Let's use our imaginations for a minute. I want you to imagine a leader in our society, maybe a business leader or a community leader, someone who is likely to inspire. Maybe a prominent athlete or actor, maybe a high-powered CEO. Imagine them giving some sort of public address in front of a crowd of people who are enthusiastically cheering. 

Now imagine that person openly and shamelessly mocking a handicapped person, then seeing the crowd erupt in cheers and applause. Imagine the person at the podium demeaning a prisoner of war, saying they only like people who don't get caught. As if there were something inherently wrong with a POW because they were captured. 

Imagine the absolute shit show this would become. Imagine how the conservatives of this country would rise up against someone who would say such awful things about someone who has been captured and imprisoned by enemy combatants. The GOP has always been the party to stand up for veterans and POW's. They would never be found defending the actions of someone diminishing what a POW experienced. 

How can it be that they voted Donald Trump into the presidency? Where is the disconnect? I don't think I'll ever understand this, and I will certainly not get over it. If you voted for Trump, you have made a statement that it is ok to mock the handicapped. You are saying it's ok to publicly diminish the trauma experienced by POW's. You have given your stamp of approval for the insane things Trump has done and said. You have said "It is ok for out president to behave this way". IT is not ok. 

I am especially surprised by Christians who have sided with him. Just so you know, you have now lost any moral high-ground. You can no longer point to any candidates immorality as a justification to not vote for them. That time is now past. 

I can understand a frustration with "political correctness". I listen to some podcasts that are a celebration of anti political correctness, and I laugh at the content. Its terrible. However, I am able to separate the part of me that gets a rise out of non-politically correct humor, and what I think is acceptable behavior for the POTUS. Mocking the disabled, diminishing the experience of a POW, unacceptable

There is so much more Trump has done and said that I have such a problem with, but these two things stand out for me. I know there's the "Access Hollywood" tape, the attacks on the Muslim "Gold-Star" family, etc. I just can't believe he lasted past mocking the handicapped reporter and his comments on John McCain. 

Conservatives just cheered. The fucking cheered. Then they voted. 

This country is so much different then I thought it was. Obviously, I live in a bubble. Being smacked in the face with this fact has been very fucking sobering. 

In The Wake

I have a very hard time understanding why Trump supporters have this attitude that Clinton supporters should stop protesting. Can they not scrounge up one single spec of empathy? Can they not understand the utter and complete shit-show that would have ensued had Trump lost the election? I'm going to speculate that if this had gone another way, the protests you'd see would be a lot more violent, with a lot more guns. How frustratingly short sighted to demand that people simply stop crying around about it and accept the results. Calling liberals who are upset with the election "a bunch of crybabies" is so very short sighted

I would also like to speak to all the reports bubbling up pertaining to discrimination and hate-speech that have arisen since the election. I read the opinion of one commentator that said something to the effect of any transition like this being likely to be followed by a rash of people lashing out in this way (I agree with this assessment). It happened after Obama got elected in '08, the commentator added. (Today I'm the self-appointed king of speculation) I'll go out on a limb and say that any racist lashing-out that occurred in the wake of Obama's victory (there was racist lashing out) was probably not the actions of people who supported him. Probably it was coming from the alt-right. And now what do we see? The alt right making their voices heard once again. Can anyone else see this pattern emerging? 

Anyway, way to go, America. 

A Couple Thoughts

Of all the nasty shit Trump has done and said, all the braggadocious immoral loud mouthing he has done through the course of his campaign (or through the course of his life), I can't believe that any self-respecting evangelical Christian would support an actual casino owner for president. Perhaps church has changed dramatically since I was a part of it, but I just can't imagine an evangelical Christian supporting that guy. When I was in church, gambling was considered a sin. We talked about Las Vegas like it was the den of Satan. The City of Sin. 

This isn't to say all Christians support him for president, But I'd be willing to bet you're not likely to find many atheist among those ranks. I'm gong to hazard a guess that all of his followers are mostly, if not all, Christian. If Trump were running for the Democratic seat, Christians would be loosing their minds over all the immortality that Trump has such an obvious record of. How can this be? How can he be the front runner for the party of family values? Five children from three marriages? What the Hell is going on here? Imagine for just one second (I know I'm not the first person to be pointing this out) if Hillary Clinton had five children from three marriages. Imagine the absolute shit-show it would be turned into. No one has said shit about this when it comes to Trump. 

"puff, puff"

*Josh blows into the mic

"Is this thing even on??"

One more thing, then I'm done. It makes me sick to think of all the money that has been spent through these campaigns. A quick Google of the phrase "how much has the presidential campaign cost" gets me to a Washington Post article (it was the first result) that states that the Clinton campaign has raised 1.3 billion, and the Trump campaign has raised 795 million. Just for the campaigns. Imagine how many college tuitions could have been paid with all that money? All the health care costs, all the housing for people in need. Imagine how many schools could get the resources they need to properly educate our children. It's such a shocking, disgusting waste of money, and I can't believe this is how we pick a president. The system has clearly gotten away with itself because of money and greed. We really ought to have a lottery for the POTUS. Then we could focus a little more resources on feeding starving children. 


I keep doing this thing where I have some marijuana, then I start thinking about how weird Facebook is. I know two people who aren't on Facebook. It's so woven into out lives and lifestyles that we would all experience at least some sense of loss if Facebook were to disappear tomorrow. It's a great organizational tool for anything social.

But there's something about it that's really started to bother me. Something I can't stop thinking about. I hate how it has become a universal pulpit. I've blocked people because of persistent posts with opinions I don't agree with. Is this something I should even do? Some i find down right repugnant. I certainly don't feel the need to post all my inner thoughts and opinions out there for everyone to read. Even this blog is not that. It would be utterly alienating if I did that.

I don't want to be the type of person who feels frustration about some aspect of life, then expects society to fall in line because of my frustration. I fully recognize that the frustration I experience could be the result of my own need to feel like my beliefs and values ought to not be challenged. Like my values require defending. As though some small part of me doesn't quite believe the way I perceive the world is really correct. Like I'm lacking the confidence of knowing I am right about how i see the world. Is this why reading opposing views from people I love seems to hurt me?

I was thinking the other day that there should be a separate social networking site where everyone can post all their opinions about everything. Just opinion diarrhea. That way Facebook can be filled with pictures of kids and cats and hiking. Memes and games and jokes.

But this is not the point of Facebook or of the roll it plays in our society. It is the free platform of mass expression. No matter what, you can pretty much say what you want on Facebook. If I take such offensive to someone's political stance on whatever, maybe the problem is really for me to deal with.

I'm writing this because, for some reason, I feel like I have to. Probably for the same exact reason why people need to comment on every blip on the radar screen of mass media. The apparent need to say what one feels is only outweighed by the ease of doing so.  

An Addendum

I was thinking about that last post about guns, and I wanted to add an addendum. But first I want to talk about art.

There was a piece I saw in a museum while visiting Amsterdam that really struck me. It was a beautifully rendered picture of a man hanging up-side-down who had been disemboweled. There was a hungry dog greedily lapping a the pool of viscera gathering under the hanging hands of the dangling corpse.

I know, right? Disgusting. I thought it was possibly likely that the painter had witnessed this scene in his community, maybe more then once, and decided to depict it. I imagine him looking at that graphic and public display probably with some approximation of how we must look at it, here in our time in history. I think artists specifically have a tendency look at things happening around society and notice details that seem wrong, that other people might just accept as 'the status quo'. Like a disemboweled man hanging from bound ankles.

We're all civilized now thought, right? We would certainly not be carrying out any kind of execution in a public square. But the civilization of mankind does seem to be an on-going process that we are really only in the beginning of. 

There is undoubtedly things we are all doing that our future descendents will call barbaric. I imagine, if humanity survives itself, that we will all come to the common realization that people should never kill other people. That the very idea of that happening would completely absurd. This would be a society that could safely have guns in it.

I'm SUCH a dreamer, right? It'll happen. Just give it 3 or 4 hundred years. If civilization continues, future humans will look back on all this gun violence we have now in much the same way we now look back at the dangling, disemboweled man. I think that it is inevitable that this will be the case. 


Let's talk about guns.

I feel really divided over this topic. I think about the times I leave Laura at home for one or more evenings. If we had a shotgun in the apartment that she knew how to confidently use, it would ease my mind. There's no question that a gun makes Laura more powerful then any man. More powerful then a man with a gun? Perhaps not, but it certainly levels the playing field. We could have a hard and fast rule that if someone opens the front door at night when I'm not home, and they don't identify themselves, and they don't respond to a warning and a shell being racked into the chamber, then shoot as soon as they come into view. This is certainly better then imagining what could possibly happen if that scenario went another way.

But somehow this doesn't seem very "real world" to me. You can't know how you would react to a situation where one might need to pull out a fire arm and start pulling the trigger. I would say that going to a gun range to fire at paper targets can prepare you for using your gun in a real situation just about as much as punching a heavy-bag can prepare you for a street fight. When someone finds themselves in a real situation with real people involved, training largely goes out the window. There are probably a few people who could maintain their composure enough to discharge their fire arm in a publicly dangerous situation (in a 'hold-up' scenario, for instance) without killing innocent people, or at least posing a danger to themselves and others. There's probably only one person I know who carries a gun regularly who I would trust in a situation like that, and he is a war veteran with much experience in real life situations. To say the answer is to arm everyone is naive and dangerous. 

I think that people ought to be able to be hobbyists with their guns. People ought to be able to hunt, if they want. I would even go so far as to say that gun ownership, as well as having the ability to hunt for your food, is an American tradition that is worth preserving.

But what about the other thing? What about the shootings? What about the violence? Is it worth it if it costs a stack of dead children? How many innocent children need to be slain before we start to move in some direction? Just some damn direction.

Cause it's getting pretty crazy. The whole world thinks we are crazy. Gun sales actually go UP after a mass shooting because of the paranoia that the government is going to take away all the guns. So when there is a mass shooting, gun companies profit. Isn't this a little disgusting?

This is not one that I have a solution to. I'd say we should probably have tighter regulations on who can buy guns, perhaps none of that gun-show nonsense that's going on right now, maybe make it hard to get high capacity magazines, maybe limit ammo purchases in much the same way that sudafed is regulated. Would it be so hard to do? Imagine if there were pharmaceutical trade shows that were open to the public where people could stock up on sudafed for the manufacture of meth? How fast would that practice be shut down? 

I wonder what life would be like if people could just refrain from being assholes long enough for everyone else to feel comfortable enough to not feel the need to carry a fucking gun around everywhere they go. We (human beings) are a very weird thing indeed, so full of contradiction and irony.


The Gays

I don't think it's appropriate for people to use The Bible as a justification to restrict gay rights. To my knowledge (and I am willing to be wrong) Jesus doesn't say anything about homosexuality. A lot of people like to say that Jesus was sent to make a new covenant, one human sacrifice to cover the sins of the world so we don't have to go around sacrificing animals or follow all the strict laws of the Old Testament. A lot of Biblical homophobia comes out of the Old Testament. So seriously, unless you're preparing to give up shellfish, or stop wearing clothing with two kinds of textiles, please give it a rest with the gays.

And besides the fact that Jesus himself (the very Central Figure of the religion) never mentions homosexuality, one thing He does mention is to love one another. I'm not sure he could have made that more clear, but there you go. How does "love one another" and "gay people can't get married" exist together?

I want to go on about the problems with the oft-spouted idiom "love the sinner, hate the sin", but I'm not going to, at least not here. I also want to give a piece of my mind to a certain Kentucky county clerk, but I don't think that disgusting story needs any more attention. 

So, what do we find when we look into the real world? How do we see the church responding to the presence of homosexuals? Not with love. We see families disowning gay children. We see people fighting tooth and nail to place legal restrictions on how consenting adults choose to express love toward one another. We see people trying to become president who would use their faith to justify making laws restricting the expression of love. We see the faithful always drawing strange correlations between homosexuality and pedophilia or even bestiality. Whose fucking business is it? Does God seriously care what we do with our genitals (as long as we're not hurting others)? Don't you think He/She would be primarily concerned with how we treat one another?

Doesn't this seem weird to anyone else?

I mean, doesn't anyone realize that there is a lot of mystery surrounding the origins of The Bible? I think it's perfectly fine to find inspiration there, or to even base your whole life on what's printed inside. But because we have no actual guarantee on it's authenticity outside of one's personal faith, it's probably not good to force other people to legally adhere to it's teachings.

As it is, no one can agree on what The Bible says. This is clearly evidenced by the number of Christian denominations. Should Christians speak in tongues or not? Does true faith healing exist anymore? Should there be drums in a worship service? Can a woman become pastor? Can gay people become pastors? Are there valid supplemental books to the Bible (like "Doctrine and Covenant" and "The Pearl of Great Price")? These, and many, many other details separate denominations into sub-denominations and sub-sub-denominations, etc.. How many denominations do you think there are? I'm not even going to google it, but I assure you, there is a lot.

This should raise at least an eyebrow. Should we as a society require our citizens to adhere to the moral teachings of a text like this? I think we can all get on board with not murdering or raping, but shouldn't we let people make up their own minds about how they will express mutually consenting romantic love? Do we really need to make laws about this?

Because, believe it or not, this is not a Christian nation. Our forefathers made sure to include the separation of church and state for very important reasons. And I dare say if modern Christians knew anything about the actual religious beliefs of many of the forefathers, they would probably be shocked at the amount of secularism found there.

For one example, take Thomas Jefferson's book "The Life and Morals of Jesus of Nazareth", otherwise known as "The Jefferson Bible", which is more of a compilation than an original work. You see, Thomas Jefferson took a literal razor to the gospels and removed any reference of Jesus as the son of god, as well and any miracles Jesus performed. Why do you think he did this? Why did he think this was important? Would a devout Christian today produce such a work? Would the world crack in half if Mike Huckabee suddenly published a version of the new testament that was scrubbed of all of Jesus' supernatural attributes?

I'll leave you with a quote from Thomas Jefferson from a letter to Francis Adrian Van der Kemp on July 30th in the year of our Lord one thousand eight hundred and sixteen:

"Ridicule is the only weapon which can be used against unintelligible propositions. Ideas must be distinct before reason can act upon them; and no man ever had a distinct idea of the trinity. It is the mere Abracadabra of the mountebanks* calling themselves the priests of Jesus."

*mountebanks: 1. a person who sells quack medicines, as from a platform in public places,
                             attracting  and influencing an audience by tricks, storytelling, etc.

                          2. any charlatan or quack.


I really ought to blog more. It seems like I have a lot of entries that start with an apology for not writing something in too long, followed with a promise to write more. Just like this blog.

Anyway, I've been thinking about it, about what stops me from writing more in this blog. I'd seriously like to do it as a regular discipline. I love to write, and I think it would be very healthy to do more of it. One of the things that holds me back is that I don't want to say controversial things. I have all these thoughts and opinions about things that are going on in the country and in our society, but I don't think they are very popular opinions, and in an attempt to avoid hurting people's feelings, I withhold myself. I think I might stop doing this, and if it works, I'll keep vomiting my truth here, but if it doesn't and I just piss off people that I love, I might switch to an anonymous blog.

I don't know what it is, some exhibitionist living in my head needs to have these words read by someone. I could easily just write these things down in a word document, but I just don't want to. There's something so masturbatory about seeing how many views I can get, there's just no way I could keep it private. I'm simply too narcissistic for that.

Let's start here: Donald Trump. It's not that I don't like him (I don't like him), or even that I don't think he would make a good president (I don't think he would). The fact that our society has been so supportive of his bid for the White House says something about us. We are a cult of personality. Imagine hearing any of the other republican candidates (or democratic, for that matter) saying the types of things Trump has said. Imagine if Jeb even slightly implied that Mexican migrants are rapists and criminals, people would be shocked. Somehow we expect that kind of behavior from Trump, and our expectation make us think it's ok.

I'm not even trying to be an advocate of political correctness, I just think there's certain behavior that you should never see the president of a nation doing, like making derogatory comments about a woman's period. But you know what happens? He does it, and his power grows.  

Because in America, we applaud ignorance. And I think that has become what American's are known for in the eyes rest of the world. Applauding ignorance.

Resting Place

Got back a couple days ago from Laura's family's yearly beach vacation in North Litchfield South Carolina. I haven't participated in this Nelson Family tradition for a few years, it was so very nice going back and seeing everyone again.

And, as always, whenever I leave my comfortable little corner of the Pacific Northwest, I start having firsts. For instance, I got to see my first firefly (or lightening bug...). We went for an evening bike ride to see if we could peep those flashing bastards, and we totally did! Granted, it was pretty much just the one bug, but it was still quite amazing! It was different then I thought. I was under the impression that they fly in a state of low illumination that turns on and off periodically. Instead, they emit a white flash almost like a camera, but not so intense. It was much more white and "electric" looking then I was expecting. Very beautiful creatures!

I also got to see alligators in their natural habitats. We visited a state park known to have alligators taking up residence, and sure enough, not long after entering the park we saw one swimming through the shallow waters of a saltwater tidal marsh. Then another sunning itself, mouth wide open, on a small exposed piece of land, like a tiny island in the marsh. Then another hanging out in shallower mud. Then as we were riding bikes down a concrete path with marsh on both sides, we came across a gentlemen who saw one just moments before crossing the path. The wet footprints from the beast still clearly visible on the path. The man was able to snap a picture of it just as it was crossing and looked to be about 8 feet long (maybe closer to 9) judging by the known width of the path. We looked into the reeds of the marsh it walked into, and there it was, sitting there with its back to us. It was quite enormous, and quite close. Breath taking, really.

Another thing I didn't necessarily see (and it wasn't necessarily a first for me) was the trees full of singing cicadas. It's crazy how a constant droning buzz filling the air isn't irritating, but rather soothing. Being back home to relatively silent skies makes me a little homesick for a coast (and a family) I'm growing to love more and more.

Another first I had the honor and privilege of experiencing was in the role of officiant of Sarah and Derek's wedding! What a wonderful evening watching two people I love so much committing their love to one another, and all while the planets Venus and Jupiter join together in the sky to form one single point of light. The evening was beautiful and magical in every possible way. And it's always nice to have an excuse to say "by the power vested in me"...

Thank you, Nelsons (and Vowells!) for y'alls warm southern hospitality. Relaxing in your familial embrace is a very nice thing :)


For a while now, Laura has had this vision of buying a cheap pool floaty and taking it out on the alpine lakes we've been hiking to. This is probably a little dangerous, but we don't mind a degree or two of uncertainty. These lakes are freezing cold, but most are small enough to make a dash for shore if something should go wrong, and the whole event would probably be more of a refreshing dip then a truly perilous situation. Really we wanted to jokingly ruin the pristine pictures the other day-hikers were taking by being jackasses floating around in a cheap inflatable raft in the midst of a truly beautiful environs.

We went to Fred Meyer to look at their floaties, not wanting to spend a bunch of money on something that would be pretty much a joke, but still needing something we could take out without instantly getting wet. We opted for the cheapest inflatable row boat which happened to be on sale for $19, brought it home and inflated it in the dining room to see if we would even be able to fit. The box boasted it as being a two-person boat with a weight capacity of 350lbs. We are within those restrictions, and we did both fit, so we rolled it up into a stuff-sack and made the 4.5 mile (2500 feet of elevation gain) trek up to Melakwa Lake.

The maiden voyage of our vessel was a true success! After many name suggestions came flooding in from the facebook community, we opted for the name "Bjob" which is pronounced "Bob" and stands for "Bring Jour Own Boat" because the boat (we decided) is Icelandic/Mexican. Is this racist?