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Genuine Fake
As life goes on
I can’t deny
The bullshit begins
To solidfy

What used to be
A silly pose
Is now as certain
As my nose

With each new
Posture that I chose
I tried it on
Like a suit of clothes

And now it fits me
Like a glove
The affectation
Has turned to love

And soon the bullshit
Will harden to stone
Live on without me
And stand on its own

It will serve
As my memorial
And no one will know
If it’s faux or real
Trapped Inbox
Bladder leakage. Unwanted moles. Herpes Madness. And that old favorite, hot Russian girls! These are but a few of the hypothetical needs I see being addressed in my email inbox. In a way, I am touched by the concern so clearly expressed by these messages. It’s nice to know that, in this time of self-absorption and alienation, there is some one out there who cares.

And yet, these matters are quite personal in nature. While I don’t want to be specific, some of these messages strike quite close to home. I am by nature a private person, and it troubles me when others feel free to address my issues so openly. Part of me worries that they have somehow discovered my secrets and now feel free to bandy them about on the worldwide web. I obsess about a nightmare scenario in which my most personal data is shared with some massive digital clearinghouse of internet creepiness.

It is obvious to me that I have been hacked. The list of coincidences is just too long to ignore. Whoever it is that tracks unwanted blemishes has clearly tapped into my data and gathered intimate details about my moles (which, if you must know, are all unwanted).

I have no way of knowing the scope of this breach, but it now appears that the creepiness has access to my financial data as well. Just today I received a notice that the warranty has expired on my family car. True, but how did they find out? I don’t share the status of my product warrantees with even the closest of my friends. In fact, I throw most of them into the trash. That’s how deep this thing has gone!

Another message tells me my application was incomplete and that this is my second notice. Will I be granted more notices? Is there still time? And what am I applying for, anyway? This webmonster, or whatever it is, apparently lives in a mysterious cloud somewhere in another dimension, and it has somehow come to know about things that I haven’t even done yet!

The only thing I can’t figure out is why this all-powerful being is interested in me. It not only cares about my moles and the porosity of my bladder, it wants to help. Too desperately I fear. I suppose I should be grateful, but I am consumed by paranoia. It seems to me that I am naked and alone, defenseless against an irresistible force. What am I to do? What will become of me?

Oh! I know… I’ll just Google it!
Right This Down
Chuck Jones, president of United Steelworkers’ local 1999, pointed out a while back that then president-elect Drump had made some rather large factual errors in his crowing over “saving” jobs at a Carrier air conditioner plant in Indiana. Chuck’s reward for fact-checking: a stream of petty vitriol from the future commander-in-chief and an exudation of dark warnings — let’s call them death threats — from anonymous online sources. I’m going to assume that the authors of those taunts are not advocates of universal health care or religious tolerance.

A month later, while the Electoral College was still in session, I read that a Republican elector who had declared his intention not to vote for Drump had been receiving threats against his own life and rape threats aimed at his wife and daughters. From a Black Lives Matter supporter? I don’t think so.

And then, of course, we have the more recent tipping over of Jewish gravestones, the burning of mosques, the murder of that Indian man in Kansas City, and the daily serving of hate and violence against The Other that fills our plate every morning. The right, right?

Come to think of it, when was the last time we heard of a threat of violence coming from the left? (Other than in a report from some nutty right-wing conspiracy source, that is?) I will select “never” as my answer, though I’m sure there are instances of Great Spotted Owl defenders turning murderous.

I guess some might classify anarchists as lefties. I can’t buy that, though. Steve Bannon is a bit of an anarchist, but I’ll wager doesn’t belong to Anarchists reside in a dark netherworld where left and right overlap. Cop-killers live there too, and predicting their politics is also a hopeless quest.

I’m not sure where this line of inquiry is leading me, but my aim is to follow my own (admittedly hazy) notions of evil and how it correlates to one’s position on the political spectrum. I have no solid conclusions as yet, but my working hypothesis is that Satan (if he existed) would be a Republican.

Still, we don’t want to paint with too broad of a brush here. I do know some fine, honorable, decent, loving, strong people with exquisitely beautiful auras who vote GOP. So I could be wrong in this, and I don’t want to be accused of getting ahead of the (up to this point) overwhelming evidence. While I’m waiting for absolute certainty on that front, I’m also working on another research project. This time the focus is on mass murderers.

All righties? Just asking, mind you, but the data I’ve seen so far is quite compelling.
Signs of the Times
I was in full solidarity with those protesters I saw the other day. They were out picketing a local appearance by Republican congressman Devin Nunes, chair of the House Intelligence Committee. Mr. Nunes says there is no reason for him to investigate Russian interference in our election or of their ties to our new president. He’s all over that Obama wiretap, though.

I regret not being one of those protesters. I need to be out there, because it’s important to take responsibility for what you believe in. I’m not talking here about the case against Devin Nunes (who is considered by many to be either a craven weasel or a loathsome parasite), but rather about an issue absolutely fundamental to our shared mission of resistance.

I’m talking about signs. Many of the picketers were brandishing them at the protest, and I confess that I was not impressed by the overall quality. Now, I want to be careful here. These protesters are my brothers and sisters in the cause. We share the same outrage, and we are ready to take action — including effective messaging.

My compatriots certainly had some things to say. There was one sign at the event that read, “Nunes, U.S. Intelligence Needs To Investigate Trump-Russian Connection.” I have no quarrel here with the signholder’s message. In fact, it precisely states why all those people were out there in the first place. But I am reminded of that old philosophical question. You know the one: “If a sign falls in the forest and nobody can read it, did it really have a point?” Maybe the holder’s fellow protesters could read the sign, but I don’t think they were the target audience. Anyone driving by would have to have been Evelyn Wood herself to take that all in. The only reason I saw it was that a photo of it appeared in the newspaper the next day. I am sure that Nunes, to whom the sign was addressed, could not have read it. The message, then, was never received.

We need terse, punchy signage if we want that to happen. Something that will pierce defenses and get through. Words of one syllable and not too many of them. Lettered clearly in a large, thick font. Black on a white background. These are the basics, people. If you have something to say with your sign, this is how it needs to be done if you want your message to be received. Beware of deviations from this model. If you want to use pictures, that‘s fine, but make sure they’re readable at a glance. Forgive my bluntness, but bluntness is what is needed. Especially on a sign.

“Do Your Job” is a recent good example. It’s punchy, and it carries several clear messages: we’re watching, we’re your boss, you’re not doing your job, we’ll fire your ass if you don’t. It does assume that the audience (the elected official) knows which particular job is being talked about, but that is a fair assumption in this case.

“Fuck Trump” has a nice clear message and it’s certainly punchy, but using the word fuck can turn off potential converts to whatever fucking philosophy you’re pushing. “This Shit Is Fucked,” however, is acceptable because it’s funny. “Electile Dysfunction” is also funny, but “We Shall Overcomb”… sorry, but no. “Free Melania” is somewhat amusing but rhetorically insubstantial. “Queef on Him,” even though it will send some people running to the Dictionary of Slang, qualifies nicely. When it comes to humor, we are walking a fine line, so be careful out there.

“Resist + Persist” connects to current terminology and actually tells a little story as well. Plus, it rhymes. “Dump Trump” is another good rhymer, as is “Hate Ain’t Great.” Of course, not every sign can or should have the same message. I don’t claim to have a recommendation for every righteous grievance. That’s your job.

I know it’s not easy, believe me. Making a good protest sign is like drawing a good political cartoon: it has to cut through the haze and get to the heart of the matter. I’ve been trying to come up with something for my own sign, and it’s been a challenge. “No One Is Above The Law” states my case, but it’s just too dry. A good sign needs passion or else what’s the point? I want to tell that gecko Nunes that the Constitution is more important than politics or policy or party or presidents. That’s a tall order in four or five words, especially when it also needs some flesh and blood on it. And maybe even some hair.

“Prune The Executive Branch”? “Impeach The Tangerine”? “We’ve Lost The Founders”?

I don’t know; none of those sound that great. Too cute perhaps. How about something more in-your-face? “Bite My Emolument”? “Tweet This”? Or better yet, go full tilt aggression with “Crush Orange!” or “Why Orange You In Jail?”

Too much? Maybe, but in times like these, even too much may not be enough.
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No "new normal" for me, this shit ain't normal.
~ MS, Truckee