1. AFGE Local 1904. Here we are 31 weeks past the “end of max telework” and the union, such as it is, still hasn’t come through on delivering the new and improved telework agreement. Now, I’m told, the alleged negotiation has gone so far sideways that it’s been sent to binding arbitration. Resolution to that could literally take years. So, we’re going to be grinding along for the foreseeable future with only two days a week like pre-COVID barbarians… as if 30 months of operating nearly exclusively through telework didn’t prove that working from home works. All this is ongoing while hearing stories of other organizations tucked in next door that are offering their people four or five day a week work from home options. It’s truly a delight working for the sick man of the enterprise. I’m sure someone could make the case that there’s enough blame to go around, but since the updated and perfectly acceptable policy for supervisors was published 31 weeks ago, I’m going to continue to go ahead and put every bit of blame on Local 1904 for failing to deliver for their members (and those of us who they “represent” against our will) and for continuing to stand in the way like some bloody great, utterly misguided roadblock. No one’s interest is served by their continued intransigence. The elected “leaders” of AFGE Local 1904 should be embarrassed and ashamed of themselves.
2. The willfully ignorant. There’s a subset of people on Twitter who seem to have adopted Tucker Carlson as their entire personality. I suspect, but am not interested enough to try proving, that they’re likely the same as the ones who love Rothschild / CIA / Bohemian Grove global conspiracies. They’re definitely the ones begging people to “do your own research.” I’m honestly curious if these people would be capable of finding legitimate, scholarly, peer reviewed research reports. I’m almost positive they’re not out there setting up controlled, double-blind experiments or creating well-crafted research programs of their own. In fact, I doubt their ability to outline the scientific method at the high school level. There’s stupid and then there’s willful stupid. The latter, which seems to represent the loudest people on the internet, is largely unforgivable.
3. The local IT office recently changed whatever group policy governs our computers putting themselves to sleep. That’s a fact I only noticed when out of nowhere my laptop started issuing four or five loud beeps and then going blank while I was in the middle of reading anything particularly detailed, or when I ducked out to make a cup of coffee, or whenever I was actively in the middle of doing anything that wasn’t furiously typing or scrolling wildly through documents. I’m sure there’s a very good reason for why they’ve restricted our ability to tell our own computers when to drop into sleep mode, but for the end user it’s just an added aggravation. My employer, it seems, never passes up an opportunity to add one more tiny stumbling block in the workflow or make work just a little more unpleasant.
As I return to the wider world after a weekend mostly ignoring the news, it’s hard not to remark on the level of fuckery my former political party seems to be engaged in at the moment.
In setting itself up as the party that opposes all forms of abortion, seeks to stringently regulate free speech, and continues to call for Russian appeasement, I’m left to wonder if the Republican Party is actively trying to lose the votes of everyone under 25 years old for the rest of recorded time. Has anyone at the RNC looked at any demographic or polling information about anyone born after about the year 2000? They seem determined to stake out the positions almost precisely designed to antagonize this rising block of voters. It feels like a sure recipe for trading some short-term wins for long term electoral obscurity.
A million years ago, I was attracted to a Republican Party that stood for strong defense, lower taxes, and government that got the hell out of people’s way. That same party now, with its traditional principles hollowed out by MAGA, runs hard in the other directions – seeking to give aid and comfort to Russia, threatening to blow up the economy by refusing to honor the country’s lawful debts, and attempting to involve government in the very core of individual healthcare.
Cowering in the face of foreign adversaries is a bad look. Claiming you don’t want the government meddling in healthcare decisions (i.e., Obamacare) while intentionally meddling directly in actual healthcare decisions between doctor and patient would be absurdist schtick if it wasn’t so damned dangerous. Staking out an infinitely irresponsible position on the nation’s fiscal issues makes elected Republican officials look like nothing so much as modern know-nothings placing the entire post-World War II global financial order in jeopardy.
I can’t remember a time since I started following politics seriously in the mid-1990s, when one of the major political parties was so determined to be on the wrong side of so many important issues – and so determined to make itself irrelevant to entire generations of the voting public. It’s a hell of a thing to watch this kind of self-inflicted immolation. It’s also a sadly predictable side effect of the misguided belief that “democracy means that ‘my ignorance is just as good as your knowledge.’”
1. Elon Musk. My general feelings about Elon are, at best, complicated. In some ways he’s a visionary who sees deeper into the future than should be possible for a mere mortal. In other’s he’s a genuine crackpot, wading in to offer “expert” advice in areas where nothing in his background could reasonably be construed to give him standing. It’s the current version of “Elon the Peacemaker” that really has me wishing someone could get the guy to focus in on his lane and leave the serious work of international diplomacy to serious people.
2. Sleep, interrupted. I’ve been sleeping like dog shit for a few weeks. It’s not a problem falling asleep or lying awake all night, but rather tossing and turning and barrel rolling the sheets into a tangled mess and generally not feeling rested when morning comes. I don’t usually get a lot of sleep – six hours is about standard – but with very few exceptions the sleep I typically get is deep and restful. It appears I’m currently getting the opportunity to enjoy one of those periods of exception to the rule. I hate it.
3. The willfully ignorant. Some people are always going to be stupid – hanging out there on the left edge of the intelligence bell curve. I don’t love it, but short of extreme measures, it’s one of those conditions that simply can’t be helped. Willful ignorance, being incurious about the world, however, is entirely within the individual control of most people. This group, the willfully ignorant, is where I place the principle blame for why blatant hucksters like Alex Jones and Tucker Carlson. They’re intelligent enough to know better, but there they are, tuning in on a regular basis and giving credence to nonsense spouting charlatans. They’re the only reason such fuckwits are anything more than an internet sideshow streaming live from mom’s basement. I can, if pressed, forgive the stupid for something they can’t help. I can’t, however, forgive people who have a working brain for not exercising it with a little bit of critical thinking from time to time.
Statistically, I’ve already lived a little more than half my life. I like to think that in that time, I’ve tried very hard to not stop learning. I have an inquisitive nature. There’s a certain joy in knowing how things work, seeing the uniqueness of the world and the universe beyond, and in trying to gain an understanding of how history has led us to the present.
I think often these days about Isaac Asimov, who said, “Anti-intellectualism has been a constant thread winding its way through our political and cultural life, nurtured by the false notion that democracy means that ‘my ignorance is just as good as your knowledge.’”
You’re welcome to your ignorance, I suppose. Even in a world where the sum total of human knowledge is available through a device we all carry around in our pockets, no one can force you to take advantage of it. We can make information available, but there’s not a force on earth capable of making someone learn or develop a broader understanding of what exists outside their own limited experience, beliefs, or understanding. Some even seem determined to avoid any knowledge at all.
Here’s the thing, though… I don’t have any moral or ethical requirement to give ignorance equivalency with knowledge.
In the real world – and especially in the online one – I increasingly subscribe to a philosophy that suffers no fools. In whatever proportion of this life I have left to me, I don’t have a moment to spare to argue with ignorance, or worse, those who should be intellectually capable of knowing better than whatever batshit crazy position they’ve allowed to become their entire personality.
I can only promise that my mind remains open to new thoughts and ideas, but it will never be so open that my damned brain falls out.
I have no idea what’s happening in the world. That’s not an exaggeration. At the moment, anything that is happening outside my immediate line of site might as well be an undiscovered country. I’m assuming the North Koreans haven’t bombed California and Donald Trump is still president because those are the kinds of stories that would have made Facebook explode.
I didn’t set out to cut myself off these last few days from global events, but I find that I don’t regret it all that much either. I find increasingly that if I’m busy tending to me and mine, the amount of time available to be all that interested decreases dramatically. I’m mostly OK with that… which is easy to say as I sit here in the fading light of this grand sweep of days off. Tomorrow is going to bring be back to wall to wall televisions spewing what passes for news all day long. I’m guessing it will take me about 24 minutes to get all caught up on whatever it is I missed.
I’ve heard it said that ignorance is bliss. That may or may not be the case, but it seems that I’m a happier and probably more sane individual when my consumption of current events is held to a bare minimum.
1. Being off schedule. I don’t know what it is about this summer, but I no sooner hit “post” on one week’s WAJTW entry and I’m right back here doing it all over again. It feels a little like Thursdays are separated by 60 hours instead of six days. I’m going to blame the unwelcome interloper of physical therapy on the fact that it feels like I’m always on the cusp of being late to do everything. Throwing an extra hour of “stuff” plus the drive time into the mix has really kept things pressed at the margins. It hasn’t been a recipe for keeping up with my usual activities – not surprisingly, cleaning and sleep have taken the worst of it. I’ve been trying to remind myself that it won’t last forever, which is fine, but at the moment it’s annoying the living hell out of me.
2. The Islamic State. ISIS needs but a single, swift lesson – that if you kill an unarmed American civilian anywhere, you don’t get your picture on every news website on the planet. What you get is the wrath of an angry god falling down on your house. It’s hard to bomb someone back to the stone age when they’re living there already, but I’m all for using those pretty B-52s we have and making the rubble bounce again and again and again and again. Every time ISIS pops up long enough to make a statement, a cruise missile should fly straight down their collective throats. I’m tired of pretending that we have to be tolerant and respectful. In some cases there is an absolute right and an absolute wrong and slaying an unarmed journalist guilty of nothing more than doing his job is an absolute wrong. I’m not naive enough to think we can solve every problem with 1000 pound bombs, but in this case I think they’d be a damn fine start until we think of something more permanent.
3. The news. I need to stop watching it. I need to stop reading it. I operate on the basic assumption that bad things were happening all over the world long before the magic of television brought all of those stories into our living rooms. It’s not like mayhem and chaos are a new force in the universe. Most of what passes for news today doesn’t inspire me to action, but it does tend to drive my blood pressure to new and probably dangerous heights. I can’t shake the feeling that I’d be better off on nearly level if I didn’t know (and didn’t care) what was happening around me. Ignorance, I fear, may truly be bliss.