life being what it is

My blog has a new name! Yesterday I sat down with a coffee from the Coffee Cat, a great little coffee shop in the Santa Cruz Mountains. With some white noise by way of a few high school students chatting in a steady, ceaseless stream about their high school drama, I worked on updating my site, and you can read all about it here, on my new About page.

“There is no one in this country who got rich on his own”

Elizabeth Warren was an accomplished scholar and law professor before she got pissed off enough to run for the Senate. In 2012, she became the first female Senator from the state of Massachusetts. The video posted below went viral, in 2011, and helped launch Warren’s campaign. It also gained her a great deal of respect among progressives.

“There is no one in this country who got rich on his own” ~ Elizabeth Warren Read more

Jenny Diski on fucking loving clichés

I’m enjoying reading Jenny Diski, this for the first time. She’s a Brit and not very widely read here in the states, but she’s a truly talented writer, with a compelling life story. Diski’s memoir writing takes her blunt and unapologetic descriptions of her unorthodox life and combines them with understated British humor and interludes of literary flourish that somehow remain unpretentious. Read more

Einstein was a socialist #3 – socialism for such a time as this

Einstein was a socialist. He was also a genius. And what is more, like us, Einstein lived through difficult times, times of national and international turmoil: Einstein survived two World Wars and escaped NAZI Germany while many of his Jewish brothers and sisters were imprisoned and murdered. Most of us in the U.S. don’t have it quite so bad. Some do, but not those of us in the white middle-to-upper class. Still there’s an important point to be made: there are trends today that are strikingly similar to the ones that led to the conflicts of a hundred years before.  Read more

January means cabin fever

It’s usually sometime around December that I begin to feel the first stirrings of cabin fever. This is not the sort of cabin fever by which I am being driven batty by living in a confined space, it’s the kind of cabin fever that comes of wishing that I were in a cabin. It’s the beginnings of the itch to be back in Alaska, where there are real cabins, scattered about in the middle of vast wilderness. Usually when January rolls, I’m getting a little sentimental, because the summer is still a long ways off, and I’m starting to really miss the Great North. Read more

The End of The F***ing World (Netflix, 2017)

I came across The End of The F***ing World via a review in The Atlantic by Sophie Gilbert who calls it “Pitch-Black Perfection.” I was immobilized, anyway, from my vasectomy the day before, so armed with the perfect alibi to binge-watch for an entire day, I decided to give The End of The F***ing World a try. And I’m glad I did. Read more

I had a dream — snip, snip, part 2

Having covered the sordid details yesterday, I thought it might be entertaining to recount just how it was that I managed to come to the decision to go under the knife and entrust my testicles to a stranger.

For years I knew that a vasectomy was what I wanted to do, but I hesitated. It’s one thing to know in your head, it’s another to actually do it, to make a decision, knowing that there’s no going back. It’s all so very final, this vasectomy thing. It can be reversed, but reversing it is expensive and complicated, or so I read. And so, I vascilated, putting it off, until one night when the answer came to me, in a dream. Read more

Snip, snip

When going under the knife for a vasectomy, it is my own personal preference that a surgeon stay on point and only engage in the most generic forms of small talk. But that’s just me.

The procedure itself is short, simple, and mostly painless. Even so, the target of the surgery is the testicles. Not around the testicles, not in the general vicinity of the testicles. No, they’re going after your balls, the holy of holies, as it were, the most private of privates.  Read more

Einstein was a socialist #2 – Yoda, Ray Kroc, and the problem of oligarchy

Einstein was a socialist. One of his reasons was the ‘ole tried and true criticism of capitalism: that capitalism funnels the wealth of society to the few, the bold, the pathological, the guys like Ray Kroc. But more than that, in his essay Why Socialism? Einstein points out that concentration of wealth impedes democracy, the result of which is that masses of people go without representation.

Using the today’s terms, we would say that economic privilege goes hand-in-hand with other kinds of privilege, like white privilege and male privilege. Deep inequality isn’t simply about whether or not the workers are getting a fair shake, it’s about the wider ripple effect. Read more

The Founder, 2016 (film)

Michael Keaton plays Ray Kroc. I’m lovin’ it.

The Founder is the true story of Ray Kroc, the founder of McDonald’s. “Founder”? Hold up.

In actual fact, it was the McDonald brothers who actually created the concept and opened the first restaurants, not Kroc, right? Yep, and you can bet yer burger on it, brother.

In the film, the McDonald brothers are protrayed as a couple of quirky Southern California businessmen who are as inventive as they are principled. The brothers are appalled, for example, at even the mere suggestion that McDonald’s restaurants would sell milk shakes made from powder.

It’s not a milk shake if it doesn’t have milk! This is a matter of principle for the brothers. For Ray Kroc, however, principles are beside the point. Read more

True Grit (film, 2010)

Having read the book, I watched the film — the most recent version of True Grit, done by the Coen brothers. I’d seen it before, but my memory was a bit skewed. In my mind the film was focused on the male cowboys, played by Jeff Bridges and Matt Damon. I said as much in my review of the book.

I may have been confusing the recent film with the original John Wayne movie, or my recollection may have simply been skewed by my own male-centric perspective. In any event, I’m happy to report that the 2010 version of True Grit is just about as true to the book as possible. Read more

Einstein was a socialist, and he wants you to be one too

Einstein was a socialist. Not many people realize or appreciate this fact. Now, I’m no Einstein and you probably aren’t either, but lucky for us we don’t have to be, to be a socialist. In fact, Einstein himself actually made this point in the first few paragraphs of an article he wrote in 1949, titled Why Socialism? where he begins by suggesting that the task of evaluating the human condition is not the exclusive domain of experts. This is a job for us all. We do it together, or it doesn’t happen. Read more

Star Wars: The Last Jedi (2017)

I caught the 9PM showing of The Last Jedi last night. I left the theater with mixed feelings. It’s a good Star Wars installment, continuing on with all of the themes that we know and love. It’s getting great reviews, and gosh darn it, people like it. So whatever mixed feelings I may have had, as I pondered my Star Wars experience from last night, I felt like I could say one thing for certain: I had a good soak in the Star Wars Universe.

Even so, there was something about the film didn’t quite feel entirely satisfying, at least to me. To continue with the water metaphor: I may have had a good soak, but I’m not sure that I swam anywhere.  Read more