Thomas Boutell

Just some guy who made a thing.

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Pet theory: social media became much more intense and notification-y during the years 2006 to 2016, years when liberals were used to being frustrated or angered but rarely terrified by the news. After all, we were in control of the House, the Senate, the White House or all three. Things got better and worse but rarely took a huge jump for the worse.

So being bombarded with a lot of information about the state of the world was easier to bear for a majority of those who initially liked and adopted it.

Now the habit of bombarding ourselves with maximum input has been locked in... and in the Trump era, all this extra data — meaning all these extra camera angles and echoes of the same thing — has become a curse. "Total situational awareness" of a frightening situation is not good for you.

You need sufficient awareness to assess the problem and decide what you can do about it. More than that is an express train ride to burnout or worse.

Of course I'm posting this to One Post Wonder, which shows I was thinking about this a while ago, but it was a whole lot more theoretical then.

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3/29 '17 1 Comment
TorcanoquakeblizzvalanchefirecaneBEES!
Brian Rapp 3/30 '17edited
 

Just finished "Between the World and Me," by Ta-Nehisi Coates. Recommended.

There are things most "white" folks, especially white men, can't really understand if our bodies have never been at risk of being randomly destroyed. On an ordinary day. With little or no connection to our actions.

The book is by no means intended solely as a manual for understanding what that feels like. Still, it succeeds brilliantly on that level.

But it's a mistake to read it as a letter to white Americans. The book is written in the form of a letter to his son, following a model laid down by James Baldwin in "The Fire Next Time." In the end, he tells his son to struggle — to pursue a better, less fearful existence for himself — but not to struggle for "the dreamers," the people who buy into the idea of whiteness. Because our awakening, if it ever happens, will have to come from within. And from his perspective, it's not worth getting shot for that slim hope.

I felt that blow — he is saying to us, in effect: "don't wait for your victims to come save you from your own history. We can't and won't. If you're going to change, change yourselves. But I won't wait up nights." There is little to suggest that he should.

The most beautiful parts of the book concern his own coming of age, the awakening of a sense of possibility at Howard University, tasting what it means to blend into the crowd and be invisible while visiting Paris. But also the shooting death of a friend at the hands of the police, and a conversation with his friend's mother. And his son, heartbreakingly certain that Michael Brown's killer would be indicted. And... how little has changed.

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2/16 '17 3 Comments
Indeed. It was really excellent.
Rabbit 2/17 '17
I think the most important thing he said was that "race" is an artificial construct ... "white" people are a conglomeration of ethnicities as are people with darker skin ("colored", "asian", "black"), and all of this discrimination and suffering comes from a construct that the oppressor created to keep other people down and to stay in power, to maintain privilege. He's right. And it's dizzying to think of the world as it would be if our parents told us that when we were small and our teachers taught it in school. Dizzying to think of that world and sad to think of this one ... though if it were not race, it would be something else, I suppose. Humans are shitbirds that way.
Seconded.
 

Gather your spoons
Our trip to the moon
Is on hold today

Gather yourself
We’re sharing the wealth
Hey it’s on display

Finding the means to say
If you’re suffering in this present emergency
Come home with me
We’ll watch TV

A weekend march
You’re doing your part
Ineffectually (or so it seems)

Just stick to the job
And Peter will rob
Paul eventually

Rome wasn’t sacked in a day
The rot took time to set in
We’re going to win
Wear your flag pin

Your bubble blew up
And you don’t know what
That’s supposed to mean

The sky isn’t blue
And one equals two
Counterfactually

And every cow has a voice
If you’re living in flyover country
You must be pleased
Wave up to me

Well some of us should move to Missoula
And some of us to Cedar Falls
And some of us will settle in Asheville
That won’t be hard to sell at all

And then we’ll teach our cats to pray
We’re not a very disciplined bunch we do things our own way
I guess we’ll stay

Snowflakes falling by the ton
And you know they can’t drive in snow
In Washington
They’ll come undone

Let’s walk together
We’ve such pleasant weather
Look who’s arrived

Wear a pink hat
Well how about that
We’re organized

And hope will always be a place
Even if it’s in a solid red state
We’re still alive

And let that be our battle cry

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2/15 '17 4 Comments
A Lai?
Rabbit 2/15 '17
Nice! I particularly like the verse about the snowflakes.
Thanks Linds! I was pleased with that too.
Thomas Boutell 2/15 '17
I'm not in a place where I can listen (yet), but these lyrics are FREAKIN' WONDERFUL. My memory is crap so I'm likely forgetting something, but my sieve-like skull says this my favorite thing of yours I've ever read.

Thank you!!
 

A friend wants to know how performers can "discriminate" against the inauguration and still expect the proverbial wedding cake baker to make a cake for two people with the same junk if they think that's an abomination.

First, yes, antidiscrimination laws do take away a freedom. It's a shitty little freedom, a vigorously poop-coated freedom. But it's a freedom nonetheless. And so they aren't passed lightly.

They are passed when there's a longstanding history of bigotry, of disenfranchisement, of suffering and discrimination vastly out of proportion to the "suffering" imposed by being forced to carry out your customary business for anybody with the dollars. We limit the freedom to refuse someone's custom only in certain very narrow circumstances.

That's good, right? You don't want any more government interference than necessary, right?

Now you may argue that the United States has a long and proud history of discrimination against racist, sexist, narcissistic, habitually lying sacks of human excrement which needs to be remedied. And I would argue that, sadly, you are wrong about the first four, all five are self-imposed and nothing has ever been denied to people in any of these categories. Nothing. Sadly. Ever. So what remedy would you make?

But even supposing you're right: starting Friday, we have one hell of an affirmative action program for human sacks of excrement. So there's that settled.

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1/18 '17 3 Comments
the right to discriminate isn't a legitimate right, yo, and those that argue that it is- or even that it is what this country was founded on (freakin' Puritains)- may have a point, but we can grow up and cease to be stupid going forward, methinks.
Rabbit 1/18 '17
When the gay people start trying to take away the baker's rights or his family's civil rights, the baker has a legitimate reason to refuse service. Note that "being an asshole in the name of religion" is not a right. If the baker were so concerned about doing what the bible said, he better not be eating bacon cheeseburgers, wearing polyester or working on the Sabbath Day.
My point indeed.
Thomas Boutell 1/18 '17