RL123 - Your mom doesn’t work here

This week, Merlin and John talk about:

The problem: John presides over the Bruggalos, referring to everybody grabbing onto their tribal identifiers on the Internet and there is the one guy who is both a Bronie and a Juggaloe (is he a Bruggalo?) and it is a mad dash to figure out how to profit from that tribalism.

The show title refers to passive-aggressive signs that people would hang in the office kitchen, saying for example ”Your mom doesn’t work here”.

It is going well.

John is at his office studio.

Draft version
The segments below are drafts that will be incorporated into the rest of the Wiki as time permits.

3rd podcasting anniversary (RL123)

This is their 3-year anniversary. Merlin doesn’t have anything special to say, but he didn’t just want to let the day go by. John doesn’t know if Merlin thought three years ago that they would still be doing this three years from now, but Merlin doesn’t know what he thought at all three years ago. Wasn’t it the Clinton administration? They have some listeners who weren’t even born during the Clinton administration! Merlin drops a decade sometimes. The traditional 3rd anniversary gift is leather, so Merlin was thinking of giving John some chaps or maybe a gun belt. John has several times been in a situation where there have been chaps available to him.

Finding some fringed chaps for his dancer girlfriend (RL123)

One of John's great thrift store moments was in the little cowboy town of Monroe, Washington: He was dating a very exotic and beautiful girl with a lot of tattoos at the time who was a naked fire dancer, that was her job. He found a pair of white fringed chaps in petite size in a thrift store in Monroe, he bought them for her, they fit her perfectly and they were spectacular. She did wear them, John won the lottery! How many of those are out there in the world and how likely is it that John should find them and they should fit and she would like them? It was like pinky Cinderella, the glass slipper of their relationship! After that, John wondered if he should have some chaps himself and he had several of them come his way, but the problem is that when he wears chaps, it is just like he is reanimating the cow.

Republicans (RL123)

John was thinking about young black Republicans and he went the wrong way and drove into the wrong direction for a couple of miles. He should maybe not think specifically about young black Republicans, because it is like a smoke fog. These are not the Log Cabin Republicans, because those are the young gay Republicans who are not even young anymore but a lot of them have matured into middle-aged gay Republicans. There must be some young gay black Republicans, you could get more tail than Sinatra.

John knows for a fact there are, he made it a policy to investigate the culture of young black Republicans and he was fairly amazed at what he found. Merlin responds with a ”Really?” and John laughs and remarks that Merlin has the most expressive voice, like having an expressive face, but he can communicate such subtlety with only a couple of syllables.

Professional sports getting expensive and fans embracing the merchandize (RL123)

Today is the first day of the Seattle Seahawks Football-playing team. They are going to play the Green Bay Packers and you can feel it in the area of John's office already everyone who follows that kind of sport is very excited. In front of the parking lot where John normally parks was a guy with an orange flag and a sign ”Parking $50” although the game doesn’t start for 7 hours. John just drove by and waved, but when he came back, there was a full-on Rockstar bus, taking up 8 spots, with Vancouver plates and full of Canadians tailgating the Seahawks game. They were drinking already at 10:00am and that is just a harbinger of the day to come.

They had a big dust-up in San Francisco because their football team is called the 49ers and that is racist, because the 49ers love gold. What about the people who came in 50 or 48? Where is their parade and stadium? Their stadium used to be at Candlestick Park which is already on the rim of San Francisco and they built the new Levi’s Stadium in Santa Clara. Their town’s football organization does not have the distinction of having the stadium that is furthest from its actual town of anybody in the NFL. At a football day, excluding Silicon Valley traffic, it is going to take you an hour to drive there and you might spend $200 on a ticket.

The whole game of professional sports, aside from the actual game of playing the game, is to figure out a way to get public money to build a giant sports stadium which is then devoted exclusively to private wealth. If you spin it right, you can convince the municipalities and the people that having the sports team injects a lot of money into the economy and it is somehow a public good. Having a good sports team promotes the city in all these confusing ways that can’t really be quantified, but then you set aside whole levels of the stadium for multi-mullion-dollar private boxes.

A baseball team plays 200 games in a season (actually 162 games in 2018), but the football season is 5 games a year (actually 16 games in 2018) and you have to charge big dollars. John has probably been to conservatively 6000 Mariners games, but since they tore the Kingdome down and replaced it with the Steal Taco (Century Link Field) he has been to zero Seahawks games. He throws $10 at a Mariners game, sits in the stands and gets a hot dog, but $200 for a Football game? No thanks!

Merlin lives in a part of town with a lot of working class people who lived in San Francisco for a long time, who wear the 49ers hat, shirt, jacket and socks and who are all super into it. Merlin finds it a little needy wearing multiple articles of sports clothes at the same time, just like those guys who’s Twitter picture is them with a girl like they are proving something.

John knows a guy in Hungary who is the world’s biggest Ramones fan. If you asked him a question, the answer was The Ramones and it didn’t matter what the question was. He is a smart and interesting guy and he has led an interesting life, but he decided that the Ramones were going to be his church. He gave John a lot of insight into sports fans.

If you chose the 49ers as your church and you are just praying at the altar of the 49ers all year long, it takes care of a lot of other conversational topics that you might have to think about. You don’t have to occupy yourself with those questions because you can always bring it back to the 49ers. There was a time before the Candlestick where they played at Kezar right by the pan handle, a little stadium that looks like a high school stadium that they are getting ready to replace.

Merlin is kidding about sports, but he understands that when people talk about sports, they are actually talking about family. They are watching games, going to games with their family and throwing a football around in the parking lot before a game. There was a time when a man could take his children to a game and have it not cost the amount of a house. Going to a game today sounds like you have to plan a lot of stuff. The beers are $9 and everybody is getting drunk in the parking lot before they get in.

We are seeing this culture-wide as a side effect of the breakdown of the big monolithic cultural apparatus. The churches are gone and monotheism doesn’t have the effect on our culture that it used to. We don’t follow the three big networks anymore, journalism is balkanized, we don’t trust the government, and humanity reverts to its original project: to organize itself according to clans and tribes. The Internet is beautiful for this, everybody grabs onto their tribal identifiers, they are Bornies or Juggaloes or there is the one guy who is both a Bronie and a Juggaloe (is he a Bruggalo).

It is a mad dash to figure out how to profit from that tribalism, to print up T-shirts quickly before the tribe morphs and sell as many of them as you can. You can see people all year long walking around in the Seattle Sounders soccer team costume with colors that you wouldn’t make a toddler’s toy out of because you would be afraid of the effect it would have on the kid growing up. It is Puce Green and Cerulean Blue and if you made children’s blocks out of these, you would feel it was some sort of 1970s Waldorf School brain experiment.

The fans have embraced these colors and you see them all over town, colors that not only don’t appear in nature, but have also never appeared in fashion before throughout John’s observed history of fashion. In a way they have done a tremendous job of branding their team because people haven’t rejected the color and you could see a guy a mile and a half away and know that he is a Sounders fan because you wouldn’t use that color for anything else. If it was safety orange, you could think it was a guy working on the sewers.

The colors at John’s High School were red, white and powder blue and it still kind of haunts him because their main opponents were black and orange and they just looked so bad-ass while their colors were red, white and powder blue and their mascot was the Thunderbird which isn’t even really a thing.

People today are not just nerds, but they are a very specific kind of nerd. It gives them the satisfaction of being in a community while still being passionate about something. You are in a tribe, but you really get to pick where you get to sit. It is definitely going to make for very interesting brand-based stick-fighting tournaments (see RL164). At a certain point, all of the Dr. Who fans will sit on one side of the stadium while all the Star Trek fans in the big Dr. Who - Star Trek stick-fight tournament will sit on the other. At a certain point the Dr. Who fans go back to their area around Santa Clara where they have made their homeland and the Star Trek fans go down to Santa Barbara where they have made their homelands, and the regional stick-fighting is all going to happen between the sects. You are a kirk cosplayer and you have to fight against a Diana cosplayer.

iPhones vs Android phones (RL123)

The other day John was standing outside of the video game conference PAX together with some people he knows and likes. They had reason to take recourse in their phones for a moment, everybody took their phones out, and John was the only one with an iPhone while the others all had Android phones. They didn’t make mention of it, but John said ”Oh, you guys all have Android phones!” and they looked up, like ”Huh? Oh, doesn’t everybody have an Android phone?”

They went back to playing with their phones and all of a sudden John felt like he was on enemy territory. He is somebody who brand-identifies, but at least in Rock’n’Roll circles everybody has an iPhone and you never have to think about what kind of phone you have anymore. It is assumed that the iPhone is the only kind of phone and those questions are removed.

John texts his mom all the time and sometimes it is in a green bubble and sometimes it is in a blue bubble. She has a phone just like John, which is another one of those things that would be interesting if it worked. They are going to make bigger phones which is going to be good for John. He is loathed to say, because it feels like product promotion, but Apple issued that recall and John's phone qualified and they gave him a new phone, but their internal requirement was that it be exactly the same phone than you had before, and now he doesn’t have his battery problems anymore and can go all day long and his phone doesn’t die.

John’s phone was 2 years old at this point, it had been through a couple of different rain storms and it went through the washing machine one time. He once took a berber carpet weaving class and used the phone as a little shuttlecock, it was pretty badly damaged. The company made good on their failure, they had done a terrible thing and made a bad phone. Steve Jobs died and no-one was in charge anymore and they put a bad thing out into the world, but two years later they made it right and John is pleased.

John taking apps off his phone (RL123)

John is gradually taking apps off his phone every day and he walks a little lighter and he feels a little stronger. Facebook is gone completely. His logic had been that he gets a lot of work through Facebook because people contact him and give him offers to things. If he doesn’t have Facebook he will be missing out on all the booking agents who are only communicating through Facebook anymore. He thought about it and ran the Top 10 gigs he got from people on Facebook, but it was mostly garbage.

John ends up doing a lot of things like interviews for High School papers and he couldn’t remember a single thing. The danger is that his Facebook account is still out there and people are going to send him messages on it and wonder why he didn’t reply, but he can’t shoulder all that guilt and he just took it off and stopped thinking about it. It is already delightful to not have that, but he is also really narrowing in on Twitter. He is stalking it, he is thinking about it, he is evaluating what Twitter is for him and he is coming close to having a referendum on it and making a decision.

Merlin keeps thinking that we have reached peak outrage on Twitter, but 18 hours later a bunch of people will always be mad about another new thing, which makes it not as fun to use anymore because you are never going to be not outraged. The bar seems to have gotten impossibly low for that. People have the right to think what they want about stuff, but when he looks at the movie listings and doesn’t see any movies he wants to go to it doesn’t make him not like movies.

John has always been interested in what is going on, in engaging in the culture as it is now, and in talking about the contemporary ideas, but he has never been someone who felt special outrage about anything. Now he finds himself being consumed on a daily basis, he feels that tightening in the chest and that knot in the stomach that is not a response to the events being debated, but it is a response to the debate, to his feeling that he needs to engage in the debate, and that he needs to be in there throwing elbows and making sure that his point is heard.

Hosting panel discussions at Bumbershoot (RL123)

(see also mention of this in RW78)

John did a series of events at Bumbershoot this year and it was really great, Early on in the year they picked various topics that felt really of the moment, they had panel discussions where a couple of different experts on the topic gave 10-minute presentations, then they sat together and discussed the ways in which those ideas overlapped one another, and they took questions from the audience. It was an hour-long ”words and ideas” panel. Two of the days went off really well. The first day was ”Why beards? Why twerking? Why now?” and it was a little bit of a culture clash. John had his friend Elan Gale, the producer of The Bachelor, come up and talk about beards, because he has a famously unruly beard. Then he had one of the dancers for Big Frida get up and talk about the culture of Twerking.

It was a real cultural exchange. The dancer came up in the bounce music scene in New Orleans and his twerking skills and bounce dancing skills have enabled him to see the world. He would otherwise have been a New Orleans resident his whole live and probably never been outside the city. Because the world has gotten excited about and appropriated his regional culture, he got an opportunity to go to Paris and dance on television.

John was talking with him about the world, why his culture is so popular now, and his awareness that it is a moment in the sun, but then he explained how bounce was 20 years old already and will live in New Orleans for eternity. He was very sanguine about it and it was a very interesting conversation. You wouldn’t think those two things went together, but that was exactly the kind of program they were trying to do.

The next day John had a Brony and a Juggalo come out and describe their cultures. The Brony was a guy called The World’s Manliest Brony and works in the parts department of a Harley Davison dealership in Michigan. He is 6’5” (195 cm) and 300 pounds (135 kg) with a Walrus mustache and he had been on a couple of documentary films about Bronies and he thought about himself as a celebrity and as a worldwide advocate for Bronies.

The Juggalo was just a guy from Arizona named Matt the Dragan, a kid who had made a film about Juggalos but he had never given a public presentation before. He started talking about Juggalo life and he was making the argument that Juggalos are a good for the world. The audience for this event, 250-300 Seattle Liberals really wanted to confront him. One woman stood up during the Question and Answer, read him some Insane Clown Posse lyrics and wanted him to defend the misogyny and violence. He wasn’t prepared to be confronted, but he handled her question gracefully, saying that first of all they are all clowns, they feel like the clowns of society, and a lot of it is pretend.

The violence, misogyny and all the clownish language attracts violent young men to juggaloism and once they are in the community they tame them and show them that they are a family and that they finally have a family. You could hear a hush descend on the room! A lot of people didn’t agree, but he was defending his life and it was truly an example of a room full of people who were left with something to think about. A lot of violent young guys out there didn’t have a father and there are a lot worse things that could happen to them than to end up in the juggalo community, which is a place for them to land. High Fives all around!

On the last day, the panel was ”Why cats? Why bullying? Why now?” It turned out that the manager of Grumpy Cat is one of John’s personal friends. He also manages that little 8-bit graphic of the cat with the rainbow and the triangle eyes and one other famous cat. He is a professional Internet cat manager. In fact he is in Vancouver right now making a Grumpy Cat Christmas movie (Grumpy Cat’s Worst Christmas Ever). For the bullying topic John tried to get Dan Savage on the panel, but Dan replied with a very thoughtful email saying that he will be on any panel John will ask him to be on except bullying because he does not ever want to talk about it again. He is the It Gets Better guy and he has came under tremendous fire, just like everyone in the world who says anything off the reservation does nowadays.

John doesn’t even know why Dan has come under fire on the bullying topic, but he didn’t want to talk about it anymore. John asked another bunch of people, but nobody wanted to talk about it and as they got closer to Bumbershoot he understood why nobody wants to talk about bullying in public and he was wondering why he thought it was a good idea to have this as a topic. Why has bullying become so fascinating at this moment in time? Talking about bullying, what is it and what it represents is occupying a huge place in the culture. It is a fascinating topic! John chose it because he really thought it would be interesting, but as it got closer and he tried to get a panelist to represent it, all he got back was ”No thank you!”

Finally a stand-up comedian from Portland agreed to talk about bullying. Her presentation was polemical, she drew all the received wisdom you would find on Twitter, like ”We all agree that we live in a patriarchic rape culture”, all the ”we all agree” statements, and what follows from that is that bullying is endemic in our culture, it creates these terrible outcomes and it is further evidence that our culture is unsustainably broken.

John prefaced the whole event by saying that they were going to talk about these ideas in their contemporary context. They were not just going to get up there, define bullying and argue about it, but the interesting thing is why this is happening now. Cats are very popular on the Internet right now, but they are a perennial topic, they have been around for hundreds of thousands of years, but why are they so contemporary? Bullying has always existed, but why now? That was the idea.

That woman just gave a definition of bullying and her entire presentation was what we all agree on describes this problem. It was not her take on it, but she was just reading #bullying presumptions. When the audience started raising their hands to ask questions, John thought he was at a fucking Chemtrails conference or a Tea Party town-hall meeting.

Every person stood up and gave a 5 minute long speech about what they thought about bullying without even the slightest hint of a question threaded into these statements. This hasn’t happened on any other panel John has moderated. He was trying to interrupt, asking if there was a question in this, but people where shouting and talking over him.

The cat guy was sitting there ”Okay dokey” Eventually he leaned in and said that a lot of this stuff where people don’t know what the rules are used to be solved in the old days by playground democracy: If you were a bully, you were smacked down by somebody else and maybe a little bit of bullying is what keeps people in line. All of a sudden half the room was ”Yeah!” and the other half of the room could not have been more appalled. John was sitting on stage as the moderator, hoping that the hour would be over because anything he would say was only going to make it worse.

The woman had set up the structure of her talk by saying that we all agree that we live in a patriarchic rape culture. If you say that there are two sides to that, then the only other side is that we do live in a patriarchic rape culture but you are denying it. By the time she was done, John's job was not to debate her, but to facilitate the conversation, so it is like ”Okay, we all agree on cheese!”, except that we don’t all agree on cheese, but if you don’t agree on cheese within the context of that argument, you are basically a cop in Fergusson.

When John walked out of that panel, he felt emotionally raw and it had transported him back to the place on the Internet that he least wanted to be. For a couple of hours he felt a totally new sensation that maybe the culture is moving in a direction that he can’t go. For a brief moment it felt like it was 1969 and somebody was confronting him on the street saying ”Don’t trust anyone over 30!” and John would be 45 and trustworthy and the response was just ”Nope!” As history has show, ”Don’t trust anyone over 30” was a dumb idea that fulfilled a purpose at the time.

It is a moment in history that surely made a ton of sense in 1968, but if you hold on to that as a guide, you will be really sad on your 30th birthday. John thought that maybe this was the contemporary version of that and it was meant to be a Scorched Earth policy: Only one side of this whole constellation of issues is the right side of history, but any other side and any other of the 50 potential viewpoints are all rejected because there is only one way of linking all these ideas together.

Bullying (RL123)

At Merlin’s daughter’s school they use a concept called have restorative practice. Instead of yelling at each other you talk about what happened and there are posters on the wall everywhere that bullying is not okay here. John thinks that a lot of 10 years old kids would say that there is no bullying at their school at all if you asked them. Considering how much bullying there was when John and Merlin were kids that is a tremendous advance, except that the dark side is: Are we prosecuting kids now? Are adults hyper-vigilant? It is a basic educational process that when different people say something over and over often enough it does start to seem like conventional wisdom. It is a thing that happens every day!

Throughout the whole second half of the 20th century we introduced a lot of social engineering projects into the schools, trying to solve problems in our adulthood by going into the schools. We say for example that there are a lot of racial problems in America and therefore we are going to put kids on busses and send them all the way across town to forcibly integrate the schools. In doing so we are going to solve the racial problems in America. It is an example of adults not knowing how to solve that problem in the adult world, and not being willing to make these changes in their own lives, but instead deciding to go into the schools and force the kids to resolve the issue by this kind of social engineering.

Integration was a culture-wide project. We were trying 100 different things like affirmative action which had very positive results, but bussing was an unsuccessful hack primarily because we added a tremendous layer of inconvenience to something that was already inconvenient, which is going up in the morning and going to school. In the long term we will have much less bullying in the culture than we did when John and Merlin were kids.

The Internet is just a giant bullying cesspool, John is a 45 year old man, he goes on the Internet every day and feels bullied in one way or the other from people who would describe themselves primarily as victims. It is the oldest trick in the book to go on the Internet and say that you are the victim of this oppressive culture and you are so mad that you are going to be hateful to everybody you are going to encounter today. The argument against that is: Are you a misandrist now?

A perceived imbalance of power is not equal to an actual imbalance of power and that a person who perceives themselves to be in a position of less power might as well be in a position of less power is exactly wrong: To perceive yourself to have less power is not anything! Just because you feel it doesn’t mean it is real in the words of Radiohead (lyrics of There There). The Internet is full of people who perceive themselves as the victim of everything and every time they go on the Internet they are on a daily crusade to lecture anybody they have an encounter with, and to go from place to place pedantically schooling fools right and left. They are spreading evil!

The Internet is just a giant ugly place and it is not a place John wants to be, but ultimately: Is there less bullying in our world? Yes! Is there less bullying in Seattle than there is in Oklahoma City? Probably! Is there less bullying in Oklahoma City than there is in Lagos? Yes, almost certainly! Is bullying still rife in the outskirt neighborhoods of Shanghai? Yes!

One of the big questions of secularism is this: We establish that we are members of the animal kingdom, we are part of this system, we are not significantly different from animals, we are not God-beings, we are not separate from our environment, and we can not afford to rule over the world without consequence. The flip side of that is that nothing in the animal kingdom is fair. We are looking at ourselves simultaneously as members of a natural system and we are also imposing incredibly unnatural thought technologies upon ourselves. That is fascinating and wonderful because a lot of those thought technologies that take us out of the animal kingdom have improved our life. We can never presume that any of those things are real or that any of those things reflect reality. They are mere experiments and attempts.

We are trying to eliminate bullying, but bullying is one of the foundational methods in the animal kingdom and the natural world. Every single animal family uses precisely bullying as a way of organizing itself. Bigger animals squash little animals, a litter of kittens establishes their dominance chain. Pigs do it, chickens do it, it is a pecking order, all of our language about that stuff comes from watching animals do it and every animal does it.

If bullying is not just a small inconvenience that we should be ashamed of and that we should continue to be outraged and appalled by, but if our end game is to eliminate it, then we should be able to look at it as one of the fundamental principles of animal life and we should try to dispense with it and change and evolve so that bullying is not the way that we order our systems anymore. Right now it is absolutely in everything.

To change it is not just a question of putting posters up on the walls in our schools and indoctrinate the kids so they don’t think of bullying anymore. It is not a small thing! Kids are seeing bullying in every walk of life and in every aspect of human culture. If this is our project, then we must be able to talk about it in a bigger sense: If we are going to evolve into the grace, then let’s go! But what are we going to replace bullying with? In the offices of Vogue Magazine there is bullying at every desk, in the West Wing of the White House bullying is everywhere, it is encoded! The more white collar you make it the subtler it gets, but subtle bullying is still fucking bullying.

It feels like the posters on the walls of the schools and the attention that we are paying to kids to eradicate what we think of as this bullying is another potential bussing idea: We can’t fix this problem in our own culture because we are not even capable of seeing it for what it is, but we all have painful memories of being bullied as a kid and so we are going down to the schools and create a kind of Fahrenheit 451 scenario where no-one is able to say what things are, no one is able to acknowledge reality and kids are going to be 19 years old, come out of these schools and say ”Bullying is bad and I have never bullied anyone nor have I ever been bullied”, but it is all just a soup of lies!

Merlin remembers the time he was visiting companies and he would have an easy laugh at the shame signs people would put up on the coffee machine in the kitchen, like ”Your mom doesn’t work here!”, directed to no one in particular, telling colleagues that they are assholes because they are not doing what you are telling them we all agreed we should do, which may or may not be true. If you worry about the cleanliness of the kitchen and if it means a lot to you to keep it clean, fair enough, you are probably above the 50% of people who clean the kitchen, but when you put that sign up, you are yelling at 90% of the people in the office, but you are not going to change the 1 or 2 people who are doing that thing.

There is a lot of dog poop in the park near Merlin’s house and at one point somebody had gone up and put signs around the entire perimeter of the reservoir, noting how many piles of poop they had counted in the last month that people had left behind. Merlin sees several things happening: There are going to be a whole bunch of people who don’t have dogs and who find this to be just a stupid sign. There are also going to be a lot of people with dogs who do pick up their poop and who are wondering why they are being yelled at. If anything, the signs will probably make them more likely to not wanting to do it, because they don’t feel applauded for doing what has been done, but they feel yelled at by this warrior. Most importantly: People who let their dogs shit everywhere are not going to change a single thing as a result of seeing that sign. That arrow will have fallen very far away from its target.

Merlin understands why we set up adversarial relationships for things like that because it is very natural to come out of the box and be mad about it. Regarding bullying there will be kids who are not bullying anybody on any conceivable level and there will be the unrepentant fucking bullies for whom a sign is going to change absolutely nothing. The third group that these signs might reach are a very quiet little percentage of people who didn’t know there was something they might think about differently, and maybe, despite being fucking yelled at about how to act at every turn, they discover that they can change their behavior a little bit and it would make the world a little bit better without making them less strong. Those are the people Merlin admires.

If you are going into something yelling, you are going to have a smaller and smaller amount of people in that super-interesting third group who can be very influential people. If you come yelling at everybody out of the box and have a program in mind explaining to everybody what the problem is before they had the opportunity to understand it, you always lose the chance of the subtle people who might have changed what they do, because now they feel like they are being victimized by being yelled at. It doesn’t lead to anything getting that much better, but it just leads to us getting more callus about thinking who else is wrong about this.

There are much more interesting ways of reaching that subtle group of people than putting up Stalinist signs all around instructing everyone how to live. The end game for any school of thought is that some day in the future everyone realizes the truth of this premise and we will be living in a world of peace and harmony. It almost always comes down to wanting people to be free and it is amazing how often that line can be subsumed in the rhetoric of pretty much anybody. It kind of makes sense: There are no George Lincoln Rockwells and there are not that many people out there who actually want America to be fascist. Principle zero even for hard core libertarians is that they want people and themselves to be free. Also people who want scholarships for people want people to be free, because in the past those people have not even had a chance to come to the table.

Almost nobody out there thinks that what they are doing is making people less free. All we have to do is make everyone not be free in this one small way which is that we all agree on cheese. If everybody would just get in line about this one thing, then we could all be free. Ultimately that is why every single ideology is true, because if we all agreed on anything, then we would be able to create a socialist worker’s paradise, a libertarian free-market paradise or a white homeland in Idaho.

The consensus about bullying seems to be that we need to eradicate it, but the real question is how we can make a good world where there are always 2% bullies. You could make a perfect world if you eliminated bullies, but there are always going to be 2% bullies and how do you deal with that? People almost never see themselves in signs in the kitchen, but we see other people who are rightly or wrongly being accused of making things worse for us. If the sign said ”It has been 4 days since someone named Merlin smoked a cigar in this park”, you would find it interesting, wondering how many Merlins there are. The challenge of creating a world of human beings is to not think about an Utopia, but to treat every situation individually and do the difficult work.

If everybody practiced ”No child left behind”, the schools would be producing geniuses, but that it is an Utopian idea that doesn’t work. We can’t apply it, we can’t have one textbook that works in every school in the country, we can’t have one premise about bullying, because every single kid is different and it is impossibly hard to create a uniform culture.

We attempt to impose a super-structure and say that everybody is the same in the pursuit of an Utopian end where we can eradicate this and we will all be living in the light. It is the way in which every ideology is exactly the same as every other one. They all crash on the rocks as soon as they encounter one person who doesn’t want to go along.

John is that person, he doesn’t want to go. He is getting off the Internet or he is definitely going to curate any topic of any public discussion he is involved in so that he is dealing exclusively with cats and twerking and a sympathetic juggalo and not at all with whatever the hot button issues are right now where the diamond tip of social engineering is etching its groove in our cultural moment. John doesn’t believe that it works, unless it is Supertrain, in which case it absolutely works!

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