In which there’s an image.

Gosh, I haven’t!

Well, here it is!

fuck yeah presents!

Universal basic income

December 8th, 2016 | Posted by Mush in Introspection | Reading | Work - (0 Comments)

In which I ponder the cuddle-the-baby or ignore-him-when-he-cries approaches.

I’ve been reading a lot about Universal Basic Income lately.

What is it? Well, the basic idea is that everybody gets enough income to keep them just out of poverty even if they never do anything at all.

In the U.S., it would be the equivalent of about $1,000 per month.

Everybody. No matter what. If you’re wealthy, you’d probably just shove it in your IRA or something; if you’re not, it would keep you sheltered and fed and off the streets and off welfare. It would put a lot of social services out of business. Homelessness would plummet, for instance.

Would people “abuse” it?

Well, let’s consider abuse:

Is deciding you don’t want to work abuse? I don’t want to work. Working sucks! With the exception of a couple of jobs that stimulated me and were interesting for awhile, I generally have never enjoyed work. Nobody truly likes going to the same place every day and doing the same meaningless shit over and over (especially not while being abused by the public). Most humans do not enjoy pretending to be total twats for money, just to align with the inhumane dictates of some company that doesn’t give a shit whether you live or die and which will fire you at the drop of a hat no matter how faithfully you perform/conform.

Is using that money to buy drink or drugs abuse? Well, if you’re addicted, you’re going to get those substances anyway. With basic income, you’d get them with your own money rather than other people’s. Probably a measurable reduction in theft. If you’re not addicted, you might party for awhile, sure, but that sort of life is pretty boring, so eventually you’d stop and look around for something fulfilling.

Many people object to the idea of giving everybody money because they think it would encourage laziness and slovenliness, but I think those objections reflect the objector’s personality more than anything else. Just because you’d drop out and let your place go to shit if you got free money doesn’t mean everybody else would.

And I think a lot of people would drop out, briefly, especially those in the bottom classes, and let the pizza boxes pile up. Daytime TV ratings might explode for awhile, sure. But so what? Eventually, people who are not disabled physically or mentally will get up and go do something. It’s human nature. And with basic income, that thing wouldn’t have to be degrading jobs at fast food restaurants or big box stores. That thing could be going back to CC to get qualified to work in a nice restaurant’s kitchen, or learning how to finally write that novel, or volunteering full-time to rebuild the nation’s crumbling infrastructure. With universal income, if your circs sucked, you’d be free to reject them, leave, begin again elsewhere. You could find your correct place in society, eventually.

People in good, satisfying jobs would probably stay put. But people in shitty, demeaning jobs would probably migrate out of them, forcing employers to retool those jobs to be less shitty and demeaning in order to attract workers. Right now, and for the last thirty years, it’s been an employer’s market. They’ve lowered wages and worsened scheduling, benefits, and other work parameters to the point where most jobs below a certain level are really, really awful. I know this because I’ve worked them; if you haven’t, you can shut the fuck up. “Random scheduling” doesn’t sound that bad until you’ve done it for a year. Closing at eleven followed by opening at six followed by no schedule certainty for years on end will exhaust you: physically, mentally, emotionally. It’s bullshit, because it serves no purpose. We’re not at war; we’re not fighting for our lives and our way of life, we’re just making the rich richer. This is not sacrifice-worthy, noble employment. It’s theft.

Ignore-him-when-he-cries people think that by ignoring requests for attention, we’ll raise strong, self-dependent kids.

Cuddle-the-baby people think that by answering every need, we’ll raise confident, self-assured, unafraid children.

Obviously both approaches can fail and create selfish, self-serving monsters. Both approaches are imperfect, because they choose law over what’s actually on the ground.

I say the law was never meant to presuppose every possible nuance; you have a brain for that. React appropriately in the moment. And in the moment, machines are taking jobs, and a lot of industries are dying. Considering the lay of the land, it’s not possible to bring back all those dead manufacturing jobs. Not to mention that so many of the jobs that are left are poor quality and don’t pay shit. (If you’re working full time and still on welfare, something’s very wrong.)

It’s not like we don’t already have the wealth needed; if everybody had income, no matter what, we’d have a much healthier economy.

I believe that the more I learn about it, the more I’m very much in favor of UBI.

Ceramic Christmas Tree

November 21st, 2016 | Posted by Mush in Admissions | Introspection - (0 Comments)

In which there’s a pretty thing.

Ceramic Christmas Tree

I’ve had this thing on my wishlist for pushing a decade. It’s a fairly close replica of the one my great grandmother had, which now belongs to my uncle. Ten years is a long time to covet something that costs less than forty bucks, and I finally just went ahead and bought it.

It arrived today and it’s wonderful and pretty, and I’m so grateful that I can just buy something like this and have it show up on the steps a week later. But it’s not a $40 meal to be digested and forgotten about, it’s another box to keep in the storage space and to have to carry the next time we move and I basically always feel guilt about accumulating things because I know at some point in the future I’ll be moving it or donating it or throwing it away or somehow trying to get rid of it, to deal with it, so I can take myself and the few things I really need someplace else because that’s how it’s always been for me.

I’ve owned entire sets of furniture that are gone now. Record album collections, dishes, waterbeds and sideboards: all gone. A table my maternal grandfather made: gone. An heirloom ring, a handmade doll, 99% of the books I’ve ever owned: gone. Leather coats, good winter boots, cast iron pans and whisks and 6×8″ woven rugs and a samovar and high school annuals and pictures in frames.

Once in a dorm building in Albuquerque I just threw shit into the incinerator shaft because I couldn’t get rid of it any other way. Good shit. But I couldn’t keep it and I didn’t have the resources to sell it or donate it. Once in a farmhouse in Iowa I had to walk away from things I wanted because they were ruined or wouldn’t fit into the Jeep. Once in an apartment in Portland, I abandoned a baby grand piano because I couldn’t afford to move it and I couldn’t find anyone to donate it to.

Everything ends up being a burden. Everything ends up being a burden. Everything ends up being a burden.

But before it does, it’s frequently beautiful and brings joy.

In which I’m disappointed but not surprised, considering how many said they’d be voting their ‘consciences’ in this election.

I have several hundred Facebook friends; they are disproportionately musicians and cult members, and a lot of them announced they’d vote third party.

I really, really wish they hadn’t.

capture

So, to those of you who voted for anti-vaxx Jill Stein: congratulations! You voted for Trump! Ditto Johnson and all other third party voters.

Now, it’s quite normal for the country to vote republican after having had a democrat in office for two terms; it was very, very likely the republican candidate would win. Which is why it was particularly important we voted for Clinton this time, even though she wasn’t an ideal candidate.

Buuuuut we didn’t. So the republican candidate won.

Sadly for us, this time the republican candidate happened to be a spoilt little rich boy who does things like build hotels that fail, and host pro wrestling events and reality TV shows. And now this man will have his tiny little finger on the button.

RIP health care, gay marriage, help to refugees.

What’s wrong with ‘Westworld.’

November 4th, 2016 | Posted by Mush in Uncategorized - (2 Comments)

In which I keep lecturing people about what’s wrong with this show and they don’t want to hear it, so I’m going to blog it for my own amusement!

I’ve heard it’s possible that HBO will lock in as many as five seasons of ‘Westworld,’ an episodic TV reboot of the 1973 movie of the same name.

Five seasons of this? It’s well-acted and well shot, but it’s rife with fail. In the opening credits you see the creation of biologically printed robots; in the show itself you see technicians pulling rubbery skin onto metal skeletons. Which is it? Are they biological or mechanical, or both?

And how does keeping humanoid robots so life-like they look exactly like humans naked help to dehumanize them to the staff, rather than merely degrade them like prisoners or slaves?

The plot itself is interesting… if you like sappy, emotional Westerns with no science fiction whatsoever, and only a mere nod to game-playing in the “hidden level” sub-plot followed by Ed Harris’ Man In Black character.

All these robots can pass the Turing test, but they’re fodder for human guests to fuck and fight and maim and rape and kill. They bleed. They appear to understand freedom enough to want it. The whole show is gratuitous violence and weepy scenes of robot subjugation. It fails spectacularly to do what sci-fi does best, which is ask important questions:

If you can build robots so subtle they can pass as human, are they human?

What is consciousness?

Where’s the line between a very convincing machine and a self-aware AI? How do you design a test to find it?

Is it moral to build a device, giving it the capacity to feel and understand pain, just so you can hurt it?

Is what they feel actually pain, when they’re just robots? Can they feel, as we define feeling, or is it all programming designed to mimic feeling? How can anybody tell the difference?

In which there’s another rant about politics.

Absolutely do not vote third party. It is TOO LATE to vote your so-called consciences.

You want to fix democracy? Then why didn’t you third-partiers do it last year? The year before? The five years before that, or the decades before that?

I’ll tell you why: because you did not give a fuck about politics then. Not enough to participate. But now, suddenly, you’re all, “Oh, I have such strong FEELINGS about how corrupt this all is, and I absolutely must be true to myself and vote my CONSCIENCE!”

Because you’re privileged as fuck. Privileged enough to feel entitled to WASTE A VOTE. A vote — a right so important that human beings have DIED TO GET IT FOR YOU.

You will fuck this election up. You will put a shallow, incompetent man into the Oval office, and you will do it because you do not understand that your rights come with responsibilities. Responsibilities you have failed to carry out. You’ve stood with a bucket of water in your hands watching the building burn down and said, “Not my building, not my fire.” But now, suddenly, you care? You care so much that you just have to cast a meaningful vote that represents who you are?

You are being idealistic, ignorant children. You lost your right to vote your feels each of the billion times you did not participate in your own government in the past decade. You are dabblers. You are passers-by. Yes, you have a constitutional right to bitch and moan while doing nothing, but you also have a duty to use your vote wisely. Yes, there is corruption, but your vote is still a vote. And nobody cares about who you are or how you really feel; you’re an adult with a vote. Use it to keep your country somewhat intact. It’s your duty.

If the orange man of reality TV and pro-wrestling fame should, God forbid, win this fucked up disaster of a presidential election, I will blast every one of you “vote third party!” nerds with the most enormous goddamned THIS IS ALL YOUR NAIVE, RIDICULOUS, IDEALISTIC, DUMB ASSED FAULT rant you have ever seen. It will make those times your mom was so mad she nearly de-manifested seem like a pastel Easter basket on a gentle Spring morn. If you decide to use your enormous privilege to FUCK THIS UP, I will be incandescent with actual, genuine — not fake-internet — rage.

DO NOT VOTE THIRD PARTY IN THIS MOTHERFUCKING PRESIDENTIAL ELECTION. Jesus Christ, can’t you people tell how desperately important this is? If you really wanted a viable third-party system, YOU WOULD HAVE BUILT ONE LONG BEFORE THIS HAPPENED. But you didn’t. Your lack of participation, along with my own, is WHY WE’RE HERE NOW.

So STFU and vote for the bitch, and once the huckster’s been safely gotten rid of, YOU MAY MOTIVATE YOURSELVES TO FIX THE SYSTEM THEN, and with my blessings. THEN, you may participate your asses off. THEN, you may feel all the feelings and vote all the consciences you want. Then, you may go to local, county, state, and federal events, you may write letters, you may vote however you wish, and you may participate to your hearts’ content.

But if you do it in THIS presidential election, you’re a naive, selfish, childish, wasteful, and privileged idiot.

In which there are a variety of reversible, seasonally appropriate motherfucking handmade placemats!!!

When your mom is psychic:

IMG_20160923_161114

You buy a table and you think, damn, some placemats sure would be great.

AND THEN YOUR MOM SENDS YOU A BOX OF THEM RIGHT OUT OF THE BLUE, AND THERE’S, LIKE, DIFFERENT ONES FOR MAJOR HOLIDAYS AND SEASONS AND STUFF, AND SHE MADE THEM HERSELF, AND NOW YOU’RE LIKE FUCK SEPTEMBER, IT NEEDS TO BE OCTOBER ALREADY SO I CAN USE THE HALLOWEEN ONES!

Place mats

They’re like little blankets for your table, really.

On the table earlier this afternoon

September 21st, 2016 | Posted by Mush in Life - (1 Comments)

In which there’s a snapshot.

Wednesday afternoon

A cardamom mocha latte, served pretentiously in a Ball jar with a copper-riveted saddle leather cozy.

A box of chakra stones I received in the mail today. I’ve decided to take up the study of chakras because I’ve always thought they were ridiculous, a mental state that conflicts with my personal experiences with Mother over the years.

A copy of Herodotus’ The Histories, which I bought and started years ago and rediscovered on the shelf the other day and decided to start reading again. It was printed in 1960. It’s 56 years old, this paperback, and rather delicate.

A plastic spiral notebook I got as a prize when I worked at The Home Depot. It contains lists of extensions, department numbers, SKUs, and ex-coworker’s phone numbers, as well as more recent notes I’ve started in anticipation of the traveler’s journal knock-off I bought myself for my birthday. My handwriting is so rusty it’s nearly illegible.

In which I feel both uplifted and awkward.

Once in awhile, I fall accidentally into a religious conversation with a devout Christian about the experience of the practice of religion. And she says stuff, and I say stuff, and she’s pleased with my insight and depth of understanding, and we’re really grooving and having a meaningful chat about life and love and suffering and learning and keeping covenant and watching the mind and all that grooviness, and then suddenly I realize I’m fucking trapped.

Because by understanding her subtlest spiritual work, I’ve more or less “led” her to believe I’m also a Christian, which I’m really, really not, and it’d be awkward if I revealed that I’m a so-called heathen, and I end up feeling kinda bad about it, and then I start fearing I’ll be asked when I was saved or born again or baptized or whatever, because I won’t know what to say without ruining the fine fellow-feeling that I feel and know is well and truly earned.

I enjoy talking to devotees of any stripe, but Christians can get upset to learn that their little two-thousand year old, truncated, gutted religion’s precepts are not exactly philosophically hard to get one’s brain around, or that the work they’re doing — everything from forbearance to surrender to love in action to devotion to all the rest of it — is known to earnest followers of every religion ever, even the religions they hate or believe to be false, and that the only things unique to Christianity are irrelevant not only to all non-Christians but to the actual practices of religion itself (because most stuff unique to Christianity is actually politics, not spirituality, and everybody knows it. Same for the other Abrahamic branches, and a variety of other traditions, as well).

What’s most interesting, really, is how a philosophy as broken as modern western Christianity still has such passionate, fervent followers with so much bhakti (loving devotion toward God) and intimacy with their guru, whom they call Lamb of God, without irony, realizing not at all that God takes birth repeatedly because He’s fucking INFINITE and unbounded and can do literally everything, and does. (That in and of itself essentially proves the fundamentals of Vedanta, really, but you can’t say that because it would be more unkind than useful.)

I mean, really. The very idea that God mandated only one opportunity is contrary to the concept of a loving God entirely. You can’t have it both ways: either your God is loving and absolute, or He’s a jerk who wants to damn entire swathes of His own creation.

I got into a big ol’ conversation with a customer at work tonight after I fixed her system and alleviated her worries about how it was functioning. I learned about some big parts of her life, of what she’s going through now, from marriage problems to serious health issues, and we had some really deep conversation about right action, ego, spiritual work, fear, and love. I felt really grateful for the connection with a total stranger, and she averred she did, too, but at the end of conversation I knew she was just this close to asking me when I found Jesus, which, in the sense she means, as far as I understand “finding Jesus,” I haven’t.

Well, actually, I have, but not in a way that I could articulate without using language not typical to Christianity. Have I had an experience of Christ? Sure, yes, but I consider Jesus to be but one flower on an entire tree of enlightened avatars of God, born of Self-effort to reach us all, where and when and as we are, for the purpose of revealing, through their lives’ example, our own indwelling nature as That. Persons who have never been exposed to knowledge of Christ — for instance, every human life that occurred before His own, and millions since — are not doomed to “hell,” a metaphorical, and not literal, place. To think they are is to limit the limitless, to project upon God the flaws of our own self-made minds, and to reduce the infinite into our finite.

I’ve spoken intimately with several Christian women over the years, and their astonishment at my grasp of subtle concepts is very near universal. It blows their minds that a religion with thousands of icons knows things they thought were Christian Mysterees, because their religion teaches them that all other religions are fundamentally wrong.

I’m pretty sure that any religion that calls itself the only path is deeply suspect, because it’s obviously ridiculous to posit an infinite, all-knowing God The Creator And Source Of All, and then say there’s only one way to get to Him because he wasn’t clever enough to allow for the foibles of all the souls in his His beloved creation.

Some day I need to figure out how to indicate, without sounding like a pompous jerk, that I’m not Christian but do know (though I’m not a proper scholar by any stretch), a bit about the fundamentals of religious philosophies. Hmm.

Domesticating and such

September 2nd, 2016 | Posted by Mush in Admissions | Domestic Goddess | Holiday | Wishlists - (1 Comments)

In which I buy stuff I don’t really need like an asshole, but at least it’s all used so I can say I’m “upcycling”!

Bought a table today! A used table! A TABLE YOU CAN EAT AT!

It’s a brown pub-style table and chairs set, and it’s taller than strictly necessary but I think it’ll be comfortable for the man, who is tall. The chairs are not-awful considering how austere they look, and not so high I can’t easily reach a sewing machine pedal.

I’m already imagining our having our next bi-annual games night while sitting at it, and it’s still 3 blocks away! (We’re going to bring it home when the man gets home from work.) Trivial Pursuit! Yahtzee! Cards! Dice! At a pub table! Brilliant!

New pub table + 4 chairs

I have also, I might add, in the past two months, bought: dishes, water glasses, a gravy boat, and candlestick holders, mainly in anticipation of setting a semi-proper Thanksgiving table this year. It’ll only be the two of us again, of course, but I’m so tired of eating on the couch hunched over the coffee table on holidays. It’ll be so great to sit down to a proper meal together on occasion!

You don’t think of yourself as “a table person” until you go over two years without one. I haven’t owned one for a really long time, but I lived with one until moving here. You just don’t really notice the stuff a table’s good for until there’s no table. Games night. Sewing. Filling out Christmas cards. Dinner dates. Wrapping gifts. Opening boxes from Amazon. Putting down the groceries.

I was, briefly, considering buying TV trays, but then I was just, like, OMFG, NERD, GET RID OF THE RECLINER WE LITERALLY NEVER, EVER SIT ON, AND THEN THERE WILL BE ROOM FOR A SMALL TABLE! So I took pictures of it — the recliner, I mean — and put it on Craigslist and it was not only gone in a week, but we got $25 more than we asked for!

Now that I have a table, I might buy fabric and make a runner, or placemats, or a tablecloth or something! Or, OMG, I could do seasonally appropriate centerpieces. It’s already September, I need a bowl and some pine cones and mini-pumpkins, stat! (While that is a joke, it’s also not. I’m totally gonna centerpiece it up for turkey day: I don’t even care that it’s common and privileged and totally something white bitches my age obsess over. Whoo! I even have a tray that’ll work for Xmas, maybe with candles and ornaments…)

Oh, who am I kidding. It’ll be covered in random shit within two weeks, and nobody’ll ever see any decorative centerpieces, and I’ll have to clean it off in order to eat at it, but at least I don’t have to eat on the couch anymore! Whoo! I’m gonna post the best Thanksgiving pictures this year!