On the encroaching hellscape

Before 2016 I had several chances to vote for one of the Clintons — including Hillary’s first senate run in New York — and did not. My reasons for never voting for a Clinton amounted to:

  • Bill said Kenny G was his favorite saxophonist. If true, he has terrible taste. If untrue, that is pandering of the worst kind.
  • Hillary said, to a crowd of New Zealanders, that she was named after Sir Edmund Hillary. Considering she was born in 1948 and Sir Hillary peaked Everest in 1953, this seemed unlikely. Liar!
  • Bill, criticizing an opponent, pronounced the word “chameleon” with an “sh” sound: “shameleon.” What kind of psychopath does that?

You see: reasons.

Now that I am older, I still think Bill is a scumbag and I’m glad I never voted for him.

But I voted for Hillary in the Texas primary and will vote — several times if I can get away with it! — for her in the general election in November.

I came to this decision after a bit of soul-searching and also because I want to avoid the apocalyptic hellscape of a Trump presidency.

“But what about Bernie?” no one has actually asked me.

Nowadays in my soft, middle years I have the bleedingest of bleeding hearts and my politics align pretty well with Bernie’s. (Except on guns, which I believe should be dropped into a volcano along with the Second Amendment.)

So…Bernie’s fine. I still voted for Hillary.

Yes, it was a pragmatic choice and not one I would have made when I was younger. Younger me would totally be on the Bernie train. Younger me hadn’t had his heart broken a half-dozen times by other can’t-win candidates. Younger me was also more of a misogynist.  (Imagine if a rumpled old lady came onto the scene shouting exactly what Bernie shouts. We’d hold our noses at her old-person smell and she’d slouch off to eat cat food from the can.)

If I were a single-issue voter, climate change would be that issue. Climate change is the largest threat to our species and we are failing to do anything about it. It’s so much worse than most of us think. None of the candidates are talking about it enough; all of them will compromise with the oil industry if given the chance. We will continue digging up dinosaur fossils and lighting them on fire until it is too late.

But I would rather have Hillary in office making half-measures on climate change than see Trump reverse the scant progress that has been made. Worse: There is a non-trivial chance Trump would spark a nuclear war, rendering climate change moot. In other words, I’d rather our civilization die slowly than quickly. I want my kids have long lives with breathable air. (God help them if they breed.)

Why am I posting this? No one reads my blog or cares about my political opinion. There are pundits and essayists who are much more passionate and articulate about all of these issues.

I’m writing this because liberals like me tend to sit on the sidelines and assume everything will be okay; that in the end Americans aren’t suicidal enough to elect Trump. But history is full of characters like Trump who were called buffoons and whose rise to power caught people off-guard. I’m done sitting on the sidelines. If we Americans elect this fascist, at least I’m on record denouncing him.

Now… go vote for Hillary.

Twogging

What if, instead of feeding free content to corporations like Twitter, we started blogging again?

I’ve been thinking of using this platform for microblogging–posting “tweets” here instead of on Twitter.

It’s difficult to shake the idea that blog posts are permanent and tweets ephemeral.

And admittedly I am hosting this on WordPress, not on my own host, and ads are part of the package.

This is my first post using the WordPress app on my phone. The tiny keyboard promotes brevity.

There is also the concern that on Twitter there is a chance of an audience. Here? Not so much.

Auto-posting from WordPress to Twitter is tacky, imo.

Uaing “imo” in a blog post felt wrong.

I still say blog “post” instead of just “blog.”

This concludes my twog of the day. I tried and failed to keep it under 140 characters.

Resolutions

I don’t often make New Year’s resolutions, at least not publicly, but this year I have a few. (Well, two.)

  1. Quit Facebook for a year. Last summer I deleted the Facebook app from my phone and didn’t miss it at all. Now I’m ready to take the next step. It will be interesting to log back in in 2016 and see how the interface has changed. If people want to get in touch, I’m still very easy to find through other means.
  2. Amplify voices that need it. Over on Twitter, there was a period of about a year (I’m not sure of the exact dates but Wendy Davis’s filibuster was the catalyst) during which I retweeted only women. Anil Dash did the same thing, only to gazillions more followers, and the experience changed him, as it did me. He writes:

    For me, for my experience, it’s better. I feel happier about the time I spend on Twitter, and it’s made me try to be more thoughtful, and more disciplined with other things I do in my time online.

    I’m back to retweeting the occasional dude, but I’m much more mindful about the voices I amplify. In 2015 I will continue this mindfulness and expand it to include a broader range of diversity. I might have only 400 followers, but dammit, I care!

  3. Think of a third resolution. Seriously, you can’t have just two.

Hermit Crab Care and Feeding

  1. Hermit crabs make great first pets because they are easy to care for and don’t require a lot of room.
  2. They molt several times per year.
  3. All you need is a cage and a few basic supplies.
  4. The molting thing will surprise you.
  5. The cage can be either glass or plastic. You can start with a small one if you’re just getting one crab.
  6. During the molting process, the crab burrows under the sand and sheds its exoskeleton.
  7. You need three dishes: For food, fresh water, and salt water.
  8. They stay burrowed for a really long time. Like, weeks.
  9. Hermit crabs are scavengers and will eat almost anything: fruit, vegetables, Cheerios. One of their favorites is shrimp!
  10. After a couple of weeks you will dig up the hermit crab. Its lifeless body will fall limply out of its shell.
  11. You will also need a spray bottle for frequent misting. Hermit crabs need a warm, humid environment.
  12. You will tell your daughter that Hermione — the name she has given her hermit crab — is dead.
  13. If the temperature in your house gets below 70 degrees you should also get a heating pad to go under the cage.
  14. Your daughter will cry real tears. Along with her empty shell, you will place Hermione’s corpse in a plastic baggie and leave it on the windowsill overnight. Funeral planning will begin.
  15. Hermit crabs are natural climbers, so a stick or a climbing wall make great additions to the cage.
  16. The next day your son will observe Hermione moving inside the baggie. You will not believe him.
  17. An inexpensive thermometer and hydrometer will ensure that conditions within the cage are acceptable to your hermit crab.
  18. But he’s correct! Hermione did move! It turns out that the thing you thought was a crab corpse is actually Hermion’s exoskeleton. It really did look exactly like a dead crab. And Hermione is actually inside the shell but you didn’t see her before because the shell was clogged with sand and in all honesty you didn’t really look that closely; your attention was on the corpse, not the shell. Your daughter is both overjoyed and extremely pissed at you. You gently return Hermione to her cage, where she commences eating her own exoskeleton. Hermione regains her strength and is quite active for a couple of months, until she burrows again. Once again you get impatient and dig her up and think she is dead and tell your daughter and break her heart all over again. But the crab is actually alive (again). You are an idiot and can’t believe you did this whole Hermione-is-dead-no-just-kidding-she-is-alive rigamarole not once, but twice.
  19. Some people like to give their crabs baths. This is not recommended.

One Reason People Are Not More Outraged at NSA Surveillance

My fellow web people will relate to this one.

Several times in my career, someone, usually a senior marketing executive, has asked me whether we can collect the email addresses of everyone who visits the company website. Not “can you set up a form where users submit their email address?” but “does the website do this automatically?”

They were not thinking through the implications of this question. They were not considering that if we could do this, so could every other website, and therefore their email address had already been collected thousands of times.

It’s not that they’re dumb; they just wanted to know if we could send email to our site visitors. And to them, as with most people, technology is a black hole. No one knows how it works.

So, at least on a subconscious level, many people, if not most people, assume that their personal data is being constantly collected.

Which, it turns out, it is.