Autism is not a disease; Why I hate anti-vaxers

“The Cow-Pock -or- The Wonderful Effects of the New Inoculation!”
James Gillray 1802

A few nights ago I was tabling an event for the bookstore collective I am a member of. (for the uninitiated ‘tabling’ is were you take the collective’s merchandise to a book fair, flea market, anti-capitalists-only orgy etc, with a view to selling the merch, and raising awareness of your collective.) As is wont to happen in such a situation when any anti-establishment type is out and about in the capacity of the on sight radical; a terrible person decided to talk to me. This is something that happens a lot, people who believe that the twin towers were brought down by a controlled explosion, because the only thing the airplanes had in them were chem-trail tanks, seem to think that because you believe that the ruling class’ interests are almost never aligned with your own, that you’ll agree with them, as both your world views are minority ones.

This specific crazy person wanted to talk about toxins in the water and air, and their effect on our precious bodily fluids (giggle with me Strangelove fans). His specific problem is that modern fetuses are apparently gestating in 25 alien toxins and that women (for some reason he specified young women) need detoxify themselves before planning a pregnancy, his evidence for this was the rise in kids in special education classes, specifically for being identified as on the autism spectrum (A.S.D). This line of argument about the results of weird stuff various powerful people do to us has always irked me as apart from the fact that, as far as we can tell, that isn’t even close to how autism works, the whole argument is premised on the idea that Autistic people are in some way broken, and nowhere is this more prevalent that the trend of hippies not vaccinating their kids.

As mentioned previously in this blog, I have Dyslexia; Autism’s cute sibling. So I tend to get jumpy and frustrated when people suggest that the structure of people’s brains and thought patterns and as a result a large factor in their personality is an indication of illness to be corrected rather than just of difference to be understood. This said I’m not pretending these are social equivalents; where as a lot of people are so fond of using the condition as side-effect-of-nefariousgovernmental-shit de-jour  for some reason people find Dyslexics fucking adorable. People think of Autistic people as a fundamental societal problem, where as I am a cutesy, fun, and something most people think they are a bit because they misspelled something that one time in college on a dare and liked it. The way people treat me is frustrating, but it’s not like it gets me shot.

I understand there is a problem with autism, however that problem is how we – the non autistic – choose to interact with autistic people. It would do us all well to remember that aspergers was only identified in 1981 and only started appearing in general medical literature a decade later so the time-frame medical science has had to document and understand the full variety of A.S.D. conditions out there is limited. This means there are large gaps in popular understanding of the science leading to people like Jenny McCarthy claiming to have “cured” her son’s autism, rather than theorize that he might have been misdiagnosed somewhere along the line, something that is not uncommon in the world of neural science particularly when dealing with potential barriers to traditional learning processes, particularly when what we are talking about has less than Forty years of medical documentation regarding it.

This is not just some harmless idiocy, you don’t cure Autism any more than you can cure being left-handed. Ms McCarthy and others like her advocating a dangerous view of Autism as just something they inject into kids with vaccines and gluten, has undoubtedly sentenced a significant number of people to feelings of inadequacy and isolation from their well-meaning families and potential advancement in life because they just ‘weren’t trying hard enough’ to not be Autistic. Having had a parent who grew up Dyslexic in a time and place where they just called that ‘being stupid and lazy’, I very much resent that.

Just to be clear A.S.D.s are, for the most part, not the problem. Society and the way we treat and interact with people on the Autism scale is. It is also not new, despite not having been established as a condition until very recently. As the diagnosis was and is based on characterises that people have displayed for centuries. I will admit it is sometimes frustrating and difficult to interact with someone with an A.S.D. condition; It is equally frustrating and difficult for an exclusive English speaker to interact with someone who just speaks Mandarin, as not only would the two people have a language barrier, they would have limited amounts of culturally norms in common. A.S.D.s, rather like a lot of different neural structures, are fundamentally a series of conditions that make communication with the outside world  harder as opposed to effecting intelligence; the only thing ‘wrong’ with an Autistic person is that the society they live in isn’t built or conditioned for them to live in it, and the more we keep thinking of A.S.D.s as illnesses rather than natural conditions, the longer we are going to continue to cruelly make people with A.S.D.s suffer marginalization and exclusion because we keep insisting that they’re the ones who need to adapt to us and never vice versa.

There are a lot of legitimate social discussions to be had over why people are suspicious of vaccines; an unwillingness by Doctors to explain why they’re safe; a rise in popularity of the idea of self-care; the fact that Pharmaceutical companies do in fact do some sketchy shit more often than not; the fact that Autism is generally misunderstood by the public; just plain ignorance. Whatever the merits of this discussion are, I would have a lot more time and sympathy for it if those who want to talk about the safety of various medicines didn’t keep rounding back to the idea that absolutely anything, including Measles and Polio is better than a child whose conception of the world is wholly different to yours. There are more concise and better worked out explanations as to why vaccines are good and necessary in the Internet; I’m not a medical professional or a scientist so I’m not going to pretend to argue those points. However If you are reading this and you are against vaccines; I would really appreciate if you stop insisting that Autistic people are broken to prop up your argument.

Hey though, at least he's not some sort of Autistic freak

Hey though, at least he’s not some sort of Autistic freak

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Terror from the white man’s grave. Ebola and the legacy of colonialism.

 “White Man’s Grave” – (archaic) Africa, or more specifically, western Africa or Sierra Leone by extension, any other land subject to Western colonialism or missionizing that is comparably deadly. 

 – wiktionary.org

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I haven’t been following the spread of Ebola for the same reason I didn’t follow with any great interest the spread of Bird flu or Swine Flu. These things are tragic and it’s entirely reasonable for governments and organisations that have the resources, to contribute to trying to stem and eventually eradicate  the diseases, and it’s good that news keeps everyone up to date on what, if anything, they need to do if there is ever a possibility of infections spreading etc. The things that have made me get interested in Ebola how weird everyone is around the fact that this diseases  is happening in countries in West Africa. Unlike Bird or Swine Flu, Ebola seems to have taken on a radioactive element requiring the drawbridges to be drawn up and anyone who might have been near anyone who touched anyone who might have had Ebola needs to be expelled or imprisoned. Ebola is different because it carries with it the bestial image of Africans and the violent inhuman lives and deaths they have that have been drilled into white people – specifically Europeans and Americans – for centuries.

The first troubling aspect of this phenomena is that a lot of people don’t seem to understand that this is an environmental condition caught by people in a very specific part of the world and anyone who has extended, intimate contact with those people. This has come out in a lot of ways from a drop off in contact with established West African communities who’ve been living in the United States for years to quarantining people who have been to Kenya, despite the fact that London is Closer to the outbreak than Nairobi by nearly a thousand miles.

I could say something clever like this is the geographic equivalent of Quarantining people from London because of an outbreak in Tehran. But it isn’t is it? Whilst the idea of London and Tehran having anything but the letter ‘n’ in common is laughable; Africa and Africans inhabit a vague area in the western popular imagination, we don’t think of Kenyans or Liberians or Malawians, we don’t even think of Kanuris or Mandens or Bantus; we just think of Africans. Despite immigration from various places on that continent to Europe and America; from generic tribal warriors to starving people pop stars can save; Africans still remain interchangeable bit players in White people’s narrative

(c) National Army Museum; Supplied by The Public Catalogue Foundation

I Say! Fighting the Mad Mahdi is almost as fun as fighting those uppity Zulus!

I Say! Fighting the Mad Mahdi is almost as fun as fighting those uppity Zulus!

Ebola is a good example of this trend of dehumanizing Africans for our own titillation continuing into the twenty-first century. Ebola was identified nearly forty years ago, it’ not as though this is a new terrifying illness, it is possible to treat. However the fact that this disease has been exclusively African until this year adds a level of terror built up by centuries of dispatches from malarial missionaries, or movies and books depicting The continent as fundamentally untamable and unbearable for civilized human beings. Ebola is being treated like A.I.D.s for no reason other than it’s an African sickness that Africans are selfishly getting on our nice white skin, as opposed to politely staying put and quietly waiting to catch whatever variant of Jungle fever they’re likely to get anyway in the manner they are supposed to. No one is too concerned when Africans are suffering in of themselves as that is just to be expecting, and is less interesting to the developed world’s public than two comedians making a prank phone call. The fear comes from a weird disjointed reality were Africa is neither distant nor fun.

The outbreak is happening in a region with much deeper historical ties to  both the United States and Europe than most of the rest of sub-Saharan Africa. This is also the first major outbreak in the region since that region stopped being a war zone, meaning people can leave for work or pleasure, like they’re people and not Zombies grappling to destroy the last enclave of humanity. The idea that our only responsibility is to make sure that the walls of the disease pit are well-greased for our own protection, is evident in the weird way certain outlets are grumbling about committing resources to combat a sickness in a country we have connections with as somehow motivated by white guilt as opposed to self-interest.

The apparent blind terror portrayed by the media in the developed world over Ebola has very little to do with anyone’s actual fears or the relative deadliness of Ebola. It has everything to with a long history of cultural dismissal of Africans themselves as not quite as human as we are, meaning we don’t have to worry about their diseases  or suffering, as though these are the results of bad choices or just another stage of development we are immune from as long as Africans don’t get all their poverty all over our stuff. If we as a society lean anything from this latest outbreak of giving a shit about Africa, I hope that it is that we can’t keep shrinking the world with travel and technology whilst also maintaining a profound disinterest in the well-being of  around a billion of our brothers, sisters and sibsters .

Fun Fact: December 20th is Human solidarity day

Fun Fact: December 20th is Human solidarity day


How is it that you lack empathy at this basic a level? Street harrasers and their defenders.

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My use of Facebook has meant that the majority of the blog-posts and online articles I read generally feed into whatever it is I already believe (apart from Reason.com, that’s just for me to hate-read). Being someone who aspires to being a feminist I tend to read a lot of literature put out by those attempting to combat and end street harassment, which lead to me watching the video showing a woman walking alone in NYC, whilst receiving unsolicited comments, judgement and intimidating behavior. I watched this video after getting back from work at 8.30am, went to sleep for three hours. In the time between me falling asleep and waking up, the amount of threats and defensive messages directed at this video had got large enough that websites have been commenting on them. It’s not as though reactions in this vein are new, however the rapidity in turnaround of this particular piece of media activism broke whatever part of myself was trying to understand the societal and educational factors that contribute to seemingly ordinary men harassing strangers on the street. So I really want to know; What the hell do you think you’re doing?

I’m not coming at this from never having been an entitled asshole. When I was fourteen accidentally bruised the ribs of a girl I was into by grabbing her shoulders by surprise to ‘jokingly’ scare her resulting in her having shortness of breath for a few hours. There are at least two women walking around today who I attempted to stay in contact with, well after it was made very clear that they were not interested in me. These things were terrible and assholish but from what I can gather by talking to other people not uncommon, particularly in teenage boys who were brought up in a society that taught and then re-enforced the idea of women and girls as prizes for persistence as opposed to people to interact with. I would like to think I’ve grown up and become a better human being. Thinking back on it I’m pretty sure that in my mind at least there was plausible deniability about any harm I was doing. I was taught very extensively, both that women had all the power in romantic relationships and that as a teenage boy I was simultaneously unimportant and biologically hard-wired to act in a sexually aggressive way; ergo nothing I did too pursue women could intimidate or harm them, and if it did; boys will be boys, amiright? I also grew up in the early to mid 2000s when the wide feedback loop that has become the internet didn’t exist, so there were very few instances were women felt comfortable enough to respond to me being an entitled dick with anything other than silence in the hopes I would get bored and leave them alone.

“See it’s funny and harmless, something something pre-determined biology something something”

If you’re an adult man living in 2014, you have neither of these piss-poor excuses to fall back on, particularly if you are under 40, particularly if you have ever used social media. Even if you lack the ability to read basic social cues in real-time and somehow think that placid non-committal slightly upturned lips followed by quicker walking is somehow an indication of sexual interest; How is it that you continue to think that after reading or listening to any woman say anything about street harassment? I will admit that I’ve haven’t sought out pro-catcalling women that hard but the fact that MRAs haven’t put them front and centre of everything they do makes me assume that they don’t exist. assuming that it’s a kind of one-sided argument, women pretty consistently explain again and again that they would rather not have the idea of being attacked introduced into their daily routine. So far so simple; so Why do dudes keep insisting this is all in good fun?

Take a moment to read the comment board on the lady in NYC video. this last bit is addressed to the dudes who decided to take time out of their day to discredit the video as just showing normal interactions between people;

Dear Bros,

How do you function? Forget that you that your interactions with female identified people is apparently so slim that street harassment has never been anything any woman has ever felt comfortable enough talking to you about; how do you manage to have abstract thoughts considering it is apparently beyond your imagination that the idea of strangers capable of physically overpowering you, taking a sudden, explicitly invasive interest in your body might be scary? On top of this, we live in a society were violence against women is incredibly commonplace, it is actually happening. The fear women have when cat-called isn’t an ineffable one, they are worried about a very specific thing happening when you cat-call. The baffling thing is that most people you know probably don’t think of you as a bad person, which is insane because you apparently can’t summon up the rudimentary empathy to trust that when someone tells you that a certain behavior upsets and intimidates them, they mean it. What is in this for you? Why is it so important too you that the harassment of women on the street continue to be socially acceptable? Whatever it is please just fucking drop it. Every time I read someone dismiss a Woman’s testimony out of hand because she’s some crazy man hating feminazi, I get embarrassed for having a penis, because every time you do I can hear the screaming, entitled boy crying about people letting you know that your actions might have negative effects of those around you. If you think of yourself as a good person please do your fellow human being the courtesy of believing them when they tell you their experiences. Obviously if you’ve just made it through the last thousand words and think I’m just some whipped white knight (by the way, it’s super interesting that you genuinely can’t get your heads around the concept of solidarity), you could just move to Mount Athos – cos bitches be crazy yo!

sh

 

 


A Case of Identity: Why Columbus Day holds Americans back.

columbus2

I just spent my third Columbus day since coming to America bathing cats and surfing the internet. As cleaning a cat is simultaneously upsetting and boring I spent a lot of time reading articles and Facebook posts on why the federal holiday is an embarrassing aberration in this day and age. This wasn’t something confined to the internet; most of my friends (as previously mentioned; a series of Anarchist and Queers, the majority of whom consider the Democratic party right wing) rolled their eyes and sighed at the vulgarity of a parade through south Philadelphia to honor a man who unleashed a wave of masochistic violence, diseases and genocide to firstly Hispaniola, and then the western hemisphere generally, bemoaning that this was not what America stands for.

I really want to believe that. I want to write a long tract about how it is inconceivable in this day and age to celebrate such a man and his works. That Columbus day is a strange aberration to American life, that it’s weird that the United States, a country that occupies none of the territory Columbus walked on, whose primary language is not only not what Columbus spoke, but the language of his state’s enemy, as well as being primarily made up of what he would have thought of as heretics, celebrates him discovering the Caribbean at the beginning of the fall. I could also question the use of Columbus day as a sober, Autumnal Italian St Patrick’s day, considering the full amount of stuff Italian Americans have contributed to the life and culture of the United States without orchestrating a genocide.

Vai squadra?

Oh yeah, this is much better than Pizza.

I would write that, but it’s not true. Christopher Columbus is probably the quintessential historical figure of the Americas, the U.S. in particular. The history of English speaking people on the North American continent is a strange mix of horrific genocide, slavery, theft, democracy and liberty that can’t be separated as much as we try. The idea of a republic in the 18th century cannot be divorced from the idea of slavery any more than the pioneers’ long trail to Oregon and California can be viewed without Christian white supremacy as its central drive. Equally you can’t view Christopher Columbus without separating the fact that without him the civilizations presently occupying the Americas wouldn’t exist without him, and that they exist because extreme violence was brought upon the civilizations that used to exist there.

It’s not nearly as easy to outright condemn Columbus as it should be; don’t get me wrong, Columbus was a terrible human being and it’s a shame there probably isn’t a hell for him to have been languishing in for five hundred years. But why is Columbus the one we decide to single out every year? The $20 bill depicts a man who committed Genocide, Half of American coins have slave owners on them, the great emancipator engaged in summery executions of indigenous peoples whilst preparing to put the emancipation proclamation into effect. The thing that is wrong with Columbus is something that’s wrong with White Americans generally, and yet it’s strange to think that the extermination of indigenous Americans is seen as a separate, peripheral aspect of White American political figures, like a set of wooden teeth or a stove pipe hat, the systemic murder of millions of  people is brushed aside as barely notable to all but a few history enthusiasts, to the point that the first result from Googling the term “Native American Genocide” assumes you’re unaware it happened.

ai-genocide

Europeans are not exempt from this doublethink regarding our history, however we do have the advantage of having been able to leave the places and pretend the whole ugly systematic genocide and exploitation of people of colour never happened. The closest British equivalent to Columbus day, Commonwealth day, used to be called ‘Empire Day’ until it was changed (much like the institution it celebrates) to pretend that Britain’s colonial project was primarily a bilateral community for everyone’s benefit. It’s not celebrated with any kind of parade i know of. European Atrocities outside our continent are largely ignored and not taught instead of being miss taught. for instance, I went to school with a guy from Zimbabwe when I was 17; he was the first person to tell me about the Rhodesian Bush War. I was equally ignorant of the Mau Mau uprising before I learned about it in collage. What we don’t do is try and defend something whose only justification is that White people are fundamentally better than everyone else who need to die to make room; we awkwardly ignore it or we talk about these things as though we are utterly detached from it. After listening to British people talk about the British Empire, it’s easy to come away with the idea that there was some personnel overhaul around about 1935 where vicious money-grubbing imperialists were replaced by Nazi killers and N.H.S. builders.

Europeans can mentally get away with the act of being vague about our murderous past because our self identity isn’t based on it having happened. If there had never been British, French, or Spanish Empires, Britain, France and Spain would still exist. There is definitely space were Spain is, we can argue about were Portugal and France begin, but Spain has definitely always been somewhere in between and filled with Spaniards. America on the other hand was the piece of British territory between the Atlantic and the Appalachian Mountains before it was the Eastern Third of North America before it was the space between the 49th Parallel and the Rio Grande before that included Alaska, Hawaii, Porto Rico, Guam, The Virgin Islands and Parts of Samoa, with Panama, The Philippines and Canada flirted with as possible parts of America, all of these places have original inhabitants that were pushed out or murdered so white people could move in and set up shop. My point is that America is not quite a country in the traditional seance, the idea behind it is… well, an Idea. It’s one of two countries in the history of the world whose sole reason for creation is putting an ideology into practice, and the last one to still exist.

The greatness of America isn’t in what it has done or is doing as a lot of that is pretty terrible and problematic: the positive attribute of America is in it’s potential. Whatever mistake the slave owners in Philadelphia made by not specifying who “We the people” included means that a leading power in the western world has shifted the norms of that society from that of human bondage and legal segregation to one with a bi-racial dude in charge all whilst failing spectacularly to live up to this country’s founding ideals. Columbus Day not only needs to be thrown out, we need to discuss why it was ever a holiday in the first place. Unless we do that we are denying that American history is that of people aspiring one thing and acting in a fundamentally different way. We need to hash out the evil of men like Columbus and Jefferson and Lincoln because unthinkingly celebrating the deaths of outsiders to your benefit is what other countries that never claimed to have moral superiority woven into their DNA. Columbus Day cheapens what it is to be American and pretends that our forebears didn’t betray the fundamentals of what being American is supposed to be and holds current Americans back from being the contentious global citizens we aspire to be.

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Lets all get ready to Enjoy Indigenous people’s day 2015!


Mascots, Hotdogs and Baseball. My love affair with the minor leagues

My partner keeps telling people that I was born to be an American; I like eating bacon covered pancakes at 3am, I unthinkingly talk loudly in public, and the grid system of city planning just seems sensible too me. one of my favorite aspects of American life  is baseball, something unique in the world; a sport Americans have modified and made better (sorry Football, you’ll never be half the game Rugby is). I think I love Baseball because, like a guitar, it is very easy to play competently, but still needing a lot of skill to play very well, the fact that you never need to run further than 90 feet (60 feet in softball) means you don’t have to be athletic, something which lends itself to being played casually in a way sports requiring body armor or being fast doesn’t. its for these reasons and more I think it’s safe to say I am kind of in love with Baseball. I haven’t just fallen in love with playing baseball, I love watching it and just like an annoying hipster at a party, I want to go on record as stating that small time venues are much more fun.

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Camden Riversharks Vs Sugarland Skeeters at Campbell’s field

I say that with the the unfortunately named Citizen’s Bank Park as my only Major League stadium experience; I can’t comment on the the apparent glory of Fenway Park or any other MLB stadium, but the supposed august aura of stadiums and teams isn’t really why I go to baseball games and if that’s something you feel you need from a baseball game then this post probably isn’t for you.

James_Buchanan

Behold! The embodiment of American optimism!

To explain what I find so compelling about minor league baseball (possibly America as a whole) I need to talk about James Buchanan. So, arguably, the worst president in U.S. history is also the only commander in chief from Pennsylvania, specifically Lancaster, where the former President’s house is maintained. The unkind way to describe the James Buchanan house is as a perfect example of a polished turd. The entire experience is geared to focus on his extensive diplomatic career and home life, whilst casting his four years in office between 1857 and 1861 (in which the divisions over slavery became immeasurably worse with little or no government action leading to the civil war) as sort of on purpose, so that things got so bad that Abraham Lincoln could win in 1860 and free the slaves. I bring up the 15th President’s fan club because it seems to be held together by the shear amount of optimism it must take to stand around in a hoop skirt praising someone so universally regarded as a failure all day. Not that Minor league Baseball suffers anything like disdain and apathy that history has given Buchanan, they’re both excellent examples of a culture whose driving force is to not, under any circumstances, consider throwing in the towel.

So the highest level of minor league Baseball is a weird paradox for players, though it technically has the best players outside Major league, the majority of players are there either because they used to be a Major Leauger who got worse/injured/both or players who are not quite good enough for an MLB team but good enough to get paid to play ball during the summer. This means that the quality of ball playing isn’t going to match up to larger teams with deeper pockets, the players are either mediocre, washed up or unrefined, this means in the fight for ever decreasing ticket sales the management pull out all the stops to make everything else about visiting a  minor league baseball stadium the most fun you can have during the summer whilst your shirt is still on.

Mascots, and general messing about in between innings, are probably a good place to start, and in that scene my favorite team to visit is the Reading Fightin’ Phills; which has not one but three mascots and a mascot house band, just encase we didn’t cover all bases of possible uses of felt. These mascots are not just under employed actors, the Phill’s Logo is an ostrich so last year the team bought some Motherfucking ostriches  to hang outside the stadium and great guests which lends the red-brick stadium the look of an arena of curiosities. This is not to knock the folks who do dress up as weird cartooned versions of whatever the team is named after, it mus be super hard to run around at the height of summer dressed as lighting if it was personified by a bird, or a shark or a cow or a ripoff of Mr Met, and yet continue to good naturally amuse children whilst they’re parents are watching the game, It’s just it’s hard to compete with some actual ostriches just hanging out at a ball game.

A Cow, lighting embodied by a bird, a crazy hot-dog vendor riding and ostrich, a friendly shark and a mosquito…              cos baseball

The messing around between innings aspect of minor league baseball might actually be the one part of capitalism I find endearing; People dressed as Ice tea bottles race around bases so you can make tiny bets on who wins, this is a variant on people dressed as vegetables or presidents (when the vegetables are racing an evil gumdrop tries to foil their race). As well as this, families are selected to fire yogurt through a target as a team to win a years supply, The Camden Riversharks held a Hogie tug-of-war between kids sponsored by Wawa. The clunky shoehorning of advertising into the thing that management does to keep people from walking out of the stadium whilst nothing is going on is so terribly blended into what is happening you kind of feel empathy to the poor bastards who have to regurgitate that every strike out is “brought to you buy Susquehanna bank!” . An aspect of a Trenton Thunder Game that made me wonder if this field of advertising is only open to companies who share a name with a certain kind of baseball play, and if someone works out which is more expensive based on how often they happen, Is there someone sponsoring grand slams I wonder?

I can’t talk about Minor league baseball without talking about concession stands. so as I mentioned a few paragraphs ago Minor league stadiums spend a lot of time trying to amuse and entertain you into sticking around even if it’s not for the baseball, no were is this clearer than the food and booze available, something in which Minor leagues outclass major leagues by a mile. in contrast too the $7 bud lite pints for sale at major league games, Minor leagues really really want you to spend money and are well aware how easy it is to leave – for one thing there are almost never security guards at the gates, unlike the airport-esq scrutiny at major stadiums, so whilst you’re not really supposed to, it’s not difficult to bring beer in, this means the prices are usually much closer to what you would actually pay in a bar, with the Fightin Phills going so far as to sell quarts of beer for $8, were as the River sharks will sell you a beer and a hot dog for a dollar apiece most Tuesdays, there are even buffets you can buy into for the price of two tickets.

I think the reason I love the minor leagues so much is that they are a lot more welcoming than their larger counterparts. I know that they’re just as corporate  and in some ways actually more commercialized than the Red Sox or the Yankees but, the fact that these teams have small stadiums that means tickets are never more than $15 and that ticket will probably buy you a seat within high fiving/heckling distance of the players makes me feel a lot more like I’ve entered a community than just walking into a multi-million dollar stadium. I know that’s all bullshit but it’s a nice image to have of America for a few hours. So if you’re not American and want to experience some straight up Americana, I recommend finding a minor league game in the middle of nowhere, they’re cheep, friendly and much more like what you imagine an American summer is like…. plus for real though; $8 for a quart!

It's a fucking quart for $8

LOOK UPON ITS WORKS, YE MIGHTY, AND DESPAIR!

 


The Phelps family are an unwell group of disturbed individuals. Why we should all leave the Westboro Baptist Church alone.

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So when I first read on the scrolling continual “news” feed that is my Facebook page, that the Westburo baptist church was planning to picket ISIS for that particular attempted  caliphate’s treatment of Christians in the area I hoped that the groups feature in anyone’s  publication was the rightful place for people like the Phelps clan:  the written equivalent of the ‘and finally’ segments local news outlets sometimes have, Something wacky and improbable that we can all have a nostalgic chuckle  at.”Remember those insane homophobes from the mid 2000’s with the gaudy signs and bad dress sense whose righteous hatred and media whoring seemed to be the living embodiment everything that  had gone wrong in George W. Bush’s America?” I would Imagine the articles asking me “well it turns out that not only are they still around, they’re trying to be relevant again by traveling to one of the most violent areas of  the planet to hold up their little signs. crazy, right?”

Sadly this was not to be. Apparently these people – sadly deprived of another  hobby – decided to threaten to picket Robin Williams’ funeral, something comedian, Adam Hill made fun of by offering to ship them off to Mesopotamia. All well and good, The GodHatesFags people  isn’t exactly new material but whatever. However this video started going viral, people acted as though what Mr Hill was doing wasn’t rehashing a comedic pinata that stopped being relevant nearly a decade ago but confronting a great and powerful evil, with numerous publications describing the church as “controversial”, A misleading term because to be controversial there has to be controversy.

No one is pro the Westburo Baptist Church, they are not an insidious organisation with a hidden agenda they hide behind to push an unpopular series of destructive policies on wider society. Far from it they actually reject popularity, being believers in the notion of  of “The elect” – essentially that god will come and save those who truly believe and no more, meaning that they have no interest in converting people. It’s telling that news outlets from the liberal left and conservative right condemn the Phelps family church; These people are obviously bad, to the point at which people who basically believe the same things they do make themselves feel better about their bigoted opinions by openly and actively condemning WBC’s methods. In this respect giving a shit about an organisation that is the political equivalent of a mentally ill person ranting on a street corner, we are helping people who have terrible, destructive and backward political ideas to shield themselves from too much scrutiny because they don’t write the most obscene way to to express their opinions on a shiny piece of cardboard and hang around funerals.

It is true that these people do need to be countered when they’re actually doing something actively terrible, it’s therefore a good thing that organisations exist to do that cross country and communities have come together to eject them from areas in which they may do harm. However this should really be kept to a minimum, remember these people are fame hungry masochists, they want us all to hate them because they believe that the amount of hate they receive is directly connected to the amount of sin the people who are angry are aware of and trying to deny, they really really really like it when masses of people come out to yell at them. We should stop being so angry with them and recognize them for the twisted attention hungry people they are and ignore for the large part, they have nothing more relevant to say and have less than 100 members, the only reason a Media outlet is mentioning them is to get the kind of righteous indignation clickbate that can appeal to everyone, which in turn is giving the Phelps family exactly what they want please stop falling for it.

They have a vine account. Are they an apocalyptic cult or a twelve year old?


Contempt manifested in upholstery:a short rant about the worst chair in the world

So I work for a moving and interior design company in Philadelphia. The company I actually work for generally has tasteful furniture for sale, however as part of my job as a mover I come into contact with other companies’ specifically owners of condos who for the most part employ my company to move their furniture around various condos to help prospective buyers imagine what the apartment might look like with come chairs and a bed. A lot of this stuff is relatively nondescript and as tasteful as something like that can be. There are numerous exceptions to this rule, the glaring example being a chair decorated with abbreviations.

LOOK AT IT!

LOOK AT IT!

At first this chair seems silly (it is) but the more i look at it i can’t help considering the fact that this isn’t a mass produced chair designed to be cheaply distributed in anonymous rooms. This is a desk chair that someone has deliberately designed, another person has commissioned it to be made and successfully sold to someone who is now using it as aspirational  furniture. This means at least three people (probably more) think this chair is the kind of thing people like.

I say this has to be something people think other people are into because 1) Market forces mean that investors have to assume others will want to buy things before investing in them. 2) the chair’s function is to attract people. And finally 3)This chair is objectively terrible.  The fact that someone had bought this to make apartments more desirable begs a few questions about the prospective buyer they have in mind. Who do they imagine looks at a chair decorated with decontextualized abbreviations and says “yes. This is exactly the apartment I see myself living in”? No one who actually uses these abbreviations on a daily basis would want this chair because if you know what these things mean they don’t mean anything (imagine a chair decorated with a series of random words with no link or meaning), which rules out anyone under 35 as a potential buyer. If however You don’t know what they mean (so like if you’re a baby boomer) then this chair might as well be covered in random letters for all the meaning/aesthetic quality it might have.

This has to mean that the target audience is somewhere in between; in that, whilst you are aware that young people use abbreviations on the internet, you don’t know what most of those abbreviations mean. People who sell apartments have come to the conclusion that middle aged people will buy apartments that has stuff they assume the youth are into decorating them. This also means that both middle aged home-buyers and those who sell homes to them have an image of young people as spouting meaningless letters as a primary means of communication.

I say meaningless because there the only thing in common with these abreviations is that they are shortened versions of words. Some are Acronyms ; “T.M.I.”, “B.T.W.”, “T.T.Y.L”, etc etc; some are abbreviation of words “CUZ”, “CUL”, “PLZ”, etc etc; and some don’t mean anything at all.

What the fuck does DTS mean?

I am aware this is just a chair, but it’s positioning as something you are assumed to like has made me wonder what it is they think we are like. The people who made this chair seem to be insisting that the Generation who grew up using text messages and emails have somehow become so devoid of meaning that we think a chair covered in lettering is something other than weird and meaningless, which is something that a lot of people who are older than me seem to be insisting about everyone my age. So whilst I understand it is just a piece of furniture, every time I see it I am reminded the society that produced this chair has also decided that $100,000 is a reasonable amount of debt to start a working life with, because we were spoiled with participation medals anyway.