Archive | June 2016

C’est la vie.

I don’t like self-promotion. Even when it’s relevant, I don’t like self-promotion.

When I answer questions on Quora, I tend to answer questions that I’m interested in–obviously. This means that I’ve probably done a podcast or video on the subject, or at the very least have written an article about it, but I always find it so hard to link the content in question. Because I don’t like the idea of self-promotion.

Yet as I stand here trying to promote a GoFundMe campaign, I’m terribly aware that the only way… is self-promotion.

That’s what I meant to discuss in the last article, before I digressed, so now I’m writing about it.

As I said there, it’s no surprise that my friends don’t throw up donations. I don’t expect them to. Most of them are doing as badly as I am, and some of them worse–I at least have my own place and am not living on my parents’ land, after all. But there’s another place that I can’t turn: family. Not only do I have to be careful to ensure that my family doesn’t see me on Facebook and Twitter (I’m the only person in my family who even uses Twitter), but even if they did, there is no chance whatsoever that they would share the post, or that any of them would donate.

That’s what frustrates me about the #1 suggest on GoFundMe, Indiegogo, and everywhere else: “Share with your friends and family!”

Yeah, because I enjoy being ignored.

Of the many posts I’ve made about my campaign on my artist page and my personal Facebook page, no friend has shared anything. And they never will. These are the same people who wouldn’t spend ninety-nine cents buying my short story on Amazon. Hell, they couldn’t even be bothered to share those posts, either. I’ve often said that I’d have more luck getting them do share a kidney than I would getting them to share a post, but I’m not sure that’s true, either. I think they’d probably just sit back and do nothing.

That’s particularly frustrating because I’ve always made it a point to share things and help in whatever way that I could. When a friend of mine was raising money to start a business making vapor liquids, I donated $10 to him. I’m the only person who donated to him and shared his campaign, so it’s not just I who have the problem. It’s seriously not me; it’s them. And while I love these people to death for the (albeit limited) emotional support they’ve provided by being my friend, and for putting up with my rather… argumentative… comments without telling me to fuck off, that doesn’t change that it hurts to be trying for six months to do something, and to be able to count on one hand the number of times that friends have shown any interest whatsoever in it.

I’ve now paid $7.00 to Facebook for promoting one of my posts about the campaign, and that has yielded no result. Today I added Twitter to the list and am paying $10 to have one of my tweets about it posted. I have to do for myself the things that friends and family ordinarily do, because my family is non-existent (for all intents and purposes) and my friends are… a tad self-absorbed. They see the posts. And they just keep scrolling.

They say that you pick your friends, but not your family, and I’m not sure how true that really is. I didn’t have much choice when I picked my friends; we generally came together out of circumstance in high school, because we were the rejects, the ones who fell through society’s cracks. But realistically, I didn’t have a particularly large group of friends to choose from, and there was never really any “choosing.” The environment and circumstances handed me friends in much the same way that it handed me family.

Out of all my friends, I would have to say that the only one I think truly qualifies as an actual friend, and not merely “an agreeable person met through circumstances” would be Michelle Kelly, who I’ve never even met. And that’s not because she’s done this, that, and the other thing to help me; it’s simply because she shows the characteristic that a friend actually should: support.

When I came out as transgender, I made it clear to a lot of my friends that I was going to be leaning pretty heavily on them. They understood, because being transgender meant that I was about to be dead to my family. One girl in particular was supposed to be there–and then wasn’t. C’est la vie.

I’m not bitter or angry about it, not really, but it does frustrate me and sadden me. It’s a large part of the reason that I was so willing to drop everything and move to Vegas–thinking I had found that, as I said, “kindred spirit.” That person who would ensure that I wasn’t totally alone. That’s really what matters to me, as I have spent the better part of my life alone–something that a lot of people simply won’t get. Most people do have at least a parent they can go to, after all.

C’est la vie.

When a friend of mine called me a week ago and needed help with his computers, I told him to come on out, and I looked for power supplies to sell him that he needed. I couldn’t give them away, because they were business inventory, but I sold them for $15 each–one third the actual price. Not only was there no markup, I actually took a loss by selling them, and converted one computer from a “Just needs a hard drive” to “pretty much junk now” by removing its PSU. Then he arrived and I spent about 45 minutes troubleshooting things with him. I only put a stop to things when he basically wanted me to open up a brand new case, brand new motherboard, brand new CPU, brand new RAM, and put one of the computers together for him. That… crossed a line of friendship to me, especially since this was something he’d already done twice himself. I’m all for helping someone with something, but I’m not just going to do it for them. My colleague was coming down anyway, so I didn’t have another hour to dedicate to building a computer. And while I wouldn’t have let him pay me for my time, he also didn’t offer.

Two weeks later, and my GoFundMe campaign sits on my wall ignored, not even a Like. And if it did get a share, it would be an empty one, an obvious gesture, with no text or anything added, no, “Hey, this is a really good friend of mine who has worked really hard to overcome obstacles, but who needs a little help right now…” or anything like that.

No sign of friendship. Just a sign of obligation.

An obligation that would only be acknowledged if I brought attention to it.

When he first asked if I had a PSU, I said “No,” because I didn’t have one just sitting around. When he made it clear that he really needed them, I took time out of my day and pulled three. Then helped troubleshoot the problem.

Another friend contacts me somewhat regularly to have me do things remotely for his computer. I’ve installed and setup MotionInJoy for him, so that we could trick his computer into reading his 360 controller as a PS3 controller and remap the axes on it. I’ve helped him remove malware. All things that I charge people for on a daily basis, but the thought of charging him never crossed my mind–because he was a friend and needed help, and I was able to give it.

It’s a nuanced issue, obviously. I never helped them because I expected reciprocation. I never envisioned a scenario where this friend 3,000 miles away would be able to help me with something; I simply did it because he was a friend and I cared, not because I was obligated to or because I wanted him to be obligated to return the favor. But I think someone’s willingness or unwillingness to take three seconds out of their day to click two buttons and type a short message is probably a pretty good indicator of how much they value you as a friend.

My campaign can’t go viral if the people to whom I’m sharing it don’t forward it on. That’s how this sharing thing works–it’s a spider web. I share it with the thirty friends I have, and they share it with the 30-300 friends they have. In one act, I went from sharing with 30 people to sharing with 900 people.

In theory, anyway.

How it actually works is that I share it, and that’s as far as it goes.

When you’re literally trying to do something that will improve your life by leaps and bounds forever and that will allow you to actually move from a place of economic despair to stability and progress, it goes a bit beyond “disappointing” and flirts with “insulting” to hear only the crickets and see only the tumbleweeds after I effectively ask, “Hey, could you share this?”

But I will keep going. I will endeavor on. And when I have moved to Vegas and make new friends, they will find themselves systematically removed from my life. They weren’t there when I needed them, so why on Earth would they be there after the dust had settled?

3

I will succeed. I will leave this wretched place, and I will put all this shit and this horrid environment of selfish people in the past.

And I won’t look back.

Spirals

I’m not sure what to call it, but I’m sure that it will come to me as I write this. “Spirals” isn’t quite right. It’s self-reinforcing, though, perpetuating itself because it is and cannot be anything else. No, I haven’t been hit by a bout of depression or anything–I’m just thinking about the fact that, of my friends, none have ever done anything to help me do anything.

Poverty perpetuates itself. That is what I was trying to say.

I totally get why none of my friends would donate to the GoFundMe campaign, and I don’t begrudge them for that. They’re Mississippians, too, which means that they face the same harsh reality that I face: there’s just no money here anyway. In order for them to give me money, they’d have to have money, and they grew up in the same area that I did, faced the same economic despair that I did. Most of them live on their parents’ land, in a trailer on their parents’ land, or in a trailer on their wives’ parents’ land. Less than 1% successfully broke away, and those who did were already safely middle class. I think of the guy I went to school with, with whom I was best friends when we were much younger but drifted apart because I moved closer to atheism and faith is a big deal to him, and how he is now a reporter for ESPN or something. I’m thrilled for him, but that brings something else to my attention.

It’s fair to say that he had a better start than I did–Hell, than most people here did. The circle of friends I had in school all came from similar backgrounds, and I’ve mentioned it before: our parents were on drugs, divorced. Many of us didn’t live with either parent. And so we all rejected the system that had spit upon us.

Many people would here say something like “Oh, you’re blaming the system for everything now? Grow up and take some responsibility!” I’ve heard that refrain often. Never directed at me, though, because until the past few months I’ve never really sat down to think about how all of this came about. It was pointless. I simply went with the hand that I was dealt, and it served no purpose to sit around thinking about how some people were dealt better hands. And I’m still not doing so–the hand I was dealt is irrelevant, because I don’t mean any of this in a personal way. I’m talking more along the fact that it’s borderline impossible to be born to a poor family in a place like this and change those circumstances.

A lot of people grow up with parents who talk about putting back money for college funds. How hilarious. Because I remember when my dad took my sister and me to cash out our savings bonds that were supposed to go to college–all one of them that we each had–and instead used that money on himself. Probably on drugs. It never occurred to me in high school that there would never be a college fund, and it actually might have been helpful if my dad had sat me down at some point and said, “Do you see the way I live? You don’t have to do that. If you apply yourself, if you focus and try to excel, you can break out of this bullshit. But I won’t be able to help you do it. I’m not man enough to help you do it.”

Other people talk about getting $150 allowances from their parents each week while they’re living in dorms in college, and I can’t even fathom what that is like. I’ve been working since I was fifteen years old, specifically because my father couldn’t pay for me, and because I had to pay for myself. Even before that, he had me working outside during the summers at the trailer park at which he was a maintenance guy, putting this shit called “Cool Coating” or something on people’s roofs for $100 a trailer. Of course, he enjoyed a $40 Finders Fee for each one of these.

The last time I did this at all, I had four trailers to do in a single day–$400 for a single day of work. I was 14 years old, and had never even seen that amount of money, much less held it. I was dreaming about finally getting a PlayStation 2, like my cousin had because his parents had bought him one. Just as I’d gotten myself a Playstation X by trading in my Super Nintendo and every single SNES game that I had to Funcoland. I didn’t have a single game for that PlayStationX (there’s a difference between the PSX and PS1). In fact, I didn’t even have a way to connect it to my television, because my television was one of the old CRTs with only coaxial inputs, and the PSX came with composite cables. So there I was, without the SNES that my mother had given me for my birthday the year that the N64 came out, and without any of those games, but I didn’t care. I had the latest and greatest. No games for it, and no way to even connect it to my TV. But I had it.

That was what I wanted: a PlayStation 2 and Final Fantasy X. It looked amazing.

Instead, as we were leaving for the day, my father asked for $140 to pay back his boss for a loan. “I’ll give it back to you Friday,” my dad said. Then, after we left the office, “I also need to borrow $200 so I can get my license plate renewed.” By the time we made it home, I had $60 left–all that remained of the 8 hours I spent standing on roofs in the hot Mississippi sun at 14 years old coating people’s roofs in some coolant. Of course, my dad never paid me back, as I knew he wouldn’t, but it’s not like you can call your father out on things like that, not when you’re 14 and living with him. “Oh, I didn’t know you liked having a roof over your head.” Not to mention that my dad was spiteful in the extreme. “I guess you can buy your own food and start paying rent from now on then!” he would have replied.

There was a period of about a month where he basically made me play the boardgame RISK with him and his girlfriend every single fucking day. While I like RISK (not so much since this experience) and did enjoy playing it occasionally, a friend had loaned me a guitar, and I wanted to be practicing that–since I didn’t have a guitar and couldn’t borrow it indefinitely. That kid, Chris P., is solely the reason I was able to learn to play the guitar, something that I’ve become quite good at and that has saved my life on several occasions.

I also had Final Fantasy IX, I remember, and I badly wanted to play it. I’d gotten it at Wal-Mart for $20 with some of the money I made doing the cooling crap on roofs, because my Disc 3 had stopped working. Funnily enough, this was because I’d let my cousin borrow it. After weeks of trying everything from nail polish remover to toothpaste (yes, toothpaste) to remove the scratches, I accepted that there was no option but to replace the game. And I finally had. So I could finally get back to my quest!

But no. Because everyday I got home from school, ten minutes later my dad got home, and then we had to play that stupid goddamned boardgame for the next six fucking hours. After weeks of this, I decided that I just couldn’t play anymore. We never finished any of the games. We always stopped about five hours in, when it was obvious that my father was going to win, and decided “We’ll finish it tomorrow.” But then tomorrow came, and, rather than finishing, we’d restart the whole fucking thing. That went on for weeks. Seriously, weeks.

It doesn’t take that long to get sick of The Game of Global Domination.

When I said “No, I’m not going to play,” my father flew into a rage. So angry that he could barely speak straight, slurring his words and stuttering about what a “piece of shit” I was, and how I could just take my ass outside and cut the grass. With a weedeater. Because he was never going to buy a lawnmower, and never did buy a mower. His solution was what you’d call the “Cheap Because I Don’t Have To Do It” option of buying a weedeater and pushing responsibility of cutting the yard off onto me. After all, he wasn’t going to get outside with a weedeater to cut a few fucking hundred yards of grass (this was my uncle’s land).

So all that was to say that my father is petty.

But even that experience where my father “borrowed” $340 wasn’t the reason I stopped doing it. No, he would never have allowed that. He needed me to do it so that he could “borrow” *wink-wink* money from me, so under no circumstances would he have allowed me to stop doing it.

Instead, the reason I stopped doing it was that someone offered to pay him in advance, because they needed him to purchase the stuff. Two barrels of the stuff was about $60, if I recall correctly, so he was given $160. I’m sure you can guess what happened next.

First, he decided he would “borrow” part of the $100 from me to get various things that he needed. On day three, that $100 was down to $0. So on Day 3, he decided that he would “borrow” from the $60 for the materials, and then “Pay it back on payday.”

Just like he “paid me back,” I’m sure.

So after that, I couldn’t continue doing it, because he had to come up with $60 to buy the materials, and he had to come up with something to pay me. Even he wasn’t a big enough piece of shit to ask me to do it for free.

Shortly after that, he was fired, as one might expect. A tenant complaining to the landlord “Hey, your maintenance guy kinda stole $160 from me” can have that effect, especially since my dad was never qualified to do any sort of maintenance anyway, and had already borrowed $2000 from his boss. That’s right. $2000. For what? Who knows. His car was paid for, and we lived in the one bedroom addition to my uncle’s house. And, at that time, my dad’s rent was a measly $150 a month.

Drugs, I’m sure. You’d be surprised, if you’ve never been down that road, how quickly you can burn money on drugs, especially lortabs at $7 a pop. Hell, there were days that I paid $10/pill. When you’re addicted and desperate, you’ll pay just about anything.

I got sidetracked on Quora arguing with someone who literally argued with my answer to a question while specifically demonstrating the exact mindset that I was talking about. Honestly, you can’t make this shit up:

https://www.quora.com/Why-are-many-people-against-direct-democracy-after-Brexit-when-it-works-quite-well-in-Switzerland/answer/Aria-DiMezzo

How in the hell can someone say in one comment that they don’t like direct democracy because they don’t agree with the criteria by which people who disagree on the policy came to their dissenting conclusion, while saying just a moment later that they value liberty? I am reminded of that brilliant passage from Thomas Paine in The Rights of Man:

It takes in a field too vast for their views to explore, and proceeds with a mightiness of reason they cannot keep pace with.

Love me some Thomas Paine.

When I took British Literature in college, I asked the instructor if I could do my term paper on Thomas Paine. This was a class that was largely dedicated to Romantic poetry (the reason that I took the class–I’ve always loved Romantic and Victorian era poetry). To my surprise, he allowed it. So I talked about how Thomas Paine had a better understanding of rights and liberty than most people today, and how he demolished the Pentateuch, as well as the notion that it was written by Moses, in The Age of Reason–after which I later named a song The Age of Aquarius. One of the greatest tragedies of human history is that Thomas Paine’s influence has been so narrow. The Rights of Man, in particular, is a masterpiece of the theories of self-government, and almost no one has read it.

I’m not really out for pity or sympathy when I write things like this, though. A friend of a friend commented this video:

…by saying that he knew I wasn’t after sympathy, and it never occurred to me that someone could feel sympathy over it. I don’t really feel bad or disenfranchised by any of the shit that has happened.

All in all it was all just bricks in the wall.

Although, I can’t deny that I’ve been much more focused recently on talking about my past and various things that have happened. But I don’t think it’s sympathy that I’m after–but understanding. The last thing I want is for anyone to feel sorry for me; I’m too proud for that. And why shouldn’t I be proud? I rose from a dirt poor family in the economic despair of Mississippi and put my fucking ass through college.

IMG_1521

But there’s no scholarship for me to apply for if I desire to move out of Mississippi and put this college degree to use. And though it’s only an Associate’s Degree, I’ve frequently considered getting my BA, but have ultimately decided against it. There aren’t many more doors that a BA would open that an AAS doesn’t. But I need to get to the doors. And there are no doors here.

I am humbly asking for help to make this happen.

https://www.gofundme.com/transgendermove

Clear & Concise: Mississippi’s Problems

Two roads diverged in a yellow wood, and I took the one less traveled by…

I hate Robert Frost.

That’s not true. I like Robert Frost quite a lot, and he’s a fantastic poet. I hate the effects that Robert Frost had on poetry, as I think a generation of people who grew up knowing nothing more about poetry than “Robert Frost and Edgar Allan Poe” did a great deal of damage to poetry as a whole, and that’s obviously not Frost’s fault. I would love for American students to have to spend a decade studying the Romantics, because that was some of the best poetry in human history. But that’s actually not what I want to talk about. Just a completely unrelated prologue, in fact.

I began to drop the hints to my colleague today that I am taking steps to move, but it was only something I weakly alluded to. When I left last year, he was the last person to find out. He won’t be the last person to learn of it this time, but I’m still not going to tell him until I’m much closer to the funding goal. That’s a link to the GoFundMe campaign, which you are free to share or donate to, to help me change my life for the better forever.

At any rate, I simply made it a point to bring up Mississippi’s latest piece of bullshit legislation, and my observation that the state is taking babysteps toward theocracy. But just a little while ago a friend shared something on Facebook that I found really interesting.

Diabetes rates across the U.S.

Diabetes rates across the U.S.

But we’re just getting started. Of course, I’ve already shared this one that drags in religion–particularly southern baptists–as well.

religionkeyOf course, poverty is worse here:

We're the blue one. The ONLY blue one.

We’re the blue one. The ONLY blue one.

It’s really hard to put into perspective how much Mississippi truly freaking sucks. Teen pregnancy? Yep, we’re full up on that, too. Might have something to do with the fact that our schools only teach abstinence for sex ed.

Sigh.

Sigh.

Of course, we also have some of the lowest high school graduation rates in the country–and I’m a statistic on one of those, because I didn’t graduate high school. I instead earned my GED and later went to college. Still. Interesting, Nevada is just as bad as Mississippi in this respect.

Slide4Oh, good. We also have gonorrhea.

ghonnoreaThe short version is that this place sucks.

It sucks even more than I thought it sucked, and I’ve always known that it sucks really bad. It’s not hard to look outside my window and see the boards on buildings, the empty, crack and grass-filled parking lots. Hell, even our banks close up and get out of dodge.

That building in the foreground used to be a bank.

That building in the foreground used to be a bank.

On a given day, I don’t notice on this. And I’ve never had an encounter with gonorrhea, so I’d never notice that anyway. But on any given day, I just see the overabundance of churches. That’s the only real evidence that, just below the surface, this state is sick as hell–horrendously sick, on the verge of catastrophic illness. Beneath the dazzling veneer of the holy churches is a society of petty, petulant, and bitter people, convinced that their problems are caused by:

  • The Muslims.
  • Icky brown people.
  • Them dang Spics done took ‘er jobs!
  • It’s them dang ‘um queers o’er thar that’s the problem.
  • Them boys wanna dress lock girls, what’d’ey ‘xpect was gun happen?
  • Obama’s gonna take our gerns!

And I know I’m sounding like the Liberal Redneck here, and I can appreciate the irony of that, but there’s a few important points to consider:

  1. He made his statements about specific people, specific individuals.
  2. I’ve frequently said this isn’t true of all of them.

Yet… with Mississippi’s Anti-Gay legislation on top of their latest “put God back in school!” legislation, with the fact that…

These people went HEAVY Trump (as I predicted, btw)...

these people went HEAVY Trump (as I predicted, btw)…

It’s certainly true of a majority of them.

They’re looking for someone to blame, and Trump didn’t tell them to blame Mexicans and gays. I know Trump likes to credit himself for bringing immigration up to the surface, but who is he kidding? Immigration never really stopped being a large issue anywhere in the world. That we in the U.S. went a few months without talking about doesn’t mean that Trump created the issue. These people–not all the people here, but the majority to which I’m referring–have always said that Mexicans, gays, black people, etc. were the problem.

My mistake was in thinking that the moderates had more sway than they actually do. Clearly, the moderates are powerless here. Our state legislature has proven itself firmly in the grips of religious zealots, and our Governor has proven himself firmly on their side. Rather than veto this horrific legislation, Phil Bryant proudly signs it into law. I spoke in the podcast last night about how this state has lost its mind. But it’s not like Mississippi ever had very far to go to lose its mind. The only thing that has really changed is that the moderates and reasonable people have been swept aside, and the religious extremists have taken over.

There are dark days ahead for Mississippi, and I’m not referring to my suspicion that secession and civil war are inevitable. I mean only that Mississippi has made it clear: Mississippi is committed to pursuing this path of Christian theocracy, where the moral proclamations of a single religion dictate the law. If I hadn’t decided Saturday that it was truly time to leave, then I would be making that decision now. Mississippi already has among the lowest Average Incomes in the country:

I was unable to find one that didn't specifically apply to millennials.

I was unable to find one that didn’t specifically apply to millennials.

When you add in the gonorrhea, the high school dropouts, the teen pregnancy, the high religious rates, the diabetes, and all the other shit, you have a place that is held together only by its religion. So it should be no surprise that Mississippi–which, I think we can all agree, is objectively the worst state in the United States–also has the highest rates of religiosity. What else do these people have, except their hope that they will have a better life in the next world?

Mississippi sucks, and I’m trying to leave it. Unfortunately, most of the problems affecting the statistics above also affect me (except, again, the gonorrhea one :D), and it’s largely irrelevant here that I’m a college graduate with a good work ethic. This is a place where you either work at a gas station, or at an assembly line in a factory (and there are only two factories nearby, both of which only hire through temp agencies and won’t hire someone with a college degree in an unrelated field). This isn’t a place where you get a college degree in I.T. and then stay here, working in your new field. No, as I’ve come to realize, the only option is leaving. And I need help to make that happen. So I ask humbly that you consider helping me with that, in whatever way you can, from donating to liking and sharing–it all helps.

https://www.gofundme.com/transgendermove

Thank you for reading, and thank you for your time.

Transgender & Need To Leave Mississippi

https://www.gofundme.com/transgendermove

Saturday, the realization occurred to me that in the past year I’ve been able to make pretty much zero progress in my life here in Mississippi. All I’ve managed to do was tread water, and that took tremendous work, and the prospect of drowning has loomed over me pretty much every minute of every day. I look on envy at the people making Minimum Wage, as the numbers show that I would make more money if I flipped burgers at McDonald’s. So why don’t I do that? Well, there’s the problem exactly!

McDonald’s won’t hire me, because I’m a college graduate and wildly overqualified. In the past year, out of the inestimable job applications I’ve put in, I got only one callback, and that was for a busperson position at a restaurant–and I didn’t get the job.

Because I was overqualified.

The death of my television and my total inability to scrape up the paltry amount of $160 to replace it is an absolute disgrace to myself as a human being. This is why I busted my ass all those years ago, working a full-time job while being a full-time college student, doing homework like a lunatic on my lunch break? Going to sleep when I got home from work at 2:00 in the morning, and then waking up at 6:30 to get ready for class? This is my reward for that labor? To be totally unable to come up with a measly $160 to buy a cheap fucking television? To live on a diet of (literally) ramen noodles and bologna sandwiches–without cheese? Without cheese, for fuck’s sake!

I’m angry. I’m tremendously angry. And I have every right to be angry, because no matter how it’s sliced, this isn’t my fault. Even if I had never gone to Vegas, my situation wouldn’t be much improved to how it is today. No, this is almost completely an extension of how my parents and their drug usage, separation, and irresponsibility stacked the deck so heavily against me. Through my whole life, I’ve fought against those odds, and I’m furious that circumstances have trapped me here. The more I think about it, the angrier I become.

https://www.gofundme.com/transgendermove

But I’m in a Catch-22 here. I need money to leave Mississippi, and I need to leave Mississippi in order to make money. I am turning to the wider world and asking for assistance in extricating myself from this untenable and wretched situation, where not only am I unable to “get ahead” because there is no “ahead” to get to, but because I am transgender in a state that is not going to simply allow that to happen.

So if there is anything that you can do, from donations to sharing that link, it would be tremendously appreciated. I need $3,500 to safely and securely move out of this hellhole and be able to establish myself elsewhere, and put this miserable existence behind me.

Expense Estimated Cost
Gasoline (1700 miles @ 15/gallon @ $2.25/gallon) $255 Note A
Deposit + 3 Months Rent ($545/month) $2,180 http://www.apartments.com/vibe-apartments-las-vegas-nv/l67j48e/
Electricity/Water/Gas Deposits $200 Perhaps unnecessary, will know when Vibe returns my contact
Pet Deposit (Probably) ** $500 Unnecessary at Vibe Apartments–waiting to hear back from them*
Food, Miscellaneous Household Items $150
Hotel Expense $60 Amarillo, TX Super 8
Miscellaneous? Drinks, etc., Gas Jug, Water Jugs $50 Note B
$3,395
Note A: This is slightly high, in fact, by about 10%. The trip to Vegas from where I am in MS is only about 1600 miles, and I get better than
15 miles per gallon. “How much better” is a figure that I don’t know, but it’s not considerably better–perhaps 18-19 per gallon. That certainly
adds up over time, of course, but it’s always better to err on the side of caution. Plus, the cost of gas varies across the country.
Note B: One does not make a drive across the country without a few gallons of water and a 5 gallon jug of gas in the trunk. The last time
I made such a drive, there were two occasions when the gas jug came in very handy. While it wasn’t necessary, better safe than sorry.
* Given the circumstances, I hope that they are willing to work with me and have a way of me filling out the requisite paperwork from
a distance. For obvious reasons, an interview with them is hardly an option. But surely this happens somewhat frequently.
** If this proves unnecessary, it would be ideal for me to have my female fixed before making the trip, for $135. My male cat is fixed
already, but the female just about stays in heat these days, and she would drive apartment neighbors crazy.

I am humbly requesting the assistance of anyone and everyone who can provide any help whatsoever.

Derailed Thoughts & Thoughts of Leaving the South

I’ve never been so surprised and so happy about the outcome of a vote.

The British people have voted to leave the European Union, and I’m thrilled for the longterm hope this brings me, that we will move away from central authority and back toward self-governance. Before I dive into the meat of this article, though, I want to mention what a UK citizen told me earlier on Facebook:

Let’s not even talk about how we’ll probably lose Scotland too. My point is yes we’ll survive leaving the eu but we really didn’t have to.

“…how we’ll probably lose Scotland…”

Shit, dude, that’s exactly the problem! That mindset you have, that Scotland is yours to lose! What the fuck? Scotland is Scotland’s! Scotland does not belong to the UK! Jesus! No wonder you’re in favor of staying in the EU! You think it’s perfectly okay to consider other peoples and societies as your property. How else could you possibly justify that statement? “We’ll probably lose Scotland…”

Fuck.

Scotland isn’t yours!

My reply to this, however, was more direct and focused:

If the differences between the Scottish and British people are so fundamental that this rift is irreconcilable, then a fracture between Scotland and England was inevitable anyway. If the British are so in favor of self-governance and the Scottish so in favor of central authority (tendencies that appear to reverse when we start talking of Scottish Independence), then it was never going to work out. And I think that’s pretty obvious–how many times has Scotland voted for independence? I think it is inevitable that they will leave the UK. The only question is when. And perhaps “What will be the final straw?”

Moving On

I want to return, however, to something that I became aware of last night, with the help of awesome patron and supporter Michelle, which is that… it’s bizarre that millennials, who I recently characterized as being “Changeists” without ideological backbones, were almost universally against Brexit.

There’s an enormous difference between “We want change at any cost!” and “We don’t even care what the facts or reasons are–we must not change!”

I think the distinction hinges upon what they consider “Progress.”

It’s no secret that “progressive” has come to mean two things in the west. First, it means being pro-tolerance, at least in the typical usage of the word (not my usage of the word that actually reflects is meaning).

Goodness, the links and inline videos… You can really get a complete picture of my ideology if you follow the trail, I guess. I like to think that it’s pretty circular, and that creates a large problem: where do I start if I want to express my worldview? A circle has no beginning. One thing I say will sound silly without having something underlying it, and if I say the underlying thing, it will lead to another underlying thing. Regardless, my “online presence” has pretty much dived straight into my ideology, so I started somewhere. But if you’re curious to get a complete picture of my worldview–the worldview of an atheistic shemale anarchist–then I like to think it’s becoming possible. Another central piece of that wheel, however, is my presence on Quora, which isn’t typically included in this circle of things that I do. Anyway.

We think of “being progressive” as a good thing, and no one wants to say that they’re regressive or anti-progress. So it’s automatically biased when used in any political context, because it paints a false dichotomy. If your position is “progressive,” then other positions stand in the way of progress. This is a deceitful tactic meant to discourage people from expressing disagreement, as it leaves you able, the moment they speak, to call them backward, “stuck in the past,” and “living for glory days that never were.”

I’m not a fan of that sort of thing.

At any rate, it typically means “tolerance,” or, at least, they say that it means tolerance.

Annnnd my thoughts just got thrown off because I made the mistake of emailing my colleague about paying me for some work I did Thursday, and he replied with his typical criticism:

I wrote you a $250 check Monday. How are you without money today?

Well, I’m not out of money, and I made that clear in the email I sent. I will be, after I purchase some important things.

But one would think this guy had never lived alone. I agree that a $250 check sounds pretty awesome, but what you have to remember is that… that was my paycheck for the week before. $250. A worker at McDonald’s working 40 hours a week at Minimum Wage makes $290, before taxes. That Minimum Wage worker, however, also qualifies for a lot of welfare benefits that I don’t because my employer is a small business. Even after taxes, the McDonald’s worker is still making about the same thing that I made, but most weeks I don’t make anywhere near that amount of money–I usually end up with $150 or $175. $250 was a good week.

Welcome to Mississippi.

But oh, no, everything costs the same here that it costs in states where people can get real jobs. Rent is cheaper here, but that’s it. The price of milk, gasoline, paper towels, cat food–they’re all standardized across the country, from Los Angeles to Boston, because they’re all bought from national chains that standardize their prices regardless of the local economy. This guy knows that I already subsist on a diet of water, ramen noodles, and bologna sandwiches–what the fuck else does he want from me? He knows that I quit smoking because I couldn’t afford it, and that I’m using a vapor device despite their horrendous consistency and my utter inability to find a reliably good liquid.

I mean, really. The only way I could cut down on expenses would be to die.

My television broke, and my only hope was to be able to get the service people down the street to repair it, because they do stuff like that and because I have a great business relationship with them. I’m not convinced that they even looked at it. After nearly 2 weeks, though, they finally called me and told me that they couldn’t fix it. So now I have a 22 inch monitor (which isn’t even 16:9, though it is at least a flat screen) that is the center of everything that I can do in my spare time. While it’s better than nothing, have you tried sitting on your couch and typing something on your 22 inch television? Because that’s essentially how my setup is–everything feeds from my computer, and my computer feeds into my television. A replacement 32 inch (which is smaller than the 72 inch that I used to have, but that my cats broke, leading me to switch to the 30 inch television that I had been keeping in my bedroom) 1080p television is only $160, but it might as well be $1600.

On top of that, my phone is fucked and I can’t receive calls. It needs a new battery, at the very least, but there’s a larger problem with it–any time I receive an incoming call, the display goes black and nothing will light it back up. I cannot see who is calling, and I cannot answer the call. My phone is totally unusable until they stop calling, and then I can look and see who it was. It could probably be resolved by reformatting it, but it would be less trouble to reformat my fucking computer. Given that the last time the battery drained, it took me nearly 3 hours to get it back on, I just don’t think the phone is worth putting much money or effort into.

Things aren’t made to last anymore, and that makes life very difficult when you’re me, because I simply can’t replace these devices that were designed to tear up and stop working. Sure, being able to replace your television for only $160 sounds terrific–until you bought a television a few years before and simply can’t afford to replace it now.

Plus, my graphics card is pretty much shot, and gaming is what I do with about 15% of my spare time. It can increase, if I’m particularly into a game. When I was recently playing Star Wars: Rogue Squadron 3D, for example, I was playing about 3 hours a day. Now that I’m using mods to wear the alternate outfits and was able to grab Resident Evil 6 on PC for like $6 (a game that I’ve had my eyes on for more than a year, and nearly purchased a year ago for $50–I have a love/hate relationship with RE6), I’m playing about 2 hours a day.

Or, at least, I was. Now, my graphics card simply stops working. Every three minutes or so, GPU usage will drop to 0% while CPU usage skyrockets, and my fps drops from 30 or 60 (depending on the game and settings) to 7 to 10. This lasts for about a minute, with the game being totally unplayable (I’ve found it’s best to just pause the game until FPS goes back up) in the meantime. Extensive testing has revealed that the GPU simply stops trying to process anything, but it’s not a heat issue. I can verify that. Not only is the case open, but there is an actual box fan on Hi blowing directly into my PC, on top of the CPU fan, three case fans, and the gfx card’s fans. Temp monitoring shows that the GPU never goes above 50 degrees (which is trivial for a graphics card), the CPU never goes above 60 degrees (AMD CPUs tend to idle around 45), and the motherboard occasionally hits about 65.

This has always been an issue, but it’s also one that I’d resolved. It seemed in the past that sometimes the GPU just wouldn’t “catch” properly. I’d boot up a game, it would work fine, and then FPS would drop to unplayable levels. The first time I experienced this was with Mortal Kombat 9, and I initially blamed the game. But I quickly learned that I could also boot up any other game, and it would do the same thing. In the end, MK9 simply became the “test game.” If I launch it and the fight begins still at 60 FPS, then everything is fine. But if the fight begins and immediately drops to 7 frames per second, then things are not fine. So I would reboot the PC, and then test again. Eventually, it would function correctly. It’s anyone’s guess why this happened. I’m an I.T. consultant, yes, and a damned good one, but hardware function and driver interactions operate at a level more specialized than I can handle.

The problem is more persistent these days, and I haven’t gotten it to “catch” in days. I’ve essentially stopped trying, and I believe the card is simply dead. That’s not the end of the world, since I needed to re-upgrade anyway, but that’s another $300 that I don’t have.

And am I really being criticized that I’m broke six days after receiving a paycheck that would make a Minimum Wage employee angry? It’s possible to live on such wages–I can attest to that, and I do attest to that–but it’s far from easy, and there’s very little luxury. It infuriates me to basically be living on Minimum Wage, in my own place with all my bills paid, and be criticized for not being able to make $1 pay for $1.50 of things. And if I’d known he was going to take this avenue, instead of just “Oh, yes, I’ll write you a check for the money that I owe you,” then I would have just gone without paper towels.

I can’t afford anything to break, and that has been the case since I returned from Vegas–something that will likely inspire me to go ahead and do that video. While I don’t blame the girl for that, I do blame the experience–and obviously, I undertook the experience–but none of that really matters. It’s simply the case. And it’s going to get worse before it gets better, as I become increasingly androgynous, breasts start to grow, and my hair grows–things that I’m not willing to undo or stop. The bottom line is that I have to move, but I can’t afford to move. I’m a goddamned college graduate with years of experience managing a company, managing large I.T. projects, and being the I.T. firm of multi-million dollar companies. Not only would moving allow me to get a real job, it would allow me to be transgender in peace, allow me to get my ID changed easily, and allow me to get hormones more easily.

Hm.

That’s something I need to really think about. Why… Why am I staying in Mississippi? I don’t even like it here, and it’s not like I really have a family anymore.

I Must Really Hate Myself

Yesterday, I argued on Twitter with a Flat Earther.

I’ve decided that I must truly hate myself.

Now, in the interest of fairness, here is the video that dragged me into the conversation, when one of my Twitter supporters asked me to address the stupidity that was running rampant.

I watched the video in full and noticed one thing conspicuously absent from the discussion. I have very little interest in critiquing the claims one by one, because the guy making this video had to reject a great deal of science and evidence in order to even make this video; it would be the very definition of pointless to attempt to direct him back to that evidence and science. However, there was one thing that shatters the Flat Earth Hypothesis:

The Coriolis Effect.

MIT_Coriolis-Effect_2.gif

For those who aren’t aware, the Coriolis Effect is basically this: an object moving vertically above Earth’s surface will appear to shift laterally and to the west. It’s not hard to understand why. If the Earth is a sphere that is spinning around, then shooting an arrow from the equator to the north will cause it to drift to the west/left–the earth continues spinning, and the arrow is detached from that spin. In actuality, the arrow flew perfectly straight (assuming perfect aerodynamics) and did not veer to the west; the Earth continued spinning counter-clockwise (when viewed with the north pole at the top).

MIT_Coriolis-Effect_1.gif

The next time you’re riding in a school bus, flip a coin in the air a few inches. Freely detached, the acceleration of the coin instantly starts decreasing, the very moment it is no longer attached to your hand (and thus being pulled along, just as you are, by the bus). If you flipped the coin at the very front of the bus, then it will land somewhere behind you, because the bus continued its acceleration forward, while the coin instantaneously began to slow its forward momentum. This is the same thing that causes the Coriolis Effect: the Earth continues to spin, but the arrow’s horizontal momentum instantly stops the moment that it is released.

no coriolis

Prior to this, I’d invited Flat Earth City to my podcast to discuss his views with me. I did this in a friendly way and made it clear that I was not inviting him to debate, but to discuss. There would be disagreement, of course, but I was not inviting him on to be unfair or disrespectful. Shortly after this, he declined and posted this. Honestly, if he’d posted this earlier, I would never have invited him onto my show. Why would I? Anyone who would dispute the very existence of the Coriolis Effect (using fireworks to do it, what?) has no place on my show.

The Coriolis Effect is a documented fact. Moreover, it is one that is readily observable.

He went on to post this ridiculous thing:

balcony

*sigh*

The irony is that this picture is exactly what you’d expect to see if the Earth was curved. Notice the atmospheric haze outlined in red:

2That is of the utmost significance, and this handy little image shows us exactly why:

round

Notice how much more atmosphere Mr. Green is seeing? Mr. Green is literally seeing more atmosphere in the far distance than is Mr. Red.

round2

This is why the atmosphere is so incredibly thick in the far distance, and the mountaintops in the distance are perfect parallels to the tree in our own little image. In the midst of that extra-thick atmosphere that appears to be a fog because the person is literally looking through <some percentage that could easily be calculated if I cared to> more atmosphere, the distant mountaintops can be seen, thanks to the added height.

Please note that none of this would be the case if the Earth was flat:

flag

If the Earth was flat, one would not be able to see further by gaining height. If the Earth was flat, one would not have to peer through “more atmosphere” to look at distant objects when one gains elevation. The reality is that the very image Flat Earth City posted is undeniable proof that the Earth is round.

If the Earth was flat, then the ground itself would be visible at the base of the mountains, just as Mr. Green in “Flat” above can see the bottom of the tree easily. But it isn’t visible. The mountaintops in the distance rise out of a haze of atmosphere, not the ground. How could that possibly be the case if the Earth was flat? What we are literally seeing in this image is the very distant edge of the Earth as it “goes around the curve” and we can no longer see it, just as Mr. Green can’t see Point B here:

round3

Instead, it would look to Mr. Green that the top of the tree is rising out of the air itself, with the ground stopping a good distance away from the tree. And *gasp*! That’s exactly what we see in Flat Earth City’s image!

balcony

Mountains rising out of the atmosphere. This is the “evidence” he has that the Earth is flat: things that are, in fact, unequivocal proof that the Earth is round. How can they say there is no curvature when the ground in the image literally disappears into the atmosphere before the horizon itself? Hey, dude:

2a

That red line.

That’s the curvature of the Earth. Right there in your picture.

As the World Turns

About two weeks ago, my television died.

It had been acting weird for about a month, with the lower half of the screen being noticeably darker than the top half, and I was confident that the reason was overheating. It was actually angled and partially blocking the exhaust vents on my PC, so there was a lot of heat where it was at. When I realized the problem, I immediately resolved it, but the problem persisted, and there was nothing I could do about it. Then I woke up about two weeks ago, and there was no display at all.

Being a reasonably skilled tech person, I disassembled it and began troubleshooting. It didn’t take long to trace the problem to the power supply board, so I called the manufacturer. I was told that I would have to send it to them to have it repaired, something that I’m not willing to do for at least thirty-six reasons. It’s hard to overstate how critical my television is to me. It’s basically the monitor for my television, and damned near everything I do goes through my PC. So being without a television was brutal. I happened to have a 22 inch monitor that I can use in the meantime.

I sourced the board, however, and found that the board alone was $175. Considering I bought the TV on my employee discount at RadioShack when I worked there years ago, I don’t think I paid that much for the whole damned thing. After discussing it for a bit, my colleague and I decided that the best route would be to take it to a service shop that we do a lot of business with. Well, two weeks have passed, and they haven’t even touched the goddamned thing, so they’re clearly not going to. Considering it’s probably just a $3 transistor that blew on it, it’s a goddamned shame, but I’ve little choice but to replace it since I can’t keep this monitor indefinitely (I got it for a client, who I’ve since been feeding bullshit to about it).

Yesterday, my phone began fucking up. I hate the Galaxy S5 so much, and I don’t think I could ever miss a device as much as I miss my S3 loaded with Slimrom.

Then my dog died from an enlarged heart. She wasn’t actually my dog–she was one of the 4 that just kinda stay here with me. They belong to my landlord, and watching him with these dogs is amazing. He dutifully comes out every morning, mixes in a can of wet dog food with a certain amount of dry food, stirs it a bit, and then feeds the dogs, gives them fresh water, etc. Rain, sleet, or snow, every single day. They are remarkably healthy dogs, and probably the most healthy that I’ve ever seen. And though they aren’t my dogs, I usually go out there mid-afternoon and hook them up with some more fresh water, play with them, and pet them a bit.

I can no longer receive calls. I don’t know why. My phone was at 4% when a client called. I went to answer, and my phone immediately died. It took me about three hours of messing with it to get it back on, and it hasn’t been working correctly since. As I said, I can’t receive calls. The screen immediately goes black, and nothing can be done to make it display anything until the call ends.

Today, my gfx card began fucking up. Although I’m not completely sure if it’s the graphics card, or if it’s the game. It could go either way, but it’s probably the gfx card, because this has happened before.

I’m just waiting on my GNX3 to fuck up. It’s bound to be next. Everything else I care about has already fucked up. Either my GNX3 will fuck up, or one of my cats will die. If one of those things is going to happen, then it better be my GNX3. I honestly don’t know how I’ll survive either of these cats dying. Luckily, they’re lazy, happy, and spoiled, so… They don’t seem to be going anywhere.

He just lays there on my speaker... all the time... staring out a window.

He just lays there on my speaker… all the time… staring out a window.

Sitting all prim and proper. :O

Sitting all prim and proper. :O That’s light on the black sheets, not cocaine or something, although some of it might be dust. I don’t know.

My god, look at Rainbow’s face. She’s like “I’m not even going to make eye contact with you.” And she won’t. She never will. She’ll stare at my hand, though, and wonder “Why isn’t that rubbing me? It’s supposed to be rubbing me.” I’d bet my guitar that she’s staring at my hand in that pic.

My Youtube channel is growing, though. And you can download a free book that I wrote here, with no strings attached. πŸ˜€

Well, that’s pretty much it. Just a small update on things going on, nothing particularly important, and I can’t bring myself to give a shit today about politics.

I think I’m going back to powder foundation. I’m not sure. I started with powder, then switched to liquid, but just applied powder, and I think I like the way it looks better. It definitely does a better job of smoothing than liquid does. But it’s a lot harder to get even. I suspect that’s probably the key difference between them. Liquid isn’t as effective but is much easier to use.

And I’m torn between blue eyeshadow and charcoal. I like blue better, but it’s harder to use. And I have to remember to look for some pink feathers some time.

I did buy some cute flip-flops last week.

Of course, this was before the cats found them and sharpened their claws on them.

Of course, this was before the cats found them and sharpened their claws on them.

Buying them was really awkward. I’d gone to Wal-Mart to buy a better microphone (one that turned out to not work at all… for real. At all.), and I walked by the shoe aisle and saw these out of the corner of my eye. I knew at a glance they’d fit (when you’re a “male” shopping for female attire, it becomes second nature to be able to glance at something and tell whether or not it will fit, because you can’t stand there studying it in a Mississippi Wal-Mart o_O), so whipped out my phone, started taking pics, and sent them to a friend on Facebook. Just using it as cover in case someone had anything to say (it wouldn’t be the first time). They’re still about a size too big, but they’re fli-flops, so they don’t have to fit exactly right.

The people at the store closest to me pretty much know. One girl does, at the very least, and she’s recommended various things to me multiple times. When I say “closest to me,” I mean it’s basically within vision of my front yard. But she’s never there alone, which would keep things from being awkward, and I hate those kind of stores for that reason. There’s always someone on the makeup aisle. πŸ™

Someone told me they’re going to get me something for Father’s Day. He wasn’t being a dick about the transgender thing; that didn’t even cross his mind, I’m sure. He explained that he thinks it’s admirable that I’ve gone this far in my life consciously choosing not to have kids, which is infinitely better than the “fathers” out there who aren’t supporting their kids emotionally or financially, or who think parenting means plopping their kids in front of a television. And, to be fair, that’s exactly why I don’t have kids. I think it’s the responsibility of a parent to spend most of their time raising the kid. Parents in the U.S. seem to look at parenting as a mostly passive affair–the parents do their thing and let it rub off on the kids.

My nephew smarts off a lot to his mom, and then denies that he has an attitude. When my sister was telling me about this, it was so hard not to laugh. For one, I don’t care for the whole “respect your elders!” bullshit, so I don’t care if a kid mouths off to me. Chances are, I deserved it anyway. But the main reason I wanted to laugh is that she seems to think he came up with that all by himself, that “I’m not yelling!” thing. No… No, sis… He learned that from you. All those times you yelled at him angrily, and then he started crying, and he told you that he was crying because you were yelling, and you replied, “I wasn’t yelling…” Yeah. He learned that from you, sis. Whatever behavior you find in your kids that you don’t like, you should look in the mirror to find out how they learned it.

I don’t even yell at my cats anymore, not since I realized that they don’t yell at me. And I don’t think that I’ve ever yelled at a child. To me, everything about me yelling at a child screams back to me, “I’m not doing something right.”

And I don’t want to have to do all that, so I remain childless. And he’s right, there’s no day for people like me who look at child raising as an enormous responsibility and think, “Nah, I don’t think I want to undertake that…” And he’s right that there probably should be, if we’re going to celebrate the deadbeat dads out there.

Google, Facebook, and Twitter: Sued For Aiding the Enemy

According to various news sources, Internet giants Google, Facebook, and Twitter are being sued for providing material aid to the enemy (ISIS/ISIL/DAESH) by the father of one of the students killed in the Paris attack. And you know what?

That’s such a goddamn good point. I honestly can’t believe that I didn’t think about it before, but not only should they be sued–they should be brought up on charges of treason. Never mind hiring I.T. experts, as Trump suggests, to seal DAESH off the internet–it’s Google’s responsibility to close themselves off to DAESH.

Let’s look at this from the perspective of any other company.

DAESH calls me to request my help removing a virus from their computers. Yeah, exactly. It’s obviously, clearly, and blatantly providing aid to the enemy for me to help them. No one would dispute or challenge that. Not only should these companies be sued; they should be brought up on charges of treason. The only escape is that they might not have realized the tweets, searches, and posts came from DAESH, but it’s silly to think that these companies who make their money by monitoring users and studying their behavior couldn’t put two and two together. They obviously could have. They simply didn’t.

Considering that it’s been common knowledge for a while that all these places are being used (alongside Instagram and many others) by radical Muslims to convert and raise funds. While I’m sure these companies have attempted to curtail it, they certainly haven’t done enough to make their services unavailable to those who would utilize them to murder, and it’s indisputably their responsibility to do that, just as it would be my responsibility to tell them “No” if they called me about a virus.

In an age where ransomware writers code their programs to specifically avoid targeting given countries, it’s absurd to think that these enormous conglomerates that dominate the internet can’t do the same, but locking out DAESH instead. If their systems are too open, insecure, and homogenized for them to do that (which certainly isn’t true), then their systems need to be overhauled immediately.

There’s really no excuse that will hold water.

Except one technicality.

Congress has never declared war.

It is fucking ridiculous that what will allow these companies to continue serving people who are clearly our enemies… is a goddamn technicality. This is why it’s a lawsuit that’s been brought against them, and not criminal charges. Isn’t that amazing? Think about it for a moment. Our government has not recognized DAESH as the enemy, and they didn’t recognize Al Queda, either. Hell, we didn’t even declare war on Iraq.

What a joke. What an absolute disgrace.

Now the refusal to declare war makes sense. It’s not treason to trade with them if there’s no declaration of war. I guess they learned from that mistake during World War 2, when the Bush family lost a fair bit of gold they’d acquired from trading with the Nazis. “Problem solved!” they realized around the Vietnam era. “Just don’t ever declare war! Then we can fight perpetually AND lengthen the war by helping them! It’s win-win! And it only costs a few thousand lives every once in a while.”

There’s no excuse for this world we have created, and fixing this mess starts with personal responsibility. Whether you’re the CEO of Google or just an individual, you are responsible for you and the consequences of your actions. The standard defense against this will be something along the lines of “What do you want them to do? Monitor who is using their Search?”

Um… They already are.

Google is extraordinarily powerful, and they have only become more powerful in the past few years. Think about it. When you need to look something up, you google it. Fuck. That’s a level of power that is terrifying. If they wanted to influence search results, they could wield untold levels of power over the world. And there is some evidence to suggest that Google is doing exactly that. http://www.digitaltrends.com/web/google-autocomplete/

It’s hard to really explain how many trillions of dollars have gone into subtly manipulating human beings through advertising and calculated titles. This is a mistake I frequently make. Think about it. Which video would you watch?

The Most Important Message You’ll EVER Hear

or…

Transgender Mississippian to LGBT Community: Change the World.

Almost everyone would click on the first one, and almost no one would click on the second. However, I don’t want to do that. I don’t want to play the game that way. I absolutely could justify naming my video “The Most Important Thing I’ve Ever Said,” because I do believe that is true of the video in question:

But “The Most Important Message You’ll Ever Hear” comes dangerously close to clickbait territory, even if I think it could be true. Seriously, that video is important, and if liberals and LGBT people would listen to it and apply it, we just might be able to put Christian “homophobia” behind us forever. The opportunity is right there. Right in front of our faces. They’re trying to rally beside us.

It broke my heart to see this response to my message:

too-little-too-lateReally, you piece of shit? You’re going to knowingly continue antagonizing Christians, and preventing them from standing beside LGBT people, and therefore continue making life extremely difficult for LGBT people in Alabama, Mississippi, Arkansas, Georgie, and Tennessee, because you want to hold a grudge? Jesus, fuck you, man. I replied to that with:

No… No, it’s not. The lIves and peace of mind of lgbt people in Alabama, Arkansas, Mississippi, Georgia, and Tennessee are impacted by this in ways I can’t even begin to explain. If people who aren’t similarly affected would just get out of the way, learn to forgive instead of holding grudges, we might just be able to coexist.

No, I’m not being naive to suggest that our problems could vanish overnight. I’ve seen it before; we’ve all seen it before. The exact same thing happened after 9/11, when all of America came together. Religion, gender, and race were all pushed aside. None of it mattered. You were simply an American first, and we stood together, side by side. We have that opportunity right now to stand together with sexual orientation and sexual identity being the things that no longer matter. This is overwhelming. And it happened overnight.

Did the post-9/11 unity last? No. And I know that there’s no guarantee that this one would last. However, this one could start. And, to be totally honest, I’ll gladly take 2 or 3 years of unity and acceptance by the people who literally surround me everywhere I go. Having people in Oklahoma, Indiana, Pennsylvania, and other states standing in the way of this unity because they want to hold a grudge… it’s despicable. Fuck you people so much for this, and I will probably never forgive you if you don’t get out of the way, stop being divisive, and let us come together. Sure, there are Christians everywhere. But this is the Bible Belt. We have an entirely different kind of Christian here.

Evolution isn’t even taught in our schools. Did you know that? I never learned a word of evolution from elementary to the end of my high school career. We don’t have Sex Ed here. We have Abstinence Education here. The sex ed pamphlets that kids get are blatant fear-mongering bullshit about STDs and death. I’ve written about them before, but it was more than half a decade ago. They were disgusting in their Christianity, though. This is the place where all that shit is concentrated. We have more churches per square mile than we do gas stations, convenient stores, and restaurants. This place is called the Bible Belt for a reason. There are at least a dozen churches within a mile of where I live, and that’s no exaggeration. I remember driving to work years ago when I lived with my sister, and I counted all the churches that I passed directly. I didn’t count the ones on adjacent streets–only the ones on streets I was on. On a 22 mile trip, there were 39 churches.

Some of us have to live here and try to coexist with these people, you inconsiderate dickbags.

Respect that.

Can you even comprehend a concentration like that?

File:Church or synagogue attendance by state GFDL.svg

That is a map of church attendance by state. You see that dark green place there, in the middle of the set of three dark green places? That’s Mississippi. We’re second only to Utah (which has a much lower population that is largely Mormon) as far as people who attend church every week, at 47%. HALF of all Mississippians attend church every single week.

religion.png

This one’s kinda complex, so here’s the key:

key

More than 50% of our population is one single denomination of Christianity: Baptist. When you mix in the Methodists, we’re approaching at least 70%. And by the time you’ve added in the Presbyterians, Pentecostals, Church of God/Church of Christ, etc., we’re getting pretty close to 95%. And in case you hadn’t connected the dots, what we’re talking about, of course… are Southern Baptists. The only real misconception people have about southern Baptists is that they do, in fact, support religious liberty for everyone, but they do also believe that Christianity should be the default, instead of secularism being the default. Basically, they think that Protestant Christianity should be the state religion, but that people should be allowed to follow other religions. Yeah, they’re a mess of problems.

It sucks hairy goat balls here, dude.

The very least people in the U.S. who are not surrounded by southern Baptists is stop antagonizing the people who do surround us and who, for the first time in American history, want to stand beside us.

How did I get onto this subject again?

 

When Push Comes To Shove

I do want to take a brief moment to say goodbye to Toni, who I actually just mentioned by name in a post. She died yesterday. She was found dead in her home, and the cause is probably an overdose, but that’s just conjecture on my part, based on what I know of her. She wasn’t murdered, at least. And while I’m not going to fall into the mindset of “She had such a bad life!” and “Heaven gained another angel!” the fact is that the last decade of her life was tragic.

And self-caused.

Worse yet, I was a way out for her, and I wasn’t going to let her fall back onto that path. It was the reason that her family loved me to death. I owned my own company, had my own place, had fought my own battle with drugs and knew how vicious that could be, and kept my eyes on her. But it was for nothing. She slowly slipped back to it, and, to my knowledge, she never tried to climb back out again.

Anyway.

I want to expand on something I’ve mentioned several times, because a lot of people are still arguing that the solution to the problem, the problem that caused the shooting in Orlando, is more gun control. While I’m not going to say everything on that front is fine, I am going to say: that’s a red herring. It can never work.

The reality is that a law can do two things: it can punish a crime, and it can make it a little harder to do something. But if human history has taught us nothing, it should be that a law will NOT prevent anything. Just look at how easy it is to get marijuana in the United States. Marijuana is illegal. Yet people want to smoke it, and so they do. When abortions were illegal, we had back alley abortions. People wanted abortions, and so they got them. In the 1920s, we established Prohibition and outlawed alcohol, and it created two years of horrifically violent crime and people like Al Capone. We attempted to throw more cops, more laws, and more federal agents at the problem, but it was for nothing; we could not weed out all of the Al Capones. What did? Repealing Prohibition. As soon as we repealed Prohibition, people like Al Capone vanished, replaced with Anheiser-Busch and Budweiser.

Outlawing something that people want to do will not prevent them from doing it.

Okay, now take a deep breath.

Deeper.

Be calm, and say it with me.

There are some fucking psychopaths out there who want to kill people.

Okay, so let’s apply everything we know. Murder is already illegal, and the law certainly isn’t preventing murder. People are murdered every single day. Not all of those people are murdered with guns. In fact, a fair portion of those people are murdered with hammers, baseball bats, crowbars, knives–whatever the murderer can get their hands on. Whatever the murderer can get their hands on.

Making it harder for these people to acquire guns is not going to stop them. What do you imagine happening? Do you think Marteen would have sat there in his apartment, thinking, “I sure would love to wage Jihad against the infidels and kill a bunch of gay people, but damn! I just can’t find a gun!”

Of course not. Such an argument is silly.

Radical Muslims have been using homemade bombs for ages, and the availability of guns and ammunition did not really make things easier for Marteen. It meant only that he had to do a little less legwork, but there is no chance that the inability to get a gun was going to stop him. And trying to prevent him from getting a gun is another red herring–a lot of people seem to not understand how extremely long American borders are.

Gun control requires a fence on both borders, and it requires illegal immigration to be totally and completely nipped in the bud. The overwhelming majority of illegal immigrants (Note: I think borders are ridiculous, and think anyone who wants to come to our country should be allowed to, no questions asked–if they can get here, then… then they can get here.) are great, ordinary people, but you’re a fool if you think that smugglers aren’t using those very same channels to sneak drugs and weapons into the country. They simply are. No, these are not the same people trying to find a job at the Home Depot, but they are using the same channels and coming from the same place, and you cannot stop one without stopping the other. If one is possible, then both are possible.

Nor do we even have the resources or manpower to station someone every 50 yards along both borders to make sure that no one is sneaking in guns–and they are sneaking in guns. You can buy unmodified AK-47s in the United States. You just have to know where to go. Gangs in Chicago know where to go. Don’t get into the habit of denying these realities; you will never fix the problem if you deny the facts. And I’m not making a judgment assessment of this. I’m simply pointing out that: it is the case. So even if we outlawed all guns and confiscated everyone’s guns, it really wouldn’t be that difficult for Marteen to get one.

And if he, for some reason, couldn’t get a gun, he would have simply built a bomb. It’s not really that hard to do. And by that point, he obviously didn’t care about whether or not he was caught, so all cards were on the table; he was going to do whatever he had to do, because he wanted to kill people. No law was going to stop him.

When he walked into that club and opened fire, that is the exact moment when push came to shove. There is not a law that could be written that would have protected the people in that club when Marteen walked in and opened fire. Even if security guards and armed police officers had been stationed in that club, they would have been Marteen’s first targets, and he had the element of surprise. Even armed police officers being present would not have stood a chance of stopping Marteen before he gunned them down.

Fuck this asshole.

Under the “best” of circumstances, this disarmed population of 300 people would then have immediately called the police. And, after a 7-10 minute delay, police would have arrived outside the building. Meanwhile, Marteen and his guns are inside the building, with 300 innocent people who are being killed and held hostage. At the very least, there would have been more delay as the police prepared and executed a plan to take out Marteen. And we’re looking at 14-20 minutes with this maniac and his gun having totally free reign over everyone in that club.

What would have stopped him? A law obviously wouldn’t have. None of the present laws stopped him, after all. They were probably no more than inconveniences to him, and it is irrelevant how tight the laws could have been–criminals have spent all of human history finding ways around laws. See Prohibition, marijuana, abortion, homosexuality. So what would have stopped him?

Well… what did stop him?

A bullet.

Hours later, and after fifty people were dead and fifty more injured, someone was finally able to put a bullet into this piece of shit. Is it not obvious? Is it not inescapably clear? What we needed, what would have stopped Marteen and saved a bunch of lives, was if even 10% of the people in that club had been carrying their own weapons and knew how to use them. Marteen would have come in and pulled his shit, and absolutely people would still have died. As we’ve agreed, it was impossible to prevent. All we can do is minimize the damage. And as soon as these 10% of people realized what would happen, one of them would have put Marteen down.

How many lives might have been saved?

I’m not blaming the people in that club for not having guns or for not knowing how to use them. I’m simply pointing out that, yes, the presence of guns and a group of people who knew how to use them would have put the bullet in Marteen hours before the police finally did. His little escapade of terror would have been over very quickly, and it’s extraordinarily probable that fewer people would have died.

The question isn’t “How can we stop this from happening?”

It’s “How can we stop it when it happens?”

Because trying to answer the first question… is impossible. It simply can’t be done. Even a totalitarian police state with absolute control over its citizens wouldn’t be able to accomplish it. Even the Orwellian nightmare of Big Brother in 1984 wasn’t able to stop random criminal acts like those perpetrated by Goldstein. Focusing on that question leaves us distracted and not answering the real question:

How could lives have been saved?

That is the question. How could lives have been saved?

Ransomware: Let’s Get Serious For a Moment

Ransomware.

If you’re not familiar with it, then you should keep up with the I.T. world more. It’s a new type of malware that basically takes your files away, and then charges a ransom to restore them. They don’t really take your files away–they encrypt them, typically. But don’t worry–they might as well be gone. Reverse engineering the encryption algorithms would take forever, and they are too numerous for it to work in the long run. Besides, ransomware is going to become more and more common. It’s just too lucrative.

And yes, paying the ransom will typically get your files back.

It’s also worth mentioning that this can only be done with Bitcoin, and it can be kind of a pain in the ass to buy bitcoin if you’ve never done it and aren’t particularly tech-savvy. And if you do pay it, then you’re kinda encouraging them to continue to do it. But I won’t blame you for it–you might need your stuff back, and letting go of it simply may not be an option.

There’s only one way to defeat ransomware.

Backups.

Backup your stuff.

It’s not hard.

Google Drive offers a quick and easy way for you to do it, as long as you don’t need to back up more than 25 GB of stuff. Or you can just pop in a flash drive every month or two and copy all your shit onto it, then set it off to the side. It doesn’t matter, and there are countless options. Just do it, one way or another. Most of the big dogs in the ransomware world are now going after hospitals, because they can easily charge $3m to a hospital to unlock their stuff (this just happened), and since hospitals have lives on the line, they will always pay if they have to.

But there are still plenty of little people out there who will gladly take the home users and ransom their files for .25 BTC ($125~). At the moment, they’ve generally been asking about $500, which the average home user won’t be willing to pay, but they’ll figure it out sooner or later and lower their prices substantially. If you only have to pay $75, after all, to get all your stuff back that day, it suddenly becomes a lot more tempting.

Oh, it’s coming. Ransomware is coming. It’s going to be very big, and very popular.

But it’s easy to defeat.

Just make backups every so often. Voila, done. They will never be able to write software that encrypts the flash drive that you set in your desk drawer after you’ve backed up your pictures to it.

So there’s a jolly good PSA for everyone. Don’t be a douche. Backup now, before you get hit with it.

Oh, yeah–your McAfee Antivirus, Norton 360, Spybot, and AVG won’t protect you from it, either. These programs are pacifiers for the gullible, and they do very little good as far as protecting you. They sometimes function as pretty good smoke alarms, but they aren’t sprinkler systems, they aren’t the fire department, and they aren’t fire extinguishers.