There is American Exceptionalism. We’re the Exception to Running a Modern Country Well.

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There *is* American Exceptionalism. It’s that we intentionally confuse social welfare with totalitarianism. We confuse economic models with "more" or "less" individual freedom. This belief is actually not the case. Our freedom lies in our ability to speak our minds, limitations on the government to intrude on our homes or compel us to incriminate ourselves, providing a non-violent means of revolution, etc.

What has resulted from our economic model is the situation we have today, no matter who is in office Americans work more for less "life" than pretty much any modern country. Furthermore, we stubbornly resist any idea that has been implemented elsewhere (say, Europe) before we thought of it as being "European". Except for describing a vacation location, the word "European" is pejorative.

I’m an incredibly lucky person. I was born into a place on Earth where, as a white male, I could enjoy "The American Dream" at the lowest difficulty level needed to obtain it.

But today that same demographic doesn’t have the same option. And it’s not being taken away by increasing minority populations or affirmative action or illegal immigration. It’s being taken away by student loan debt, a housing market viewed as a profit center, a health industry that is so institutionalized against change it is actually incented to treat disease for money rather than cure it, corporate taxes that have so many loopholes the effective rate is zero which deprives the government of revenue, politicians that have to worry about re-election more than governing, and finally, a system that feeds direct control of our well being, infrastructure, defense, drug approval, rights, and all the machinations of government into a tiny fraction of the population who gamed the system then used it to buy and sell the politicians they need to achieve their goals.

Their goals. Not our goals. Not society’s goals. Not the country’s goals. It’s hard for the lowest difficulty people, so imagine everyone else.

I’ve left out a bunch. The challenges of sex and race, our privatized prison system and militarized police. Our need to build weapons we don’t need to fight wars we should have thought twice about before getting into.

This article really resonated with me and I urge everyone, conservative and liberal to read it. It’s not anti-conservative or anti-patriotic or anti-liberal to suggest someone is doing something better. It doesn’t much affect our power as a nation state to implement some of these ideas.

http://www.thenation.com/article/after-i-lived-in-norway-america-felt-backward-heres-why/

We used to be a country that took on big social changes or projects. The Civil War. An income tax. The railroads. The highway system. Social Security. Medicare and Medicaid. Federal oversight of safety of everything from cars to food to drugs. Landing on the moon. Rovers on Mars. The space shuttle.

I don’t expect anyone to wholesale change their minds over one article, and there are loads of challenges and caveats to some of what I said above. But when solving these problems the American Way is to let the perfect be the enemy of the good, then work to undo as much of the good as we can because either it wasn’t perfect or it’s a "non-american" idea.

It’s time we looked around, and realized we’re not some lone beacon on a hill that no one else must ever live without. Because we’re feeding our own people, our values, and the very future of the country into the fire that lights that beacon. And it’s not necessary.

There *is* American Exceptionalism. It’s that we intentionally confuse social welfare with totalitarianism. We confuse economic models with "more" or "less" individual freedom. This belief is actually not the case. Our freedom lies in our ability to speak our minds, limitations on the government to intrude on our homes or compel us to incriminate ourselves, […]

Announcing Stepto and Friends LIVE at the Triple Door Seattle

2 Appearences | Concerts | ECCC | omfg | Reflection 2 Comments

I’m crazy excited to announce my very first headliner show at The Triple Door in Seattle April 10, 2016: “Stepto and Friends: Just Let Me Finish This Level.”

As many of you know I had a health scare over the summer when I fell into a coma. Thankfully I recovered and that recovery is going well. While in the hospital I had the chance to reflect on a lot of things, note some unique aspects of being in a bed for three weeks with a “NO INTERNET” rule in effect, and tied together some lessons learned. All of this has combined into this show, which is a mixture of readings, stand up comedy, and music. Molly Lewis and Marian Call will each be providing musical sets, and the Seth Boyer will join me as musical accompaniment to a dramedic (it’s a word!*) reading of my experiences.

It takes place on the final night of Emerald City Comic Con, 7:30pm April 10th (doors open at 6:00PM) at one of my favorite venues in all of Seattle, The Triple Door. I’m excited, nervous, excited, scared, and excited to bring this unique show to you and I hope you all buy tickets and join me there.

Or I swear I will coma again.

 

*It’s not a word.

I’m crazy excited to announce my very first headliner show at The Triple Door in Seattle April 10, 2016: “Stepto and Friends: Just Let Me Finish This Level.” As many of you know I had a health scare over the summer when I fell into a coma. Thankfully I recovered and that recovery is going […]

Top 5 Tips for Nice Guys: #4 Will SHOCK You!

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(Please note this article is written in a CIS/Heteronormative voice. Probably everything in this article can be considered applicable to a variety of different types of interaction on the sexual fluidity/Relationship diversity scale, however at our core we are still coming to grips with the very concept of gender and whether it’s an outdated way to look at things. From that perspective I felt the topics addressed here would be best spoken in that voice and isn’t meant to be dismissive of the entire spectrum. Secondly, this is a touchy subject. I accept I might be COMPLETELY WRONG in the positions I take here. Keep the discussion lively but civil. Remember, I used to ban people for a living.)

So you’re a nice guy. I know, it sucks. You’ve had an encounter with someone that you felt was far more meaningful than they did. You didn’t even think of it sexually even; you just want someone to love. You abhor the very concept of sexual violence, disrespect, or sexism. You go out of your way when interacting with potential partners to really listen and internalize what is important to them. You’re not a prowler or a creeper, and don’t believe anyone owes you anything. Sex would be nice, but you’re ok with that not being an immediate outcome.

You really are a nice guy. You feel like crap however because that doesn’t seem to be getting you anywhere.

First off, congratulations! I’m proud of you. A lot of people would argue that you shouldn’t be congratulated or get a pat on the back for being a decent person, that the very concept of you being a truly nice guy doesn’t deserve to be pointed out because it should be the default state.

Except…

We’re all human. We all fall short of who we want to be sometimes. We should pat people on the back (metaphorically!) if only to remind ourselves to be better than our lowest nature. So… deep breath. Take some solace in the fact that more often than not you are great partner material.

But you still feel like crap. With that in mind, here are some tips that might help you navigate the current thinking and behavior going on in the psychosexual realm that drives a lot of our reconciliation of emotional needs and physical ones (or lack thereof if applicable). And by tips I mean “useful bits of context” not “strategies for getting her into bed.”

#1. Assess the situation.

I’ll say it again, the current environment for discourse on this type of subject sucks for you. However, you have to appreciate how we got here. Generations of abuse, assault, and murder have left a huge swath of our species either afraid to talk or silenced by societal role enforcement. Women in particular are speaking out on these topics precisely because their voice is needed to affect change. Believe me, I have tons of opinions about human sexual and relationship dynamics and I choose not to talk about them accept in certain small audience of friends because now is the time to shut up and listen. No one wants to hear right now about how tough it is to be a truly nice guy in this environment. I know, again that sucks. But sometimes shutting up and absorbing all the viewpoints, even if not applicable to you, is the right thing to do. Everyone deserves an opinion, but not every opinion deserves to have an audience 100% of the time.

No. Sometimes you have to just drop it. Because you have to…

#2: Cope with being privileged.

Being told you’re privileged is ultimately a dismissal. It devalues you as a person and stereotypes you into a societal bucket because no matter what you do that bucket is deeper than any method you could use to climb out of it. Everything you say or do can be dismissed with “You’re privileged and can’t see past it.”

It’s also, unfortunately for your emotions, probably true.

If you’re a white straight male especially: congratulations you are privileged in a large segment of Western society! No, you didn’t ask for it. No, you don’t feel comfortable with it. Yes, you can fight to end it. But you have to cope with the fact you have both hands in the Palmolive and are soaking in it. I’ve even seen guys say out loud, “If I’d known it was going to be this tortuous I would not have taken the choice to be privileged if offered!” or “It’s been tough for me too!”

Stop that. The very fact you are saying things like that reflects your privilege because…

#3: You have to accept the alternative is far worse.

Aw, you’re feeling some sadness over a girl you love who likes men you think are horrible for her? That’s adorable. Try growing up with brown skin in most sections of the United States. Or being female just about anywhere in the world. Sorry but it’s time for some tough love. Your sadness is a valid feeling. What you do with it is what should be your focus. The temporary sadness over a relationship situation will fade, constant fear of sexual assault or harassment or getting shot just walking around whether you’re 8 or 80 doesn’t fade. You have to learn to walk away at some level emotionally and put things into a greater context.

Of course you should tell this person how you feel. And, should it not work out (despite psychosexual programming from Hollywood movies and top 10 pop hits where the persistent suitor usually prevails) you have to take a deep breath and go invest your time and effort with someone else. Yes, friendship is less a life than you hoped with this person. But to hinge everything that makes them valuable as an individual on romantic emotions devalues them as much as being bucketed as “privileged” makes you feel when you read about it. If you can’t get over that simple fact then…

#4: Go attach live jumper cables to your nipples.

Because…

#5: You have to learn the hardest fact: The universe and people in particular don’t by default owe you anything, up to and including having the precise relationship you want with precisely the individual you have chosen.

So you have a deep emotional connection with someone that isn’t reciprocated at the same level, and you just want this person to understand how deeply you feel despite their choice and want to tell them. Your mind continually bombards you with the phrase you most want to say “You don’t understand! I’m a nice guy!” When what you are really saying is “I don’t understand! Why aren’t you connecting at the same level?”

You have to drop it. Seeking relationships is like random atoms colliding. I do not believe in any way in the “soul mate” theory, and judging from society’s propensity to have second, or third marriages (five if you are a Republican politician legislating morality SHOTSFIRED) most people actually don’t either. But our songs and books and movies and our culture celebrate the idea such that it makes it hard to let go when the other person just isn’t that into you. If you have to say to someone “But I’m a nice guy…” you have to ask yourself why you are communicating that. To reiterate, what you are saying is “You’re wrong! Rethink your choice!” You’re devaluing one of the most important decisions someone can make: Who they choose to be with. Worse, you are doing it in a way that countless men have coopted as a tactic to emotionally punish a woman for not having sex with him, even if you individually didn’t expect that as the immediate outcome.

So.

I’m 43 and divorced. By no means do I look at this list as a “I figured it out! Just do what I do!” list. But each of these tips (#4 is bracing!) at some level actually can make things better because they allow you to see your immediate gut emotions in a far larger context, which allows you use them to further your own happiness.

I would not want to be with someone I had to badger for months or years to be with me. I’ve certainly had that experience. You always end up sabotaging yourself by forcing a situation because you believe that all relationships (if the person could just see the real you) would yield your soul mate. I’ve failed at that and most likely will do so again. You will too!

It’s how you deal with it that matters.

You’re a nice guy. Again, I congratulate you. But as the old storytelling adage goes, “Show. Don’t Tell.” (why is it called Storytelling then and not Storyshowing…I digress)

Women have a hard enough time dealing with the guys who aren’t nice. I would imagine that as a general group they don’t need another vector by which to have to worry about the choices they should feel free to make.

(Please note this article is written in a CIS/Heteronormative voice. Probably everything in this article can be considered applicable to a variety of different types of interaction on the sexual fluidity/Relationship diversity scale, however at our core we are still coming to grips with the very concept of gender and whether it’s an outdated way […]

Meet Lucien Idaho!

0 Life | Lucien Idaho | Pets No Comments

Now that I’ve been settled and have a routine I’ve missed having more than one dog. Basil Hayden of course has been my rock the past year, but I can tell when I am away he gets lonely in the house. So for a while I have been thinking of getting him a playmate once everything sort of settled down. Rochelle and I when married had a system where every other dog we got was a rescue/adoption. I love pure bred Golden Retrievers and our breeder has been wonderful, but there are so many dogs out there that need rescuing. When we took in Aspen Blue he was a special needs rescue and is thriving now but I miss him terribly. I’ve been sponsoring some special needs Mini-Aussies in the PacNW with donations here and there, with an eye that I might take in another one for Basil’s playmate and my companion. Miniature Australian Shepherds are very smart like their larger bred cousins and are an interesting mix with the temperament of something like a Golden Retriever. I knew that if I didn’t rescue a Golden, I would most likely want a Mini-Aussie. So it was with some surprise this week when during a routine trip to the Vet for Basil I discovered a Red Merle Mini-Aussie who needed a forever home. May I present, Lucien Idaho!

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After some initial meet and greet to get him comfortable (pictured above he’s in his old home and was relaxed with me around after some initial “Dances with Wolves” style bribing with lamb treats) I brought him home for a short stay and I will bring him home permanently next weekend. He’s got all the typical Mini-Aussie traits, no health issues/needs other than a mild Coloboma which happens sometimes in this breed but most importantly:

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Inspection.

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Approved!

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Attention human. It’s outside playtime.

Lucien is a one year old who has bounced around a couple of homes, his last owner called him Trip because when he herds you he does it with all his weight. But I think he’s young enough to learn a new name. It’s within the realm of possibility that his coloboma might lead to blindness later on but I’m having him all checked out at my vet a week from Monday, and that would not affect my decision to take him in. So say hello to my new boy and Basil’s new brother!

(edit: The name Lucien Idaho was chosen because: Lucien as an homage to The Sandman and his unusual eye structure and how it will perceive light, and Idaho in homage to Duncan Idaho from Dune and most shepherd breeds are farm/herd animals.I give my dogs two names. Shut up it’s not weird. I said shut up!)

Now that I’ve been settled and have a routine I’ve missed having more than one dog. Basil Hayden of course has been my rock the past year, but I can tell when I am away he gets lonely in the house. So for a while I have been thinking of getting him a playmate once […]

Administrivia: Site Redesign

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I took some time over the past few weeks to update and fiddle with the site design to modernize it somewhat. While I’m still tweaking to remove redundancy etc. pretty much everything about the site should be working. If you find a dead link for things hosted here or pointed to my other properties (Bandcamp page, etc) drop me an email.

I hate hacking PHP. Meh. Smile

(edit: just noticed the word “Comments” getting clipped off. Sigh. Back to PHP.)

I took some time over the past few weeks to update and fiddle with the site design to modernize it somewhat. While I’m still tweaking to remove redundancy etc. pretty much everything about the site should be working. If you find a dead link for things hosted here or pointed to my other properties (Bandcamp […]