Kids fuck with yer brain

Our kids are now sharing a room and a bunk bed so the crib is done. I actually got emotional dismantling and cleaning the thing so we could sell it. It’s just a cheap Ikea crib but it was the first thing I put together for the baby (back when there was only one and we didn’t know what she’d be yet so we could call her ‘the baby’ and the description fit) and I hadn’t taken it apart since putting it together 4+ years ago as it went from being used by monster #1 straight to monster #2 (this is now the description that fits for both of them, though sometimes it’s hard to tell which one holds the #1 spot).

We’re definitely not having any more kids and yet somehow taking apart this shitty Ikea crib is making me nostalgic for having a little baby again.
Having kids fucks with yer brain, folks.

Anyway, anyone want to buy a crib?

Twitter is Dumb

Hi. This is a note to all outraged Twitter detectives scrolling through endless, stupid hashtags about Mississippi.

So, last July I tweeted back and forth with an old friend of mine, creating a bunch of real dumb, clearly tongue-in-cheek hashtags poking fun at #FeelTheBern:

See that #MississippiBerning hashtag in there? Well, apparently a few not-so-smart-or-historically-aware Bernie fans started using that (incidentally) during yesterday’s Mississippi Primary.
Which is dumb.
And it’s Twitter, so of course a lot of other people got super, very upset. And started tweeting the hashtag themselves.
So there are now over 6K tweets mentioning #MississippiBerning (the majority of which are actually people decrying it as racist and ahistorical) but right at the beginning of that long list of tweets, why, there’s little old me: with the very first mention of this stunningly stupid hashtag, albeit 8 months before the rest of them.

Aaaand, again, since this is Twitter, I’ve now gotten dozens of dumb Twitter detectives hunting through the entire stream of tweets, finding mine, and then calling me a racist “Bernie Bro” because context is irrelevant and why not ignore the fact that in my tweet, #MississippiBerning was nestled in between #BernAfterReading and #BernNotice, which was just a sneaky thing I did to hide my racism and definitely not me making a bunch of silly film references.
I’m also inexplicably being blamed for starting the entire hashtag, nevermind the fact that I wrote the tweet BACK IN JULY, and despite my best attempts at being totally great at social media, no one in the history of this stupid platform plays that long of a game.

So here’s my piece: If you’re upset at some ignorant dummy using #MississippiBerning to promote Bernie Sanders, put down the torch and explain WHY it’s a dumb way to promote a candidate. And then take a deep breath and leave me alone.

TL;DR: Twitter is a fun way to become racist for making film references last year.

Fuck the ALS Ice Bucket Challenge

[updated Aug. 23 2014]

This is personal for me, so excuse the angry tone and forgive me putting this on a blog otherwise filled with irregular, trite nonsense (or don’t, I don’t really care).

dad 1My father passed away from ALS (amyotrophic lateral sclerosis, otherwise known in the States as Lou Gehrig’s Disease). Any terminal illness is in its very nature horrifying, but ALS is particularly cruel in that it destroys your body while doing nothing to your cognitive abilities, so you literally become trapped in your own body. Over the course of three brutal years, my brothers, my mother, and I watched a man who earned his living as a carpenter, handy man, fixer-of-everything, a man who sat behind his drum set every chance he could, a man who could talk your ears off for hours, slowly degrade until he could no longer speak at all, let alone move even a finger. At first, he had trouble walking and was given crutches. We had to drive him to doctor’s appointments because he could no longer drive – a man who spent uncountable hours working on his car, who took pride in driving and teaching me and my brothers to drive.bob telson Then he needed a wheelchair. Then he couldn’t move the wheelchair himself. A home health aid was brought in to help take care of him since he could no longer even get in and out of bed on his own. The medication he was on required an IV and we had to administer his daily cocktail of medicine ourselves because the nursing service wouldn’t do it. When he could no longer speak, we communicated using a board with letters on it. We cleaned him up when he couldn’t make it to the bathroom on time; we fed him blended up food because it was the only way he could eat; we cut his nails, trimmed his hair. This is only the tip of the iceberg. On October 3rd, 2006, at the age of 53, he died of asphyxiation, due to ALS, in a hospital bed in the middle of the night, alone.

The picture I hope I’m painting for you is not a fun one. It is ugly. It is terrifying. It is sad. It should be. It is not a fucking photo op of some asshole tech billionaire getting ice poured over their head. For what? ALS awareness? What the fuck is that? This isn’t the flu, being aware of ALS doesn’t mean people are less likely to get it. You think because more idiots are aware of the disease that somehow makes it better for the people who have it? Granted, the thought of Mark Zuckerberg cold and uncomfortable for even a split second could give anyone a brief moment of joy, but really? You want to be aware of what ALS is? Go read my last paragraph again. Go look up the stories of other people who have, or had, the disease. Fucking hell, you could even go read Tuesdays with Morrie. Some celebrity dousing themselves in ice has about as much to do with ALS as them taking a shit onto a plate (#PlateShitChallenge!)

This is not ALS:


This is ALS:

dad 3


The ALS Association claims it has raised $2.5 million more because of the campaign. Great. I’m all for an increase in donations, but the assholes getting their names splashed all over the news for pouring cold water over themselves make more than that in a day.

Here’s an idea: Instead of trivializing a horrific disease with an absurd marketing stunt/popularity contest, let’s have all these wealthy ‘philanthropists’ just donate a couple million each to ALS research directly and cut the self-serving bullshit.

UPDATE Aug. 23, 2014: First, thanks to everyone who’s read my post. I wasn’t really expecting it to get the audience it has received.
I’ve gotten a lot of comments on this post, on Twitter, on Facebook, etc from people who feel the need to defend the Ice Bucket Challenge. Everyone is entitled to their opinion, and I understand that there are other families who have suffered through ALS that have no problem with the Challenge, but I have a few points I’d like to respond to and then I’m done.

  • The ALSA now says it has raised over $60 million. This is great. It doesn’t change anything else about what I’ve written in my original post.
  • Further, I can virtually guarantee that other ‘ALS families’ that support the Ice Bucket Challenge would support a different fundraising campaign that was more dignified and did more to advocate for the disease.
  • I’ve had people tell me that I’m “missing the whole point of the Challenge”. First, if I’m missing the point of the challenge, can you imagine how many people who don’t know anything about ALS are missing the point? And what is the point? To raise money and ‘increase awareness’? What does that mean? So now you know that there’s yet another horrible, terminal disease out there. Maybe you donated $100. Are you going to donate again next year? Now that you are aware of ALS, are you going to fight for stem cell research, better funding for the NIH? Will you go spend time with someone who is suffering from the disease and could use a friend a lot more than they could use videos of someone being drenched in ice water? In a few years, if someone mentions ALS, how many people are going to think of ice buckets instead of a debilitating and deadly illness? Being aware of ALS is literally the least you could do. I genuinely respect the ALSA and their work, but in this case I think they’ve made a big mistake in not tying real information and advocacy into a fundraising campaign. They chose to make a fun game that could easily go viral, a publicity stunt that smacks of corporate marketing strategies, rather than something that has any heart, empathy, or dignity behind it.
  • Before you defend the Ice Bucket Challenge, are you doing it because you genuinely think it’s the best way to advocate for and help fight ALS? Or are you doing it because you’re mad that your fun got spoiled?
  • tl;dr The ends don’t justify the means.

And finally, I’m turning off comments on the post and rejecting a few particularly nasty ones that have already been written. I’m not interested in debating random people on the Internet (nor do I have the time to respond to each comment), I don’t appreciate being told to ‘get help’, therapy, etc etc (you don’t know me – what a strange thing to tell someone), and *gasp* I don’t feel like defending myself for being angry about something I care about. I cursed a bit, I’m not some scary monster. Thank you to everyone who commented positively and respectfully.

Another brief update (Sept. 4, 2014):

Here’s another like-minded perspective from someone who’s battling ALS right now. If you’re really interested in ALS awareness, I encourage you to read through Anja’s blog.

My brother Noah and I recorded an episode of our weekly podcast yesterday and touched on the challenge. I addressed some more of the arguments I’ve heard in it.

Flying steerage

I flew out to New York last weekend, just for the weekend, to see my youngest brother get married. It was a little crazy, but considering how screwed up my sleep patterns are now that we’ve got a baby the jet lag was nothing. I flew with an airline that rhymes with Air Schmance and on the flight back I was on an A380, the new double-decker plane made by Airbus. With the exception of 9 “First Class Suites” at the front of the plane, the entire bottom deck is economy class. The upper deck has 80 “Business Class Angle Flat Seats” and 38 “Premium Economy” seats at the very back, which is funny because flying in the back of plane sucks. Lufthansa A380 interior There’s something kind of beautiful in the full-circle-ness of having what amounts to steerage class on planes now. Keep the riffraff on the bottom, away from the people that really matter. Back to the days of immigrant ships sailing across the Atlantic.

Here’s the thing that really makes me laugh about air travel nowadays, particularly with the big national carriers, but ironically with the low-cost airlines, too: The vast majority of people flying are flying in economy class (the class where you’re still paying an arm and a leg, but it’s the very least you can pay) and yet, with very little exception, every shop in the airport, every page of the in-flight magazine, every item in the duty-free catalog, is marketed to people with money, and lot’s of it. On the A380 I flew, roughly 82% of the seats are in economy. On a full plane, that means 82% of the people are paying as little as possible. But in the pocket in front of every seat is a magazine chock full of articles discussing exotic island vacations, Southeast Asian resorts where the nightly rate is twice that of an economy seat on the plane, write-ups on perfectly great cities where the only accommodations and restaurants listed are so ludicrously expensive it borders on parody. “Visit Berlin! Stay in the Soho House! The only restaurants we’ll tell you about are on Ku’damm!”


I was thinking about why this is, because at first glance it seems rather illogical. The airlines say, though, and I don’t necessarily doubt the reasoning, that even though the majority of their passengers fly in economy, the first and business class passengers are where they make all their money. Judging by the ticket prices, I can see why. So, I suppose, it would follow that marketing expensive, luxury goods and vacations to passengers makes sense because the people spending money on stuff while they travel are the people with lots of money who fly first class and go for flakes of gold sprinkled on dessert that you shit out later (this was in an article in Schmitish Airways last year).
Here’s another theory, though: flying was always seen as a high-class means of travel. Back in the 60s and 70s, the jet age, the heyday of air travel, flying in a plane was a pretty amazing activity in and of itself. There was a whole aura around flying that just made it seem like the coolest, classiest thing you could do. Even into the 90s this was essentially true. That has obviously changed since the introduction of security theater, high fuel prices and airlines trying to nickel and dime you for everything they can. But the airlines and airports still want you to think flying is high-class, so they can kinda-sorta justify the insane prices of airline tickets, even in economy class, nowadays (even though you get less and less for the money). And what better way than to inundate you with luxury bullshit everywhere you look.

“Dang, Ma! They got a Gucci store and a Cartier store and a beauty salon and I can buy a bottle of perfume that costs 500 dollars! Flyin’ in these aeroplanes is fancy!”
71/365: Modes of Transport

Feeding pigeons

Last week I was out in Berlin “covering” Obama’s speech (to a crowd of 4,000 invitation-holders, no one else was allowed in – but that’s another story…). As I was walking around Potsdamer Platz, desperately trying to find somewhere to eat that wasn’t both disgusting and over-priced, I watched an old woman feeding a crowd of pigeons from what appeared to be a fresh loaf of bread. She was doing this less than 5 meters away from a homeless man panhandling.

So, to recap:


Now, to be fair, I didn’t see anything before this. Maybe the old woman walked by the panhandler and wanted to help, so she went to Netto and bought a loaf of bread and offered it to the man and he was all, “Uhm, no, gross, I don’t eat white bread,” and the old woman didn’t know what to do with the loaf of bread so she just started feeding it to the pigeons right there so she didn’t have to carry it around with her.

But probably not.

I often have my own aversions to handing out money and food to panhandlers. Every time I see someone asking for change I go through the same internal debate about how much you’re ultimately helping the person, whether you should trust that they’ll use the money wisely (and what that means, and whether it’s even your business), whether giving something is just a way to make me feel better about myself and inherently puts the person on the receiving end at an inferior level, etc etc (welcome to my brain, enjoy the stay in crazytown). However, if I don’t end up giving a panhandler something, I certainly don’t follow that up by standing there for a while showing them how worthless they are in creative and subtle ways.

I’m not really sure what this situation says about anything. I’d like to draw some general conclusions about the state of humanity, given as this was happening while the German government was spending what I can only imagine were millions of Euros on absolutely insane security for Obama’s 24 hour visit to the Hauptstadt, but I’m not sure it says anything other than “some people are really shitty.”

After I’d gotten food I had some change in my pocket, and I walked back to the plaza intending to give it to the guy, but he’d moved on. The pigeons were still there enjoying their unnecessary meal.

This is a blog post

I’ve been told that this ‘web logging’ or ‘blogging’ thing is what all the cool kids do, so here goes nothing. I have a hard enough time writing a coherent e-mail or a 140-character “Tweet” (and it’ll still take me hours and multiple revisions), so I have no idea if this is going to work. I’ve never been one of those people that can just sit down and start writing and writing and writing. Which is probably a good thing given what goes on in my brain most of the time.

Sorry, I just got distracted by my cat and then someone wrote something funny on Twitter and holy shit it’s been two hours since I started this blog post.


Wait, Edward Snowden is leaving Hong Kong? Be back in a bit.