poroshenko has since denied breaking the law. He is quoted as saying, “I believe I might be the first top office official in Ukraine who treats declaring of assets, paying taxes and conflict of interest issues profoundly and seriously.” It should also be noted that Poroshenko is a huge piece of shit who has a profound and serious misunderstanding of what the words in this and the prior sentence actually mean.

The corpsebride, Ian Cameron

Credit: Reuters
Credit: Reuters

Likes:

  • The furtherance of the British Aristocracy via sophisticated tax evasion
  • Telling his son to tell everyone in British Parliament the opposite
  • “The Cameron family’s ancestral home in Aberdeenshire”
  • Winking

Dislikes:

  • Paying taxes
  • Blinking
  • Being alive

I was going to write some nasty shit here about Ian Cameron but he is dead so it doesn’t really matter. Probably wouldn’t hurt to investigate his son though.

 

Your Candidate is a bad person and so are you!

I saw The Big Short and Hillary likes banks and I am really mad about it

“All Hillary supporters are capitalist sell-outs who would happily close their eyes and mortgage 1 the future of our country to investment bankers and their lobbyists in exchange for the promise of incremental improvement and a bulwark against the Trumpocalypse. They lack agency and support Hillary because they have been conditioned to do so.”

First, Candidates have been sponsored by corporate interests for all of our adult lives unless you are about 120 years old. The fact that people are paying attention and reacting to the means by which corporate interests are represented in politics is less a symptom of some new illness and more people learning that waking up and puking every morning isn’t actually normal. Hillary is an exceptional politician with decades of experience functioning within a political system that has always demanded compromises. She is taking money from the same people Obama took money from. Everyone does it and always has. To think that electing Clinton will be somehow cataclysmic because she will work, in part, for the interests of the same banks who the last 10 presidents worked for doesn’t make sense. 2

Additionally, many ad hominem attacks on Hillary and her supporters are suffused with sexist rhetoric. The word “shrill” is maybe a bit on-the-nose but still a decent example for the kind of ostensibly “defensible” descriptors that an anti-Hillary blogger might use. Sure, that word and many others like it exist and can describe things, like say, an annoying bird. 3 But, we really shouldn’t need to prove that sexist rhetorical connotations for certain words and archetypes exist and we definitely shouldn’t have to do so via explicit means because that is sort of missing the entire point (words having connoted meanings and all…). Said anti-Hillary blogger can write a post about how Hillary is “calculating and efficient” and step away claiming they were being somehow complimentary, but they are still pretty much just saying she is sinister and/or a bitch and they probably know that.

Bernie Bros are white and I am white and I hate them because they are unrealistic and because we are white

“All Bernie Sanders supporters are unrealistic ideologues who hide a misogynist and possibly racist agenda behind thinly veiled claims to populism. Any policy Bernie promises on the campaign trail will be summarily voted down by a Republican congress with a Democratic Party minority that may not be in his corner either. Bernie supporters are all white people in their mid-20’s which automatically disqualifies them from having anything interesting to say – particularly in regard to the liberal agenda they try to defend but do not truly understand.” 4

First, has the current Republican Congress left anyone the illusion that ANYBODY would be able to get them to act in support of ANY agenda? No matter which liberal candidate is elected, that candidate will face complete and unilateral obstruction from a Republican Congress. Bernie is a liberal Jew who stands in direct opposition to the interests who got the majority of them elected and, himself, pretty much never compromises. Hillary is a slightly-less-but-still-liberal woman with the last name Clinton. Neither will be invited to many BBQs and both will likely hear the typical impeachment bullshit before they even step into office. 5

The Bernie bro narrative has also been a frustrating rhetorical condemnation. Essentially the narrative became centered around the idea that Bernie Sander’s supporters were white, male misogynists who were categorically abusive and sexist in their online behavior. While the initial article was pretty much just a playful jab and actually pretty funny, the narratives spinning out of that initial moniker -developing original have become increasingly condemning and try-hardy as the “I need to push this idea to the brink of sanity to get more clicks” machine got itself humming. 6 Bernie stands for a few uncompromising populist ideals that get pushed around the internet a lot. It is easy to write passionately about how things should be. Idealists like him and idealists are often young and vocal which means you end up having to read a lot of re-posted articles. I guess that is annoying enough to write and repost a bunch of other articles about how they post too many articles.

Fun with ad hominem attacks

What is represented in these admittedly lazy strawmen examples of the rhetoric on both sides is the emphasis on the supporter rather than the candidate. Debates  between liberals, people who by and large think of themselves as being compassionate and empathetic, should be about meeting in the middle. One of Hillary Clinton’s selling points is her ability to work within a system predicated on compromise. Why would somebody support a person like that with inflexible, antagonistic arguments? Bernie sells himself on being compassionate and progressive. Why would somebody support a person like that by condemning friends and family as corporate shills?

Why are policy debates that should be centered on compromise so antagonistic? 

Outrage is easy. It is the simplest thing in the world to dismiss a dissenting attitude by assuming that attitude is backstopped by a mind that is either critically misinformed or incapable of operating at your level.

Lashing out at a group of individuals in a condescending “I-can’t-believe-you-would-think-that” tone is the rhetorical equivalent of throwing your work papers up in the air – an exciting and seemingly-impressive gesture that’s essentially hollow and unconstructive.

It is an unfortunate side-effect of an outmoded two party system that people begin to relish the opportunity to identify as a “supporter” of a candidate or an ideal rather than as an individual who happens to be more partial to the ideas and policies espoused by one candidate or the other. The mono a mono competitive facets of the political system in the United States have become so perfected over time that the election cycle feels like a game, and people love to win games whether on the micro or macro scale. Dismissing another group’s opinion as insane, silly, or unfounded, particularly when among like-minded individuals, is comforting. It makes you feel superior, it makes you feel like you belong, like you are with the “in” crowd. 7

The part that gets left out is how we need to live with– not only the result of these political games, but — the violent versions of dissent this system fosters from friends and family on the day after Election Day. I have had family members send me angry, hateful emails prior to major elections since they expect me to vote for a Democrat. This isn’t healthy and this isn’t some symptom inherent to elected democracy. 

We are all personally responsible for feeding into an environment where people’s intelligence and integrity can be questioned on the basis of political preference.

If you have an issue with a Hillary supporter, talk to them and try to understand where they are coming from. Do the same with Cruz supporters. Dismissing a dissenting view as stupid is useless especially if the view is stupid. Even if you are dealing with somebody who violently offends every sensibility that you have, reacting with outrage and dismissal just allows that sentiment to fester in the margins of society, where a feedback loop of like-minded people allow any idea or belief to regress to its most self-certain iteration.

A person’s view doesn’t change if you embarrass them and dismiss their thoughts as misinformed, as stupid. When you conflate an opinion with the person who has the opinion, the person hardens their position until they identify with their opinion further. Their view of themselves becomes inseparable from the opinion they hold and any further appeal to alter that opinion comes through the wires as a personal attack, because that is how you have conditioned them to feel. They are no longer somebody who agrees with Hillary or Bernie or Trump – they are a Hillary or Bernie or Trump supporter. An attitude formerly reserved for die-hards becomes universal.

Sort of like Identity Politics but without the aspiration to usefulness

Individuals in underserved demographics have found that by sticking together and affirming their difference from mainstream culture, they could influence that culture and find a place beside it. 8 The politics surrounding the democratic primaries has piggybacked on the sentiment of identity politics while foregoing the underlying substance. The effect is a lot of wealthy white people online yelling at other wealthy white people for being too white9.

Whether you agree or disagree with the efficacy of affirming difference as means for inclusion into mainstream culture, you can at least respect that there is a reason to do something.

What makes the political rhetoric of 2016 so divisive10 is that the us-against-them attitude is meant to reaffirm difference when this, out of the last four, year feels like a good time to find common ground. Among current Republican voters, I can’t really blame them. When squaring off with a Trump supporter, I can imagine suppressing outrage and disbelief is challenging. Particularly given the dismissive and fact-averse attitude that works its way from the top-down and somehow seems to permeate about a third of the American south which is still important in deciding who runs the whole country 11

Being outraged is really easy . Coming to a discussion with an argumentative mindset is easy. Being open-minded is hard. Disagreeing amicably is almost impossible. The thesis of this rambling exercise is to be a little less hard on one another. Try to find out why people disagree with you. Be less of a “supporter” and more of a person. The second we subsume our ability to process facts and alter opinions under an ideology or a candidate’s opinions, we lose the ability to think critically. Don’t do that. I’ll try also.

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24-year-old Millennial rips the 29-year-old Millennial who ripped the 25-year-old Millennial who worked for Yelp

On Friday, a Yelp/Eat24 employee wrote a lengthy open letter to her CEO, Jeremy Stoppelman, about her compensation, which she said came out to about $8 an hour after taxes. A few hours later, she said she was fired. It created a hot debate about how expensive the Bay Area is to live in, and whether or not companies should pay entry-level employees more.

On Monday, a 29-year old hero millennial responded in a post on medium. That article was since re-posted on businessinsider.com and has been distributed throughout my facebook feed like a venereal disease for about a week. As long as we are writing open letters, this is an open letter to Stefanie Williams, the second woman in the correspondence.

Dear Stefanie Williams,

After reading your piece detailing the absolute struggle that you dealt with while working as a well-payed bartender in the suburbs of one of the most expensive cities in the world while living rent-free at your parents’ house, I just wanted to say your words are a powerful example for white millennials like me who are sick of other white millennials clambering for handouts . You and me, Stefanie, we get it. Life isn’t about sticking up for yourself in the face of corporate greed, it’s about getting by, hauling yourself up by the bootstraps 1 and getting picked up as a screenwriter while working at a bar. Our parents did it, and we did it. 2

My name is Joey. I’m not much younger than you. I will be turning 25 in a couple of months which puts me around the age of famed millennial cry-baby and likely socialist Bernie Sanders-supporting Talia Jane. It seems like a lifetime ago that I sat in my sophomore year frat house room crying over the curdled milk on my nightstand as I realized I would never again be able to smoke weed in the morning. But here I am, having survived my early 20’s with apparently whatever it is you call humility. 3

I can’t thank you enough Stef for teaching that ungrateful, young snake person Talia the value of a good work ethic. Despite sharing an age with Talia, I too understand the difference that a hypothetical 5 years can make. I imagine those years are incredibly important and I was proud to share in the narrative of your struggle.

You inspired me to put pen to paper to tell my own story of redemption, so it could act as a lesson to those young people who lack the conviction and the work ethic to succeed in the world our parent’s created for us – a world where we must rely on our wits, industriousness and privilege to attain respectably middling positions at semi-impressive sounding institutions, all so we can rub it in the faces of people we went to high school with. 4

When I was 21, I had just graduated College. I was sent into the employment-seeking world in the wake of one of the worst economic recessions in recent memory. In the middle of summer, young and (I guess?) scared about my future, I was deposited from the bosom of the liberal arts and welcomed to the “real world.” 5

I too, like both of you lovely young women, was an English major 6 and I also wasn’t sure what employment options my degree left me, having spent the majority of college just generally not thinking about what came next.

Like you, Stefanie, and fellow white people nationwide, my knee-jerk reaction to the fear of unemployment was to get drunk. Having set my mind to this noble task, I proceeded in getting a bit hammered outside of a bar in Seattle with some of my friends about a week after graduation. It was early in the day. A former professor of mine walked down the street and asked me if I was interested in getting into consulting. Not having a job, and with the accumulated angst of multiple days of unemployment threatening to dim the fire of my capitalist spirit – I said yes without thinking. I accepted reality and sold out to pay my bills, biding my time until I could, in your words:

“[find] another job that was more my speed, something my mother could be proud of, something worthy of my English Language and Literature degree and my Chaucer reciting mind.” 7

Little did I know that jobs pandering to creatives were few and far between. The experience I was getting was all geared towards business consulting and while it is hardly a bad industry, it didn’t play to the strengths or ideals that I held for myself. Like you, I struggled through the hardship of living with my parents in a beautiful white suburban home while commuting 2 hours to work each day. At times, I would reach into the pantry and find peanut butter captain crunch, when I had hoped for crunchberries. I again see in your words expression for that feeling of quiet desperation I experienced in moments like this. I passed by the parents of my high school classmates in the grocery store and using my stern power of discernment, I determined these looks were probably pitying and probably condescending accusations of how I had moved back in with my parents. Again, I turn to you:

“[I dealt with the pitying looks by ] laughing to myself knowing their child was addicted to coke and hating their ‘amazing’ job. I paid my dues. I did what I had to do in order to survive, with the help of my family. I was gracious and thankful and worked as hard as I could even if it was a job that sometimes made me question my worth. And I was successful because of that.”

There is nothing like a parent’s ignorance of a child’s drug addiction to brighten one’s thoughts in a gloomy time. This was my comfort as I spent years 8 charting the rickety path from middle-class white suburbia to middle-class white suburbia. 9

Again, I need to turn to your post. As usual, Stefanie, I call on your considerable mental firepower to put this millennial in her place. Prepare to be re-post-slammed, Talia!

“To [Talia], that is more acceptable than taking a job in a restaurant, or a coffee shop, or a fast food place. And that’s the trouble with not just your outlook, but the outlook of so many people your age. You think it is somehow more impressive to ask strangers for money by writing some “witty” open letter than it is to put on your big girl pants and take a job you might be embarrassed by in order to make ends meet. And as someone who not only took the “embarrassing job,” but thrived at it, made bank from it and found a career path through it, I am utterly disgusted by your attitude.”

We sure did slam that Talia girl, huh Stefanie? If she had just quietly put up with her perceived injustices and followed our trail-blazing example, perhaps she too would have found herself re-posted by businessinsider.com! Her little girl pants clearly didn’t have the perspective afforded by a couple years in the service industry or an entry-level office position.

I am tired of doing this so I will steal your conclusion.

Darling, darling, darling. Consider yourself double-condescended, darling! Memes!


OK

Let us adopt real-person speak for a second. The original poster, Talia, was making a statement against a perceived injustice. Her employer denied employees full benefits and didn’t provide a great wages. That sort of injustice exists, she was just not the perfect person to represent that experience. It is true that struggling is a part of life, it is also true that neither I, nor Talia, nor Stefanie are the people doing the struggling.

Stefanie, you can’t just take a moment of personal strife and pretend that strife is somehow universal. There are serious socioeconomic issues in this country that are exacerbated by all of these bootstrap narratives that make it seem as though everybody can just move their way up the ladder with hard work as though the opportunity for economic advancement is universal. Not everyone has a family they can stay with while they save money. Not everyone has a college degree to fall back on. The narrative of overcoming socioeconomic strife is not ours to tell and, for all 3 of the speakers in this exchange (though I really doubt anyone will read this so probably just two speakers), I think it is damaging and embarrassing for our stories to fill this space while the narratives of those who actually struggle are buried.

This is not a “get-em girl” moment. There are injustices that are perpetrated every day in corporate America. Talia, yours is not a great example. There are people who overcome struggle every day to make a better place in this world which is sadly defined by earning potential. Stefanie, yours is not really one of them (and neither is mine). The decision to put Talia down while humble-bragging about a life story that is rank with your own privilege doesn’t help anything.

The people who are reporting and liking this article are the same people who will use your story as an excuse to deny opportunities to those that don’t have them. The same people who could not only benefit from an improved minimum wage (or better healthcare) but may stake their survival on it are the ones hurt when Talia’s example can be brought up as fuel for an argument that says: “these young people are just asking for free stuff.” It is our job to deny the fuel that feeds the fire of socioeconomic injustice. The best way for us to do that is to shut the hell up and let people who actually have something interesting to say actually say it. I am sorry I had to be a condescending dick for like 3 pages to prove this point. It was really fun to do. Bye!

 

 

 

 

New York Knicks Trade Target(s): Ricky Rubio

It is Wednesday.

Going into the break, the New York Knicks have choked and swallowed their way to an inelegant 23-32 record. With no draft pick in 2017 and an interim head coach, it is hard to determine what, if anything, the Knicks have to play for.

Recent head coach Derek Fisher preached player development within the system, but with a starting lineup with only 2 players south of 30 years old, it is difficult to understand if that premise ever had any merit beyond the desperate equivocations of a coach who knew this bitch was going south in earnest, teeth and all. Some have even speculated that the aforementioned comment factored into the decision to fire Fisher in the first place. As many of these people reside within the New York media, it is difficult to say if the speculation has any merit. Those guys tend to be fucking assholes (exceptions made for Seth Rosenthal and Chris Herring who are decidedly chill).

Beyond Porzingis, things look bad. But hope looms narrowly over the immediate horizon! The trade deadline beckons! Given that, let’s take a look at the well-intentioned wreck presently occupying the Knicks point guard position and the boyishly handsome also-Spaniard who I would love to see rocking orange on Friday against the Nets.

The Incumbent

The East (and West) is filled with point guards who routinely shred Jose Calderon’s decrepit ankles (ankles which have become better suited for pig farming than for playing defense in the NBA). While Calderon offers some value as a locker room leader and a sharpshooter within the triangle, his liabilities on the defensive end preclude him from functioning as an effective starting guard in a league where every team (save the Knicks) has a dynamic (and often young) talent at the point.

On offense Calderon is safe but hesitant and is a step too slow to take advantage of the driving lanes that Robin Lopez’ work within the post opens up. He routinely looks off cutters to swing the ball around the perimeter, letting slightly high-risk opportunities for easy buckets fall by the wayside in favor of late-shot-clock Aaron Afflalo isolation plays. These work more than they should but not nearly enough.

Ricky Rubio

If rumors are to believed, the Minnesota Timberwolves have made starting point guard Ricky Rubio available of late. Rubio is about as dissimilar player to Calderon as can be readily conceived. Beyond their native tongue, comparing Calderon to Rubio isn’t quite comparing a mountain to a volcano so much as it is comparing a mountain to a platypus that can’t shoot three’s.

Rubio is utterly incapable of making a shot from more or less anywhere on the floor but is a crisp and decisive passer who looks to get others involved. He does not fit the conventional mold of a triangle point guard insofar as he is ball-dominant and a poor shooter. He is a good basketball player, however, and the Knicks are woefully short on those. Phil has come out numerous times and stated that any player can function within the context of the triangle. Ricky Rubio is a basketball player. Checkmate.

Rubio is also in the midst of what may be his best season statistically (18.1 PER and .122 winshares per 48 minutes) but has seen his role diminish to provide playing time to Zach Lavine at the 1 and allow Andrew Wiggins more opportunities to play on the ball. He plays solid defense despite weird unfounded comments that seem to exist everywhere to the contrary. Rubio is currently +9.6 points per 100 possessions and Rondo, everyone’s favorite actually-terrible league assists leader is at -3.1 points per 100 possessions. I only included Rondo in this comparison because he fucking sucks and I relish any opportunity to use him as a negative foil to someone I like better.

Despite Rubio’s solid-if-imperfect play, he is not without his warts. He is due 14 million dollars a year through 2019. Even with the impending rise in the cap, that is a number that can affect teams looking to be players in free agency. It also could loom as an issue for a team that will have to offer massive extensions to both Wiggins and Towns towards the end of that deal.

For the Knicks, that number would limit their flexibility for the next three years, which could be problematic if they are serious about being players for Russel Westbrook in 2017’s free agency period. Being a sane and reasonable fan, however, I cannot bring myself to think that Westbrook would go anywhere near the Knicks, mostly because I have followed the Knicks in off-season’s-passed and been infrequently rewarded with anything beyond signing one of Amar’e’s knees or re-signing Carmelo.

As for next year’s free agency period, moving O’Quinn and Calderon (the two pieces most often discussed in Knicks’ trade rumors) would take 11 million off the books. It is likely the Wolves, being awake and presumably giving a shit about whether their team is good, will need more than Calderon and O’Quinn to move Rubio. A Lance Thomas or a Derek Williams would give them some young pieces that could contribute down the road or come off the books next year should the Wolves want to be players in free agency themselves.

All-up, Rubio would be a huge upgrade for a Knicks team that could use more talent and youth at the guard position. He is only 25 and has gotten consistently better throughout his time in the league. He is a long and underrated defender. He can’t shoot the ball but would hardly be the first player to become competent from distance late in his career. He is an excellent playmaker on offense and defense who has a glaring deficiency keeping him out of the conversation as an elite point guard.

Rubio would make the Knicks better. Make it happen Phil.

The Importance of Being Earnest: Burying the Lede with Chance the Rapper

Hipstars

You have seen them and odds are you kind of are one but don’t want to self-identify as such. Many cling together and work in some of the better-tipping service jobs in your favorite gentrified areas. Their parents are by and large wealthy-ish. Many in Seattle blame employees at major tech companies for rising rent prices as if those people are somehow to blame for going to good schools, educating themselves in a profitable career path and subsequently capitalizing on that investment of self. Fuckers. (That being said I bitch about this too. Rent-too-damn-high and such).

The loci of the past decade’s hipster proliferation is hard to locate precisely. As with all cultural phenomena it is clear from the outset that while the word “culture” is a pretty convenient placeholder the simplicity of the term belies the incalculably nightmarish profusion of shit that bubbles beneath the surface. When someone points out a certain phenomenon as “cultural” or as being influenced by the “culture” of the times they are not drawing a conclusion, but pointing instead to a pretty wide range of possibilities. We live in a culture right now that allows for meteoric and unremarked-upon surges in goat popularity and the existence of Fetty Wap. This seems as good of evidence as any to conclude that culture really hates it when you keep tabs on her.

From a literary perspective (I like books so this is always where I start), propagation of hipster-ness aligns itself fairly well with post-modern American literary movements from the 80’s on. If you want to go that route, then hipsters can be considered as a caste of fairly well-educated people who have grown up digesting content that comments often on the futility of locating ones’ self within a world, the futility of narratives to render meaning from abstraction, and an affinity towards conflating the sentimental with the grotesque. We are a generation of emotional orphans, who have been geared to regard the un-ironic display of sentiment with brow-raising disdain.

As we already said though, it would be crazy reductive to blame sentiments within literature for the propagation of the hipster. The only reason I even chose that as an example is because I like books. In fact, it is probably more likely that the same day-to-day trends within modern culture that precipitated the attitude of the modern hipster were responsible for the similarities we see within literature. In this way, we basically posit that hipster culture and post-modern literature’s disdain for sentiment have a shared root cause rather than some sort of causal relationship.

What then is the issue? You could point to the way in which formative education or even generalized pre-millennial parenting has been wired since (arbitrarily) the 90’s. This is basic “kids rebelling against their parents” stuff. Back in the day (if our own parents can be believed), formative educational institutions and the means by which children were raised tended to be characterized by discipline and rigor. Our parents were raised in households where it was not mete for a father to hug a son, for a person to be rewarded for effort or participation.[1] The politics of the time aligned to this. Children growing up in the 50s and 60s saw their formative institutions as grim paragons of authority and discipline, entities that rather obliquely asserted themselves as policy-makers for the lives of young people. Clearly this wasn’t the case in every instance – but it is certainly well-documented that parenting was a bit less nuanced during this time, with parents and institutions possessing a more clearly defined template for what their young clay-like child should be when they levelled up and attained sweet, sweet something-made-of-clay status.

Since this is being posted on the internet for free I don’t have to prove anything, therefore I am just going to go ahead and assume the prior supposition to be broadly and reductively true. If not, I can at least use it as a helpful analogy to work to where I hope to someday conclude.

Our parents’ parents were demanding, stern and authoritarian. Ours, or at least the broadly privileged and well-educated class of people that make up most of the hipster class, were largely kind, caring and generous, providing affection and approbation in light of our successes and gently guiding us through our failures.

For our parents-as-kids, rebellion was simple – moral even. It wouldn’t even be that far to assert that some of the best characteristics of our parents’ kindnesses could have been part of a master plan: adopt a stance of authoritarian rigidity and watch as your children rebound to being beautiful, caring people.

What wasn’t factored into that mindset is the fact that the same children who responded well to an authoritarian, stick-centric and carrot-sparse upbringing would then, being the carrot-loving adults they are now, be reluctant to pull the ole’ bait and switch and go Adrian Peterson on the next generation’s non-figurative asses.

This isn’t to say we should advocate for more rigid and stick-wielding educational and formative institutions. Not at all. What I am saying is the mannerisms associated with rebellion at some point in time 30 years or so ago got really confusing. Instead of openly rebelling against one’s parents as an authoritative force, kids were instead recoiling in embarrassment from helicopter-mom PDA’s when the school bus pulled in. There is a sentiment of rebellion and reaction to each scenario but while the former instance unfolds as a highly-emotional rebellion against authority, the latter enacts itself as an emotion-phobic rebellion against sentiment.

So where do we go from here? When sentiment and emotional honesty become the enemy, our generation is damaged by it. We can safely do away with an assumption that those emotions and sentiments have simply gone away – they just exist internally as objects of revulsion or embarrassment. Our natural rebellion to our nurturing ends up fighting our nature, as crazily fucking opaque as that clause was.

I don’t like this a lot. Which is why I love Chance the Rapper.


The Social Experiment

I have been to Sasquatch for the last 6 years and I am typically more drawn to the Hip-hop shows than the indy rock that tends to dominate the headlining acts (though this scale has begun tipping the other direction of late, but more to that later). 2 years ago, Outkast headlined Sasquatch alongside two other Hip-hop acts I was excited to see– Tyler the Creator and Chance the Rapper.

Of the 3, Chance was the closest to being an afterthought for me. I liked some of his songs to an extant but there was something just…weird…about his attitude/persona that I didn’t really quite get. I felt like he was in on a joke that I wasn’t a part of. His performance did much to rectify that initial impression.

I remember me and my buddy Nick in the midst of a pit (which was way taller and sweatier than usual – even for a festival) turn to each other at many times and vaguely express how exuberantly badass everything Chance did on stage was. We were fucked up and in the midst of a vibrant narrative. It was hard for language to make out the edges of the experience even when recapping that evening. Just a fuck ton of superlatives. Which at the time pretty much worked.

Chance made many remarks about how it was the biggest show he had ever played. He wasn’t even on the main stage. Was this a true statement for him? I am not sure and I have never bothered to do the research to find out – I believed him when he said things like that. Live music has the potential to create incredible, binding feelings of intimacy in an inherently plural space and Chance created this mood as well as any performer I had ever seen. He wanted to be there every bit as much as we did – maybe more. And why not? We were inhabiting a moment of a dream come true, a dream he occupied and expressed to us with a generosity of feeling that was easy to appreciate.

At one point in time, Chance came out and told us he had written a new song. It took about 3 seconds for Nick and I to turn to each other and agree that Chance was just singing the theme song from the show “Arthur” and we weren’t sure if anyone around us knew what was going on. At first, it was tempting to smirk at the people dancing around to a children’s theme song.[2] We were in on the joke and the teeming (rolling-their-collective-balls-off) masses were confusedly dancing along to a song from the show that taught me (specifically) to not make fun of poor people for eating leftovers.[3] Upon further inspection, half of the people who I was silently judging were singing along. They knew exactly what Chance was doing and perceived it as an opportunity to engage with a performance of sentimental nostalgia rather than perceiving it as a wink and a nudge, an opportunity for subtle mockery. Chance wasn’t talking to the jaded adult, but the enthusiastic 8 year old. Commonalities can be built this way – kids are all pretty similar until various meanderings and decisions bring us further and further from each other. That is why nostalgia rules – the further back you go, the easier it is to find commonalities.

I remember that I was embarrassed for an internal mechanism I hadn’t spent enough time examining to be properly ashamed of. I’m glad that happened. Moments of really internal, profound embarrassment[4] are easy to remember clearly.

Donnie Trumpet’s new album, and namely, the single from it – “Sunday Candy” – a song for which I have a near-pathological fondness, are lyrical instances of the same idea. What I hadn’t necessarily derived from Acid-rap on the first few go-arounds was Chance’s spirit. He is playful without being mocking, a distinction I failed to grasp maybe because I am a bad person or maybe because I was just not wired to expect it. Maybe that is why Chance’s music can be so jarring (beyond his voice, which is undeniably…goofy) to people who are hearing it for the first time.

When listening to Sunday Candy the first time, I had essentially already latched on to this aspect of Chance’s music that I had admired and identified it as sort of his emotional essence. That was what made my first listen to that song so beautiful – I wasn’t searching for hidden meanings or innuendos, wasn’t caught assuming that the lyrics were some vague reference to a girl he was banging but instead was able to take it for what it was – a song about his grandma whom he loved very much.

In retrospect it seems insane that anyone would expect or want anything more from a song. Is there value in being cryptic and opaque? I’m not really sure. Anyone can empathize readily with Chance when he talks about love, and the innocence of the song’s subject – the relationship between a grandma and her grandson – renders the expression of that love all the more universal. He isn’t espousing an impossible idea, just commenting on an authentic possibility – the possibility to be frankly and unabashedly appreciative of a person you love, willing to make that proclamation on a global stage, and willing to share that feeling even as he denies turning his experience into metaphor in one of the first lines of the song (“You say it too – but your grandma ain’t my grandma”).

Chance’ his music and his attitude are incredibly at odds with what I grew up thinking hip-hop to be. Given where we have been for the past 10 years though, maybe his popularity can be seen as antidotal, a required tonic for a generation that vaguely knows it is sick and is beginning to gravitate towards attitudes at odds with their own in hopes that they “rub off”.

Maybe our generation’s newfound appreciation of earnest sentiment is just a regression to senility. Maybe it is an opportunity to learn from our own mistakes and come out in the end better for it. Maybe it is nothing at all. I can only say that if Hip-hop and the music industry can find a place for Chance’s unadorned positivity, then maybe we don’t have to be so goddamn pithy all the time.

<Catchy and satisfying ending>

Or not. Fuck.


[1] This is totally a subconscious reference to something I saw Herman Edwards say on SportCenter the other day which got me thinking. He basically railed on the inappropriateness of giving out awards for effort, citing that rewards are essentially for winners and general pussification may occur if people are congratulated based on what they do rather than who-they-do-something-better-than. Yet, isn’t arduous, slog-up-a-fucking-hill-in-the-snow-for-no-reason effort pretty much the only truly American virtue? Isn’t that the reason why I need to hear people in Presidential debates talk about how relentlessly shitty their parent’s jobs were growing up? How by virtue of herculean mind-fuck near-migrant-worker-stereotype-but-not-quite-cause-we-don’t-like-them persistence they dragged themselves out of the disadvantage supplied by their own parents when they showed up on the east coast with only a handkerchief and a suitcase filled with sawdust to their name only to co-found the greatest sawdust mill the state of New Jersey had ever seen, etc. Also, why is the endurance of suffering espoused as a virtue in this country? Could it be that the people espousing the virtue are not the ones actually doing the suffering? Nah.

[2] It is tempting to smirk at music festivals often – people dress like fucking lunatics there.

[3] This is a real thing and is pretty much the only episode of Arthur that I remember. The other episode I remembered was actually an episode of “Doug” where Doug’s dad makes just a ton of kite puns.

[4] Can you be embarrassed if nobody knows what you are embarrassed about? The answer is yes. Yes so hard.

Walk-up Music Rankings 2014: The Starting Rotation

In the spirit of March Madness and NBA Playoffs, I had intended here to create a bracket in which we would pit the Mariners walk-up songs in a gladiatorial, mano-a-mano competition by which we could ultimately determine who has the ultimate taste in walk-up songs. Having subsequently looked at how much effort that would take (read: more than 20 minutes worth), I have decided against it in lieu of a more traditional, “lets rank these motherfuckers like I’m writing for Buzzfeed” style.

Let’s break this down the criteria by which they will be judged.

Fit – The first category here will pertain to the interaction between player and song. This takes a couple of factors into account – is the song emblematic of the player? Does this song somehow provide us with greater insight into the man behind the uniform? Bonus points can be awarded in this category for weirdly inappropriate fits – think something along the lines of Jon Rocker walking up to that John Legend song from Selma, Delmon Young walking up to “Dreidel, Dreidel, Dreidel” or Ichiro walking up to a song about having friends.

Inherent Song-ness – Is the song good? Does it suck ass? Does it suck enough aforementioned ass so as to be entertaining? Is there some clear intentionality underlying the choice of the aforementioned but still unnamed ass-sucking song that could make me believe that it was a clever choice rather than simply a shitty one? Does that forgive the player for knowing the ass-suck song well enough to employ it in an ironic capacity, knowing that for it to even come to mind as something they could leverage as a joke they probably had to hear it a few times already anyway? And if they are in fact listening to this song enough to be able to call on it in an ironic way, is there a chance they are basically just doing this as a smokescreen to cover up their miserable tastes like how I laugh furtively when Fall Out Boy comes on via Spotify but do nothing to actually change it?

Baseball-ness – Does the song mention baseball or games or baseball games?

Having concluded the front matter, if you will, here are the starting pitchers for your Seattle Mariners:

5 – J.A. Happ – “Hysteria” by Muse.

JA Happ is the new kid on the block and it remains to be seen whether he maintains the track he was using last year. Let’s assume so because repressive content quotas and making wild assumptions are the bedrock of sports journalism.

Based on the title alone, I am a little disturbed if this song actually “fits” Happ at all. I prefer my pitchers to be sub-hysterical whenever possible. Sans-hysterical if they can pull it off.

As far as inherent song-ness goes, this is an OK song. That being said it is featured prominently in the Twilight soundtrack which takes it down a couple of notches through no fault of its own.

They actually DO play a game of baseball in Twilight (which this song is featured in). In fact, they even have a goddamn music video that features the game. That being said, by looking up this song, realizing it was in the Twilight soundtrack and then subsequently realizing that they played baseball in that movie, I was reminded that I have seen Twilight which is an unpleasant revelation.

Conclusion: Fuck you JA Happ’s walk-up song for reminding me that I have seen probably about 60% of the Twilight series. Last place.

 

4 – Roenis Elias – “Vivir Mi Vida” by Marc Anthony

Props to Roenis for keeping it real with the random Marc Anthony deep cuts. As a player from Cuba with a pretty fascinating origin story I can certainly get behind the choice as it reflects music that Elias actually listens to. I would prefer if he had chosen “Hero” by Enrique Inglesias but that might be more of a preference on my part than anything else (read: esta noche).

The title to the song itself is “Live my life” in Spanish. This brings up a few interesting questions that we should sort through before we come to any conclusions. Whose life is being lived here? Is this a call to action for the listener to bang Jennifer Lopez and otherwise live the life of Marc Anthony, Latin pop-music sensation? Or is this instead just a call for the listener to identify with the lyricist which would render the title as an urging towards self-actualization and authenticity. Either way it seems kinda gay so I’m going to go ahead and put it in 4th place, narrowly edging Happ since the song has Spanish in it and Robinson Cano speaks Spanish.

 

3 – James Paxton “???” by  “???”

I have no idea what Paxton’s walk-up song is. It wasn’t listed in the first result I saw in the google search, but I am going ahead and putting his song in 3rd because I love James Paxton.

 

2 – Felix Hernandez “All Hail the King” by Avenged Sevenfold

So I primarily know Avenged Sevenfold as a band I am retrospectively embarrassed to have liked in middle school. Regardless, the song chosen here has some pretty clear parallels to Felix’ monarchal moniker which, for me, warranted inclusion in the upper-tier of this list. That being said, there was research to be done.

Having migrated to Wikipedia, I came upon this weirdly existing Gantt chart showing the timelines of the various contributors to the band over the years. Sharing below with no permission:

a7x

Wow those are some fucking names. M. Shadows, Synyster Gates and Zacky Vengeance have stayed true to the cause for years, resounding the faux-metal bugles heralding our own monarch’s trips to the mound with aplomb. I think the Rev died so that’s a bummer. As to the rest of these clowns, props to Johnny Christ for sticking with the crew after hopping on the ole A7X bandwagon following the untimely maybe-demise of Demon Ash who sounds like a fuckboy.

1 – Hisashi Iwakuma – “Feel this Moment” by Pitbull

Fuckin A.

Nothing says baseball quite like a Japanese pitcher walking to the mound to the overproduced sound of a son of a pair of Cuban expats by way of Miami—that is, Pitbull’s dulcet tones serenading crowds to the collective squelches of corona-lubed panties dropping in a Tuscon night club.

Love in this club. Indeed.

The Mariners, luck and overcoming adversity

So here we are.

Coming into the season, if you were to tell me that the Mariners would be a mere half game back from the Tigers in the Wild Card spot in September, I would have likely told you to politely go fuck yourself. That being said, now that the Mariners are in this situation, expectations have skyrocketed and the whole “at least we were competitive” argument doesn’t work for me anymore.

This Mariners team is good. Over the course of a season, many things can go right and many things can go wrong. Baseball mitigates some of this statistical chaos by virtue of having 162 games a season and with it, pretty enormous sample sizes. Despite this, there is a luck factor that inevitably worms its way into any conversation regarding professional sports and the Mariners are not exempt from this motif. Roenis Elias has been far better than anyone could have predicted as an untested rookie making his first starts above AA to begin the season. Chris Young has been astronomically better than his status as a last-ditch reclamation project would have indicated at the year’s beginning (though of late some chinks in the armor have revealed themselves). Both of these circumstances can be portrayed by nay-sayers as being instances of “luck” insofar as players wildly exceeded what would have been tepid expectations from even the most optimistic of fans.

Yet, cherry-picking feel-good stories as a means to discredit a ballclub that has been, if not play-off caliber then at least something approaching it, is fucking whack. There have been far more disappointments for the Mariners this year then there have been surprise contributors. At the beginning of Spring Training, we were looking at having Taijuan Walker and James Paxton in the rotation at year’s beginning. Taijuan found himself hurt at the beginning of camp and struggled to regain his form following an extended absence. James Paxton began the season with the club only to injure himself for the vast majority of the season following a dick-tickling display of early-season dominance.

While untested—a guy with Taijuan’s stuff could have undoubtedly made this team better. Recent history shows that untested pitching prospects with great stuff, while not always measuring up to their full potential, trend towards being at least serviceable guys which, when following proven veterans Felix Hernandez and Hisashi Iwakuma in the rotation is certainly enough to assemble a solid rotation.

Paxton, on the other hand, has picked up right where he left off at the beginning of the year. The rotation this year has been a strength. I shudder to think what it could have been like with a full season of healthy James Paxton pitching the way he is presently.

On the position side of things—remember the insane MDMA-fueled optimism regarding Brad Miller at the beginning of the season? He has lost his job to a guy drafted in the 6th round labelled as a glove-only shortstop with some speed being his only serviceable offensive tool. While I think those reports regarding the aforementioned shortstop (Chris Taylor) were largely unfair, it does little to change the reality that the Mariners were forced to compensate for Brad Miller losing all semblance respectability at the plate and cratering in a way that most deemed, if not impossible, then comically unlikely.

Remember our starting centerfielder? Which one(?) you may ask if you are one of the few people who hasn’t amnesia-fucked Abraham Almonte out of your brain-cube by now. The Mariners have had several starting centerfielders this season including the aforementioned Almonte, non-prospect James Jones, Endy Chavez, Michael Saunders and now the far more reliable Austin Jackson. Of those players (disregarding recent acquisition Austin Jackson who I have coveted for years) Michael Saunders is the only player better than replacement level. Michael Saunders, who could be one of the better players on the club, has not been healthy all year and is presently mired in an extended rehab stint with no definitive date of return.

How about Cory Hart and Justin Smoak? Hart, a player who I had tabbed for a big-time resurgence has been utterly worthless. Smoak, a player who I had tabbed to remain a waste of the space he occupies continued to be himself, which is to say, bad.

The replacements? Logan Morrison who has yet to raise his head above the stagnant nether-regions of his sub-0.700 OPS and Kendrys Morales who has yet to return to the form we saw last year when he was the most consistent offensive producer on the team.

Despite all of this, the Mariners are a good team. We have had our fair share of disappointments and despite them, have felt like a team that is capable of winning games without them seeming like wild flukes. We have one of the best run differentials in the league, a bullpen that has been largely lights out and a rotation headed by two of the best pitchers in the game. We have 2 position players in the middle of the order (Kyle Seager and Robinson Cano) who are, as we stand right now, worth more than 5 WAR apiece.

Now we head to a 4 game series against the Rangers. While the Mariners are an example of a team that has exceeded expectations by responding favorably to adversity, the Rangers are an example of a projectably superior club at season’s beginning that has been subsequently sodomized by injuries and negative regression.

On paper, this is an opportunity for the Mariners to do some damage and firmly entrench ourselves as leaders in the playoff race. Now we just need to do the damn thing.

Go M’s…

…and Seahawks too. By the way HOW FUCKING SICK would it be for the Mariners to sneak their way into the playoffs during the NFL season? If I could watch the Seahawks continue their dominant run in the regular season while also getting the privilege of watching playoff baseball with something at stake…needless to say work, responsibility and human interaction may have to be reduced to beer, pizza, hot dogs and escapism. Oh and what a sweet escape it will be. I’m gonna live forever.

#Breaking: Ferguson Police Officer Forcibly Engages Fellow-Racist Taylor Swift in Ice Bucket Challenge

A soon-to-be-less-anonymous Ferguson, Missouri visitor reportedly was accosted by a member of the Ferguson police department who dumped not 1, not 2, not 3, but 6 buckets of ice water on the victim’s head as part of the recent ALS ice bucket challenge.

The campaign has picked up a lot of steam (the cold kind of steam that isn’t really steam at all but rather the crystallization of water having left a person’s breath to arrive upon sub-32 degree Fahrenheit air) recently, on the backs and heads of numerous participants who have advocated for the cause by choosing to dump a bucket of ice water on their own heads rather than donate money to people suffering from an incurable, debilitating illness.

In fairness – many of the more notable participants have stated explicitly in their videos that they have both donated to the foundation AND chosen to shrink their dicks publically. These participants include Miley Cyrus, Earl Grey and Vietnamese Deputy Minister of Public Security, General Tran Viet Tan. However, these people were also fully aware of the unwritten law they were breaking and did so of their own volition.

While the purpose of the viral campaign’s alternative to donation (read: ice and buckets) is presumably to act as a deterrent to those disinclined to donate, it simultaneously serves as a pay-it-forward, explicit call-out that doubles as a social media marketing stunt. If celebrities like the highly-regarded General Tan want to donate to a good cause and intimidate other people into doing the same that is their right as Americans.

Enter Turd Ferguson, Missouri. The Police Department of Ferguson has recently come under a lot of fire (and ice!) for being a bunch of terrible, murderous pricks. This is a group of people who have allowed the same hush-hush, bros-before-hos, “deny-til-you-die” mentality typically reserved for shielding friends from actions such as smoking weed in the TV room of a fraternity house to extend to lying about murder. Protests have continued and Ferguson has responded by more-or-less militarizing their police force and turning the small community into a police-state.

But now they just went too far.

A sort of anonymous member of the community, having been semi-not-confirmed to be former pop-sensation-turned-racist Taylor Swift, is reported as having had 6 buckets of ice water dumped unceremoniously on her pretty white head by an undisclosed member of the Ferguson Police Department Tuesday morning.

This, as an isolated incident, is not a story. Taylor Swift—having already paraded swastikas directly into our children’s souls via her recent single “Shake it Off”—has recently proven that her adorable genes lack any human capacity for sympathy. It therefore logically follows that she would not be moved to donate money towards ALS, opting instead to be bathed in the frigid waters of her own fame-grabbing sociopathic pathology rendered literal.

But the nightmarish implications of the incident are only revealed once one realizes the truly macabre context surrounding the incident itself.

Taylor Swift donated to ALS. She donated to ALS 6 times—once for each bucket of frigid water aimed for her now more rosily-described head.

Apparently the Ferguson police are not content to stop at murder, racism and institutionalized fear. They have begun campaigns to slander and manipulate the media towards their own inscrutable ends- in this case even targeting one of their own—proving racists to be the most faithless of companions.

If the Ferguson police have become aware of themselves as a media-object and are now battling to deflect the attentions of the media through targeted, slanderous acts of misdirection—how long until they assimilate the media itself? How much longer can we even trust the noble people calling them racists from their couches? What is their agenda? Who are we to trust?

I may be a member of the Ferguson police…right now.