Monday, April 25, 2016

Debunkery - The Floral Print Edition

Sometimes debunking conservative memes is like shooting fish in a barrel.  Like with this one:

This is how you know that conservatives just don’t understand the situation.  People like Klinger, who last I checked, isn’t even a real person, aren’t the ones fighting for the right to use the women’s restroom. (Let alone hiding out in there and waiting to ambush women.)

MASH was a TV comedy and Klinger was a joke.  (Except for being a Toledo Mudhens and Tony Packo’s hot dog fan; that was totally legit.)  Using this character to back up prejudicial claims shows how weak a hand they’re trying to play.  It’s another symptom of the general GOP promotion of ignorance.  The truth is complicated, but everyone can understand biased generalizations (with a touch of dick fear).

The people affected by this issue are those with recognized psychological conditions… they identify, usually from birth, as a member of the opposite sex.  They live their lives as they feel they were meant to be, often times going through surgery or hormonal therapy.  These aren’t just dudes traipsing around in a dress for the hell of it.

Again I say, show me where there’s been an attack in a women’s restroom by a guy wearing women’s clothing.  It’s just not happening.  Fox “News” even admitted that this is a solution in search of a problem.   But I wouldn’t put it past conservatives to send some guys in dresses out into the women’s rooms just to make a scene, so they can go, “See?  There it is. We told you so.”

I think this is a bunch of rednecks finding a way to send some select “prey” into the men’s rooms for the sole purpose of getting their asses kicked.  Transgendered men living as women are the only ones at risk in this whole equation.

And I’m pretty sure that’s exactly the way Republicans want it.


Going hand in hand with the Klinger meme, I also spotted this one:

First off, this isn’t necessarily a conservative meme, although the person who posted it definitely was.  The bottom half is all about Congress and an appeal for term limits, using the Social Security system as a wedge.  But what pissed me off was the opening line about the media.  That’s a traditional “Kill the messenger” GOP strategy.

The thing is, it wasn’t the media that wrote and passed these repressive “bathroom laws,” it was the Republicans.  It’s the media’s job to report on what politicians do, especially when there is an uproar about it, and that’s what they’re doing. 

If a state government passes and enacts a law in a two-day span that’s so reprehensible that major business abort plans there and national touring acts cancel shows, in what world is that not going to be reported?  Not to do so would be a gross dereliction of duty on the part of the media.

What I ask instead is: why is a governmental body so concerned about so few people?  The number of transgendered Americans is estimated to be about 700,000, or 0.3% of the population.  Contrast that with the estimated number of LGB Americans, which is 8 million, or 3.5%.

Think in personal terms.  I can name (after a minute of consideration) more than a half dozen gay or lesbian friends or acquaintances (not including their significant others).  But the number of trans people?  None.  Maybe I’m sheltered (I don’t think so), but I don’t know any. 

Maybe that’s why it seems so easy for people to shit on trans people… they don’t know any and therefore, don’t really understand the condition or surrounding issues.  People fear what they don’t understand.

It was the same with gays for the longest time; then the more people came out, the more people who knew them changed their attitudes, until we are finally where we’re at today, in terms of acceptance.  (Which is not all the way there, by any means, but a hell of a lot further than we used to be.)

The meme is right on one thing: legislation like this bathroom law IS a distraction issue; it’s just that it’s not those reporting the issue at fault; it’s the creators of the issues.  They know as long as we’re fighting over self-created problems, we’re not looking for solutions to real problems from an ineffective government.

Monday, April 18, 2016

More Quick Hits and Odd Bits

Hey Bluz, what do you think about…

…the boycott of North Carolina?  National politics gets an awful lot of attention but the real news is happening at the local level.  Once you have one-party rule between a governor and state representative bodies, just about anything can get put into law.

That’s what happened with this mess in North Carolina, where the legislature borrowed language from a conservative website (specializing in creating legal language for use in bills), rammed it through the legislature in a single day and had the governor sign it the next day.

This wildfire process was executed because the city of Charlotte dared to pass their own “equal protections” law, which included discrimination shields for sexual orientation and gender identification.  The state law contained a whole slew of rollbacks, including the infamous “bathroom of your biological origin” edict.  It also banned municipalities from instituting their own protections, banned people for suing the state over the issue, and just for shits and giggles, prevented any municipality from raising its minimum wage.

Because the country has progressed so far in accepting the existence of gays and transgenders, (especially among the young, money-spending generations), businesses have stepped up to the plate to take direct actions in sanctioning the state.

PayPal and Deutsche Bank abandoned plans to build facilities there.  CEOs of more than 80 corporations signed a letter condemning the law and hinted at taking further action.  Several music acts have cancelled shows, including Bruce Springsteen, and Ringo Starr.

In response, the governor issued an “executive order,” which he claimed addressed the concerns of those opposed to the law.  Unfortunately, the executive order doesn’t really do anything to change the conditions on the ground or in the bathrooms.

I really don’t get this whole bathroom thing. Why are conservatives so obsessed over who’s in the bathroom?  They claim it’s all about safety, but that’s about as valid as their claim that their Voter ID laws are all about stopping voter fraud.

It seems to me they’re running in a blind panic over the prospect that there are people out there who they don’t understand in the least, and who might have to pee.  Like with the “voter fraud” issue, they’re putting out draconian laws designed to prevent a problem that’s not really a problem.

Show me one headline about some guy dressed like a girl, camping out in the bathroom with the intent to harm or perv on the other bathroom users.  You can’t.  It’s a solution in search of a problem, which just happens (coincidentally!) to go hand in hand with a Bible Belt government trying merge church and state... and making sure gays don't get too big for their britches.

You think a trans guy dressed as a woman is going to feel safe in the men's room?  I'm sure that's part of the plan too... GOP Trans Therapy!  By getting their asses kicked in men's rooms, someone just might knock some sense into them.

Maybe cooler heads will prevail in North Carolina when enough economic pressure is brought to bear, but I doubt it.  You can’t pressure ideologues. 

Just look at Kansas.  Their entire state is falling apart due directly to unchallenged Republican leadership instituting Republican tax and budget policies.  Within a year of said changes, they have a huge deficit and no money for education or infrastructure.  But have they reversed course?  Absolutely not.  Have you ever heard a Republican admit a mistake?  You think there’s any possible way they’ll admit that top-side, trickle-down economics works for anyone but the top side?

I just wonder what’s going to happen in Mississippi.  They passed a law similar to North Carolina’s, but as far as I can see, there’s nowhere near the same corporate disincentive effort going on.  I suspect it’s because there aren’t that many businesses looking to move into Mississippi in the first place. 

…Axl Rose joining AC/DC to finish off their current tour?  I was really hoping it wouldn’t come to this.  I mean, Axl Rose is a great lead singer… for Guns & Roses.  I heard a clip on the radio this morning, of Angus Young joining G&R on stage at Coachella over the weekend, to play “Whole Lotta Rosie.”  Axl sounded great.  But he’s a head case.

AC/DC is known for soldiering on under any circumstances.  They show up, they play their asses off, rock your world, and move on to the next town.  They’re professionals.

Guns & Roses history has been littered with inconsistency and unreliability, mostly due to their temperamental lead singer.  If you have tickets to a G&R show, you never know when (or if) it’s going to start.  You’re lucky if it’s only an hour or so late.

I was kind of hoping they’d find some guy in an AC/DC tribute band and give him the gig.  Maybe they could have gotten two… one to do the Bon Scott songs and one to do Brian Johnson's. 

…the Fart Barrier?  Last month, I saw this article online, which trumpeted the headline: “Here’s When it’s OK to Start Openly Farting in a Relationship.” 

I was probably overly optimistic that it would prove in any way useful, but I couldn’t pass up that kind of click-bait.  Turned out to be a small survey (only 129 responses), which showed a whole myriad of opinions.

Two descriptions are missing: Red 7% wedge at the top- “I will never, ever fart in front of a significant Other.” Purple 8.5% wedge- “Other.”

My answer would probably be to wait to see how my significant other handles it.  I’ve had a variety of scenarios in the past.  One would fart any time she felt the need, to the point where we’d be sitting on the couch and I’d have to say, “Hon, would you please point that thing the other way?  I can feel the lesions forming on my lungs.”

Another basically denied she even had a digestive system of any kind, so any acknowledgement to the contrary was met with a withering stare.  As far as she was concerned, her asshole was there merely for ornamental purposes.  (And no, I don’t mean ME!)

Anyway, I don’t have anything much to say on the subject… I just can’t believe that someone actually put forth the effort into a fart survey.  I think it probably started as a bar argument and blasted out from there.

…the Light City show you saw getting set up when you were showing Kernut around the Harbor?  Right, as we were walking around the Harbor back in late March, we saw the set-up in progress for a big light show extravaganza.  So when the exhibition opened that week, Sitcom Kelly and I had a happy hour and then took a walk down through the exhibits to see what we could see.

The verdict?  Some things were really cool, others were kind of ‘meh.’  I think the bottom line was that there should have been more things to see.  Or maybe we just didn’t go far enough, because it was crowded and kind of cold out.  But here are a couple of the cool things we saw:

This was my favorite.

We saw these being set up on Saturday and they were all white in the daylight.  At night, they changed colors throughout.

Old Glory, via little boats.

This was the 7-Foot Knoll Lighthouse that Kernut was so keen to see, with sheets of lights hung from it, which functioned like a scoreboard light display.

This was Sitcom Kelly’s favorite exhibit.

…the Penguins’ Stanley Cup run?  I’ll spare you the dedicated jersey mojo post this year because there was a game changer. 

Ever since I got these two jerseys in March, the Penguins went 13-2 when I was wearing them.  The black Malkin was 6-1 and the white Ron Francis was 7-1, with the loss coming in the last game, played with 6 starters missing.  I’m obviously going to work these two jerseys throughout the playoffs, assuming they survive the Rangers series (which is tied 1-1)

But it was a strange season, mojo-wise.  My main “away” jersey, a white Sidney Crosby, was 0-8.  The only reason I kept going back to it was because my only other current white jersey belongs to a player who’s gone.

I also spent 20 games wearing no jersey at all.  Granted, most of those were late-starting, west coast games, but there was a number of games where I just didn’t feel like getting up to change, or I wasn’t at home.  Or I was watching something more compelling on network TV.  Turned out the Pens went 10-10 when I wasn’t wearing a jersey.  Dressing neutrally ensured a neutral result.  Huh. 

That’s science right there.

Monday, April 11, 2016

How You Can Tell if I'm Losing my Shit

I’m so happy to see baseball season here again!  I’ve been to two games so far, Wednesday night and Sunday afternoon.

This year, I resolved not to make the mistake of buying tickets when they first go on sale.  Every time I do that; when game day comes, it’s crappy out.  So this year I vowed not to buy any tickets until I’ve seen a weather forecast.  I went Wednesday because it was the first game after Opening Day and I was pretty antsy to go see a game.

It’s funny… Opening Day drew a sellout crowd… 44,000-plus people.  The very next game?  Not so much.

Attendance announced at 12,600. Most were dressed as empty seats.

What a difference between the first and second games of the year.

I had a nice spot, 1st row of the upper deck, behind home plate.  But it was cold and windy and I was rapidly having less fun as the night went on.  With the Orioles up 4-1, I made a break for it in the 6th inning and was home in time to watch the end.

Sunday, I saw it would still be cold, but sunny.  Game time temperature was about 48.  But I bought a seat where I knew I’d be in the sun the whole time; 3rd row up from the left field wall.  It was fun and I got on TV again.  (I’d run the picture but due to my Orioles hoodie, I’m only identifiable as a big orange blob.)

These two games were the first times I ever tried to use the “iPhone Wallet” app.  When I got my tickets, I had the options to print or add to Wallet app, or both.  I did both, for a couple of reasons.

First, I wanted to try the Wallet app because it’s the new shiny thing.  And it’s easier to deal with than trying to fish the paper ticket out of my pocket.  I have to have my phone out of my pocket anyway, when I go through the entrance metal detector.

My e-ticket from Sunday.

But I still like to have the paper ticket for the souvenir and for tradition.  Having both means of ticketing allows me to have a backup system in case something goes wrong, like if I lose the paper ticket or my phone runs out of juice.  (I won’t even consider the possibility of losing the phone.)

As you may know, I keep all my stubs and after the game, record the score and attendance on them.  Sitcom Kelly and I have had extensive conversations about my ticketing quirks, for example, that I don’t like printing paper tickets (although not so much that I forego the convenience of buying tickets online over getting standard cardboard tickets from the box office). 

The paper tickets are printed on a full page; then after the game, I cut out the “ticket-shaped” portion for permanent storage.  I always print them in color too; the better to simulate a traditional ticket stub.

Last summer, Sitcom Kelly and I were going to a game and she ordered our tickets online.  When she gave them to me, she said, “Sorry, there’s a fold in the ticket.”

I said, “That’s OK, I’ll smooth it out with the iron when I get home.”

I was totally joking, but she never even questioned it.  She just assumed it was just another one of those weird things I do.  She’s so used to all my strange habits and quirks; she figured this was just one more.

It cracked me up because it made me wonder what exactly I’d have to do in order for my friends to think I lost my marbles.  See, it wouldn’t be the normal stuff… It’d have to be on a whole different plane.

So as a public service... or rather, a personal service, here’s a list of ways you can tell if Bluz’s elevator is no longer going all the way to the top:

  • You see him eating vegetables with more than one syllable.
  • He only takes one trip through the buffet line.
  • He watches PBS.
  • He finds his car in a crowded parking lot, right away.
  • He turns on a Top-40 radio station.  Or any radio station.
  • He books a trip to a third-world country.  On purpose.
  • You hear him say, “No, I don’t want another drink.”
  • He says something nice about the Baltimore Ravens.
  • Wears an item of clothing without mojo implications, on game day.
  • He answers the phone when the caller ID says “Unavailable.”
  • He approaches a stranger and starts a conversation.
  • He goes for a drive.
  • He turns on a golf match on TV.
  • He opens the hood of his car, without jumper cables or windshield washer fluid in his hands.
  • He puts small, decorative pillows on the bed.
  • You see him cleaning behind a large appliance or piece of furniture.
  • He’s jogging.

Please; if you should witness this or any similar activity, please summon a representative from the Charm City Home for the Bewildered.

Monday, April 4, 2016

The Royal We

I could not WAIT to tell you about this, but alas, I had to because my day with Kernut had to come first.  But still, get a load of the dream I had last week.

I dreamt I was the recently-crowned King of a small African country.

Seriously!  I couldn't believe it my own self!

But you know how it is with dreams... No matter how far-fetched and ridiculous, in the dream, it all makes perfect sense and you just go with it.  And I totally went with it.  Here's how it went.

The dream began with me being set up in a kind of kingly bedroom/ready room, just off the main "throne room."  It wasn't traditionally opulent, but it was nice, like a very old but upscale hotel suite.  It was kind of dark, with plush drapery.  And that's when it hit me that I was now King of an African nation.  Which nation?  I have no idea. For purposes of this post, I'll call it "Burundi," as referenced in the 1993 movie, "Dave."
 "They know hats in Burundi."

That totally works for me, because I know hats in Baltimore.

As I was getting set up, someone from the Royal Staff brought me breakfast, which was cool.  But the eggs were runny, which was decidedly uncool.  I debated with myself as to whether or not I should send them back, because, in my non-dream world, I rarely send my food back, for anything short of an insect infestation. But then I thought, "Well hell, I'm King, after all... I can send my food back if I want to!"

And at that moment within the dream, I celebrated the fact that I could now quote Mel Brooks' "History of the World" and mean it when I say, 

As I waited for my less runny eggs, I began to consider the work before me.  I liked this gig, so I figured I'd better be a good King; a benevolent King; a King who got shit done.  My first decision was that I'd need to get a computer in the room immediately.  I'd need it to keep up with current events and to learn about my new domain.  I also decided to wear regular clothes, to better look the part of Man of the People.  No fancy robes or scepters for this guy.

My next thoughts were for my "subjects."  What would they need to make their lives better? Jobs!  If people were busy making a good living, they'd have less time to plot my overthrow, wouldn't they?  

So how would I get them jobs?

Aha!  They could build a wall, to keep out the neighboring country, with whom we were at war.

Yes, I know, you don't have to tell me.  Here I am proposing an idea straight from the Trump camp.  My subconscious is guilty as charged, although there ARE some key differences.

First, we, (the good people of Burundi and I), were being attacked by a bordering nation, so it was a public safety and security issue.

Second, my regime was paying for the labor, and you bet your ass my worksites would have been OSHA-approved.

Third, look; I'd only been on the job for a couple of minutes... And I hadn't even eaten breakfast yet.  I'm sure I'd have come up with something else shortly.  I was just spit-balling there.

Next, I realized that providing jobs was only part of the solution.  I had to publicize my plans.  But how?

I decided I needed to set up a Twitter account, like @KingBluz or something, but I had to wait until I got the computer I just asked for.  So much to do and there I was, waiting for tech support, like a peasant. And where were my damned eggs?

Luckily I stopped myself short of demanding everyone's heads.  Only five minutes into the job and I was already flirting with becoming a primadonna.

For the rest of the night, I was in and out of dreaming sleep, but in those half-asleep stages, I kept returning to my royal duties and grand plans for the good people of Burundi.

I woke up with the radio, as usual, listened to the news, and thought about the day's business ahead, (none of which had to do with walls or Royal Twitter accounts).  I got out of bed to begin my morning   Suddenly, in the shower, the details of the dream came washing over me and I was like, "Holy shit!  Where the hell did THAT come from?  What the F..."

It's good to start the day off with a laugh.

Oftentimes, when I'm off on a rant, I'll say something like, "When I become King, I'll make a law..."

Well damned if I didn't just get the chance.  I just wish I could have worn the crown for more than 10 minutes.  Burundi would never be the same.