Sunday, October 22, 2017

Sexual Assault Should Just Be a Tax Write-Off Now

I think it's time we all unite as a society and codify what is essentially already a reality: rape, sexual harassment, and sexual assault should just be a tax write-off now.

An article published yesterday in THE FAILING NEW YORK TIMES reported the following, which I will just paste here verbatim:
Last January, six months after Fox News ousted its chairman amid a sexual harassment scandal, the network’s top-rated host at the time, Bill O’Reilly, struck a $32 million agreement with a longtime network analyst to settle new sexual harassment allegations, according to two people briefed on the matter — an extraordinarily large amount for such cases. 
Although the deal has not been previously made public, the network’s parent company, 21st Century Fox, acknowledges that it was aware of the woman’s complaints about Mr. O’Reilly. They included allegations of repeated harassment, a nonconsensual sexual relationship and the sending of gay pornography and other sexually explicit material to her, according to the people briefed on the matter. 
It was at least the sixth agreement — and by far the largest — made by either Mr. O’Reilly or the company to settle harassment allegations against him. Despite that record, 21st Century Fox began contract negotiations with Mr. O’Reilly, and in February granted him a four-year extension that paid $25 million a year.
Meanwhile, elsewhere in the country, Harvey Weinstein has checked out of "sex addiction" "rich-white-man-rapist-crisis-P.R.-stunt" therapy, but is chillin' in Arizona for awhile to continue "dealing with his anger, his attitude toward others, boundary work and the beginnings of work on empathy."

The "beginnings of work on empathy." THE BEGINNINGS. So let's review. 

Harvey Weinstein is throwing money at his civil and criminal liability to work on a concept that should pretty much be hard-wired into any non-sociopath. So I guess what that means is that sexual assault is just a cost of doing business and the IRS should make it a tax write-off, because here's what's happening:

Bill O'Reilly and Harvey Weinstein are just two prominent and powerful examples, but the fact is that a lot--A LOT--of powerful (and maybe not so powerful) men have been committing sexual felonies against women in the male-dominated workforce for decades upon decades. 

Not only have these crimes gone largely unreported (much less prosecuted or punished), but as long as the perpetrators can somehow continue to generate money in their respective fields or industries, they are welcomed back with open arms after paying the equivalent of a speeding ticket for permanently and serially violating the psychological and physical sanctity of fellow professionals and human beings.

Let's get one thing out of the way: to be wrongfully accused of sexual harassment or assault is a terrible thing. It can ruin the reputation and life of the accused forever. But like in-person voter fraud, the "false rape allegation"--much less the consequences that flow from it--is not exactly common. In fact, it is exceedingly rare. Statistics support this reality. From an article in Quartz:
Let’s start with the idea that false rape accusations ruin lives, and are therefore a universal risk to men. Generally, feminists dismiss this idea by arguing that false accusations are rare—only between 2% and 10% of all reports are estimated to be false. What’s equally important to know, however, is that false rape accusations almost never have serious consequences.

It’s exceedingly rare for a false rape allegation to end in prison time. This may be hard to believe, especially considering that rape is a felony, punishable with years of prison. However—to start with this worst-case scenario—it’s exceedingly rare for a false rape allegation to end in prison time. 
According to the National Registry of Exonerations, since records began in 1989, in the US there are only 52 cases where men convicted of sexual assault were exonerated because it turned out they were falsely accused. By way of comparison, in the same period, there are 790 cases in which people were exonerated for murder. 
Furthermore, in the most detailed study ever conducted of sexual assault reports to police, undertaken for the British Home Office in the early 2000s, out of 216 complaints that were classified as false, only 126 had even gotten to the stage where the accuser lodged a formal complaint. Only 39 complainants named a suspect. Only six cases led to an arrest, and only two led to charges being brought before they were ultimately deemed false. (Here, as elsewhere, it has to be assumed that some unknown percentage of the cases classified as false actually involved real rapes; what they don’t involve is countless innocent men’s lives being ruined.) 
So the evidence suggests that even in the rare case where a man is the subject of a false rape complaint, chances are that the charges will be dropped without him ever learning about the allegations.
In other words, the incentive to report sexual assault is incredibly low given the scrutiny to which victims are subjected and the lack of accountability their perpetrators face. DO THE MATH: It's simply not worth it for most women.

Do evil, nefarious, lying women occasionally use rape and sexual assault as a way to blackmail and destroy a man's life or reputation? Yes. But the statistical reality paints a more troubling picture, or what should be a more troubling picture: thousands of rapes and assaults--FELONIES--much less routine sexual harassment, go unreported and unprosecuted in order to protect the most valuable asset in western society: a rich man's reputation and his ability to continue to make money for himself and those in his field or industry.

Collectively, we've decided that on balance, it's worth it. One man's ability to keep making money is more important than thousands of women's lives and bodily dignity. So let's just go ahead and make sexual assault, rape, and harassment a cost of doing business. 

Let's be pragmatic and make it a routine part of insurance policies and a tax write-off.

Saturday, October 21, 2017

War Crimes Against Denim

I had to do a LOT (okay fine, ten seconds) of research to make sure this wasn’t FAKE NEWS and it seems—erm, seams—it is not.

A Japanese designer named Thibaut has just pulled the ultimate Emperor’s New Clothes at Tokyo Fashion Week with these “thong jeans.” 

You have to be super high concept to get these, but since I’m not high concept, I’m just gonna go ahead and call these a war crime against denim that merits prosecution at The Hague.

Before I get to the jeans though, let me just say that I know clear glasses frames are on trend. What I didn’t realize, however, is that the star of my mother-in-law’s calisthenics VHS home workout tapes from 1989 has embarked on a second career as a high fashion runway model.

We can’t all afford high fashion though, so here’s a step-by-step guide to making these jeans yourself at home:

1. Buy a pair of light wash jeans from Old Navy for $39.

2. Scroll through some Trump tweets while sitting on hold with the IRS until you’re good and mad.

3. Channel your rage into a set of poultry shears and go to town on the jeans while blasting P!nk’s greatest hits.

4. Discard 85% of the denim material to use for scrapbooking and your daughter’s Barbies later.

5. Take the remaining 15% and somehow step into it.

6. Walk out in public.

7. Wait for the police to ask if you’ve been in some sort of accident or perhaps mauled by an animal.

8. Convince the police you’re not a vulnerable adult who’s escaped from a psychiatric inpatient facility.

9. Turn around and run home as fast as your ironic Reeboks will carry you.

10. Try not to snag yourself on a fire hydrant or park bench as you go.

The End.

Hurricane Maria Response: St. Croix Update from My Friend in the Coast Guard

Last week, I posted an update on Hurricane Maria according to our friend, Andy, who is deployed there from Juneau and coordinating the Coast Guard's federal response to the hurricane. 

My mom's plans to travel there and do mental health relief work have not yet come together because folks like Andy are still doing emergency work and there's nowhere to stay. She expects to get there sometime this winter after immediate life, health, and safety needs are under control. 

Here's the latest from Andy:
St Croix report: I went to the east end of St Croix last week to visit the Coast Guard inspection office, which is not near a population center. The office has very limited communication and it was difficult to understand the situation on the ground from our command post in San Juan. Not surprisingly, some things were worse and some better than expected.
The utility grid is destroyed, and the roads have not yet been cleared. Utility poles are in the streets, wires across the roads. There was widespread damage to homes across the island, and I met several people who had been displaced by the storm. The Coast Guard permanent party’s homes were all rendered uninhabitable due to wind damage, water intrusion and mold growth. A temporary crew was housed in a hotel which was about 2/3 destroyed, but had remaining habitable rooms and a functioning restaurant. Many homes on the east end have rain catchment cisterns on their roofs as their primary source of water, but most of these have been contaminated by vegetation and windblown debris.

Despite the damage and the heat, the people I encountered were inspiring. Local residents have taken up roles helping each other. I met Maurya, a 70 year old retired U.S. Navy commander who took a leadership role to organize neighbors, and cleared some of the roads leading into her area with a hand saw. She was a career naval engineer, and did a tour as Main Propulsion Assistant on a minesweeper. I met Kevin, the “ice man,” who drove into Christiansted each day to bring ice to the east end to help those with no refrigeration.
The logistical challenges are not as daunting as in Puerto Rico; the island is smaller, the mountains are lower and there was less road destruction. The port is open, grocery stores and some bars and restaurants are open and fully stocked. Despite this, the disruption of lives has meant many people out of work. People are running out of money, hot and exhausted. People don't have functioning refrigeration, so they can't buy much fresh food. Hurricane Hugo has been in the Cruzan consciousness for several decades, but Maria will be the new reference point for destructive storms.

Friday, October 20, 2017

Challenging the Propaganda Machine: Sarah Huckabee Sanders Needs a Civics Lesson, Because of Course She Does

My paternal grandfather was a pilot in the Air Force during World War II. His service to our country fighting Nazis is probably the biggest point of pride in our family. I have his collection of wartime papers, photographs, and a few articles of his clothing and pins, some of which I have shared previously here. I remember looking at model airplanes in his home-office and hearing stories of his flight school training.

He was crushed when he was medically discharged from the Air Force for ulcers, and couldn’t serve abroad with his fellow fighter pilots. Had it not been for his condition, though, I likely wouldn’t be here, because nearly everyone else in his squadron was killed in action overseas.

I am proud of my family’s military background, which is at least part of why it was so disturbing to hear White House Spokesperson Sarah Huckabee Sanders tell a member of the American free press (referring to White House Chief of Staff John Kelly), “if you want to get into a debate with a four-star Marine general, I think that’s something highly inappropriate.”

Actually, it’s not. Putting aside the fact that John Kelly is now a civilian, “debating” a member of the military is absolutely appropriate.

What’s not appropriate, at least in our American constitutional democracy, is a slavish fetishization of the military—be it in the White House pressroom or at a football game.

What we’ve seen developing lately is a sinister brand of blind jingoism and obsequiousness. One that tries to suppress, shame, and intimidate civilian criticism of government actors based on the specious falsehood that such criticism is tantamount to “disrespecting our troops.” 

It’s a false equivalency and it’s a very dangerous one at that.

The American Revolution was fought—and won of course—by challenging the British forces that ruled the colonies. The Founding Fathers were deeply concerned about and highly skeptical of military incursions and overreach into civilian life. Their copious writings reflect the fundamental idea that the military is ultimately accountable and subservient to a civilian democratic government—not the other way around.

This is distinct from many despotic nation-states around the world. And certainly, it’s because of that distinction that American citizens remain free to criticize their government for failing to live up to its Constitutional guarantees.

The current administration appears not to understand this principle of basic American civics, and their ignorance is to our detriment. Make no mistake: for those in power to serve up this type of autocratic propaganda—unchallenged—endangers us all.

Thursday, October 19, 2017

Alaskan Horoscopes

Aries (March 21-April 19): Your passion will ignite this month as you read the comment threads in the ADN and wonder how anyone could possibly get so worked up over service dogs and the theft of canned Spam in Hawaii. Personally, you’re much more troubled by the fact that someone seems to get run over or shot in Anchorage every single day. Time to lock and load your rifle and go shoot yourself some moose sausages to let off a little steam. KABLAM!

Taurus (April 20-May 20): Your natural inclinations toward practicality and loyalty are at odds this month as you want to patronize your local independent book store, but deep down don’t feel like leaving your couch. You’re pretty sure they won’t have what you want anyway, and Amazon Prime shipping is free, so, you’ll just have to live with the guilt of contributing to the demise of Alaska’s mom and pop retail community, asshole.

Gemini (May 21-June 20): This month, a secret admirer will finally ask you out on a date! So what if your new love interest happens to be your kid’s second grade teacher’s ex-husband. And who cares if he suggested hiking Flattop followed by the Moose’s Tooth like that shit isn’t the most unoriginal date in all of Anchorage and you haven’t been on the exact same date 1,000 times. Just go with it. God knows there’s no better prospect on the horizon!

Cancer (June 21-July 22):
Your keen intuition will serve you well this month when an adventurous-bordering-on-stupidly-careless friend suggests you venture into the glaciated backcountry for three days unprepared for the elements. Take heed of those doomed souls whom Alaska has chewed up and spat out, and decide maybe not to let peer pressure turn you into a statistic this time.

Leo (July 23-August 22): You’ll capitalize on your physical strength this month as you take advantage of the PFD sale that finally prompted you to sign up for the gym again. You’ll need it after you slip and fall on early-morning October ice right outside the front door before you can even set foot on the treadmill. Good thing your insurance covers physical therapy—for now!

Virgo (August 23-September 22): You might find yourself getting emotional this month, but not from lack of sleep. The waning daylight has you patronizing retail weed stores more than usual (yay for democracy!) and sleeping from 7:00 p.m. to 7:00 a.m. and yet still waking up in pitch blackness feeling like you got into a fist fight with a grizzly bear. Take some time for self-care by crawling back into bed again.

Libra (September 23-October 22):
Your analytical side is dominant this month as you deal with that little nagging voice in the back of your mind that keeps asking, “what if oil never recovers and the state descends into an endless shit-spiral, my house winds up not being worth the dirt it sits on, and I have to start panhandling on the streets of Juneau just so I can afford to buy my child an outdated geography textbook in the hopes of cobbling together a decent public education for him/her?” Put a blue tarp over that fear, just like the one that’s been draped over the rusty snowblower in your driveway for three winters. Also watch the Monorail episode of The Simpsons and pretend the Monorail guy is Exxon. This won’t make you feel better, but it will make you laugh!

Scorpio (October 23-November 21):
It’s 10:00 p.m. in Alaska. Do you know where your children are? Unless you’re on meth right now, the answer is probably yes. Next case! 10:00 p.m. is also prime time to get on Twitter and stare into the Rectangle of Doom known as your iPhone while the rest of the country sleeps blissfully. Leverage your predilection for intimacy into creating some dank memes until you lose track of time.

Sagittarius (November 22-December 21):
You can be super temperamental, but this month your patience will be tested to the max as your Alaska Airlines jet overheads three different cities in Southeast on day five of a two day work trip. Use this unscheduled “vacation” to get familiar with a dodgy fleabag hotel and stay up all night wondering if anyone was murdered in your room as you watch re-runs of Forensic Files before you have to head back to the airport in three hours to attempt another failed departure.

Capricorn (December 22-January 19):
You can be cold, distant, and unforgiving, but this month you have to make a tray of brownies and at least five different meal train meals and potluck dishes for various neighbors with babies and numerous attempts to raise money at your kid’s school because the Legislature wants your kids to Rice Krispy-treat their way to jobs and college. Just try not to let your controlling side get the best of you when you realize the dog ate half your pan of lasagna and his hair is all over everything.

Aquarius (January 20-February 18): Don’t be shy about asking for what you need this month. For example, if the garage that changes out your snow tires says they can’t get you in for another two months, beg and plead and maybe even cry until they agree to accept your vehicle tomorrow. Nothing wrong with asserting yourself and turning your careless procrastination into someone else’s emergency every now and again. God knows someone does it to you every day of the week, and one good turn deserves another.

Pisces (February 19-March 20): Your love of water will shine this month as you stare at your enormous kayak and ask yourself why you ever bought that POS to begin with. All it is now is a decoration in your garage instead of someone else's garage. Don’t be discouraged by the fact that it takes longer to get down and loaded up than the time spent actually using it. Just look at it and smile and picture it actually on the water.

Wednesday, October 18, 2017

15 Little, Everyday Juneau GRIPES!

1. “In America, we drive on the RIGHT side of the road!”

2. “What? This place is CLOSED?! It says right here it’s supposed to be OPEN!”

3. “How is this construction project STILL going on?!”

4. “Aren’t these teenagers freezing their ASSES off?”

5. “Is there some off-gassing chemical in that Holland America poncho that makes you want to walk DIRECTLY in front of my car and almost commit suicide? Asking for a friend.”

6. “Is it raining AGAIN? Wait of course it is.”

7. “Ugh not a low ceiling! We’re NEVER gonna get outta here.”

8. “Ugh not high winds! We’re NEVER gonna see the ground again!”

9. “Wait today’s a teacher IN-SERVICE day?! Nooooo!”

10. “Why is the weed store already out of WEED?”

11. “This Costco peeled garlic is all moldy ALREADY?”

12. “OMG I can’t believe I just spent $10 on SOUP.”

13. “How do these leggies WALK in those HEELS?”

14. “Someone put THAT on Juneau buy/sell/trade?”

15. “How can one town produce SO MUCH DOG SHIT?”

BONUS GRIPES: "I DARE you to tow my car!" and "Is there ANY middle ground on the radio between Justin Bieber and Rod Stewart?"

Tuesday, October 17, 2017

Newsweek Has Great Tips on Surviving Two Sociopaths Blowing Up the Planet to Prove Whose Dick is the Yoogest

It seems almost retro to say we’re in this place again, but welp, here we are, cowering under our literal and figurative desks once more. And not just to avoid an active shooter armed with 23 pieces of military-grade artillery festooned with bump-stocks and silencers dispensed as free samples at a gun show, either.


This time, we’re taking cover from two active sociopaths—one of whom happens to be the figure-head President of the United States—and both of whom seem bound and determined to return Planet Earth to its origins in the Milky Way just to prove whose dick is the yoogest and fairest in all the land.

The fact that no one will actually remain alive to rule definitively on this question has not deterred Fascist Senile Cantaloupe and Sentient Cabbage Patch Kid from holding humanity hostage in their global peen-measuring contest.

It's all good though, because the FAKE NEWS is here with this BOMBSHELL (pun intended) piece from Newsweek chock full o’ tips to survive a nuclear blast! Let’s break these down and see just how realistic this guidance actually is, m’kay?

“Experts recommend being on the lookout for emergency alerts that could come in the form of text messages.”

Okay, first of all, my iPhone sends me push notifications from trash-ass apps my kids download on the reg. This could easily devolve into a “boy who cried wolf” situation. Like when I hear one of those loud pings, pangs, bings, or dings, how do I know it’s not Barbie Dreamtopia Magical Hair telling me that new hair fashions are available for in-app purchase, as opposed to The Donald telling me that he finally pulled the trigger on the ultimate ragequit? Second of all, I’m sure Trump’s text will get lost among the zillions of group texts and FB messages on which I routinely find myself, despite making it clear in no uncertain terms that group texts and messages are Satan’s handiwork. This whole “nuclear-blast-text-lost-in-the-shuffle” is exactly why.
“It can take up to as little as ten minutes for a nuclear bomb to strike the U.S. giving no time to buy emergency supplies.”
The person who came up with this tip obvs doesn’t have the Amazon Dash Button. Thanks to Jeff Bezos, you can now order Charmin and Cheez-Its right from your bathroom and they will be on your doorstep immedes. I’m confident that ten minutes is MORE than enough time to procure the Nyquil, Ben & Jerry’s Phish Food frozen yogurt, Four Loko, and heirloom tomatoes (among other bare necessities) required to survive the nuclear apocalypse.
“Likely targets of a nuclear attack include strategic missile sites and bases, D.C. government centers, ports and petroleum refineries.”
D.C. is a fucking swamp in every sense of the word, and everyone who lives there should move anyway. That festering boil was officially canceled on 11/9/16. Otherwise, it sounds like you’re probably fine unless your house is in Prudhoe Bay or Cape Canaveral.
“Staying inside in the event of a nuclear blast is key. After 20 minutes of the blast, radioactive flurries and toxic matter will begin to fall. Fallout is especially dangerous during the first two weeks.”
Staying inside for two weeks is gonna be a fucking CAKE WALK, fam! My bed is already my favorite place on earth! The one teensy wrinkle is that I might be overcome by curiosity about “radioactive flurries” and be tempted to go outside with a black-light and see if we can maybe organize an end-times rave.
“If radioactive material gets on your clothing, government officials say taking off the outer layer can eliminate 90 percent of the radioactive material.”
But what happens to the other 10%? Will it give me glow-in-the-dark titties? Gawd that would be bananas, amirite? Here’s hoping!
"Get down, cover your head, don't stand there in the middle of Central Park and gawk. Get under something."
It’s too bad Harvey Weinstein had to fly to Europe for “sex addiction” treatment because his number one skill is getting on top of people. A nuclear blast would finally give that repellent, bloated sack of gelatinous hirsute donkey shit something useful to do with his “addiction” to jumping people’s bones. This is right in his wheelhouse. FREE HARVEY! The future of the planet depends on it!
“FEMA suggests camping out in underground spaces underneath large buildings before the blast. Experts also encourage hiding in a central location with no windows.”
Bruh! I love camping! Based on this description, the State of Alaska’s centralized mail room in the basement of the State Office Building in Juneau is the perfect place to pitch a tent and roast some s’mores over an open uranium fire.
“With a nuclear bomb eminent [sic.] experts warn [against] looking at the blast. Unlike the eclipse, special glasses won’t save you in the event of nuclear destruction, which causes a light so strong it's brighter than the sun and will blind you. Experts urge keeping your mouth open to keep your eardrums from bursting. If you live close enough to the blast, chances of survival are slim.”
So let’s dispense with the elephant in the room: post-nuclear winter, no one will care about the difference between “imminent” and “eminent” anymore, if they ever did. Much less will anyone know where to track down those special eclipse glasses that everyone threw out ten seconds after the eclipse was over. I’m sure when the Blinding Light of Impending Doom sears our retinas, we'll all remember to open our mouths so that our eardrums don’t burst, but also so that little specks of cosmic dust get into our lungs, presumably. But this only applies if you live far away from the blast. If you live close by, you might as well look right at that mushroom cloud with your mouth closed and your ears and eyes wide open so that all of your senses are fully engaged in your last moments on earth and you die looking like one of those little rubber stress dolls that you squeeze and the ears and tongue and eyeballs bulge out comically.
“A 2014 study published in The Royal Society found that most homes and buildings will not be able to withstand a nuclear blast.”
Actually forget everything you just read. We're all fucked and we're all gonna die! JESUS, TAKE THE WHEEL!