Wednesday, January 1, 2020

Hey, it’s New Year’s Day. We’ve made another arbitrarily measured trip around the Sun, marking time on a calendar we really didn’t start paying attention until 1582 or so, and that was only because Easter was screwing with folks. There is no substantial difference between today and yesterday or today and tomorrow on any scale much less cosmic, but what the hell. You have to laugh sometimes.

I’ve spent the last part of the afternoon trying to explain modern television streaming to my mother even though, and I ain’t going to lie about, I haven’t given a shit about it apart from having a Netflix and Amazon Prime account. See, we live way, way out in the boonies and, thus, don’t get cable. When I was a teenager, we got a satellite dish but nobody uses that anymore. After I left home, my parents had various iterations of Direct TV or Dish TV or whatever the hell else.

After my father died and I moved back home, Momma decided she was tired of paying $250 a month (or year, hell, I can’t remember) for Major League Baseball, football (college and pro), and the occasional college basketball game. So we “cut the chord” as the kids call it, using the digital antenna for what we could pick up locally – network affiliates, what they offer, and a helluva lot of religious and shopping programming – while using my elderly Apple TV to streak the aforementioned video services and, this past summer, access to the MLB app on the doo-dad.

You can catch most football on network television, and Momma isn’t as squirrelly about football as she is about baseball. But she got it in her head to get a subscription to ESPN to watch via the Apple TV and, indeed, went out and bought an up-to-date little box. The MLB people told her the generation we had already would be out of date come the 2020 season. Turns out, even though we paid a year’s subscription to ESPN, we also have to have a television provider. We do not have one, but we’ll probably go with Sling TV or YouTube TV if that’s what we have to do.

As it is, we’re not worrying about it until tomorrow. Recall, I don’t give a good goddamn one way or another. I don’t watch television on a regular basis. I barely watch movies because I really don’t have the concentration to watch movies, which I haven’t given a shit about in years. As often as not, I’ll binge something I’ve already binged if I watch any TV, which is rare because, once again, I don’t give a shit about it. If I watch anything on a regular basis, it’s documentaries playing in the background, either from the streaming services mentioned above, whenever I get tired of listening to music or whatever game I’m playing or just plain silence. Silence is nice, I’ve found.

Now, my mother is an intelligent woman and I like to think I’m a fairly sharp customer. Nevertheless, she’s 70 and never has had a head for gizmos. For that matter, I’ll be 45 in a few months and I think I’m learning why people get so befuddled over new technology. It’s because they stop paying attention. Now, I’ve kept up with all the variations on streaming music and radio, and I’ve got that down to the ground. But not streaming television services, and I feel like I’m trying to set the clock on a VCR. Of course, no one under 25 has any idea what I’m talking about anyway, so there’s that there then.

Which leads me into another stroke. A lot of the fanaticism around the Trump Presidency comes partly from the hard-right turn a lot of online communities. Steve BannonMilo Yiannopoulos, and GamerGate has been blamed for the full turn to Trump worship, but it was fairly widespread and leaning in that direction anyway, even before Obama’s election. Back during the Bush Junior administration when I was a more patient man, I spent a good deal of time keeping up with the “conspiracy theorist” world. These were the days when 9/11 Truthers roamed the lands but anyone who spent any amount of time online, much less the obsessive screwhead that make up the average conspiracy theorist, was the exception and not the rule. Before Facebook, in other words, when people found other, more personal ways to make each other miserable.

I used to frequent a website called Above Top Secret. I’m not going to link to it, because they’ve gone full bull-goose loony over there and I don’t want to draw that kind of stink into my life. Anyhow, while I was then, as now, a pretty hardcore skeptic about most every thing, I also knew the world was different from what we’re being told, that governments lie full stop, and that the Powers That Be have a vested interest in a docile, ignorant population kept fat, saucy and quiet. The site flirted with 4chan, but I had already dismissed that bunch as a pack of scurvy panty-sniffing pigfuckers who shouldn’t be allowed anywhere near grade schools for all sorts of reasons.

But I kept a toe in with anti-government conspiracies, religious fruitcakery (the whole business about The Family is way older than you think, even if you do know about), and just general tinfoil hat territory. Art Bell and all that nonsense. Part of it was keeping an ear to the ground for the yay-hoos, always a useful exercise, and part of it was just because it was fun. There’s a certain amount of arrogance in being Hip while still sneering at the tinfoil hat crowd that makes one’s willy swell with pride.

I don’t remember when it was I gave up on paying attention to crackpots in love with the smell of their own farts in general and ATS in particular. For Art Bell, it was when he had some clown on that said people crossing the Texas border – if you thought the fear and loathing for Latino immigrants crossing the border to survive was all Trump’s baby, you are wrong as wrong could be – who claimed Mexican boarder crossers were purposefully bringing communicable diseases like anthrax and smallpox with them to infect White America for some nefarious reason that involved George Soros and/or “international bankers,” wink wink nudge nudge.

For ATS, it was when someone asked if the Big Bang really happened, just where is the hole. No, seriously, that’s how badly the original poster fully misunderstood anything and everything we know about what’s colloquially “the Big Bang theory”. Even worse, the discussion went on for six or seven pages and not once – not once – did anyone write, “Hey, you assholes, you’ve got that so mixed up, you’re not even dealing with decent science fiction”. They were more than willing to fight it out on that hill even if it took all summer, as well, you know no one can ever be wrong on the internet.

And those people voted for Donald Trump. Plus, he has a network television show that said he was a slick billionaire financial wheeler-dealer, and it wouldn’t be allowed on TV if it wasn’t true. Add to that a massive public dislike of Hillary Clinton, deserved or not, and whatever shenanigans Putin’s boys pulled, plus a healthy dose of racism and xenophobia like mom used to make, and that dumb son of a bitch becomes President of the United States of America.

Speaking of rich assholes who have no business being president and dumb, evil-minded shit Trump pulled, someone asked Mike Bloomberg about his support of the prosecution of the Central Park 5, claiming (basically) all the racism mixed in there was okay, really, because a lot of people thought they were guilty. And by “a lot of people,” we mean him, the NYPD, Donald Trump (who took out an ad calling for the five’s execution) and racist buttholes everywhere despite all the exculpatory evidence, including the actual victim of the attack saying no.

Soledad O’Brien, a journalist I respect immensely, said on Twitter that this was the surest way to loose the African American vote. However, that presumes Bloomberg is running for president for any reason beyond keeping either Elizabeth Warren or Bernie Sanders from getting the nomination. The rest are either centrist enough to leave well enough alone or billionaires with enormous (and undeserved) egos themselves running their own vanity campaigns. Tom Steyer buys his own bullshit, but do you think Andrew Yang is going to tax the stinking rich using any sort of sense of public good? Hell, no, he ain’t.

Okay, supper’s done. Maybe more later, maybe not. Happy New Year anyway.

UPDATE: Oh, I ate too much. Carry on.

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