Living in McNation

There was a recent squabble on the internet about the changes made to the Christmas display in our downtown park. Since I was a child, the walkways have been covered with large candy canes tilted over the path almost like soldiers raising their arms over royalty. This year those old candy canes were replaced with new ones, bolted into the concrete, standing upright with lights dangling overhead. The uproar was immediate. A petition was made. Emails went out to the local government officials. News stories were pushed out of the way for “candy cane gate.” Some of the candy canes that had gone to auction were removed and put back into the park to hold back the hostile crowds but in the end more people signed the petitions to have the original candy canes put back than had voted in the last local election for mayor. This is where our society has gone, voting with emails, tweets, Facebook post, and YouTube videos instead of the voting booth.
We shouldn’t be surprised about this, finding something like candy canes more offensive than politicians blackmailing foreign allies. If we look at our most recent history nobody could have predicted the most recent cultural phenomenon, from “Cash me outside” girl to “what does the fox say?” Brexit turned out to be a total disaster and the same people who didn’t bother to vote because Hillary had it in the bag were surprised when Donald Trump became our president. The history of our country is no longer measured in decades but instead by news stories and what the public can be the most upset about at a certain time, and the whole process is exhausting.
History is disappearing around us and is being replaced with new cheap fabrications that have no life, class, or artistic merit to justify the cost. The courthouse downtown is scheduled to be turned into condos and there is no way of knowing how much of the original structure will be left standing. I worked in there for a year and even I was impressed by the marble floors, brass elevator doors with intricate designs, and the copper door handles and chandeliers. Towards the end of my short career I found myself in a new 20-million-dollar courthouse with leaking windows and floors that would flood if there was water outside on the lawn.
There is history living in the walls downtown. Our surroundings, the buildings we walk by everyday give us a sense of belonging. When someone drove into town from the west and looked at downtown, the Kalamazoo Building stood out telling everyone where they were. Now that painted sign is covered up by high priced apartments and of course a bank. Just what the world needed, another bank. Even our most recent landmarks are being attacked. Wings Stadium, a venue that once had large acts come through every summer was looking at being torn down. One of the churches that stood across the street from the art museum was demolished because it would have cost too much to preserve. I am waiting to see if the land is turned into something useful, like a parking lot.
I watched a video on YouTube with the writer Will Self walking through Prague seeing the places that Franz Kafka once lived. All the buildings were the same. Hundreds of years old and while walking those streets one could imagine what Kafka was seeing when he too passed by those buildings. This was a time before cars, when people rarely traveled more than five miles from where they lived during their lifetimes. There are places where people feel like they belong, they share a history with the place they live and those that came before them and that feeling, that tradition, is slipping away. I can understand why Europeans hold onto the pride of where they come from. Cathedrals that took several generations of work to complete still stand reminding people of what can be accomplished. You can visit a spot where Napoleon once stood, stay in the hotel that Hemingway drank frequently, or see the pillars of long-ago empires. Here, we lose our minds when we see a stage that Jimi Hendrix once played and even those are disappearing. The Ambassador hotel, the last place that Bobby Kennedy was seen alive, has been torn down and replaced by… oh who cares.
We should rename ourselves McNation. Build it cheap, build it fast, and heaven forbid if it doesn’t make a profit. I try to find things that I can share with my daughter from my own childhood and that list is disappearing. I hope when she is old enough the Coney Island downtown, one of the oldest in the country, is still open and hasn’t been turned into a Subway or Taco Bell.
I have to wonder if this is why the younger generations coming up have so much to complain about. Maybe if they felt like they were a part of the place they lived instead of receiving all of their information from Apps and social media maybe they would realize how good they have it. Crime is down, poverty is almost erased from the planet, healthcare is better than ever and yet I can’t open my phone without seeing an article about somebody being oppressed because their coffee was made wrong at Starbucks or their name was spelled wrong on the cup.
We drive in our boxes to sit in boxes and go home to boxes filled with our stuff and only see the world through the window of a cellphone and wonder why our priorities are screwed up. Nobody voted in the last election and I can not recall a single story that popped up in my news feed about it, but some old candy canes are taken down in the park and the city is on the verge of a riot. Maybe this shows that there is hope. When people notice something they like is missing, we see they really do care about their local history. I could remain optimistic about this but it only goes to show that it is only the petty and small things that people are willing to get pissed about. However, I will add that even I did not like the new candy canes. Why they chose the new standing designs over the archways I could not say. Maybe had they bought new candy canes and simply installed them like before nobody would have noticed or thanked them for updating an old tradition. Now we will never know. We will have to wait until next week when more buildings are gone to see what we throw a fit over that truly doesn’t matter.

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The End of Prepping

In my basement there is a series of cabinets along the wall that are filled with all kinds of long term food storage items, cans, bags, and boxes. I have a wine cellar in the darkest and coolest part of the basement. A gun safe keeps a few items free from dust and rust. A few typewriters wait under dust covers for the moment this computer and the electrical grid goes down ending civilization. Then there is the doomsday vault, a trunk filled with rare bottles of wine, a survivalist handbook, a few pipes and several cans/ tins of tobaccos that are not in production anymore. If the world comes to an end I am all set for the roaming horde of zombies, aliens coming to the planet to steal water or cows for rectal probes, or maybe the Chinese invasion. I have everything I need, what do I do now?
There was a time when I feared the world was coming to an end. I grew up hearing about end times and thinking that Saddam Hussein was going to kill the planet, Chernobyl was going to turn everyone into mutants, the planet was going to deep fry everyone into crispy chicken wings, the list goes on and on. Nothing happened. Nothing ever happened. The nation has been run by the incompetent and the mentally retarded on and off my whole adult life and yet we are still here.
Nothing that I listed off that I keep in the basement is stuff that people didn’t have a hundred years ago. It was common to have root cellars, can food, and keep a gun or two just in case. That was called living and people knew they were responsible for themselves. These days I roll my eyes when people talk about their guns being taken away, trump pushing the button and ending the planet, and while I have a fear that global warming might end the planet that my daughter will grow up in I have to accept that there is less than nothing I can do about it. I have my habits that this hobby has built into me and while people may think that it is crazy to keep extra food of guns that haven’t been shot in a year or two it does come in handy at times. A friend mentioned that she didn’t have any money and her food situation had dwindled to rice and beans for lunch until payday. It only took a few minutes to put a box together from the basement supply and bring it to work for her to use. When I was done the pantry didn’t look any different but she had food for a few days or more.
I don’t have that fear anymore. That notion that something wrong is gone. Maybe its from not watching the news anymore? I look at the world these days and I have my life that is no longer dictated by a group of guys in bad suits yelling and arguing with each other about stuff that doesn’t really matter. There is something satisfying about no longer caring about people who don’t really matter. I don’t care about Trump and neither should anyone else.
Early on I learned not to buy the gizmos and tech stuff that preppers dish out their hard-earned cash for. I don’t own an AR-15 and still think jeeps are one of the biggest pieces of crap ever built. I didn’t sink a ton of money into this because it’s not needed. One doesn’t have to feel like Rambo in order to be secure. If there is anything that one needs to do in order to get their life in order and be prepared its paying off your debts and making sure you have cash on the side. Stop buying stupid shit and most of your problems will be solved. The financial stress that comes with being in debt is worse that the Chinese eventually, possibly, marching in and sending you to an iPhone factory center.
Living in fear is exhausting. There are companies and economies that depend on us being fearful of the unknown. While we go about our lives and try to fix our problems having somebody else breathing down your neck about a maybe is a waste of time. There comes a time when one has to realize that maybe “surviving” is not living. There might be some mental illness involved in this prepper thing. I know at moments I wondered about my own mental health and looking back maybe I was correct to be worried. Prepping is in the past now. I’ll keep the canned goods and a handle pistol close by but I’m not going to let them rule my life. What is the point of life if you aren’t living?

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Turning 40 and the new you

Forty minutes ago, I turned 40. It hasn’t really hit me yet and I don’t feel any different. The difference I have noticed is from the things I have been doing over the last year that have slowly changed my life. There is a series of things that I did that have added up and made things better in my life including this blog. It started with having my daughter. Things were tough that first year and while she remains a challenge in many ways, things have gotten better. Realizing I needed to be a better man, a better person for her and my wife I started with some little things.
1. Less TV. I have to agree with David Foster Wallace on this one. Television is an addiction and one that barely offers anything in return. I still enjoy the occasional movie but having anything good to watch is rare. If I spend more than five minutes trying to find something to watch I turn it off.
2. Write every morning. Only on the weekends do I lose the chance to write something. Otherwise I try to put down at least 1500-3000 words. Currently I am working on a new trilogy of novels so I try to write a chapter a day. I also stopped listening to music during this time and write with the sound of my daughter playing in the background.
3. I stopped watching the news. This was a big one and it serves many purposes. The news made me depressed and pissed off half the time. Once I cut that out, I had a better outlook on life. My mind was able to focus more on the important things instead of what was happening in places that really didn’t affect me. I had less stress and my productivity grew. This also created more time to focus on what I really wanted to be doing.
4. Jordan Peterson. In his 12 rules for life Peterson discussed ways to improve your life and move in a direction you wanted to go. The following things are a result of listening to his lectures and reading his book.
5. Make friends with people who want the best for you. I started becoming picky with who I spent my time with. If I left a place feeling worse afterwards the odds were, I didn’t want to spend time with them. Life is too short to hang out with crappy people and in the end, I started to spend more time with people who wanted to better their lives and the lives of those around them. This led to doors opening and opportunities being presented. My friend Steve has always been a guiding light and an inspiration. Ben teaches me to be okay with my trashy side and enjoy myself from time to time, without guilt. Tai Po encourages me to move ahead with following my dreams. Mustafa helps me question things that I never really thought about before.
6. Bear your responsibility. I don’t hesitate to get things done that need to be done anymore. These days if you want something done, not just right, you do it yourself and get it out of the way. This helps with stress and because of this I have accomplished more in the last few months than I have in the last two years. Nothing ever got done by putting it off.
7. Appreciate what you have. There was a good chance that my daughter wasn’t going to be with us for very long when she was born. I have a wife that loves and supports me. I know of people who have crappy cars and can’t keep a roof over their heads. Some people have massive amounts of debt and forget how they got it. I like my car. My wife and I own three houses. I could go to the store and buy this laptop. I have a job that pays well and I enjoy. Sure, I have other dreams am I am working my way towards them. Hell, I was even able to go out and buy podcasting equipment without worrying about how I was going to pay for it. Life is looking pretty good.
8. Enjoy the little things. I enjoy smoking a pipe. It gives me time to reflect and I have met some very interesting people along the way. My YouTube friends, you know who you are, are a wealth of entertainment and knowledge.
9. Read. I listen to audiobooks at work and have enjoyed the works of Jonathan Franzen, David Foster Wallace, Dave Eggers, Will Self and many more. There is more to learn about my craft and these people have helped greatly.
10. Set goals. In the coming month I have three books being released on Amazon. Daisy came out today. I didn’t plan or expect to put out so much in a short period of time but sometimes you have to go with the flow. I started a podcast with some friends and have a second one offering free serialized audiobooks to those who want to listen to them. I don’t know where this path is going to take me but so far, I am enjoying the ride.
11. Drink less. I don’t drink like I used to and for the most part I don’t miss it. The last time I really indulged was with a friend and it was a moment that wasn’t surrounded by the drink. These days I regard it as a celebration, one to enjoy with friends. I used to enjoy a glass of wine while writing or before bed but now it doesn’t have the same appeal and I feel much better for it.
My thirties were a roller coaster and thankfully they are ending on a good note. I have seen divorce and death. Saw the birth of my daughter and married a wonderful woman. My finances are no longer the struggle they once were. I have friends I enjoy spending time with that make me feel like a better person. My hobbies are simple and the only thing I wish I had more of these days is time. We all get the same amount of it in the beginning, a lifetime. How we use it is up to us and these days I want to get the most out of it that I can. I have reached that halfway point; some say its only downhill from here but I would like to thing that I’m moving up. The list of things I want to do is growing and so is the list of things I have accomplished.

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The Catch 22 of Journalism

An idea came to me recently and for some reason I felt the urge to follow it to its ultimate conclusion of disappointment. There is a debated scheduled for April 19th between Jordan B Peterson and Slovaj Zizek regarding Happiness: Capitalism vs Marxism and it’s being broadcast live online. The idea that came to me was covering the event for a magazine or some kind of online source. While it has been a while since I have done such a thing, the last I can remember is the series of articles I wrote about my daughter being born and staying in the NICU for 90 days, I realized that things like this are not being covered by the media anymore. I never saw a write up about the two times that Peterson had a discussion with Sam Harris, a sold-out event with millions of views online.
I thought about the historical aspect of magazines over the years and the part they played in cultural events. Rolling Stone once featured writers like Hunter S Thompson and David Foster Wallace. Esquire had the rebuttle to the Buckley and Vidal debate where the men continued their argument in the pages of their magazine. I could go on but let’s be honest and say that magazines played a big role in out culture during the last century.
When I did a little bit of research into what magazines would cover a story like Peterson vs Zizek I was stunned to find none. I knew things had gotten bad but I didn’t think it was that bad. Rolling Stone is now a victim of the click bate bullshit market and I have a feeling it will go the way of the dodo soon. Esquire has become the homepage of the SJW propaganda for men, not real men, just the men who hang out in the crowd and still try to get laid without appearing aggressive about it. Let’s face it they don’t get laid. Maxim is click bate with testosterone. GQ I can’t figure out, it says its for men but more like what women want men to look like while complaining they no longer look like men. The Atlantic, well the Atlantic appears to be real journalism but has never touched the subject of Jordan Peterson.
When I reached out to these magazines the first night was a complete waste of time. I spent an hour writing the query or pitch email and when I hit send I received a reply right away from the Rolling Stone address stating the inbox was full. The Atlantic got back to me but decided they would pass, I wasn’t surprised. With no responses from other magazines I have come to the conclusion that I am on my own.
A part of me can not blame them for this. Recently the New York Times published an investigative piece into the financial history of Donald Trump. The piece took over a year to put together and write. It was the top story for a day, one day. Then Trump tweeted something stupid and everyone forgot. A year’s worth of work had been forgotten before it was really discussed. It’s our fault, and the media’s fault for what is happening. Our brains have become soft, obese things that no longer function as they should. They live on a shitty diet of click bate and victim porn that only makes us more lazy and less likely to think. We have done this to ourselves snacking all day on garbage instead of sitting down to have a meal.
Media has forgotten what made it worth watching. There were talented writers that brought the reader in and hooked them to finish the story asking the question “where are you taking me.” Instead articles are limited to 50-500 word sound bites that only give the reader enough to feel like they know what is going on and in all likelihood giving them a dose of bullshit. In depth reporting is a thing of the past and out society is feeding off the same circle of trash that it once despised. Media is eating itself into a grave.
I have to think that somebody out there is trying to stay relevant and not go down the rabbit hole of fake readership numbers, click bate, and SJW porn that is the new chic. Trends come and go but if you are running adds that appear sexist or patriarchal good luck having those readers come to your page. And if you stop running those adds you aren’t making money. Welcome to the catch 22 of journalism, try to attract your readers while not offending them. Good fucking luck.
Two great minds from opposing worlds are going to face off and talk about what should be the topic of the day. Our next election will likely have a far-right capitalist and a socialist of one form or another. These two ideas are going to be featured whether we like it or not and the country will have to decide which road to take without really thinking about it. The debate that is going to take place is the conversation we should be having but we don’t talk to one another. There was a time when our media would show a side to the public that had not been considered. Stories weren’t just written for shock value but to help the public think. These days thinking is not required and from what I can tell not desired for publication.
Rolling Stone was recently sold and the magazine overwent an overhaul. The biweekly publication changed to monthly and sections changed for the new management. The first cover featured a pregnant rapper and the man who might be her baby daddy. I say might because, well, we know how these things go.
Meanwhile, I have never seen Peterson on the cover of a magazine. A man who wrote a book selling 3 million copies with the idea of personal responsibility A self help book that put the responsibility of the individual in their hands sold 3 million copies, and nobody wants to talk about this. When you built your marketing model around selling victim porn the best thing to do is not sell responsibility or as I like to call it the social condom.
Maybe I should apologize at this point, I didn’t include a number in the title of my article. The subject wasn’t about sex or how men fucked up the world. The story didn’t have an equal number of women in the topic. Instead of focusing on one side the story would have included thoughts from both sides of the debate. The people the article was about have an education and deep background on the subjects they would be discussing. The story was clearly racist because it featured to middle aged white males. Did I mention the two guys are straight?
Our media is fucked and until somebody stands up and says we are no longer publishing garbage it will continue this way. On our end we need to stop looking at the bullshit they are feeding us and demand some kind of real content. I remember a time when writing was a skill not something that could be mass produce from a sweat shop in idea. It is only a matter of time until our news article sound like the customer service rep from a cell phone company. We will see names like John Smith, Jim Anderson, and Mike Dunhill writing our story with stock photos used to show people who are not real. Companies will write articles for women to sell items with titles like: top 10 eye liner colors, the three sexiest outfits to get him in bed, five ways to cook with butter, 1 in the loneliest number so come to match.cum.
I will still write my article. I still have my blog and I love all five of you for reading it. We might not have the media that we want but we do have the media that we deserve.

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The search for perfection (in an election year)

I couldn’t tell you where it started, the notion that a candidate running for office has to meet ALL the criteria you put on them. I have seen this especially with presidential candidates and now that I think about it the search for perfection goes back further than these recent years.
Unfortunately, we have a two-party system, something many of the founding fathers never wanted for the country, and with a two-party system you end up with opposing views and these two sides trying to make sure they are as far away from their opponents as they can be. Until recently we didn’t now how far people were willing to go in either direction, the Republicans created the Tea Party (or tea baggers as I like to call them) and on the left there is a socialist movement that has been growing since Occupy Wallstreet. Occasionally you hear somebody referring to themselves as a centrist but the media can’t make money on a person who is agreeable, while most of the nation’s voters ride the line in the center.
I had issues with this perfect candidate idea over the years, disliking John Kerry because he sounded like Dubya Bush but wearing a different suit and tie. John McCain could have had my vote if he had not lost his mind with the poor choice of his running mate. Dean had his scream. Gore’s wife couldn’t keep her hands off my record collection. Dubya was caught on tape saying he didn’t care about black churches. And the list goes on and on.
These days I support Andrew Yang, no this post isn’t about Yang I’m just using this to make a point. I had people say “I want to like him but….” Then out of the 76 policies posted on Yang’s website they will pick one or two and say “I can’t support this.” So, I would have to assume you are in favor of the other 74 polices? This is where I lose my mind. After an election with the two worst candidates ever to have run for office people are still nit picking over stupid polices that in all odds will never see the light of day even if Yang, or Gabbard, or Bernie made it into office. How many policies did Obama get through before his administration was tied down in patrician bullshit? One.
There are things I like about the other candidates. Warren wants to break up the big tech companies and after a hellish six months of trying to cancel my Sprint service I would prefer she burned them to the ground and brought back oil lamps. Gabbard wants us to stay out of foreign wars and stop making money for companies who profit on war, right on man. Bernie, well Bernie, ugh Bernie is old and I don’t know what he wants to do anymore or what he could accomplish in the five minutes he would live after getting into office. Beto has been playing the wallflower at the high school class presidential election kegger, refusing to piss anybody off.
These people will be in my face non-stop for the coming year until they start dropping like flies. Even Joe Biden is having a hard time managing his sexual harassment charges. I have to say if a picture is a thousand words, then the videos I watched of Biden recently are thousands of creepy words.
With all these things I liked I still had to choose one. How did I manage to narrow it down? I picked the guy that spoke with the least amount of bullshit. I don’t agree with everything that Yang says. There are policies that I am not sure about or agree with. While Yang is not perfect he is the best candidate I have found for me. Some people may call this “selling out” or “settling” which makes it sound like we are dating these people. I don’t believe I am in some kind of puppy love state of mind. I would like to think this is a rational choice that I have made and free from some partisan crap. Hell, Yang isn’t even a politician.
I’m going to stay away from the “lesser of two evils” cop out that we often hear. This is more about being an adult and making adult choices. Most people don’t pay attention until there are only two options. Maybe it’s the stress of having too many options like shopping in a super market with fifty different choices of tomato soup. Or maybe it’s the fatigue of constantly being lied to over the years and no longer wanting to participate. Or maybe its because they can’t find anybody who is perfect.
Plato once talked about the idea of perfection, the apple you see in your mind that you will never find because the apple you imagine is flawless, and yet when you find an apple, regardless of all its flaws you still bite into it and enjoy it.
You will never find a perfect candidate. It’s like shopping on Match.com and when you do find that special someone there are things they either lied about or completely left out, bad credit, mental illness, crazy ex-boyfriend that might kill you. In any case, people have closets and they tend to hide things in them from their guests.
When I visit a person’s place for the first time, I tend to glance at the book shelf or DVD collection. Harder to do these days with people reading on kindles and subscribing to Netflix. There is a lot to learn about a person by seeing what they decide to put into their heads. Trump doesn’t read. That is all I needed to know.
Recently there was a discussion about Yang not making a statement on transgender something something day. I have no idea what day this is, whether or not it’s a real holiday, or if it was made up for people to become angry about when it’s not talked about. Personally, I don’t care. You won’t find me shoving Black History Month in everyone’s face or crying about Valentine’s Day. Supporters of Yang brought this up and there was a positive uproar in response. Positive because there was a backlash of people asking “what is really important?” I couldn’t agree more. Yang didn’t send out a tweet or make an announcement on television saying “yay, it’s chicks with dicks day!” most likely he was on the road traveling to his next interview or rally. Maybe he was sleeping because he has been on the road since last year. The social justice calendar might have been lost among all the other things he has been dealing with. I was happy to see that most supporters of Yang either didn’t care he missed a fake holiday or supported him not talking about it. The person who posted the question said they were concerned about if he really cared about the LGBTQLMNOP community or if it was made up. I think those people have more to be concerned about than if someone said “hi” on TV.
Yang isn’t perfect and if people are trying to point out his flaws by missing a day that most people didn’t know about than I am glad to keep him as my guy. I’m waiting for the next version of 50 Shades of Grey (Biden’s Bondage) to be released and be forced to hear all the juicy details of his sexual misconduct. Gabbard is too relaxed to not have a medical card for some “herbs.” Bernie might slip in the tub a few more times. Yang isn’t perfect, but I haven’t found anything that I can’t accept.

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Why the World Needs Jordan Peterson

I first came across Jordan Peterson on the Joe Rogan Experience. The college professor who made waves talking about free speech and fought against a bill that was going to be signed into law mandating language on a public who didn’t want it. Since then he has helped millions of people around the world through a commonsense program of personal responsibility and no non-sense lectures pointing out what man kind knew to be true only decades before. Somewhere along the way mankind lost its way and found itself in a desert without a compass or any hope of finding a way out.
As soon as I heard the first interview, I started to find Peterson’s lectures on YouTube and went down a rabbit hole that had my brain working again, asking questions like what was my purpose in life and could I really accomplish the goals that I had set out for myself. This came with the realization that other parts of my life needed to change and that up to this point I was responsible for my current position in life. Many people like to play the victim in the story of their life but when you learn that you can make a difference you are responsible for how your future turns out.
Peterson’s book was released last year and I went out and bought it for the cover price, something I never do, and ate the contents for a few weeks. Some of the things in it reminded me of choices I had made earlier in my life, stop hanging out with people who don’t have your best interest at heart. Clean your room, take care of yourself like you are somebody you are responsible for, and pet a cat when you see one are things I did back in my twenties but lost due to peer pressure by people who I thought knew better than me. This was a mistake I would come to regret and wonder why I didn’t listen to myself instead of people who were a complete mess in their own lives.
I followed the stories online regarding what was happening at universities with students demanding safe spaces and having people fired for not teaching what they thought was politically correct behavior. As a former college student, I remember seeing some of this coming down the pipeline with some of my professors talking about white privilege and trying to make a white trash child of the ghetto feel like I was at the top of the world while cleaning toilets to pay for tuition. Needless to say, the sociology class didn’t connect with me and the teacher had no idea what she was talking about, but she was a person in a position of power who could influence those that sat in her class.
People are not taught how to think for themselves anymore. Asking questions was taboo in class and debate was not an option when it came to discussing these ideas. It took a guy from Canada who said this is enough to make a dent in what had become the new normal on college campuses. The idea of arguing against what was the new standard had finally been brought to light and the world one all sides started to listen. Growing up I was taught to always listen to people in a position of authority while keeping in mind that if you were being told something morally or ethically wrong you should speak up. In my own life when I did this it never turned out good, for me. In the end the people with power are the ultimate judges of what is wrong and right and in the end these people are rarely found guilty of any wrongdoing, sometimes they are even rewarded. People tried to punish Peterson for speaking up and in the end, with his band of loyal followers and a press that continually failed to bring him down, it was Peterson that was rewarded for the work he was doing and not the establishment who was trying to design the world in their own dystopian way.
Changes to my own life happened as a result of Peterson’s work. I have a better job, less self-doubt than what I was raised with, I no longer hang out with people that don’t have my best interest at heart, and I try to take care of myself when I had given up and decided to just enjoy the food and drink because who knows what tomorrow will bring. This was a pessimistic view of the world that I still struggle with and I have to admit it is difficult to argue against with the type of people we have in charge. The world can feel like a truly gloomy place most of the time.
Looking back, I think Peterson hit his peak with the release of his book 12 rules for life. I hope this isn’t so. I know he is working on his next book with more rules and has been on tour for over a year now, and while I am glad he is out there still making a difference in people’s lives, I wonder how it will end. There have been a few great minds during my lifetime, Joseph Campbell, Christopher Hitchens, and now Jordan Peterson and while this may not apply to Campbell who died at old age, there is a tendency for these men to burn out and die earlier than anyone would like. I was watching a lecture that was recorded three days ago with Peterson where a man rushed the stage screaming that he was mentally ill and wanted to know Peterson better. This had me worried knowing that a person with Peterson’s stature will attract nutjobs and people who are mentally insane. Let’s not forget that John Lennon was shot by a fan.
The world needs Jordan Peterson and while that is easy to say the question I have is how much the world with get out of him. Has he already made his impact? Is there more for him to do? Clearly he thinks there is more to accomplish. The hours of YouTube material will be studied for years to come. I impact that one made has made so far in the world can never be measured. While he touched millions of people those fans will go out and do the same I their own communities and the message goes on from there. It would appear that I’m putting a lot of faith into Peterson and I am. This isn’t difficult to do considering what I can’t remember feeling better about myself because of changing my use of pronouns or the times I “checked my white privilege at the door.” These social justice policies have not made the world a better place and turned itself into a breeding ground for bullies and the socially inept. Someone finally spoke up and while people try to discredit Peterson because of his sex or race the easiest question to ask them is how racist can you be? Life isn’t a one-way street and thankfully those who oppose thinkers like Peterson only have control of a small part of the population. We need conversation. We need debate. There was a time when Gore Vidal and Buckley sat across from one another and had a conversation. There was a finical in our society that has declined to almost dueling status for the privilege of being right. The further we go into the future the more ideas regress into the primitive tribal behaviors of long ago. Bubbles need to be popped. Society can not function on victim porn. Men need to crawl out of the basements of their father’s house and make a road for themselves. The world is not a meme, it is a place to discover oneself and that journey is never over.

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Yang Gang Driving

Chicago is currently an hour behind Michigan due to daylight savings time. This comes in handy when there are traffic backups and other issues that may occur. I don’t remember the last time I went on a road trip like this. I know people who do these trips all the time. Ann Arbor, Detroit, Chicago, hell I know one guy that drove to California and spent time in Big Sur. As for me, I am the Bilbo Baggins of Kalamazoo, I don’t seek adventure and stay home where I am comfortable. Somehow, I was pulled to Chicago and on a whim decided to make the trip.
I had three goals for this trip, go to the Yang Rally, visit the Old Town Ale House, and meet YouTube star Ziggynumnums, also known as Jake. The Yang rally was a given, the closest location Yang was coming to Kalamazoo it was too good to pass up and see if this man was really the no bullshit candidate, I heard him to be. The ale house is one of the last places Bourdain visited for his show Parts Unknown in the United States. A friend of mine had gone there a few months ago and as he put it “you could feel him there.” As for Jake, both of us have YouTube channels and comments on each other’s videos. We have traded things in the past, sent gifts, and he won my contest on my channel where he received a pipe, book, and several tobacco samples. I was hoping to meet the man on the trip.
I filled my gas tank on Westnedge Avenue which cost me $2.95 a gallon and I have yet to figure out why the price jumped by almost a dollar in a day. I cleaned my car the day before and made sure that the fluids were topped off, the tire pressure was correct, and all the lights worked. My vehicle was ready to go.
Driving west, I passed by my old stomping grounds of the vineyards on the south west Michigan wine trail and at some point, past Bridgeman, my car felt like it was off roading. The constant thumping and vibrating in the front end had me thinking a tire was low. Maybe I had run over a nail or something lese was going on. I switched lanes and the road smoothed out. The roads in Michigan are shit.
Indiana sucks too. This has been a point of conversation lately and while I would like to think our neighbors to the south are civil, they did vote in Mike Pence and have really strict laws when it comes to visiting their breweries. Indiana is the eastern version of Christian Sharia Law, to the west we have Utah. In many places people under the age of 21 are not allowed inside the building, even if they serve food. When my wife and I went to a brewery in Goshen a woman flipped out when my daughter crawled under the brass bars separating the restaurant portion of the place from the bar. When a state is run by children, they will treat the adults like children.
If it is your first time driving to Chicago from Michigan there is something you should be prepared for. In Indiana there is a toll road. The price is $1 and while you think to yourself it isn’t much one should wonder what they do with that money. Upon leaving the toll booth one must dodge pot holes, fox holes, fissures, fault lines, and craters. Indiana takes your money and who knows where it goes after that. I guess they are too busy being concerned about gays and people walking into buildings with other adults.
The price goes up from there. $2.40 at the next toll road and once you cross the bridge into Chicago its $5.30. Besides gas it cost almost $10 one way to go to Chicago.
There is one species of driver that should be feared among all others. The Chicago drivers is an aggressive animal that thinks speed limits are a suggestion, turn signals are optional, and knows the four corners of their cars like the back of their hand. I watched minivans, Porsche, diesel pickup tricks drive through traffic coming inches away from causing massive traffic accidents. I kept my car at 70 on cruise control and watched people pass by going anywhere from 90 to 100+ mph and having been here before I didn’t think too much of it. while in the city people tested out their cars ability to go from 0-60 in a few seconds at every intersection. Being stuck at an intersection with traffic flowing nonstop I had to try this level of insanity on my own and successfully pulled out into traffic without a honking horn that I would have heard in Kalamazoo. What is rude in Michigan is normal in Chicago and the people behind me were likely happy I discovered my inner asshole.
On the highway, with the sears tower straight ahead and the skyline wrapped around me traffic came to a halt. There was an accident up ahead and five minutes later I would drive by the semitruck that had exploded, no joke, exploded to the point where the cab was gone, the frame was all that was left with melted tires and the trailer half melted and the back half covered in carbon. I had never seen anything like it.
The rest of the trip was stop and go traffic. The Greenhouse Loft was right off the highway and free parking was available in the basement. When I pulled up to the entrance a security guard came to the door and asked “are you here for the rally?” I pointed to my Yang pin and answered yes. He put a piece of paper on the windshield and I drove inside. I had survived Michigan roads, mad max drivers, exploding trucks, and highway bandits. Hot damn I made it.
To be continued…

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Getting on the Yang Train

Today I head to Chicago where I will be observing a Yang rally in the Green House Loft in Old Town. It’s a two hour drive one way and while I would like to turn this into some kind of windy city fear and loathing style adventure, I am going on this trip alone. There is no lawyer coming along. The trunk won’t have anything besides a spare tire and an emergency bag incase some shit goes down. No, this will be a professional series where I will share what happened, what was shared, and finish the day with a beer at the Old Town Ale House across the street from the Second City Comedy Club.
Yang has made some headway since the first time I talked about him or heard him on the Joe Rogan podcast. Major news media outlets are starting to mention him. There has been talk about Bernie considering him as VP if he receives the nomination. Personally, I think the VP slot is a pipe dream that others are pushing for the hope that Bernie might have it pass by his ears, but we can still have hope.
The first debate will make or break Yang. He’s busy these days, driving, speaking, and sleeping non-stop as he constantly moves through the country passing his message along. I don’t know how he does it. How hasn’t he put on trucker style weight? Where are the bags under his eyes? Why is he always chipper? The man who is fighting the robot horde could in fact be a robot, the trojan horse of the coming economic overhaul we all fear. Maybe we have already received clues as to the robots walking among us. There was the “Dancish” contestant who performed gravity defying stunts on stage for America’s Got Talent. Sex bots are on the market. Robo calls sound like humans. The list goes on and on with no end in sight.
Yang is a man with a drive. If you listen to his story, he has been doing this kind of thing since he graduated from college. It takes a certain skill, a talent to keep going under these circumstances. Like an Asian Batman Yang is proving to not be the candidate we want, but the candidate we deserve.
More to come…

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The Usual Suspects

2020 is coming, too soon if you ask me. It’s not the year itself I have a problem with, it’s the barrage of political B.S. we will have to put up with by people running for office. Before I stopped watching/ listening to the news I noticed there were almost twenty people fighting to be the person to run against Trump. Out of everyone there was only one that I could see having a chance and he is not the guy that the media is pushing. This post isn’t about Andrew Yang, instead it’s about our weird marriage between news media and politics.
The Berning question you might have, see what I did there, is why not support Bernie? He was the guy that would have beat Trump back in 2016, the guy that should have received the nomination over Hillary Clinton but was bent over and plowed by his own party. Why can’t I back Bernie? He didn’t have the balls to stand up to his own party. His loyalty is in the wrong place and while loyalty can be a great trait to possess, to continue to engage in a relationship with a group that stabs you in the back, bends you over, and humiliates you in front of the world, if you are unable to learn what the true nature of a group is after experiencing such a betrayal then how the hell are you going to stand up against another party or another country? Bernie was my guy but he bitched out in the end.
When I heard Kamala Harris was running I rolled my eyes and shook my head. A professional liar, I mean lawyer, was the last thing we needed. She has changed her position on policies more than the number of people she sexually harassed while working as prosecuting attorney in the state of California. You don’t pay out 3 million in settlements when you are innocent.
Cory Booker is running and the only thing I know about him is that he is having sex with Rosario Dawson. Dude, I think you have better things to do than run for president. Enjoy your life.
Elizabeth Warren is an embaressment to herself. She took a DNA test to prove that she is part Native American and fail that test. When Trump became president she was formidable with his appointments to his cabinet but in the end she approved unqualified people and played along with his perverted agenda. Another betrayal.
Surfer babe, Tulsi Gabbard has not impressed anyone with a poorly stated message and coming off as “too chill” in my book. Tulsi is the stereotypical hot babe who is easy to look at but hard to listen to. A veteran of the middle east wars I have respect for her when it comes to serving the country but I have to say maybe it should stop there.
The rest of the group is a bunch of white men and women who already have weird scandals that I’m m starting to believe were fabricated to bring attention to their dying campaigns. The whole thing is a joke.
I found my guy early on and people love pointing out that it is the longest of long shots and I am fine with that. When I point out that Obama came out of nowhere, I receive weird rebuttals that border on racist without crossing the line. From one white person to another, I know what you’re really saying.
This time around I’m going to follow my guy, Andrew Yang and enjoy the ride as long as it last. If he gets a shot at the white house I’ll tune in and see what happens. When he is out of the race, so am I. I want something different, I want to have something real in this country. While we still have ancient turtles like Bitch McConnell keeping the country in a constant spiral down a toilet poop chute I have little hope of any change in this country. We need a plague and it can have the initial outbreak in the capital building. Nature may abhor a vacuum but an artist cannot create a masterpiece without a blank canvas.
I want to be excited. I want to wake up and hear what new breakthrough has happened. What has changed for the better. Instead, what we get is a flaccid, stagnant, impotent government that is too lazy to do anything but jerk each other off. The weather outside today is how the last couple of years have been, a dark dreary cool wet day with a lack of sunlight to have things grow and too cold to enjoy and one has no ambition to venture outside because of the dogshit on the lawn. We are all stuck in a bubble of our own making and until we build up the courage to go outside and face the fake boogiemen of our days that we will never end up having a better place to live.

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71Republic, Teaching Economics While NOT Understanding it

I read an article today written by Atilla Sulker called “No Andrew Yang, Technology Is Not Killing Jobs.” One should not be surprised to find that such an ignorant article was written by a high school student and depends on Patreon to pay what ever Fortnite bills he might have. Getting past his young age, Atilla tried to argue that technology creates more jobs than it eliminates. I don’t know how much experience Atilla has in the job market but I would guess it isn’t much.
My first job doesn’t exist anymore. I was a bagger at a grocery store when I was in high school. A few years after I left that job and started college that job no longer existed. Other jobs that disappeared from that grocery store includes the people working the bottle return stand, now a series of machines managed part time by one of the stock boys. The normal Sunday shopping would see twenty lanes open for check out all day long. The last Sunday I went shopping I saw four cashiers working at the store’s peak hours and a long line at both self-checkout lanes. The army of cart retrieval boys who would be in the parking lot was replaced with one guy and a “Quick Cart” robot that pushes up to thirty carts at a time back to the main entrance. 25-30% of the jobs this supermarket once had are now gone.
Over the last twenty years the jobs that technology replaced eliminated jobs from the market permanently. With every wave of invention, the participation numbers of Americans declined with the majority of those lost workers leaving the work force permanently. Currently, the US job force is 62% of the population. As the baby boomers continue to lose their jobs to automation, they will choose to leave the work force, retiring years earlier, and those jobs are not opening up to the younger generation coming into the workforce. Atilla, good luck finding a job in journalism when you graduate.
At the Library I work for we have several volunteers who once worked for the Kalamazoo Gazette. The news paper is only printed three times a week now and the majority of their material is found online. What was once a powerhouse of media is now a small office with twenty people writing their witty little click bate adds and offering the poor examples of journalism that litter the internet. Journalist, editors, and photographers now spend their hours sorting through donated books hoping for the day that they might see a job opening at the library they volunteer for.
Technology is killing jobs and it’s doing more than that, it’s taking away meaning from people’s lives. Suicide and overdoses now outnumber deaths from car accidents in the United States. I lost two cousins to both of these in the span of a year. Whatever jobs that are created when trucks start driving themselves, food service is replaced by robots, trees are cut down by machines, and people start checking out their own groceries at the store are going to be such a small fraction of the jobs that are lost you will have massive unemployment, an increase in suicide, and more people turning to drugs to deal with their pain. Add the fact that wages have not increased since the 1970’s to match inflation and that student loan debt is now at 1.2 trillion dollars we are now at a tipping point where the American workers can not support themselves in this economy.
One part of Atilla’s article that made me laugh was the idea that if the production of bolts was automated the abundance of those bolts would create jobs in places like automotive. I live in Michigan, those jobs, installing the bolts in cars, is automated now. I can let my uncle who worked for GM for thirty years tell you about that. Forced to retire early with a fraction of his pension he is one of those people I mentioned that left the work for years before he should have because there were no jobs for him to move to in his field.
Atilla may be onto something. He noticed Andrew Yang popping up in the news and heard his message and like the pseudo journalist infesting the internet he saw a click bate opportunity and took it. Atilla may have a future but he is ignoring the fact that the majority of America’s work force has no future in the current economy. You can help support Atilla and 71Republic on Patreon because automation and the internet killed real journalism in America and producing click-bate they are not directly paid for is the new shitty business model plaguing the industry. This is why we have Trump for president.

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