Category “99 problems”

The Kids Aren’t Alright

The Kids Aren’t Alright

The other day Spotify asked if I wanted to listen to a Throwback playlist it created for me. That’s how I ended up jogging to The Offspring and having the best hate-run ever. Why is it so easy to run fast when you are angry? Is it because “war is a force that gives us meaning“?  The next thought that went through my mind is “Paul Ryan and Donald Trump and all the stupid Republicans would feel so much better if they could run to The Offspring and work out their aggressions.”

But of course that’s silly. Paul Ryan probably DOES work out to some form of angry music, and Donald Trump… well, self-discipline isn’t his thing.

My mind can’t stop puzzling over what on earth is happening to the US, and what we can do about it. Luckily almost everyone else in the US is puzzling over this too – from the people in my family who keep spamming me with alt-right propaganda emails, to the center-left journalists trying to find answers… in a hostile working environment, no less, and for digital news agencies reportedly struggling to stay solvent.

I have read a few articles that seem to shed some light into what is going on… although it is increasingly difficult to understand if I’m asleep in the echo chambers (in the words of John McCain). Oh well! I’ll share anyway.

Why Conservatives are More Susceptible to Believing Lies by John Ehrenreich

Holy incendiary article title, Batman! I felt a little guilty even clicking on this article. But the main points are pretty fascinating and don’t seem to be horribly derogatory to conservatives, namely:

– Finding facts and pursuing evidence and trusting science is part of liberal ideology itself. For many conservatives, faith and intuition and trust in revealed truth appear as equally valid sources of truth.

– Freud distinguished between “errors” on the one hand, “illusions” and “delusions” on the other. Errors, he argued, simply reflect lack of knowledge or poor logic; Aristotle’s belief that vermin form out of dung was an error. But illusions and delusions are based on conscious or unconscious wishes; Columbus’s belief that he had found a new route to the Indies was a delusion based on his wish that he had done so.

Although Freud is out of favor with many contemporary psychologists, modern cognitive psychology suggests that he was on the right track. The tenacity of many of the right’s beliefs in the face of evidence, rational arguments, and common sense suggest that these beliefs are not merely alternate interpretations of facts but are instead illusions rooted in unconscious wishes.



Well, there you go. These two points, for me, solve a big part of my personal quandary: “I used to love my Republican relatives, but now they seem evil. Were they always evil? How can people spout a never-ending torrent of bigoted lies, and not be evil?”

The answer seems to be… “Your Republican relatives (and mine), have a faith-based operating system that might be described, using the language of tech, as more susceptible to an Illusions Rooted in Unconscious Wishes Virus.”

I’m not saying that I’m immune, or that all Democrats are. I’m also not saying that this explanation for Republican zombiehood is an excuse for it, or that it mitigates the real evil their party is wreaking upon our planet.

However, I do feel a LOT better now that I’ve come across an explanation other than:  “People are just naturally bad”  or  “Your relatives were always evil”!

I wanted to talk about a few more articles here, but this blog post is already way too long. So I’ll just link to one more:

America is Facing an Epistemic Crisis by David Roberts

Here’s a sample:

“The US is experiencing a deep epistemic breach, a split not just in what we value or want, but in who we trust, how we come to know things, and what we believe we know — what we believe exists, is true, has happened and is happening.”


Take it from Dexter Holland of The Offspring:
“The cruelest dream: reality.”

Defenceless under the night
Our world in stupor lies;
Yet, dotted everywhere,
Ironic points of light
Flash out wherever the Just
Exchange their messages:
May I, composed like them
Of Eros and of dust,
Beleaguered by the same
Negation and despair,
Show an affirming flame.

from September 1, 1939 by W.H. Auden



“A woman must continually watch herself. She is almost continually accompanied by her own image of herself. Whilst she is walking across a room or whilst she is weeping at the death of her father, she can scarcely avoid envisaging herself walking or weeping. From earliest childhood she has been taught and persuaded to survey herself continually. And so she comes to consider the surveyor and the surveyed within her as the two constituent yet always distinct elements of her identity as a woman. She has to survey everything she is and everything she does because how she appears to men, is of crucial importance for what is normally thought of as the success of her life. Her own sense of being in herself is supplanted by a sense of being appreciated as herself by another….

One might simplify this by saying: men act and women appear. Men look at women. Women watch themselves being looked at. This determines not only most relations between men and women but also the relation of women to themselves. The surveyor of woman in herself is male: the surveyed female. Thus she turns herself into an object — and most particularly an object of vision: a sight.”
― John Berger, Ways of Seeing

“Drawing is a constant correction of errors”

Maybe looking in the mirror is a sort of constant correction of errors as well-

In / Balance

In / Balance

Here’s the eponymous track by San Scout, which is gloomy enough for 2017. It’s kind of danceable. But I’m never going to dance again – the way I danced with you, anyway.

The gross gross state of American politics seems particularly unbalanced right now. Gross gross gross.

In the midst of all this, I keep hearing negative things about Gwyneth Paltrow’s, you know, whatever-thing, “Goop”. And I think “WHO CARES!!!!” Who has the negative energy left to SPARE to hate on Gwyneth?? People obviously need SOMETHING to make them feel good right now. At least Gwyneth is promoting reasonably truthful concepts, like:

1. something is wrong with you, and
2. you have the power to change it

If you want to try a jade vagina egg to fix your life – go for it. The ability to try new things in pursuit of a solution is much more important than whether the solution actually fixes you. The pursuit of happiness is a worthwhile endeavor.


In pursuit of my own happiness (always), I watched Get Out. I really enjoyed it. One of the songs in the movie is “Redbone” by Donald Glover and when that song came on, I felt so happy to be seeing the movie and so impressed by it. I had this weird sense of PRIDE. Why pride? I’m not really sure. I had absolutely zero to do with the making of the song or the making of the movie. Maybe a better word is fellowship. I had a strong sense of fellowship encompassing the fictional black hero of the movie, the African-American struggle for equality, and the creatives who made the movie (including Jordan Peele and Donald Glover). I mean, it’s a pretty awesome film that makes you feel all those feels at once.

For me, this was a great example of the uplifting power of art. I’ve written a few blog posts lately that have roughly the same main idea… the Trump administration = bad/sad, art = good/happy. But seeing Get Out made me realize the stuff I’ve been hinting at is actually absolutely true. The American political landscape is beyond bleak right now. It is horrific and tragic. This is having a massive impact on my mental landscape. But when I see a strong creative work, I feel inspired to keep going. The fellowship of the creative truth-tellers is strong and real, and you don’t have to meet the artists in person (or share their race or ethnic background) to be sustained by their work.

Eyelash in the Eye

Eyelash in the Eye

2017 is going to be the year that the 99 problems make it to zine form. I can feel it. It’s happening. Probably.