The idea of American exceptionalism has eaten itself, cannibalised by the very people who most believe in the idea. A rich, autocratic president disrespecting an election result and whipping up his supporters to use violence and intimidation to cling to power is, for too much of the world, the norm.
Another trip around the sun. 15,707 days (inclusive of today) or:
- 43 years and 1 day
- 516 months and one day
- 2243 weeks and 6 days
- 376,968 hours
- 22,618,080 minutes
- 1,357,084,800 seconds
At times it felt like there were that many days in just 2020! <sarcasm> Thanks COVID-19!</sarcasm>
Calculations according to timeanddate.com [timeanddate.com].
In Pocket’s Best of 2020 [getpocket.com] list I came across this article on The People Who Prioritize Friendship over Marriage [theatlantic.com]. Interesting article, you should read it.
A couple of random poorly connected thoughts on this:
- I’ve pontificated before on this blog about an idea that is related to this. In this post on The Separation of Marriage and Civil Union [confusion.cc] (five years before the Supreme Court ruled in Obergefell v. Hodge [wikipedia.org], legalizing same-sex marriage throughout the US). I noted that Marriage is a religious idea and in a secular state, like America with the constitutional separation of church and state, it would be better to leave marriage to religions and out of state matters. To do this you need to remove any distinctions, advantages and disadvantages of being married from law. Replace the religious idea of marriage with a secular idea of a civil union (or some other phrase if that is too loaded) such that any legal or commercial issues which are today based on marriage would be instead based on civil union. Whats more a civil union, is not a romantic thing and need not be between romantic partners, so it could be between friends as described in The Atlantic’s article. The article comes close to the same idea:
[Elizabeth Brake, a philosophy professor at Rice University whose research focuses on marriage, love, and sex], takes issue not just with cultural norms that elevate romantic relationships above platonic ones, but also with the special status that governments confer on romantic relationships. Whereas access to marriage currently hinges on (assumed) sexual activity, Brake argues that caregiving, which she says is “absolutely crucial to our survival,” is a more sensible basis for legal recognition. She proposes that states limit the rights of marriage to only the benefits that support caregiving, such as special immigration eligibility and hospital visitation rights. Because sexual attraction is irrelevant to Brake’s marriage model, friends would be eligible.Rhaina Cohen in The People Who Prioritize Friendship Over Marriage [theatlantic.com], published in The Atlantic.
- I’ve always heard that the most successful, long term, marriages are those that begin or become close friendships. So breaking the idea of life-long legal entanglement from the idea of romantic love and opening it to friendship seems like a good idea.
- Despite #1 and #2… I can’t even begin to imagine the changes to day-to-day society that would need to happen for this to be normal. Imagine you are ‘married’ to someone, living with them, I assume, but at the same time have a legal civil union with a lifelong friend. If you die the friend is the main beneficiary (unless your Will say otherwise). You could jointly file takes with someone you are not living with? And who might be living with someone else also? What rights and duties are their with respect to kids from any marriages the two people in a civil union have? And you don’t need to get married to have kids —you don’t need to be married today but it’s still the norm, if there are no legal benefits to being married then maybe people will stop doing it unless they are highly religious. There are so many little things, the traditional idea of what a marriage is is so ingrained, even with the opening of marriage to same-sex couples…
- Urban Dictionary has a few definitions of Hetero Life Mate [urbandictionary.com], including one that says “A best friend who is so close, that were they not to match your sexual orientation, you would be married to them. Other sexual orientations may use “homo lifemate” or equivalent.” Pointing out that if there can be hetero lifemates there must also be homo lifemates. So maybe we need a better, less bigoted term. Another definition for Hetero Life Mate on Urban Dictionary notes that it’s basically a synonym for “Platonic Soulmate” [urbandictionary.com].
- And finally, Kevin Smith had this shit figured out in the View Askewniverse [wikipedia.org] at least by 1999 in Dogma and maybe way back in 1994 in Clerks:
Oh, I’m Jay, and this is my hetero-lifemate Silent Bob.Jay, in Dogma [quotes.net].
Maybe Platonic Soulmate is a better term than Hetero Lifemate, given to the issue of bigotry and the use of hetero and homo… but as a lifelong fan of Kevin Smiths movies I’m sticking with Hetero Lifemate. And I confess I wrote this whole post just so I could quote Jay.
I started 2005 using the same Sony Ericsson K700i I took my best 2004 mobile phtos [confusion.cc] with. I used it for the first half of the year, and the only photo worth sharing during that time that is not a portrait is another panorama:
The photo stitching is much better in this one, as the camera was sitting on the table when I took all the photos, I just had to rotate it for each shot. So maybe, just maybe, the software was good and the photos in that shot of the Singapore CBD skyline I shared from 2004 were really not level.
Moving on. At some point in 2005 I got a new phone, one that I loved, I think it was the best phone on the market at the time and I can’t understand why it was not more popular. The Sony Ericsson Z800i. A flip phone with a rotating 1.3 megapixel camera, a step up from the K700i’s 640×480 (with an “extrapolation mode” which output photos at 1280×960). The Z800i output photos at 1280×1024, which isn’t much bigger than the K700i’s extrapolation mode but they look much better:
There are still a serious lack of actual good photos in my library. Focus was an issue, on both the K700i and the Z800i. Also, action was an issue, even the slightest movement is blurred.
I actually went through two Z800i’s, as shortly after I got it my wife —now wife, then girlfriend— sent my new phone for a ride through the washing machine. One night after drinking I left it in my pocket and she decided do to the laundry early in the morning due to the smell of smoke and alcohol on the cloths. At the time I was living in a shared corporate flat and I didn’t even know the phone when through the wash, I found it on the table in the living room and just assumed I left it there. But when I tried to turn it on it was dead. I spent the afternoon waiting in Wisma Atria to see a Sony Ericsson agent to get it fixed, since it was nearly brand new. After waiting for my number to come up it took the agent all of 2 minutes to tell me the damage was not covered by the warranty as it was water damage. Apparently there is a little white square of material on the battery that turns blue when exposed to water. At first I couldn’t figure out how the phone got “submerged” and argued that it could only have been sweat or a splash from normal usage, I had not dropped it in water. I was only when we got home and my co-worker cum roommate told me he found the phone in the washing machine when he went to do his laundry that we managed to piece the story together.
So I had to buy a new phone… I don’t remember how much it cost but I do remember it being painful and my wife being surprise I did not get angry with her. C’est la vie.
Anyway, here are a couple of more photos for the Z8ooi that I can count as my best mobile phone photos of 2005. First a photo of the US flag from my hotel room in Washington DC on a trip back in July of 2005 to attend a wedding:
And… then there is this:
That’s my killer rabbit that used to look down on my cube in the office in Virginia wearing a hat I got at a St. Paddy’s day pub bash in 2002 in England. I gave the rabbit away to a coworker, and the hat eventually got trashed. C’est la vie.
I have embarked on a mission to cleanup my mobile phone photo library. As long as I’ve been taking photos with my mobile I have been ignoring them after I back them up. These days I back them up to Lightroom and I have even managed to find and imported photos from before I used Lightroom into my Lightroom library. There are a few gaps but I have a long mission ahead.
My library of mobile phone photos goes back as far as 29 September 2004. There are a couple of shots of people I was working with at the time, which I won’t post, and then this gem:
That’s the Alkaff Bridge [wikipedia.org] over the Singapore River, just down the quay from the hotel I was living in (The Gallery Hotel, no longer there) in September 2004. Having arrived from the US on, as I recall, September 4th (thought looking back at my 2004 post here on Confusion I seem to have left the US on August 30th [confusion.cc]… I know you skip a day and I took a crazy long, multi-stopover route, but it does not seem to add up, maybe I left well after midnight, I can’t remember.)
In any case, that photo was taken on a SonyEricsson K700i [wikipedia.org]. I’m sure I should have photos that were taken on even older photos, specifically the T610 [wikipedia.org] but it seems those are lost to time, so the K700i are my oldest. They are mostly crap photos, but there are some fun shots of people I worked with.
For some reason about half of the photos from the K700i are 1280×960 while others are only 640×480.
But the K700i did have a fun panorama function built in. I made a few attempts but it wasn’t always so good at handling my inherent inability to keep the camera level from one shot to the next (a problem I have with my DSLR too). These buildings look like they are drunk or auditioning for Inception or Dr. Strange a few years early:
So I really don’t have any good mobile phone photos from 2004, the title of this post is a bit misleading. I plan to post a few mobile phone ph0tos for each year as I continue my cleanup. We’ll see how much the phones and my ability to use them advanced. Not sure what year I’ll stop at. I started using Lightroom mobile to take photos on my phone sometime in 2017 so that’s a logical place to stop… let’s see if I can get that far.
As a final aside, the photo of Alkaff bridge was taken on the night of September 29th. According to Confusion [confusion.cc] I visited the Chinese Gardens to view the lanterns setup for the Mid-autumn festival with some colleagues. But I don’t have any photo, or DSLR photos of that night…
Last year I posted about my first ever experience spending a night in the hospital [confusion.cc]. Initial diagnosis was that I had an H. Pylori infection. Which was true, confirmed by endoscopic examination. But… 10 days later and we’ll into taking all my drugs I woke up at five in the morning in a hotel in Jakarta —I was on a business trip— with the same crazy agonizing pain in my lower chest and even in my back. I struggled through it for hours hoping it would go away, drifting in and out of sleep till close to noon. At that point I gave up and managed to pack my shit, checked myself out of the hotel and get to the airport where I took the next available flight back to Singapore. Luckily these flights run every hour or so and they are used to business travelers changing to the next available one when they finish early.
As a side note: with all the scanners and health checks, in place even before COVID19 in this part of the world, no one questioned a guy who looked like death warmed over, sweating and pale, wincing in pain at either the Jakarta or Singapore airports… anyway.
When I landed I went straight to the hospital and checked in. After a long discussion with the doctor who was treating me, going back over the entire history of issues starting in January and describing the pain again he asked about the back pain. Was it present in the other attacks? Yea I think so. After that he suggested that I might be having gall stones and based on that he requested a specialist to take over.
The specialist was fairly certain it was gallstones after an interview and a few hours later it was confirmed by an ultrasound. Ultrasounds are much, much, much more pleasant than endoscopic examinations. Someone sliding a plastic thing like a tennis ball covered in lubricant over you is weird but not so much unpleasant, even if the lube is cold. Endoscopic examinations on the other hand is… well, read the other post [confusion.cc] for my thoughts on that. But the ultrasound worked, diagnosis: gallstones, treatment: cut them out. So the doctor explained the surgery:
In summary, it’s a laparoscopic procedure, meaning they poke a few holes in you and use instruments on sticks to look around and cut shit up. Then they pull said shit out of one of the holes. Basically surgery by chopstick through a button hole. There is always a small chance they can’t complete the procedure via laparoscopy and will still have to make a big hole so they can get in their and work better.
And now, a second aside: doctors handwriting is really another language they learn to speak in med school. Why do you think it takes them so long? As evidence I posted the doctors explanation to Facebook to see if anyone could guess what it was. Answers ranged from the location of the lost ark of the covenant to, oddly, Vladimir Putin’s notes (I have a wide variety of friends…), to a lost page from the Necronomicon or Voynich Manuscript. A few observant people did note that the words liver and gallbladder are there and so guessed it was something to do with anatomy. But the winner was my uncle, a surgeon himself, who was spot on:
It sounds like he’s making it up, but no, I checked: Pancreaticoduodenectomy [wikipedia.org] and Cholecystectomy [wikipedia.org]. I did not, in fact, need a Pancreaticoduodenectomy but I was going to have a Cholecystectomy. So, yea, anyway enough five dollar words: I had to have my gallbladder removed. Unfortunately, before I could have my gallbladder removed, I had to finish my H. Pylori treatment which would take another month. So surgery was scheduled for September.
Luckily I had no more painful issues after that and I arrived for surgery early on a Monday in mid-September for a quick three day stay. After all the checkin and prep they put me under and…
I woke up in the early evening back in my room with tubes running into me and way more bandages than a few small holes would justify. A bit later the doctor came to explain to me that he was not able to remove the gallstones laparoscopically and had to cut me open. Apparently my gallbladder was in fairly bad shape so he was not able to separate it for the liver using he tools-on-sticks.
Long story short, I spent a full week in the hospital on good drugs but still in crazy pain every time I moved or, especially, when in coughed which I was told to do regularly to ensure I didn’t develop pneumonia. Though the doctor did say I had a very high pain threshold as I was able to get up and walk after only a day and usually it took people two days due to the pain. Maybe he was just encouraging me.
In any case I made a full recovery, even going on holiday on schedule in November though I was not able to do any heavy lifting of luggage so the kids had to help, and we packed light. This did not prevent us from doing over 150km of walking around Amsterdam. And I’ve had no problems since. I have an 8 inch scare across my upper stomach like some sort of war wound and I got to keep the gallstones. Yea! Souvenirs:
The election is upon us. As this season of the greatest show on earth comes to a close are we looking forward to a better world or a longer slide down the dystopian rabbit hole of the last four?
It didn’t really begin in 2016, of course, but shit hit the fan so hard and in such volumes in 2016 it’s going to be the year we all remember. Aside from the historians who study these things; they can debate if it began with 9/11 or the financial crisis, or back in the Clinton years or even earlier. But for most of us 2016 is going to be our inflection point. Towards a better world or the end of the world depending on your political persuasions. But either way it was the start of some sort of new world order… or was it?
You see 2016 is when most of the world got a glimpse but some people have known about the plans for a New World Order for much longer. We were warned before I was even born. The shadowy powers behind the curtain were exposed by Robert Shea and Robert Anton Wilson in their seminal work The Illuminatus! Trilogy [wikipedia.org]. But many didn’t listen. I wasn’t born.
I had been born when, a few years later, in 1982 another attempt to pull the curtain back. But, I was only four in 1982 when Steve Jackson Games released Illuminati [sjgames.com]. But I was too young.
It wasn’t until 1994 when Steve Jackson Games tried again, releasing Illuminati: New World Order [sjgames.com] as a trading card game.
In 1994 I was old enough to understand and to see behind the curtain. To know who the players were:
To understand the groups involved…
And to understand their tools:
Alas, no one is keeping the things up to date: Brexit, Trump, Hilary’s emails, Harambe, QAnon, TPP, Elon Musk, Amazon, i-devices… and so much more. How will people know the truth? Or are we all doomed to be puppets?
Less than two weeks to go to the 2020 US election… greatest show on earth, the US election; can’t make this shit up: megalomaniacal fascist vs demential pederast both up to their ears in corruption nepotism. Or so social media “the feeds” as Spider Jerusalem would scream, tell us. Or at least tell me as best as I can follow in my personal filter bubble.
Actually, you can make this shit up, and Warren Ellis did, in his comic Transmetropolitan [wikipedia.org], specifically in the The Year of the Bastard story arc where the protagonist, Spider Jerusalem takes on both the incumbent and challenger in a eerily predictive dystopian presidential election. How eerily predictive? Well… the candidates are neo-nazi/American fascists, fake smile authoritarians, nepotistic, corrupt scum bags. Either straight up spewing their white supremacy or hiding their secret cabal of power faces behind a made-for-the-media facade. You have to read it; it’s drug addled cyberpunk crazy written at the turn of the century under Clinton and Bush the younger and is somehow more relevant than ever. I mean when you set aside the fact that eating tank grown people and injecting Ebola is day-to-day normal in The City. It’s not for everyone…
This is the fourth presidential election I have watched from afar. And each one, with the exception of 2012, seems like one more step along the path to some sort of end-of-the-American-experiment. The polarization and breakdown of what made the system work is soul crushing.
Ok. Enough election depression for the day. But I have one more election inspired trip back to the 90’s to post before November third. Oh the antici……pation.
I’m sure it’s not an original thought but I think the reason so many people don’t trust the government or any authority and are so high on conspiracy theories is they watched too much X Files back in the 90’s.
My older daughter is watching the X Files and its realise that everyone is Mulder now days. Everyone is lying and there is some grand conspiracy to hide the truth from the public. There is a bunch of shady old men behind the curtain orchestrating the grand conspiracy.
Too many Mulders and none of them listening to any of the Scullys.
“Mulder, the Internet is not good for you.”Dana Scully, The X-Files, Season 10: Mulder & Scully Meet the Were-Monster
I’ve been very lazy and not posted anything here in a month or so. Not that I don’t have things to say but I’m working full time from home and the idea of sitting down in from of the computer to write a blog post has been, um, unappealing. Anyway…
I’m going to take the easy way out and post the transcript of a conversation with a friend over WhatsApp about the state of the US. My friend is Swedish so his view is totally non-American and I’ve lived outside America for 16 years so mine is colored with overseas experience.
The conversation was over a week ago, so the trigger is old news; the shooting of two police officers sitting in their patrol car in LA:
N****** : Fuck, USA is really imploding
beggs : That’s Compton. Been like that my whole life.
beggs : But, yea the US is imploding…
N****** : Last time I think the west was at this stage was domestic left wing terrorism in the 70s
beggs : Let’s see what happens come the election. See if we have an outcome and people accept it.
N****** : And I count for democracies, not in dictatorships, like Greece or Spain
beggs : If things really go south with the US election and Britain fucks Brexit again then we can rephrase it to “last time the west was at this stage was the facism of the 30s.”
N****** : [RE: beggs: Let’s see what happens come the election…] Do you think the majority middle will stand up and deny the extremes their ability to wrench havoc
N****** : [RE: beggs: If things go south with the US election…] Very likely that strong right wing dictatorships would arise
beggs : The biggest problem will be that many places will take days to count the mail in votes. They legally can’t start till the polls close on Election Day in places. And it’s manual often too. So we won’t know for several days… and mail in voting skews Democrat by about 20 percentage points most years according to something I read in The Economist.
beggs : So Trump could declare victory on Election night based in votes cast that day in swing states and then a few days later they announce he lost due to mail in votes, hence all the bitching and fear mongering about mail in voting. I can’t see trump accepting that, he just can’t accept losing anything.
N****** : I heard a theory about what the real goal of China and Russia is
N****** : they don’t care who wins, they only want to create distrust in the process
N****** : cause that could create a more authoritarian system in the future
beggs : Maybe but I don’t see either wanting a more authoritarian US, I think they would prefer a more chaotic and divided US. Too distracted by its own domestic shit to care about playing global cop. But Trump is perfect if they do want more authoritarian. Can’t stand to lose and totally willing to use force against anyone not stoking his ego.
N****** : Yea, case in point he creates chaos
beggs : As for the cops getting shot: I haven’t read about it but some gang banger shooting cops in Compton is par for the course. But protesters blocking the emergency room and changing let them die… this is a major funk up. Discrediting the valid arguments and protests of BLM. The movement lacks a visionary leader like MLK. Someone who can turn the anger into a constructive push for chance and hold the masses together so it does not become a mob.
beggs : The last time we had substantive change in institutional racism in the US was in the 60s. And the sustained, (mostly?) non-violent, non-mob, non-looting protest movement was key to that. Burning down buildings and shooting cops does not bring about change. Just proves the other side right, you are a menace. As long as you are a violent menace they hold the moral high ground and can write off the “protests” as riots, as a problem to be cured —by force— not as a symptom of the larger problem which needs to be addressed. cure.
And since I’ve waited so long to post this I can add this conversation, triggered by the first debate:
N****** : I think there is a small risk the USA could get into a civil war, it’s just crazy
beggs : Really? I didn’t watch the debate. Was it that bad?
N****** : It was like a 5 year old screaming in the sandbox
beggs : It was the same last time. He just would not shut up.
N******: Due to all the normalization of his behavior over the years we have almost completely lost the idea of how bad he really is
N******: But that is the behavior of the online era
N******’s last comment is spot on. Trump really is the personification of how people “talk” online: tl;dr, “my opinion is best”, “I’m right, you’re wrong”, “you’re a Nazi”… Trump is the real world personification of a name calling, alternative fact spewing, know-it-all, troll. The debate was one step from someone invoking Godwin’s law [wikipedia.org]. And I’m surprised someone didn’t, I guess it’s cause Trumps supporters are most often called out as fascists and Biden was trying to be more… political? Dignified? Fuck I don’t know. You’re not supposed to straight up call your opponents names. You’re supposed to disagree with their position not their existence. Trump has normalized so much shitty behavior for a politician.